Dodgers 3, Astros 1
Series tied, 3-3
The Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers, okay I am not quite that old…the Los Angeles Dodgers…forced the first World Series Game 7 in Dodger Stadium history with their win over the Houston Astros in Game 6 on Tuesday night. We’re a week into this World Series and we now stand in the month that Derek Jeter made famous. Who will be the latest November hero? We’ll find out later today.
The game was expected to be a pitching duel with veteran ace Justin Verlander pitching for the Astros against the resurgent Rich Hill for the Dodger Blue. Unlike the slugfest the broke out between Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw match-up, Verlander-Hill did not disappoint.
|Credit: LA Times – Robert Gauthier|
The Dodgers started the game by having former Dodgers greats Tommy Lasorda and Orel Hershiser, champions in 1988, throw out the first pitches. Hershiser is regularly seen by Dodgers fans on SportsNet LA but it was wonderful to see Lasorda on Dodger Stadium turf again. It’s always good to see the legendary Lasorda whenever he makes an appearance. I didn’t love the guy back during those World Series against the Yankees in the late 70’s, but he grew on me over time and I appreciate his role in Dodgers history.
|Credit: Los Angeles Daily News: John McCoy/SCNG|
Once the game began, it was a scoreless affair until George Springer’s solo shot to right into the front row seats with two outs in the top of the 3rd broke the ice. On a team with multiple offensive stars, Springer and teammate Alex Bregman have really stood out for the Astros. If the Astros ultimately win this World Series, there’s no doubt that one or both of these guys will be in the thick of the action.
|Credit: LA Times – Wally Skalij|
Bregman followed Springer’s homer with a sharply hit ball to short that Corey Seager booted but Seager was able to recover quickly with his throw just beating Bregman to the bag for the final out.
While Verlander was cruising through the early innings, allowing only a meaningless single by Yasiel Puig in the second inning, the Astros finally got to Hill in the top of the fifth. Brian McCann led off the inning with a single to deep right which Yasiel Puig cut off in the corner. Marwin Gonzalez was next and he doubled down the left field line into the corner, moving the huffing and puffing McCann to third. After Hill struck out Josh Reddick and Verlander, Springer was intentionally walked to load the bases.
|Credit: LA Times – Robert Gauthier|
Much to Hill’s disappointment, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made the call to the bullpen and brought in reliever Brandon Morrow who had imploded during his previous outing in Houston. The day of rest helped for the former Blue Jay. He was able to get Alex Bregman to ground out to short, through the runner’s legs, on the second pitch of the at-bat to end the inning with the bases overflowing with Astros.
The Astros threatened again in the top of the 6th, while Verlander was still pitching a one-hitter at that point. With two outs, Yuli Gurriel singled to center off Morrow. Dave Roberts then made a double switch, bringing in former Pirates closer Tony Watson to replace Morrow and second baseman Chase Utley to replace Logan Forsythe. Watson promptly hit Brian McCann with a pitch in the back of the right arm that I am sure was not part of the plan. Runners at first and second. Fortunately, Marwin Gonzales hit a liner to second, with Chase Utley jumping up for the catch, for the final out. Another missed scoring opportunity for the Astros (bummer for them, for me…not so much).
In the bottom of the 6th, Austin Barnes led off with a single to left. Chase Utley, batting in the pitcher’s spot thanks to the double switch, was hit by a pitch on his right foot with a bouncer in the dirt. Chris Taylor, who probably makes Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto lose sleep everytime he revisits that trade in his head, came up big…again…when he doubled to right, scoring Barnes and advancing Utley to third. The game was tied.
|Credit: LA Times – Wally Skalij|
Corey Seager hit a high fly to right that died in front of the wall but it was deep enough to score Utley on the sacrifice. Verlander was able to get Justin Turner to foul out on the first base side and he struck out Cody Bellinger, but the Dodgers had taken their first lead of the game, 2-1.
