Tagged: Paul O'Neill

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!

Backin’ into the playoffs, one game at a time…

(Not) Takin’ Care of Business…

The last week has been a struggle for the New York Yankees.  This team is not playing like one that will enjoy post-season success.  It seemed as though they were playing from behind in almost every game against the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles.  Those deep first inning holes were virtually impossible to overcome, especially when team hitting is in a slump.  These are not good signs for Tuesday’s Wild Card game.

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I thought Manager Joe Girardi was wrong resting guys during Saturday’s double-header with the Orioles.  While I realize it is important to rest guys, it could have cost the Yankees a chance to play their Wild Card game at home.  With the Yankees most likely facing the Houston Astros and their ace, Dallas Kuechel, the home field advantage is huge.  If the Yankees can’t win Tuesday’s game, what good was the additional rest last Saturday?…

Fortunately, the Yankees have the Arizona Diamondbacks to thank for their season-ending victory over the Astros to give the Yankees home field advantage.  But it is the Astros who carry momentum into the winner take all, one game format.  Plus, the ace advantage is theirs with Kuechel, with a Yankees offense that can’t seem to hit good (or bad) pitching.

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

At the beginning of the year, I didn’t feel the Yankees had the team to succeed in October.  As the regular reason ends today with the Yankees in the post-season, I still do not believe they can succeed.  The season ending series against the Red Sox and Orioles showed that they do not have the clutch hitters (outside of Carlos Beltran) to get the job done.  The Yankees can get guys on base…they just can’t bring them home.  Now that the pitching will be amplified in the play-offs, it’s only going to get worse from here.  The Yankees have showed no heart in September and that doesn’t translate to playoff success.  I know, the Yankees lost the last six of the regular season in 2000 and won the World Series.  That was a much better team and the 2015 squad does not have the same resiliency.

I still think there were some moves that GM Brian Cashman could have made at the trading deadline without sacrificing the farm to bring in additional strength and energy for the pennant run.  It was disappointing then for the Yankees to do nothing, and it hurts even more now as the team struggled at the end of the regular season like a whipped puppy.  I know that it would have cost a lot of money, but Max Scherzer would have looked so good in the Yankees rotation.  With no sure things in the rotation, Scherzer would have gone to the head of the Class.  With him on the mound, I would have liked the chances against the Astros much better.

This has been an agonizing week as a Yankees fan.  It was hard to see the team throttled like a bottom feeder by the Red Sox, and then tossed around like a salad by the Orioles.

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Probably my biggest fear with the Yankees’ achievement of a Wild Card is that it fuels Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner’s belief that he can rebuild the team exclusively through the farm system.  While there are talented guys in the system, it is far from one of the best.  They need to supplement the promising prospects with good, smart trades and thoughtful, strategic free agent acquisitions.  Paul O’Neill would have never had a Yankees career if the team hadn’t taken a chance on the former Cincinnati Reds outfielder.  The Chicago Cubs look masterful for their acquisition of starting pitcher Jake Arrieta who should be the NL Cy Young winner.  At the time of the trade with the Orioles, Arrieta was just another miscellaneous transaction and there were no tears shed in Baltimore.  How much would the O’s like to have him today?  That’s what you pay scouts for and that’s the difference between winners and losers.

The regular season is over.  The Yankees now have one game to prove me wrong.  They need to bring heart and intensity to Tuesday’s game, and show the World they are not the September pushover they appeared to be.  I so want to believe that I am wrong and that this team is capable of much, much more.  At least their destiny is in their hands.  I am sure the Los Angeles Angels would gladly change positions with the Yankees, along with a few other teams like the Red Sox and O’s.

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Congratulations to the NL West Champions…

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers for winning the NL West and securing home field advantage against their first round play-off foe, the New York Mets.  Like the Yankees, the Dodgers hit a slight bump in September but they recovered and won the games they needed to win.  At one point, it seemed improbable they would catch the Mets for a better record.  Yet, they persevered and did exactly that.

