|Credit: Sarah Stier, Getty Images|
Aaron Boone’s Defining Moment…
Thanks to noted podcaster @Jomboy of Talkin’ Yanks, the words of Yankees manager Aaron Boone to young home plate umpire Brennan Miller were immortalized on Thursday afternoon.
“My guys are fucking savages in that fucking box and you’re having a piece of shit start to this game. I feel bad for you, but fucking get better. That guy is a good pitcher, but our guys are fucking savages in that box, our guys are fucking savages in the fucking box, tighten it up right now.”
The words, certain to become 2019’s rallying cry for the Yankees, almost immediately began showing up on t-shirts as they went viral thanks to social media. I loved every minute of it. I’ve been a Boone supporter since the day he was hired. I think at the time, my top choice had been San Francisco Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens but when the Yankees named Boone as the manager, I was on board with the choice. I liked Joe Girardi but I never once pined for his return after the decision was made to let him go upon the expiration of his contract following the 2017 season.
I knew there would be a learning curve for Boone. Every manager has to start some time. Joe Torre had his own early bumps with the Mets when he first started his managerial career. Boone’s mistakes last season were magnified, thanks to the New York media, and many fans were unforgiving. But as this season has progressed, the growth in Boone as a manager has been evident. It didn’t take his words this week to prove he had gotten better, it’s been on display for weeks, perhaps months. However, Thursday’s tirade showed the World that Aaron Boone has his players’ backs. He is an excellent leader and he has the full respect and command of the clubhouse. I think the ‘next man up’ mentality of the 2019 Yankees is fueled by Boone’s leadership style.
|Credit: Kathy Willens, AP|
Since the brim of Boone’s cap touched the brim of home plate umpire Brennan Miller’s cap during the post-ejection rant (seriously?), he was suspended for one game and served it last night against the Colorado Rockies. Bench coach Josh Bard, a graduate of Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado (a suburb of Denver), served as Yankees manager against his once-hometown Rockies.
Boone’s words aside, this has been a memorable week for the Bronx Savages. The four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays didn’t start well when Mets cast-off Travis d’Arnaud homered three times including the game-winner, a three-run shot off Aroldis Chapman in the top of the ninth inning on Monday night when the Yankees were just a strike away from victory. It was a tough loss to accept (harder than most), but the Yankees rebounded and took the next three games to win the series, leaving the Rays a distant eight games behind in the AL East standings. The Yankees have won 12 of 17 games from the Rays this year, and it’s been the difference-maker in the standings.
Despite the successful Tampa Bay series, I was a little worried going into last night’s game with the Rockies. It kind of felt like one of those series where the team, coming off an emotional series with the Rays and looking ahead to a road trip next week that takes the Yankees to Minneapolis and Boston to play AL contenders, could let up a little. But if Friday night’s game is any indication, it is still ‘pedal to the metal’. After falling behind 2-0, the Yankees coasted to the 8-2 victory after Edwin Encarnacion blasted his ‘walk-the-parrot’ grand slam to take the lead in the bottom of the third. With three hits and some excellent defensive play, many were referring to this as Mike Tauchman’s game. That’s what I’m Tauchin’ about! The former Colorado Rockie, who was never really given a shot to play in the Mile High City, showed his former team they may have erred in trading him away earlier this year. Tauchman has double the plate appearances with the Yankees this season than he had in two years with the Rockies (shuttling back and forth from the minors). Former Coloradan players DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino, instrumental to the Rockies’ success of the past few seasons, also had a role in the decisive victory. Le Machine had two RBIs and Otto struck out the side in the top of the sixth inning. A friend, who is a die-hard Rockies fan, said she loves to see LeMahieu and Ottavino do well but “just not against us”.
The Yankees’ win, combined with losses by both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox last night, leaves the Yanks nine games up in the AL East standings. They are 30 games over .500 for the first time this season at 63-33, and have 11 fewer losses than the second-place Rays. I am always fearful of a swoon that could erase the large lead, but you have to like where the Yankees sit entering play on July 20th. YES Network analyst David Cone had some great words after last night’s game:
“If you don’t like the Yankees, I mean if you are a Yankee hater, this has gotta be a really obnoxious year for you.”
Since trading deadline deals generally start popping up the week prior to the deadline, this coming week could be very active with the hard July 31st deadline just around the corner. The Yankees have been great so far this season despite the injury challenges, but the Houston Astros, with just one less win than the Yankees, could substantially improve their starting rotation in the next eleven days if they successfully land one of the top starting pitchers on the market to slot in behind Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. In other words, there is room for the Yankees to get better and they have to in order to ensure October success.
The Yankees had Jim Hendry, special assistant to Brian Cashman, and others in Detroit last night to watch Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. There were a number of other teams in attendance to watch the New York native shut out the lowly Tigers on six hits over seven innings, with five strikeouts and no walks. For Stroman, a trade to the Yankees would represent the elimination of a 27 1/2 game deficit in a single day. It think that would energize him, as it would any of the names that have been connected to the Yankees in recent weeks. I think my only hangup with acquiring Stroman is sending quality talent to an AL East rival. In many ways, I’d prefer to see someone like Clint Frazier or Estevan Florial or Albert Abreu head to Cleveland or San Francisco for no other reason than they are not AL East teams. But I am very intrigued with the idea of having the talented Stroman in the starting rotation.
As much as I like Madison Bumgarner, I don’t really expect him to show up in the Bronx. He could find his way to Houston, Minneapolis, or Atlanta which wouldn’t be ideal but there’s not much we can do about it except beat him when the time comes. Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks continues to be a name to watch but the D-Backs are only a game out of the NL Wild Card hunt. Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers have lost five in a row to push them 5 1/2 games out in the AL Wild Card chase, which could potentially increase chances that Mike Minor is dealt.
