Tagged: Red Sox

House Stark Has Fallen…

Mindblowing!  That’s how I felt when I saw the news about the ESPN layoffs and the inclusion of veteran Baseball writer Jayson Stark.  I have long viewed Stark as the foremost Baseball authority at ESPN.  He consistently wrote interesting, objective, and fact-based stories.  After 17 years and recognized as a leading Baseball sportswriter, he was given the swift boot by ESPN.  Amazing.  I am not going to cry for Stark.  ESPN’s loss will most certainly be another media giant’s gain.  This proves that no industry is immune to economic turmoil.  Most likely, all of us, at one point in our lives (or more), have been victimized by financial downturns in the economy.  Still, it doesn’t make the losses any easier.  

I will be anxious to see where Stark lands.  He is too valuable to lose in this chaotic sport.  While there were a number of notable names included in the ESPN layoffs, the other that stood out to me was NFL reporter Ed Werder.  I’ve been following Werder since his days as the Dallas Cowboys beat writer for The Dallas Morning News.  He has been an institution for the NFL.  Like Stark, he has spent 17 years at ESPN.  Also like Stark, I doubt Werder has any problems finding his next gig but I hope it is one that affords him a national presence as I don’t really follow Dallas area sports anymore.

It was definitely a crazy day…no doubt.  Best of luck to all those affected by the layoffs.  Hopefully their entries into the free agent market will be very short-lived.  

In 2007, the Yankees first round selection (30th overall) was the long forgotten pitcher Andrew Brackman.  Once slated to be part of the Killer B’s along with Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, the 6’10” Brackman was never able to realize his potential following Tommy John surgery and was later released.  He is now out of baseball.  The same year of the draft, the Yankees chose a college player in the 39th round (1191st pick overall) by the name of Eric Thames.  Thames didn’t sign and went back to Pepperdine University.  Fast forward ten years, and Thames, after spending three years in Korea and now with the Milwaukee Brewers, is the Major League leader in home runs with eleven.  He has also scored a Major League-leading 27 runs.  Although he was pulled from Wednesday’s game for a tight hamstring, he should be back to increase his homer total on Friday.  Wow, where did this come from?  In the off-season, the Brewers cut last year’s first baseman, Chris Carter, who tied Nolan Arenado for most homers in the NL with 41, and signed Thames as his replacement.  While it is unlikely that Thames will continue at his current pace, the Brewers haven’t missed a beat in getting huge production out of their first basemen.  Too bad those scouts who found Thames in 2007 didn’t see the potential in the Korean Leagues.  Kudos to the Brewers scouts who did.  The year after the Yankees had drafted Thames, he was picked in the seventh round by the Toronto Blue Jays which clearly showed the Yankees had uncovered a potential diamond in the rough.  Thames did fail in chances with the Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros before finding his niche in Korea.  Still, there’s probably a few Yankees scouts saying “I told you so”.  

The Yankees win!…

It was a very laborious 9th inning, but the Yankees beat the Red Sox 3-1 in the opener of their rain-shortened two game series at Fenway Park on a very foggy night.  Luis Severino was quite simply…incredible.  He did not look like the same pitcher on the mound.  I don’t know if it was his best Major League performance but it might be his most impressive.  Sevy (2-1) was in charge throughout his seven innings of work, giving up only three hits and no runs.  He walked two and struck out six.  This is the Severino we have been waiting for.  The youngster has grown up.  Very exciting stuff.  The offense was 100% Baby Bomber-powered.  Aaron Judge, celebrating his 25th birthday, slugged a second inning two-run homer to right off AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello (1-3).  Greg Bird, showing that a Bird #33 jersey is no longer something to cheer for in Boston, delivered a run-scoring single in the sixth, scoring Judge. Judge also made a highlight reel catch that carried him into right field foul territory stands in the third inning.  I was worried that the three runs might not be enough when Aroldis Chapman clearly didn’t have it in the 9th.  He gave up a hit and allowed two walks and a run.  Boston had the winning run on base but with Chapman’s 33rd pitch of the inning, he struck out Josh Rutledge to end the game.  Big sigh of relief…

Credit:  Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other Yankees to homer at Fenway Park on their birthday are Yogi Berra and Roger Maris.  8, 9, and 99.  Very select company for Aaron Judge!  By the way, Happy Belated Birthday to him!

