Tagged: Luis Severino

Pinstriped Victories are the Best…

Photo Credit: Adam Hunger, AP


Led by starting pitching, the Yankees are on a roll…

The world always feels a little better when the Yankees are winning. They have won five consecutive games and have taken seven straight series including the latest one with the talented Chicago White Sox.

This has been an eventful week in the Yankees Universe, featuring a no-hitter by Corey Kluber, and Friday night’s triple play to erase a White Sox threat against Aroldis Chapman, which allowed the Yankees to win the game in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth. 

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

I had my doubts about Corey Kluber (sorry) when the Yankees signed him in the off-season. It was tough to see James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka go and Kluber’s health history in recent years was less than stellar, but in retrospect, it was a great signing as Kluber has continued to improve as the season has progressed. In comparison, Paxton is not playing baseball after his recent Tommy John surgery and Tanaka has struggled in Japan (he took the loss yesterday against the Nippon Ham Fighters, dropping his season record to 2-2, with 3.00 ERA). The failure to find his splitter was the primary cause for Tanaka’s struggles yesterday but it has been that kind of season for the former Yankee. Kluber, meanwhile, has made up for the losses of Paxton and Tanaka. I would like to include Jameson Taillon in that statement, but we are not there yet. Kluber has provided the Yankees with one of their best number two starters in recent years. Not trying to knock Tanaka or Paxton, but Kluber is showing why he was such a great pitcher and competitor all those years in Cleveland.

It was exciting for Kluber to realize his no-no on the very mound that he pitched his one and only 2020 regular season inning for the Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. Although he was born in Birmingham, Alabama, Kluber went to high school in Coppell, Texas. Coppell is a northwest suburb of Dallas and a short ride from Arlington. It does seem like there have been a lot of no hitters this season. Kluber’s gem was the sixth of the season, one night after Spencer Turnbull of the Detroit Tigers threw one. Still, it was the first by a New York Yankee since David Cone threw the memorable perfect game in 1999. The only place other than Globe Life Park that might have been better for Kluber’s masterpiece (excluding Yankee Stadium) is Fenway Park. Kluber has a home in Boston and of course it would be fun to see the Red Sox go hitless any day of the week. It was probably tough for the Rangers fans to see their former player so dominant and wondering what could have been for them had Kluber been healthy during his time in the Metroplex. 

Photo Credit: Tony Gutierrez, AP

The triple play was such a thrilling moment on Friday night. Aroldis Chapman seemed to be having an off night (those happen) after walking the first batter in the top of the ninth, followed by his fielding error on a sacrifice which put runners at first and second with no outs. But as quickly as Chicago’s Andrew Vaughn hit the ball to Gio Urshela at third, the inning was over. It set the stage for Gleyber Torres to win the game in their next at-bat when he hit the third consecutive single of the bottom of the ninth inning to score Aaron Judge. The Chicago White Sox are one of baseball’s best young and up-and-coming teams, so the weekend series was expected to be a challenge and a potential preview of this Fall’s playoffs. With Saturday’s win, the Yankees have won another series regardless of what happens today. 

Jameson Taillon pitches this afternoon against Dallas Keuchel. I cannot say I am too optimistic about winning with Taillon on the mound, but the Yankees have done better against Keuchel in recent years after his dominance against them earlier when he was a younger starter for the Houston Astros. Today is a good day for Taillon to round the curve and begin the journey to, hopefully, better starts. I want to see Taillon succeed as a Yankee and I do not want to see him pulled from the rotation, but he cannot continue to struggle if he intends to hold down his spot. Luis Severino will soon start facing live hitters so his return will take focus within the next couple of months. He will be looking to take a rotation spot away from someone. Taillon has the power to ensure it is not his spot…or not…it is up to him.  I hope for his success.

I am getting a little tired of all the speculation among Yankees fans regarding who the Yankees should acquire to cover center field with the season-ending loss of Aaron Hicks after his wrist surgery. I have no idea who the Yankees should acquire but they need to do something. Playing Brett Gardner every day is not the answer. Promoting Estevan Florial seems a bit premature since he is not yet ready with his development. One day, but not today, tomorrow, or next week for the 22-year-old outfielder. The best option is most likely outside of the organization today. There will be no big, splashy type of trades, in my opinion. It will be an ‘under-the-radar’ move for a young cost-controlled player with potential who is currently in the Show or ready for it or a low-cost veteran. I am not expecting any big trades and there is certainly no chance the Yankees will take on a large salary without unloading a commensurate level of salary.

I have not been Miguel Andujar’s biggest fan, but I am glad to see he is taking advantage of the opportunity to play. He is far from a great outfielder but to his credit, he is trying, and he is improving. Those are two important factors for success.   

Photo Credit: Terrance Williams, AP

Despite the better play of late, the Yankees still find themselves in third place in the AL East although the gap is tightening. Entering play today, they are 1 ½ games behind the Red Sox and trail the Tampa Bay Rays by a ½ game. They have the same number of losses as the Rays (19) and only one more than the Red Sox. I had hoped Joe Girardi and his Philadelphia Phillies could have helped us out this weekend but, so far, they have dropped the first two games of the three-game set with the Red Sox at Citizen’s Bank Park.  The Yankees are running out of time to reach my goal of first place by Memorial Day Weekend, but we could see some movement in the standings this week. 

The Yankees have signed former Cincinnati Reds RHP Sal Romano to a minor league deal. He was assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 14 appearances for the Reds this season, he had posted a 5.23 ERA before he was designated for assignment and released by the Reds. Romano had been with the Reds for his entire career (drafted in the 23rd round of the 2011 MLB Draft). His roster spot had been in jeopardy with the Reds this season due to his struggles, and it was lost when the Reds saw an upgrade their roster by claiming a better pitcher, RHP Michael Feliz, who had been waived by the Pittsburgh Pirates). He seems to be depth for Triple A, but it will be interesting to see how Romano performs under the tutelage of Yankee pitching coaches and analytics.  He carries the reputation of not missing many bats, so something is going to have to change if he ever intends to wear the Pinstripes at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees will have to face another one of their former players in the AL East following Tampa’s acquisition of former Yankees reliever J.P. Feyereisen from the Milwaukee Brewers. Feyereisen was one of the players acquired from the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 Andrew Miller trade that also netted Clint Frazier (in addition to Justus Sheffield and Ben Heller). He was traded to Milwaukee in September 2019 for a prospect and international signing bonus money. He has been a solid reliever for the Brewers and figures to help the Rays. I was a little surprised the Rays traded their starting shortstop, Willy Adames, to the Brewers. I know the Rays have the best shortstop prospect in baseball (Wander Franco) but considering Franco is not yet ready for the call, it seemed to be a strange move even if Adames is not a great player.

Speaking of not-so-great players, I saw the Brewers released infielder/outfielder Dee Strange-Gordon. He seems like a guy Brian Cashman might take a minor league flyer on. It has been a tough road for Strange-Gordon this season. Following his unsuccessful three-year run in Seattle, where they converted him to an outfielder when they still had Robinson Cano at second, he signed this off-season with the Reds but was released and subsequently signed by Milwaukee. It does not seem like it was that long ago Strange-Gordon was a young promising player, but he is now 33 and having a hard time finding his way back to MLB. 

As always, Go Yankees!

COVID Loves the Yankees…

Outbreak impacts Yankees on current road trip…

It was a tough week for the Yankees with the COVID-19 outbreak but as GM Brian Cashman urged everyone to consider, the vaccinations received by players, coaches and support personnel helped minimize the damage and harm that could have been suffered if unvaccinated. Seven coaches and support personnel, plus Gleyber Torres, have been asymptomatic and, according to Manager Aaron Boone, it is possible Gleyber could be back in less than 10 days since the joint MLB-MLBPA committee has the discretion to approve an earlier return if the player is asymptomatic and receives multiple negative tests. That is good news. Hoping a full speedy recovery for all of those impacted, and for no more cases affecting the team.