For all the names that have been mentioned, I still half-expect Brian Cashman to land a solid starter that no one has mentioned. For as much as I like Luis Severino and Dellin Betances, I am taking the approach they’ll provide nothing this year. The Yankees have played 99 games without them and it’s hard to envision them making a significant contribution with the 63 games remaining in the regular season. Maybe they become solid bullpen options by October but realistically I am not counting on it. It seems like there have been too many setbacks for both so I am not pinning any hopes on them.
I keep seeing Yankee fans saying the team shouldn’t trade Deivi Garcia or Estevan Florial or other top prospects in the organization. I am sorry but if the payoff is a World Series championship this year, NO ONE is untouchable. I guarantee the Chicago Cubs have never regretted their decision to trade Gleyber Torres in 2016. They might regret the 2017 trade of Eloy Jimenez but not Torres because it meant the first World Series championship in a century for them. It hasn’t been a century for the Yankees, but it has been ten long years and several Red Sox championships since the Yankees last hoisted the trophy. We need to keep an open mind and let Brian Cashman do his magic. He lives for these hot, humid July days and I am confident that he’ll make this exciting, fun and very special Yankee team even better in the coming days. Our goal is to take the World Series championship away from the Boston Red Sox. Anything less is unacceptable. I don’t want another ALDS or ALCS exit. The window of opportunity is now. There may be pain along the way, but we need to persevere. Like Buck Showalter said the other day, “prospects are just prospects”. I want guys who can make a difference in three months, not three years.
The Yankees released catcher Ryan Lavarnway from his minor league contract this week and in his first game with the Cincinnati Reds, the team that picked him up, he hits two home runs and drives in six RBIs. Of course he does. I know, he’ll never sustain it and will prove to be the journeyman catcher that he is, but it’s funny how guys prosper outside of Pinstripes when they land in low pressure environments. Not exactly people that you’d want in the trenches with you but good for them.
The Baby Savages (DSL Yankees) are at it again. After scoring the most runs in professional baseball with their 38-2 thrashing of the Twins’ affiliate earlier this month, they scored 19 runs in the second inning of last night’s game with the DSL Angels en route to a 23-10 victory. They brought 23 men to the plate during the highly productive inning. They are only following the lead of the big league club.
As always, Go Yankees!
Yanks Acquire, Surprise!, Another Colorado Rockie…
The Yankees acquired outfielder Mike Tauchman from the Colorado Rockies on Saturday for reliever Phillip Diehl. Diehl had opened some eyes with his performance in Yankees camp this Spring but as a lefty specialist, he did not have a clear path to the Bronx (especially with next year’s minimum three-batter rule). Hopefully he develops into something more for the Rockies.
Not sure why The New York Post ran with a photo of Los Angeles Angels minor league second baseman Luis Rengifo as their representation of Tauchman but to their defense, both guys do wear beards.
Granted, I don’t know Tauchman personally but I think he looks more like this:
Either way, lose the beard, Mr Tauchman.
I was surprised the Yankees made the trade. I had felt the team was comfortable moving forward with Tyler Wade acting as the team’s fourth outfielder since Aaron Hicks will begin the year on the Injured List. It would have forced Giancarlo Stanton to play more left field than the team would have liked so maybe that was the motivation behind Tauchman’s acquisition.
Tauchman does not have much history at the game’s highest level. Despite making his Major League debut in 2017, he has only accumulated 59 at-bats in 69 plate appearances over 52 games for the Colorado Rockies. He only has nine hits, including a double and triple, and has driven in a couple of runs. That’s it in a very small sample size. Not even worth showing his batting line. Yet, the 28-year-old left-handed swinger has had very good success at Triple A. Granted, he played last year in a hitter’s friendly park for the Albuquerque Isotopes but he did manage to hit .323/.408/.571, with .978 OPS, in 403 at-bats over 112 games. He hit 20 home runs and drove in 81 RBIs for the Isotopes. Sure, it feels a little like Garrett Cooper’s stats for Milwaukee’s top farm team in Colorado Springs, CO when the Yankees acquired him a couple years ago (inflated by the mountain air). But this also has similarities to Luke Voit. A potentially under-valued player who has not been afforded sufficient big league opportunity due to a plethora of players at his position.
The Rockies also seem to have a glut of outfielders. Last year, their starters from left to right were Gerardo Parra, Charlie Blackmon, and Carlos Gonzalez. Parra now resides in San Francisco and CarGo is in camp with the Cleveland Indians on a minor league contract, but the Rockies still have outfield surplus. Blackmon has moved from center to right, Ian Desmond takes over in center after being pushed off first base by Daniel Murphy’s signing, and David Dahl, finally healthy, eyes a breakout year in left. Raimel Tapia, with an ability to play all three outfield spots, is the fourth outfielder. So, the Rockies outfield was still crowded and the team needed to make room for non-roster invitee first baseman Mark Reynolds. Tauchman was the odd man out and now becomes the Tauch of the Town for the Yankees.
I feel bad for Tyler Wade. It seemed like this was finally his year. However, he was optioned to Triple A this morning which presumably opens a spot for Tauchman to join the team for its travel to New York City. D.J. LeMahieu represents the bench strength for the infield, even if he’ll play nearly every day. The Yankees will employ an infield rotation reminiscent of Dave Roberts and the Los Angeles Dodgers to keep guys fresh and LeMahieu on the field, but realistically Wade was a luxury at that point for the infield with limited experience playing the outfield. Tauchman, meanwhile, a true outfielder, can play all three outfield spots, making him a more desirable fourth outfielder. It’s not like Wade has hit at the MLB level so this appears to be another analytics-driven move and those have generally worked out well for the Yankees. It does kind of make me wonder if Wade will ever get a legitimate shot with the Yankees or if he’ll need to move to another organization for his breakout chance. At this point, injuries seem to be the only way Wade will wear the famed Pinstripes in the foreseeable future, and I’d prefer everyone to stay healthy. The Yankees cleared room on the 40-man roster for Tauchman by placing LHP Jordan Montgomery on the 60-day Injured List (expected since Gumby continues to recover from last year’s Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready to help until probably August at the earliest).