Have a great Thursday!  Hopefully today is a sweeping success for everyone

3 Minus 1 Equals 2…

Credit:  Globe Staff/John Tlumacki

Impressive math skills, huh?  With Tuesday’s rain-out, the 2017 opening Yankees-Red Sox series becomes a two game affair.  It plays havoc with a wager I hold every year with a die-hard Red Sox fan.  Years ago, when we were both bloggers, we started making bets on every series.  Over the years, I’ve had to wear Red Sox caps in photos (including a pink one one year), write long posts about past and present Red Sox players, and sport Red Sox-related profile pics through social media.  My friend no longer blogs so the current bets tend to revolve around FaceBook profile and cover pics.  With only two games, a split means the win goes to the team with the most runs scored.  The loser has to use a Red Sox player as their FaceBook profile pic for three days under the current bet.  So, I have a vested interest in the Yankees to take this series.  Yes, it’s all about me.

The rained out game will be made up on Sunday, July 16th as part of a day-night double-header.   The scheduled starters are pushed back a day so Luis Severino takes the mound today against AL Cy Young Award Winner Rick “Justin Verlander Deserved It More” Porcello while Masahiro Tanaka, in the series marquee matchup, faces Chris Sale on Thursday.  CC Sabathia becomes an observer for this series, with a probable early flight back to New York for Friday’s start against the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles.

It’s raining again today in Boston but hopefully the rain gods will make way for the 7:10 pm EDT start time to allow a few hours of clear skies.  Oh yeah, this is Yankees-Red Sox, better make that four hours of clear skies.

I am not sure what I think about the possibility of Derek Jeter becoming an owner in Major League Baseball.  As Bloomberg reported yesterday, the group led by former Presidential candidate and Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Jeter won the auction for exclusive negotiating rights to buy the Miami Marlins.  The sides still have to hammer out a formal written agreement that must be approved by MLB owners, but I do not see any roadblocks to the eventual sale.  

I suppose that all things considered, it would have been worse for Jeter to buy his local Tampa Bay Rays.  Under that scenario, the Yankees would have had to face a Jeter-owned team 19 times a year in the fight for the American League East.  With Jeter owning a National League team, the Yankees won’t face the Marlins except for every few years in inter-league play.  There’s the possibility that the Yankees could face the Jeter-owned Marlins in the World Series at some point.  But for the most part, they won’t step foot on the same field at the same time.  So, this is probably the best situation for Jeter’s dream to be a Major League owner, particularly considering the Steinbrenner Family has no interest in selling the Yankees.  

It was tough to watch Don Mattingly, a lifetime Yankee, put on another team’s jersey.  If I have a second favorite or National League favorite team, it is probably the Los Angeles Dodgers (okay, not probably, it is).  Mattingly as an assistant coach for Joe Torre in Los Angeles and then later the manager was very palatable.  I was fortunate to live in Los Angeles during the Mattingly regime and I enjoyed having a long-time favorite player as manager of the local team.  I remain a fan of Mattingly’s even though he now calls Miami home, but it’s weird.  I am hopeful that he finds his way back home to Yankee Stadium one day.  I do not know Jeter’s intended ownership percentage or how active he will be as the face of the organization.  Unlike Mattingly, he won’t be putting on a Marlins uniform so technically the Yankees uniform should remain his only one.  Magic Johnson is one of the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers but activity-wise, he is a bigger part of the Los Angeles Lakers.  Will Jeter take that type of passive ownership role or will he be the front man for the team like Denver Broncos non-owner John Elway?  I can’t really see Jeb Bush taking a backseat to Jeter unless Jeter has the greater ownership interest.  These are the things that will shake themselves out in the course of the coming days, weeks and months.  Congrats to Jeter for apparent achievement of his lifelong dream.  I hope he still finds time to visit the old stomping grounds on occasion.  

