Tagged: Robinson Cano

Corby, The Day After…

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Waiting for Mister Corbin…

Now we wait. Patrick Corbin concluded his visit with the Yankees last night over dinner with team executives. CC Sabathia was apparently on hand at Yankee Stadium yesterday to help lead a tour for Corbin and his wife, Jen.  Aaron Boone was also seen on the premises with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, bullpen coach Mike Harkey and postseason share non-recipient and analyst Zac Fieroh.

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Photo Credit: Richard Harbus

Multiple reports indicated there was no formal offer made by the Yankees (yet), but hopefully we’ll see movement in the coming days with the completion of Corbin’s visits to Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York. I am sure he wants to settle the biggest financial decision of his life and move on to enjoying his off-season with his new bride.

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Photo Credit: Richard Harbus

One factor that hasn’t really been discussed much is the impact of Mike Harkey in the Corbin negotiations.  Harkey was the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014 and 2015 which means he was part of the team that directly oversaw Corbin’s Tommy John surgery, rehab and subsequent return. I am sure Harkey learned a great deal about Corbin’s heart and determination during this process. I haven’t really seen anything written to describe their relationship but familiarity is a plus.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Norm Hall)

I fully expect Corbin to become a Yankee. Admittedly, there was a time when I thought Greg Maddux and Cliff Lee were going to be Yankees and we see how that turned out. I remember the heartbreak both times when we lost Maddux and Lee, but like the scales tilted slightly in favor of the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies, respectively, in those cases, I hope it is advantage Yankees with Corbin. All signs seem to indicate they are. Ken Rosenthal reported last night that Corbin’s younger brother gave a best-man speech at Patrick and Jen’s recent wedding and concluded the speech by saying they all hoped the couple would be moving closer to home. The brother donned a Yankees cap as he made the statement.

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Via Twitter

As the Yankees attempt to reel in Corbin, one potential target could be slipping away. There is increasing noise over the last couple of days involving the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians regarding one of the trio of Tribe pitchers, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. It is speculated a potential deal could involve sending Yasiel Puig to Cleveland. The deal could be expanded to include Indians catcher Yan Gomes since the Dodgers’ primary catcher, Yasmani Grandal, is currently a free agent and not expected back. The Indians most likely would want some of the best Dodger prospects, like outfielder Alex Verdugo and/or catcher Keibert Ruiz (especially if Gomes is moved). 21-year-old righthander Dustin May is the Dodgers top pitching prospect. If the Dodgers and Indians consummate a deal, it presumably would remove the two remaining Indians pitchers from potential trade talks as the Indians remain a playoff contender.

J.A. Happ remains under consideration for the Yankees. While I would not be opposed to Corbin AND Happ, I would be disappointed if the Yankees only get the latter. As they say, you can never have too much starting pitching and we see every year the five starters you open the season with are never the five men left standing by the end of September. I am excited about a rotation that features Corbin-Severino-Paxton-Tanaka-Sabathia.  Severino-Paxton-Tanaka-Happ-Sabathia, not so much. Sorry, J.A., I know you wore the Pinstripes well but I’d prefer to keep the age-challenged member of the staff isolated to CC Sabathia.

Please end any Hot Stove chatter about a potential deal sending Gary Sanchez to Miami for J.T. Realmuto. Sanchez is not going anywhere, nor should he. I remain in Camp El Gary and I fully expect a rebound season in 2019.  He is a guy I want in the lineup. My confidence in his bat has not wavered and I do believe he’ll improve behind the plate. When he’s right, he is the guy you want in a clutch situation. I think Realmuto is a great catcher but we already have one.

I thought the San Diego Padres made an excellent investment to sign free agent pitcher Garrett Richards.  Richards will miss next season due to Tommy John surgery but he’s a top of the rotation starter when healthy.  I liked him as a good buy low candidate for the Yankees but a two-year deal for $18 million is not exactly buying low.  The Dodgers were in on Richards too but ultimately he chose the Padres and yesterday extended his heartfelt thanks to the Los Angeles Angels organization, calling out GM Billy Eppler by name among others.

In a bit of irony, the Ronald Torreyes trade eliminated a job for another former Yankee. After the Chicago Cubs acquired Torreyes earlier this week, they traded infielder Tommy La Stella to the Angels. To make room for La Stella, the Angels designated former Yank Jabari Blash for assignment. The Yankees had acquired Blash last off-season in the deal that sent Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell to San Diego, but they subsequently lost Blash on waivers. It’s funny, I saw one ridiculous (aren’t they all?) Twitter tweet saying Torreyes would become the next Jose Altuve with the Cubs. Under that logic, wouldn’t Blash be the next Giancarlo Stanton since he’s 6’6”?  Um, didn’t think so.

If the Mariners-Mets trade is concluded today as expected, I can’t say that I’ll be excited to see Robinson Cano in a Mets uniform. It will be a little bittersweet seeing Cano at second and Todd Frazier at third for New York’s second-best team.  But despite the possibility of Cano calling Citi Field home, I would not want that contract even if the Mariners pay down the $120 million left on Cano’s contract by $30 to $40 million. Sure, I think a 36-year-old Cano can help any team, but what will it look like when he is 38 or 39? In the National League, they won’t be able to hide him at DH so any defensive shortcomings caused by age will be magnified. I will be glad to see Cano back in New York City but I am happier he is not a Yankee.

Did soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee Mariano Rivera really turn 49 yesterday?  How did that happen?! Happy Belated Birthday to Mo!  One of the greatest ever to wear Pinstripes.

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It’s a new day which means a new opportunity this could be the day Sonny Gray leaves Pinstripes. One can only hope. Waiting for Corbin to sign…waiting for Gray to leave.  I know, patience.

Patience

As always, Go Yankees!