Tauchman is 6’2″ and 220 lbs. He was taken in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. The Palatine, IL native made his Major League debut in June 27, 2017. Pinch-hitting for the pitcher, he grounded out in the 12th inning of 4-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants. D.J. LeMahieu was pulled in the fourth inning of that game with a right groin cramp. Former Yankee Chad Qualls took the loss for the Rockies. The Rockies scored all of their runs on a 6th inning homer by former Yank Mark Reynolds.
Welcome to the Yankees family, Mike! We hope, like Luke Voit, this is the opportunity you’ve waited a lifetime for. We’d love nothing more than for you to become a household name in the Yankees Universe. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to prove Brian Cashman and his Analytics Team are truly the Modern Day geniuses in Major League Baseball.
The Yankees are in Fort Meyers, FL today to play the Minnesota Twins for their final exhibition game in Florida. It will be a good opportunity to catch up with old friends Tyler Austin, Ronald Torreyes, Michael Pineda, Blake Parker and Jake Cave. The Yankees will begin the journey home tomorrow when they play their final Spring game in Washington, D.C. at Nationals Park against the Bryce Harper-less Nats. Opening Day is close, very close. Is it Thursday yet?…
CC Sabathia, as expected, will be on the Opening Day Roster (although he’ll be suspended for the first five games of the season). He won’t be allowed in the dugout with the team during the game, but he’ll be able to experience the final Opening Day festivities of his glorious career. For CC, I am happy he’ll be a part of Opening Day even if he’ll have to watch the game from Hal Steinbrenner’s luxury suite. Since the Yankees will open the season with only 24 active players, I am glad that they are facing the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers for the first five short-handed games, and will be back at full strength for the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros in mid-April. Jonathan Loaisiga was optioned to Triple A, but he’ll return once CC finishes his suspension and is placed on the 10-day Injured List.
Congratulations to LHP reliever Stephen Tarpley for winning the James P. Dawson Award as the best rookie in camp this Spring. Looking forward to seeing what Tarpley can do for the Yankees this year. He is part of perhaps the greatest bullpen in history. No pressure.
As always, Go Yankees!
The Denver Post
Arenado, As Expected, Signs Extension to Stay in Colorado…
Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is no longer an option for the Yankees now that he has signed an eight-year, $260 million extension to remain in Denver, Colorado. Honestly, I think the Yankees’ rumored interest in Arenado was either a media-creation for clicks or a plant by the Yankees Front Office to deflect criticism for the team’s lackluster run at Manny Machado.
A sample of yesterday’s headlines:
IF THE YANKEES WANT NOLAN ARENADO THEY HAVE TO WAIT AS ROCKIES INK THIRD BASEMAN TO 8-YEAR, $260M DEAL
– The New York Daily News
NOLAN ARENADO’S $260M IS YANKEES BLOW AND BRYCE HARPER TARGET
– The New York Post
MLB RUMORS: YANKEES WHIFF ON ROCKIES’ NOLAN ARENADO, WHO GETS RECORD-SETTING CONTRACT TO SKIP FREE AGENCY
– NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
While I thought it was inevitable the Colorado Rockies would pony up for their best player, I do not believe for a second the Yankees decided to pass on Machado to wait for Arenado. In the present environment where players are amenable to team-friendly extensions (see Aaron Hicks and Luis Severino), I never really thought Arenado would test the free agency waters. As soon as Nolan previously signed the arbitration offer of $26 million for 2019 from the Rockies, it felt there was sufficient momentum to keep Nolan 5,280 feet above sea level for the duration of his career. If Nolan had chosen to go the route of free agency, I felt there was a stronger chance he’d to return to his native Southern California to play for either the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who have a clear need for a third baseman, or the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have a good but aging third baseman in Justin Turner (he’ll be 35 in November). I just never saw the Yankees as the primary destination for Arenado. If the Yankees chose not to make competitive offers for the three best free agents this off-season, including two 26-year-old’s on Hall of Fame paths, there is nothing that would lead me to believe they would be willing to spend this Fall regardless of how good Arenado is. He is fifteen months older than Machado and carries the Coors Field Effect label. While I think he’s a great player regardless of where he plays, I am not convinced the Yankees were seriously targeting him.
At this point, it is obvious the Yankees are committed to Miguel Andujar at third base. As a hit machine, he carries a very valuable bat in an otherwise loaded lineup. Defensively, the Yankees are expecting improvement. The bat can certainly compensate for some of the challenges in the field, but if Andujar can raise the level of his fielding to at least league average, I think everyone would be very happy. It’s tough watching the brilliant defensive plays made at third by Machado and Arenado and wonder what could have been, but that ship sailed. Machado has 300 million reasons to believe San Diego is the most beautiful city in the U.S. and the Yankees, in my opinion, were never players for Arenado.