Credit:  Getty Images

I saw an article today on the YES Network asking if the Yankees should protect James Kaprielian on the 40-man roster next year in advance of the 2018 Rule 5 Draft.  I want to say now, they had better make room.  This should not even be a discussion.  I will be very upset if the Yankees do not add him to the 40-man next year and risk losing him.  I was mad about the sequence of events that led to Jacob Lindgren signing with the Atlanta Braves.  I hope we do not have a repeat situation with Kaprielian.  I know that he has been plagued by injuries and his body of work in the minor leagues is fairly slim, but he is a top talent.  If, I know…ifs and buts…, if he can stay healthy, I really feel that he’ll be a high end starter in the rotation.  I am steadfastly a fan of Kaprielian’s and I look forward to the day he takes the mound at Yankee Stadium.

The San Diego Padres, who had been carrying three catchers including Rule 5 draftee Luis Torrens (from the Yankees), demoted one of the catchers to AAA.  Starter Austin Hedges has played very well this year.  The catcher sent to AAA, Christian Bethancourt, was attempting to be a combo pitcher/catcher.  The demotion leaves the soon-to-be 21 year-old Torrens as the primary backup for Hedges.  In reality, Torrens should be no higher than A or AA so I am optimistic that events will force the Padres to upgrade backup catching to more seasoned talent to pave the way for the return of Torrens to New York.   But as each month goes by, the chances decrease.  Time will tell.

Have a great Wednesday!  I hope it’s a dry one!

Resumption of Baseball’s Greatest Rivalry…

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Credit:  Bain News Service/Library of Congress

As the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox get set to begin the latest chapter in their long, intense rivalry, I thought I’d look back.  The first official game pitting the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox occurred on April 14, 1913 at Fenway Park in Boston.  The Yankees organization began play in the American League in 1901 but they were known as the Baltimore Orioles (no relation).  After two years, the team ceased operations and was purchased by Frank Farrell and Bill Devery.  The new owners moved the franchise to New York, and gave the team the nickname of the Highlanders.  Although they would affectionately become known as the Yankees in subsequent years, the name was not officially changed until 1913.

Similarly, the Red Sox went through several  name changes from the time of their inception (also in 1901).  They were known as the Boston Red Stockings and the Boston Americans before the name was changed to the Red Sox following the 1907 season.

So, although the two organizations have duked it out since 1901, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, by those names, didn’t officially begin until 1913.

Sadly, the Boston won the first Yankees-Red Sox game, 2-1, behind the four-hit pitching of Smoky Joe Wood.  He struck out nine batters while pitching a complete game (but didn’t they all back then).  The Yankees starter, Ray Caldwell, also went the distance, giving up eight hits and two runs.  The Red Sox scored the winning two runs on a double by left fielder Duffy Lewis.

For the inaugural game, the Yankees lineup featured the following players:

  • Bert Daniels, RF
  • Harry Wolter, CF
  • Roy Hartzell, 3B
  • Birdie Cree, LF
  • Hal Chase, 2B
  • Dutch Sterrett, 1B
  • Jeff Sweeney, C
  • Ralph Young, SS
  • Ray Caldwell, P

Of the names, Hal Chase is the one that stands out to me.  “Prince Hal” was primarily a first baseman and is credited with being the first star of the Highlanders/Yankees.  Babe Ruth considered him to be the best first baseman ever, but that was obviously before the days of Lou Gehrig.  Despite his excellent reputation as a baseball player (he was a smooth fielder), his name was tied with corruption for alleged involvement in gambling on baseball games and suspicious play in order to throw games.  Chase would be traded to the Chicago White Sox on June 1, 1913 for Babe Borton and Rollie Zeider.