Patrick Corbin Day at Yankee Stadium…

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Photo Credit: ESPN

Corbin’s Free Agent Tour continues with a stop in NYC…

Today’s the day. Patrick Corbin makes his much-anticipated visit in the Bronx to talk with the Yankees after tours through Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. While it is possible the Yankees extend an offer to Corbin, it’s more probable that he leaves Yankee Stadium with no decisions made.

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This is where I love the mindset and structure of NFL free agency. When a top free agent you desire visits your city, you don’t let him leave without his signature on the dotted line. As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I couldn’t help but think back to when the Vikings signed free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins last off-season. It was a big deal when it was announced Cousins was in Minneapolis and he was spotted at a steakhouse that night with GM Rick Spielman, Head Coach Mike Zimmer and I believe star wide receiver Adam Thielen among others. By the next morning, it was reported that Cousins had agreed to a 3-year, $84 million deal. I loved the rapid-fire sequence of events to land a much needed player. I recognize that you, as a Giants or Jets fan, may not think it was a wise decision by the Vikings but personally I loved it. Later, it was reported that during the Super Bowl last January in Minneapolis, Cousins had been in town and he spent a considerable amount of time checking out the city. It is possible the player picked the city before the team picked him.

Which leads me back to Patrick Corbin. We’ve all heard how Corbin grew up near Syracuse, New York with a family dominated by Yankee fans. I didn’t grow up in New York, yet I’ve been a lifelong die-hard Yankee fan. I think much of my early admiration of the team was developed through a love of the history and tradition of the Yankees. As a kid, I loved reading books about Yankee greats like Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. Corbin has been exposed to these names and no doubt has a similar admiration for the team’s history. With no offense to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia or Nationals Park in D.C., there is nothing quite walking into the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium. Even though the majority of the Yankee legends played across the street where the old Yankee Stadium once stood, the omnipresent mystique and aura echoes through the halls of the new Yankee Stadium. The legends are alive in the new ballpark and you still feel it today. I can’t help but think Corbin is going to be seduced by the lure of pinstripes. It’s been mentioned Corbin’s camp wants to make a fairly quick decision so hopefully it means he’ll decide by the end of the week. My feeling is the Yankees should strike quickly since they hold the upper hand with other teams based on the player’s sentiments. Make a fair offer that is competitive with the Phillies and Nationals, and all things considered, the scale is tipped to the Yankees’ advantage.

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Actor Michael J Fox told a story years ago in an interview. He had wanted to buy a new house in Los Angeles but wanted to play coy to ensure that he find a home at his price. When he walked into the home he liked, he threw down his keys and said something like, “I want this house!”. That’s how I am hoping Corbin plays it with the Yankees. He has a chance to join Baseball’s most storied franchise that possesses a team ready to contend for the World Series right now.

I’d give Corbin six years if that’s what it takes. It’s not my money. The fans who scream about the money and years kill me. It’s not their money either. I am sure the Yankees will make a good offer that they are comfortable with and one that fits what they are trying to accomplish this off-season. Face it, it is not really a question of whether they can afford it. We all know they can. Will it be good enough? Time will tell as it often does.

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Ronald Torreyes was a fun guy to have around the Yankees dugout and clubhouse but the anger over his trade to the Chicago Cubs yesterday was a little ridiculous. Suzie Pinstripe, Managing Editor for Bleeding Yankee Blue, wrote a very nice piece about “Our Kindof Guys” or OKG’s. While I do not dismiss the value of Torreyes as ‘our kind of guy’ and the importance to team chemistry, I do not fault the Yankees for their decision. Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues is probably one of my favorites because he simply tells it like it is. This paragraph from a post Axisa did yesterday sums up exactly how I feel about the decision to move Torreyes: “The 26-year-old Torreyes is projected to make $900,000 through arbitration next season and the Yankees are loaded with utility infielder types (Hanser Alberto, Thairo Estrada, Tim Locastro, Tyler Wade), so the most expensive (and least tooled up) of the bunch got the heave-ho when a 40-man roster spot was needed. Sucks, but that’s the business.” Well said, Mike.

I wish Toe the very best in Chicago. Given the uncertainty with their starting shortstop, Addison Russell, his prospects for playing time at Wrigley Field are much greater than they would have been with the Yankees. Team chemistry is different every year. Familiar faces leave, new ones arrive. The synergy of new personalities meshing with the current players. After a couple of weeks next season, Torreyes will be nothing but a past memory and we’ll be relishing the interaction and play of the current roster.

I am a little tired of David Robertson taking so much heat for the team decision to exclude Assistant Hitting Coach P.J. Pilittere and a traveling member of the analytics team, Zac Fieroh, from postseason shares of playoff ticket sales. The player pool for the Yankees turned out to be $2.866 million. The value of one share was slightly more than $43,000. The team issued 45 full shares, plus 21.47 partial shares and a couple of cash awards, but both Pilittere and Fieroh were excluded. Bill Madden of the New York Daily News also reported the team did not award any shares to the entire support staff, trainers, clubhouse attendants and batting practice pitchers. Blame has single-handedly been placed on D-Rob as the leader who organized the vote. Regardless of whether he led the vote, Robertson had one vote. While it seems unfair that deserving guys were unfairly omitted, it was a team decision. Other players didn’t cast their votes based on what Robertson told them to do. They made their own decisions. So, if you’re going to blame Robertson, blame beloved Yankees like Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Luis Severino too. They were part of the vote. I am probably more pissed that Jacoby Ellsbury got a full share. I’ve seen so many Yankee fans say the team should not re-sign D-Rob because of the postseason shares which makes absolutely no sense to me. The Yankee should re-sign D-Rob, and I wish they’d hurry up and get it over with so that we can focus on the big ticket items.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)

I said it before the latest hullabaloo about Robinson Cano but I’ll say it again: I want no part of his contract. Love the player but 5 years and $120 million for a 36-year-old does not look good today, let alone what it would look like in 2-3 years. Even if it was a way to unload Jacoby Ellsbury (someone I’ve wanted gone from this team for a long time), I wouldn’t do it. If the Mets want to take on Cano’s contract, even if Seattle is willing to send suitcases full of cash with him as well as their closer, Edwin Diaz, that’s fine. Let the Mets have him. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have Edwin Diaz on my team but not at that cost. Cano is on the fast track to becoming a full-time DH. Last time I checked, the Yankees had one of those and I’ve heard he does a fairly good job (well, outside of Yankee Twitter of course).