The Astros made noise again for the third consecutive inning in the top of the 7th. After Tony Watson walked the lead off hitter, Josh Reddick, Dave Roberts took the ball from him and brought in Kenta Maeda to face Evan Gattis, pinch-hitting for Justin Verlander. Gattis hit into a fielder’s choice at short that erased Reddick at second but the Dodgers were unable to turn a double play. Gattis clearly reached first base before the throw but the Dodgers challenged and lost the play at second when they argued unsuccessfully that Reddick had purposely tried to take out Chase Utley (on the appropriately named Chase Utley rule). Mets fans were probably snickering as they recalled the time in the 2015 NLDS when Utley slid into Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada rather than the base, breaking Tejada’s leg and sending the shortstop’s career on a downward trajectory. Not snickering because of Tejada but because Utley was the victim of an aggressive play.
|Credit: Pasadena Star-News: Keith Birmingham/SCNG|
George Springer hit a grounder to short but the ball got by Corey Seager and rolled into left field. Gattis moved to second and was replaced by pinch-runner Derek Fisher. Alex Bregman flied out to center, with Fisher tagging and moving to third. It brought Jose Altuve to the plate. Altuve hit a hard grounder to third, but Justin Turner made a great play in throwing the ball to first for the out to end the inning.
Joc Pederson added an insurance run in the bottom of the 7th when he took reliever Joe Musgrove deep with a solo blast to left. There was some initial doubt if he had hit the ball far enough but it carried over the wall much to the excitement of Pederson and his teammates.
|Credit: LA Times – Robert Gauthier|
From there, the Dodgers not to take any chances and brought in ace closer Kenley Jansen for the top of the 8th to get the six-out save. He easily retired the three batters he faced to send the game to the bottom of the inning. The Dodgers had a chance for more runs when they had two on with two outs for Cody Bellinger, but Clay’s son struck out swinging in an extended 9-pitch at bat against Francisco Liriano (who was making his first appearance in the World Series).
Kenley Jansen came back out for the top of the 9th (obviously). Marwin Gonzalez had the first chance to get the Astros back into the game. He popped out to first baseman Bellinger in shallow right. Next up, Josh Reddick. He struck out, swinging and missing the last two pitches. One last man stood between the Dodgers and victory…former Yankees slugger Carlos Beltran. Jansen threw a 94 mph Cutter with the count at 0-2 in favor of the pitcher. Beltran took a big swing at the high pitch and missed.
|Credit: Houston Chronicle: Michael Ciaglo|
Game over. Dodgers win!
|Credit: LA Times – Gina Ferazzi|
Dodgers Legend and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax was in attendance as a spectator, looking like he could be the Game 7 starter if necessary. Of course, it’s Los Angeles so there were more than few celebrities in the house, such as former Los Angeles Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
|Credit: Houston Chronicle: Karen Warren|
I have no clue who is going to win the World Series, but it comes down to one game. Winner take all. The matchup will feature Lance McCullers, Jr on the mound for the Astros. He’ll face Yu Darvish. If the game was to be the played in Houston, you’d have to like the Astros chances. But we are not at Minute Maid Park anymore. Darvish will have the support of the partisan crowd and Chavez Ravine will be rocking tonight. It should be another World Series classic.
Editor’s Note: This writer is pro-Dodgers (if you didn’t notice already).
Odds & Ends…
It was sad to read the words of Ken Rosenthal’s interview with former Yankees manager Joe Girardi on yesterday’s The Athletic. I refuse to pay a subscription fee to Rosenthal but fortunately the article was available in full. Girardi clearly sounded like a guy who wanted to be a part of the next great Yankees era. I was glad to read that Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner left the door open for Girardi’s eventual return to the organization in some capacity if he so chooses. I personally doubt Girardi returns, but I thought he handled his first interview since the dismissal with style and grace.
|Credit: Getty Images|
As expected, Gabe Kapler was named manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. So the Yankees are the only team without a manager. Unless there is a secret deal already in place (probably), today brings an unsigned general manager too as Brian Cashman’s deal expired last night. I think it’s a given that Cashman will return but I’ll be anxious to get his new contract behind us so that the Yankees can truly begin their off-season strategy and preparation to bring us their 28th World Championship.
Have a great Wednesday! This is it…the final day of Major League Baseball for 2017. Let’s Go Dodgers, but more importantly, Let’s Go Yankees!
|Credit: Los Angeles Times: Wally Skalij|
2017 World Series
Dodgers 3, Astros 1…
Dodgers lead Series, 1-0
Powered by the arm of Clayton Kershaw and the bat of Justin Turner, the Los Angeles Dodgers captured Game 1 of the World Series. It was a bittersweet game for Yankees fans as we were left to wonder what could have been. Nevertheless, the Yankees turn will be here soon enough. For now, it’s about the Dodgers and Astros.
