Tagged: Minnesota

Monty & The Awful 2nd Inning…

Credit:  Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Twins 6, Yankees 1…

The new guys did not help as the Yankees got clobbered in losing the series to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.  I liked the tweet by Mike Axisa of CBS Sports-MLB:  “Frazier, Robertson and Kahnle for a starting pitcher”.  Funny but also a bit truthful.  I realize that Jordan Montgomery bounced back after the disastrous 2nd inning to give the Yankees an otherwise strong six innings but those 6 runs in the 2nd proved to be insurmountable.  In the game of win or lose, Monty (6-5) sucked.  


The toughest part about the 6-run 2nd was that all of the runs were scored with two outs.  With runners at second and third, Zack Granite, a native New Yorker who was 2-for-22 in his MLB career to that point, singled up the middle to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.  The dangerous Brian Dozier walked on a 3-2 count, pushing Granite to second.  A Larry Rothschild visit to the mound later, Eduardo Escobar hit a single to center field which scored Granite and moved Dozier to second.  Miguel Sano stepped up and decided to play a game of Home Run Derby with a blast to center off an 0-2 rolling curveball from Jordan Montgomery.  It was 6-0 Twins before the new guys, who had just shown up due to a flight delay, could shake hands with all of their new Yankees teammates.

Credit:  Bruce Kluckhohn/AP

The Yankees had their biggest chance to get back into the game in the 7th inning.  With Twins starter Jose Berrios still on the mound, Clint Frazier started the inning with a single to center.  Garrett Cooper hit a liner to left for the first out.  He was followed by Austin Romine who was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch.  Clint Frazier to second.  Todd Frazier then entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Ronald Torreyes but went down swinging for the second out.  Gardner singled to left center to score Clint Frazier and advanced to second on an error by the left fielder, Robbie Grossman (who mishandled the ball before firing it to third).  Romine moved to third.  The Twins pulled Berrios and brought in reliever Taylor Duffey to face Jacoby Ellsbury.  A single by Ellsbury could have brought the Yankees within striking distance but he struck out with the bat resting on his shoulder with a fastball down the middle to end the inning.  It was the second time the Yankees left the bases full with no runs as Ronald Torreyes had grounded out with bases full of Yanks in the top of the 2nd before the onslaught of runs by the Twins.  


Tommy Kahnle made his Yankees debut in the 8th in relief of Chad Green.  He gave a preview of coming attractions by retiring the three batters he faced including two by strikeout. His pitches were hitting up to 100 mph.  I liked Kahnle’s quote after the game, “I always dreamed once they (the Yankees) drafted me I would pitch for them in the big leagues.  That day has come”.  As a fan of Kahnle’s who was very disappointed when he was lost in the Rule 5 Draft to the Colorado Rockies and has remained keenly aware of the pitcher, I share his sentiments.  Despite the loss, it was very good to see Kahnle in a Yankees uniform.  

Credit:  Associated Press

Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch on the right hand in the 9th but he is expected to be fine for today’s game in Seattle.

Credit:  Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Yankees (48-45) need to forget this series and start with a clean slate today against the Mariners.  The time is now to make a move after weeks of sliding backwards. The Yankees lost ground to the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.  The Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays,  5-1, so the Yankees are now 4 1/2 games behind the leaders.  They remain 1 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays who lost to the Oakland A’s, 7-2.


Next Up:  Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, WA…


The Yankees get a chance to catch up with Robinson Cano and Ben Gamel for four games in the Pacific Northwest.  

Here are the scheduled pitching matchups:


THURSDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-4, 3.40 ERA)

Mariners:  Felix Hernandez (5-3, 4.20 ERA)


FRIDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.33 ERA)

Mariners:  Andrew Moore (1-1, 5.25 ERA)


SATURDAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.54 ERA)

Mariners:  Ariel Miranda (7-4, 4.35 ERA)


SUNDAY

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.61 ERA)

Mariners:  Sam Gaviglio (3-5, 4.62 ERA)


I feel fairly confident about Thursday, even with King Felix on the mound, and Saturday, but as for Friday and Sunday…not so much.


Here’s hoping the new guys bring some much needed magic and mojo back to our favorite team.