By the way, I haven’t had a chance to welcome Parker Bridwell to the Yankees yet. His stats do not amaze me despite a solid 2017 season but he has a great attitude and is excited about being a Yankee. I can’t find fault with those points. There’s always a chance the Yankees see something they can correct to make Bridwell a quality Major League pitcher, whether it is spot starting or long relief. At this point, I’d gladly prefer to give him a shot over guys like Luis Cessa and A.J. Cole. So, welcome to the Yankees family, Parker!

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Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)

It’s Corbin Day. Very exciting for Yankee fans. Let’s see what this day has in store for us.

As always, Go Yankees!

It’s the Turkey Day Rebound…

Thanksgiving is over, Winter Meetings ahead…

Thanksgiving is behind us and soon the holiday weekend will be finished. It will be time for baseball activity to begin re-percolating in advance of next month’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This year’s meetings figure to be very explosive compared to prior years with two superstar-level free agents in their mid-20’s, prized by so many teams, as opposed to the usual thirty-something players that are available on the free agent market. Many teams feel they are just a player or two away, while others are looking to the next decade for success which creates the potential for a very active market.

Look, I want either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado like most other Yankee fans. Hey, signing both premier players would be great but realistically that would never happen. I probably want Bryce more simply because of his left-handed bat and I know he has a love and passion for the Pinstripes. The dude knows the Hall of Fame is eventually within his grasp and there is nothing better than blazing your way into Cooperstown wearing Pinstripes. It is a perfect fit for his legacy. The Yankees need a dynamic lefty bat in their lineup and Harper, in a classic case of stating the obvious, would excel in the heart of the order.

Photo: USA TODAY Sports

Position-wise, to me, Machado is the better fit. He can play shortstop for the months we are without Didi Gregorius, allowing Gleyber Torres to stay at second and continue to perfect the nuances of the position. Then, when Didi returns, Machado can slide to third, which would either push Miguel Andujar to left to compete with Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier or to first base to disrupt the duo of Greg Bird and Luke Voit. Didi is a free agent after next season so Machado would be a hedge in the event Didi leaves. I really hope the Yankees find a way to lock up Sir Didi but until he signs the dotted line, there’s a risk he is not part of the long-term future.

Speaking of chances, it is possible the Yankees do not sign either player. I don’t really expect the Yankees to overpay and realistically only see Harper or Machado signing with the Yankees if it fits Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner’s budget. I think the Yankees will exceed the luxury tax threshold if necessary but I don’t think they’ll go hog wild. Hal will authorize a huge sum but there’s no doubt it would have to be on his terms.

Recently, TGP’s own Bryan Van Dusen suggested the Yankees trade for Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez. I thought it was a brilliant idea then and still do.  If the Phillies sign Machado, GM Brian Cashman should immediately get on the phone to Phillies GM Matt Klentak to discuss what it would take to get Hernandez. Scooter Gennett of the Cincinnati Reds is another strong option. His name has been mentioned in a possible trade involving Sonny Gray. It would take much more than Gray to snare Gennett, but he’d bring a lethal left-handed bat to the lineup. Probably the thing that scares me the most about bringing in an All-Star level second baseman is the potential to permanently move Gleyber Torres back to his natural position at short, thereby increasing the likelihood the Yankees part ways with Didi Gregorius. I love having Didi on this team and I’d prefer to see a plan that opens short for #18 when he is healthy and ready to return.

Photo: Julie Jacobson, AP

I am not excited about options for bringing in Neil Walker or Daniel Murphy in to play second while Torres temporarily slides to short. For a team that had its defensive challenges in 2018, Walker or Murphy would not help. If the Yankees sign Bryce Harper to play left (I don’t really like the talk about the move to first base because you don’t pay a guy $300 to $400 million under the assumption he can make such a significant position change), I think it allows the Yankees to go with a glove-first option at short. Re-sign Adeiny Hechavarria or sign Detroit’s free agent shortstop Julio Iglesias. Under that scenario, Miguel Andujar could stay at third but the Yankees would need a good backup defensive-minded third baseman. I expect Andujar to get better defensively-speaking but let’s face it, he’ll never be Brooks Robinson…or Graig Nettles…with a glove.

Patrick Corbin continues to be my favorite for the open spot in the starting rotation.   I will be disappointed if the Yankees do not get him. I am fearful the longer this goes on, the less likely the Yankees re-sign J.A. Happ. I’d hate to lose out on the top available starters AND Happ. I don’t really expect Happ to wait to see what the Yankees do. He has too many suitors. Someone will offer him the right deal and he’ll take it. You can’t blame him for doing what’s right for his family. Of trade acquisitions, I’ve long admired Madison Bumgarner but I feel Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco is a much safer option. I’d love Corey Kluber but I don’t think the Indians will trade him or if they do, they’ll want a huge return. Maybe the same applies to Carrasco. He certainly has the talent even if he doesn’t quite have the same name value as Kluber yet. Count me among those who want no part of Arizona’s Zach Greinke. I don’t want his contract and I don’t want the potential for a Bronx meltdown like Sonny Gray. I’d rather see the Yankees only give up money for the last spot in the rotation and keep their prospects in-house. So, where can I buy my Patrick Corbin Yankees jersey?