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It’s a sad tale in the long, storied history of the Yankees franchise.  As late sportswriter Fred Lieb said in describing Chase, “What a waste of skill and artistry.  He could think and move like a flash. Nature fitted him out to be a superstar.  But alas!  As Jim Price (then sports editor for The New York Press) told me in 1911, ‘He was born with a corkscrew brain’”.  It’s unfortunate that Chase went down that path.  He could have ensured a place in Cooperstown with his play, but his actions prevented entry to the Hall of Fame.  He was remorseful in later years, but no one really knows how many games were lost because of his deceit.

New York would win the next day (April 15, 1913) against the Red Sox, 3-2, behind the pitching of Ray Keating for their first Yankees victory in the passionate rivalry.

The Yankees had entered the 1913 season as a team with promise.  They were led by well known player/manager Frank Chance, but for various reasons and probably most importantly the games thrown by Chase, the Yankees finished seventh in the American League with a 57-94 record.  They escaped the cellar by one game over the St Louis Browns.  Chance would later manage the Red Sox for a single season in 1923.

If we go back to the first ever game between the two franchises, the Baltimore Orioles beat the Boston Americans, 10-6, on April 26, 1901.  In 1901, Boston was a two-team city.  The National League team was known as the Boston Beaneaters.  I am sure that all of us have coined various nicknames on Boston over the years, but it would be hard to take any team seriously called the “Beaneaters”.  I guess I wouldn’t want to follow them.

Since those early games, the Yankees have compiled a 1169-973 against the Red Sox.  Their biggest victory occurred on June 19, 2000 when the Yankees pounded the Red Sox, 22-1 (scoring 16 runs in the final two innings, capped with a three run homer by Scott Brosius).  Currently, the Yankees have a three game winning streak against the Red Sox, thanks to a three-game sweep late last September.

In the all-important category, the Yankees lead the Red Sox in World Series championships, 27-7.

For the three game series in Boston, the pitching match-ups will be:

  • Today:  Luis Severino (1-1) versus AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello (1-2)
  • Wednesday:  Masahiro Tanaka (2-1) versus Boston ace Chris Sale (1-1)
  • Thursday:  CC Sabathia (2-1) versus Drew Pomeranz (1-1)

The only ex-Yankee we will see this series is former Yankees fourth outfielder Chris Young.  The former BoSox players on the Yankees roster are reliever Tommy Layne center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.  Austin Romine’s dad, Kevin, is a former Red Sox outfielder.

Of all the Yankees rivalries, there’s no doubt I enjoy Yankees-Red Sox the most.  It’s funny… I hate them the most, yet I prefer them over the Baltimore Orioles (modern version), Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Rays.  I’m sure that doesn’t make any sense.  The Red Sox are a team that I love to hate, but my respect for the team and the organization has always been strong.  When the Yankees win by beating good Red Sox teams, it makes winning that much sweeter.  Somehow, when the Yankees are winning  and the Red Sox are not, it’s just not the same.  One of my favorite quotes is ‘to be the best, you have to beat the best’.

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Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s get this three game series started right!  Sevy, dominate the night!

 

The Trials and Tribulations of a Young Club…

In life we do not always get what we want.  I wanted to take the three game series in Pittsburgh but it was not meant to be.  Former Yankees starter Ivan Nova set the tone from the start of Sunday’s game when he struck out the side in the first inning en route to Pittsburgh’s 2-1 victory over the Yankees.  The loss gave the series to the Pirates, 2 games to 1.  

Give Nova credit, he pitched very well against his former club.  He went seven strong innings, surrendering only four hits and one run.  The one run came courtesy of a Jacoby Ellsbury home run in the seventh inning.  For the season coming into the game, Nova had walked just three batters.  He only walked one on Sunday but the batter was a guy who hadn’t picked up a bat since his high school days (Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery). For the game, Nova struck out seven, picking up his second win of the year.

