Tagged: Josh Donaldson

Hangin With Mr Cooper Leads to Loss…

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Canadian Press via AP

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 2…

The Yankees had their chances on Tuesday but like so many games recently, they struggled to get runs across the plate and left too many runners in scoring position stranded.  Rookie first baseman Garrett Cooper was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI’s, representing the sole offense for the Yankees, in their loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.  On the surface it looks like a good night for him, but it could have been much more as he came up twice with the bases loaded.  But you can’t pin the loss on Cooper, this was a team effort.


The tone of the game was set early.  Jose Bautista led off the bottom of the first with a double to right.  He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Russell Martin.  Josh Donaldson, who entered the game with only 13 home runs, blasted a two-run shot to center.  In retrospect, it could have been worse as a subsequent walk and double put runners at second and third, but Sabathia was able to get Kevin Pillar to ground out to end the inning.

Credit:  Steve Russell-Toronto Star

The Yankees had a good opportunity in the top of the 2nd inning against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ when both Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius singled.  Unfortunately, Todd Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play to eliminate Gregorius.  With Headley on third, Garrett Cooper singled to right to score the Yankees first run.  But that’s all the Yankees would get as Ronald Torreyes grounded out.


After an easy second inning for Sabathia, the third inning looked like the first.  Russell Martin singled to left, and was followed by Josh Donaldson who hit his second homer of the game, a fly ball to the second deck in left.  It gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead.  A great running catch by Ronald Torreyes with Kendrys Morales in scoring position prevented any further runs.  


Sabathia left the game after three innings as a result of knee pain.  It was the worst pain that Sabathia has felt since he started wearing a larger knee brace several years ago.  After the game, Sabathia said “It’s just hard to land.  It’s hard for me to finish my pitches. It’s just hard for me to get over my front side and finish my pitches.  When I can’t do that, I don’t know where the ball is going.”  There’s no immediate word if Sabathia will miss his next start but he’ll head back to New York for further tests.  We’re reaching the point where you have to wonder if every Sabathia start might be his final start for the Yankees. If Sabathia does miss time, Jordan Montgomery seems like the best alternative as a replacement but given he is at Triple A working under an innings limit, a short term option would probably be Bryan Mitchell. 


Mitchell replaced Sabathia in the fourth, and provided a Chad Green-like performance.  He went four innings, allowing only three hits and no runs.  


The Yankees had a golden opportunity in the 6th inning.  With one out, both Gary Sanchez and Chase Headley walked.  After a fly out by Didi Gregorius, Todd Frazier hit a grounder to short and reached first base, just ahead of the throw, after a challenge overturned the on the field call which had ruled Frazier out at first.  Garrett Cooper came up with his first bases loaded opportunity but failed to deliver with an inning-ending fly to right.


The Yankees offense was thwarted again in the 7th.  Ronald Torreyes led off with a single, but was erased when Brett Gardner grounded to second for a double play.  Clint Frazier followed with a single, but it was for naught when Aaron Judge struck out.  

Credit:  AP

The last great chance came in the 8th.  Gary Sanchez was hit with a pitch from Jays reliever Ryan Tepera on the left wrist (he stayed in the game after being checked out by the medical staff and Joe Girardi).  Chase Headley was also hit by a pitch, after a challege review which showed the ball hitting Headley’s foot, to reach base.  Didi Gregorius popped up in the infield for the first out, but Todd Frazier walked.  It brought Garrett Cooper to the plate for the second time with the bases loaded.  He hit a sacrifice fly to left which was deep enough to score Sanchez but you couldn’t help but wonder what could have been with a single or double in at least one of those bases loaded situations.  The other runners were left stranded when Ronald Torreyes lined out.  

Credit:  AP

The Yankees went down quietly in the 9th with Jays closer Roberto Osuna.  It was another game of lost opportunities.  The Blue Jays pitched carefully to Aaron Judge which led to two walks, but it probably wasn’t really necessary as Judge was hitless in three official at-bats (striking out twice).  Clint Frazier was 1-for-4 but struck out three times.  Overall, the Yankees left 10 men on base.  It’s tough to watch the Boston Red Sox pick up former Yankee Eduardo Nunez and he hits everything in sight (16-for-40 with 8 extra base hits) and the Yankees can’t seem to get any extra base hits when they need them the most.  


Obviously, it is not a good sign about CC Sabathia’s knee.  The years have taken its toll on the pitcher, and he’s question mark every time out at this point (assuming that he is able to come back).  Sabathia (9-5) took the loss.  The four runs in three innings pushed his season ERA to 4.05.  I hope that he’s able to make a successful return as his Yankees career winds down but I can’t say that I am overly optimistic.  