I’ve wondered if the Yankees should go after Japan’s Yusei Kikuchi. I don’t know a great deal about the Japanese pitcher but he is expected to be posted in early December. The downside is that Kikuchi will be represented by agent Scott Boras.  Kikuchi was 14-4, with 3.08 ERA, for the Seibu Lions this past season. The 27-year-old lefty struck out 153 batters in 163 2/3 innings, and has a career 2.77 ERA in Nippon Professional Baseball. The posting period opens December 5th and teams will have 30 days to sign Kikuchi. I’d probably prefer MLB-proven alternatives for a team that is on the cusp of a World Series championship but Kikuchi certainly beats rolling out a series of minor leaguers like last year.

Jordan Montgomery should be back by late summer but honestly I do not feel that we’ll see a meaningful contribution from him this year. I think it will be 2020 before he rounds back into form, making him the man most likely to replace CC Sabathia in the starting rotation unless age regression or injuries force an earlier decision.

I feel bad for Robinson Cano. There’s no way I’d want any part of his contract so I am not preaching for his return to Pinstripes. But he’s 36 and running out of opportunities for another World Championship. Training camp hasn’t even started yet his current team, the Seattle Mariners, have already thrown in the white towel. I am sure it is tough for him to listen to his former teammate, James Paxton, talk about how excited he is to join a team that expects to win every year. Cano knows first-hand what that feels like, even if it is a distant memory. I still like Cano and I am sorry that he has to take part in a rebuild at this stage of his career. I guess he has millions of reasons for why he won’t lose any sleep. I hope it’s enough.

Photo: AP

As always, Go Yankees!

Setting Our Sights for the Wild Card…

Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)

Sadly, Boston shows no signs of slowing down…

Just when you think you might be able to trust Masahiro Tanaka, you can’t. Since his return from the disabled list in early July, Tanaka had given up no more than three runs in any start and had only allowed a grand total of six runs in five starts. Yet, on Friday night, he was hammered for six runs including three home runs in the Yankees’ 12-7 loss to the Texas Rangers. When you score seven runs against losing teams, you should win games, not lose them.

Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox overcame an 8-3 deficit to crush the Baltimore Orioles, 19-12.  Boston, 82-35, is on pace to match the Yankees’ historic 1998 season when they won 114 games in the regular season. At their current winning percentage, the Red Sox project to 113 wins. This is not 1978 and the Red Sox are not going to collapse.

Photo Credit: AP (Patrick Semansky)

With Boston’s nine game lead in the AL East, the Yankees are headed for the one-and-out Wild Card playoff game. At the moment, their only competition for the Wild Card is the resurgent Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners. The A’s are only 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees, while the Mariners sit 6 games back.

Oakland has been very aggressive in rebuilding their bullpen in recent weeks. Their closer, former Washington National Blake Treinen, has had a breakout season. He currently has 29 saves to go with a 0.93 ERA in 48 games.  Behind Treinen, the A’s have added former New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia, former Yankees/Nationals reliever Shaun Kelley, and former Minnesota Twins closer Fernando Rodney. For the starting rotation, they’ve added former Detroit Tigers starter Mike Fiers, a target Yankee fans love to hate. None of the names shake fear but it shows the A’s are serious about their Wild Card run. There’s no question they have the talent to beat the Yankees in a one-game do-or-die playoff game.

I wish I could say that I am not worried like The Greedy Pinstripes’ Daniel Burch can, but I am worried. Sorry Daniel. We knew in the off-season the Yankees needed to add a quality starting pitcher and it didn’t happen. So, the team had to scramble in July to add Lance Lynn and J.A. Happ. Both guys have done fine jobs but neither is going to make a difference when the chips are on the line. When Aaron Judge was lost with the minor bone fracture, it was evident the Yankees needed to add a short-term bat for the outfield. But instead, the decision was made to roll with one of the few healthy outfielders in the system, journeyman Shane Robinson. The Yankees could have easily added a guy like former Yankee Curtis Granderson who would have filled a valuable void. His bat likes Yankee Stadium and has the track record to show it. He may not be the player he was during his Yankee days thanks to the terminal affliction known as aging but he is more than capable of giving the Yankees a supportive bat and a valuable bench player when Judge returns.

The Mariners strengthened their bullpen with the addition of Adam Warren, a guy the Yankees certainly could have used the last couple of games. Warren was the winning pitcher in the M’s 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros last night. The Mariners also benefit from the return of Robinson Cano in a few days. Cano may not be eligible for the post-season but he’ll certainly help the Mariners make the push for October. He’s a valuable late season addition for Seattle. We’ll see if there is rust to shake off but I suspect that Cano will be ready to go.

Photo Credit:  The Herald, Everett, WA (Kevin Clark)

Please do not get me wrong. I like the 2018 New York Yankees. No one expected a historic season from the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees, despite their struggles, have won more games in Major League Baseball than any team other than the Red Sox and the Houston Astros. It is very possible they’ll go into a potential Wild Card game with over 100 wins. My only concern is that GM Brian Cashman could have done a better job (if that is possible). Everyone is so quick to give him credit for his genius but standing back, he’s had his share of misses. I like manager Aaron Boone but there’s no question we’ve paid a price for his inexperience.

