Tagged: NJ.com

Painful Experience: TV Games Thru NESN-Colored Glasses…

However, the End Result is all that matters…

Despite fielding a team with primarily high numbers (on their jerseys; not their stats), the Yankees accomplished the objective on Saturday. Beat the Red Sox. The Yankees came away from their only visit to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, FL with a 5-3 victory. I know, it means nothing but as I said yesterday, I wanted to beat the Red Sox regardless of the significance of the game. Hanley Ramirez, who promised the Red Sox Nation that they’d “step on everybody’s neck” when the Sox signed J.D. Martinez, was 0-for-3, with a strikeout.

Since the game was televised by the MLB Network and it was at Boston’s ballpark, we were subjected to the NESN broadcast crew of Dave O’Brien, Tim Wakefield and Steve Lyons. Maybe it was just me, but I found their telecast to be one of the most myopic experiences that I’ve ever witnessed. If you believed what you heard (no worries, I did not), you would come away thinking the Red Sox are an extraordinary team, made more powerful with the presence of J.D. Martinez, while the Yankees have numerous questions and are a “one-dimensional team”. They also took shots at CC Sabathia for no reason, leaving you with the impression that CC is held together by duct tape. I didn’t mind the guests they featured regarding the Red Sox Foundation and other notable causes, but it seemed like they disregarded the game at times and it was as if the NESN broadcasters knew nothing about the Yankees players in the game. As Charles Barkley would say, “That’s turrible”. I am not impressed by NESN or the Red Sox.

Miguel Andujar continued his hot hitting. He didn’t start the game but entered later as a replacement for Brandon Drury. His eighth-inning single scored Jeff Hendrix with an insurance run after the Yankees had taken a one-run lead on the Sox. The day was an enjoyable experience for Andujar who got to meet one of his childhood heroes, former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. Although Andujar and Ortiz are both from the Dominican Republic, I was not aware they were from the same hometown.  No wonder Andujar emulates Big Papi’s swing.

The Yankees improved to 8-1, best in the Grapefruit League.  Today, they’ll face an old friend in Nathan “Nasty Nate” Eovaldi and the Tampa Bay Rays.  Nick Solak, one of the Yankees prospects involved in the trade for Brandon Drury, will start at second base for the Rays.

Here is the scheduled lineup for the Yankees at home in Tampa against the visiting Rays (sorry, I always find humor in that statement):

Brett Gardner, CF

Aaron Judge, RF

Giancarlo Stanton, LF

Gary Sanchez, C

Brandon Drury, DH

Danny Espinosa, 3B

Billy McKinney, 1B

Ronald Torreyes, 2B

Tyler Wade, SS

Chad Green will be the starting pitcher. Aroldis Chapman is also scheduled to pitch.

Russell Wilson left camp today but gave the players signed NFL footballs before his departure. Even though I am not a Seahawks fan, I knew that Wilson was a great guy. But his time in Training Camp and his words left me with the greater perception that his character exceeds his talent, which is no small task. I remain convinced that his time at Steinbrenner Field was a worthwhile experience although he struck out in his lone at-bat. His winning attitude and desire to be great is infectious. I think the Yankees players learned a great deal from the champion QB.

Clint Frazier was held out from workouts on Saturday but fortunately, his MRI on Friday came back clean. He’ll meet with a doctor today. Hopefully this not more serious than it appears to be and he’ll be back on the field in the not-so-distant future. Jacoby Ellsbury remains sidelined with the right oblique strain which is fine. That’s certainly one injury you don’t want to rush given the risk of further setback if you try to come back too soon.

Recent photos of Chase Headley and Dustin Fowler are the latest evidence the Yankees should revisit their facial hair policy.  I am not a fan of the wild Justin Turner look, but cleanly groomed beards should be acceptable.


Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com has a very nice write up this morning about my favorite Yankees pitching prospect (with no offense to Justus Sheffield or Chance Adams). Albert Abreu, recovering from recent emergency appendectomy surgery, should be able to resume his throwing program soon. It will be fun to watch this very talented right-hander continue his ascent through the Yankees farm system.  I am a huge Abreu fan and I look forward to the day he takes the mound at Yankee Stadium.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)

Go Yankees!


Ready, Set, Stall…

The Most Boring Off-Season Ever…

It’s kind of funny to say that this has been one of the slowest Hot Stove Leagues in recent memory, especially when your team acquires the best slugger on the planet, but I can’t remember the last time the majority of the top free agents were unsigned in January.

The Yankees never figured to be big players in the free agent market, given their desire to keep the ‘Alex Rodriguez-freed’ payroll under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million for reset purposes. But then the Los Angeles Dodgers made their big salary relief trade with the Atlanta Braves which gave them the same opportunity as the Yankees to reset their luxury tax rate so you have baseball’s two biggest spenders on the sidelines.

