|Photo Credit: USA Today|
Rainout forces Day/Night Doubleheader Today…
Although the rain clouds seem to have followed the team on their trip to the Midwest, not much else has dampened the excitement of the 2019 New York Yankees. The unprecedented rash of multiple injuries that has landed so many guys on the 10-day/60-day Injured Lists has not seemed to slow down this fun and exciting team. In the long run, the team will be better off when Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, and others return, but for now, I am certainly enjoying the ride.
We were given some great news yesterday when Manager Aaron Boone announced that shortstop Didi Gregorius will begin a rehab assignment in Tampa on Saturday. With a maximum of 20 days allowed for rehab, we’re less than three weeks away from Sir Didi’s return. It could be sooner than later since Didi probably does not need the full 20 days to get Major League ready. This feels like a great, great mid-season pickup. I don’t want to take away from the tremendous job done by Gleyber Torres during Didi’s absence. Gleyber and DJ LeMahieu have been outstanding working together at shortstop and second. Once Didi reclaims short, Gleyber will slide back over to second and LeMahieu will most likely be redeployed at third base, moving Giovanny Urshela, who has also done a brilliant job, into the utility role. I love the job Gio has done and his glove is special but you can’t take LeMahieu out of the lineup. He’ll probably see time at first base too on the days Luke Voit handles DH. The potential losers, to me, appear to be Kendrys Morales and Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo has expressed willingness to play other positions but seriously I’d rather have Gio and Thairo Estrada than Tulo on the Major League Roster. Estrada will probably lose out since he has options but it’s too bad because he has proven he belongs. There’s no scenario I see Tulo with the Yankees next year.
When Didi had his Tommy John surgery last year, I thought it was ridiculous of those who said he could be back by May or June. I honestly felt that has an overly aggressive timetable, yet here we are. We’re very fortunate Didi has not dealt with the setbacks encountered by other injured team players like Luis Severino and Giancarlo Stanton. For Didi, everything has seemed to go according to plan from the first day following the surgery. It is a credit to the man Didi is, mixed with a little luck, I am sure. For as great a player Didi is, I’ve missed his infectious personality despite how fun the 2019 Yankees have been. While I feel bad for those who will lose playing time, I am excited about Didi’s return and the team is better with his presence. I know my Twitter account is looking forward to seeing Didi’s post-game Emoji tweets.
|Credit: @sirdidig18 on Instagram|
I thought Giancarlo Stanton would be back before Gregorius but it does not appear to be the case. Hopefully the current rest for Stanton puts him back on track when he returns to baseball activities within the next couple of weeks. I’m all for limiting Brett Gardner’s play in left field and putting Stanton in right until Aaron Judge returns would go a long way toward making Gardy the valuable bench player he should be at this stage of his career.
I am not going to lie, I am worried about James Paxton. The reports of continued pain in his balky knee are troubling. Everyone is holding their collective breath for how Paxton feels today. Pitching four innings in extended Spring Training yesterday, there is concern how the knee will react to the workload today. I know my knee would be saying “F**k this s**t!” Paxton has expressed the desire to pitch through the pain but that’s hardly comforting. As much as I like Paxton as a starter, there’s no denying that him and the Injured List are fond of each other. To be fair, I am sure Paxton doesn’t want to be on the Injured List. It is what it is. I am not going to overreact to say the Yankees need to sign Dallas Keuchel now or after the June draft to avoid draft pick compensation, but there’s no question the Yankees will need to do something to reinforce the starting rotation.
I don’t really think Keuchel is the answer. If he was, other teams would be rushing to sign him yet there has been nothing but crickets surrounding the pitcher who was clearly on the downward slope of career regression last season. If Keuchel was all that and a bag of chips, the Houston Astros would have resigned him long ago. I probably feel the same way about Madison Bumgarner. The guy continues to live off a World Series reputation from five years ago but doesn’t have the current stats to justify ace status or his post-season aura. I think there are better options and trust that GM Brian Cashman and staff will uncover the right arm to add. There’s no reason to overpay for pitchers that have seen their better days. Yankees Twitter seems to be implying that a deal for Max Scherzer is imminent (I highly doubt it) but that’s the type of arm I’d like to see in July. Scherzer remains among the best in Baseball and his team, the Washington Nationals, are going nowhere. A couple of bad games have inflated his ERA and his win/loss total is more reflective of the team he plays for, but generally speaking Max will give you seven innings every outing, limiting the opponent to two or fewer runs. He’s a workhorse and would significantly improve the Yankees rotation and help keep the bullpen fresh. I am sure a pennant chase would energize him. I thought Scherzer would have been a perfect Yankee when he was a free agent a couple of years ago when the Yankees were mentioned as the favorite to sign him. It didn’t happen but Scherzer has done nothing to sway my high opinion of him. The cost to get him is another matter, but that’s a problem for Brian Cashman to figure out.
