Tagged: Luis Severino

House Stark Has Fallen…

Mindblowing!  That’s how I felt when I saw the news about the ESPN layoffs and the inclusion of veteran Baseball writer Jayson Stark.  I have long viewed Stark as the foremost Baseball authority at ESPN.  He consistently wrote interesting, objective, and fact-based stories.  After 17 years and recognized as a leading Baseball sportswriter, he was given the swift boot by ESPN.  Amazing.  I am not going to cry for Stark.  ESPN’s loss will most certainly be another media giant’s gain.  This proves that no industry is immune to economic turmoil.  Most likely, all of us, at one point in our lives (or more), have been victimized by financial downturns in the economy.  Still, it doesn’t make the losses any easier.  

I will be anxious to see where Stark lands.  He is too valuable to lose in this chaotic sport.  While there were a number of notable names included in the ESPN layoffs, the other that stood out to me was NFL reporter Ed Werder.  I’ve been following Werder since his days as the Dallas Cowboys beat writer for The Dallas Morning News.  He has been an institution for the NFL.  Like Stark, he has spent 17 years at ESPN.  Also like Stark, I doubt Werder has any problems finding his next gig but I hope it is one that affords him a national presence as I don’t really follow Dallas area sports anymore.

It was definitely a crazy day…no doubt.  Best of luck to all those affected by the layoffs.  Hopefully their entries into the free agent market will be very short-lived.  

In 2007, the Yankees first round selection (30th overall) was the long forgotten pitcher Andrew Brackman.  Once slated to be part of the Killer B’s along with Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, the 6’10” Brackman was never able to realize his potential following Tommy John surgery and was later released.  He is now out of baseball.  The same year of the draft, the Yankees chose a college player in the 39th round (1191st pick overall) by the name of Eric Thames.  Thames didn’t sign and went back to Pepperdine University.  Fast forward ten years, and Thames, after spending three years in Korea and now with the Milwaukee Brewers, is the Major League leader in home runs with eleven.  He has also scored a Major League-leading 27 runs.  Although he was pulled from Wednesday’s game for a tight hamstring, he should be back to increase his homer total on Friday.  Wow, where did this come from?  In the off-season, the Brewers cut last year’s first baseman, Chris Carter, who tied Nolan Arenado for most homers in the NL with 41, and signed Thames as his replacement.  While it is unlikely that Thames will continue at his current pace, the Brewers haven’t missed a beat in getting huge production out of their first basemen.  Too bad those scouts who found Thames in 2007 didn’t see the potential in the Korean Leagues.  Kudos to the Brewers scouts who did.  The year after the Yankees had drafted Thames, he was picked in the seventh round by the Toronto Blue Jays which clearly showed the Yankees had uncovered a potential diamond in the rough.  Thames did fail in chances with the Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros before finding his niche in Korea.  Still, there’s probably a few Yankees scouts saying “I told you so”.  

The Yankees win!…

It was a very laborious 9th inning, but the Yankees beat the Red Sox 3-1 in the opener of their rain-shortened two game series at Fenway Park on a very foggy night.  Luis Severino was quite simply…incredible.  He did not look like the same pitcher on the mound.  I don’t know if it was his best Major League performance but it might be his most impressive.  Sevy (2-1) was in charge throughout his seven innings of work, giving up only three hits and no runs.  He walked two and struck out six.  This is the Severino we have been waiting for.  The youngster has grown up.  Very exciting stuff.  The offense was 100% Baby Bomber-powered.  Aaron Judge, celebrating his 25th birthday, slugged a second inning two-run homer to right off AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello (1-3).  Greg Bird, showing that a Bird #33 jersey is no longer something to cheer for in Boston, delivered a run-scoring single in the sixth, scoring Judge. Judge also made a highlight reel catch that carried him into right field foul territory stands in the third inning.  I was worried that the three runs might not be enough when Aroldis Chapman clearly didn’t have it in the 9th.  He gave up a hit and allowed two walks and a run.  Boston had the winning run on base but with Chapman’s 33rd pitch of the inning, he struck out Josh Rutledge to end the game.  Big sigh of relief…

Credit:  Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other Yankees to homer at Fenway Park on their birthday are Yogi Berra and Roger Maris.  8, 9, and 99.  Very select company for Aaron Judge!  By the way, Happy Belated Birthday to him!