After Kershaw easily set down the Astros in the top of the 1st, Chris Taylor jumped on the first pitch from Astros starter Dallas Keuchel to send it 447 feet over the left field wall. The Dodgers led 1-0 on a very hot Los Angeles evening. It seems like every time I watch the Dodgers play, Taylor is coming up big. He filled in for shortstop Corey Seager during the NLCS when Seager was left off the roster to recover from a lower back sprain. Back in center field, Taylor hit 21 home runs and drove in 72 RBI’s in 140 games for the Dodgers this year, batting .288. It’s incredible to think the Dodgers acquired Taylor from the Seattle Mariners in June 2016 for a pitcher (Zach Lee) who has been released two times since the trade.
|Credit: Los Angeles Times: Gina Ferazzi|
The 1-0 score held up until the top of the 4th inning when Astros third baseman Alex Bregman took Kershaw deep with a solo shot to left leading off the inning. It was not as far as Taylor’s blast but it still counts the same. It got Kershaw’s attention…he responded by striking out the side. Say what you will about Kershaw but he’s arguably the best pitcher in baseball. He has not had great post-season success to add to his resume…until now. With Kershaw pitching as well as he did, the Astros didn’t really have a chance.
With both starting pitchers still on the mound, the game stayed tied until the bottom of the 6th inning. The Dodgers recorded two quick outs when both Austin Barnes and Kershaw grounded out to shortstop Carlos Correa. But then Keuchel issued a two-out walk to aforementioned Chris Taylor. Justin Turner, the one-time Mets cast-off, strolled to the plate with long red hair and beard flowing. Dallas Keuchel tried to slip a 1-2 cutter past Turner. Boom! Over the wall in the left center and the Dodgers led, 3-1.
|Credit: Los Angeles Times|
Kershaw was done after seven innings, receiving congratulations and hugs from Manager Dave Roberts and others in the Dodgers dugout while the Dodgers were preparing to bat. It was a tremendous performance by the big Texan left-hander. He was never in trouble despite the game-tying home run in the 4th inning, limiting the Astros to three hits and one run. He struck out eleven batters and didn’t walk anyone. A big game performance by the game’s elite.
|Credit: Los Angeles Times: Robert Gauthier|
From there, it was time for the trusted Dodgers bullpen. Despite scoreless relief from Houston’s Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski to hold Los Angeles in check, the two-run Dodgers lead was a canyon with Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen setting down the Astros in order for the final six outs. Jansen may have gotten a few dollars less than Aroldis Chapman last off-season when he re-signed with the Dodgers in free agency, but right now, it’s Jansen and not Chapman that you would want for that big final out. He has been Mr Consistency all season long.
This was a great win for the Dodgers and a wonderful way to start the World Series. The 2017 post-season has been punctuated by home field advantage which certainly works to the favor of the Dodgers.
Former Yankee Rich Hill gets the Game 2 start tonight for the Dodgers. He’ll be opposed by Houston’s Justin Verlander. I look for the Dodgers to grab a two-game cushion before the series heads to Minute Maid Park in Houston. My prediction is Dodgers 7, Astros 4.
|Credit: Stephen Dunn-Getty Images|
Prior to yesterday’s game, I was saddened to see that former Yankee Curtis Granderson was left off the World Series roster for the Dodgers. Based on performance, it was an easy decision for Dave Roberts. The Grandy Man was 1-for-15 in the post-season and he only hit .161 in 36 games for Los Angeles after being acquired from the New York Mets on August 19th (after that tremendous grand slam against the Yankees at Citi Field). Still, it would have been nice to see Granderson, one of the game’s classiest guys, on the roster after such a good career. The Dodgers made room for 12 pitchers on the World Series roster including oft-injured former Yank Brandon McCarthy which cost Grandy his spot.
It was great to see Corey Seager back on the field after his absence in the NLCS. Kyle’s brother is one of the game’s best young talents and the Dodgers are clearly a better team with him in the lineup. Seager will most likely see time at DH when the series shifts to Houston to limit the wear and tear on his back.
|Credit: Los Angeles Times: Wally Skalij|
Editor’s Note: This writer is pro-Dodgers.