|Photo Credit: Hunter Martin, Getty Images|
Manny Machado makes his first return to Yankee Stadium this week when the San Diego Padres arrive in the Bronx on Monday for a three-game series. It will be Manny’s first appearance there since he played for the Baltimore Orioles last season. No doubt, good or bad, he’ll receive a reaction from the Bronx crowd, more so than any other Padre who takes the field. Sorry, Adam Warren. Machado has already made the Los Angeles Dodgers pay for their decision not to resign him. In five games against his former team, he has hit 4 home runs and has driven in 7 RBIs. He is batting .368/.429/1.105, with 1.534 OPS in those games. I am sure he’ll be as motivated against the Yankees as he was with the Dodgers. While I wanted the Yankees to sign Machado last winter, that ship sailed and I am not going to cry over spilt milk. I just hope Yankee pitching is up for the task and is able to keep Machado’s bat relatively quiet for the three games. Let him take out his frustrations on the Orioles when they play next month.
|Photo Credit: KC Alfred, The San Diego Union-Tribune|
Don’t look now, but the Yankees’ home record of 267 team homers last year is in jeopardy. Before the season, we thought the 2019 Yankees might be the team to assault last year’s record but it is the Minnesota Twins who are currently leading the pack. Through 50 games, the Twins have slugged 101 homers and are on pace for 327 round-trippers. Although they have yet to be acknowledged as one of the AL’s best teams, they possess the best record in MLB at 34-16 (.680 winning percentage). Things seem to be going right for first-year Manager Rocco Baldelli in the Twin Cities. I kind of feel badly for Tyler Austin who was shipped from the Twins to the San Francisco Giants earlier this season. The Giants have settled in to the NL West Cellar and will undoubtedly camp out there for the duration of the year. At least Tyler is getting some great pics in San Francisco.
|Photo Credit: @taustin2121 on Instagram|
Speaking of San Francisco, the Giants are calling up outfielder Mike Yastrzemski according to Jon Heyman. I know, why talk about a young player with a direct bloodline to a former Red Sox great (grandson of Carl Yastrzemski), but I’ve been following young Yaz since he was a baby prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization. I lived in Frederick, MD when he played for the Single A Frederick Keys. He didn’t succeed for the O’s but he is enjoying second life in the Giants organization (a team that, it seems, is annually in search of outfielders). At 28, he’s no longer a “prospect” but I wish him the very best as he finally arrives in The Show.
If you haven’t signed up to subscribe to Mike Axisa’s twice-weekly newsletter (https://www.patreon.com/RABthoughts), you are missing out. For the low price of $3 per month, Axisa continues to deliver the outstanding commentary, backed by his deep insight, thoughts, and statistics, we grew accustomed to with the late River Ave Blues blog. Axisa remains one of my favorites, if not the favorite, and he’s so much better than many of the professional (allegedly) Yankee beat writers. Trust me, you look forward to Tuesdays and Fridays when Axisa’s Patreon email lands in your inbox.
Credit to Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein on Twitter) for this one: “Domingo Germán is 9-1. Chris Sale is 1-6.” Baseball is funny or as John Sterling says, “Well, Suzyn, you know, you just can’t predict baseball”. But it reinforces why 2019 is so much more enjoyable than 2018.
The Yanks play two today, thanks to yesterday’s rainout. I couldn’t ask for a better scenario than last night when both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox lost while the Yankees watched the rain fall in Kansas City. Today would be an awesome day for two NYY victories.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: The NY Times (Uli Seit)|
Nothing But Crickets From Yankee Stadium…
Friday was an explosive day for Major League Baseball but relatively quiet for the New York Yankees.
I would like to send best wishes for a fast recovery to CC Sabathia who, it was announced, recently underwent an angioplasty, a procedure used to open clogged heart arteries. The procedure was combined with the permanent placement of a small wire mesh tube called a stent to help prop the artery open and decrease its chance of narrowing again. CC is expected to be fully ready by Spring Training but he is in our thoughts as he recovers. It’s a fairly common procedure but 38 seems incredibly young. Get well, Big Man!