Andujar is our third baseman and he deserves our trust and support. There’s no question he wants to improve and he probably works harder than most of the guys on the team. I doubt you’ll ever see any ‘Johnny Hustle’ comments about Andujar’s play because he does hustle and clearly wants to be the best. Whether or not we believe Andujar can improve his defensive game is irrelevant as long as he believes he can. If he fails for whatever reason(s), I have no doubt GM Brian Cashman will find another alternative via trade (not through high-priced free agency). A young under-valued player with great potential seems to be Cashman’s preferred player these days. Personally, I am not betting against Miguel Andujar. I feel he has the drive and desire to succeed, matched with the necessary tools. Enough with the Andujar bashing. His name has taken a beating in Social Media. It’s not his fault the Yankees chose not to pursue Machado. Well, I guess you could say it is his fault because they see the talent and commitment to win in Miggy. If we ran the Yankees and it was our money, I have no doubt we would have come to the same conclusion. Make decisions for the good of the organization and not short-sighted moves to make bloggers like me happy. Embrace Andujar, embrace the 2019 New York Yankees. This is our team. They have a championship to capture and they need our support for every man on the roster…well maybe not Jacoby Ellsbury. We have the team to strip the Championship belt from the Boston Red Sox and we should be proud.
Speaking of Manny Machado, he couldn’t help but take a shot at the Baltimore Orioles. In an interview, Machado is quoted as saying, “The Dodgers last year, they showed me some love. The Orioles drafted me. I did a lot for that community, I did a lot for the state, they didn’t show me a little bit of love. It is what it is. But going over to L.A., L.A giving up a lot of prospects for me, that kind of shows you what I meant to them, which is amazing.” Needless to say, he has ruffled some feathers in Birdland. By comparison, former Oriole Zack Britton has been respectful and appreciative of his time in Baltimore. Take the high road, Manny. You have your money and apparently the love you sought. Isn’t that enough?
I thought it was fair yesterday when Manager Aaron Boone announced outfielder Clint Frazier will begin the year in Triple A. After missing so much time last year following his concussion, Frazier needs consistent playing time to get himself back on a roll. I think it was wise for Boone to let Frazier know that he is not up for consideration in making the Opening Day Roster. It will take some pressure off Frazier and allow him to ramp up his game at his pace rather than an accelerated one thinking he has a shot to overtake Brett Gardner. I am not crazy about entering the season with Gardy as the starting left-fielder but I do think we’ll see Stanton out there more often. I’d prefer Stanton to stay at DH to help keep the big man healthy but there’s no question the team is better when Stanton plays the field. It frees up DH for some roster rotation to keep other guys fresh. If Frazier crushes Triple A, he’ll force the Yankees’ hand. I expect Frazier to be the starting left-fielder by season’s end. If not, I am sure Brian Cashman will provide other options as he always does. On the bright side, Sugar Shane Robinson is a Phillie so he won’t be starting any games in the Bronx this year.
I was a bit disappointed with yesterday’s rainout of the Spring game between the Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. DJ LeMahieu was scheduled to play third base and I was curious to watch. Unfortunately, the next few games will not be televised so we won’t be able to get our Yankees fix until Sunday. They should be able to get in today’s game in Lakeland, Florida against the Detroit Tigers. There is a chance of scattered thunderstorms but not until late afternoon so the game should be fine. Chance Adams will get the start over previously announced starter Albert Abreu. Abreu is expected to pitch in relief. LeMahieu is expected to start at second base today and will make his Yankees debut at third for his next start. But since the game is not televised, we’ll be unable to see any of it. Bummer.
It’s been a few days since the official announcement but I was glad to see the Yankees sign Aaron Hicks to an extension. I was shocked at the number of years (seven) but the overall value of the deal, $70 million, is team-friendly. Hicks has the potential to fully earn those dollars within the first few years of the deal, making the back half of the contract negligible if performance does not warrant a starting position by the time the 29-year old Hicks nears his mid-30’s. Estevan Florial is still a few years away and he is far from a “sure thing”. The free agent market looked very slim for center fielders after the season (Leonys Martin appeared to be the best potential available target). In-house, Brett Gardner and the guy I don’t really expect to ever don the Pinstripes again, Jacoby Ellsbury, represented the top options had Hicks left via free agency. So, instead, the Yankees keep a player that Manager Aaron Boone has called baseball’s most underrated player and I am happy about it. Attention now turns to the two other primary pending free agents, Dellin Betances and Didi Gregorius. I’d love to see both players return so hopefully the Yankees can lock up one or both before the season starts. They can worry about a big extension for Aaron Judge next off-season. Regardless of how Troy Tulowitzki plays, I want Didi Gregorius as this team’s starting shortstop as soon as he is cleared to play and for the immediate seasons in the future. Similarly, if I had to choose between Betances and Aroldis Chapman, if the latter decides to opt out of his contract after the season, I’d take Betances. Under that scenario, Zack Britton would become my closer of choice but Betances is so invaluable in his setup role, with or without Chapman. I’d love for Betances to stay as a lifetime Yank.
As always, Go Yankees!
Blue Jays 4, Yankees 2…
The Yankees had their chances on Tuesday but like so many games recently, they struggled to get runs across the plate and left too many runners in scoring position stranded. Rookie first baseman Garrett Cooper was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI’s, representing the sole offense for the Yankees, in their loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. On the surface it looks like a good night for him, but it could have been much more as he came up twice with the bases loaded. But you can’t pin the loss on Cooper, this was a team effort.
The tone of the game was set early. Jose Bautista led off the bottom of the first with a double to right. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Russell Martin. Josh Donaldson, who entered the game with only 13 home runs, blasted a two-run shot to center. In retrospect, it could have been worse as a subsequent walk and double put runners at second and third, but Sabathia was able to get Kevin Pillar to ground out to end the inning.
Credit: Steve Russell-Toronto Star
The Yankees had a good opportunity in the top of the 2nd inning against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ when both Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius singled. Unfortunately, Todd Frazier hit into a 6-4-3 double play to eliminate Gregorius. With Headley on third, Garrett Cooper singled to right to score the Yankees first run. But that’s all the Yankees would get as Ronald Torreyes grounded out.