Odds & Ends…

As expected, the Yankees made a flurry of roster moves yesterday to make room for Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle.  Chasen Shreve was optioned to Triple A and Ji-Man Choi was designated for assignment.  Rob Refsnyder, on the 40-man roster, was also DFA’d as the Yankees needed to create the room on the 40-man roster even though Tyler Clippard vacated his spot with the trade to the White Sox.  I can’t say that I am overly excited about Luis Cessa remaining on the active roster.  Given a choice between Cessa and Caleb Smith, I’d prefer to see Smith get the next start in place of Michael Pineda.  Frazier took Tyler Clippard’s old number (29), Robertson reclaimed his own old number (30) with Clint Frazier switching to double-Mickey Mantle (77), and Kahnle’s number with the White Sox was waiting for him thanks to the recent dismissal of Chris Carter (48).  

Speaking of poor starts, the Yankees are surely looking for rotation help after Jordan Montgomery’s string of sub-par starts.  But being “careful buyers” probably means that the Yankees will not be players for guys like Sonny Gray or Gerrit Cole.  Now is the time for GM Brian Cashman to earn the dollars for his next contract.  


This is a hypothetical question considering that Aaron Hicks is not healthy, but if you have five outfielders (Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Hicks, and Clint Frazier), is Jacoby Ellsbury the sixth or seventh best outfielder?  Just wondering…

Credit:  Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Manager Joe Girardi has said that Todd Frazier will be the team’s regular third baseman.  Chase Headley will move to first and platoon with Garrett Cooper.  If Frazier has a strong finish to the season, I’d have to believe it is more likely the team will attempt to re-sign him over Matt Holliday.  Frazier intends to talk to YES Network broadcaster Paul O’Neill about possibly switching his number from #29 to #21 before the team returns to the Bronx.  Frazier has always worn #21 because of O’Neill.  I think it would be appropriate and would not boo the move assuming that he gets O’Neill’s blessing.

Former Yankee Chris Carter has signed with the Oakland A’s, a team he played for from 2010 to 2012.  He’ll report to the A’s Triple A club, the Nashville Sounds.  I can still remember when the Sounds were a Double A team for the Yankees and Buck Showalter was a first baseman/outfielder for them.  

We’ll probably be seeing another former Yankee soon (in the wrong uniform) as the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners have been identified as strong possibilities for David Phelps of the Miami Marlins.  The Red Sox are also still looking at Miami’s Martin Prado, currently on the 10-Day DL, as well as Eduardo Nunez of the San Francisco Giants.  

Have a great Thursday!  Sevy can make it a truly awesome day.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Slightly Off-Target in Downtown Minneapolis…

Credit:  Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Twins 4, Yankees 2…

The Baby Bombers tried but without too much help from the veteran leadership, the Yankees fell to the Twins in Minneapolis.

New first baseman Garrett Cooper finally had his coming out party with three hits (two doubles) and his first Major League RBI.  Clint Frazier, penciled in at #2 in the lineup, contributed two speed-earned doubles.  

The Twins struck first, picking up a run in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  Kennys Vargas walked and scored when Eddie Rosario lined a double to the center field wall.  They added another run the next inning.  Brian Dozier and Zack Granite both singled, and Joe Mauer walked to load the bases.  In one of the game’s great plays, Miguel Sano hit a fly ball to Aaron Judge in right.  Dozier attempted to score on the fly ball, but was nailed at the plate by an exceptional throw from Judge to catcher Austin Romine.  

Credit:  Bruce Kluckhohn/AP

The Yankees nearly escaped the inning without any damage, but starter Bryan Mitchell, covering first base, botched a catch from second baseman Starlin Castro which allowed Max Kepler to reach base with Granite scoring the Twins’ second run.

The Yankees finally got on the board in the 5th.  The inning opened with a challenge play that was ruled in Minnesota’s favor.  Didi Gregorius was initially ruled safe at first on an infield hit and headfirst slide, but replay subsequently showed that he was late to the bag as Adalberto Mejia’s foot touched base just before Didi’s hands. With two outs, Garrett Cooper doubled to right center, a smash to the wall.  He scored on Austin Romine’s double over the head of right fielder Max Kepler.  2-1, Twins.

The game was tied in the top of the 7th when Chase Headley doubled to left center between the outfielders.  He scored on Garrett Cooper’s second double of the game, a solid line drive to left.