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

The National League will be very hard to win with the presence of the St Louis Cardinals, but I thought Manager Don Mattingly did a good job this year.  It helps when you have All-World players like Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but he had to manage around disappointing seasons for Yasiel Puig and Joc Pedersen.  The arrival of Corey Seager is exciting even if it likely means the end of the short Dodgers career for Jimmy Rollins.  I fully expect the Dodgers to advance to the NLCS to take on the Cardinals.  Nothing against the Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates or Chicago Cubs, but I feel that the NL World Series representative will be either the Cardinals or Dodgers.  I can’t say that I’d be disappointed if the Cubs advanced to the World Series, but I think they are still a year away.

Well, time for us to find out who will be this October’s heroes…

—Scott

The Ups and Downs of a Young Season…

The Tower of Terror, Bronx Revisited…

The beginning of the season was a tease.  Well, late April and early May were a good ride as the Yankees raced to first in the AL East.  However, and inevitably, reality hit as the Yankees have been clobbered by the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers.  They are currently on a 6 game slide and are 1-9 in the last 10 games.  They are surprisingly only 1 1/2 games out at 22-22, however, the gap is much larger than that.  For a few weeks, the Yankees were getting a wonderful mix of pitching and hitting, but the lack of production from the bottom half of the order was eventually going to catch up with the team…and it did.

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Michael Pineda, after his 18 strikeout performance, has looked like CC Sabathia and is not currently giving any illusions of being the staff ace.  Sabathia has looked even worse, almost Ed Whitson-like.  He had a quality start earlier in the year, but the last couple of starts have looked pathetic and he was pulled the earliest since 2009 in his most recent start.  Nathan  Eovaldi, after showing early signs of some promise, looks hittable, as do the other arms in the rotation, Chris Capuano and Adam Warren.

I realize that Ivan Nova will soon be back but it generally takes time for post-TJ surgery pitchers to recapture what they once had (if at all).  Generally, they say, it takes a year after returning so realistically, if Nova plays to the averages, he will not be a reliable starting option until 2016.

I am glad to see youngsters like Slade Heathcott and Jacob Lindgren get their opportunity.  However, it’s time for the Yankees to start thinking about bringing up Rob Refsnyder.  His bat would be an immediate improvement over Stephen Drew.  I know the team feels that Drew will eventually hit, but after a couple of years, how much longer are they going to wait?  I am not convinced his bat will ever come around again.  Heathcott has had a tough road to the major leagues due primarily to injuries, and he was almost lost to the organization this past off-season until they re-signed him.  Carlos Beltran has been nothing short of dead weight, and it would be good to see Heathcott take advantage of his time in New York to keep Beltran on the pine.  I know everyone is keeping right field warm for the eventual arrival of Aaron Judge, but for now, I’d like to see what Heathcott can do.

New York Yankees center fielder Slade Heathcott runs to the dugout during the seventh inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

New York Yankees center fielder Slade Heathcott runs to the dugout during the seventh inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

If hitting coach Jeff Pentland is not able to turn around Didi Gregorius, I wonder if he’ll be a one and done.  Actually, that could go for both of them…

I knew this was going to be a challenging year for the Yankees.  I do not expect this team to be in it come October.  But it was fun watching the team have some early success.  Obviously, I wish that reality could have been a bit more gradual.  The Texas Rangers were having a sluggish start to the season, but the Yankees were just what they needed to get their bats going.

With the Kansas City Royals on tap for the Yankees, it certainly is not going to get any easier.

Bern Baby Bern…

I am glad the team was able to finally recognize the accomplishments of former outfield great Bernie Williams.

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Al Bello/Getty Images

Another number is out of circulation, but Bernie deserved the recognition and the opportunity to have ‘his’ day.  It was also good to see the other Yankees greats from the 90’s dynasty team in Paul O’Neill, Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and others.

If Bernie had left the Yankees to sign a free agent deal with the Boston Red Sox (which almost happened), I do wonder if yesterday would have happened.  But it didn’t, so we’ll never know.  I am glad that Bernie opted to return to the Yankees and cement his place in franchise history.

I didn’t think that we’d see Derek Jeter back at Yankee Stadium so soon but Bernie Williams Day ensured that he couldn’t stay away too long.

Congratulations #51.  I am looking forward to seeing the number during my next trip to Monument Park.

