Tagged: Justin Wilson

Toe-Powered Offense Falls Short…

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Rays 5, Yankees 3…

Ronald Torreyes tried but nobody else in the offensive lineup was cooperative as the Yankees lost the fourth and final game of the series with the Tampa Bay Rays.  Yankee hitters were 1-for-11 in scoring opportunities so this one goes down as a game of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’.

On a day when it was announced the Yankees had acquired left-handed starting pitcher Jaime Garcia, one of the other lefties in the rotation…Jordan Montgomery…failed to get out of the third inning.  Like Saturday, the Rays took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.  Montgomery struck out Peter Bourjos, walked Steven Souza, Jr, and struck out Evan Longoria.  Lucas Duda singled to left as Souza, Jr took second.  Trevor Plouffe followed with a single up the middle, scoring Souza, Jr with the game’s first run.

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

The Yankees grabbed the lead in the bottom of the second.  Chase Headley walked with one out  and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Rays starter Jacob Faria.  After Todd Frazier struck out, Ronald Torreyes hit a homer over the left field wall…2-1, Yankees.

Peter Bourjos led off the third inning with a double to the left field wall.  After Steven Souza, Jr struck out, Evan Longoria reached on an infield chopper as the speedy Bourjos took third.  Lucas Duda walked to load the bases with only one out.  For a moment, it looked like Monty might be able to work out of the jam.  He struck out Trevor Plouffe and had Corey Dickerson a strike away from ending the inning.  But Dickerson hit a 1-2 pitch into center field, scoring Bourjos and Longoria with the tying and go-ahead runs.  Wilson Ramos followed with a single to center, scoring Duda, and it was 4-2 Rays.  Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough, and pulled Montgomery, who had thrown 71 pitches despite an inability to get out of the 3rd inning, in favor of Luis Cessa.  Cessa threw a wild pitch which allowed Dickerson to take third as Ramos moved to second, but he was able to strike out Tim Beckham to get out of the inning.  

The Yankees made it a one-run game in the bottom of the 4th.  With two outs, Todd Frazier walked on four straight balls and scored when Ronald Torreyes doubled to the left field corner.  Frazier slid in under the throw from the outfield to score while Torreyes moved to third but Toe was left stranded when Austin Romine grounded out.

The Rays added an insurance run in the top of the 8th against Yankees reliever Chad Green.  Mallex Smith, pinch-hitting for Tim Beckham, led off the 8th with an infield single.  Smith stole second, easily sliding in under the tag.  With two outs, Steven Souza, Jr doubled off the left center wall to bring Smith home for the Rays’ fifth and final run.

The Yankees had numerous scoring opportunities in this game, but none bigger than the bottom of the 9th.  After Gary Sanchez struck out against Rays closer Alex Colome, Brett Gardner singled to left.  A wild pitch moved Gardy to second and Clint Frazier reached first when Colome threw four straight pitches outside of the strike zone.  With the tying run at first and one out, the Yankees had the heart of the lineup representing the winning run at the plate.  Aaron Judge had the first opportunity but got under a pitch and popped out to Trevor Plouffe in foul territory.  It came down to Matt Holliday for the Yankees’ last chance.  He weakly grounded out to Evan Longoria who easily threw Holliday out at first.  

The Yankees could have won this game, leaving a total of 22 men on base, but it was not meant to be.  The bullpen did a very good job after Montgomery’s early exit.  The combination of Luis Cessa, Chasen Shreve and Chad Green pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing only 3 hits and the 8th inning run given up by Green.  They walked 6 batters but struck out 11.  Shreve and Green worked out of a bases loaded threat in the top of the 7th inning. The trio gave the Yankees the chance to win so that’s all you can ask.  

Fortunately, the Boston Red Sox also lost on Sunday, by the same 5-3 score to the Kansas City Royals, so the Yankees (56-47) maintained their half game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East.  The Rays picked up a game so they are 3 1/2 back after losing three of four to the Yankees over the weekend.