Then the game fell apart for the Yankees.  In the top of 8th, it looked to have the potential of a big inning that could have given the Yankees the lead.  Clint Frazier hit a double to left, motoring around to second without hesitation.  Twins reliever Taylor Rogers intentionally walked Aaron Judge to face Matt Holliday.  It proved to be the right decision by Twins manager Paul Molitor when Holliday hit into a 6-4-3 double play which erased Judge at second.  Frazier moved to third.  After taking a big swing for a strike, Didi Gregorius attempted an awful bunt which just bounced up and down at home plate.  Twins catcher Jason Castro was able to easily throw out Gregorius for the final out.    

In the bottom of the 8th, Yankees manager Joe Girardi opted to stick with Caleb Smith.  Smith had entered the game in the 6th inning in relief of Bryan Mitchell.  For two innings, he was tremendous in retiring 6 batters with 3 strikeouts.  I know it is easy to second guess Girardi after-the-fact, but I felt that Girardi should have brought in one of his veteran relievers for the pressure-packed 8th.  Smith’s brilliant two-inning work would have been a great confidence booster in making his MLB debut so it would have been a good place to pull him, especially with the Twins’ 3-4-5 hitters coming up.  But Girardi elected to stay with the hot hand.  Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano opened the bottom of the 8th with singles off Smith.  Mauer’s hit fell just short of Aaron Judge’s sliding glove and Sano’s seeing-eye single made it to left past a sliding Didi Gregorius.  After striking out Max Kepler, Smith gave up a single to left by pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar which scored Mauer.  Sano moved to third on the play, beating a throw from Austin Romine to Gregorius, and scored when Eddie Rosario doubled, a rolling liner, to right.  The Twins had taken a 4-2 lead which would prove to be the game’s final runs.  To Smith’s credit, with the bases loaded after an intentional walk, retired the next two batters get out of the inning.

Credit:  Bruce Kluckhohn/AP

The Yankees were unable to muster any offense in the top of the 9th in the rain against Twins closer Brandon Kintzler and went down 1-2-3.  

Credit:  Star Tribune

Doing the little things right could have won this game but it was not meant to be.

The Yankees (47-44) remained 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss.  The Sox fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3.  The second place Tampa Bay Rays moved 1 1/2 games in front of the Yankees and 2 games behind Boston with their 3-2 victory over the Oakland A’s.

Caleb Smith (0-1) took his first loss of the season after his 8-0 start at Triple A.  Bryan Mitchell’s final line wasn’t bad.  5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 run unearned thanks to his own error), 2 BB, and 2 SO.  Aaron Judge’s post All-Star Game slump continued with his 0-for-3 performance which dropped him to 1-for-21 for the second half.  He struck out once.

Odds & Ends…

Michael Pineda’s consultation with Dr Timothy Kremchek for a second opinion has confirmed the need for Tommy John surgery.  Dr Kremchek will perform the surgery today in Cincinnati.  Although I doubt Michael ever pitches for the Yankees again, I wish him much success with the surgery and a speedy recovery.


Greg Bird will also have surgery on his ankle today.  He is expected to be out for six weeks.  While it is projected that he could be back in September, I’d find it highly unlikely given he has missed so much time the past two years.  Even more unlikely if the Yankees swing a trade for someone like Yonder Alonso or Justin Bour.  I hope this surgery puts Bird back on the path to be a contributing member for the Yankees.

Have a great Tuesday!  Time to get back in the win column.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Life as a Yankees fan…

42 Years…

10746449af0079254d31a68aa56a4fd8

My interest in Baseball began in my childhood like most fans.

I can remember NFL Football as the first sport I discovered but my passion and love for Major League Baseball started a few years later and quickly rose to favored status.

I consider 1972 as the year I started following Football with close interest.  That’s the year I became a fan of Fran Tarkenton and the Minnesota Vikings.  I was aware of Football in the immediate preceding years, but my father died in early 1972 at the age of 42.  I found the Vikings gave me something to focus on as I processed my grief.

fab0ab6c5095d3df02a587214ad228a3

Along this same time period, I started following the Oakland A’s.  In the 1970’s, they were a very colorful team with a unique owner and a collective cast of characters that were routinely championship caliber.  But the one player that stood out to me was A’s starting pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter.  As a North Carolina farmer, fisherman, and general outdoor enthusiast, Catfish had a very easy and engaging personality to go with the fantastic arm.