Memorial Day…

Thank you to all who have served in the United States Armed Forces, and a heavy heart and deep debt of gratitude to those who gave their lives so we could continue to be free.  We stand stronger because of your efforts.

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—Scott

The Man said he was sorry…

You had me at…, um, no, you didn’t…

We are supposed to simply accept a handwritten apology?  Right.  Sorry, I don’t buy it and I don’t think it would matter if A-Rod spoke before a packed house at Yankee Stadium.  Alex Rodriguez is sorry for only one thing.  He got caught.  He could care less about you or me.  Honestly, at this point, the only thing that I’d accept out of A-Rod’s words would be a retirement announcement.

I saw a few New York sportswriters commenting that home runs will bring the fans back.  Are we so shallow that we could forgive Alex for his behavior by simply forgetting all with the first ball that clears the fence?  I know that I will not be a fan of Alex Rodriguez today nor would I be one if by September he has hit 40 home runs.  My days cheering him are over.   I am still a Yankees fan, and of course, I want the team to win.  I would not wish for A-Rod to do anything detrimental to the team (well beyond the damage that he’s already done) but I will only accept his contributions as team contributions, not individual accomplishments.

I admit that I hope Alex plays so poorly in the spring, the Yankees bite the $60 million bullet and release him.  But that’s too far fetched to be possible.  He won’t need to do much to hold his own on the roster.  Rob Refsnyder could play twice as well in spring training and end up in Scranton/Wilkes Barre while A-Rod is the team’s full time DH.  But still, the thought of an outright release would be the best possible outcome in my mind.

As good as the Boston Red Sox’ front office has become, it’s too bad they weren’t better back in 2003 when they failed to acquire A-Rod from the Texas Rangers.  How differently things might have been had A-Rod gone to Beantown.

Ifs and buts, I know…

It’s a numbers game…

There was a time when it seemed odd that Phil Hughes wore #65 or that Joba Chamberlain wore #62.  Now, with the announcement plans to retire numbers 20, 46 and 51, the lower numbers are slowly going away.  Of course #2 will soon be retired for Derek Jeter and I’ve always wondered if some day #21 will be taken down for Paul O’Neill.  Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Bernie Williams were all great Yankees and they deserve becoming legends of Monument Park.  It was also very classy of the Yankees to announce plans for a plaque for former second baseman Willie Randolph.

It thought it was cool when Manny Ramirez wore #99 for the Los Angeles Dodgers a few years ago.  Now, we’re probably just a few seasons away from someone donning the same number with the Yankees.  Hopefully, I won’t live to see the days when players are wearing triple digits.

Make or break a farm system…

Based on all reports, I would love nothing more than to see the Yankees sign Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada.  However, based on what I’ve read, I do expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the bidding.  I hope the Yankees emerge victorious.  Given they’ll be limited in the international market for the next few years, Moncada would be icing on the cake for the fantastic international draft they had this year.  I know that there are no certainties but Moncada does sound like the real deal.  I guess if the Dodgers win the bidding, I shouldn’t fret too much since I live just a few miles away from Dodger Stadium.  But after an off-season of largely inactivity, signing Moncada would make this winter well worth the wait.  I guess we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.

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Open the door…

Count me among those who hope that new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred re-opens the Pete Rose case.  It’s time to let Pete the Ballplayer take his rightful place in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.  I will never defend Pete the Man, but I saw the ballplayer play, and he remains one of the greatest that I’ve ever seen.  He has served his sentence and deserves to stand among the game’s greats.

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It’s hard to believe that it is time for pitchers and catchers to report.  With this off-season’s inactivity and losses, it is hard to envision October baseball in the Bronx.  Yeah, yeah, if all things go right and everyone stays healthy, I know they have a chance.  But realistically, this is a third place team at best with the potential for the cellar if things go horribly wrong.  As always, I will throw in the caveat that I hope I am wrong.  But if anything, I do think the Yankees are laying the groundwork for future success.