Have a great Thursday!  Hopefully today is a sweeping success for everyone

3 Minus 1 Equals 2…

Credit:  Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

Impressive math skills, huh?  With Tuesday’s rain-out, the 2017 opening Yankees-Red Sox series becomes a two game affair.  It plays havoc with a wager I hold every year with a die-hard Red Sox fan.  Years ago, when we were both bloggers, we started making bets on every series.  Over the years, I’ve had to wear Red Sox caps in photos (including a pink one one year), write long posts about past and present Red Sox players, and sport Red Sox-related profile pics through social media.  My friend no longer blogs so the current bets tend to revolve around FaceBook profile and cover pics.  With only two games, a split means the win goes to the team with the most runs scored.  The loser has to use a Red Sox player as their FaceBook profile pic for three days under the current bet.  So, I have a vested interest in the Yankees to take this series.  Yes, it’s all about me.

The rained out game will be made up on Sunday, July 16th as part of a day-night double-header.   The scheduled starters are pushed back a day so Luis Severino takes the mound today against AL Cy Young Award Winner Rick “Justin Verlander Deserved It More” Porcello while Masahiro Tanaka, in the series marquee matchup, faces Chris Sale on Thursday.  CC Sabathia becomes an observer for this series, with a probable early flight back to New York for Friday’s start against the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles.

It’s raining again today in Boston but hopefully the rain gods will make way for the 7:10 pm EDT start time to allow a few hours of clear skies.  Oh yeah, this is Yankees-Red Sox, better make that four hours of clear skies.

I am not sure what I think about the possibility of Derek Jeter becoming an owner in Major League Baseball.  As Bloomberg reported yesterday, the group led by former Presidential candidate and Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Jeter won the auction for exclusive negotiating rights to buy the Miami Marlins.  The sides still have to hammer out a formal written agreement that must be approved by MLB owners, but I do not see any roadblocks to the eventual sale.  

I suppose that all things considered, it would have been worse for Jeter to buy his local Tampa Bay Rays.  Under that scenario, the Yankees would have had to face a Jeter-owned team 19 times a year in the fight for the American League East.  With Jeter owning a National League team, the Yankees won’t face the Marlins except for every few years in inter-league play.  There’s the possibility that the Yankees could face the Jeter-owned Marlins in the World Series at some point.  But for the most part, they won’t step foot on the same field at the same time.  So, this is probably the best situation for Jeter’s dream to be a Major League owner, particularly considering the Steinbrenner Family has no interest in selling the Yankees.  

It was tough to watch Don Mattingly, a lifetime Yankee, put on another team’s jersey.  If I have a second favorite or National League favorite team, it is probably the Los Angeles Dodgers (okay, not probably, it is).  Mattingly as an assistant coach for Joe Torre in Los Angeles and then later the manager was very palatable.  I was fortunate to live in Los Angeles during the Mattingly regime and I enjoyed having a long-time favorite player as manager of the local team.  I remain a fan of Mattingly’s even though he now calls Miami home, but it’s weird.  I am hopeful that he finds his way back home to Yankee Stadium one day.  I do not know Jeter’s intended ownership percentage or how active he will be as the face of the organization.  Unlike Mattingly, he won’t be putting on a Marlins uniform so technically the Yankees uniform should remain his only one.  Magic Johnson is one of the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers but activity-wise, he is a bigger part of the Los Angeles Lakers.  Will Jeter take that type of passive ownership role or will he be the front man for the team like Denver Broncos non-owner John Elway?  I can’t really see Jeb Bush taking a backseat to Jeter unless Jeter has the greater ownership interest.  These are the things that will shake themselves out in the course of the coming days, weeks and months.  Congrats to Jeter for apparent achievement of his lifelong dream.  I hope he still finds time to visit the old stomping grounds on occasion.  

Credit:  Getty Images

I saw an article today on the YES Network asking if the Yankees should protect James Kaprielian on the 40-man roster next year in advance of the 2018 Rule 5 Draft.  I want to say now, they had better make room.  This should not even be a discussion.  I will be very upset if the Yankees do not add him to the 40-man next year and risk losing him.  I was mad about the sequence of events that led to Jacob Lindgren signing with the Atlanta Braves.  I hope we do not have a repeat situation with Kaprielian.  I know that he has been plagued by injuries and his body of work in the minor leagues is fairly slim, but he is a top talent.  If, I know…ifs and buts…, if he can stay healthy, I really feel that he’ll be a high end starter in the rotation.  I am steadfastly a fan of Kaprielian’s and I look forward to the day he takes the mound at Yankee Stadium.