During the 1974 season, Catfish finished 25-12, with a 2.49 ERA, while winning the AL Cy Young Award.  Meanwhile, the A’s were winning their third consecutive World Series championship.

73ab66785410902b96725d743bfef711

I had been aware of the perfect game that Catfish had thrown during the 1968 season and it was easy to identify with him as my favorite active player.

One of the very first books that I read was a biography about Yankees legend Lou Gehrig so I naturally carried positive feelings about the Pinstripers and their rich, legendary history.

6e45f12806cc180daca5b7000590fb67

This set the stage for December 31, 1974.  After aggressive pursuit by the majority of the MLB teams, Catfish, a free agent, signed a five-year contract with the New York Yankees.

I remember feelings of disappointment that the A’s had allowed Catfish to become a free agent and could not envision myself as an A’s fan without him on the mound despite their recent history of success.

So, on the day Catfish signed with New York, I officially decided to become a Yankees fan.  The team had struggled during the preceding decade but my preference was to follow Catfish, even with a potentially losing team, over continuing to root for the A’s.

image099

From that day forward, I have never looked back as the Yankees have been my team ever since.

After a couple of years, catcher Thurman Munson replaced Catfish as my favorite baseball player but the love of the Yankees deepened with each passing year.

I will always credit Lou Gehrig for creating my positive perception of the Pinstripes, and Catfish Hunter for bringing it all together.

42 has multiple meanings for me.  It is the number  of years I’ve been a Yankees fan, it was the number of years my father walked the Earth, it is the symbol of one of Baseball’s greatest players (Jackie Robinson), and the number of one of my all-time favorite Yankees (Mariano Rivera).

dm_130924_dm_sweetspot_tv_mariano_rivera_vs_andy_pettite

Today, December 31, 2016, I look back on the many great memories (the tremendous victories and the heartbreaking losses) the Yankees have provided, and look forward to the the bright future and continuation of the success of Baseball’s most storied franchise.

I am grateful to be a Yankees fan…

–Scott

Sometimes Money Does Matter…

The Hunger Games…

When the Yankees said they were going to be big spenders during the opening signing period for international prospects, I still didn’t imagine how aggressive they would be. Based on MLB.com’s list of top international prospects, the Yankees have apparently signed five of the top ten players:

• Dermis Garcia, SS, Dominican Republic, #1
• Nelson Gomes, 3B, Dominican Republic, #2
• Juan De Leon, OF, Dominican Republic, #5
• Jonathan Amundaray, OF, Venezuela, #7
• Antonio Arias, OF, Venezuela, #9

In the second ten (11-20), they grabbed three shortstops:

• Hyo-Jun Park, SS, Korea, #13
• Wilkerman Garcia, SS, Venezuela, #14
• Diego Castilla, SS, Venezuela, #16

They also signed the #25 player in catcher Miguel Flames, Venezuela.

At first pass, it seems like a number of shortstops but I’ve read that Dermis Garcia will eventually be a corner infielder and Wilkerman Garcia may be switched to second base.

Dermis Garcia, the prized signing, represents the most the Yankees have spent on the international market since they signed top catching prospect Gary Sanchez in 2009. Garcia received $3.2 million, while Sanchez received $3.0 million.

It’s interesting that Garcia was born in 1998, perhaps the greatest year of the modern Yankees era.

I can still remember when the Yankees selected an 18-year-old Derek Jeter out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Hopefully, the 16 year-old Garcia will be a presence in pinstripes for more than 20 years too.

Of course, while the Yankees were focused on position players, the Boston Red Sox quietly signed the top two pitchers in Christopher Acosta, Dominican Republic, and Anderson Espinoza, Venezuela.

I thought it was a telling choice in the selection of the catcher (Flames). The Yankees seems overloaded with catching prospects and the Flames arrival is probably the prelude to the inclusion of another catching prospect such as Sanchez or John Ryan Murphy in a potential trade this month. I would not want to lose Sanchez for a middle-of-the-road starting pitcher but if the return were say someone like David Price, then I am all in.

With the international signings at approximately $14 million, the cost could be as much as $30 million with penalties plus the Yankees will be non-players in the next two signing periods as they’ll be restricted to no more than $300,000 per player. But with their aggressive approach this year, the Yankees have infused significant future talent into the lower levels of the farm system.