I am anxious for the returns of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, but the Yankees need to take care of business now. August is filled with losing teams on the schedule. The Yankees have the potential to have a very successful month despite starting it with a four-game sweep by the Red Sox but they can’t let 52 win teams like the Rangers crush them. Rookie Ronald Guzman looks like the greatest player who ever lived when he feasts on Yankees pitching, having accumulated six home runs already this season. Half of his season total are against the Pinstripers. He was the first rookie to hit three home runs in a game last night against the Yankees. That’s covering many years and players and is the strongest rookie performance against the Yankees since the A’s Reggie Jackson slugged six homers against his future team in 1968. This cannot happen if the Yankees expect to be successful. Ronald Guzman is no Reggie Jackson and the rest of the American League knows it. Apparently, the Yankees pitching staff didn’t get the memo.  To digress slightly, why is A.J. Cole on the MLB roster and Justus Sheffield is not?  Time to add Top Sheff to the 40-man and open a spot on the active roster by punting Cole.

It sounds like we can add Neil Walker to the list of wounded. After last night’s game, Aaron Boone said that Walker tweaked his neck and was dealing with illness. I had wondered why he wasn’t in the lineup or why he wasn’t used to pinch hit but that explains it. As Joe Girardi would say, it’s not what you want. Fortunately, Walker is penciled into today’s lineup (outfield, no less) so hopefully his physical ailments were minor.

I could care less if Jacoby Ellsbury is going to miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery for a torn hip labrum. I had not counted on the player and did not want to see his return potentially cost another player a valuable roster spot. As much as I would love for the Yankees to cut bait, the truth is they won’t as long as they can collect insurance on his salary. I get it. I am just ready for the day when the Yankees can finally give him his walking papers.

I was very glad to hear that YES Network analyst Ken Singleton will return for another season after he had announced that 2018 would be his last. There is something so calming and reassuring about Singleton’s voice and his stories are so great to listen to. I’ve long been amazed that a former Yankees enemy (courtesy of his days in Baltimore) could excel calling Yankee games with no bitterness or regret.  He has exuded class and professionalism from the start and I’m glad he’ll be back in 2019 even if he will be carrying a much lighter load. In a season that has seen Michael Kay’s stock drop and Ryan Ruocco’s elevate, Singleton was been a voice of consistency.

I was sorry to see Phil Hughes designated for assignment yesterday by the San Diego Padres. I had hoped the former Yankee would fare better in his native sunny Southern California but it was not meant to be. I’ve always liked the guy and I am hopeful that he can find a good home to make a difference even if it is in relief. I don’t really see a fit with the Yankees, but there are plenty of teams in need of help. I am not ready to see the end of Hughes career so hopefully this is just the next chapter in his book.

I’ll be headed to see Manny Machado and the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field in Denver. It should be a fun game. Former Yankee Rich Hill will get the start for the Dodgers. I was in LA last weekend and didn’t get the chance to see the Dodgers play the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium so this is a good consolation prize. Manny remains a guy that I’d love to see the Yankees pursue in the off-season (dump Greg Bird and move Miguel Andujar to first to open third for Machado) and I’ll certainly be cheering for him on Sunday.

Well, time for my voice of pessimism to close. Time for a new Yankees winning streak to start. Can we get another quality start from Lance Lynn? We’ll find out in a few hours. In Rangers starter Drew Hutchison’s last game, he gave up six runs in three innings to the Baltimore Orioles. We can do better.

Go Yankees!

Not So Fun Deep in the Heart of Texas…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Richard Rodriguez)

Yanks lose first series since April…

With leads of 4-0 and later 10-5, you do not really expect to lose, but thanks to multiple pitching failures, the Yankees allowed the Texas Rangers to take the final game, 12-10, and win the series, two games to one. It was the first series the Yankees have lost since the Boston Red Sox took two of three from the Yankees on April 10th through 12th.

I keep hearing “don’t blame Sabathia, he is part of the solution, not the problem” but realistically, he’ll be 38 in a couple of months and he is not exactly a physical specimen. Since he held the Cleveland Indians to three hits and no runs over six innings on May 4th, he has averaged slightly under five innings per start (three starts). He has given up 15 runs (13 earned) in 13 1/3 innings pitched including 4 home runs and 7 walks. If CC wants to be part of the solution, he needs to start pitching better. My current confidence level in Sabathia is nowhere near where it was last year.

Yesterday’s game was a microcosm of the problems with both the starting pitching and the bullpen. Losing the 4-0 lead was bad enough, but there was no reason to blow the subsequent five-run lead. David Robertson did not look good. I have been a huge D-Rob fan but he’s pitching his way out of the Bronx right now. If these struggles continue throughout the season, there’s no doubt the Yankees will let him walk away at the end of the year. Of course, it’s all about cause and effect. Sabathia’s early departures put added and unnecessary pressure on the bullpen.

I am not sure why Aaron Boone tries to get more than one inning out of Dellin Betances. It seems like the second inning for Betances never works out in our favor regardless of how sharp he looks in the first inning of relief. Overall, I’ve liked the job Boone has done, but he hasn’t shown the ability to work the bullpen like Joe Girardi did. Girardi had his critics about his handling of the pen but the results were much better or at least I had more confidence in Joe’s ability. I think Boonie will get there and I am certainly not trying to go down a ‘we should have stayed with Joe’ path. I support Boone and like him as the Yankees manager. I was proud of his use of the f-bomb a few times the other night when he was thrown out of his first game as manager.

There were positives in the Texas series.  Namely, Gleyber Torres is a stud. There is literally nothing that the guy cannot do. He may not be the speediest guy on the team but I swear he wears an “S” on his shirt under the uniform.

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It was hard to watch Robinson Cano leave after the 2013 season via free agency. He had been the Yankees best player and it was great to have such a strong player at second base. Then we had to deal with a series of interim players like Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew.  With no disrespect to Starlin Castro, Torres gives us our first legitimate young superstar at the position since Cano left.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Richard Rodriguez)

Giancarlo Stanton’s numbers may be coming around, but I still trust Aaron Judge more.

Neil Walker keeps showing why he should not be the sacrificial lamb when Greg Bird returns. While I’d like the first base pairing of Bird and Tyler Austin, I still feel that it makes more sense to option to Austin to Triple A.  He’ll be needed again at some point.