Odds & Ends…
The World Series means very quiet news for other MLB teams. The only meaningful day for potential news will be Thursday since it is a travel day for the World Series teams.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a one hour visit to Yankee Stadium yesterday which drew tremendous speculation on social media but no news from credible Yankees beat writers. It’s also being reported that the Houston Astros are looking at Yankees third base coach Joe Espada for the bench coach vacancy created when current bench coach Alex Cora accepted the managerial gig in Boston effective at the end of the World Series.
I was glad to see former Cardinal great and one-time Yankees prospect Willie McGee added to the coaching staff for the St Louis Cardinals. I can still remember feeling so underwhelmed when the Yankees traded McGee, a highly touted young prospect, to St Louis for the forgettable Bob Sykes in October 1981. McGee went on to have a tremendous career for the Cardinals including the 1985 NL MVP Award. He was elected to the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. His specific role on the coaching staff has yet to be announced.
Have a wonderful Wednesday! Their season may be over, but Go Yankees!
Yankees 10, Tigers 2…
I could really get used to these easy wins. Riding the arm of Luis Severino and the bat of Gary Sanchez, the Yankees rode their way to victory over the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers opened the game with two good defensive plays to record outs. As Gary Sanchez strolled to the plate, the FOX announcer said “This cat can hit”. Yes, he can. Sanchez sent the pitch from Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann high into the left field stands for the early lead.
|Credit: Duane Burleson-Associated Press|
The Yankees added more runs in the 3rd inning. Jacoby Ellsbury, making a rare start, led off with a single to center. Ronald Torreyes followed with a single through the hole into left field. Brett Gardner came up and everyone was expecting bunt. But Gardy swung away and lofted a fly ball deep enough into center for Ellsbury to tag and move to third. Tigers centerfielder Andrew Romine threw the ball to third, over the head of the cut-off man, too late to get Ellsbury but the throw allowed Toe to recognize the opportunity to take second. Aaron Hicks took a walk to load the bases. Gary Sanchez hit a fly ball that dropped in between the outfielders in left center field. Both Ellsbury and Toe scored to make it 3-0. Hicks moved to second. Aaron Judge added a run on a double to center that went over Andrew Romine’s head and bounced on the warning track, scoring Hicks. After a coaching visit to the mound, Didi Gregorius singled to up the middle to center to score Sanchez. Judge moved to third. He didn’t wait there long as Chase Headley lofted a fly deep enough to center for Judge to tag up and score. The Yankees had taken a 6-0 lead.
|Credit: Duane Burleson-Associated Press|
Didi Gregorius added a solo homer to right center, a few rows behind the wall, in the 5th inning to make it 7-0.
Tigers reliever Chad Bell replaced Zimmermann to start the 6th inning and he proceeded to walk the first two batters (Todd Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury). The big little man, Ronald Torreyes, singled to left through the hole between third and short to score Frazier.
Luis Severino had been cruising up to this point but Ian Kinsler led off the bottom of the 6th with a homer to left to get the Tigers on the scoreboard. The Yankees wasted no time in getting the run back when Chase Headley homered to left inside the foul pole with two outs in the top of the 7th inning, a solo shot. It was 9-1 Yankees.
In the bottom of the 7th, Sevy struck out John Hicks to start the inning. Then, he walked Andrew Romine, and Jose Iglesias singled to center. Sevy got the second out when he struck out Ian Kinsler swinging but that would be all. Manager Joe Girardi made the trip to the mound and brought in former Tiger prospect Chad Green. Green struck out Alex Presley for the third out.
The Yankees final run came in the top of the 8th. With one out, Ronald Torreyes reached on a grounder that glanced off first baseman Miguel Cabrera’s glove into right field. It was scored a hit for Toe. Brett Gardner chopped a grounder to second and the Tigers got the force out on Toe but a throwing error on second baseman Ian Kinsler (off-balance throw that went into the Yankees dugout) allowed Gardy to make it to second. A ground ball to left by Aaron Hicks scored Gardy. 10-1, Yankees.