The future is now…

I saw a reference that Park would be the first Korean-born Yankee but that’s unfair to AAA second baseman Rob Refsnyder. Although raised in CA since he was 3 months, he was born in Seoul, South Korea to Korean parents. So I’d say Refsnyder will be the first Korean Yankee. Speaking of Refsnyder, I seriously hope that his Bronx arrival is sooner rather than later. The Yankees need to upgrade second base. Brian Roberts was once a great player but he’ll never be that guy again. Why not go with a younger player who has upside potential? The sooner we can put Robinson Cano in the rear view mirror, the better.

What have you done for me lately?…

So much for the rags to riches story for career minor leaguer Yangervis Solarte. After a terrific start to the season, he has been non-existent for the past month and it earned him a free ride to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His replacement is actually an older career minor leaguer, Zelous Wheeler, so we’ll see how this goes. If it were me, I would have brought up Refsnyder. But there’s a reason that Brian Cashman is GM and I am not, so I’ll just have to have faith in the decision.

Too little, too late?…

Honestly, I am not sure there is anything the Yankees can do to save this season. They are a game under .500 entering play tonight and have played with virtually no offense. They only win if they can hold the opponent to a couple of runs or less. Robinson Cano is one player that could ignite the offense but obviously there’s no way the Seattle Mariners are going to give him up. In retrospect, the Yankees should have overpaid to keep Cano. Alfonso Soriano was that kind of player at times last year but he’s been in a season long slump that almost certainly means this is his final year in pinstripes. I thought that Brian McCann would be hitting by now but he is showing that he’s one of those guys who needs a long acclimation process to the Bronx. Carlos Beltran is merely showing that he is a 36-year-old outfielder. The other off-season right field option, Shin Choo-Soo, has fared no better in Texas.

At this moment, the Detroit Tigers stand as the team to beat in the American League. For the past couple of weeks, they’ve been invincible and easily handled the second best Oakland A’s this week. Joba Chamberlain is probably loving life at the top.

While I recognize the Yankees will make a move this month, I hope that they do not trade any top prospects unless the return is top shelf (i.e., David Price). I’d hate to lose Gary Sanchez and still finish 3rd or 4th in the AL East.

Oh well, tonight the Yankees play Phil Hughes in Minneapolis. Let’s hope the results are better than the last time they saw Hughes in the Bronx when he and the Minnesota Twins dominated the Yanks.

–Scott

It is high, it is far, it is caught…

A penny for your hits…

What does it take to buy a hit?  Apparently not the $45 million the Yankees paid to Carlos Beltran or the $85 mil to Brian McCann or $175 million for former Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.  This season has been a struggle for wins despite the team’s winning record.  It was finally starting to feel a little better at 29-25 but then the Yankees promptly lost 4 in a row.

 

 

Playing a good team like the Oakland A’s, the Yankees bullpen failed miserably until the final game of the series when David Robertson locked away a win for ace Masahiro Tanaka.  That bleeding started in the series with the Minnesota Twins and was inevitable with the short innings being provided by the replacement starters (i.e., David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and Chase Whitley).  When the Yankees are only scoring 1 or 2 runs a game, the starters need to throw a gem almost every outing which obviously is not realistic given the current state of arms.

I thought the Yankees should have aggressively tried to sign Stephen Drew before the Boston Red Sox re-signed him, and now I feel the same way about slugger Kendrys Morales.  Now that there is no longer draft pick compensation tied to him since the MLB started yesterday, I felt the Yankees should go after him.  Maybe they are, but there’s competition.  Based on yesterday’s first draft pick for the Yankees in the second, had they signed Morales earlier, the cost would have been lefty reliever Jacob Lindgren who is already projected to make an appearance in the Yankees bullpen this year.  But now it’s an open field for Morales and the Yankees have reluctance, wanting to see how Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran perform.  In my opinion, the odds of one or both going back to the DL at some point is very high, and the designated hitter, Alfonso Soriano, is not hitting, so I would aggressively pursue Morales to cover 1B/DH.  Ironically, Morales is the guy the Los Angeles Angels turned to when Mark Teixeira left as a free agent.  It worked out well for the Angels and I think it can work out well for the Yankees.  No ifs, ands, or buts, the Yankees need a proven consistent run producer in the middle of the order.  I agree with those who say the Yankees sorely miss Robinson Cano’s bat.  Ironically, the Yankees were also unable to re-sign another slugger having a good year in Milwaukee this year (Mark Reynolds) despite the usual anemic batting average.  Those home runs would look pretty good about now in Yankee Stadium.