Glad to see that Didi Gregorius is starting to warm up again. His slump was the worst of his career following his All-World performance and Player of the Month honors in April. The Yankees need Didi if they expect to contend in October.

I try to keep up with the Yankees farm system but I have to say that I was shocked when reliever Ryan Bollinger was added to the 25-man roster yesterday. My first reaction was ‘who?’. I hadn’t really paid much attention to his minor league free agent signing or the stellar work he has done for the Trenton Thunder this year. Since he is not really a “prospect” anymore at the stage of his career (he is 27 after all), I just viewed him as depth for the minor leagues. Honestly, I do not expect him to stay in the Bronx long, not with the impending returns of Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren. I like what I’ve seen out of A.J. Cole and want him to stick around so it would seem Bollinger will be the odd man out in a few days and a potential DFA candidate if the Yankees need his 40-man roster spot. As for Cole, I’d probably give him a spot start over Domingo German to see what he can do.

Maybe it was because the Yankees were in Dallas, but the past week has brought so much speculation of Cole Hamels to the Yankees at the trading deadline. I do not see it. I like Hamels and I wouldn’t squawk about his presence on the roster.  There are a few guys in the starting rotation that he’d leapfrog. But, realistically, it makes no sense to me. Unless the Rangers are willing to pay significant dollars to pay down his contract, the Yankees would be responsible for the prorated portion of his $22.5 million 2018 salary. The contract has an option for $20 million in 2019. The option becomes guaranteed if Hamels has 400 IP in 2017-18 (he is presently at 206 2/3 innings so he’s unlikely to reach the milestone). The buyout for 2019 is $6 million.  Hamels also has a limited no trade clause that includes the Yankees. So, in order to get the Rangers to pay any dollars toward the contract, the Yankees would have to up the ante in terms of premium prospects. There would be more dollars involved to get Hamels to waive the no-trade. I don’t see how a few months of Hamels would justify the elimination of the majority of the cap space under the luxury tax threshold and the quality prospects that would be lost. Sure, if the Yankees win the World Series as a result, it would be worth it but I just don’t see Hamels as the difference-maker.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Joe Robbins)

I keep hoping the Seattle Mariners start losing now that they’ve lost Robinson Cano and Dee Gordon, but all they’ve done since is win. The M’s are currently riding a five-game winning streak and sit just two games behind the AL West leading Houston Astros. My desire to see the M’s lose is to open their willingness to move James Paxton. However, if they keep winning, there’s no chance.

The best possibility for the starting rotation might be our own Justus Sheffield. He came off the disabled list to pitch four innings of scoreless three-hit ball against the Pawtucket Red Sox yesterday. He struck out five and walked only one batter. Tommy Kahnle may have gotten the win in the 7-1 victory but it was a great limited outing for Sheffield’s return. I personally don’t think we’ll see Sheffield in the Bronx until August or September (if at all this year) but the power to accelerate the time table is certainly within his control. I probably shouldn’t read too much into Sheffield’s fine performance.  Chance Adams threw a one-hitter last week to go with ten strikeouts (to raise my excitement level), yet he followed it up with a stinker against Pawtucket on Tuesday (five runs and three walks in three innings of work).

With last night’s disappointing loss, the Yankees have fallen 1 ½ games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Boston wraps up their series with the Tampa Bay Rays today, so they could hold a two-game advantage entering play on Friday. The first half schedule for the Red Sox has been so generous for them.

For the Yankees, I am glad to see the road trip end. With the washout of the games in Washington, they finished the trip with a 3-3 record despite hitting three home runs or more in five straight games for the first time in franchise history. The road trip also included extended flight delays and sleeping at airports. Their flight last night was delayed for mechanical reasons and they didn’t get off the ground this morning until about 5:30 am Eastern. Fortunately, today is an off day, but they’ve certainly dealt with more than their share of adversity this trip. Hopefully, the Yankees will be rested and ready to play when they meet the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium tomorrow night.

Go Yankees!

The Washington Washout…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mitchell Layton)

Rain sweeps the Yankees away to Kansas City…

I guess we have Tyler Austin to thank for the last couple of days not being a total loss. Without his heroics (3 RBI’s), the Yankees would have lost Tuesday’s game which was ultimately suspended after 5 ½ innings with the score tied at 3. The Nats would have won the game if Austin hadn’t tied the score with the sac fly after his earlier home run. When the game is resumed, the Yankees will have nine outs to twelve for the Nationals so the odds favor the Nats. Nevertheless, credit goes to Austin for helping to avert a rain-shortened loss.

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Photo Credit: AP (Pablo Martinez Monsivais) via BTA

With rain sweeping away the resumption of the suspended game and Wednesday night’s scheduled game, the Yankees have a couple of days off until they take the field in Kansas City tomorrow night for the first game of a three game weekend series.

I saw a good tweet on Twitter earlier this week that angrily asked why Robinson Cano got suspended for 80 games but the Yankees were only suspended for one. I see no association between Cano’s situation and the Yankees (he hasn’t worn pinstripes since 2013) but it was a good comeback for a day that saw both Cano and the Yankees get suspended (obviously for quite different reasons).