The Yankees had their chances to win the game.  They had a runner at third in the eighth with two outs, but Starlin Castro struck out.  In the ninth, they loaded the bases but the game came down to light-hitting shortstop Pete Kozma, who had pinch run for Chris Carter the prior inning.  After Aaron Hicks had struck out, Kozma came to bat with two outs, but grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the game.  It’s unfortunate that Hicks was not able to come through as it placed the game in the hands of a career .221 hitter.  

Kudos to Jordan Montgomery.  After the game, he admitted that he didn’t have his best stuff.  Loading the bases in the first inning with no outs, he escaped with only one run across home plate.  He would go on to pitch six innings, allowing only two runs.   Pirates were able to get seven hits off him.  He walked two batters while striking out five.  The two walks proved costly as both batters eventually scored (the only runs the Pirates would score in the game).  Montgomery’s ability to throw a “quality game” despite not having his pitches speaks volumes about the heart of this pitcher.  I am anxious and excited for his next start. 

 Credit:  AP

Even though the Yankees lost the series to the Pirates, they were in all three games and could have won either of the losses.  As the younger guys gain more Major League experience and assuming the veterans continue to hit, the Yankees will begin to win these types of games with greater frequency.  The bench is going to look much stronger soon when Didi Gregorius returns and Ronald Torreyes retakes his utility role from Kozma.  

Sadly, Greg Bird was not able to get untracked in Pittsburgh.  His 0-for-3 day dropped his batting average to .104.  I still think he is very close so hopefully Fenway Park will ignite his bat.  If not, we’ll probably start to see a few more Chris Carter starts at sprinkled in at first in the coming days.  

I am glad that we’re headed back to American League parks so that Matt Holliday can knock the rust off and resume his role as the team’s designated hitter.  His offensive capability is too great to be limited to pinch-hitting in National League cities.  

The Yankees have today off and will begin a three game series in Boston tomorrow against the Red Sox.  The Red Sox are coming off a 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles  on Sunday that kept the Yankees 1 1/2 games behind the O’s in the AL East.   The Red Sox (11-8) are just a 1/2 game behind the Yankees (11-7).  The Orioles play this evening (at home against the Tampa Bay Rays) so they could extend their AL East lead to two games.  Or going the ‘glass is half full’ route, drop back to only a one game lead.  

The Yankees have a chance to make a statement in Boston.  While they may or may not win the series, they need to prove that they can hang with the Red Sox.  Boston won the head-to-head battle in 2016, 11 games to 8.  The Red Sox swept the first season series last year (April 29th to May 1st).  It would be great if the Yankees could return the favor.  My primary goal for the series is three competitive games with the Yankee hitters attacking the strong Boston rotation.  If they can get to the Boston bullpen early, I really like their chances.    The last run through the Yankees starting rotation was mostly a collection of off-nights so hopefully this run through the rotation will yield superior results. So begins the Battle of the AL East…

Have a great Monday!  Rest up and be ready to take charge on Tuesday!

The Calm Before The Storm…

“Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can.”

—Arthur Ashe

The Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox both won Thursday, so the Yankees find themselves a 1/2 game behind the O’s this morning.  All three teams have ten wins, although the Orioles, Yankees and Red Sox have four, five and six losses, respectively.  Surprisingly, the Tampa Bay Rays have nine wins albeit with eight losses.  The biggest surprise is the cellar dwelling Toronto Blue Jays at 3-12.  It’s still very early with 147 games yet to be played for the Yankees but crucial games are on the horizon.

The AL East is the only division in baseball with at least four teams over .500 although just one game separates every team in the AL Central with just a single win needed to put the bottom of the division at .500.  Again it’s early, but the AL East is one of the most competitive divisions in baseball at this point.