Credit:  Fred Thornhill-The Canadian Press via AP

The Yankees (59-52) fell four games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Red Sox defeated Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 behind Chris Sale and his 13 strikeouts.  So the Rays remain 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Baltimore Orioles lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Angels and stayed four games behind the Yankees.

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell to take the roster spot vacated when LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Poor Mitchell had to find a new number since his preferred #55 has been claimed by Sonny Gray.  He chose to stay with the matching double digit combo and went with #66.  #88, anyone?…

It was good to hear that both Greg Bird and Starlin Castro took batting practice at Rogers Centre yesterday prior to the game.  While I am not overly optimistic that we’ll get anything out of Bird this year, I am pulling for the player to finally show a glimpse of what we saw during Spring Training.  Ronald Torreyes has softened the blow of Castro’s absence but it will be good to get the regular second baseman back on the field again.

OF Aaron Hicks has been re-assigned to Double A Trenton as part of his continuing rehab assignment.  He may be activated for this weekend’s series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx.  We’ll soon find it if it is Clint Frazier or someone else that goes down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room.  If Frazier stays, the losers are probably Garrett Cooper (potential option to Triple A) and Jacoby Ellsbury (fifth behind the other four outfielders). 

The Blue Jays scratched today’s scheduled starter, Cesar Valdez.  Valdez was placed on the DL with a shoulder injury.  Nick Tepesch (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will start in his place against Masahiro Tanaka.

It was a very nice gesture by the Colorado Rockies to hang the late Don Baylor’s jersey in their dugout for yesterday’s game at Progressive Field in Cleveland against the Indians.  Baylor was the first manager in Rockies history, serving from 1993 to 1998.  The Rockies will have a tribute planned for Baylor when they return to Coors Field in Denver on August 14th versus the Atlanta Braves.  Following Baylor’s passing, Rockies owner Dick Montfort issued the following statement:  “He was a big man with an even bigger heart, a friend of so many.  His persona will be a part of our club heritage forever.  This is a sad day in Colorado and for all of baseball.”

Credit:  Tony Dejak-Associated Press

Have a great Wednesday!  One more day to Sonny Gray!  Let’s Go Yankees!

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The Power of a Good Third Baseman…

Credit:  Associated Press

Blue Jays 3, Yankees 2…

Two great offensive games and two not-so-great, so the Yankees go home with a split in Toronto.  Not the best case scenario with the Boston Red Sox on tap in the Bronx starting Tuesday night.  The Blue Jays used two late home runs to over take the Yankees in the series finale.

It was another good start by Luis Severino.  He was pitching a shutout until Justin Smoak connected for a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning to tie the game at 2.  Severino bent but he did not break.  Sadly, that was Tyler Clippard who served up the eventual game-winning home run by Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson in eighth.  For his effort in the no-decision, Sevvy went 7 innings, giving up 6 hits and the aforementioned 2 runs.  He only allowed one walk and struck out 7 while lowering his season ERA to a team-best 2.90 for starters.

Credit:  Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

As for Clippard (0-3), it is hard to blame anyone who gives up homers to Donaldson.  He has a knack for doing that against the best.  Still, the game might have looked different had Aroldis Chapman been healthy and active as it would have ensured the placement of Dellin Betances in the critical 8th inning.  

The Yankees only offense on this day was provided courtesy of Matt Holliday.  He had a run-scoring double in the fourth, and picked up another RBI in the sixth inning when he hit into a force play at second base that allowed Brett Gardner to score from third.

Credit:  Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Sevvy pitched well enough to win.  Through the last run through the rotation, the only weak links were Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda.  Unfortunately, the former is on the mound for the opening game of the Boston series.  It’s sad when the rotation’s ace is the one you trust the least (at the moment).  Severino is starting to pitch like a guy who intends to supplant Tanaka atop the rotation one day.

The Jays have a very good third baseman.  I wish we had one of those…

Credit:  Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

With Boston’s 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, the Red Sox are just two games behind the Yankees (32-22) in the AL East.  The Orioles remain 3 1/2 games back.  

Odds & Ends…

The series finale on Sunday between the AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and the Toledo Mud Hens was rained out.  The RailRiders resume play tonight in Rochester, New York against the Red Wings, the top farm affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.  The game will feature the next start for Yankees pitching prospect Chance Adams (3-1).  He will be opposed by Yohan Pino (0-1).  

The RailRiders officially released reliever Ernesto Frieri yesterday after he had exercised a June 1st opt-out of his AAA contract.