After an easy second inning for Sabathia, the third inning looked like the first. Russell Martin singled to left, and was followed by Josh Donaldson who hit his second homer of the game, a fly ball to the second deck in left. It gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead. A great running catch by Ronald Torreyes with Kendrys Morales in scoring position prevented any further runs.
Sabathia left the game after three innings as a result of knee pain. It was the worst pain that Sabathia has felt since he started wearing a larger knee brace several years ago. After the game, Sabathia said “It’s just hard to land. It’s hard for me to finish my pitches. It’s just hard for me to get over my front side and finish my pitches. When I can’t do that, I don’t know where the ball is going.” There’s no immediate word if Sabathia will miss his next start but he’ll head back to New York for further tests. We’re reaching the point where you have to wonder if every Sabathia start might be his final start for the Yankees. If Sabathia does miss time, Jordan Montgomery seems like the best alternative as a replacement but given he is at Triple A working under an innings limit, a short term option would probably be Bryan Mitchell.
Mitchell replaced Sabathia in the fourth, and provided a Chad Green-like performance. He went four innings, allowing only three hits and no runs.
The Yankees had a golden opportunity in the 6th inning. With one out, both Gary Sanchez and Chase Headley walked. After a fly out by Didi Gregorius, Todd Frazier hit a grounder to short and reached first base, just ahead of the throw, after a challenge overturned the on the field call which had ruled Frazier out at first. Garrett Cooper came up with his first bases loaded opportunity but failed to deliver with an inning-ending fly to right.
The Yankees offense was thwarted again in the 7th. Ronald Torreyes led off with a single, but was erased when Brett Gardner grounded to second for a double play. Clint Frazier followed with a single, but it was for naught when Aaron Judge struck out.
The last great chance came in the 8th. Gary Sanchez was hit with a pitch from Jays reliever Ryan Tepera on the left wrist (he stayed in the game after being checked out by the medical staff and Joe Girardi). Chase Headley was also hit by a pitch, after a challege review which showed the ball hitting Headley’s foot, to reach base. Didi Gregorius popped up in the infield for the first out, but Todd Frazier walked. It brought Garrett Cooper to the plate for the second time with the bases loaded. He hit a sacrifice fly to left which was deep enough to score Sanchez but you couldn’t help but wonder what could have been with a single or double in at least one of those bases loaded situations. The other runners were left stranded when Ronald Torreyes lined out.
The Yankees went down quietly in the 9th with Jays closer Roberto Osuna. It was another game of lost opportunities. The Blue Jays pitched carefully to Aaron Judge which led to two walks, but it probably wasn’t really necessary as Judge was hitless in three official at-bats (striking out twice). Clint Frazier was 1-for-4 but struck out three times. Overall, the Yankees left 10 men on base. It’s tough to watch the Boston Red Sox pick up former Yankee Eduardo Nunez and he hits everything in sight (16-for-40 with 8 extra base hits) and the Yankees can’t seem to get any extra base hits when they need them the most.
Obviously, it is not a good sign about CC Sabathia’s knee. The years have taken its toll on the pitcher, and he’s question mark every time out at this point (assuming that he is able to come back). Sabathia (9-5) took the loss. The four runs in three innings pushed his season ERA to 4.05. I hope that he’s able to make a successful return as his Yankees career winds down but I can’t say that I am overly optimistic.
Credit: Fred Thornhill-The Canadian Press via AP
The Yankees (59-52) fell four games behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss. The Red Sox defeated Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 behind Chris Sale and his 13 strikeouts. So the Rays remain 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees. The Baltimore Orioles lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Angels and stayed four games behind the Yankees.
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell to take the roster spot vacated when LHP Jordan Montgomery was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Poor Mitchell had to find a new number since his preferred #55 has been claimed by Sonny Gray. He chose to stay with the matching double digit combo and went with #66. #88, anyone?…
It was good to hear that both Greg Bird and Starlin Castro took batting practice at Rogers Centre yesterday prior to the game. While I am not overly optimistic that we’ll get anything out of Bird this year, I am pulling for the player to finally show a glimpse of what we saw during Spring Training. Ronald Torreyes has softened the blow of Castro’s absence but it will be good to get the regular second baseman back on the field again.
OF Aaron Hicks has been re-assigned to Double A Trenton as part of his continuing rehab assignment. He may be activated for this weekend’s series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx. We’ll soon find it if it is Clint Frazier or someone else that goes down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room. If Frazier stays, the losers are probably Garrett Cooper (potential option to Triple A) and Jacoby Ellsbury (fifth behind the other four outfielders).
The Blue Jays scratched today’s scheduled starter, Cesar Valdez. Valdez was placed on the DL with a shoulder injury. Nick Tepesch (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will start in his place against Masahiro Tanaka.
It was a very nice gesture by the Colorado Rockies to hang the late Don Baylor’s jersey in their dugout for yesterday’s game at Progressive Field in Cleveland against the Indians. Baylor was the first manager in Rockies history, serving from 1993 to 1998. The Rockies will have a tribute planned for Baylor when they return to Coors Field in Denver on August 14th versus the Atlanta Braves. Following Baylor’s passing, Rockies owner Dick Montfort issued the following statement: “He was a big man with an even bigger heart, a friend of so many. His persona will be a part of our club heritage forever. This is a sad day in Colorado and for all of baseball.”
Credit: Tony Dejak-Associated Press
Have a great Wednesday! One more day to Sonny Gray! Let’s Go Yankees!
