One of America’s Best MLB Writers Gone Too Soon…
I know this is a Yankees blog but we have to give a hat tip to the late Nick Cafardo, a baseball columnist for The Boston Globe. Cafardo died yesterday of an embolism at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida while covering Red Sox Spring Training. He was not scheduled to work yet there he was covering the game he loved.
Although I did not know Cafardo personally, I am very heartbroken over his passing. Every weekend, I made time in my day to read his Sunday Baseball Notes. For me, it was required reading. Cafardo may have been a lifelong Red Sox fan but I always felt that he never sugarcoated the Red Sox and he never unfairly discredited the Yankees. If the term ‘Yankees Suck’ was part of his vocabulary, it never appeared in any written form that I saw. I didn’t read the Sunday Baseball Notes column because I wanted insight on the Yankees’ primary rival — I read it because I wanted insight on Major League Baseball through the passionate eyes of a true baseball fan who understood the game better than most. I can count on one hand the number of professional MLB writers I hold in very high regard but Cafardo was one. Through so many of his colleagues, a common theme of Cafardo’s superior professionalism and high value of his friendship resonates. I know Boston is hurting over his loss, but his impact reached a Nation (United States, not just the RSN) and perhaps beyond.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Nick Carfardo, 62, began his employment with the Globe in 1989. Prior to joining the Globe, he worked for The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, MA. He covered the Red Sox until 2001 when he switched to the NFL’s New England Patriots. It coincided with the first Super Bowl Championship for Head Coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady. Cafardo has been back on the baseball beat for the last 15 years. I am not sure when I first started reading Cafardo’s work, or how I even became aware of him, but he’s been a staple for me for many years. I appreciated and valued his insight as told through an objective and impartial lens.
The Red Sox released the following statement:
We are saddened by the sudden loss of long-time baseball reporter, Nick Cafardo. For over three decades, Nick was a fixture at Fenway Park and throughout ballparks across the country. His coverage was as consistent as the game itself. His opinions on the Red Sox and the most pressing issues facing Major League Baseball were a constant, particularly through the prominent Sunday baseball notes column in the Boston Globe.
The Cafardo family will always be a part of the Boston baseball family, and the Red Sox will honor Nicks’ legacy at the appropriate time.
Boston mayor Marty Walsh probably said it best, “Nick Cafardo was a man who talent, enthusiasm, and contribution to Boston’s sports coverage was incomparable and something that I always enjoyed reading”. Me too, Marty. Even though I didn’t know him outside of his words, there’s a huge void in my life today. I am sure many feel the same way.
Cafardo is survived by his wife, Leeanne, and two children, Emilee and Ben. Ben is a communications director for ESPN.
He will be missed.
As for the Yankees, the first Spring Game is nearly here. The Yankees travel to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox tomorrow. Nestor Cortes, a non-roster invitee, gets the opening nod to start the game. Cortes, attending his first Yankees MLB Camp, was wearing a Baltimore Orioles spring jersey this time last year as a Rule 5 Draft selection. I remember a few of his starts last March for Baltimore and I am excited that he’ll be doing it for the Yankees this Spring. I know he’s not a top prospect but I’ve always liked the lefty. I doubt he ever gets an opportunity in the Bronx unless injuries force the Yankees’ hand. Most likely, he’ll need to go to another team to get his shot. Hopefully with his performance tomorrow and over the next few weeks, he can open some eyes even if they don’t belong to Yankee scouts.
Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com reported that Miguel Andujar, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks, and Gleyber Torres will be making the trip to JetBlue Park. It’s also been reported that Clint Frazier, Kyle Higashioka and Estevan Florial will be there. Otherwise, I expect to see the lower end of the 40-man roster and the non-roster invitees on the field in the first meeting of the two AL East Superpowers. Go Trey Amburgey, Phillip Diehl and Billy Burns! Despite who may or may not be on the field for the Yankees, I know I’ll be watching and look forward to the first organized, albeit unofficial, game of the year for America’s best team (the visitors, not the home team). The soon-to-be dethroned World Champions play their first game today against Northeastern University.
I know it’s way too early to get excited but I loved seeing that Adam Ottavino struck out the four batters he faced yesterday, including Tyler Wade twice. Afterwards, Wade said, “Think about how nasty he is in highlights. Then times that by a lot.” I had wanted the Yankees to re-sign David Robertson but I’ve never once been disappointed that they signed Otto (and re-signed Zack Britton) instead of bringing back D-Rob. I think Otto is going to be one of my favorite relievers this year. I am glad he’s a Yankee.