The news about Aaron Hicks is not so good. Of course, we do not know if the tear in the tendon sheath of his left wrist will only require some rest for a short period of time or if he will need surgery which of course could put him out for a while. It just seems like ‘same old, same old…’ with Hicks. It is always something that keeps him off the field. The wrist problem may be to blame for his slow start this year, but it is starting to seem, to me, that Hicks is just not a reliable, dependable contributor. Nice moments at times, but not consistent or sustainable. Bummer, I like Hicks and wish he could be a reliable, go-to player but he is not. 

Photo Credit: Mike Carlson, AP

Naturally, with Hicks’ health woes, the cackles from the Yankees fan base about Mike Tauchman have turned up the volume. I thought 2019 Tauchman was a decent player, but I am not pining for his return. On the season, he is batting .209/.274/.313, with .263 wOBA and wRC+ of 68. One home run, which he hit in his fourth game with the San Francisco Giants, and 9 RBIs. No thanks. I am not enamored with Brett Gardner playing center field every day, but I have better confidence in Brian Cashman and company uncovering a potential player who can help if Hicks is out for an extended period than wishing for the return of an unproductive player. I would love to see Estevan Florial, who was called up to Triple A this past week, but he is not ready…yet. 

I was a little alarmed earlier this week when I heard Luis Severino had woken up with a sore back, but thankfully it proved to be nothing and Sevy was able to pitch live batting practice this week. I am looking forward to Sevy’s return. The Yankees pitching staff has been better of late, but it will be better WITH Sevy than without. Currently, Jameson Taillon seems to be weakest link. This can and most likely will change. I would dump Domingo German in a New York minute regardless of how he is pitching for Severino, but that is just me. I have been incredibly pleased with Jordan Montgomery this season, and of course, Gerrit Cole has been the beast we all thought he would be. Corey Kluber has shown he is not the pitcher he once was, but as a 35-year-old in the process of making age-related adjustments, I have no complaints. Keep the team in games and I am good. I am hopeful and optimistic there will be no further setbacks for Sevy, and we will get to see him later this summer.

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post

Championship attitude. After Gio Urshela entered last night’s game as a pinch-hitter and delivered what proved to be the game-winning home run, he was quoted after the game saying, “You’ve got to be ready, all the time, from pitch one.” Clearly one of Cashman’s best ‘diamond in the rough’ finds, Urshela said, “I was warming up in the innings before that, just trying to keep my body warm and be ready for opportunity.” Honestly, I did not expect much when the Yankees acquired Urshela from the Toronto Blue Jays. Although I had remembered some of the highlight reel plays that he made as a member of the Cleveland Indians, I viewed him as an all-glove, no bat player and figured he was just Triple A depth. Glad I was wrong on that one. Urshela has been a godsend, and his attitude conveys he is the right player at the right time. I am glad he is a Yankee. I enjoyed watching the playful headlock he put on Gary Sanchez in the dugout after the home run. Team chemistry is everything. Winning begets winning. 

Photo Credit: AP

My goal remains for the Yankees to be in first place in the AL East by Memorial Day Weekend. If they had beaten the Tampa Bay Rays in last week’s getaway game, they could have tied the Boston Red Sox. They did not and find themselves two games back after yesterday’s comeback win. There is no question Boston will fade, but the sooner the Yankees can leapfrog them, the better. 

I am not sure how or why, but every season, since I was a kid, my hope for the Yankees is a 34-21 or better record after 55 games. I do not know or recall the reason for why those numbers stick out to me and why specifically 55 games, but the Yankees remain in contention for that mark. They are presently 21-17. They would have to get hot, but this team can do it.

It was sad to see Albert Pujols unceremoniously dumped by the Los Angeles Angels. I suppose the story may have been different if Pujols had simply said this would be his last season to allow a farewell tour. I know, it is hard for some players to let go. There’s part of me that would like to see him go back to St Louis but considering he is not much more than a DH at this point, there is probably no chance. The Yankees do not need him, but I would like to see a contender give Pujols an opportunity to exit the game on his terms. Regardless of what happens, a call to the Hall awaits him.

Here is to good health, from this day forward, for the Yankees.

As always, Go Yankees!

Gerrit Cole is a Yankee…

Photo Credit: AP

Another dominant start by Caden Cole’s dad…

I know, the title of this post is probably one of the most over-used phrases on Social Media, but what a difference an ace makes! As if we do not say it enough, thank you, Hal Steinbrenner, for your gracious gift of $324 million to Baseball’s best pitcher. 

In a showdown with the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, Shane Bieber, Cole emerged victorious with yesterday’s one-run win as the Yankees took down the Cleveland ‘soon to be formerly named’ Indians, 2-1. Regardless of whether he wins or loses, or if he gives up a homer, I know I have so much more confidence when Cole is on the mound. Coupled with the brilliant contributions provided by the Yankees bullpen this season, it is a winning combination.

Cole recorded eleven strikeouts to raise his season total to fifty in five games. Jacob deGrom has as many in only four games, but regardless, you know Cole will reach his usual 300 by season’s end so long as good health remains his friend. I think this is the most I have joined a Yankees starting pitcher since the prime (early Yankee career) of CC Sabathia. I remember the fun and excitement of the summer of ’78 with the brilliant pitching performance of Ron Guidry. Cole brings the same excitement I felt as a kid. 

Thanks to Cole, the Yankees have their first three-game winning streak of the young season following the sluggish start. A record of 9-11 feels much better than 6-11. One day at a time, one win at a time. Borrowing former Yankee Mariano Duncan’s famous words, “we play today, we win today”. Breaking the weekend only one game below .500 would be a great way to start the new week. Despite the slow start, the Yankees are only three games behind the current AL leaders, the Boston Red Sox. Nobody expects Boston to be there at the end except for maybe the RSN. It’s a matter of when, not if, the Yankees will catch and pass the Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays, the more formidable competitor, sit a game and a half above the Yankees entering play today. The up-and-coming Toronto Blue Jays are currently tied with the Yankees for third place. If the Yankees can be in first place by Memorial Day Weekend, with Luis Severino looming on the horizon, life will truly be good.

I saw the tweet by Erik Kratz yesterday morning and of course Michael Kay mentioned it during the TV broadcast of yesterday’s game, but it is worth revisiting. Kratz tweeted: “Are the Yankees too professional? Maybe Rougned Odor gives them the swag they need outwardly. He brings a dynamic that, combined with the other talent already on the roster, could make them lethal, even if statistically he doesn’t play well.”

Photo Credit: AP

There were many Odor haters when the Yankees made the recent trade. I did not really understand the trade either for no other reason than Odor simply has not been a good player for a few years now despite his young age.  Yet, I did not rip the Yankees for the move. I see the financial aspect with the Texas Rangers paying Odor’s big contract, but I knew the Yankees must have seen something in him they thought could be corrected. Look, I am not expecting him to become a superstar in Pinstripes. He will not even be a starter when Luke Voit returns to push DJ LeMahieu back to second base. But his competitive spirit is refreshing, and it is helping drive others to better performance which is a single characteristic that carries value. Imagine his energy matched with Voit’s when the Yankees first baseman is back on the field. I like the swagger. The Tampa Bay Rays have shown they are not intimidated by the Yankees. I would love to see the changing of the tide. Put some fear in the hearts of the Rays. 

While the jury is still out on Odor, it is important to remember Cashman’s moves sometimes need time to marinate. Odor, although he may not be a great hitter, is seemingly coming up with the big hits at the right time. His home run yesterday, the margin of victory, showed there is life in the bat. Given how much Daniel Burch of The Greedy Pinstripes loves bat flips, no doubt he is enjoying it when Odor goes yard. 

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BatFlipBrotherhood

I suppose there is some irony that the two home runs in Saturday’s game were provided by two players despised by Yankees Twitter, Odor and Aaron Hicks.  Gerrit Cole called Odor “the cherry on top” so you know the Yankee players value these guys, even if Twitter does not.

I am a little sad Corey Kluber will not face his former team this series. For as much as Kluber haunted us an Indian, it would have been nice to exact some revenge.  

I could not care less about the New York Mets, but I have to say I am sorry to see the continued struggles of former Yankees’ reliever Dellin Betances. The former strikeout artist has been dealing with right shoulder impingement this season, and this past week the Mets moved Betances to the 60-day injured list. This means Betances will not be available until sometime in June. Now into his second season with the Mets, Betances has only been able to pitch 12 2/3 innings in regular season games for New York’s second-best MLB team. He deserves better. Not sure if we will ever see vintage Betances again, but he will most likely need to leave New York City to make it happen, especially if the latest injury keeps him out longer than currently expected or if he runs into further injuries in the months ahead. 