The Yankees traded infielder Ruben Tejada, who was on the RailRiders roster, to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations.  Tejada was batting .269/.345/.462 with 6 homers and 21 RBI’s in 37 games.  Tejada had lost playing time with the arrival of Gleyber Torres and the recent activation of Donovan Solano off the DL.  Granted, Tejada is not the second coming of Cal Ripken, Jr, but I am not sure why the Yankees would want to help the Orioles in any way.  Tejada was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Greg Bird had a run-scoring single (driving in Jorge Mateo) in the High-A Tampa Yankees 9-1 win over the Jupiter Hammerheads.  Prior to the 7th inning hit, Bird’s other three at-bats ended with fly outs.  

Have a great Monday!  Hopefully it’s a restful one for the Yankees as they prepare for the Red Sox tomorrow night.

Michael, a Few Home Runs and Instant Replay…

Credit:  Bill Kostroun

Yankees 4, Royals 2…

In a season when Masahiro Tanaka has forgotten how to throw his splitter and slider, only to see his fastball regularly deposited into outfield bleachers, Michael Pineda has stepped up to be “the man”.  Down early 2-0 to the Kansas City Royals, it would have been the point where Pineda collapsed like a cheap suit in years past.  But these are not years past and Michael Pineda no longer contributes to an avalanche parade.  

When Brett Gardner homered in the bottom of the third, it felt like everything was under control even though the Yanks still trailed by one.  With one on in the fourth, Didi Gregorius decided it was much better to lead than follow, launching a homer to right center to put the Yanks in front.  

Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

Pineda made it into the seventh inning.  After striking out Jorge Bonifacio, who had homered for the Royals earlier in the game, Pineda gave up a single to former Cub Jorge Soler.  It was the end of Pineda’s night.  

With Adam Warren on the mound, Soler took second on a wild pitch.  Following a flyout by Whit Merrifield, the Royals appeared to tie the game at 3 when Alcides Escobar hit a grounder to Starlin Castro.  Escobar was ruled safe at first, beating an off-balance throw from Castro.  Soler scored on the play.  The Yankees challenged the call and the Baseball Gods were smiling favorably on the Pinstripes.  The decision at first was overturned, the inning was over, and the run scored by Soler was erased.  All I can say it was incredibly close.

Leading off the bottom of the seventh, Chris Carter boldly let his bat say, “This is why you hired me” with a blast to left-center.  So, instead of a 3-3 game just minutes earlier, the score was suddenly 4-2.  A nice reversal of fortune.  

From there, the Yankees bullpen shut the Royals down.  Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances each delivered a scoreless inning of relief, and Betances struck out Jorge Soler to end the game, picking up his third save.

For the game, Pineda (5-2) pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and two runs, while walking one and striking out six.  It wasn’t a clean start but it was the continuation of the strong, consistent version of the Michael Pineda that we’ve literally been waiting years to see.  

The win allowed the Yankees (26-16) to move a game and a half in front of the Baltimore Orioles who were throttled 14-7 at Camden Yards by the Minnesota Twins in a 21-hit attack.  The Boston Red Sox had the night off so they slipped four and half games back.  

Bronx Fury, South Beach Version…

A pair of ex-Yankees squared off on Friday night in Miami.  Marlins manager Don Mattingly took offense to something Los Angeles Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren yelled to Marlins closer A.J. Ramos.  “If he is going to yell and scream at our guys, the he is going to have to go through me”, said Mattingly, who was ejected in the bench-clearing stand-off.  

Credit:  Los Angeles Times

Mattingly and Geren were Yankees teammates from 1988 to 1991.  

Credit:  Getty Images

I feel badly for Mattingly.  He is in the midst of a very poor season in Miami and he was facing the team that he once managed.  I am not sure that Mattingly will survive the season and he is probably gone if the sale of the Marlins goes through (even if one of the potential new owners is Derek Jeter) unless he can turn things around very quickly.  Mattingly remains my favorite manager but these are not the best of times.

Umm, no, thank you…

Yesterday, Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media, quoting an article that appeared on SportsNet.ca, floated the possibility of the Yankees as suitors for third baseman Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays.  I do not dispute that Donaldson is a great player but it doesn’t make sense to me.  Donaldson is 31 and the Yankees, regardless of the great start this year, are still one to two years away from true World Series contention.  Sure, crazier things have happened, but it doesn’t make sense to me to part with talented young prospects for a guy that is on the wrong side of 30.  

Manny Machado should remain the target.  I am not enamored with Chase Headley covering third until if/when we can get Machado but I don’t think the Yankees are either.  With the call-up of infielder Gleyber Torres to AAA, he is positioning himself for an appearance in the Bronx later this year or at the latest, next spring.  I’d gladly take Starlin Castro at third (over Headley) to make room for Torres at second.  The path to Machado will be costly in terms of dollars but it retains the wealth of prospects within the organization.  If the Yankees lose out on Machado, then they’ll need to look at Plan B.  I am still optimistic that Miguel Andujar can be a solution within the next couple of years.  Let the Boston Red Sox further deplete their farm system for Donaldson and add another player that will be ready for social security in a couple of years.