Where did the excitement of the new season go?…
The season began with so much optimism. The Yankees had the best Spring of any team in Major League Baseball (24-9-1) which was their best Grapefruit League performance since the 2009 World Championship year.
The Yankees may not be World Series contenders this year, but I expected more than a 1-3 start through four games. With 157 games to go, there’s still much baseball to be played. But it’s important to see the team gel with a winning mindset sooner rather than later. It’s not feasible or possible to win every game, but the attitude for expecting to win should be there. With a downward spiral, it’s too easy to get caught up in the losses and the negativity spreads like wildfire.
My concern this month is the schedule. It is not an easy path in April. With two more games to go in Baltimore, the Yankees will play a total of eleven games this month against the AL rival Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. The series against the Red Sox is at Fenway Park which isn’t exactly an inviting place for the Yankees (or their fans). The Yankees also play the St Louis Cardinals in inter-league play. Mike Matheny’s squad always comes to play. The Yankees really need to get on top of this, and pull out a few stretches of two or three consecutive wins.
Despite Friday’s loss to the Orioles, it was good to see Gary Sanchez connect for his first home run on the season. It is unrealistic to expect 20 home runs in 50 games again, but just getting the first one out of the way helps the mental approach to each at-bat.
Credit: Ron Sachs, The New York Post
Right now, the young trio of Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird are all hitting below the Mendoza Line. Sanchez has the best batting average of the three (.167). Judge stands at .133, while Bird, with one hit in 16 at-bats, is a pathetic .063. You’d expect Judge to be the team’s strikeout leader (given Chris Carter is not an every day starter) but he trails Bird by two. It’s sad when the team’s best hitter is Chase Headley (7-for-15).
Collectively, as a team, the Yankees need to start hitting. The formula of a few hitters making contact with the majority of the bats being silent does not work. A few more pitching performances like the one CC Sabathia delivered in the second game of the season would also be nice. With no fifth starter needed until April 16th, the Yankees have cycled once through the rotation. Sabathia gave the only defined quality start. Tanaka’s start may have been the worst of his Yankees career. As we proceed into the second run through the rotation, much better results are expected and needed.
Losing is like negativity. It is very infectious. If the Yankees can start running out a few stretches of consecutive wins, they can change the attitudes and mindset of the team (and its fans).
Let’s see what the second week of the young season will bring…
Tommy John was a good Yankee but I am tired of hearing his name…
The Yankees received bad news regarding top pitching prospect James Kaprielian this week. He has been shut down and placed on the Minor League DL. He underwent a MRI on his pitching elbow (which include dye-contrast). The results have been shared with the Yankees team physician and Kaprielian will now head to Los Angeles to meet with noted Tommy John surgeon Neal S. ElAttrache, M.D. Dr. ElAttrache is the team physician for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. He also is on the Board of Directors for the famed Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic which was co-founded by Dr. Frank Jobe, who pioneered Tommy John surgery.
If Kaprielian needs Tommy John surgery, it’s very possible that we won’t see him again until 2019. With CC Sabathia’s contract up at the end of the year, I had hoped that Kaprielian would be in position to compete for his rotation spot next Spring. Now, his career is in doubt. This is starting to feel like the Andrew Brackman situation. A pitcher with so much promise who was never able to overcome arm injuries, leading to his eventual release and exit from baseball.
With Kaprielian sidelined, the focus will shift to young pitching prospects like Jordan Montgomery, Chance Adams, and Justus Sheffield to lead the way for future rotation help.
I remain hopeful that Kaprielian receives the best possible medical opinion from Dr ElAttrache and if Tommy John surgery is the only answer, I wish him much success on the long journey to recovery and hope that the Major League dream is still within his grasp.
He said, she said…
This seems to be the week of fake news. Two separate reports were leaked, only to be quickly shot down by the Yankees. News reports spread quickly that Yankees prospect Clint Frazier had asked the Yankees to un-retire Mickey Mantle’s number. Both the team and the player quickly denied the reports and Frazier stated that he was only concerned with the front of the jersey and not the back of it. The story obviously got its start from somewhere, whether it was words take out of context or spoken in jest, but I do not believe that Frazier made the request.
The other report was that the Yankees have no intention of re-signing starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka should he decide to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract at the end of the year. Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner stated that no discussions have taken place. The Yankees would be foolish not to consider all their options, and re-signing Tanaka to a new longer term deal does represent risk. He’ll be 29 in November and the slight tear in his Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) is not going to improve without eventual surgery.
Both stories sound like writers fishing for stories. Finding a shred of truth it and then embellishing it for the sake of sensationalism.
Bad trade rising…
The Yankees have made their share of bad trades over the years, but one that doesn’t get much recognition is the trade of infielder Eduardo Nunez to the Minnesota Twins three years ago yesterday. Nunez was subsequently traded to San Francisco and is now their starting third baseman (hitting .400, 8-for-20 so far this season). Meanwhile, the prospect that the Yankees received from the Twins for Nunez (23-year-old lefty Miguel Sulbaran), currently with AA Trenton, has been suspended for 25 games due to a drug policy violation.
Credit: Jessica Kovalcin
While it has not been reported what Sulbaran did to lead to the suspension, it’s safe to say that the Yankees would not make this trade if they had a chance to do it over again.
A memorable Opening Day…
In all my years as a baseball fan, I’ve never attended an Opening Day game. That changed yesterday when I saw the Colorado Rockies open Coors Field for the 2017 season against their division rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although I am a Yankees fan, the Dodgers are my favorite National League team so I have to admit that I was wearing some Dodger blue yesterday.