Speaking of former Yankees, farewell to Neil Walker who announced his retirement this past week. Walker is a good guy, and I enjoyed his time with the Yankees even if his performance was forgettable. He was not the player he had been earlier in his career (obviously), but he was a team guy. Like Jay Bruce, I had hoped for much more, but it was quite simply not meant to be. Walker’s career effectively ended when the Philadelphia Phillies released him last September after playing just 18 games during the 2020 season.  Father Time nails everybody, except for maybe Tom Brady. Walker’s playing card was revoked at age 35. Time for him to launch his second act for life after MLB. Hopefully, it will prove to be rewarding and successful for Neil and his family.   

Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports

I saw the Yankees were in attendance, among many other teams, for a showcase last week featuring free agent right-hander Anibal Sanchez. It is hard for me to get enthused about the 37-year-old. I probably prefer to see Deivi Garcia achieve Bronx success over bringing in aging journeyman arms.  I am trying to keep expectations low, but I am excited about the return of Luis Severino later this summer even if the initial return from Tommy John surgery is generally met with choppy waters. And no, J.A. Happ’s flirtation with a no-hitter last week did not make me wish he were still around. 

When the Yankees broke out of the gate, falling on their ass, to start the season, the calls for the removal of Aaron Boone started to get louder. I even saw one article yesterday that suggested the Yankees should turn to former manager Buck Showalter. Sorry, as much as I like Buck and having him back in the family at the YES Network, I am not pining for his return to the field. I like Aaron Boone and I continue to support his leadership. Even growing up during the George Steinbrenner era, I am not a fan of in-season firings, even as an attempt to spark a team. Boone deserves a chance to see this season through conclusion. If he falls short, re-evaluate in the off-season. I do not see any available managerial candidates as difference-makers over Boone. Now that the Yankees are starting to play better, the calls for Boone’s head will hopefully subside. It is funny how people love to go after Boone when it is Brian Cashman who dealt the playing cards. Ultimately, I feel Cashman should be held to a higher standard for accountability. He has had a long tenure with the Yankees, but the team has not won since 2009 as all of us know too painfully well.  An off-season change with the general manager’s seat might be more powerful than ending Boone’s time in Pinstripes.  But now is not the time for either. There will be plenty of time to reevaluate at season’s end. For now, the focus should be on bringing a championship back to the Bronx.

First place by Memorial Day Weekend. Onward and upward, let’s win today.

As always, Go Yankees!

The Launch of the Cuban Missile is Delayed…

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Chapman becomes latest to test positive for COVID-19…

We thought last year was the Year of Last Man Standing, but now, the Yankees have lost their third player, Aroldis Chapman, to the coronavirus. With D.J. LeMahieu and Luis Cessa both already sidelined and now the team’s closer, it becomes a question of who’s next. Chapman, perhaps one of the most if not THE most physically gifted athlete on the team, proved he is not invincible against the resurgent virus. It’s been reported that his symptoms are mild but the strength of the virus should never be underestimated. Here’s hoping for a full and speedy recovery for Chapman, as well as Le Machine and Cessa. The sooner they are back (most importantly the first two), the better, assuming they’re fully healthy. If the Yankees win the 2020 World Series, it will be because of their championship-level contributions. In other words, they are desperately needed aside from just being great guys to have on the team.

As much as I want baseball back, there is a part of me that feels cancelling the season before it starts makes some sense. That’s difficult to say, or in this case…write, but I feel the safety and health of the players and their families are the most important factors.

For now, the Show goes on. I hope, and I pray, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases starts to subside soon. Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants and Michael Kopech of the Chicago White Sox are the latest significant players to opt out, with more expected. As with David Price, I do not fault any player who decides the risk is too great for whatever reason(s). It’s their right and I’ll respect them for it. It would be unfair for us to criticize them for making a decision to protect their own best interests. 

With Tyler Wade the most likely fill-in second baseman for LeMahieu, Zack Britton becomes the interim closer. It’s fortunate the Yankees have a strong bullpen to cover for Chappy’s absence but it probably would have been nicer to have Dellin Betances on the roster. Oh well. It’s an opportunity for other deserving guys to step up. 

Photo Credit: Brendan Kuty, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com


Aaron Hicks had a good comment after Saturday’s game when asked if there will be a season. He said the team is prepared and motivated to play and no Yankees have opted out. The Yankees want to play and are ready. He didn’t know about other teams and if there are teams that don’t want to play, it could end the season but he didn’t see any reason why the game should halt. Fair enough. I know guys like Mookie Betts have expressed concerns. Sure, Betts is not a Yankee, but there are other big name guys like him who have expressed concerns and no doubt there are players on the Yankees with the same concerns they’ve kept to themselves. 

It’s been tough to watch the intra-squad games for the lack of energy normally generated by the missing fans in attendance. It fills a little like a golf match, with less than a golf clap to celebrate home runs. A home run, followed by dead silence in Yankee Stadium. It’s not the same. Maybe facing opposing teams rather than teammates will heighten the interest in games but so far there has been no joy in the summer training games. 

I am excited about the future for Clarke Schmidt. With the Yankees potentially losing several starters in the off-season, Schmidt can solidify his role as a 2021 starter with a solid performance in the upcoming 60 games. Both James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka can be free agents after the season. I hope the Yankees bring both back, but at the very least, Masa. J.A. Happ can also leave since he will be unable to reach the milestones that would have triggered an additional year as a result of the shortened season. I am okay with Happ leaving as I see his spot in the rotation as the one I have marked for Schmidt next season. Nothing against Happ but age happens. I’ll gladly go with younger, talented arms like Schmidt and Deivi Garcia.

Photo Credit: New York Yankees, via Pinstriped Prospects


I know the stiff neck Aaron Judge woke up with yesterday is no big deal (using Aaron Boone’s words), and missing an intra-squad game is negligible, but it always seems like “what’s next?” for the big guy. I am really hopeful for a healthy season for Judge as the Yankees really need him. Judge is expected back today. I continue to hold my breath for his good health.

I am excited for the Yankees’ one-two starting punch with Gerrit Cole and James Paxton. I’d prefer to have Masahiro Tanaka as part of the equation but I know he’ll be a little behind with his current concussion protocol. It’s scary to think what the rotation could have been with a healthy Luis Severino this year. Sevy will be back next year but I always think pitchers need a season to ‘right the ship’ so we might not see the best of Sevy until 2022 at the earliest. It’s best to hope for the best but to prepare for the worst…as the saying goes. Sevy would not be the first pitcher to struggle post-Tommy John surgery and he wouldn’t be the last. As we know, there are no sure things in Major League Baseball…except for maybe Mike Trout.

We had COVID-19 testing at my work early last week when one of my co-workers tested positive but we’re still waiting for the results. With the increased testing, there’s clearly a backlog. With as many days that have passed since the test, receiving a negative result is no strong assurance to be in the clear since the coronavirus can be caught easily and at any time. The virus is certainly not waiting to see if we get our test results back before continuing its assault on our bodies. I did not work near the sick co-worker, but the members of her team were all sent home to work for the foreseeable future (anybody who came in close contact with her on a day-to-day basis).

As they say, WEAR YOUR MASK! I wear a mask when I am out and I recognize that I am not wearing my mask for me, I am wearing it for you. 

As always, Go Yankees!

The Absence of Yankees Baseball…

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Baseball Stadiums remain shuttered…

I type this as all of us, or most of us, are locked in the four walls of our homes. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had a very great impact on everyone and I am hopeful that we’ll get to the point where the worst is behind us. Sadly, it does not appear we’re there yet. I look forward to days of easily buying toilet paper again.

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I don’t know about you but this is about as disconnected from Yankees baseball as I’ve ever felt. This includes times of player lockouts and strikes when we knew a return could happen quickly unlike the current situation.