My personal hope is that the slow free agent market leads Todd Frazier back to Pinstripes where he belongs. Of course, rumors circulated yesterday that the Yankees had been back in touch with the Baltimore Orioles about third baseman Manny Machado. I am not convinced the Orioles would trade their best player to the Yankees despite his impending free agency, but conversely, I am not sure the Yankees should give up some of their best prospects for a guy they could sign as a free agent next fall. I wouldn’t want to give the O’s the bullets to reload. But then again, if the O’s make a trade this winter, they’ll bring in quality talent from somewhere. As long as Machado is on the table, it probably keeps any potential deal with Todd Frazier on ice (no pun intended for those of you in New York and New Jersey).

Mark Prior has found his way to the Los Angeles Dodgers as their new bullpen coach, replacing Josh Bard who decided to take a seat on the Yankees bench next to new manager Aaron Boone. The Yankees’ one-time top draft pick (he didn’t sign in 1998) and former Chicago Cub was most recently the minor league pitching coordinator for his hometown San Diego Padres. Prior attempted to make the transition to a relief pitcher in the Yankees organization during the 2011 season but could never capture the potential that was once promised to him through a series of arm injuries. I hope that he finds greater success with his coaching career.

Some teams have been very active with minor league contract signings carrying training camp invitations, but until yesterday, the Yankees had been quiet. It changed when they signed former Atlanta Braves infielder Jace Peterson to a minor league deal on Friday. Peterson has a high pedigree (he was once a first-round draft selection for the San Diego Padres) but he’s never been able to hit in the Major Leagues. He found his way to the Braves for the 2015 season but underwhelmed the team as its starting second baseman that year. The career .234 hitter was released by the Braves last month when he was non-tendered in advance of arbitration. I can’t see him as more than training camp fodder and help with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, but you can never have enough competition for Major League jobs. Good luck to Peterson as he attempts to find his place with his third MLB organization. New coaches, new scenery….who knows, crazier things have happened. In a bit of irony, Peterson made his MLB debut during the 2014 season when former and now current Padres third baseman Chase Headley was placed on the DL. Peterson seems like this year’s Pete Kozma signing to me. If he could only hit, he looks like a version of Austin Romine’s brother Andrew with an ability to play multiple positions.

Jace, just a note, please don’t scratch the big guy…

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Post ran an article a couple of days ago indicating that GM Brian Cashman is prepared to go into the season with youngsters at second and third, meaning Gleyber Torres (or Tyler Wade) and Miguel Andujar. I still find it difficult to believe that the Yankees would entrust both critical positions to youth and inexperience (at the MLB level) at the same time. The Post article included Cashman’s words “if the market changes, we’re prepared to adjust” which shows that this is just a waiting game and Cashman is hoping for prices to fall.

I am excited about Gleyber Torres and the future of second base in his hands. I’ve seen so many say that he should open the season as the starting second baseman. For as much as I love the guy, the Yankees MUST delay the start of his MLB service time to pick up an additional year before he hits free agency.  That only means that he’ll spend a few weeks in Moosic, PA focusing on solely the nuances of second base before hitting the main stage in the Bronx. It will be well worth the wait for so many reasons. At this point, it’s just fine-tuning but for a guy coming off Tommy John surgery, even a position player with his non-throwing arm, a few weeks in Triple A would be beneficial. In the interim, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade deserve the opportunity to keep the position warm for Torres.

Photo Credit: Andrew Savulich-NY Post

The guys over at NJ Advance Media for NJ.com do a great job covering the Yankees. Randy Miller posted a column today featuring a scout’s take on top Yankees prospects. It is well worth the read. As a huge fan of pitching prospect Albert Abreu, I thought the scout’s take on the young right-hander was excellent: “I love him. You’re going to like this kid. I saw him in the Fall League. He was throwing 91-97. He sat 94. He’ll show you a plus curveball at times that is tight with depth. His changeup needs some refinement, but it has a chance to be a plus pitch in the future. He’s aggressive. He gets swings and misses. He’s pretty good with a good body. And he’s a good makeup kid. His delivery gets out of whack at times and it affects his stuff. When he stays square and direct to the plate and he’s working downhill, he’s good. I give him a chance to be a No. 3 starter, a middle-of-the-rotation type guy. If everything comes, he has an outside chance to be a No. 2 starter. Based on what I’ve seen, I like him better than Chance Adams.” I know that Justus Sheffield is going to be a great Yankee, but the scout’s last line about Abreu is the very reason that I’d gladly give up Chance Adams in a trade for a proven MLB starting pitcher. I am very high on Abreu and I am excited about his future in pinstripes.

It’s such a great time to be young and a Yankee for so many of these guys. Who wants to join?…

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Go Yankees!

The Tyler Clippard Award Goes To…

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!