But the day belonged to the Rockies and their young starting pitcher, Kyle Freeland, who made his Major League debut. Freeland, who was born and raised in Denver, delivered a very solid performance while picking up his first Major League victory. He went 6 innings, giving up only 4 hits and 1 run. He walked 2 and struck out 6. He was never on the ropes and seemed in command for the duration of the game. The Rockies won, 2-1, in a pitcher’s duel (with Hyun-Jin Ryu) which is not something you ever expect to see at Coors Field. The game’s only home run was delivered by backup catcher Dustin Garneau. The Dodgers starting lineup was missing two regulars (Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez) although both made their way into the game in later innings. But it wasn’t enough, and Freeland departed with the win.
Credit: The Denver Post
I remember seeing Jake Peavy make his Major League debut in San Diego years ago (against the Yankees) and it always stuck with me throughout Peavy’s career that I was there at the start. I guess I can now say that about Freeland too. Time will tell if he is as successful as Peavy.
Despite pulling for the Dodgers, it was a fun day in the Mile High city. The weather was uncharacteristically warm for this time of year (mid 70’s) and the stadium was energized by its fans. I expected to see more Dodger Blue but Purple was clearly the color of the day.
For Whom the Beltrans…
Well, it’s finally official. The Yankee fan is finally a Yankee. With today’s introductory press conference, the Yankees have continued to rebuild the team’s offense following the departure of Robby Cano and his bat. Carlos Beltran talked about how he has long looked up to the Yankees organization. The backhanded swipes at the Mets certainly didn’t hurt boosting his stock in the Bronx, particularly after those comments made by Curtis Granderson during his Mets press conference earlier in the off-season (even if the Grandy Man was just being lighthearted).
It’s always nice to see guys who genuinely want to be in the Bronx. Brian McCann certainly conveyed that message and Carlos Beltran did the same today. I think Jacoby Ellsbury is just as excited but his situation was a bit different and he is coming off a World Series championship.
Listening to Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi talk, it clearly sounds as if the Yankees outfield will be consisted of Brett Gardner, Ellsbury, and Beltran. Three centerfielders, with two playing out of position. I know, there are a multitude of reasons for why it makes sense to keep Gardner, but he is really the only major league trading chip and the Yankees still need rotation help. They have not shown any desire to pursue the likes of Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, or others that can be had for a simple cash outlay. Johan Santana’s name has been bandied about, and I would see no harm as long as the Yankees clearly invest in a Plan B to go with it. My primary hope is that Michael Pineda can finally show us the potential he had in Seattle. But that’s for the #5 spot. The Yankees should roll the dice with the young organization pitchers, including Pineda, for the last position in the rotation but not both #4 and #5. For #4, the Yankees need a proven performer. Santana is a huge health risk, but if healthy…I know, that’s a big IF…he would significantly solidify the rotation and help mask any further regressions by CC Sabathia or Hiroki Kuroda.
It’s unfortunate the Yankees have to keep an eye on the Alex Rodriguez situation to determine what their next moves will be. I just hope they aren’t caught looking while waiting to find out if A-Rod and his behemoth contract will be an obligation for 2014 or not.
But regardless of what happens for the remainder of the off-season, it goes without question that Carlos Beltran was a good signing. The reports have surfaced that free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo turned down a 7-year, $140 million deal from the Yankees before they turned to Beltran. I would prefer to go with the 3-year Beltran deal as opposed to locking into 7 years with Choo considering the Yankees are already on an extended hook with Ellsbury. At some point, the young talent in the lower levels of the farm system have to make their way to the surface. I have high hopes for Aaron Judge, and I really hope that Slade Heathcott can bring his game to the next level within the next couple of years.
Much has been written about Beltran replacing the lost production in St Louis when Albert Pujols signed his $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and is now being asked to do the same with Cano opting for money over a win-first mentality. However, there is a big difference. The Cardinals have Allen Craig and Matt Adams as two very capable first baseman. The Yankees are not so lucky at Cano’s former position. There are no immediate farm system solutions. With Beltran now scheduled to start in Ichiro Suzuki’s position, it is a foregone conclusion that either Ichiro or Vernon Wells will soon be an ex-Yankee. Pitcher Brett Marshall may have paid the price for Beltran’s spot, but I expect Ichiro or Wells to go when the Yankees create roster space for their latest additions. The Yankees will have to include cash if they move Ichiro so that makes Wells the more likely one to go given that the Angels are still paying the majority of his salary.
I keep getting sidetracked when the main topic is Beltran but he opens up much discussion in other areas. I am glad that he’s a Yankee and I truly hope the Yankees can make the additional moves that will be necessary to return one of baseball’s great play-off performers to October. Pitching, pitching, pitching…
Meanwhile, at Second Base…
Kelly Johnson, Eduardo Nunez, Corban Joseph…
None of the names are exciting and it’s more likely that Johnson, with a platoon-mate in Nunez, will be asked to cover third if A-Rod is suspended for a lengthy period as expected. Joseph is not ready so the Yankees signed long-time Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. Roberts was once one of the best 2B’s in the game, but injuries have robbed him of playing time the last four years. I do not expect him to be a major force at the position this year assuming that he makes the team. It is a curious move for a beloved Oriole to join a hated AL rival. I know that Mike Mussina did it but he was still in his prime. I know, there’s Jacoby Ellsbury too, but again, that player, despite his past injuries, still has prime years ahead. Roberts has seen his better days. At that point, I’d probably go out of division or out of league even if it sacrificed a few dollars to maintain my legacy with the original team.
Roberts will always be a great Oriole. There’s nothing that he can do to take away his quality years. Hopefully, the Baltimore fans will recognize that it was time for Roberts and the O’s to part ways, particularly given their acquisition of second baseman Jemile Weeks. Mike Mussina had quality years with both the O’s and the Yankees. Roberts will be like Luis Tiant. The best years were with the home team, and the last year or two were with the Yankees.