The next week will be a challenge for the new and improved Yankees.  When they complete the current three game set in Pittsburgh, they’ll head to Boston for three games beginning on Tuesday.  They are certain to face Red Sox ace Chris Sale who pitched yesterday and gave a performance that justified Boston’s decision to give up their best hitting and pitching prospects over the winter.  Although he didn’t figure in the extra inning decision, he went eight innings, allowing no runs and four hits.  Walking only one batter, he struck out thirteen.  Unfortunately, he’s in prime shape for his next start.  

After the Boston series, the Yankees return home to face the Baltimore Orioles.  Not to look too far ahead, but these series are followed by the Toronto Blue Jays, the World Champion Chicago Cubs, and arguably baseball’s hottest team, the Houston Astros.

Next week’s schedule represents the most difficult stretch the young Yankees have faced this year so it will be interesting to see how they respond.  The Red Sox and Orioles begin a three game series tonight so on the bright side, they can beat each other up before the Yankees face them.  

I am hopeful that Greg Bird’s bat starts coming around before the team gets to Boston.  Aaron Judge has the “wow” factor with his behemoth home runs in games (and batting practice) but Bird remains the team’s best hitter (potentially) even if the stats don’t show it yet.  I remain convinced he’ll soon be raising eyebrows with his hitting prowess but it would be nice if his offensive show could begin sooner rather than later.  Maybe it’s waiting for him at Fenway Park.

Based on stats, Chase Headley is arguably the current best hitter with a .396 batting average.  He’s off to a great start and admittedly, I didn’t see this coming.  We’ll see if it is sustainable, but for now, he’s a vital part of the lineup.  I wish I felt as good about Jacoby Ellsbury.  Even though he is hitting .302, has stolen four bases and has been Joe Girardi’s clean up hitter of choice in recent games, he just doesn’t do it for me.  Too often, and this is a very generalized statement without digging into the actual stats, it seems like he is underperforming in critical situations.  I really have to wonder if an outfield of Aaron Hicks-Brett Gardner-Aaron Judge is better than Gardner-Ellsbury-Judge.  The way Hicks is hitting right now, it is.  Gardner is hitting worse than Ellsbury but this probably gets into a debate about who do you trust more.  

Being in Pittsburgh tonight means that Matt Holliday’s bat takes a seat on the bench with no DH.  This probably puts even more pressure to get Hicks into the lineup, especially with the pitchers taking at-bat’s.  Both Gardy and Bird need to start mixing in a few hits.  

Have a wonderful Friday!  Let’s make this two in a row tonight!

Trying To Temper The Enthusiasm…

Credit:  Andy Martin/USA TODAY Sports

With the better-than-expected start to the season, it’s easy to get caught up with the thinking that the Yankees could actually win the American League East.  Sadly, I still do not believe that will be the case.  I think the Boston Red Sox remain the heavy favorite to win the division.  While the Yankees may be playing great without Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius, the Red Sox are starting to gather some steam even though Jackie Bradley, Jr. and arguably their best player, Mookie Betts, are currently on the DL.  Add Betts to the stellar starting rotation, and the Red Sox will be a very formidable force throughout the summer.  We’ll have some bumps and bruises with the younger starters as time goes by, and there’s no certainty that Michael Pineda has finally turned the corner.  My only reservation with the Red Sox is that they do not seem to have the same heart they did with David Ortiz in the lineup.  Hanley Ramirez is a great baseball player but he’s no Big Papi.  

Nevertheless, I do feel the strong start has positioned the Yankees to make a run at a Wild Card spot, especially with the horrific start of the perennial playoff contending Toronto Blue Jays. 

While the Yankees are currently chasing Baltimore, the Orioles lost their lock-down closer Zach Britton for at least ten days with a left sore forearm (his throwing arm).  Britton is obviously an elite closer so this severely weakens the O’s pen.  Although it’s possible that Britton will be back before the O’s get to New York late next week, they do go into a head-to-head showdown with the Red Sox starting Friday night for a three-game set in their weakened state.