Photo Credit: Lynne Sladky-The Associated Press
Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com had a nice column today about Miguel Andujar. In it, he quotes Willie Randolph saying, “I think he (Andujar) can be above average at third base.” Randolph added, “Listen, if you give me average defense, I’ll take that because the way he can hit. I think he’s going to be a batting champion one day.” Nice job by Randy and good read for Andujar naysayers. I know that I am hopeful we’ll be seeing Andujar dancing at third base this year.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo by Noah K Murray, USA TODAY Sports|
Bummer, he’s still here…
Big Maple is a New York Yankee but sadly, at least as of right now, so is Sonny Gray. The deadline last night to finalize the 40-man rosters for next month’s Rule 5 Draft failed to provide any momentum for the inevitable relocation of Sonny “Not Made for NYC” Gray. So, we’ll have to wait a few more days or weeks until we can wish Sonny better luck in his new city.
I was a little surprised the Yankees added reliever Joe Harvey to the 40-man roster on Tuesday. Despite his solid statistics in the Yankees farm system, he is admittedly not a prospect I know very well. In fact, I think the first word I said when I saw that he had been added was, “Who?”.
I thought the Yankees would protect the defensively talented shortstop Kyle Holder but ‘strong glove, no bat’ will only get you so far. The Yankees also made a minor trade involving minor leaguers when they sent RHP Jordan Foley, 24, to the Colorado Rockies for RHP Jefry Valdez. At first glance, Valdez appears underwhelming (he had a 5.82 ERA in 27 relief appearances in Class I last year), but a deeper look shows he is a strikeout machine. He had 45 strikeouts last season in 34 innings. However, as one Rockies blog put it, he has never been a top prospect in the Rockies organization for one reason: he hasn’t pitched very well. The Rockies feel they got the better end of the deal, but truthfully, who really knows. Maybe the change of scenery and new collection of coaches and instructors will help Valdez. As for Foley, he’ll get an opportunity to help fill the void when Rockies reliever Adam Ottovino signs with the Yankees (my wish, I know).
With the addition of Harvey, the Yankees’ 40-man roster stands at 39. The open spot won’t sit vacant for long as the Yankees continue their roster enhancements in the coming weeks. Hey Bryce, Number 34 is available in case you were wondering…
Credit to Manny Machado for his interview comments that appeared this morning on MLB.com. Manny has taken a beating since the World Series over his comments that “I am not going to be the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle’”. In the column posted by Mark Feinsand, Machado is quoted saying, “For me, I was trying to talk about how I’m not the guy who is eye watch. There’s a difference between fake hustle for show and being someone who tries hard to win. I’ve always been the guy who does whatever he can to win for his team”. I think Machado has done a very good job clarifying his earlier controversial remarks. I know many Yankee fans are against signing Machado, but I think any MLB team would be better with Manny on its roster. Feinsand’s column leads me to believe that Manny will say the right things when he gets an audience with GM Brian Cashman and Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner. C’mon, Hal, open the checkbook!
Of the moves made yesterday, I think the decision by the Miami Marlins to designate the versatile Derek Dietrich for assignment opens an opportunity for the Yankees. Dietrich can play second, third, and corner outfield. He is not necessarily known for his glove, but he is someone to consider if the Yankees choose not to bring back Neil Walker.
I was a little surprised by the Tampa Bay Rays decision to DFA slugging first baseman C.J. Cron, but I’d prefer to stick with the current first base duo of Luke Voit and Greg Bird even if Cron had 30 bombs last year. Now, if the Yankees want to acquire Joey Votto, as suggested by Daniel Burch yesterday, let’s go.
The San Diego Padres sold third baseman Christian Villaneuva to Hideki Matsui’s old team, the Yomiuri Giants. The only reason the name stood out to me was his blazing start last April which led to San Diego’s release of former Yankee third baseman Chase Headley. Villaneuva came back to earth and played like a guy who doesn’t really have a long-term future in the Bigs, hence, the “deportation” to Japan. Still, it’s sad the guy who forced Headley’s exit simply turned out to be another Mr. April. I was hoping for better results with Chase’s reunion with his original team, but it was not meant to be.
I really despise when former Yankees and Yankees prospects end up in Boston. It happened again yesterday when the Boston Red Sox acquired minor league reliever Colten Brewer from the San Diego Padres. Brewer spent the 2017 season in the Yankees system before departing via free agency last November. It’s not like Brewer did anything for the Yankees, but it just bothers me when “our” guys go to the Red Sox. Yeah, Nasty Nate, I am talking to you even if it wasn’t your decision.