Although MLB Network is gladly showing replays of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych beating the Yankees with his famed mound antics in 1976 or listening to David Cone and Lou Piniella talk about the Mariners 1995 playoff win against everybody’s favorite team, it’s just not the same. I think watching one of those old classic games reminded me that I had forgotten Rawley Eastwick once pitched for the Yankees (he was the winning pitcher in the Phillies’ thrilling 23-22 victory over the Cubs in 1979 but had briefly played in the Bronx a couple seasons earlier). This is all too much information for me to know. I’d rather be talking about Aaron Judge or Gerrit Cole or Gleyber Torres.

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Speaking of Judge, I was surprised to hear that he has also dealt with a collapsed lung (what?) that has since healed. As if the stress fracture in his right first rib was not enough. As for the stress fracture, it sounds like there has been some improvement but not enough to give him medical clearance so it continues to be wait and see. Hopefully this forced exile from baseball will allow him to return to health when the players can actually resume organized activities on the field. I am a little worried that injuries and Judge will go hand in hand for the years ahead and really hope that’s not the case.

It is weird to think that Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, and James Paxton could all be available for “Opening Day” depending upon when that is. I saw Trevor Bauer’s comment that it would take him three to four weeks to get ready for regular season baseball which sounds about right to me. Those who say two weeks after a long layoff are kidding themselves and it would expose the players to unnecessary risk for injury by trying to get ready too quickly.

I think we are realistically looking at the All-Star Break or just before for the players to start the regular season as it seems we are still a long way from the resumption of baseball activities. I don’t see how MLB could possibly play 162 games at this point, and it seems more probable to go with a schedule of only about 108 games, give or take, based on the actual return date. I wouldn’t want to see baseball being played in December. It’s unfortunate in what should have been a probable World Series year for the Yankees that they’ll encounter a shorter season that could benefit other teams’ chances.

I may not be a Red Sox fan but I was sad to hear that Chris Sale needs Tommy John surgery. It is not something I’d wish upon anyone, but for Sale’s sake, he is able to make a full and healthy recovery to restore his status as one of the game’s best. I know the last few years have been frustrating for Red Sox fans as Sale has dealt with injuries, but hopefully this is the cure to his ailments and he’ll return as strong as ever. That’s certainly my hope for Luis Severino (if not more so because he is a Yankee). For Sale, it’s probable he won’t be back and ready until the 2022 season. I suppose late 2021 is possible but in my opinion unlikely given it is late March already.

In the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, I am dealing with a move that will take me from Colorado to California. I was too deep into the move to turn back when the pandemic set in. Not looking forward to moving in the current climate but there’s not really much I can do about it. My new home is near Angel Stadium in Anaheim.I had tickets to see all three games between the Yankees and Angels over Memorial Day Weekend which I fully expect to be cancelled or postponed.  Sitting in Denver, we got socked with a major winter storm on Thursday (Winter’s way of letting me know I am not out of the woods yet). Hopefully the warmer expected weather over the next week removes signs of the latest snowfall. If all goes well, it will be the last of snow for me for a very long time. If I want to see snow, I’ll go to it. It doesn’t need to come visit me.

I would have preferred to live closer to Dodger Stadium but I had no desire to deal with a two-hour one-way commute to/from work. I’ll just consider myself ‘Los Angeles Scott of Anaheim’. It seems to work for the Angels. No doubt I’ll be taking the train (and a bus trip via the Dodger Express) to see games in Chavez Ravine. But, also, I have plans to attend a few non-Yankee games at Angel Stadium over the course of the summer when/if baseball returns. It will be fun to finally watch Mike Trout play in person. No doubt I’ll be pulling for the Angels when they play a team like the Texas Rangers or any of the Yankees’ AL East Rivals or that trash team in South Texas.

Over OC

I didn’t have much to write about today but wanted to get a few words out to everyone to express my hope you are staying healthy in this very trying time or if you are not doing well, I wish you a speedy and full recovery. The Yankees Family is exactly that, a true family. We care about each and every one of you, and without you, there is no us. Be well.

As always, Go Yankees!

Now Batting, I Have No Friggin’ Clue…

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Yankees struggle to stay healthy…

With no offense to Aaron Judge, I think I am starting to prefer having outfielders who are 6’4” or less. The big guys just seem to have too much trouble staying on the field. It was a little disheartening yesterday to learn Judge has a stress fracture in his right first rib. He apparently suffered the injury last September while making a diving catch. After weeks of not knowing what was wrong, I am glad they were finally able to diagnose the issue with Judge. But on the other hand, it’s a bit frustrating that the team has suffered multiple injuries that occurred last year, only to find out about them this Spring and not earlier.

Whether we are talking about Luis Severino, James Paxton, or Aaron Judge, it seems like earlier diagnosis or action would have been better but I am not a doctor and I only know what I can see from afar.  I hope medical treatment and rest will help Judge overcome the latest setback. Surgery has been mentioned as a possibility but I really hope it doesn’t come to that. If so, it will be more significant lost playing time for one of the team’s best players. If Judge can’t stay healthy, he’ll hit the proverbial fork in the road in a few seasons when the team no longer has control and the Yankees could choose to walk away. It’s not like we’ve never seen popular guys leave before.  Judge is one of my favorite Yankees and I really hope that he overcomes the rash of injuries to be the productive player we know he can be.

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Photo Credit: CBS Sports

This probably almost guarantees Miguel Andujar will be primarily an outfielder and DH this season. Granted, Mike Tauchman is going to be a busy man but he’ll be needed to spell Brett Gardner in center. I am sure the Sock Man will play corner outfield positions too (obviously) but I think I am excited about Miggy’s potential. The caveat is that Gio Urshela must prove that last year was not a fluke, otherwise, MIggy will be back at third which, admittedly, I’d prefer not to see. I’d rather have Andujar as the full-time DH if he can’t master the outfield. The Yankees do need his bat in the lineup and I am glad he’s there at time when Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are not.

This probably also ensures Clint Frazier will head to Baltimore with the team in less than three weeks rather than making the trip to Moosic, PA. I’ve long stated Frazier needs to play at the Major League level. I am firm in my opinion the Yankees either need to play him or trade him. He gets a chance to either prove the Yankees need him or he can showcase himself for other teams. Frazier is probably my early candidate for ex-Yankee by the time the July trading deadline rolls around. But honestly, I’d prefer watching him excel with the Yankees. The problem is the crowded outfield once Stanton and Judge return.  Granted, the Yankees will probably put Stanton in bubble wrap and house him at DH but still. There’s no scenario that I see which benefits sending Frazier to Triple A again. It’s not good for him and it’s not good for the Yankees (a waste of Frazier’s talent and potential).

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

It is good to hear James Paxton is getting close to resuming baseball activities after his successful recovery from back surgery. It does give hope he’ll return in May rather than June which is best case scenario. As for the role of fifth starter while Big Maple is out, I had been pulling for Mike King with the belief Jonathan Loaisiga should be in the pen. However, Loaisiga has been one of the Yankees’ best pitchers this Spring and he’s starting to change my mind. I continue to harbor fear the injury risk is greater as a starter for him, but there’s no doubt Loaisiga can play a huge role for the Yankees this year. I am pulling for him.

I received my copy of the latest Yankees Magazine in the mail yesterday. I think it was a twisted joke that one of the headlines at the top reads “SEVY’S READY FOR 2020”. Oh my, wondering what could have been with Sevy and Gerrit Cole at the top of the rotation this year. I guess we have something to look forward to in late 2021 or for the 2022 season when Sevy returns at full strength.

I was a little disappointed to see the Boston Red Sox sign former Houston pitcher Colin McHugh. I thought McHugh might be a good option for the Yankees with his ability to pitch effectively in both starting and relief roles. The Yankees seem committed to their in-house options, although there has been some smoke lately about other pitchers they might be looking at on the trade market. Miguel Andujar for Steven Matz? No, thank you. The downside is the lack of motivation for teams to make March or April trades when everybody thinks they have a chance. Well, except for the Baltimore Orioles.