The San Diego Padres, who had been carrying three catchers including Rule 5 draftee Luis Torrens (from the Yankees), demoted one of the catchers to AAA.  Starter Austin Hedges has played very well this year.  The catcher sent to AAA, Christian Bethancourt, was attempting to be a combo pitcher/catcher.  The demotion leaves the soon-to-be 21 year-old Torrens as the primary backup for Hedges.  In reality, Torrens should be no higher than A or AA so I am optimistic that events will force the Padres to upgrade backup catching to more seasoned talent to pave the way for the return of Torrens to New York.   But as each month goes by, the chances decrease.  Time will tell.

Have a great Wednesday!  I hope it’s a dry one!

Resumption of Baseball’s Greatest Rivalry…

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Credit:  Bain News Service/Library of Congress

As the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox get set to begin the latest chapter in their long, intense rivalry, I thought I’d look back.  The first official game pitting the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox occurred on April 14, 1913 at Fenway Park in Boston.  The Yankees organization began play in the American League in 1901 but they were known as the Baltimore Orioles (no relation).  After two years, the team ceased operations and was purchased by Frank Farrell and Bill Devery.  The new owners moved the franchise to New York, and gave the team the nickname of the Highlanders.  Although they would affectionately become known as the Yankees in subsequent years, the name was not officially changed until 1913.

Similarly, the Red Sox went through several  name changes from the time of their inception (also in 1901).  They were known as the Boston Red Stockings and the Boston Americans before the name was changed to the Red Sox following the 1907 season.

So, although the two organizations have duked it out since 1901, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, by those names, didn’t officially begin until 1913.

Sadly, the Boston won the first Yankees-Red Sox game, 2-1, behind the four-hit pitching of Smoky Joe Wood.  He struck out nine batters while pitching a complete game (but didn’t they all back then).  The Yankees starter, Ray Caldwell, also went the distance, giving up eight hits and two runs.  The Red Sox scored the winning two runs on a double by left fielder Duffy Lewis.

For the inaugural game, the Yankees lineup featured the following players:

  • Bert Daniels, RF
  • Harry Wolter, CF
  • Roy Hartzell, 3B
  • Birdie Cree, LF
  • Hal Chase, 2B
  • Dutch Sterrett, 1B
  • Jeff Sweeney, C
  • Ralph Young, SS
  • Ray Caldwell, P

Of the names, Hal Chase is the one that stands out to me.  “Prince Hal” was primarily a first baseman and is credited with being the first star of the Highlanders/Yankees.  Babe Ruth considered him to be the best first baseman ever, but that was obviously before the days of Lou Gehrig.  Despite his excellent reputation as a baseball player (he was a smooth fielder), his name was tied with corruption for alleged involvement in gambling on baseball games and suspicious play in order to throw games.  Chase would be traded to the Chicago White Sox on June 1, 1913 for Babe Borton and Rollie Zeider.

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It’s a sad tale in the long, storied history of the Yankees franchise.  As late sportswriter Fred Lieb said in describing Chase, “What a waste of skill and artistry.  He could think and move like a flash. Nature fitted him out to be a superstar.  But alas!  As Jim Price (then sports editor for The New York Press) told me in 1911, ‘He was born with a corkscrew brain’”.  It’s unfortunate that Chase went down that path.  He could have ensured a place in Cooperstown with his play, but his actions prevented entry to the Hall of Fame.  He was remorseful in later years, but no one really knows how many games were lost because of his deceit.

New York would win the next day (April 15, 1913) against the Red Sox, 3-2, behind the pitching of Ray Keating for their first Yankees victory in the passionate rivalry.

The Yankees had entered the 1913 season as a team with promise.  They were led by well known player/manager Frank Chance, but for various reasons and probably most importantly the games thrown by Chase, the Yankees finished seventh in the American League with a 57-94 record.  They escaped the cellar by one game over the St Louis Browns.  Chance would later manage the Red Sox for a single season in 1923.

If we go back to the first ever game between the two franchises, the Baltimore Orioles beat the Boston Americans, 10-6, on April 26, 1901.  In 1901, Boston was a two-team city.  The National League team was known as the Boston Beaneaters.  I am sure that all of us have coined various nicknames on Boston over the years, but it would be hard to take any team seriously called the “Beaneaters”.  I guess I wouldn’t want to follow them.

Since those early games, the Yankees have compiled a 1169-973 against the Red Sox.  Their biggest victory occurred on June 19, 2000 when the Yankees pounded the Red Sox, 22-1 (scoring 16 runs in the final two innings, capped with a three run homer by Scott Brosius).  Currently, the Yankees have a three game winning streak against the Red Sox, thanks to a three-game sweep late last September.