Lastly, Tuesday also brought news of the retirement of great third baseman Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers. Man, I am glad his stay in Boston was so short. A Ranger for the last eight years, the guy is headed for the Hall of Fame one day. I couldn’t help but think it’s a shame he can’t leave his defensive skills behind for Miguel Andujar’s use. I wish Adrian the best as he moves into the next chapter of his life. If he is half as successful as he was on a baseball field, his future is incredibly bright. We’ll be seeing him in Cooperstown in, oh, about five years.
Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday, everyone! This is a beautiful time for love, family and friendship. May you be blessed with a memorable and pleasing abundance of all three.
As always, Go Yankees!
Jim Leyritz is reporting it so it must be true…
The cold Gerrit Cole rumors began reheating last night. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, “Yankees, Pirates renewing Gerrit Cole discussions according to source”. I am not sure how or why Jim Leyritz is always ‘in the know’ (he was among the first to report the Yankees had consummated the trade for Giancarlo Stanton), but he posted the following tweet earlier this morning: “Feinsand is right on. Cole deal had been agreed on in principle at winter meetings. Just a matter of pieces. Cole side wants to get this done before New Year. Happy New Year Yankees Fans.”
|Credit: Julie Jacobson, AP|
So, regardless of whether you like this deal or not, it sounds like Gerrit Cole will soon be joining the New York Yankees. In other words, Chasen Shreve, it’s time to think about a new number.
The Cole rumors are the polar opposite of the fan reaction leading up to last summer’s acquisition of Sonny Gray. I had injury concerns about Gray but most fans, including myself, were in support of the trade for Gray despite the high cost. I personally like the idea of adding Cole, who may arguably be only the fourth best starter in the Yankees rotation. I think he would be energized by playing in front of New York fans at Yankee Stadium and the rock star status the Yankees hold with road games. I know that Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage is known as the Pitching Whisperer, but I’d really like to see what Larry Rothschild could do with Cole. The dude has premium stuff so Larry has much to work with. It’s not like we’d be bringing Jaime Garcia back to the Bronx. But many Yankees fans I know hate the idea of bringing Cole into the highly competitive AL East, particularly given his propensity to give up homers last season. Maybe it’s a big “if”, but if the Yankees could get Cole pitching closer to his ace potential, the Yankees starting pitching rotation would be one of the AL’s best.
Many fans are upset that we’ll potentially lose outfielder Clint Frazier and a top pitching prospect like Chance Adams. All things considered, I’d probably prefer to give up Adams over Justus Sheffield or Albert Abreu. But at the end of the day, I trust GM Brian Cashman and his team to make the right decisions. Cashman is rarely fleeced in a deal and I don’t think he’ll overpay in this situation. You keep hearing that the Pirates want Gleyber Torres but that’s not happening.
I don’t like Frazier-Adams for Cole alone. I think the Pirates would also need to include 2B/3B Josh Harrison for that high of a cost. Frazier-Adams for Cole-Harrison is a potential win/win for both sides in my opinion.
|Credit: Rob Carr, Getty Images|
If anything, I am a little sick that Clint Frazier has been made a redundant player because of the presence of Jacoby Ellsbury on the Yankees roster. In an ideal world, the Yankees would clear out Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to open room for the younger guys. The Yankees apparently tried to engage the San Francisco Giants in trade talks for Ellsbury but the Giants prefer other outfield options. Given the spacious outfield at AT&T Park, I think either Ellsbury or Gardner would be a good fit for the Giants. Plus, the Giants train in Scottsdale, Arizona which is close to Ellsbury’s home (an enticement to get him to waive his no-trade clause). I remain hopeful the Yankees can find a way to ship out Ellsbury despite the cash and prospects that will need to be included. Ellsbury and his contract hurt the Yankees in so many ways.
The Cole Rumors continue to be the one that will not die. Last night’s flurry of reports after days of nothing seem to indicate something could happen soon. Either way, I’d like to see the Yankees pull the trigger or move on. And under no circumstances should they be forced to overpay. There are other strong options without having to hand our list of top ten prospects to another team.
If New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon is irate about the Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, I wonder how he’ll feel if the Yankees upgrade their starting rotation too? Fred, it sucks to be you.
|Credit: Andrew Theodorakis, New York Daily News|
The reunion seemed inevitable but the longer time passed, I was fearful that another team would entice CC Sabathia to trade in his pinstripes. He spoke with the Los Angeles Angels (a team desperate for starting pitching) and the Toronto Blue Jays. He never expressed an interest in the Oakland Athletics or the San Francisco Giants but I always felt that if they reached out to Sabathia, the appeal to return to his native Northern California would have been very strong. In the end, Sabathia opted to return “home” for some unfinished business.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com broke the story first yesterday that Sabathia had signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Yankees subject to a physical. Jack Curry of the YES Network reported later in the day that Sabathia had taken and passed the physical yesterday afternoon, thereby making the deal official. Welcome back, CC! We’re very glad to have you.