I remain optimistic Gary Sanchez will have a good season and it is disappointing to hear the boos for him, especially after last night’s loss to the Orioles. Gary isn’t exactly helping his own cause with one hit in 17 Spring at-bats, but I am not going to fret about Spring Training. If I did, I’d be on the ledge for all those home runs Gerrit Cole gave up the other day. This is probably where I miss Austin Romine. I’ll never be one of those who thought Ro should start over El Gary, but it was nice having him as a safety net. I like Kyle Higashioka but he hasn’t proven himself yet so I just don’t have the same confidence in Gary’s backup as years past. Chris Iannetta has carved out a nice little Major League career over the years but there’s not really anybody behind Higgy that provides more comfort. I really hope Gary hits the ground running in three weeks and doesn’t look back. Higgy playing the role of a backup quarterback with baseball cap turned around, holding a clipboard, is ideal. I know, you can’t wear your caps backwards in baseball and you can’t hold a clipboard but you know what I mean.

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Photo Credit: J Conrad Williams, Jr, Newsday

Although I do not follow the Kansas City Royals, I read this morning that former Yankees farmhand Ryan McBroom is expected to play in a first base platoon for the Royals to open the season. Good for him. I will always think of McBroom as the guy we got for Robert Refsnyder. Sitting here without looking it up, I have absolutely no clue who the Yankees got for McBroom but he’ll be forever connected to Refsnyder, at least in my mind. For the record, the Yankees didn’t get anybody for McBroom. He was purchased from the Yankees (“international bonus pool money and a player to be named later or cash considerations”). Money talks.

After living in Denver for the past four years and having to watch National League baseball at Coors Field, I am glad to be returning to Los Angeles and the American League. I’ll be in Orange County near Angel Stadium so, unlike the Angels, I guess I can’t say I am from Los Angeles but close enough. All things considered, I prefer to be closer to Dodger Stadium (lived two miles away the last time I lived in LA) but it’s just a train ride and bus trip away. I am looking forward to getting a firsthand look at Mike Trout and already have tickets for multiple games. I’ve seen a lot of games at Angel Stadium over the years so that part is not a new experience, but I am anxious to see what Joe Maddon can do with the Halos even if the Angels are still short in the starting pitching arena. Anthony Rendon helps give the team some optimism and Jo Adell looks like the real deal in the not-so-distant future. Nevertheless, I am not suddenly going to become an Angels fan. I never embraced the Colorado Rockies, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy good baseball.

As always, Go Yankees!

The New York Yankees & Elusive Good Health…

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Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, Associated Press


Starting Rotation missing its spots…

Silly me. I had hoped the “Next Man Up” tag line was the theme of the 2019 Yankees, not this year.

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Credit: Randy Glasbergen

The Yankees are not off to a great start in 2020 with the injuries that have surfaced. James Paxton is not expected back until May at the earliest, possibly June, after recent back surgery, Aaron Judge is being held back over caution with his shoulder, and Luis Severino is headed to New York for further tests regarding the forearm tightness he experienced this week.

I am not ready to throw in the towel and concede the AL East to the Tampa Bay Rays, but no doubt the Rays see blood in the water.  The Yankees didn’t have Severino for most of last season and they still won 103 games so it’s not like they’ll fold without him. I am very thankful the Yankees were successful in signing Gerrit Cole last December and the team’s offense, even without Judge at 100%, remains one of the best in the game.

I went from wanting J.A. Happ traded after his disappointing performance last season (primarily to eliminate his $17 million contract and his potential for reaching the milestones to trigger another $17 million for 2021) to the realization that he is a major cog in the starting rotation, at least for now. With the absences of Paxton and Sevy, Tanaka becomes the second to Cole, and Happ is your third starter. It does not exactly instill confidence (at least not for me).Yet, I am hopeful we’ll see Happ’s return to be a stable and consistent force in the rotation like he was in the latter half of the 2018 season. Although nobody has handed him anything, Jordan Montgomery is expected to be the fourth starter. From there, it is anybody’s guess.

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If GM Brian Cashman knew about Paxton’s troublesome back and some potential concern with Sevy’s forearm (if it has been bothering him since the playoffs last year this past off-season, I am surprised the best pitching options brought in from the outside were former Angels starter Nick Tropeano and former Rockies starter/reliever Chad Bettis. In retrospect, it seems like Cashman had the time to bring in a potentially stronger hedge for the starting rotation.

Most likely, the fifth starter role will be filled either by an opener or we’ll see one of the young guys (like Deivi Garcia or Michael King) step forward. There’s been a lot of hype for Clarke Schmidt but asking him to jump from Double A seems to be a big leap. Then, there’s the usual suspects, Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Cessa. I am not trying to be critical of them but I see both as better arms for the pen. As much as we may like Loaisiga’s arm, he always seems to be an injury waiting to happen. I think the Yankees are better using Chad Green as a late inning bullpen specialist, especially after the departure of Dellin Betances and despite Green’s success as an opener last year.

It’s always possible the Yankees swing a trade for a starter but teams are less motivated to trade in March than they will be in July when they know whether or not October is in their future.

I’d love to see one of the young guys grab the starting spot and run with it.  Maybe that’s what the Yankees see. If it were my team, I’d probably be less willing to gamble with the fifth spot when there are questions with the third and fourth starters. But Cashman and his team know much more than I ever will and I trust them to make the right decisions. The Yankees have heavily invested in the 2020 season and they’re not going to throw it away now. Championship windows are not open for long and the Yankees know it. Trust the process.

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Photo Credit: Andrew Mills, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

I am glad we’ll have Yankees Baseball back on TV today when the Yankees face the Toronto Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field. Or if you are fortunate enough to be in Tampa, all the better. J.A. Happ takes the pitching mound for the Yankees in their Spring debut. The game will also see Michael King, Luis Cessa and Nick Tropeano with turns behind Happ. We won’t have the joy of Troy Tulowitzki’s homer off his former team last Spring (the career highlight of his brief time in Pinstripes), but maybe Gio Urshela, the scheduled third base starter, can deposit a pitch over the outfield wall while facing some of his ex-teammates. Gerrit Cole, in a non-televised game, will make his debut on Monday against his original team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bummer, I would have really enjoyed to see Cole facing live opposing hitters. The first few Spring games are always fun until the monotony sets in during the upcoming weeks. While I am anxious and excited for the March 26th opener in Baltimore, I am hopeful we’ll have greater confidence in the starting rotation behind Cole and Tanaka when the season starts. So I want the regular season to start soon, but not too soon. May the best possible 26 men head north to the great state of Maryland next month.

I think the inner George Steinbrenner in me wants the Yankees to grab whatever star players they can (Nolan Arenado, Josh Hader, etc.) so they can crush the World, but I know the Yankees have the healthy guys in camp right now that can bring home the “piece of metal” by season’s end. I was probably a little envious of the Los Angeles Dodgers fan base and how energized they became with the trade that brought Mookie Betts to their team. They seem to be beating their chests about this being “the year”. There’s still a lot of baseball to played between now and October, but I’ll happily take my chances with this collection of Yankees and how they stack up against the Dodgers assuming the teams are fortunate enough to advance to this year’s World Series.

MLB Network’s 30 Clubs in 30 Days will feature the Yankees on Tuesday, March 3rd. I always enjoy the exclusivity of interviews with the Yankees players and coaches but those shows always seem like the fastest hour in Sports or at least the player interview segments seem too short. The YES Network is good about the Hot Stove shows early in the off-season but there’s always a sense of loss when the shows come to an end. It’s too bad they can’t have weekly shows from Tampa to give us insight into the players. I guess there’s Yankees Magazine but it doesn’t have the same real time effect like the Hot Stove shows.

They are saying Greg Bird has a legitimate shot to earn the starting first base job with the Texas Rangers as they break in their new stadium this season. I have to say it will suck if Bird has a happy and healthy season for the Rangers. I know, I shouldn’t say that. I do not regret the Yankees’ decision to cut Bird loose, but after so much false hope each season with Bird, it would be disappointing to see him give Texas what he never gave the Yankees (good health). I guess I turn the page on ex-Yankees faster than I should. I loved Didi Gregorius as a Yankee but now I find the fans who are still posting comments about how much they miss him to be annoying. I couldn’t care less about the Philadelphia Phillies and their manager. I feel the same about Bird and former Yank Todd Frazier (I see him as more of an ex-Met these days) in Texas. I am not going to root for them just because they once played for the Yankees. Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly is the lone exception to my personal rule.