Tommy Kahnle replaced Chad Green for the 9th inning. John Hicks, the first batter, hit a deep fly to right but it stayed in the park for the out. Kahnle struck out Andrew Romine for the second out but the next batter, Jose Iglesias, smashed a change-up from Kahnle into the left field stands. Iglesias may not hit a lot of home runs (this was his 5th) but when he gets a hold of one, it goes far. Dixon Machado doubled down the left field line, making me wonder if Kahnle was going to make it to the end of the game (Aroldis Chapman was warming up) but Alex Presley grounded out to first to end the drama. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (68-57) were unable to make up any ground on Boston as the Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians for the second day in a row. They remain 4 games behind. The see-saw battle for third place continued as the Baltimore Orioles reclaimed the spot with an 8-7 victory over the Oakland A’s in 12 innings. The Tampa Bay Rays dropped to fourth with a 7-6 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. The O’s and Rays are 7 and 7 1/2 games behind the Yankees, and the Jays are one game behind the Rays. The Yankees picked up a game in the Wild Card standings and lead the Minnesota Twins by 3 1/2 games for the top spot.
Great game by Luis Severino (11-5). He went 6 2/3 innings (100 pitches…71 for strikes). He scattered 6 hits and gave up only one run. One walk and eight strikeouts. Chad Green had four strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings against his former organization. I’d like to see Tommy Kahnle get back on track with a few clean innings but at least he got the job done despite the Iglesias home run.
|Credit: Gregory Shamus-Getty Images|
Gary Sanchez continues to scorch August with the homer and 3 RBI’s. The Kraken will be well prepared to take the field this weekend for Player’s Weekend at Yankee Stadium. Aaron Judge had one strikeout to extend his latest consecutive game strikeout streak to one game. Seriously, it was a good game for Judge. 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Also, hats off to Ronald Torreyes who was 4-for-4, also with an RBI and run scored. You can’t say enough great things about the job Toe has done this year filling in for Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro, not to mention his time at third before Todd Frazier’s arrival.
|Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports|
Odds & Ends…
The Boston Red Sox made a few roster moves yesterday. Starting centerfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr was placed on the 10-day DL with a sprained left thumb (he is expected to be out longer than the minimum time). They also designated first baseman/outfielder Steve Selsky for assignment. President of Baseball Ops Dave Dombrowski then swung a trade with the Oakland A’s to acquire swifty outfielder Rajai Davis. The A’s received a low level outfielder from the Red Sox (Rafael Rincones). Davis had the game-tying home run off Aroldis Chapman in Game 7 of last year’s World Series. The Sox also recalled 2B Deven Marrero from Triple A.
I really felt bad for one-time Yankee Rich Hill last night when he lost a no-hit bid in the 10th inning. The Pittsburgh Pirates beat Hill and the Los Angeles Dodgers on a walk-off home run by Josh Harrison. The Dodgers have not had any issues with scoring runs this season but yesterday they were unable to score any and it cost Hill the chance for the no-hitter. He carried a perfect game into the 9th until Logan Forsythe’s error allowed a baserunner. One run could have given Hill the no-hitter in a regular 9-inning game. That’s a tough way to lose a no-no.
|Credit: Justin K Aller-Getty Images|
Have a great Thursday! It’s Getaway Day. Let’s get away with the series sweep! Go Yankees!
The Dawn of the Baseball Winter Meetings…
This week is always the most eventful one of the entire off-season. A flurry of activity followed by relative silence as we head into the holidays.
Credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Before the meetings start later this evening, the Yankees have already lost one option with Houston’s free agent signing of former Yankee Carlos Beltran. I had mixed feelings about his possible return to New York. He was arguably the team’s best hitter last season but he is also 40 years old. For a team that has aggressively gotten younger, adding “old” does not necessarily make sense. There is no guarantee that Beltran will be as good as last year, and it’s a near impossibility that he’d be better. Going with older veterans, I’d rather sign either Matt Holliday or Mike Napoli to a short-term deal that keeps the Yankees on the right path toward World Series contention in 2018 or 2019.
Back in the old days under George Steinbrenner, I am sure that both Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista would be Yankees by now. Of the two, I’d prefer Encarnacion but I don’t feel the Yankees should lock up huge long-term dollars for either player even if it would severely weaken the Toronto Blue Jays in the short run. In a couple of years, they’ll just be over-paid, under-producing aging veterans. We’ve seen enough of those in recent seasons.
Credit: Reuters/Ray Stubblebine
There are unofficial reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers have a deal in place with starter Rich Hill so that’s one less option on the pitching front. A deal with Jason Hammel probably makes the most sense. I like Hammel as a reliable, back of the rotation guy. He would be a good complimentary piece to Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda as the team looks to fill other pitching spots with youth. I would probably take a chance with either C.J. Wilson or Tyson Ross if given the opportunity.