So, count me out if trying to decide whether or not to bring Donaldson to the Yankees.

All Rise, now entering Right Field, the Honorable Judge, Aaron…

The Yankees have climbed aboard the Judge Train with the rest of us.  They’ve unveiled a new area wrapped around the three rows in the back of Section 104 in right field aptly named “The Judge’s Chambers”.  Selected fans, with preference to those wearing Aaron Judge jerseys, will temporarily be given black robes adorned by #99 on the back while sitting the special area during games.  I guess it beats having a bad tasting candy bar named after you…

Credit:  Ben Walker/AP

Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s keep this winning feeling going!

Waiting for Signs of Life…

How to build an 80-win team…

The Boston Red Sox have gotten stronger with the recent additions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, and most likely, the re-signing of their former ace Jon Lester in the coming weeks.  The Toronto Blue Jays quietly signed catcher Russell Martin (a significant upgrade over Dioner Navarro) and last night, pulled off a major trade for arguably one of the best third basemen in the game in Josh Donaldson of the Oakland A’s.  The cost for Donaldson was Brett Lawrie and prospects.  Given Lawrie’s inability to stay healthy, this trade provides further enhancement for a team that has held promise for a few years.

Lance Iversen, The Chronicle

Then there’s the Baltimore Orioles.  They may not have made any big moves but they are still the AL East champs until proven otherwise.

I am not sure what’s going on with the Tampa Bay Rays.  They will be losing a great potential manager in bench coach Dave Martinez when they finally name a replacement for Joe Maddon and the team no longer has the feeling of eternal optimism that it had when Maddon and former GM Andrew Friedman were running the show.  So, we’ll leave them out of the equation.

So, clearly, the Blue Jays and Red Sox are determined to challenge the Orioles’ hold on the division championship.  Meanwhile, in the Bronx, just crickets…

Last winter, the Yankees were quiet at the beginning of the off-season but then launched a flurry of signings in December that netted Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran.  It was a lot of money, but it still had the feeling the money could have been better spent.  Of course, if the Yankees would have just paid Russell Martin a few years ago rather than allow him to leave as a free agent, the Yankees could have gotten him much cheaper than the deal they signed McCann to (or the one Martin ultimately signed with the Jays).  Ellsbury is a known risk given his injury risk.  He held up fairly well in his first season in pinstripes, and I like having him on the team.  But the truth is the Yankees had a center fielder on the roster at the time in Brett Gardner and would have been better served going after a bat for left field.  Beltran has been a great major leaguer but his age simply does not bode well for staying healthy.

Now, I could write major concerns with Ramirez and Sandoval, but the Red Sox are dealing from a position of strength and have loosened some major league players, combined with quality prospects, to make a major trade to further strengthen the team (such as a move for the Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels).  The Yankees last year were just trying to fill holes.

I am surprised that the Yankees have not been linked in any way with star free agents Jon Lester and Max Scherzer.  Clearly, either one would immediately enhance the Yankees’ chances in 2015.  They need to find answers for other positions (third base, shortstop and the bullpen) but a high end rotation is a must for any team to succeed.  As it stands, there are too many questions with Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow, Michael Pineda’s ability to stay healthy or if CC Sabathia is riding the major downslope of his career.

The Yankees need to sign either Scherzer or Lester, and retain the free agent trio of Brandon McCarthy, Chase Headley, and David Robertson.  With this off-season of inactivity, it feels like the Yankees are going to lose out on all of the above.  At least today, two days after Thanksgiving.

I remain hopeful that Rob Refsnyder wins the second base job in spring training.  As for shortstop, the easiest solution is to re-sign Stephen Drew.  It’s really too bad that the organization was unable to develop a high level shortstop prospect in time for Derek Jeter’s departure.  Jorge Mateo looks like a strong possibility but he’s years away from being ready for the major league level.  So, the Yankees are best served finding a short-term solution like Drew and hope for a bounce back year with a full training camp.  I’d prefer that over a trade that could potentially cost what high level talent the Yankees do have in the upper levels of the minor league system.

If the Yankees do nothing, they’ll be battling the Rays for last place.  If they merely try to fill holes with cheaper alternatives, they’ll still be cellar rats.  Something has to give….soon.

I agree with Hal Steinbrenner when he says that you don’t need a $200 million payroll to win but the Yankees roster as currently constructed is not championship-caliber in my opinion.  Too much risk and uncertainty, and players who’ve seen their better days.  Alex Rodriguez is such a huge albatross and it’s a shame that he is now the “face” of the team.

Hopefully, Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenner boys have a plan in place that is driven for success and not merely a bean counter’s approach to fielding a team.

Time will tell, as it often does (as the saying goes)…

–Scott