Forget Yesterday, Fight for Today…

It’s tough to follow a game that you should have won with a dull, listless performance.  So it was for the Yankees as they fell 7-1 to the AL cellar rats, the Toronto Blue Jays.  To the Blue Jays credit, they are now on a three-game winning streak and have held their opponents to a single run in each of those victories.  It was just a matter of time before the Blue Jays started playing like the team many predicted to contend for the AL East and unfortunately the Yankees may have run into them at the wrong time. 

Luis Severino, after his brilliant performance in Boston, let the bottom of Toronto’s batting order do the damage.  In the second inning, he allowed a two-run homer to the number seven hitter, shortstop Ryan Goins, who is subbing for the injured Troy Tulowitzki.  It would be the only runs Toronto would need on a quiet night for Yankee bats.  Severino allowed another home run in the sixth inning to the number nine hitter, third baseman Chris Coghlan, a fill-in for the injured Josh Donaldson.  Severino (2-2) lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up 8 hits and 5 runs.  He walked two and struck out 3.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens/AP

Reliever Luis Cessa took one for the team and finished the remaining 3 1/3 innings to provide rest for the weary Yankees bullpen.  He did give up a two-run shot to Jose Bautista in the seventh inning but was otherwise effective.  

Jacoby Ellsbury made a great play in the sixth inning with a leaping catch of a potential double.  His momentum carried him into the centerfield wall.  A runner on third scored on the sac fly, but then Ellsbury overthrew Aaron Judge on an attempt to get the ball back into the infield which allowed a runner on second to also score.  

Greg Bird is lost at the plate.  His latest 0-for-4 performance dropped his batting average to an even .100.  He left 5 men on base.  The Yankees continue to give him chances to turn it around, but when is enough?  I’ve been in Bird’s corner but at some point, he needs to figure this out at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, not New York, in order to restore his confidence.  I had thought he was getting better swings in recent days but the results are not there.  I am not ready to say ‘send him down today’ but it is probably not going to take too many more games of hitless results.  

It was just one of those games.  The Yankees have struggled against the Blue Jays in recent years as they are just 13-26 against Toronto since the start of the 2015 season.  The loss dropped the Yankees (15-9) one game behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.  The O’s beat the Boston Red Sox 5-2 on Monday night to recapture sole possession of first place.  But today, yesterday means nothing.  The Yankees can still take this series and it starts today with timely hitting and precision pitching.   

Prior to the game, the Yankees recalled Cessa to provide long relief insurance and optioned reliever Bryan Mitchell to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Brendan Kuty of NJ.com had the best Twitter line:  “Mitchell will likely share 1B duties with Refsnyder and Choi” in reference to Mitchell’s one inning of work at first base on Sunday.  Too funny!

With no offense to Jorge Mateo, my personal favorite for the future of center field at Yankee Stadium had quite a game on Sunday.  Dustin Fowler, a strong candidate to eventually unseat Jacoby Ellsbury, hit for the cycle as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Indianapolis Indians (the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top farm club), 7-6. 

In the bottom of the 11th inning, Fowler capped his memorable day with a walk-off home run, completing the cycle.   For the game, the 22-year-old went 5-for-6 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI’s.  For the season, Fowler is batting .293 (24-for-82), 4 home runs, and 12 RBI’s.  He is second on the team with a .914 OPS.  He has also stolen two bases.

Fowler’s day:

1st Inning:  Tripled to right.

3rd Inning:  Grounded out to third.

5th Inning:  Doubled to right, scoring Tyler Wade.

7th Inning:  Singled to center.

9th Inning:  Doubled to right.

11th Inning:  Homered to right, no one on…RailRiders win!

It may have taken two extra innings, but what a way to cap hitting for the cycle!  Congrats to Fowler for the terrific game.  I look forward to the day when he is doing this in the Bronx.

Credit:  Times Leader

I am a Yankees Homer but I can’t predict an AL championship for the Yankees yet.  Granted, the team finished the month of April in a first-place tie with the Baltimore Orioles, but it’s still a very long season.  The Yankees had a chance to bury the Orioles on Sunday and couldn’t do it.  The ebbs and flows the season will ultimately predict the final standings.  Let’s see how the team handles its first real stretch of difficulty.  With the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros looming on the horizon, adversity is on its way.  The last time catcher Gary Sanchez started a game, the Yankees were 1-4.  So let’s not start printing World Series tickets just yet.  Through May 1st last year, the Yankees were 8-15.  This season, they are 15-9 through the same date.  If they finish the season, from this point forward, with the same number of wins and losses as last year, they are a 90-win team.  I think this team can contend for a Wild Card spot but I am not ready to anoint them as potential division champions. I still expect Boston to play much better as the season progresses, particularly if they get David Price back.  And I’ve learned to never underestimate Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles.  The charging Blue Jays also have the Yankees’ number.  If the Yankees are still slugging it out for first place at the All-Star Break, then I’ll reconsider my forecast.  But for now, I still feel the best case scenario is a Wild Card slot with the division championship a season or two away.

Have a great Tuesday!  Today is a new day…time to beat these pesky Jays!