It’s possible that GM Brian Cashman can uncover a quality arm via trade but it’s a virtual certainty the team won’t be involved in the Chris Sale sweepstakes. Sale alone would not make the Yankees an immediate World Series contender and he would cost the best quality of the farm system to acquire. So, the Yankees need to stay the course as they continue to add the pieces for future success.
I was disappointed to see minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson leave the organization. I am happy to see him return to the major leagues as the hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins, however, I thought he would have been a better hitting coach for the Yankees than current hitting coach Alan Cockrell or assistant hitting coach Marcus Thames. When the Yankees had dismissed Jeff Pentland last year, I was hopeful that Rowson would get the job. It was not meant to be. I think he’ll be a good addition to Paul Molitor’s staff in Minneapolis and should help former Yankee and current Twins’ co-catcher John Ryan Murphy to hit again.
I remain hopeful the Yankees re-sign pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Lindgren* as they recover from Tommy John surgery. Granted, neither pitcher will help in 2017 but I would really prefer to see them stay.
Let’s hope this week brings good news for Yankees fans…
*Several hours after this post, the Atlanta Braves announced they’ve signed Lindgren to a one year deal that will allow them to retain rights to Lindgren if they add him to their 40-man roster.
Winter is coming…
The dawn of the Winter Meetings. It’s is always one of my favorite times of the year. Last year was very quiet for the Yankees but still, so much happens in the first few days of the meetings with free agent signings and trades.
I am very relieved that the owners and the players association agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. I didn’t really expect a lockout but of course it was always a possibility until the two sides came to an agreement. I understand why the CBA issue held up the Yankees due to the luxury tax implications and uncertainty associated therewith. Now that both sides have a better understanding of the new deal, it should allow the Yankees to begin shaping the 2017 team.
I fully recognize that there will not be wholesale changes. This isn’t 2009 when the Yankees dumped a half billion dollars on top free agents. Sure, I’d love to have Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista on the team but realistically it is not going to happen. Between the two, I’d take Encarnacion but I still don’t think it will happen. The Yankees have a clear need for a solid, clutch-hitting DH but I think they’ll go with either Carlos Beltran or Matt Holliday. Staying in house is an option but that mean DH will be used as a rotation to rest the regulars.
I would love for the Yankees to find a way to move LF Brett Gardner and 3B Chase Headley but in both cases, age + contract make the players hard to move. Gardner would probably be the easier of the two to move. While the Yankees have in-house options to replace Gardner, they’d probably have to go outside to get a replacement for Headley. Miguel Andujar showed in the Arizona Fall League that he is the future at third, but his arrival is still a few years away. I’ve also seen the projections of Gleyber Torres taking over second base, pushing current second baseman Starlin Castro to third. But Torres won’t see the Bronx until late in the 2017 season or sometime in 2018. Despite the absence of immediate help at third, I am still ready to end the Chase Headley story even if he did recover from a horrendous April to have a very good season last year.
Credit: Getty Images
My wish list for this off-season still begins with closer Aroldis Chapman. I am still very hopeful that he’ll find his way back to the Bronx. Kenley Jansen would certainly be acceptable if Plan A does not materialize. I am probably warming up to the idea of a Bronx return for Mark Melancon but I think he’ll either stay in Washington or go to San Francisco. Greg Holland is also an option. I think the Yankees have to move Dellin Betances back to a key setup role where he is better suited. Mariano Rivera, he is not.
As for starting pitchers, I am not opposed to the potential signing of starter Rich Hill. He is older than I would like for a team in transition to youth, but he obviously has a quality arm and would provide rotation stability. He reminds me somewhat of Hiroki Kuroda. A consistent pitcher who can occasionally throw a gem. Not a frontline starter, but a very dependable one. As for trades, I have no idea. I’d love Tampa’s Chris Archer but I don’t think the Rays would trade inter-division and his cost would probably be too high. I liked the Arizona Diamondbacks’ acquisition of Taijuan Walker. A young pitcher who was not fulfilled his potential but the upside is still there. Those are the types of pitchers I’d try to target. I know, it does fall into the high risk, maybe high reward, possible low reward category but look where Jake Arrieta has taken the Chicago Cubs.