The news of the day was the blockbuster trade between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds that sent Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer, and $7 million to the Reds for Homer Bailey and prospects RHP Josiah Gray and infielder Jeter Downs. It seems to me that Downs is destined to play in Miami for his namesake. Maybe he is a chess piece to help the Dodgers land Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. As part of the agreement for Bailey to waive his no-trade provision, the Dodgers will release him. He is owed $23 million for next season (carrying a $17.5 million cap hit) with $5 million 2020 buyout. No, I do not want the Yankees to sign him even though he can be picked up for minimum salary.
The immediate speculation is the Dodgers are clearing space and room for Bryce Harper. Admittedly, that does not seem to be the Dodgers’ MO under baseball head Andrew Friedman. For a player so concerned with his legacy, Dodger Stadium would certainly be an attractive place to play for Harper if the team in the Bronx is not interested in his services. Harper in a Dodgers uniform would look better than the White Sox or Phillies although he’d still look best in Pinstripes.
No doubt the Dodgers have more moves to make. The trade is curious for the Reds who are a better team today but not a contender. I guess with so many teams tanking it, it is refreshing to see a bad team trying to get better for its fans. Although there would still be room for the Reds to drop Sonny Gray into their starting rotation, the likelihood the Reds will move second baseman Scooter Gennett seems remote if they are trying to win a few more games.
It’s wild that the Yankees can’t rid themselves of Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract yet the Dodgers have moved Matt Kemp’s excessive contract not once but twice. I guess it helps when the player stays healthy and can at least take the field now and then.
Friday also saw another former Yankees prospect on the move. Seattle traded OF Ben Gamel to the Milwaukee Brewers, along with RHP Noah Zavolas, for outfielder Domingo Santana. For Gamel, he joins the team that once employed his brother, Mat. I’ll miss seeing Gamel when the Yankees play the Mariners. He may not be a great player but he was always playing high energy against the Yankees. Seattle’s certainly not going to seem the same without James Paxton, Robinson Cano, James Pazos and Gamel.
I was a little sad to see the Texas Rangers trade infielder Jurickson Profar to the Oakland A’s. Profar, long a Yankees target, would have been a valuable resource with the impending absence of Didi Gregorious. While I do not necessarily want to see Gleyber Torres slide over to short, Profar could have covered second base until Didi returns. I’d really like to see Gleyber stay at second to perfect his craft at the position, but given there are better second base options available than shortstop, the Yankees may have no choice. If the Yankees lose out on Manny, perhaps they should try to sign former A’s second baseman Jed Lowrie, currently a free agent, since he’s clearly out in Oakland now. Lowrie was a big part of the A’s success last season.
I suppose we could see some activity today but we’re entering the quiet zone of Christmas to New Year’s Day so it’s time for the Yankees Universe to relax and enjoy the holidays before we begin obsessing about trades and free agent signings again. The relaxation should be helped by the news Manny Machado has told the Yankees, White and Phillies that he does not intend to make a decision until after the first of the year. So relax, just breath…
At this point, Max Wildstein has summed up on Twitter how I feel about Machado:
Before the year is out, I would like to see the Yankees fill at least one of the holes in the bullpen. David Robertson, Adam Ottavino or Zach Britton would be just fine. Cash, please make it happen. All I want for Christmas is a Super Bullpen.
Congratulations to former Yankees prospect Rob Segedin. The 30-year-old third baseman, who was traded to the Dodgers in the 2016 trade that originally brought Ronald Torreyes to the Yankees, has apparently brought an end to his playing career. Segedin had a few cups of coffee with the Dodgers in 2016 and 2017 but could never show the promise he held when drafted in the third round by the Yankees in 2010. Segedin is reportedly joining the Philadelphia Phillies as a minor league hitting instructor. I had held out hope he would achieve his Major League dream as a player but now I’ll wish him well as he embarks in a coaching career. Perhaps this leads to be a full-time opportunity in the Show.
I don’t know about you but this off-season seems like one of the longest in recent memory. The Yankees started fast with the trade that brought James Paxton to New York but it’s been a long, slow burn ever since. I guess I should just find a new hobby for the next few weeks to get my mind off baseball.
Enjoy the pre-Christmas weekend! I am sure it is a last minute scramble for many. Well, sadly, maybe not for GM Brian Cashman.
As always, Go Yankees!