 Courtesy:  hailstate.com

On nights the Yankees are scoring only a run or getting shut out, I even see guys like Milwaukee’s Lyle Overbay, another 2013 Yankee, driving in a couple of runs for his new team.  And of course, who delivered the key hit in the Yankees last game with the Twins when the Yankees bullpen collapsed in the late innings?  None other than former backup shortstop Eduardo Nunez.

At this point, the Toronto Blue Jays are starting to run away with the division.  They are clearly playing like the class of the division and they just came off a very successful series against perennial AL contender Detroit.  If I had to pick two teams playing in the ALCS right now, I’d pick the Blue Jays and the Oakland A’s.  If the Yankees do not figure out how to fix the current offensive drought, they really will be offensive and done for the season in September.

Not everybody was meant to be Mariano Rivera…

Nothing against David Robertson but I am still not sold on him as the team’s closer.  Sure, replacing Mariano Rivera is big shoes to fill.  However, I still think that Robertson’s stuff plays best in a Set Up role.  I have been intrigued with the possibility of trying Dellin Betances in the role, but he needs more major league experience so maybe next year.  The reliever the Yankees picked yesterday (Jacob Lindgren) is also a future possibility.  If Robertson blows a few more games like he did against Minnesota, I’d really consider using Andrew Bailey in the role when he gets healthy…for now.

I love you, I love you not…

Speaking of former Yankees thriving outside of New York, both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain seem to be doing fine.  Hughes even captured a victory in the Bronx with the aforementioned bullpen collapse, a place that he couldn’t buy a win last year.  Chamberlain has a couple of saves and a decent ERA.  I can’t say that I’ve watched him too closely but his stats seem to say that all is good.  Why couldn’t have these guys performed like this last year?  Rhetorical question and of course, there is something to be said about the pressure of playing in New York.  It’s not for everyone.

Farewell to a champion…

It was sound to hear about the passing of former Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer this week.  The image of Zim sitting next to Joe Torre on the Yankees bench is forever burned into my memory.  He was such a part of those late 90’s championships and he helped mold Torre into a Hall of Fame manager and one who will soon have his number retired in Memorial Park.  I realize that sooner or later, all of us must depart.  But still, it is sad to see Zim go now.  I understand he had been in poor health since April and hopefully he is now at peace.  He will be missed as he was truly one of Major League Baseball’s landmarks.

 Courtesy:  Keith Torrie/New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images

–Scott

Yet another man down…

I wonder if Mike Mussina can still pitch…

It’s still early in May but the Yankees have only two remaining starters in the pitching rotation from the Opening Day roster.  With the placement of CC Sabathia (knee) on the DL, the two Japanese starters, Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka, are the only remaining starters with Ivan Nova (elbow/Tommy John surgery) and Michael Pineda (back) already on the DL.  This means the remainder of the rotation after Kuroda and Tanaka, are David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and perhaps Chase Whitley or Alfredo Aceves.  That’s not exactly a rotation that strikes fear in the heart of opposing batters.

The Yankees are so very fortunate that they won the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes in the off-season.  I’d hate to think where this rotation would be without Tanaka.  Or the team for that matter.

The Yankees will need to do something to address the starting rotation.  Nova is gone for the year, and Sabathia is still showing difficulty in adjusting to the latter stages of his pitching career.  I am really not sure what to expect when Pineda comes back and Kuroda has not shown consistent dominance since early last year.

But with the July trading deadline still over two months away, there are simply no quality options available.  Well, at least not at more reasonable prices.  Hopefully, someone among the Phelps, Nuno, Whitley et al group step up to show that they belong in The Show.  The Yankees need a new starter next year to replace Kuroda, who, more than likely, will retire or return to play in Japan.  Rather than vastly overpay for an upcoming free agent, it would be preferable for a young starter in the organization to step up and take his spot (obviously).

Passing the torch…

With Stephen Drew still available and the June draft upcoming, the rumors are picking up again that Drew would be a great fit for the Yankees.  I do not disagree.  No disrespect for Derek Jeter but he simply is not the player he was once.  He will not ride to the sunset like Mariano Rivera at the top of his game.  It’s unfortunate, but age has a funny way of doing that to the best of us.  I have felt that Drew would be a very solid addition since spring training and better than adding Brian Roberts or Kelly Johnson.  I know it would cost a draft pick, but the Yankees should pull the trigger now and sign Drew rather than wait until the competition is much stronger once Drew no longer has compensation tied to his signing following the player draft.