It is amazing to think that the Yankees have played this well without Gregorius and Sanchez.  If they can continue to get solid pitching from the starting rotation, the return of Gregorius and Sanchez in a few weeks should be a great lift.  It’ll almost be like getting All-Star caliber players at the trading deadline with the only difference being the Yankees do not have to give up any premier prospects (or any prospects, for that matter, other than the probable DFA of Pete Kozma). 

The Yankees announced they’ve traded reliever Johnny Barbato to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later or cash.  Those types of deals usually turn out to be cash.  Barbato was optioned to AAA by the Pirates.  It’s unfortunate that the Yankees didn’t get more out of Barbato considering they gave up dependable reliever Shawn Kelley to get him.  The Pirates always seem to get high mileage out of Yankee rejects.  Barbato will probably be their ace closer within a couple of years.  

I apologize in advance for going off topic (non-Yankees talk) but I have been very interested in watching Cody Bellinger, a first baseman in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.  Bellinger, son of former Yankee Clay Bellinger, is the Dodgers top prospect and the heir apparent to Adrian Gonzalez.  On Sunday, Bellinger was responsible for all three runs in Oklahoma City’s 3-2 win over the Memphis Redbirds.  Bellinger scored a run after walking in the fourth; tied the game with a solo homer in the fifth; and singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh.  For the season, the 21-year-old Bellinger is batting .372 (16-for-43) with 4 doubles, 3 homers, and 12 RBI’s.  Meanwhile, for the Big League Dodgers, the 34-year-old Gonzalez is hitting .250 with no homers and 4 RBI’s.  If Bellinger keeps it up, there could soon be a changing of the guard at first base in Dodger Stadium.  Looks like the Dodgers could be back to the days of bringing up an All-Star to the Majors every year.  If Bellinger does not get the call, top pitching prospect Julio Urias most certainly will.  

Credit:  Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Speaking of the Oklahoma City Dodgers (in an attempt to keep this Yankees-oriented), it’s kind of cool that their stadium, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, is located at 2 S. Mickey Mantle Drive.  Too bad there was no room to build the stadium across the street and down a little for 7 S. Mickey Mantle Drive.

In other non-Yankees news (or is it?), Bryan Harper stepped to the plate on Sunday in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, with the Washington Nationals trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 and Philly closer Joaquin Benoit on the mound.  With two runners on base, Harper homered to center to win the game, 6-4.  It was his second home run of the game and it gave him 5 RBI’s for the day.  Preview of coming attractions at Yankee Stadium?  Time will tell, as it often does.  Hal, what’s a half-billion in the grand scheme of things?  It’s just money…

Welcome back, Matt Holliday!  After sitting out two games against his former team, the St Louis Cardinals, this past weekend, Matt Holliday returned on Monday to absolutely crush a baseball which allowed the Yankees to jump ahead of the Chicago White Sox with an early 3-0 lead.  The ball traveled 459 feet, with exit velocity of 113.9 MPH, and according to Statcast was the second longest homer of the year (two feet behind a Carlos Gomez blast). 

Aaron Judge also homered in the fourth inning with one on and two outs.

Jordan Montgomery impressed once again.  You gotta love his calm demeanor on the mound (unflappable).  His deceptive arm angle is a thing of beauty with the over the top motion.  Montgomery gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings of work, with two walks and two strikeouts.  The runs didn’t come until the seventh inning when Montgomery was tiring (a three run bomb by Yolmer Sanchez that ended Montgomery’s night).  Regardless of the end, Montgomery was better the second time around (as I thought he would be).  He’s an exciting part of the rotation and is quickly earning his pinstripes for the long haul.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Adam Warren did what he does best.  After Montgomery’s exit, he bridged the gap to the ninth inning.  Although he finally allowed a run, he did his job and turned the game over to Aroldis Chapman with one out and a runner on base.  Although Chapman did allow a single to the first hitter, pushing the lead runner to third, he needed just two pitches to earn his fourth save.  The next batter, Tyler Saladino, hit into a game-ending double play.