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

As for Cano, I am disappointed. I don’t know all the facts of his case, but I am glad the Yankees didn’t try to match the huge offer the Seattle Mariners made to Cano after the 2013 season. I was not in favor of a ten year deal then, and this incident only reaffirms what can go wrong with inflated extended deals (I know, we have our own ‘Jacoby Ellsbury’ to bear). I always liked Robbie even if I did get frustrated at times with his lack of hustle. But as we stand here today, I’d much rather have Gleyber Torres as the Yankees starting second baseman than Robinson Cano, even if he hadn’t fractured a bone in his hand or was not currently serving a suspension for banned substances. The only injustice I saw about Cano’s suspension is he gets to begin serving it while he is on the disabled list. So, the actual playing time he’ll miss as a result of the 80-game suspension will be much less since the bulk of the time will be spent recovering and rehabbing from the surgery on his hand. I am glad he was ruled ineligible for post-season play, should the Mariners make the playoffs. It’s very convenient (and fortunate) for the Mariners that they have another All-Star second baseman on the roster with Dee Gordon who was serving as a first-time starting center fielder for the M’s prior to Cano’s injury and subsequent suspension.  The M’s will still, no doubt, miss Cano in their lineup.

I do hope for Cano’s sake, he is able to put this behind him and he has no further acts of indiscretion for the duration of his playing career. I will continue to root for and support the former Yankee.

Poor David Hale. He’s been DFA’d three times this year (twice by the Yankees and once by the Minnesota Twins). Honestly, I am not really sure why the Yankees picked him up a second time. I’d rather see him cut this time rather than going to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on an outright assignment if he clears waivers. There’s nothing special in Hale’s arm and I’d rather see a young, hungry pitcher get his opportunity. I wish Hale the best in his future non-Yankee endeavors.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

The latest DFA for Hale cleared a temporary spot for Clint Frazier. It was speculated his latest time with the big league club would be limited to the Nationals series (to provide an extra bat off the bench for the National League-style of play) but with the rainouts, Frazier traveled with the team to KC and will hopefully get some time in the outfield with Aaron Judge and company before he gets the inevitable call to head back to Pennsylvania. It would be great if Red Thunder and his bat make it very difficult to demote him. Admittedly, I am growing tired of Aaron Hicks in center. Hicks may be the better defender and the more “true” center fielder, but I think Frazier has the better promise and potential for the now and in the future. Hicks is too inconsistent for me. I only wish that Estevan Florial was more advanced in his development and maturity. Dude, hurry up and age, will ya??!!

To sidetrack for a moment, I do have to say I’d gladly put Frazier in a trade package if it meant the Yankees could pry LHP Madison Bumgarner from the San Francisco Giants. I know Mad Bum has suffered some fluke injuries in recent years and has as much familiarity with the DL as Jacoby Ellsbury and Clayton Kershaw but when healthy, he’s a gamer. I’d love to roll with Luis Severino and Bumgarner as my top two pitchers heading into October. However, if Frazier is not traded, I hope he gets his chance to stay with the Pinstripes even if it comes at the expense of Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury.

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Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Shanna Lockwood)

Back to the Yankees and Nationals, the makeup day will be Monday, June 18th at 5:05 pm Eastern. It is going to make for a very long night for the Yankees with at least 12 innings of baseball. They finish a series against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx on the preceding Sunday afternoon, and then after the game and a half on Monday night in the Nation’s Capital, they quickly head back to Yankee Stadium to begin a series against the Cano-less Mariners the next day.

Despite the washout in Washington, the Yankees (28-12) are currently a ½ game ahead of the Boston Red Sox (29-14) in the AL East Standings.  Boston plays tonight at Fenway Park against the lowly Baltimore Orioles so it’s possible the Yankees and Red Sox could be tied entering play tomorrow. But then again, the spineless David Price is on the mound for the Sox so I’ll gladly take my chances with Greg Bird’s high school buddy Kevin Gausman and the O’s.

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Photo Credit: The Aurora Sentinel (Heather Longway)

I really feel bad for the Los Angeles Dodgers and their fans. I am a known Dodgers sympathizer (they’re my NL team) and this has been an awful start to the year for the defending National League champs. Entering the season, many had them making the World Series for the second year in a row, but after another loss to the Miami Marlins last night, the Dodgers are 16-26 and have fallen into last place in the NL West.  Well, technically they are tied with the San Diego Padres, but the Padres have the slight advantage in winning percentage.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jennifer Stewart)

Injuries have been tough but there were so many parallels between the Yankees and the Dodgers at the start of the season. Both are big market teams trying to reset luxury tax penalties with strong, young teams. But the similarities end there. The Dodgers had to let valuable role players like Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson walk in the off-season to keep payroll down and they’ve lost superstar players like Corey Seager (out for the year) and Clayton Kershaw to injury. This is Justin Turner’s first week back after his DL stint to start the year. The Dodgers face a lost season or they need to quickly spend to bring in strong reinforcements if they hope to salvage the season. The Dodgers have a strong farm system (okay, not as strong as the Yankees) but it is not ready to help.  They’re already leaning on young guys like Walker Buehler in the starting rotation.  Manny Machado’s name keeps coming up as an option for the Dodger Blue but he’d probably eliminate any chance of the Dodgers staying under the luxury tax threshold. Plus, they’d have to find a position for him if they have any hopes of signing him after the season since Seager will be back next year to reclaim shortstop. The Dodgers situation shows how much luck plays into strategy when it comes to navigating the treacherous waters of payroll. The Yankees and Dodgers are clearly trending in opposite directions.

I have tickets to two upcoming Dodgers games. Sounds like I’ll probably have a more enjoyable time watching the out of town scoreboard to see how the Yankees are doing.

To the Yankees and all of us fans, enjoy your day off. We look forward to watching the road team step up to the plate at Kaufman Stadium on Friday night.

Go Yankees!

The Cost of Fowler, Kaprielian & Mateo…

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

Yankees 6, Mariners 3…

On Saturday, the cost was WORTH IT as Sonny Gray turned in his best Yankees performance thus far.  His seven innings of three-hit ball helped the Yankees defeat the Seattle Mariners on a beautiful day in the Bronx.  Even though his victories in Pinstripes have been rare, he brings a confidence (for the fans) to the mound that is probably only matched by Luis Severino.  Gray hasn’t pitched badly in his other starts, he just doesn’t seem to get the necessary run support.  That wasn’t the case yesterday.