The move presumably does not alter the Yankees plans to add another quality starting pitcher although they now have five starters on staff. Realistically, I do not expect Sabathia to match his 2017 season when he went 14-5 with 3.69 ERA. He’ll turn 38 in July. But the veteran knows how to win and is a team leader. With an inexperienced manager and bench coach, the value of Sabathia’s leadership cannot be understated.
It’s very interesting that the 2005 Cleveland Indians roster featured the Yankees manager (Aaron Boone), the Yankees Bench Coach (Josh Bard), the Red Sox manager (Alex Cora), and a very young Sabathia. Boone was there for the early years (CC was only 24 during that 2005 season) and now he’s back for what may very well be Sabathia’s final year. If the Yankees win the 2018 World Series, I have no doubt that Sabathia will ride off into the sunset. I cannot imagine a better Yankees career than starting and ending with World Series championships.
Competition for the 2018-19 Free Agent Market…
Yesterday, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office showed their brilliance when they unloaded the bloated contracts of Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, and Adrian Gonzalez plus infielder Charlie Culberson on the Atlanta Braves. It is the same trio that the Dodgers tried to pawn off on the Miami Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton. Sure, they had to take back former Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, but the deal effectively reduced Dodgers payroll for the coming season by approximately $23 million which helps the team get under the $197 million threshold to reset luxury tax penalties. Gonzalez will never wear an Atlanta uniform. As part of the negotiation to waive his no-trade clause, Atlanta will release Gonzalez tomorrow, making him a free agent. It is also very questionable if Kemp will ever wear the Dodgers uniform again.
The move helps to ensure that the Dodgers will be prime players next off-season when Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Andrew Miller, Craig Kimbrel, Clayton Kershaw, Dallas Keuchel, Josh Donaldson and others hit the open market. Everybody had presumed the Yankees would sign Harper but the Dodgers have emerged as the leader for Harper’s services. Fortunately for the Yankees, they were able to acquire Giancarlo Stanton which gives them reason to pass on Harper and the $400-$500 million that it will take to sign the Las Vegas native.
|Credit: USA TODAY Sports|
Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi can thank Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos, who served in the Dodgers front office last season. From the Braves perspective, they are free of the two-year obligation for Kemp, and the heavy contracts they acquired expire at the end of the upcoming season (making Kazmir and McCarthy desirable “rentals” at the trade deadline next summer).
While I don’t believe that the Dodgers sudden emergence as a major player in the 2018-19 free agent market will adversely impact the Yankees desire to add Manny Machado (the Dodgers have great players at third and short, Justin Turner and Corey Seager), it will add significant competition for other players. I’d really love to see the return of Andrew Miller to the Bronx but the Dodgers almost certainly will be aggressive in their pursuit of quality bullpen arms.
If at Third…
With no offense to Miguel Andujar and his questionable defensive skills, I remain hopeful the Yankees can find a way to bring back third baseman Todd Frazier. Andujar would benefit from another year at Triple A. Frazier was signing autographs in Toms River, New Jersey yesterday. Every time I see off-season pics of Frazier, it reinforces to me how much I’d like to see him back in Pinstripes.
Hey Cash, make it happen!
The MLB Network has been replaying past Home Run Derbys and I have to say…man, I love watching Giancarlo Stanton hit home runs.
|Credit: Denis Poroy, Getty Images|
Mr Cashman will see you now…
The Hot Stove League has been open for a few days but for the most part, it’s been all quiet on the Eastern Front (a/k/a The Bronx).
The managerial interviews have begun with Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson taking the first at-bat. He must have fouled off a bunch of pitches because he apparently met with GM Brian Cashman for six hours this week. I should be fully supportive of Thomson for manager. He’s a company man who has been with the Yankees organization for 28 years. He brings promises of communication and trust in the players and has tried to give assurances that he would not be “more of the same”. Yet, for some reason, I cannot fully embrace his candidacy. I’d like to see him stay in the organization and I am certainly not opposed to his inclusion on the coaching staff for the eventual new manager. But he’s not really my ideal choice for manager.
|Credit: Associated Press|
A new name surfaced yesterday in former Yankee Aaron Boone. It’s unknown when/if he will interview with Cashman. Given that I’ve been supportive of other broadcasters getting the job, like Jerry Hairston, Jr and Mark DeRosa, you’d think I would support the possibility of an ex-Yankee. Yet, I was ‘ho-hum’ when I saw his name. I am appreciative of his home run to win the 2003 American League Championship Series, but he’s not really someone that I can envision in the job. Perhaps he is someone I would grow with in time if he is the one. We’ll see.