Austin Romine left the game after getting hit by a pitch in the 6th inning.  It was a tough game for him.  He was struck in the throat by a bounced foul ball earlier in the game, and was hit in the head by Steven Souza, Jr’s bat on a follow-through of his swing.  Although he stayed in the game to run after getting hit, he was replaced at catcher by Gary Sanchez the next inning.  The cameras showed a bruised welt on Romine’s hand but x-rays proved negative.  Manager Joe Girardi does not expect any DL time for Romine, and of course Romine’s attitude was the usual ‘just cram the hand in the glove and go’.  

Credit:  Getty Images

Clint Frazier had quite a second inning.  Right before Romine got the ball to the throat, Frazier caught a fly ball in front of Brett Gardner who had tried to call Frazier off.  The next batter, Adeiny Hechavarria, hit a ball to the left field wall and Frazier timed his leap and catch perfectly to take away an extra base hit.  Bad play-good play, but fortunately both were for outs.  

Next Up:  Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…

The Yankees entertain the Detroit Tigers for a three-game series at the Stadium beginning today.  By game time, the Trading Deadline will have come and gone.  It’s time to focus on winning the AL East.  Newcomer Jaime Garcia, having pitched last Friday in Oakland for the Twins, will be unavailable to pitch until Thursday, thereby missing the Detroit series.  

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

TODAY

Tigers:  Michael Fulmer (10-8, 3.35 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (7-4, 3.03 ERA)

TUESDAY

Tigers:  Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 6.18 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.66 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Tigers:  Jordan Zimmermann (6-8, 5.69 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (8-9, 5.09 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Yankees optioned lefty starter Caleb Smith to Triple A and recalled lefty reliever Chasen Shreve.  After the game, they optioned RHP Luis Cessa to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (presumably to make room for LHP Jaime Garcia).

I had thought Tigers reliever Justin Wilson would be the next ex-Yankee traded this month in  what has been a flurry of transactions involving former Pinstripers.  I was wrong.  Yesterday, the Chicago White Sox made their latest veteran dump when they sent OF Melky Cabrera to the Kansas City Royals.  This is Melky’s second tour with the Royals where he spent the 2011 season.  But Wilson wasn’t far behind as word spread that he was on his way to Wrigley Field by the end of the day.  

Congratulations to third baseman Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers for becoming a member of the 3,000 Hit Club.  Beltre reached the milestone on Sunday with a double off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Wade Miley.  Beltre is currently in his 20th MLB season and is the first player born in the Dominican Republic to reach 3,000 hits.  

Credit:  Tom Fox-The Dallas Morning News

As of this writing, I don’t know what to think about the Sonny Gray rumors.  On Saturday, it sounded like the Yankees were making significant progress with the Oakland A’s but then yesterday, nothing (implying a potential impasse).  With the clock clicking down, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen.  While I remain optimistic the Yankees will get Gray, there is a good possibility that Jaime Garcia is the Yankees’ last acquisition before the deadline.  Although the Yankees are rumored to be looking at Yu Darvish as a backup plan, I think that is far less likely to happen.  I’m hoping we’ll be looking at Sonny skies before game time today but prepared to move on with the arms and bats currently on the roster.  

Have a great Monday!  It’s should be a wild ride up to 4 pm Eastern today but afterwards, let’s start a new winning streak.  Go Yankees!

Pink and Pinstripes…NOT a Good Look!…

I’ll say it right now.  I am NOT on board with the special Derek Jeter’s Day hats to be worn by the Yankees on Sunday.  With no disrespect to the former Yankees captain or the countless mothers that will be in attendance for the joint Jeter-Mother’s Day game, the color pink does not have a place with the famed pinstripes.  Behind the pink hat is just someone trying to make a buck.  If all proceeds are given to a meaningful charity, then maybe I could buy into the dreadful hat.  Otherwise, it looks like a poorly thought out marketing scheme.