Brendan Ryan is a great fielder at shortstop but this team needs quality, clutch bats and Drew would be perhaps the best option for production among the middle infielders if signed.

The quarterback who wears gloves picked the right city…

As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I bought into the hype of Johnny Manziel.  After experiencing life as a fan of Donnie Baseball, it was appealing to think of my favorite football team being led by Johnny Football.  When the Vikings were on the clock at #8 and Manziel was still available, I was hopeful, along with many other Vikings fans apparently, that the team would call his team.  But instead, the Vikings swapped places with the Cleveland Browns at #9, and took a defensive player (Anthony Barr).  While I recognize the team needed defensive help, particularly the linebackers and defensive backfield, but the team needs a true leader.  I had been hopeful Christian Ponder would be the guy but it has never worked out.  Perhaps offensive coordinator Norv Turner can pull something out of Ponder but in many ways it is too late.  Matt Cassell will be the starter in 2014 barring injury, so it was a given the Vikings would take a QB in the draft.

After failing to trade up to #22 (the Philadelphia Eagles accepted a better offer from the Cleveland Browns who then took Johnny Football), the Vikings traded back up into the first round (last pick at #32) with the Seattle Seahawks and grabbed the guy who was number one on many top QB lists, Teddy Bridgewater.  So, while I was disappointed the Vikings didn’t get Manziel, it is certainly not difficult to be excited about the potential of Bridgewater.  He’ll have great weapons with Adrian Peterson, Cordarelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph, Greg Jennings and others.  Ponder now becomes an afterthought, unless he is somehow able to find his way back into the starter’s role before Bridgewater takes the position for good.

Happy Mother’s Day!

–Scott

 

With a New Year, brings New Hope!…

 

Happy New Year to all Baseball Fans!…

January 1, 2014.  Time to replace the calendars.  With the arrival of the New Year, it brings optimism for baseball fans everywhere as they anticipate whether or not their team has done enough to ensure October success.  Boston fans dream of a back-to-back championship, while others hope they can be the ones to de-throne the defending champs.  In January, anything is possible, although arguably some teams have a much better chance than others. 

As a Yankees fan, it has been a bittersweet off-season.  The team finally made some bold moves after a couple of years of inactivity in signing Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran, but the loss of Robinson Cano will hurt.  The team still has not done enough to improve the starting rotation nor has it repaired the losses in the pen.

I thought the Washington Nationals did a good job in bringing in Doug Fister for its starting rotation.  He was a solid performer for the Detroit Tigers and he should help provide back-end stability for the frontline starters. 

The Boston Red Sox did well in re-signing Mike Napoli.  He is a great role performer and he seems to thrive in the Fenway environment, however, I am not sure that A.J. Pierzynski makes up for the loss of Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  I think they’ll be okay losing Jacoby Ellsbury if Jackie Bradley, Jr is able to take the next step up in his promising career.  While it remains questionable whether Stephen Drew will be back or will be playing in Citi Field, any team would love to have Xander Bogaerts standing ready to take over the shortstop position.  Regardless of what happens, I think the Red Sox will be a force in 2014 and won’t relinquish their crown easily. 

The Minnesota Twins showed an unusual side in signing free agent pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, and bringing back Mike Pelfrey.  They missed out on A.J. Pierzynski, but the signing of Kurt Suzuki will allow them to bring their young catcher, Josmil Pinto, along slowly in the major leagues as they replace Joe Mauer who has moved to first.

Among others, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Oakland A’s, and the San Francisco Giants (in bringing Tim Hudson back to the Bay Area) have had productive off-seasons. 

There are countless other major moves that have been made and other teams that have significantly enhanced their chances for winning, but the point is that January is a time of optimism.  Spring Training looms on the horizon as this is the last full month before pitchers and catchers begin to report.  Players, if they took time off for the holidays, are aggressively starting or continuing their off-season workout regimens.  This is the time that will set in motion the attitudes and the chemistry that makes up each team.  Baseball is not about having the most physically gifted team, it’s about the team that can do the most to maximize the synergy of the team and create a culture that is unwilling to accept losing. 