In the all-important category, the Yankees lead the Red Sox in World Series championships, 27-7.

For the three game series in Boston, the pitching match-ups will be:

  • Today:  Luis Severino (1-1) versus AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello (1-2)
  • Wednesday:  Masahiro Tanaka (2-1) versus Boston ace Chris Sale (1-1)
  • Thursday:  CC Sabathia (2-1) versus Drew Pomeranz (1-1)

The only ex-Yankee we will see this series is former Yankees fourth outfielder Chris Young.  The former BoSox players on the Yankees roster are reliever Tommy Layne center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.  Austin Romine’s dad, Kevin, is a former Red Sox outfielder.

Of all the Yankees rivalries, there’s no doubt I enjoy Yankees-Red Sox the most.  It’s funny… I hate them the most, yet I prefer them over the Baltimore Orioles (modern version), Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Rays.  I’m sure that doesn’t make any sense.  The Red Sox are a team that I love to hate, but my respect for the team and the organization has always been strong.  When the Yankees win by beating good Red Sox teams, it makes winning that much sweeter.  Somehow, when the Yankees are winning  and the Red Sox are not, it’s just not the same.  One of my favorite quotes is ‘to be the best, you have to beat the best’.

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Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s get this three game series started right!  Sevy, dominate the night!

 

The State of the Curious…

With the impending returns of shortstop Didi Gregorius and catcher Gary Sanchez within the next few weeks, the Yankees have some decisions to make.  Granted, Kyle Higashioka goes back down to AAA to become the starting catcher for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, retaining his seat at the table (the 40-Man roster).  But for Pete Kozma, the future is less certain.

There’s no reason to protect Kozma on the 40-man roster.  It is possible that the Yankees stash him at AAA when Didi returns for insurance, but, realistically, why?  As I type this post, shortstop Tyler Wade is the top hitter for the RailRiders with a .386 batting average (17-for-44 in 11 games).  He has also stolen 6 bags.  With Ronald Torreyes moving back to the super-sub role, Wade represents the greatest shortstop insurance going forward.  Therefore, if it’s my call, Kozma is DFA’d upon Didi’s return.  If he clears waivers, assign him to AAA.  If he is claimed, so be it.  It’s no great loss.  The downside to assigning Kozma to AAA is the fight for playing time with Wade.  So, I’d probably just cut him outright and send him on his way.

The decision then becomes what to do with the 40-man roster spot vacated by Kozma.  It probably doesn’t make sense to give it to Wade (not yet anyway).  I could see the Yankees giving it to a pitcher like Tyler Webb to be part of the bullpen shuttle throughout the summer.  The harder decisions about the 40-man roster will have to be made after the season and before the Rule 5 Draft in December.  For now, the roster decisions are about who can help us today, not tomorrow. 

I know that we didn’t quite make it, but there is something about a ten-game winning streak that I’ve always loved.  It cures all ails.  It is so fun to go more than a week without feeling the agony of defeat.  The Yankees missed making it ten-in-a-row by two games but it was still a fun ride.  The sad part is that with a few clutch hits here and there and no error by the aforementioned Kozma, the Yankees probably could have extended the win streak to nine.  But as they say, that’s the way the ball bounces, so I guess I’ll just have to look forward to the next streak to achieve my self-fulfilling objective for ten. 

Coming into the season, I really had my doubts about Luis Severino and his ability to be a quality major league starter.  I was starting to feel that his stuff played best in the bullpen.  At a quick glance, his stats do not tell the story.  He is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in three starts.  It sounds very pedestrian, but then you look at 20 innings pitched (an average of nearly 7 innings per game) with 27 strikeouts.  More impressive is his 0.80 WHIP (14 hits and 2 walks).  He is currently behind only five pitchers for the lowest WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).  The only pitchers with better WHIP are Ervin Santana of the Minnesota Twins (0.45), James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners (0.57), Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros (0.62), Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers (0.70), and Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox (0.74).  Severino is in very good company.  I know it’s just three starts but this is a significant improvement over last year and it does appear to be sustainable.

Credit:  Noah K Murray/USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to the improved performances of both Severino and Michael Pineda, there is reason for optimism with every starter in the rotation.  This also supports that the Yankees could have another extended winning streak coming their way in the not-so-distant future.  Good times at Yankee Stadium. 