The DL epidemic seems to be impacting elite closers.  Depending upon who you ask, Baseball’s third and fourth best closers are now on the Disabled List.  Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles is out for 45-60 days following a visit with Dr Neal ElAttrache (the surgeon who recently performed Tommy John surgery on James Kaprielian).  For Britton’s sake, he received better news than Kaprielian did as surgery is not necessary for his left arm (throwing arm) strain.  However, he’ll be out until after the All-Star Break.  Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants have placed their new high-priced closer, and former Yankee, Mark Melancon, on the DL with a “mild right pronator strain”.    Here’s wishing and hoping for good health for the premier closers, the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

I realize that some Yankees fans will be moving into “World Series or Bust” mode any day now (if they haven’t already) but I still need more time before I am going to proclaim the Yankees as the team of the year.  I  want to see how the young Baby Bombers perform this weekend against Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and the high flying Houston Astros.  If the Yankees are still making noise at the top of the AL East when the calendar flips to June, then maybe I’ll start to get on-board.  It’s a long season and it’s still early.  There’s no doubt we’ll experience a few bumps in the road.  It will be how the team responds to those downturns that will determine the eventual course for this season.

CC Sabathia was awful for one inning last night but that’s all it took to shut down the Yankees’ six game winning streak in the 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.  Ten men came to the plate against Sabathia in the second inning.  Six singles and a walk later and the Reds had erased a 2-0 Yanks advantage by pushing five runs across the plate.  Sabathia (2-2) went 6 innings, allowing 7 hits and the 5 runs.  He walked 2 and struck out 2, while pushing his ERA to 5.77.  Right now, at least, Sabathia is the weak link in an otherwise strong Yankees rotation.  But as the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link so this is certainly a concern.  

Credit:  John Minchillo/AP

The Yankees had a chance to win at the end.  With any game, that’s all I can ask.  After Aaron Hicks and Matt Holliday walked with one out in the 9th inning, Gary Sanchez came to the plate with the chance to erase the Reds’ two-run lead.  Sanchez had already homered in his first at-bat of the game, a ball that travelled 448 feet to center.  But he lined a shot to Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who threw to second, catching Hicks off base, for the game-ending double play.

Didi Gregorius is starting to heat up which is a good sign.  He went 3-for-4 with a first inning home run.

The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Washington Nationals 5-4 in extra innings last night, so the Yankees (21-10) fell out of first place in the AL East by a half-game.  The Boston Red Sox lost which is always a fun thing to see.  I’d take joy in that even if they were the worst team in baseball.  

All things considered it was a good (albeit short) road trip as the Yanks took four of five.  With an off day today (Sleep, I love you!), the Yankees prepare for a long four game set against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium beginning Thursday.  The series concludes on Sunday with Derek Jeter Night and the aforementioned pink caps.  

The former Yankees coming to the Bronx are Astros catcher Brian McCann and DH Carlos Beltran.  Lance McCullers, Jr, one of the Astros starting pitchers, is the son of a former Yankee.  His father pitched for the Yankees from 1989 to 1990 (three years before Lance Jr was born).  

The probable pitching matchups for the Astros series are as follows:

THURSDAY

HOU:  Dallas Keuchel (5-0, 1.88 ERA)

NYY:  Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.12 ERA)

FRIDAY

HOU:  Lance McCullers, Jr (2-1, 3.40 ERA)

NYY:  Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 3.81 ERA)

SATURDAY

HOU:  Mike Fiers (1-1, 5.64 ERA)

NYY:  Luis Severino (2-2, 3.40 ERA)

SUNDAY

HOU:  Charlie Morton (4-2, 3.63 ERA)

NYY:  Masahiro Tanaka (5-1, 4.36 ERA)

Speaking of former Yankees, the Detroit Tigers have named Justin Wilson as their closer, replacing Francisco Rodriguez.  The lefty, who brought pitchers Luis Cessa and Chad Green to New York, is currently carrying a 1.32 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.  Regardless of how Cessa and Green ever perform, it sure would have been nice to have Wilson in this year’s bullpen.  But then again, Andrew Miller would have looked good too.  Oh well, onward and upward!

Have a great Wednesday!  