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Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson, Associated Press

I’ve tried to avoid talking about the cheating scandal for this post but I want to say I feel David Ortiz is wrong for calling Mike Fiers a “snitch”.

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Photo Credit: The New York Post

I respect Big Papi but Fiers, a guy none of us are enamored with as Yankee fans, did the right thing to bring attention to the Houston cheaters. While I understand Papi’s criticism that Fiers should have said something while a member of the Astros, I also get team camaraderie holding players back from being divisive forces in the clubhouse and the fact Fiers tried to follow proper channels through the Oakland A’s and the MLB office before stepping forward on the public stage. I support Fiers for his critical role in bringing to light the shame and scandal of the Houston Asterisks. I still do not like Fiers the pitcher, but I will always respect him for stepping forward and revealing the unethical play of the Astros.

Let’s enjoy some baseball today.

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As always, Go Yankees!

The Dawn of Yankees Championships…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Decade: Great Hope for Pinstripes…

It’s been an interesting year. When January opened, many of us (okay, namely me) wanted the Yankees to sign either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. The thought of ‘excite the Fan Base, Hal Steinbrenner’ keep reverberating through my head. On January 14th, the Yankees signed free agent second baseman D.J. LeMahieu, and the Yankees, for all intents and purposes, were out of the Harp-Chado Sweepstakes. The signing of the former Colorado Rockies second baseman was met with general indifference from the Yankees fan base, but it would prove to be a much bigger acquisition than Machado would be for San Diego or Harper for Philly. Both of those teams did so well with their new $300+ million men that they fired their managers. LeMahieu’s manager wasn’t the AL Manager of the Year but he should have been.

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Photo Credit: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports

By now, we know the Yankees won 103 games during the regular season despite a historic number of men (30) who found their way to the Injured List. The ALDS was a success against the homer happy Minnesota Twins, but the season came to an abrupt end in the ALCS playing against a team that subscribes to the theory ‘if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying’. Okay, that’s a Jim Rome quote but it fits the eventual AL Champions and then some. Someone bang on a garage can for the Houston Astros.

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I keep hearing the reason the Yankees failed in the ALCS was because of the hitters. In the playoffs, you face the best of the best. No team is throwing a #5 starter at you to see if they can beat you. With Houston, they had three aces. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke. There’s a reason the Yankees couldn’t buy a hit when they needed it. Fortunately, the Yankees, after the season was over, recognized the primary goal of this off-season was to get an ace.

James Paxton, after a rough start (it seemed like the first inning was never his friend for the longest time), settled into his role as the best Yankees pitcher. I like Paxton a lot but he is not an ace. While he can be, he is more of a #2. I’ve seen countless people post on Social Media that Luis Severino is an ace. He’s not but can be (maybe even more so than Paxton). Sevy needs to prove it over the course of a long season. Consistency and good health are the two primary ingredients needed before Sevy can call himself an ace. The potential is there but it has yet to be realized.  Masahiro Tanaka can be very good but he’s not an ace.  The regular season is filled with those dang obligatory homers. Once the playoffs start, he pitches with laser-like focus and like Andy Pettitte, is a man you want on the mound in October. Three very good pitchers, but no current ace among them.

The problem was solved on December 18th, ten days ago, when the Yankees officially signed Gerrit Cole to the largest pitching contract in MLB history (9 years for $324 million). If the opt out after 5 years is exercised, the Yankees can add an additional year to the deal, making it worth $360 million.  I’d say that Hal Steinbrenner has excited the Yankees fan base. With an ace, the Yankees suddenly have one of the best starting rotations in baseball after seasons where the rotation was viewed as the primary weakness. Weakening the lying, cheating Houston Astros was an added bonus.

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Photo Credit: AP

The cautionary tale is the Boston Red Sox. A couple of years ago, Sox fans were beating their chests over a starting rotation headlined by Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello. Porcello is now a Met, Price’s name is regularly among trade rumors as a potential salary dump and Sale can’t stay healthy. If the Yankees have an advantage over the Red Sox, it is a much deeper farm system with talented young pitching prospects to provide a hedge. The Cleveland Indians have proven an ability to grow aces on trees, and of course, the Yankees now have one of those architects on the coaching staff with Matt Blake as the new pitching coach. To Boston’s credit, they have a World Series championship to show for their collection of starters and the Yankees have not.  But if I had to place a bet on which team would win more World Series in the next five years, I can assure you it would not be Boston. If the Yankees can bring the World Series championship total to at least 30 over the next decade, I’d call Cole’s contract a smashing success and those Red Sox championships of 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2018 will be nothing but a forgotten memory.

Even though 2019 did not bring a championship to the Bronx, it has set the stage for a very strong Yankees squad in 2020. A more complete team that is ready to take the next step. Even though 2010-19 is the first decade in a century that did not feature at least one World Series appearance by the Yankees, it figures to change in 2020-29 with restoration of appearances AND victories.

I look forward to 2020 with great optimism and I know it will be a great year for the Yankees and all their fans.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

In other news, the fan-created trade speculation for Josh Hader continues. Yet, not one reputable baseball writer with genuine sources has indicated the Yankees are close on any trades. Miguel Andujar’s name keeps getting mentioned by fans as expendable. As much as I love Gio Urshela’s glove at third base, I am fearful about a regression in Gio’s offense after last year’s breakout. The Yankees need Andujar. I know his defense is often criticized, but moving D.J. LeMahieu from second to third would force the Yankees to use Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada at second.  I’d rather keep LeMahieu, an elite defender, at second, and use Andujar at third if Gio fails. I wouldn’t be so quick to trade him. Andujar also has the potential to see some time at first and perhaps in left field with additional work in the Spring. He is trying to get better defensively and his workout videos show a man who is trying to improve his game. Personally, I wouldn’t trade Andujar for a reliever regardless of how good the reliever is. Third base is simply not a position of strength in the farm system and Urshela, as I’ve mentioned, is no sure thing.

The latest name circulating among the Twitter GM’s is Nick Castellanos. Castellanos may be a good hitter but where does he fit on the Yankees?  The Detroit Tigers moved him off third base because of subpar defensive skills. I’d rather have Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Garder, and Mike Tauchman in left field. Castanellos, who became a right fielder, cannot play center and he’s certainly not going to take Aaron Judge’s spot in right. Make him a DH? It wouldn’t allow the Yankees to maximize the potential of the DH slot with the rotation of great hitters already on the team. I see no fit for Castanellos on the Yankees roster. The bat’s nice but it is not enough to make his addition a roster upgrade. In fact, you could argue it would be a detriment because of the lineup inflexibility it would cause. Personally, I like Joc Pederson, a left-handed hitter, and think he’d fit better on the roster if the Yankees could swing a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I’d love to see Joc taking his shots at Yankee Stadium’s short right porch. He may be a platoon bat to face right-handed pitching but he’d mesh well with the other Yankee outfielders or at least better than Castellanos would. Steamer has projected Joc to hit 31 home runs and 76 RBIs in 2020 with .255/.345/.537 batting line and .364 wOBA and 129 wRC+ in approximately 500 plate appearances. Unlike Castanellos, Pederson is a solid defender.

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Credit: FanGraphs.com

It’s always nice to see the calendar page turn to January. The last full month with no Yankees baseball. There could still be a surprise addition or two before pitchers and catchers report to camp on February 12th. It continues to be speculation the Yankees will unload J.A. Happ’s contract (all or part) to reduce luxury tax penalties. I, for one, look forward to seeing how Jordan Montgomery will do in Spring Training even if he’ll be on an innings limitation this year.  With no expectation to be more than the fifth starter, I think Monty could serve the role well.  I think we’ll begin to see the work of Sam Briend, Director of Pitching for the Yankees, come to fruition. With guys like Briend and Matt Blake, the organization’s great young pitching talent will only get better. Soon, we’ll be growing our own Mike Clevingers and Shane Biebers.

Happy New Year, Everybody!  From all of us to all of you, we hope this is your (our) best year yet. Hopefully this time next year we’ll be relishing in the Yankees’ 28th World Series Championship.

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As always, Go Yankees!