It should be a fun season.  It’s too early to form an opinion of the teams that stand the best chance as there are still some roster-changing moves that will be made before spring training breaks, but in the AL, you know that the Red Sox, Rays, Tigers, Rangers, A’s, and Angels will have a say in who wins and who loses. 

I hope it’s a very happy and enjoyable New Year for everyone!  Time to make new friends, create fantastic new opportunities, experiences, and memories.    Time to get excited about the arrival of the upcoming Major League Baseball season.  May the 2014 season bring you great satisfaction and enjoyment!

The Masahiro Tanaka Sweepstakes…

It’s been written that the New York Yankees are the favorites to sign prized Japanese free agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, but it’s really anybody’s guess where he will sign.  Personally, I could see the Los Angeles Dodgers blowing away the competition, and they would certainly provide a main stage for Tanaka to perform.  No offense to the Minnesota Twins, but I couldn’t really see a player with Tanaka’s potential playing in a small market.  I would love to see Tanaka sign with the Yankees and I think Hiroki Kuroda would be the perfect mentor to help Tanaka’s transition to the United States.  But the Dodgers have a strong history with Japanese players.  The Texas Rangers may be players and you certainly cannot underestimate the Seattle Mariners or the Los Angeles Angels.  The Tanaka decision will be made within the next three weeks as it has to be completed by January 24th, so it should be interesting to watch Tanaka’s tour and to see how much teams are willing to pay for his potential.  Guys like Clayton Kershaw, with free agency looming in the not-so-distant future, have to love this, and it will help enhance the monetary packages it will take to sign or retain them with proven superior performance in the MLB. 

If the Yankees lose out on Tanaka, I am not sure what a good Plan B will be.  I’ve heard Ubaldo Jimenez’ name mentioned, but it’s not a guarantee that 2013 was a return to the promise he once held or if it was just an aberration and he’ll continue his prior downward slide.  Bronson Arroyo, Ervin Santana.  None of these names excite me.  I am more hopeful that guys like Michael Pineda and Manny Banuelos can come into training camp and make statements for why they should be the guys. 

Roster moves await…

With the 40-man roster filled, and the signings of second baseman Brian Roberts or reliever Matt Thornton to be made official, it’s clear the Yankees will need to open roster space.  Given the excess at catcher with the signing of Brian McCann, it’s fairly clear that either Austin Romine or J.R. Murphy could be moved.  I think we’ll see the departure of Vernon Wells despite his salary friendly status thanks to the Angels.  Even something free is not worth keeping if it has no value.  As speculated, I could still see a trade of Ichiro Suzuki to a team like the San Francisco Giants.  I have no problem with Zoilo Almonte taking the fifth outfielder role, particularly in light of his strong winter play.

I don’t think the Yankees have done enough yet, but I also do not think they are finished.  I am confident that by the time training camp opens, the Yankees will have the collection of players capable of restoring the team’s 90+ win ability.  Time will tell if they’ve caught up with their prime AL East competitors but at least with the Yankees, you know it won’t be for the lack of trying.

The words of Randy Levine…

Admittedly, I do not know much about Yankees president Randy Levine, but I am not impressed with the man.  I wasn’t before the text messages between Levine and Alex Rodriguez were released and I am even less so now.  Some of his comments come off as very unprofessional.  I remember how vilified Red Sox president Larry Lucchino was by Yankees fans when he made his ‘Evil Empire’ remark and how hated he is, but I really do not see Levine as any better and very likely, much worse.  At least Lucchino has overseen three world championships since 2004.  The Yankees’ 2009 World Championship was more Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman, among others. 

Perhaps Levine is a great leader and effective in his role within the Yankees organization, but it is not apparent from the outside looking in.  I can only shake my head when I see his text message comments.  Aside from any of his words or how I may feel about the man, I strikes me as very odd that the president of the team would go direct to a player, bypassing the manager and the GM.  Maybe it would help if more stories about Levine’s positives were written, but then again, they wouldn’t be interesting and wouldn’t sell papers.  So, maybe we’ll never know the good the man potentially does.  But as it stands, he just seems like a buffoon to me.

Happy Holidays…

I hope the holiday season has been a very happy time for you and your families.  Enjoy the New Year, and may good health, success, happiness, and prosperity be yours!

–Scott