Yanks have a new shortstop – yes, in-Didi!…

Filling a position of need…

Finally, there is life in the Bronx!  Of course, it was only a matter of time given the needs of the team, but today was a day of large activity by the New York Yankees.

The morning was greeted with news that the Yankees had acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks, shipping starting pitcher Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers in a three-way trade.  While it’s never good to relinquish young, controllable pitching talent, the price of a 4th or 5th starter (or possibly long reliever) in Greene to acquire a starting shortstop was a no-brainer.

Christian Peterson/Getty Images North America

Gregorius is not coming to the Bronx to replace Derek Jeter.  He is merely the man who will be penciled into the slot created by the retirement of the future Hall of Famer.  But truth be told, short looks so much better in the hands of a 25 year old than it would have with a 41 year old regardless of the achievements for the latter.  Gregorius will bring good defense to an infield that needed help.  He may not hit, but he’ll hit better than backup shortstop Brendan Ryan.  He may be headed into the season as a platoon with Ryan (per Brian Cashman’s words earlier today), but Gregorius will have every opportunity to prove that the position is his.  The Yankees are much better with his presence.  Time will tell if he is a short or long term solution, but for now, he is an improvement over the speculated possibilities of Stephen Drew, Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie.

SOMEONE had to take Jeter’s spot and it may as well be Didi.

With Greene’s departure, the obvious first question is whether this will motivate the Yankees to pursue Max Scherzer.  While I would love the Yankees to pursue Jon Lester, it seems almost too late in the process for the Yankees to enter the picture since it has been speculated that Lester will choose his destination next week during the Winter Meetings.

My fear is that the Boston Red Sox will soon be touting both Lester and Cole Hamels in their starting rotation which is even more reason that the Yankees need a true ace at the top of their staff.  Too many questions with the other starters so Scherzer is sorely needed.

It’s Miller Time!…

In the morning, it was also reported that reliever Andrew Miller would be deciding his selection today.  Later, it was announced the Yankees were his choice.  I wouldn’t say that they ‘won’ the bidding since technically, they were runner-up to the Houston Astros who offered more, but Miller felt the Yankees were the better destination.  Of course, it helps that Miller makes his home in Tampa so it will be a short commute to spring training.

AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Miller’s signing makes the most sense if the Yankees can somehow re-sign closer David Robertson.  The bullpen is so much stronger with the trio of Robertson, Dellin Betances and Miller than it is with Betances and Miller as co-closers.  Given the shortcomings of the starting rotation, mastery of the 6th innings on will be crucial.  I really like the thought of two powerful lefties in the pen (Miller and newcomer Justin Wilson, acquired earlier in the off-season from Pittsburgh).  Of course, last year’s top draft selection, lefty reliever Jacob Lindgren is burning through the system and will be in the major league bullpen in the not so distant future.  So, for a team that has struggled with finding dominant left-handed relief in recent years, they’ll soon be dealing with a position of strength.  Manager Joe Girardi must be getting good night’s sleep these days.

I love the Baseball Winter Meetings.  It is always my favorite time of the off-season.  Of course, as a Yankees fan, my team is generally very active during the week.  Last year’s flurry of acquiring Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran on the same day was such a rush.  Kind of like today when the Yankees acquired Gregorius and Miller…

When they needed a manager, the Rays simply took the Cash…

Finally, the Tampa Bay Rays announced their new manager when they named former catcher Kevin Cash to the position.

I was a little surprised that the Rays are replacing perhaps baseball’s best manager with a guy who has never managed before.  But Cash has been learning the craft under the watchful eye of Tito Francona in Cleveland as bullpen coach, and he brings the right amount of enthusiasm and intelligence to the position.  Clearly, new Rays President Matt Silverman is trying to place his own stamp on the team.  The best choice would have been to hire former Rays bench coach Dave Martinez but of course, that would have been a carryover from the Andrew Friedman-Joe Maddon regime.  All things considered, I am glad that Martinez was able to slide over to the Chicago Cubs to continue his role as bench coach for Maddon.