David Cone and John Flaherty are also names that received heavy ink in New York publications this week. Between the two, Coney would be the better option to me with no offense to Flaherty.
The Miami Marlins have confirmed that manager Don Mattingly will return for the 2018 season so that effectively removes his name from consideration. As a huge Mattingly fan, even today, I did not really want to see Mattingly back in the Yankees organization as its manager. Managers are so heavily second-guessed and I didn’t want to see Mattingly tarnish his great Yankees legacy in any way.
I think the best tweet I saw about the managerial search yesterday came from MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand: “Something to keep in mind re: Yankees managerial search. This is a chance for Cashman to interview several people to get a feel for them in a different role. Many will interview, only one will get the job. Don’t get caught up in any one name.” So, as the saying goes, trust the process. I have the trust in Brian Cashman that he’ll make the right decision. His legacy is heavily invested in the next hire with the Yankees on the cusp of something great. Gene Michael was widely recognized as the chief architect of the 90’s dynasty but this potential run belongs solely to Cashman and his chief lieutenants (backed by the Steinbrenner family, of course). All things considered, Cashman can’t afford to make the wrong choice.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s Ohtani!…
I have been trying to avoid getting excited about the possibility of adding Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani but the ‘Ohtani to America’ (or should we just call it the ‘Ohtani to Pinstripes’) movement took another step in the right direction. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reported that Japanese news reports are stating the Nippon-Ham Fighters have announced they will post Ohtani this off-season. All I want for Christmas is Ohtani in the Bronx! I am still trying to be cautiously optimistic but it would be very exciting to have him join the strong cast of Baby Bombers.
The Yankees can offer Ohtani the second highest signing bonus at $3.25 million. They trail only the Texas Rangers who can offer $285,000 more than the Yankees. The Rangers can also offer no state income tax. But I am hopeful the promotional opportunities will be greater for Ohtani in New York. He stands to make a great deal of his income through endorsement deals. Also, when you look long-term, the Yankees can offer more lucrative dollars and stability for future contracts. Faced with the impending free agency of Japanese ace Yu Darvish last summer, the Rangers chose to deal Darvish to the Dodgers rather than make a strong effort to re-sign him. Granted, Darvish didn’t exactly have a stellar finish to his season but it reinforced to me that if you want long-term security, New York is a better place to be than Texas. Plus, the Yankees have the legacy of Japanese greats Hideki Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka.
|Shohei Ohtani (top right) / Credit: Koji Watanbe, Getty Images|
Farewell to a Pitcher and a Catcher…
It was tough to see the loss of former Blue Jays and Phillies great Roy Halladay this week to the tragic plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa, FL. When he played, he was the definition of “the” true ace for me. I had always hoped the Yankees would find a way to acquire him when he played for the Blue Jays but recognized that intra-division trades of superstars rarely happen. Still, he was marvel to watch pitch despite his domination of the Yankees. His loss was felt and I am deeply saddened by his untimely departure.
A lesser known baseball player also died this week but it was equally as sad. 17-year-old Daniel Flores, a catcher out of Venezuela the Boston Red Sox had signed in last year’s International Draft for $3.1 million signing bonus, succumbed to cancer in Boston. Flores was rated as the fifth best prospect in the Red Sox system according to MLB.com. Prior to the draft last year, Flores was ranked as the second best International prospect behind shortstop Wander Franco (who signed with the Tampa Bay Rays). By comparison, the Yankees top signing, outfielder Everson Pereira, was ranked fourth. According to scouting reports, Flores would have been a brilliant defensive whiz behind the plate. It’s unfortunate he is unable to reach his dream to play at Fenway Park but hopefully his signing bonus provides long-term security for his family and loved ones.
May both men rest in peace.
No Gold Glove Awards but a few Silver Sluggers…
Congratulations to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez for winning their first Silver Slugger Awards. These were easy calls and it would have been a great travesty if either player had been omitted. Now, we await the results of AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP which should bring more hardware in Judge’s direction. Individual awards are nice but we really need to get these guys a World Series championship!
Today is Veteran’s Day. For all veterans everywhere, thank you for your service. We remember you today and always…
In closing, as always, Go Yankees!