Let’s play ball…

–Scott

The End is near…

The Kid from Kalamazoo rides away…

I hate that I’ve been so pessimistic about the Yankees’ chances of making the play-offs this year, but the realization is slowly becoming a reality as time on the 2014 season draws to a close.  For whatever reason, this just has never felt like the Yankees’ season.  It had more promise than last year yet the team will actually end up with a worse record.  As I write this, the Yankees hold a two game lead for second place in the AL East and that’s the most the team can aspire for.

After losing Martin Prado for the season due to an appendectomy, the latest blow is the potential season-ending loss of Jacoby Ellsbury with a hamstring injury.

It’s sad that the final season for future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter will end so quietly.  In a way, it carries the same sadness that saw Don Mattingly’s career end with the 1995 play-off loss to the Seattle Mariners (his only post-season appearance in a tremendously successful Yankees career).  Granted, DJ has enjoyed far greater post-season success than Mattingly could have ever imagined, but still, for the man coined as Mr. November, it’s sad that we will no longer be able to see his presence grace October.

Ironically, it is Mattingly who will experience the post-season this year as he has his Los Angeles Dodgers in a good position with a play-off spot secured and a 3 ½ game lead in the NL West over the San Francisco Giants.

With Jeter’s desire to one day be a major league owner, I wonder where his post-Yankees career will take him.  It’s tough to see Mattingly wear another team’s uniform after he wore pinstripes for the duration of his Yankees career.  I can’t imagine seeing Derek wearing another uniform.  I was listening to Cal Ripken on the radio this week and his radio career ensures that he’ll forever be known as an Oriole and nothing else.  That’s the way it should be, but Jeter’s aspirations for ownership will inevitably lead him elsewhere.  I can’t see the Steinbrenner family selling him a substantial piece of the prized Yankees.

Thank you, Lord, for making him a Yankee…

Hats off to Hiroki Kuroda who has been such a great Yankee.  I respected him when he was a starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but never really got a sense of his professionalism and the honor he bestows wearing his team’s colors.  He has only been a Yankee for three years, but he made a difference and if this is his last year, he will leave a solid legacy.  If he does play another year in the majors, I hope that he does return to the Yankees rather than going back to the Dodgers.  But for whatever he decides, I will respect his decision because he has earned that right.  If he does pitch for the Dodgers next year, or plays in Japan, or simply calls it a career, I will remain a fan.

My choice…they passed the audition…

I really hope the Yankees move quickly to re-sign Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy, and decide to bring back Chris Young.  I think all three can play valuable roles for the 2015 season even with the return of Alex Rodriguez or the potential signing of a frontline starter like Jon Lester.  The first order of business when the season ends is for the Yankees to re-sign GM Brian Cashman (or move on and name Billy Eppler as his replacement).  The GM situation needs to be settled quickly so that the team can focus on its pursuit of improvement for 2015.  I clearly want Cashman back, but I’d be happy with Eppler in the role too.  I would not want to see the team bring in an outsider for fill the role.

I am anxious to see if Rob Refsnyder can take second base next spring.  He may not be Robinson Cano but I think he’d bring excitement to the position.

A plethora of catchers…

The Yankees will need to do something about the glut of catchers this off-season.  Francisco Cervelli is a great back-up and a potential starter, but John Ryan Murphy deserves a chance.  Austin Romine seems to have become an afterthought and maybe he’d thrive with a change of scenery (not unlike what happened for his brother, Andrew Romine, who was dealt from the Angels organization and is now starting at shortstop for the Detroit Tigers).  One of these days, Gary Sanchez will be knocking at the door and he will force his way onto the roster.

We know who replaced Mariano Rivera…

I guess the predictions that reliever Jacob Lindgren would make the majors by the end of the year after he was drafted in June did not come to pass.  But there’s no doubt that he’ll be a contender for the bullpen next season.  I really have no clue what the Yankees intend to do with David Robertson.  If he becomes a free agent, there is a very real possibility that he will become a former Yankee.  I am sure the Yankees are intrigued with the possibility of making Dellin Betances the closer after his All-Star breakout season.  I think Betances can be a great closer but Robertson has certainly done everything the team expected from him.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  I remember hating to see closer John Wetteland leave via free agency which thrust set up man Mariano Rivera into the closer’s role.  I think that situation played itself out correctly (statement of the obvious).  Time will tell if the team makes the right decision with Robertson.