It will be interesting to see how Cash does.  It’s interesting that he can claim World Series rings with both the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.  Now, he’ll see those teams routinely as a member of the AL East.  Hopefully, he does well and his stay in St Petersburg is long and mutually rewarding.  Well so long as it doesn’t involve any AL East or World Series championships.

The next week should be interesting regardless of what happens.  The Yankees have awakened from their slumber…

–Scott

If we pay you this money, can you get 8 of your buddies to cover the other positions on the field?…

13 long years…

Say what?…

As Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins approach the finish line on the potential largest contract in the history of Major League Baseball, I can’t help but wonder how crazy this is.  13 years at $325 million is a lot of money any way you slice it.  Granted, Stanton will only be 37 at the end of the deal, but I stand with the many who believe that excessively long contracts are not good for the sport.

While guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera earned their pay through their last games, the tail end of the contracts for Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia are looking ghastly.  For A-Rod and over $30 mil per year for three more years, the Yankees get a guy who hasn’t played for a year and is being mentioned as a back-up first baseman/DH type.  If he manages to hit 20 home runs next season, it will be considered a success but not when you tally the cost of each of those home runs.  Stanton is not A-Rod and odds are that Stanton will be playing at a higher level toward the back end of his contract, but there is so much potential for this deal to go drastically wrong.  With players now frequently receiving opt out clauses, it’s too bad that the teams do not get an opt out when things go sourly.  I would love to see the Yankees use the money slated for A-Rod, Teixeira and Sabathia elsewhere.  If the Yankees maintain the status quo this offseason (signing only their own free agents) and do not make any attempt to upgrade the team, we’re faced with another mediocre season and it’s directly the result of the bad contracts.

The Yankees lost a great player when Robinson Cano signed his monster deal in Seattle, but even in retrospect, I think the Yankees were smart in not matching Seattle’s offer.

Giancarlo Stanton is a great player and the Marlins are better with him than without.  But I do not like the precedent that it sets.  Odds are that Stanton opts out and gets even more money so good for him.  Yet, what protects the Marlins from a bad investment?  Or how the bar is elevated for future deals?  I am trying wondering if I will see players receiving a percentage of team ownership one day.

When I was a kid, I remember star pitcher Ron Guidry having to settle for $900,000 because George Steinbrenner said that he’d never pay a pitcher a million dollars a year.  I guess times have changed…

The early results…

So far, the Yankees have re-signed Chris Young and acquired lefty reliever Justin Wilson.  I think both moves are good for the back of the roster.  The Yankees needed to do something with Francisco Cervelli given the catching depth and to get a guy like Wilson was a smart move given the team’s difficulty in finding a replacement for Boone Logan.

Young earned a return to the Bronx with his September performance.  Hopefully, that’s the player the Yankees are getting for 2015 and not the earlier Mets version.

As much as I would like to see the Yankees pursue Jon Lester or Max Scherzer, I’ll be very relieved if and when the Yankees re-sign David Robertson, Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy.  New York is a hard place to play, but all three of these guys have shown they can prosper in the Bronx.  Robertson followed a legend with grace and ease, Headley showed brilliant defense at a position we really haven’t seen since Graig Nettles, and McCarthy gave the Yankees a chance to win with almost every start.  Dellin Betances had a great first year but we really do not know if he could make the transition to closer.  It wasn’t something that Robertson was able to do immediately as he did not enjoy success the year Mariano Rivera was hurt in Kansas City.  I believe that A-Rod will look to be the older, injury prone player that he has become, if not worse.

The Yankees need to make some inspired trades.  It may mean taking a chance on someone who, for whatever reason, has not found his potential, but that’s okay.  I’d rather take a chance on a young player with upside than getting locked into a three year deal with an aging outfielder.

I was glad to see former Yankee and Pirate A.J. Burnett re-sign with Pittsburgh, foregoing more money from his last year’s team, the Philadelphia Phillies.  Burnett was a good fit in Pittsburgh and it was nice to see a player take an offer that extended beyond just money.

Not that I want to wish the year away, but I am anxious for next month’s winter meetings so that Project Improve the Yankees can start taking form…

–Scott