The Yankees signed LHP Nestor Oronel, 20, to a minor league deal.  The Pittsburgh Pirates released Oronel after three years in March.  My first thought was that Oronel is just fodder for minor league starting pitching depth.  But being a lefty and only 20 years of age (he doesn’t turn 21 until December) leads me to believe that he might be viewed as a reclamation project.  

Gleyber Torres has been placed on the 7-day Minor League DL with his shoulder injury.  Manager Joe Girardi said on Wednesday that he just has some inflammation in the shoulder and shouldn’t be down too long.  So, it does sound as though the team (and Torres) dodged a bullet, and he will be back in the Trenton Thunder lineup soon.

The Yankees returned to the win column with Wednesday night’s win over the Chicago White Sox, 9-1.  Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff, but he still went 7 innings, giving up only a single run.  He struck out 6 and walked two while scattering six hits.  The Yankees need this guy to be hitting on all cylinders, and he’s getting closer.  It was a great offensive night as every starter had a hit, and the team was homer happy with four.  

The Yankees only allowed former closer David Robertson to get one save opportunity as they took the three game set from the White Sox, two games to one.  At 10-5, the Yankees are percentage points behind the Baltimore Orioles (9-4).  They lead the third place Boston Red Sox by a game, although the Red Sox can cut the distance by a 1/2 game with a win today (an off day for the Yankees).  Since the Orioles also play today, the Yankees could either be 1/2 game behind the O’s at the end of the day or they could be the AL East Leaders.  

Friday, the Yankees head to Pittsburgh for a weekend series with the Pirates.  Like the White Sox, the Pirates feature a few former Yankees.  Catchers Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart, and Pitchers Ivan Nova and Wade LeBlanc.  You could loosely throw Gerrit Cole into the category although he was never officially a Yankee.  He was a former top draft pick who never signed.   Although Nova wears Andy Pettitte’s number (46) for Pittsburgh, his first start against his former team will pit him against his old number (47) when he matches up with Jordan Montgomery on Sunday.  

The Yankees deserve this day off.  They’ve exceeded expectations and have been a very exciting team to watch.  It’s amazing to think it’s only going to get better when Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius are back and Greg Bird is hitting like we know he can.

Have a great Thursday!  One in row, Baby!  Let’s make it two on Friday!

To Trade A Gardner Is To Believe In Tomorrow…

Credit:  Presswire

Prior to the season, I was saying the Yankees should move veteran outfielder Brett Gardner.   Now, fourteen games into the 2017 season, I am more convinced than ever he should be moved.  Granted, it is not his fault that he turns 34 on August 24th (I personally blame his parents) but he does not fit into the long-term view for the new and improved New York Yankees. 

For the season, Gardner is batting .205 with no home runs or RBI’s.  He has stolen five bags but all things considered, his production is replaceable.  The Yankees need to find room to consistently start fourth outfielder Aaron Hicks.  Hicks, 27, has shown he can be a productive hitter when he regularly knows that he’ll be in the lineup.  For the season, Hicks has much better numbers than Gardner (outside of the total stolen bases).  Hicks has received 15 less at-bats than Gardner but only has two less hits.  Hicks has three home runs on the year, with eight RBI’s.  His two stolen base attempts ended in failure but regardless, Hicks has been the better player.  Even though he hasn’t put up the numbers for AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre-Barre this month, I think Mason Williams, 25, is a very capable fourth outfielder.

I would love to unload center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury but with his contract, he’s not going anywhere.  We’re four years into his 7-year, $153 million contract and at this point, there’s nothing he can do for redemption (at least not in my eyes).  He is what he is, and he’ll never be more, and he’ll never be that dude who tore up the league for the Boston Red Sox in 2011.  That was his Brady Anderson year.  Chained to Ellsbury for the foreseeable future, it means that Hicks would need to play either left or right.  Aaron Judge is the awakening Giant in right so he’s not going anywhere.  That only leaves left field.  It makes the most sense to move Gardner and begin the outfield youth movement with full intensity.  Gardner’s been a good Yankee so slap him on the back, give him a watch, and send him on his way. 

I suppose the opposing point of view is that Ellsbury will be hurt at some point and it will be necessary to slide Gardner to center, creating a left field opening.  At some point this season, the Yankees need to begin placing higher value in Dustin Fowler as the center fielder of the future unless they plan to discard Fowler (a mistake in my opinion) to make way for Jorge Mateo.  I wish Mateo was closer to the Majors so that he could force a competition but at this point, Fowler will be ready much sooner.  Since Mateo is still learning the position, he is much further behind Fowler than just levels in the Minor Leagues. 