Wanted:  Clutch hits…

One Yankee that has come under a great deal of heat is hitting coach Kevin Long.  Long respected at his craft, I wonder if the team’s offensive failures this year will force the Yankees to change coaches.  As great as Long is, if the players are not responding to his message, it’s either time to get new players or change coaches.  The latter is the cheaper route and it will most likely be the one the team makes.  There are no obvious choices for who would make a better hitting coach.  I’ve always liked Don Baylor but I don’t know his current situation.  I think Bernie Williams would have made a terrific coach if he had chosen that path, but his musical adventure is his passion.  Paul O’Neill?  Another one of the hard choices for the Yankees to make.

As Derek Jeter rides off to the sunset, many questions and few answers confront the Yankees as they move forward.

–Scott

No plans for October?…

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

The Yankees keep giving deceiving indications that they could actually snag the last Wild Card slot with great performances like the two walk-off wins over the Tampa Bay Rays.  The series ender when Chris Young broke up a no-hitter in the 8th with a double and won the game in the 9th with a three run homer seemed to possess the magical “mystique and aura”.  But the latest post-season hopes were dealt a harsh reality on Friday (September 12th) when the Baltimore Orioles swept the Yankees in a double-header.

The Yankees had a chance in the first game when they took a 1-0 lead in extra innings but the O’s dished the Yankees a taste of their own recent medicine in scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning to snatch victory away.  The second game was no contest as the Yankee bats couldn’t muster anything against Bud Norris.

Ichiro and the Yankees offense combine for one run in 20 innings of baseball on Friday.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

I have felt for some time that this year’s Yankees lack the necessary ingredients to thrive in the post-season and I did not see them hurdling over the likes of the Detroit Tigers, Oakland A’s, and Mariners.

With post-season hopes fading fast, I think the Yankees should shut Masahiro Tanaka down rather than risk trying to bring him back this month for what appears to be a lost season.

It’s hard not to wonder how this year’s team would have done with Robinson Cano in the heart of the batting order.  Jacoby Ellsbury has been great at times but he doesn’t carry the consistency that Cano brought to the park every day.  Carlos Beltran has been a shell of his usual self due to injuries.

The curtain will soon be closed on the Yankees and they can start to think about what it will take to improve the team for 2015.  Of the late season additions, I would like to see the returns of Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy.  I am hopeful that the team re-signs both players.  Martin Prado is under contract so he’ll be back.  It’s a small sample size, but Chris Young is showing enough to be the team’s fourth outfielder next year.  With the virtual certainty that this is Ichiro Suzuki’s final year in the Bronx, Young could play a valuable role next season.  Headley may not be the bat that you want at third, but he is a much better defender than Alex Rodriguez.  I am really not looking forward to A-Rod’s return and it’s anybody’s guess what the Yankees will get from the 39-year old.  At this stage of his career, I think he’s a full-time DH at best.  But he’ll never be the slugger he once was.

Team character takes a huge hit with the departure of future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter and the return of A-Rod.  Honestly, I’d love to see the Yankees find a way to divorce Rodriguez regardless of the cost…

I do think we’ll see a better version of Brian McCann with a year under his belt.  As for second base, I remain hopeful that Rob Refsnyder will be able to make the leap in spring training and claim the position.  I’d prefer that over a free agent signing or trade for a past-his-prime veteran.  I don’t think that Stephen Drew is the answer at short so I don’t know who will replace #2.  I am sure that will be a focal point of the off-season.  With A-Rod potentially blocking DH, that’s a predicament for Beltran.  I question his durability to play the field at this stage of his career and he’d be a better candidate (and performer) at DH.  The Yankees need to find a young slugger for right field.  I am not sure that the top prospects, like Aaron Judge, will be ready yet so they Yankees may have to explore the trade market.

Mark LoMoglio/Tampa Yankees

It was interesting to see the reports that minor league director Mark Newman will be retiring at the end of the year and the subsequent reports that he most likely would not have returned anyway since his contract was up.  It doesn’t seem like that long ago Newman had great power within the organization and for a time battled GM Brian Cashman for control.  But now, Newman is quietly shown the door.  The first potential successor I heard is Trey Hillman.  I am ready for a change to see better performance from the minor league system.  Damon Oppenheimer has done well drafting in recent years but it always seems like the prospects get stuck at Triple A and never pan out.  Obviously, Dellin Betances is an exception but he had to re-invent himself as a reliever after an unsuccessful attempt to get to the majors as a starter.