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Yankees 4, Red Sox 3…
Tyler Austin apparently did not get the memo that the Yankees are not supposed to score multiple runs off Boston ace Chris Sale. His three-run dinger gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish. CC Sabathia, fresh off the DL, pitched like an ace and the bullpen duo of David Robertson and Dellin Betances came through in the clutch to help the Yankees hold off the Red Sox for the much-needed win.
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
There’s no disputing Chris Sale is a great pitcher. But for whatever reason, the Yankees have fared well against him this season. In 4 starts, including Saturday, Sale is 0-2. He has only lost a total of five games this season. But in the three preceding games against the Yankees, he had only given up only one homer and three earned runs. With one swing, Tyler Austin matched that production.
Didi Gregorius got on base first in the top of the 2nd inning with a one-out ground rule double that bounced into the right field stands. It probably would have been a homer at Yankee Stadium with its short right field porch. Todd Frazier reached first base when he was hit in the left shin with a 82 mph slider by Sale (Ouch!). Joe Girardi and Trainer Steve Donohue walked with Frazier down the first base line, but he stayed in the game. Tyler Austin was the beneficiary of a mistake fastball by Sale and he crushed it out of Fenway Park in left. The Yankees led, 3-0.
|Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports|
The Red Sox finally got to Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the 5th inning. With one out, Xander Bogaerts worked a walk on six pitches. Rafael Devers, rapidly becoming a Yankee killer at only 20 years of age, rapped a single to right. Bogaerts raced around to third, sliding in ahead of Aaron Judge’s strong throw. Sandy Leon grounded out to Ronald Torreyes at second, but Bogaerts scored on the play. Devers moved to second. Jackie Bradley, Jr singled to left which brought Devers home ahead of the slightly high and away throw, and it was a one-run game, 3-2. Sabathia held it there as he was able to get Eduardo Nunez to hit into an inning-ending ground out.
Todd Frazier provided what would prove to be the game-winning run when he blasted a solo shot to left center, just over the Green Monster, in the 6th with two outs and down to two strikes. It was Frazier’s 21st home run of the season. He showed no ill effects of the earlier ball to the shin but you have to believe that he’ll be feeling it today.
Sabathia allowed a lead off double to deep center by Mookie Betts in the bottom of the 6th, but he retired the next three Red Sox hitters to leave Betts stranded at second. That would be all for Sabathia who finished six innings strong, holding the Sox to four hits and two runs. He walked a batter and punched out four. I was expecting the worst from Sabathia and his balky knee but he proved me wrong. I am glad he did.
Adam Warren was brought into the game in the bottom of the 7th inning. After Xander Bogaerts struck out, Rafael Devers took Warren deep to center for a home run. The ball hit the left side of the yellow line but caromed into the triangle. The Yankees challenged the play but it was upheld. It was a one-run game again, 4-3 Yankees. Warren struck out Sandy Leon. The ball got away from Gary Sanchez but he easily threw Leon out at first to complete the strikeout. The Yankees then made a pitching change. David Robertson came in and got Jackie Bradley, Jr to ground out on one pitch. Man, every friggin’ day I am grateful for D-Rob.
The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in the 8th inning against D-Rob. Andrew Benintendi struck out swinging but made it to first base on a wild pitch when Gary Sanchez was unable to stop the ball. It took a wicked bounce so I couldn’t really fault Sanchez on the play. Hanley Ramirez lined a double to deep left, but Benintendi, the potential game-tying run, pulled up at third. D-Rob intentionally walked Mitch Moreland, loading the bases, to pitch to Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts went down swinging on three pitches and the inning was over. Thanks, D-Rob.
|Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports|
The Yankees had a chance to add to their lead in the top of the 9th. Tyler Austin doubled between the gap to the center field wall off Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree. He was replaced by the $153 million pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury. After a pickoff attempt nearly got Ellsbury, a sacrifice bunt by Ronald Torreyes moved Ells to third. Brett Gardner hit a fielder’s choice to third with Ellsbury breaking for home. Third baseman Rafael Devers’ throw to catcher Sandy Leon easily nailed Ellsbury short of home plate. The Yankees had runners at first and second, following a wild pitch and subsequent walk of Aaron Hicks, for Aaron Judge but he struck out on a foul tip to the mitt to end the threat.