It was tough to see pitcher Nathan Eovaldi cut within the last couple of weeks and today’s non-tender of lefty Jacob Lindgren, both players who will miss the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. It wasn’t that long ago when Lindgren was tabbed as a can’t miss, fast-track prospect with the potential to make the major league roster the year he was drafted. Injuries have held Lindgren back, but he’s still young enough to recover for a fine professional career. I am hopeful the Yankees find a way to bring both pitchers back into the organization now that they’ve been removed from the 40-man roster.
Next week should be fun. Unlike last year, I am hopeful and optimistic that the Yankees will be active in an attempt to improve the roster and build strength around the emerging young core. We shall see…
Waiting for Brian Cashman’s microphone-drop…
It’s November, the Presidential Election is behind us, and baseball free agency has begun. The Hot Stove League is officially underway.
The Yankees may be as inactive this off-season as they were last off-season, but the rumors that they’ve reached out to the agents for notable free agents is activity that we did not see or hear last year.
I am hopeful the Yankees land either Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen for the back end of the bullpen. I’d prefer Chapman for several reasons. The familiarity with the Yankees (for the player and the fans), and no draft pick compensation attached. But I would not be disappointed if the Yankees end up with Jansen. I view them as 1A and 1B. As good as he is, I am not really interested in a reunion with Mark Melancon. My 2A choice would probably be Greg Holland. The price tag for the elite closers may prove to be too much for the Yankees so there’s the chance that Dellin Betances retains his closer role. I’d place him as my 3A choice given that I’d really prefer to see him return to a setup role and be used more like the way Andrew Miller was handled by Tito Francona after Miller’s arrival in Cleveland.
Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Brian McCann will be traded. I have no doubt this will happen. Despite McCann’s desire to stay, it makes too much sense to move him. The backup catching role can be capably handled by Austin Romine or Kyle Higashioka. For years, Alex Rodriguez blocked DH, and if on the roster, McCann would do the same thing. Given the Yankees do not have a huge clutch bat for DH (like Boston did with David Ortiz), I’d prefer to see DH used by young hitters like Tyler Austin who might not otherwise have a spot in the starting lineup or rotate some of the older guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley. Granted, the Yankees are not going to get two top prospects for McCann even if they eat half of his remaining salary but they should be able to get a return that does provide help in other areas.
I did like the idea of Kendrys Morales as a potential DH signing but now that he’s a Blue Jay (3 years for $33 million), the Yankees will have to look elsewhere if they pursue a free agent or trade candidate.
I understand the reasons the Yankees will non-tender Nathan Eovaldi. He will miss the 2017 season following Tommy John surgery and it may be a couple of years before he can potentially get back to the progress point he had reached. It’s equally possible that he never becomes a consistent, dependable starter in the big leagues. Still, I’ll be saddened to see him go. I had hoped he would be able to harness his great stuff and prove to be a solid #3 starter in the rotation. I hope if the Yankees do non-tender him as expected, they attempt to re-sign him on a more reasonable deal that allows the pitcher to recuperate and get back to the Show.
For a team that’s been focused on getting younger, I am so glad that the Yankees did not pursue the two 40-somethings that signed with the Atlanta Braves (R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon). I am a bit surprised that the Braves are investing in the older pitchers given the youth movement in Atlanta. This might actually increase the odds that McCann returns to Atlanta, although the Houston Astros are looming as a very strong possibility.
This is also the off-season to move Brett Gardner. The return may not be as great as it might have been just a year ago, but the Yankees need to open room in the outfield for the younger prospects. Assuming that Aaron Judge takes right field, the Yankees are stuck with Jacoby Ellsbury in center, so left field is needed for guys like Aaron Hicks, Mason Williams and potentially Clint Frazier. I guess eventually Ellsbury will need to move to left to make room for Frazier in center, and that could happen as early as the summer of 2017. Keeping Gardner just delays the inevitable.
With free agent signings and trades starting to happen, I am anxious to hear some Yankees news. The team definitely needs help for the starting rotation, but that will take a well researched trade or two since there is nothing on the free agent market outside of veteran Rich Hill. There are no shortage of options for GM Brian Cashman to improve the roster and continue the youth enthusiasm we saw in August and September.
Let’s get this party started!…
Credit: New York Daily News