The game started like Friday’s defeat…the inability to score with a runner in scoring position.  Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the 1st inning with a single to center.  A wild pitch by Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo moved Gardy to second.  But there he would stay as the heart of the batting order (Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius) couldn’t bring him home.

Fortunately, the Yankees took advantage of an opportunity in the 2nd.  Gallardo walked the first two batters (Starlin Castro and Greg Bird).  A sacrifice bunt by Chase Headley (laid it down perfectly toward third to ensure the only play was at first) moved the runners to second and third.  Jacoby Ellsbury, making a rare start, singled to left.  Castro scored, but Bird was thrown out at the plate.  I was surprised that third base coach Joe Espada gave Bird the green light but Bird would have been safe if he had kept his foot down sliding into home plate.  The Yankees led, 1-0.

Credit:  Adam Hunger-Associated Press

The Mariners got the run back in the top of the 3rd inning.  Backup catcher Carlos Ruiz, starting for regular catcher Mike Zunino the day after a night game, homered to left to tie the game. 

Credit:  Adam Hunger-Associated Press

The Yankees finally got something going in the bottom of the 4th with two outs.  Greg Bird singled to right and Chase Headley walked.  Jacoby Ellsbury, in a campaign for more playing time, drilled a fly ball to the right field porch to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.

Credit:  Andy Martin-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Sonny Gray was on cruise-control.  With a back-up catcher, who entered the game with a .202 batting average, seemingly having the only success against him, Gray kept the M’s at bay.  The Mariners had an opportunity in the top of the 6th when Gray hit two successive batters with pitches but Sonny worked his way out of the jam.  

When Ben Gamel look-alike Taylor Motter singled on a hard hit ball to third in the top of the 7th (great stop by Chase Headley to prevent a double), it was the first hit by a Mariner other than Carlos Ruiz.  Ruiz had a single in the 5th in addition to his home run for two of the three hits that Sonny Gray would allow. Ruiz followed Motter but this time Gray struck him out swinging.  Motter stole second on the strikeout but he was left stranded when Jean Segura flied out to end the inning.  That would be it for Gray.  106 pitches, the three hits, one run, two walks, and nine strikeouts.  It was a tremendous performance for Gray and showed that he will be a key factor down the stretch.

The Yankees would add much-needed insurance runs in the bottom of the 7th.  Facing Mariners reliever Casey Lawrence, Austin Romine reached first base on a popup that dropped when Jean Segura gave up on it due to the sun and left fielder Ben Gamel couldn’t get there to make the catch.  Brett Gardner followed with a single to center.  After outs by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius drew a walk on four pitches to load the bases.  Starlin Castro lined a single to left to score Romine and Gardy.  There was no play at the plate this time as Gamel bobbled the ball after the stop. Greg Bird subsequently walked to reload the bases, but Chase Headley flied out to end the inning.  

Chasen Shreve was brought in to start the 8th inning in place of Sonny Gray, and the Mariner bats seemed to come alive.  Danny Valencia opened with a double to the left field wall.  Nelson Cruz followed with a grounder to third which should have been a routine play but Chase Headley’s throw sailed over Greg Bird’s head for an error.  The M’s had runners at the corners.  A single to right off the glove of Starlin Castro by Kyle Seager scored Valencia and ended Shreve’s latest outing.  Tommy Kahnle came in and struck out the first batter he faced (Mitch Haniger).  Ben Gamel grounded into a fielder’s choice that erased Seager at second, but the Mariners had runners at the corners again with two outs.  Guillermo Heredia lined a single to right to score Cruz.  The Mariners had reduced the Yankees’ lead to 6-3.  The next batter came to the plate in the form of Robinson Cano, who was pinch-hitting for Taylor Motter.  Fortunately, instead of a game-tying home run, Robby grounded out to second to end the threat.  Too close for comfort.

The Yanks had a chance to add a run in the bottom of the 8th when Brett Gardner singled and stole second with two outs.  But the same story that keeps repeating itself…an Aaron Judge strikeout…left Gardy stranded.

Credit:  Ray Stubblebine

Fortunately, the Yankees had Dellin Betances for the 9th inning.  He set the M’s down in order, two by strikeout, for his 10th save.  The Yankees win!

The Yankees (69-59) finally picked up a game on the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox, having all they can handle with Buck Showalter’s Orioles, fell to Baltimore, 7-0.  The Yanks now trail the Sox by 3 1/2 games.  The O’s are 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees.  The Tampa Bay Rays lost, 6-4 to the St Louis Cardinals, so they slipped back into fourth place in the AL East, 6 1/2 games behind the Pinstripers.  The Yankees picked up a game in the Wild Card Standings and lead the second place Minnesota Twins by 3 1/2 games. The Twins dropped a 10-9 slugfest to Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays.  

Clearly, the stars of this game were Sonny Gray (8-8, 3.26 ERA) and Jacoby Ellsbury.  Ellsbury, batting eighth in the lineup, was 2-for-4 with the home run and 4 RBI’s.  It was good to see Greg Bird in the mix (he was 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored).  

Credit:  Associated Press

Of course, you can’t say enough good things about the job Dellin Betances did after the leaky performance of the bullpen in the 8th.  Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez were a combined 0-for-9 with four strikeouts and nine men left on base.  Ouch…

Odds & Ends…

Congratulations to the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders!  They clinched their third straight post-season appearance with a 7-1 win over the Syracuse Chiefs behind the arm of Chance Adams (11-4, 2.63 ERA).  The RailRiders’ magic number for winning the International League North Division is two.  

Credit:  Fred Adams-For Times Leader

Have a great Sunday!  The Yankees need a win today with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox looming on the immediate horizon.  Go Yankees!