The Yankees won 7-4, and have now won eight consecutive games.  

Have a great Tuesday!  Nine would be just fine!  

No need to counter Boston’s moves…

All Quiet on the Eastern Front…

It has been a very quiet end of the year for the Yankees.  There were rumors of the Yankees talking with the Chicago White Sox about Jose Quintana and David Robertson but they quickly lost legs.  While the Yankees need starting pitching, I agree that it is best not to raid the newly stocked farm system.  It is a risk to bet on prospects over an established major leaguer, but while Jose Quintana is a good pitcher, he’s not Chris Sale.  Given Chicago’s desire for top prospects in return, it just does not make sense.  Quintana will not be a 2017 difference maker.

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Credit:  Kevin Jairaj, USA Today Sports

I still believe the Yankees are better served by identifying an undervalued young starter with potential.  Sure, that’s every team’s wish but the Yankees have the scouts and resources to uncover the hidden gems.  It is harder to pitch in New York than it is in, say, Pittsburgh, but for some guys, the main stage brings out their full potential.

The New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard was once just a prospect included in a trade (when the Mets dealt knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays).  I think that trade has worked out very well in favor of the Mets.  It also brought them starting catcher Travis D’Arnaud.  The 2012 trade was a risk for the Mets given Dickey was the reigning NL Cy Young winner, but he has never been as good as he was in 2011 and the other guys sent to Toronto are after thoughts (Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas).

The Yankees are not going to win the World Series in 2017.  The current blueprint puts the Yankees on the path to World Series contention in two to three years.  They have the time to develop frontline starters so why not take a chance on some other team’s “Jake Arrieta”.  The Chicago Cubs saw something in the former Baltimore Orioles hurler and it has paid off quite handsomely for them.

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I have high hopes for the Yankees young pitching prospects.  James Kaprielian heads the list, but I haven’t forgotten or given up hope for Ian Clarkin.  Jordan Montgomery and Dietrich Enns are other homegrown prospects that come to mind.  The first young starters that will be given the chance to crack the rotation next season are the obvious ones…Luis Cessa and Chad Green.  There’s also the hope that Luis Severino restores the promise that he showed in 2015 and is not just another failed starter that succeeds in the pen.  Trade acquisitions Justus Sheffield, Dillon Tate, and Albert Abreu also hold promise.

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Credit:  MLB.com

If Severino is successful and just one of the young prospects stands out in the Spring, the rotation that already includes Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia does not look so bad.  It might not be ‘Chris Sale-David Price-Rick Porcello-Eduardo Rodriguez’ worthy, but the foundation is being laid for future success.  It will be imperative for the Yankees to re-sign Tanaka should he opt out of his contract following the season, but Sabathia’s departure as he plays out the final year of his contract will continue to create opportunity for the young prospects.  Michael Pineda is a case by himself.  He is either a really great starter or a disaster.  If he can ever hold the focus on the former, the pitching staff will be significantly improved.

Next season, young players like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, and Greg Bird will play prominent roles for the Yankees.  If any are not successful, there is another wave of young players waiting for their opportunities at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or Trenton.  It is inevitable that we’ll see outfielder Clint Frazier at some point in the season, even if it is just a September call-up.  I don’t want to lose this talent in the farm system for the chance on a pitcher which always seems to be the biggest risk in baseball.  Gleyber Torres has already shown that he has that “it” factor even if he is still a few years away from the Bronx.  Stay the course.  GM Brian Cashman’s blue print so far has been successful.  He has turned what was one of the worst farm systems a few years ago to one of the best.  They have the talent and depth in the system to make quiet but effective trades without sacrificing the organization’s best.

2017 may not be a banner year for the team but clearly the light is visible at the end of the tunnel.  Now is not the time for the Ghost of Steinbrenner Past to raise its ugly head.  Young Hal seems to have a plan and one that will soon yield fruit.  Patience.  Stick to the plan…

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—Scott