I wouldn’t want to over-expose Matt Holliday but he could still play left occasionally in a pinch.  As former Yankee Lee Mazzilli once said (regrettably), “Left field is a position for idiots”.  Not trying to demean the position, but there are others in the organization that can play the position as back up for Hicks, Ellsbury, and Judge.  There always seems to be fourth outfielders readily available as free agents or ones that could easily (and cheaply) be had.  I am not worried about the outfield depth.  As we move deeper and deeper into the season, guys like Clint Frazier move closer to potential callups.  

It’s time to move Gardy.  Maybe not this exact minute but no later than July if not sooner.   

Now that I’ve ripped Gardner for the day, he will probably go on a hitting tear.

Why is it that the best Yankees beat writers always move on?  I remember loving the work of Peter Abraham on the LoHud Yankees Blog, and these days he is a Red Sox beat writer for the Boston Globe.  I get it, he’s a Boston guy so it was an opportunity to go home.  Then, I loved reading Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News and listening to his podcasts.  Now, he is a writer for MLB.com writing about, Egads!, other teams.  Or Marc Carig of The Star Ledger moving from the Yankees to the Mets.  Next, you’ll probably tell me that Brendan Kuty or Bryan Hoch have found other things they’d like to do.  Sorry, just my rant about losing Feinsand.  I enjoyed his time as the Yankees beat writer for the Daily News.

The win streak ends at eight.  Bummer.  Usually, when a starting pitcher goes eight innings and only allows three hits and strikes out ten, the end result is a win.  But on a night when the other team’s starter was a wee bit better and the Yankee bats were quiet, Luis Severino took the loss as the Yankees fell to the Chicago White Sox, 4-1.  The Yankees had a chance at the end with the winning run at the plate, but Aaron Judge grounded into a force out to end the game.  A grand slam would have been so cool at that moment.  

The Yanks still have the chance to take the series when the teams meet for the third and final time this evening.

Tuesday evening turned out to be a double loss as top prospect Gleyber Torres was scratched from the lineup for AA Trenton Thunder due to biceps tendonitis.  He will undergo a MRI to determine the extent of the injury.  Hopefully, the news will be favorable.  

James Kaprielian underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, so now the long road to recovery begins.  

Have a great Wednesday!  I think it’s time to start a new winning streak!

Do You Have Prince Albert In A Can?…

Credit:  Zach Bland/Charleston RiverDogs

With the news that James Kaprielian has elected Tommy John surgery, it is already being speculated that Albert Abreu moves to the top of the chart for right-handed prospects in the Yankees organization.  At only 21 years of age, he is further away from the Major Leagues than Kaprielian is (was) and his status of the top righty would cause him to leap-frog over the more seasoned Chance Adams (and possibly Domingo Acevedo depending upon what prospect list you are looking at). 

While I have high hopes for Chance Adams, I’ve been very intrigued by Abreu since he was acquired, along with pitcher Jorge Guzman, from the Houston Astros last November in the Brian McCann trade.  At the time of the trade, I felt the Yankees did an outstanding job with their return for a player who longer fit.  At the time of the trade, the only teams that you consistently heard connected to McCann were the Astros and his former team, the Atlanta Braves.  It felt like a buyer’s market but GM Brian Cashman still came up with quality prospects. 

In Abreu’s first start this year for the Single A Charles RiverDogs, he absolutely dominated.  In 5 2/3 innings the other day, he held the Augusta GreenJackets to two hits and no runs, striking out eleven.  He did not walk anyone.  At one point, his pitches were hitting 100 mph on the radar gun.  For the season, Abreu has pitched 9 2/3 innings, allowing only five hits and one run for an 0.93 ERA.  He has struck out a total of 17 batters.  I am sure the AA Trenton Thunder and High-A Tampa Yankees are already salivating over who gets their hands on Abreu next. 

I am okay with the spotlight not being focused on Adams.  My hope is his continued positive, upward climb in the organization.  I have no problem with him slipping quietly into the rotation when it is time.  Take a chance on Adams!  If we do lose Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and/or CC Sabathia at the end of the year, we’ll need every quality (healthy) arm that we can get. 