The Yankees do need to make re-signing Brian Cashman an early priority so that it doesn’t detract from the team’s off-season plans.  If they can’t re-sign Cashman, I still think that Billy Eppler would be a very capable replacement.  But with Eppler’s name mentioned in every GM opening, the Yankees need to re-sign Cashman before Eppler departs.  A worst case scenario would be for Eppler to get the Arizona Diamondbacks job with the Yankees subsequently failing to lock up Cashman.

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Rob Antonelli/New York Daily News

There’s a great deal of uncertainty as the Yankees move forward.  It is unlikely they’ll go on another spending splurge like they did last off-season.  The Yankees do not have too many trade-able chips at the major league level.  Francisco Cervelli comes to mind.  He has done a good job for the Yankees in a much needed support role to McCann but I think John Ryan Murphy is capable of performing well in that role.  But it would take a lot more than Cervelli to bring an infusion of talent into the organization.  I am always on the lookout for the next Paul O’Neill…the type of player who has not lived up to his potential in his current environment but is someone capable to excelling in New York.  Then again, isn’t everybody?

Lots and lots of questions as the sun sets on the Yankees’ 2014 season…

–Scott

Early Season Success and then nothing…

Bay Area and Thud…

Living in the Bay Area, there was no reason that I should not have attended the Yankees’ just completed three game series against the hometown A’s.  But miss it I did, and in retrospect, it was probably just as well.  Today’s 18-inning loss marked a sweep for the A’s.  The Yankees were punch-less and the combined 0-for-12 in today’s game for Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis certainly did not help.

I was worried about Teixeira’s late start due to injury.  A notoriously slow starter, he began his 2013 season strong but lately he is playing to form (in other words, “ice cold”).  I think the Yankees’ early season success was an aberration at this point, and if things do not improve, they’ll be sellers at the trading deadline, not buyers.

The A’s series continued to show me that Phil Hughes is not the answer and the team will be best served by letting him walk at the end of the season if they don’t move him in July.

Speaking of Yankees who have to go, I sincerely hope that Alex Rodriguez has played his last game for the Pinstripers…

Future Potential…

The MLB Draft was exciting this year with three picks at the end of the first round.  I think the Yankees did very well with 3B Eric Jagielo and OF Aaron Judge.  I am very intrigued by Judge and look forward to his arrival in the Bronx.  Jagielo, as a college player, should be on the fast track to replace A-Rod at third.  It was enjoyable to see two players with ties to the organization selected by the Yankees.  Paul O’Neill’s nephew, Michael, an outfielder, and Andy Pettitte’s son, Josh.  Of course, Pettitte was just a token selection as a hat tip to Andy as he’ll never negotiate or sign with the Yankees…at least not this year.  I love Josh’s potential, but it will be interesting to see what he is able to do at Baylor University.  Hopefully, the Yankees will have another chance at selecting him when he is ready to turn professional.  Then again, he could end up someplace like Pittsburgh, ala Gerrit Cole.  Given Paul O’Neill’s popularity in the Bronx, Michael O’Neill should be well received if/when he arrives.  Of course, he’ll need to perform to maintain the applause, but not many players get the grand treatment from the start.

With the promotion of catcher JR Murphy to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, I wonder if it is a matter of time before he supplants Austin Romine as the immediate catcher of the future pending the arrival of super-prospect Gary Sanchez…

It’s good to see that pitcher Michael Pineda is finally throwing again.  The trade with Seattle was starting to look rather one-sided, but now Jesus Montero is in the minors and the Mariners have called up another catching prospect to the major league team, while Pineda is getting his arm back in shape.  I could easily see the Yankees dumping Phil Hughes to drop Pineda in his rotation spot.

I think I am in the mood for a few consecutive Yankee wins.  C’mon, guys, pick up the intensity in Anaheim!…

–Scott