Is the World Series over yet?…

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

Preparing for the 2019-20 Hot Stove League…

While many continue to watch the World Series, except for an occasional check-in, the 2019 MLB season ended for me last weekend with the ALCS. It’s hard to get enthused about either the Houston Astros or the Washington Nationals. Sure, the Nationals as a first time participant are a nice story but I don’t really care to see either team win the World Series so let’s just get this over so that we can move on to the Hot Stove League.

It’s hard to not wonder what could have been if the Yankees had taken a better hitting approach against the Astros. Oh well, it was not meant to be. Time to move on and hope the Yankees make a stronger run in 2020. The window remains wide open. This is certainly not the last we’ve heard from this core group of Yankees.

Photo Credit: The New York Post

As much as I would like Gerrit Cole leading the Yankees’ starting rotation next season, the reality is it will never happen. Cole’s agent, none other than the infamous Scott Boras, will ensure that his client becomes very wealthy this winter. I just don’t see Hal Steinbrenner’s willingness to write a blank check. It seems as though this will end like the Patrick Corbin negotiations. The Yankees will host Cole for a visit at Yankee Stadium, they’ll toss him a token offer, and he’ll leave empty handed. Some team is going to throw stupid money at him and it won’t be the Yankees. You can talk all day about how the Yankees can afford it, but that’s not the point. The Yankees are not going to devote so many dollars to one player. They have in-house financial decisions to make. Last off-season they locked up Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks. Granted, both players missed considerable time during the regular season so you can question the wisdom of the moves, but in Severino’s case in particular, he still represents the future. An extension for Aaron Judge seems appropriate this off-season.  I feel Gleyber Torres too but I think the Yankees will wait a season or two before securing the long-time services of the young burgeoning superstar. Judge can be a free agent after the 2022 season so the urgency is beginning to develop for him. Torres can’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season.

The Yankees need an ace. I think Sevy can be that guy, but last year showed you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. James Paxton has shown at times he can be an ace but he needs to show sustained excellence over the course of a long season. I think a very strong #1 starter, followed by Sevy, Big Maple, and Masahiro Tanaka would make for a championship caliber rotation. The question is who the #1 starter would be. Names will develop in the coming weeks. I keep seeing Yankee fans pining for Lucas Giolito but there’s no way the Chicago White Sox, with their abundance of blossoming young talent, will part with their young ace. If they did, they’d need quality, major league-ready talent in return, not prospects years away from the Show. I think there’s a better chance the Yankees could get the Cincinnati Reds to part with Luis Castillo, but even then the price tag will be very high. On the free agent front, Madison Bumgarner certainly represents an option. I am intrigued what he could do on a highly competitive team. I really feel the Yankees would re-energize him so I’d be happy if they were able to land him. I don’t know where Cashman’s search for starting pitching will lead. None of us do. Inevitably, he’ll surprise us.  I just don’t want another season of missed opportunity and Cashman’s statements that he tried. Love or hate Houston, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, has shown the willingness to pull the trigger when it matters. He has two World Series appearances in the last three years to show for it. It’s not that I want Brian Cashman to make stupid decisions or saddle the Yankees with another Jacoby Ellsbury contract albatross. But there are times you have to spend more than you want to get what you need.

The news that Aaron Hicks will miss the next 8-10 months due to Tommy John surgery left me wondering why the Yankees ever brought him back for the ALCS. Sure, the home run was great but in the end, it didn’t matter. I would have preferred to have Hicks for the majority of the 2020 season if he could have had the inevitable surgery earlier.  The news about Hicks brought immediate speculation the Yankees have to re-sign Brett Gardner. I felt the Yankees and Gardner would come together on another one-year deal before the Hicks news and I still feel the same, but I don’t think the vision that he’ll be no more than the fourth outfielder has changed. I think Mike Tauchman has a better chance to be the regular starting option in center field with the possibility that it could be someone not currently on the roster. I really wish Estevan Florial was closer to readiness, but he’s not. I am sure the Yankees’ analytics team is at work trying to discover the next Mike Tauchman, a centerfielder who is undervalued in his current organization but blossoming with hidden talent.  

I am not sure what I think about the “reports” that the Yankees could move Giancarlo Stanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers or Angels, if they can find the right mix of dollars to part with the slugger. I like Stanton and I feel he’s received unfair treatment from the Yankees fan base. Maybe there’s some validity to the criticisms he has received, but I still think he has the Dave Winfield-like ability to carry a team on his back. I’d like to see him stay with the Yankees, and have the opportunity to show he’s “the man” in October. I like Mike Tauchman but there’s no way in the World I’d take him over Stanton in left field.  Stanton needs our support, not the unfair hate directed his way. If he does get traded, I’ll be disappointed, but I will enjoy watching baseball in sunny Southern CA with the Angelino kid crushing pitches in front of his hometown fans. 

Photo Credit: UPI.com

Not that I think reunions are in store, but two former Yankees quietly became free agents in recent weeks. Chasen Shreve, part of the deal that brought Luke Voit to New York, is a free agent. Giovanny Gallegos has blossomed in the St Louis Cardinals’ bullpen so I doubt the Cards regret their decision to part with Voit, but I do feel bad it didn’t work out for Shreve. Same in San Diego with former Yankees prospect Bryan Mitchell. He was the prospect attached to Chase Headley in the successful contract unload a few years ago. I always liked Mitchell and had really hoped he would thrive in San Diego. He didn’t, and now he’s a free agent. Both are young enough (28 and 29, respectively) to be reclamation projects. Hopefully, for both, they’ll find better success with their next organizations.

Speaking of former Yanks, it was a surprise to see Joe Girardi land in Philadelphia. Granted, all signs started pointing in that direction over the last week or so, but before the Phillies fired manager Gabe Kapler, I felt strongly that Girardi would be the next manager for either the New York Mets or the Chicago Cubs. I never saw him as a Philly guy. I do think he’ll be better for that team than Kapler (okay, that was a statement of the obvious). It’s cool that his bench coach, Rob Thomson, is already in place. There’s been some speculation if he’ll take any of the current Yankee coaches who served under him (bullpen coach Mike Harkey, a close friend, and pitching coach Larry Rothschild). I think Rothschild gets unfair criticism but I’ve long wanted David Cone as the pitching coach so I’d be okay with Rothschild’s departure if it meant getting Coney back in the pinstripes. My absolute favorite for pitching coach is Andy Pettitte but I am not convinced he is ready to leave Texas yet. A dark horse hope for pitching coach would be former San Francisco Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti. He was the pitching coach for three World Series champions over the past decade and he oversaw Madison Bumgarner’s greatest days as a Giant. Anyway, back to Girardi, I think he’ll do well for the Phillies. He’ll have to learn the NL style of play. I know, he has one year of NL managing under his belt but that was a long time ago. For Girardi’s sake, it is a good thing that his former and future bench coach, Thomson, had a one year head start. I am glad that Girardi avoided the mess known as the Wilpon’s.  

Good hire by the Boston Red Sox when they named former Tampa Bay Rays executive Chaim Bloom as their new head of operations. Assistant GM Brian O’Halloran will be promoted to GM to work under Bloom’s leadership. I wish I could criticize this move by Boston but I think they made the best possible hire if Bloom is allowed to truly run the show. I feel the New York Mets erred when they selected Brodie Van Wagenen as their GM over Bloom last year. It seems as if more and more teams are going the “chief baseball officer” route. I really wish the Yankees would promote Brian Cashman to chief baseball officer, and promote Tim Naehring to GM. Love him or hate him, Cash deserves the promotion in my opinion.

It’s funny. Last season, I could hardly wait for the World Series to be over and for the free agency period to open in November. I won’t hide the fact that I wanted either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper and was so anxious to see if the Yankees would sign one of the talented young superstars, or grab the best free agent starter in Patrick Corbin. It was a long winter that led to none of the above in Pinstripes. This season, I think I am more passive. I am not really looking forward to free agency this year like I was last year. I am very interested in seeing the moves that Brian Cashman and company will make, but not with the same excitement. What will be will be. I was never against the DJ LeMahieu signing (I knew he was better than advertised) but I never dreamed he’d be as valuable to the Yankees as he was. It only shows that we need to allow any moves time to marinate. We don’t need big splashes. We need a clubhouse full of the right mix of players to bring the 28th World Championship to the Bronx.  