With Aroldis Chapman temporarily removed from the closer’s role by Manager Joe Girardi, Dellin Betances came on in the bottom of the 9th. Betances struck out the first batter, Rafael Devers, but Sandy Leon reached base on a swinging strikeout when the third strike got away from Gary Sanchez. Betances was charged with the wild pitch. But in baseball, there is always a chance for atonement. Brock Holt, who had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Leon, made a break for second with Jackie Bradley, Jr. at bat. The throw by Gary Sanchez to Didi Gregorius was perfect to nail the sliding Holt for the second out. JBJ flied out to left and it was game over. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
The Yankees (66-56) regained the game on the Red Sox they had lost on Friday night, and trail the Sox by four games in the AL East Standings again. The Los Angeles Angels beat the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1, so the Angels remain 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the Wild Card standings (the Angels and Minnesota Twins are tied for the second WC spot). The O’s, the third place team in the AL East, slid 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees. Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays lost on Saturday.
It was a great game by CC Sabathia (10-5). The Yankees had their chances to put more runs on the board (leaving a total of eight men on base) but the bullpen held to give Sabathia the win over Chris Sale. I am really glad that we didn’t see Aroldis Chapman. While my preference is Betances then Robertson, the reversed order worked and Betances had his 9th save.
|Credit: Corey Sipkin-NY Post|
Girardi continues to bat Aaron Judge third in the lineup, but at this point, Judge seems to be living off his first half reputation. The Yankees would probably be better served moving Didi Gregorius up to third and dropping Judge down in the order. Judge was hitless in four at-bats, and struck out 3 times to extend his MLB record with strikeouts to 3 consecutive games. Judge had been tied with Montreal Expos pitcher Bill Stoneman who struck out in 35 consecutive games in 1971. At 36 games regardless of season, Judge has tied the MLB record so if he strikes out again today, he’ll be the all-time consecutive game strikeout leader. I know, Judge could care less about the strike outs as long as he gets his hits and walks, but I personally would like to see the end of the streak and maybe a clutch hit or two with men in scoring position.
|Credit: Adam Glanzman-Getty Images|
Odds & Ends…
Perhaps Tyler Austin heard footsteps. On Friday night, first baseman Greg Bird homered twice in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s 10-6 loss to the Durham Bulls. Yesterday, Bird was 2-for-4, with double and a run scored, in the RailRiders’ 8-4 loss to the Bulls. I really hope that Bird continues hitting when he returns to the Yankees. This would be a great boost for the team as they attempt to stave off Wild Card challengers while holding aspirations for the division crown.
|Credit: Fred Adams-For Times Leader|
Prior to yesterday’s game, LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for CC Sabathia. With Masahiro Tanaka scheduled to return this week in the Detroit Tigers series, Monty returns to Triple A for “softer” innings while the Yankees monitor his pitch count.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand is reporting that Yankees VP of Player Development Gary Denbo is a strong early candidate to become GM for the Miami Marlins once Derek Jeter takes control of the team’s operations. I am hopeful the Marlins retain manager Don Mattingly, one of my favorite managers. Well, unless the Yankees decide to part ways with Joe Girardi…
Have a great Sunday! The Yankees, with ‘OMG, it’s Sonny Gray!’, can take the series today with a win. Let’s Go Yankees!
White Sox 4, Yankees 3…
Luis Severino pitched magnificently, Yankees took the lead, but the bullpen ingredients of Domingo German, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances handed the Chicago White Sox the walk-off win.
Severino allowed just one run on six hits over seven innings. He struck out a career high 12 batters, and issued no walks. You could not have asked for better, but unfortunately, on the other side, it was a very strong night for White Sox starter, and oft speculated trade target, Jose Quintana as he held the Yankees to only two hits and no runs in 6 1/3 innings.
|Credit: Armando L Sanchez-AP|
The White Sox scored the game’s first run in the third inning when Jose Abreu laced a run-scoring double to right. Chicago’s 1-0 lead held up until the eighth inning. Tyler Wade, making his Major League debut, pinch hit for Rob Refsnyder and walked against White Sox reliever Tommy Kahnle. Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a single as Wade advanced to second. After Chase Headley struck out, Aaron Judge singled to center, scoring Wade while Ellsbury moved to second. Game tied. Gary Sanchez doubled, bringing home both Ellsbury and Judge, as the Yankees took the 3-1 lead.
|Credit: Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images|
It felt like it was going to be a magical night for Severino with the stellar pitching and the late runs to potentially give him the win but thanks to the Yankees bullpen, it was not to be. Manager Joe Girardi brought in Domingo German to pitch the eighth, but he had control problems and was lifted after walking the first two batters. Tyler Clippard (Egads!) entered the game and was able to get three outs but not before two more walks had pushed another run across for the Sox. 3-2, Yankees. All things considered, I guess, you’d have to say that this was a better Clippard than we’ve seen lately. He escaped a bases-loaded situation with no outs, giving up only one run, so it could have been much worse.
|Credit: Associated Press|
The Yankees had runners at second and third with two outs in the top of the 9th following a passed ball by White Sox reliever Dan Jennings, but Chase Headley struck out to leave the runners stranded. As it turned out, the Yankees could have used those insurance runs.