Credit:  Martin Griff

Regarding Kaprielian, given this is the same injury that cost him the 2016 season, I think the decision to undergo TJ surgery is the best possible option.  Unfortunately, there are no guarantees.  But as I’ve said before, he had to make the decision that was best for him and not necessarily what was best for the Yankees.  Surgery probably means  a reappearance in the minor leagues toward the end of the 2018 season since the standard recovery time is 12-18 months.  More than anything, I hope he is able to rebound from this setback and return with the best health possible.  It’s going to be a long journey for Kaprielian (basically, three lost seasons counting last year) but I hope that he is one day able to step foot on Yankee Stadium turf as a member of the New York Yankees.  I am glad that he chose Dr Neal ElAttrache for the surgery given that he is one of the leading experts in the field. 

Kaprielian’s surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday which coincides with Tax Day.  So, I guess that day is going to be painful for all of us!  Well, I suppose you could argue that Kaprielian is getting the pain from an orthopedic surgeon, whereas the rest of us are getting it from a proctologist.

The Cleveland Indians trade for Andrew Miller may have cost them more time without All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis.  It seems odd that one would be connected to the other but Kipnis was hit by a pitch on his left hand the other day on a rehab assignment.  Word is that Kipnis will give it go today so hopefully he won’t miss time.  The irony is that the pitch was thrown by the Yankees’ Justus Sheffield, a former Indians prospect who arrived with Clint Frazier, among others, in the Miller trade.    

After the second run through the rotation, which included a rookie, it’s hard to believe that the worst starting performance was courtesy of Masahiro Tanaka (last Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, which is also the last time the team has lost).  After Micheal Pineda’s masterful performance on Opening Day, Luis Severino delivered a gem of his own.  In getting his first starting victory since September 27, 2015, Sevy went seven strong innings and struck out eleven Rays batters.  He only surrendered five hits, one walk and two runs.  He did give up a fifth inning home run to Peter Bourjos but all things considered, he limited the damage and set the Yankees up for the win despite minimal offense.  It’s the type of quality start that we consistently need from Severino and one that was so elusive last year when Sevy went 0-8 as a starter.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II/AP Photo

The only offense was provided by Aaron Hicks and his two home runs.  Thanks to Sevy’s great start, that’s all we needed for the 3-2 win.  Dellin Betances did get into a bit of bind in the eighth inning when he had runners at the corners with no outs, but he worked out of trouble to escape the inning with no runs.  The strikeouts for the first two outs of Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria on called third strikes were huge.  I was a little worried when Brad Miller came to the plate but he was tagged out by Betances on a soft roller hit toward first base for the final out.  

Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth and picked up his second save of the season.  Man, I love having that guy back from the Chicago Cubs.  

After sitting at 1-4 following Saturday’s loss, the Yankees are 5-4 with the sweep of the Rays.  The Yankees now begin a three game set with the St Louis Cardinals at the Stadium.  The Cards have gotten off to a slow start this year and are currently in last place in the NL East with a 3-6 record (tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates).  They are capable of so much more but I hope they don’t wake up in this series.  It’s a reunion for Yankees DH Matt Holliday who spent eight years in St Louis.  Michael Wacha faces Masahiro Tanaka in what should be a great pitching matchup.  It’s time for a dominant Tanaka performance like we saw during Spring Training. 

Have a great Friday!  Let’s keep this winning streak alive!  Go for five!

The Dawn of the New Season…

It seems like we were just getting excited about pitchers and catchers reporting to training camp.  Now, here we are at the end of the Grapefruit League season and awaiting the first pitch to start the 2017 MLB season.

It was a very successful Spring for the Yankees.  It was far better than I could have imagined.  Heading into Spring, we were concerned about Greg Bird.  He hit well late in the 2015 season but missed most of last year due to his shoulder injury.  There was doubt about how he would perform and if the shoulder would hold him back like, say, the way Mark Teixeira’s wrist did.  Bird smashed any concerns that he is ready.  I know that Spring stats do not really mean much, but Bird led the Yankees with 8 home runs and was second on the team behind Gary Sanchez with 15 RBI’s.  He played first base like a veteran and by all accounts, he is posed to be a future star in New York.  I’ve always thought of Bird as a professional hitter and not one who will be susceptible to prolonged slumps.  I am very glad to see that he is ready to fly (no pun intended).

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Credit:  John Raoux, AP

What can you say about Gary Sanchez?  He continued the great success from last Fall without missing a beat.  His bat delivered (5 homers and 16 RBI’s), and do did his arm (.983 fielding percentage in 102 innings worked, with a sub .500 stolen base percentage against him as he threw out 6 runners while only allow 4 SB’s).  He is arguably the most exciting Yankees catcher since Jorge Posada or to place him higher, Thurman Munson.  Good times ahead for the catching position, no doubt.