As always, Go Yankees!

The Journey Has Only Begun…

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, New York Post

AL East Championship is Step 1…

The Yankees may have won the AL Eastern Division Championship, but the road ahead is full of challenges. I am not holding my breath the Yankees will nail down home field advantage. The Yankees did pick up a game on the Houston Astros last night, and trail the AL Leaders by only a half-game but realistically it is a game and a half advantage for the Astros since they won the season series between the two teams. With only six regular season games left for the Yankees and a soft schedule for Houston (Mariners and Angels), it will be difficult to overcome the difference.

So, at this point, I am assuming that the Yankees will finish with the second best record in the AL and will host the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS. While having home field advantage would be nice with a potential playoff series against the Astros looming if both teams can advance to the American League Championship Series, you could argue that facing the Twins, a team the Yankees have historically matched up well against, is preferred over facing the potential Wild Card winning Oakland A’s who have been among baseball’s hottest teams recently.  Honestly, I don’t really care who the Yankees face. ‘To be the best you have to beat the best’ so however this plays out is fine with me. Either the Yankees can win or they can’t.  If they can’t, they are not deserving of advancing to the World Series. If the Yankees need the benefit of where the games are played, it was not meant to be. I think this team is good enough to beat anybody, anywhere.

I have no issue with Manager Aaron Boone’s decision to rest players in preparation for October.

Photo Credit: AP

The Yankees got good news yesterday on second baseman Gleyber Torres when the results of his MRI came back negative. He is one guy the Yankees could ill afford to lose if they intend to go deep into October. I’d love to see him reach 40 home runs (he only needs two more) but honestly the most important thing is his health. He’ll sit out again today and will likely return to the field when the Yankees play Tuesday night at Tropicana Field against the Wild Card contending Tampa Bay Rays. Two consecutive extra-inning walk-off’s by the Rays against the post-season eliminated Boston Red Sox have put them in the second Wild Card spot, a game ahead of the Cleveland Indians. Adam Ottavino seems like another guy that needs plenty of rest this month if he is to rediscover his earlier season magic.

To say I am disappointed with Domingo Germán is an understatement. Domestic violence can never be condoned and if he is guilty of the accusations, I believe he deserves significant punishment, including a long suspension and fine. His alleged actions were detrimental to the team and to the player individually. As a surprise 18-game winner this year, Germán had positioned himself to be a valuable member of the pitching staff heading into the playoffs and he was securing a long-term position going forward. With his selfish and appalling actions, he has jeopardized his future, potentially costing himself millions. Germán needs to find help to ensure this never happens again. His future literally depends upon it. 

Germán’s loss is softened by the return of Luis Severino, but that’s not really the point. Until the investigation is completed and Germán has served any subsequent penalties, he should not be allowed to play. The fact that he is the winningest pitcher on this year’s squad is irrelevant. He did this, not us.  

As far as replacements for Germán on the post-season roster, I like the idea of Jonathan Loaisiga who appears poised to be a breakout star in the bullpen.  

It was so good to see the brief return of Dellin Betances but so very sad to see his season end with an achilles tear. Thankfully two medical opinions determined that surgery is not necessary, but his start to the 2020 season could be delayed. Nevertheless, I am hopeful the Yankees and Betances can come together on a one-year deal to allow the impending free agent to rebuild value and position himself for the huge payday he had been destined for prior to the injury-marred 2019 season. If that means applying a qualifying offer to Betances, I am hopeful they do it. I am not ready to see Betances leave and hope this is not the end of his Yankee career.

We may not have Betances but, knock on wood, we do have Luis Severino and Giancarlo Stanton. I am glad to have both of them back and despite his health challenges this year (and poor results last October), I am glad Giancarlo Stanton is a Yankee. He can make a difference for this team and I am glad he’s here, healthy and ready to contribute. Stanton takes such an undeserved beating on Social Media. I hope his bat shuts up the naysayers in the coming weeks. I’d rather have Stanton in left field over Clint Frazier, Cameron Maybin, or Tyler Wade. Not bashing Wade, who has made me a believer he should be on the post-season roster with his versatility and speed, but Stanton is clearly the best left field option available. That would be the case even if other guys like Mike Tauchman and Aaron Hicks (which would push Brett Gardner back into the left field conversation) were healthy.

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

Speaking of healthy, the Yankees are expected to get Edwin Encarnación back this week, most likely when the team travels to Arlington, Texas to take on the Texas Rangers for the regular season’s final series next weekend. Glad to see the Parrot will ride again. Speaking of Texas, it is sad the series will close out Globe Life Park in Arlington, at least in terms of baseball. 

I lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area when the stadium opened in 1994. I remember watching so many games at the old Arlington Stadium (Don Mattingly loved hitting there), but the new stadium helped usher in the new era of retro baseball stadiums. Camden Yards stands out as the park that broke the mold, but Globe Life Park followed in support. It was known by many names over the years. I knew it as The Ballpark in Arlington and can remember how majestic it looked the first time I walked up to it. The stadium had subsequent names like Ameriquest Field and Rangers Ballpark before receiving its current name in 2014. After the final baseball game is played, the current stadium will be re-configured for football, becoming the home of the upcoming XFL Dallas Renegades. The Rangers will open their new park, Globe Life Field, which is adjacent to the current stadium, next season.

The health news for Gary Sanchez has been favorable and if the Yankees do not get him back in Texas, he should be ready for the ALDS which is good thing. I think Austin Romine has done a fine job but going to war, I want El Gary in the trenches.

Heading into October, I wish the Yankees were playing as hotly as the Oakland A’s and the Milwaukee Brewers but there’s time. Just as Masahiro Tanaka elevates his game when the stakes are increased, so goes the 2019 New York Yankees. When October play begins, I have no doubt the Yankees will be prepared and ready to prove supremacy. Whether they are successful remains to be seen, but it won’t be for lack of trying. This team is on a mission to prove they are the best.

I was a little surprised yesterday when the San Diego Padres announced they had relieved manager Andy Green of his duties. I guess if I had been following the Padres closely, I would have seen the handwriting on the wall. Green can probably relate to how Buck Showalter felt when he was fired by the Yankees after the 1995 season or how Joe Girardi felt when his Yankees contract was not renewed after the 2017 season. The next manager of the Padres is going to inherit a talented ball club with a very strong farm system ready to bear fruit. It seems more likely Joe Girardi would go to Chicago, if there’s an opening after the season, or possibly to the crosstown Mets, but I think San Diego would be a golden opportunity for Girardi if there’s mutual interest. With such great potential in San Diego, the Padres should have plenty of strong candidates for their opening. The pressure is on Padres GM A.J. Preller. He has to get this one right.

I thought it might be the end of the road for Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly but CEO Derek Jeter and company extended Donnie Baseball with a two-year contract and a mutual option for 2022. It is believed that Mattingly took a pay cut to stay with the cost-conscious Marlins. Record-wise, Mattingly hasn’t fared any better than the above-mentioned Andy Green, but he’ll get a chance to oversee the growth of the Marlins and their improving farm system (under the direction of former Yankee executive Gary Denbo). The prospects for the Marlins may not be as great as the Padres in the near future but Mattingly has long been one of my favorites and I think he’ll do a good job with the young talent posed to flow through Miami. As for this season, Mattingly helmed a club that lost 100 games (the Marlins are 53-101 as I type this post). After the “teardown” that followed Jeter’s arrival, it is not unexpected. But from here, I suspect Jeter will do what it takes to restore the Marlins to prominence. As much as I hate to see Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mattingly outside of the Yankees organization, I do wish them good luck with the rebuild.

Photo Credit: Lynne Sladky, AP

Well, as pesky as the Toronto Blue Jays have been for the Yankees, I am hopeful the Yankees can end the season series today with a win. It’s exciting to see what Luis Severino has in store for his second game of the 2019 season. Hopefully he goes deep into the game to build up his endurance and puts the team in position for their 102nd victory. A front three of James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Sevy is very exciting as the calendar page prepares to turn.

As always, Go Yankees!