The Yankees brought in Dellin Betances to pitch the ninth. He had worked the previous two games but had thrown only a total of 25 pitches. Aroldis Chapman was not available, having worked the preceding two days combined with his recent activation off the DL. Betances (3-2) earned the Tyler Clippard Pitching Award of the night when he walked Kevan Smith and Alen Hanson, and hit Yolmer Sanchez with a pitch to load the bases. He was able to retire former Yankee Melky Cabrera on a fly ball, but Jose Abreu came up and delivered a single to left, scoring the winning runs as the White Sox walked off with the 4-3 victory.
|Credit: Armando L Sanchez-Chicago Tribune|
With the loss, the Yankees (41-34) fell one game behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. The Red Sox, looking like a team that wants to win, beat the Minnesota Twins, 9-2. The Tampa Bay Rays also won (4-2 in extra innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates) so they are just two games behind the Yankees. I know it’s only June and it is just one game, but right now the gulf between the Yankees and the Red Sox seems much, much greater. The Red Sox are a team ready to kick it into another gear, whereas the Yankees just keep slip, sliding away. It was difficult to watch a game that was freely given to the White Sox. The final 3 of their 4 runs were walked batters that came around to score. It was not pretty and Severino’s gem was wasted.
Next up, Masahiro Tanaka. If he pitches like he did against Yu Darvish, I like our chances. If he pitches like the guy we saw prior to the All-Japanese confrontation, it is going to be a very long night.
Trade Speculation Heats Up…
Trade speculation and theories are starting to heat up as the calendar prepares to turn to July. Between now and the July trading deadline, I am sure that we’ll be hearing plenty of possibilities for how the 2017 New York Yankees can make upgrades.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com posted “3 potential Yanks-Mets trades that make sense” yesterday. In his column, he proposed the following trades:
1. Lucas Duda for Austin Romine.
2. Jerry Blevins and/or Addison Reed for Dustin Fowler.
3. Curtis Granderson for Tyler Austin.
My immediate reaction was “I wouldn’t trade my guys for them”. Later in the day, Feinsand tweeted: Love the response to my trade column. Yankees fans: “I’d never trade those guys for that!”, Mets fans: “I’d never trade those guys for that!”. Seriously, and nothing against Kyle Higashioka, I wouldn’t trade Romine for Duda. With the belief that Greg Bird can still be a solid first baseman of the future, I’d take a less costly route to find an alternative for Tyler Austin if it comes to that. I certainly wouldn’t trade a valuable outfield prospect for a reliever that could have been had on the free agent market last off-season. Curtis Granderson? Been there, done that.
In a column that appeared on NJ.com (written by Joe Giglio), it was reported that MLB Network Radio Host Jim Bowden (former GM of the Cincinnati Reds and one-time Yankees employee during the brief reign of Syd Thrift) floated his idea of how to build a super rotation in the Bronx. Bowden indicated that he’d trade for Gerrit Cole now and sign Yu Darvish as a free agent in the off-season. His third and fourth starters would be Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, while the fifth spot would go to Yankees prospect Chance Adams. With this rotation, Bowden believes “In 2018, it’s about what kind of champagne we can put on ice”. I can’t say that I disagree with this one. I like both Cole and Darvish. Severino and Montgomery have both proven they belong in 2018 and the “time is now” is rapidly approaching for Adams. Sign me up for this possibility…I’m on board.
Odds & Ends…
The Attack of the Tylers. It’s hard to believe but 16% of the Yankees active roster is now loaded with dudes named Tyler. With Tuesday’s call-up of Tylers Webb and Wade, there are four Tyler’s with Clippard and Austin already on the roster. I wanted to name my son Tyler but given my last name ends in “ler”, his mother didn’t want a kid named “ler-ler” so I had to ditch any ideas of using the name. I went with Kyle instead (as if there weren’t enough Kyle’s already in the world). Making room for the two Tyler W’s were the placement of Starlin Castro on the disabled list and the demotion of Jonathan Holder to Triple A. It kind of feels like all of these Tylers should be using Aerosmith for their walk-up music…
The results of Castro’s MRI came back with a Grade 1 strain of the right hamstring. He’s expecting to be ready when his time on the 10-Day DL is up.
Have a great Wednesday! Hopefully Tanaka will help get us over the hump! Let’s Go Yankees!