Aaron Judge held off Aaron Hicks to win right field in the Battle of Aarons.  I feel bad for Hicks because I know that he needs to play every day to be successful.  It’s hard to get into rhythm with limited, spot starts.  But I would have been very disappointed to see Hicks get the right field job over Judge.  At this point, sending Judge down to Triple A serves no purpose.  He has proven himself at that level.  He needs to master the Major Leagues and he can only do that by being here and playing every day.  His ceiling, if successful, is so much greater than Hicks.  Dating back to the days of Reggie Jackson and Dave Winfield, I love powerful right fielders at Yankee Stadium.

If I was the General Manager of the Yankees, Brett Gardner would be living in a different zip code.  Nothing against Gardner, he’s been a good Yankee but his best days are behind him.  He needs to open the way for younger guys.  I’d prefer to start Hicks in left over Gardner, so I’d find a way to move Gardy even if the return is not ideal.  The perfect scenario would be to trade Jacoby Ellsbury and move Gardner to center, but that’s not going to happen with nearly $90 million left on Ellsbury’s contract.

In the starting rotation, Luis Severino won the fourth spot but it was not an overpowering Spring performance.  Last year, Severino chased his first win as a starter without success (he picked up a few wins in the bullpen but was 0-8 in his starts).  I really hopeful that we do not go weeks or months trying to get that elusive first win this year.  Severino has so much potential but he still leaves so many wondering if his stuff plays better out of the pen.  It would be nice if he could prove those naysayers wrong (including me) to become a vital part of the rotation.

Manager Joe Girardi has delayed his decision for a fifth starter.  With three scheduled off days during April including two days in the first week, a fifth starter is not needed until Sunday, April 16th at home against the St Louis Cardinals.  Of the competitors for the fifth spot, only Bryan Mitchell made the Opening Day roster as a reliever.  Chad Green will go down to AA Trenton while Jordan Montgomery will go to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Both Green and Montgomery will have early April starts in the minors for further auditions.  I am sure that Mitchell will get some audition opportunities through long relief.  Mitchell had been my favorite for the rotation but Jordan Montgomery changed my mind.  So, I am hopeful that Montgomery gets the call-up when it is time for the fifth starter.

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Credit:  Associated Press

I was glad to see Chasen Shreve make the Opening Day roster as the second lefty behind Tommy Layne.  Well, technically the third but Aroldis Chapman doesn’t really count since he’s on the mound at the end of games regardless of who is at the plate.  When the Yankees toyed with the minor league signings of Ernesto Frieri and Jon Niese, I was fearful that Shreve would be one of the odd men out.  Perhaps he still is given the Yankees’ propensity for the using the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre shuttle to keep the bullpen fresh.  Another young reliever I am happy for is Jonathan Holder.

Utility player Ronald Torreyes won the interim shortstop role while Didi Gregorius begins the year on the Disabled List.  I am not excited about Torreyes in an every day role, but there were limited internal options.  The Yankees will make room on the 40-man roster to bring up Pete Kozma to back up Torreyes, but Kozma has no bat.  It did not make sense for the Yankees to trade for a shortstop since Didi will be back by the end of April or early May, and, unfortunately,  prospect Tyler Wade is not quite ready.  I also didn’t want to see the Yankees slide Starlin Castro back to short.  He is still relatively inexperienced at second and needs to continue his work at the position.  The Yankees obviously agreed as they never played Castro at short during training camp.  Many thought the Yankees should have slid Castro to short to allow Rob Refsnyder to start at second.  I am not sure that Refsnyder, for whatever reason, will ever get a legitimate chance in the Bronx.  He was sent down to AAA for the start of the season with earlier reports that he was on the trading block.

I am not expecting this to be a playoff year for the Yankees.  They could surprise and nab a Wild Card spot but I don’t think this is their year to unseat the Boston Red Sox as AL East Champions.  They are still a year or two away from being a legitimate World Series contender.  I do think this will be a more exciting team than last year’s team from beginning to end.  The Baby Bombers proved that last year when the deadline deals moved Chapman to the Cubs and Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians, and Alex Rodriguez was released.  It was only a preview of the excitement and energy the younger players can bring, which is further enhanced by the presence of Greg Bird this year.

Despite the quick arrival of the regular season, I am ready.  Play ball!…

Baseball Equipment Laying on Grass