At this point, it does appear the Yankees will be heading to spring training with Roberts, Nunez and Johnson covering second. However, things will change when the A-Rod drama is finally put to rest. I was surprised the Yankees didn’t try harder for Omar Infante. It’s not often the Kansas City Royals beat the Yankees in free agency.
As for third…
It’s a given that A-Rod will be lost for a certain amount of time. It’s just a question for how long. I would like to see a trade for the San Diego Padres third baseman, Chase Headley, something that has been mentioned on and off for the last few years. We know that it won’t be a return of last year’s third base wannabe, Kevin Youkilis (thwarted by injuries to the surprise of no one). Youk in stating a preference to being closer to his West Coast home, decided to take his family on a one year vacation touring Japan. I am not quite sure how the DL works in the Japanese League but I guess we’ll find out. I loved Wallace Matthews’ quote that Youk will probably be injured on the plane trip to Japan.
Another third base possibility, and former Yank, Casey McGehee, signed with the Miami Marlins. So, like second base, pickings are getting very slim at the infield positions. I fully expect the Yankees to lose one of their promising young catchers in any trade.
I was disappointed to see Boone Logan go. Good for him in signing the three year contract with the Colorado Rockies. Denver is a wonderful city and I do not begrudge anyone who wants to be a part of that community. But still, he was a solid option in the pen for the Yanks and will be missed. To replace him, the Yankees signed former Sox (both White and Red) reliever Matt Thornton. A great lefty, no doubt, but one that is 37. All things considered, I would have preferred a few more years of Logan. I’d like to see a younger guy like Nik Turley take it to the next level but I am fearful that Turley will be a roster casualty with the additional moves the Yankees have yet and still need to make.
I am not sure how I feel about David Robertson as closer. When Mariano Rivera was hurt in Kansas City early in the 2012 season, Robertson failed in his brief appearance as closer. If memory serves correctly, he was injured and it opened the door for Rafael Soriano to grab the job and run with it. If the Yankees opt to go with Robertson, they need another Plan B like Soriano in place. Yes, I know, there are only so many spots on a 25-man roster for Plan B…
On the bright side, catcher and center field are locked up… 😉
I don’t expect much in the way of Yankees news next week so Operation Improvement will have to be resumed in January. Meanwhile, Happy Holidays to All! Enjoy!
Why? Because the Yankees McCann!…
I have to admit that the Yankees’ free agent signing of former Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann caught me by surprise. Like so many people did last Saturday, I went to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. No sooner than I walked out the theater after the movie, I immediately saw the alerts the Yankees had signed McCann.
I had heard the Yankees were interested in McCann, but so were other teams like the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, and Colorado Rockies. I thought the Rangers were the most likely landing spot. It’s a winning organization in a city that puts more pressure on the local football team. The cost of living is reasonable, and the area is spacious. There’s not too much to dislike about Texas…well, outside of those hot humid summers, the long drives to get anywhere, and the infrequency of trees (at least in North Texas). I also thought the Boston Red Sox might have an advantage with former McCann backup David Ross on the roster. Either Texas or Boston offers the chance for World Series participation.
But in the end, it was the Yankees’ offer (number of years) in combination with the short porch in right field which is very attractive for the left-handed slugger.
I had Brian McCann as my catcher on my fantasy baseball team this year and his health caused me to seek other options. While he was on the DL, I leaned on his Braves replacement (Evan Gattis) among others. So, McCann’s health is an obvious concern. But if healthy, he is a tremendous addition to the team. He gives the Yankees their best offensive threat from the position since Jorge Posada retired. Russell Martin would occasionally get hot, but he is not close to the hitter that McCann is. Plus, McCann’s leadership abilities are well documented. When Chipper Jones retired, he gave a strong recommendation for McCann as a team leader.
Nothing against Francisco Cervelli, but I think he is better suited to backup someone like McCann than to start. He had his moments last year before getting hurt and then the subsequent suspension, but he’ll get his opportunities when McCann rests or moves to DH. I am fine with the number of years on the contract because I think McCann is an excellent bridge to super prospect Gary Sanchez. When Sanchez is ready for the majors, it will be time to slide McCann to first or DH anyway. It also frees GM Brian Cashman to potentially include other catching prospects like Austin Romine or J.R. Murphy is potential trades.
Signing McCann was a great start to the off-season but there is obviously still much work ahead for Cashman and the Yanks.
Where are we?…
As we turn the page to Thanksgiving, the Yankees have their manager, backup shortstop and catcher in the fold. They are rumored to be the leaders for the services of free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran of the St Louis Cardinals, although I have heard he has a preference for staying in the NL (I don’t know if that’s true or not, and I personally believe he’d have even greater success in the American League). I like the idea of Beltran in right.
As it sounds, Robinson Cano’s camp is still asking for something in the neighborhood of $300 million. They’ve dropped “slightly” from the initial figure of $310 million, but anything in the Alex Rodriguez area of contracts is too much…even for arguably the team’s best player. I would rather see the Yankees use the money on multiple key players, shift the offense to other positions and then backfill second base with someone like Omar Infante. I still hope there are compromises made on both sides to bring Cano back to the Bronx, but if it is not meant to be, I don’t want to see the Yankees overspend.
So far, no help for the starting rotation. Several notable free agent pitchers in a market void of any aces have already signed. Dan Haren with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tim Hudson with the San Francisco Giants, and Ricky Nolasco with the Minnesota Twins. I don’t think the Yankees were linked to any of those guys, but the smaller the free agent pool, the more intense the competition becomes at least for the guys who can win 12-14 games for you. I know the Yankees are rumored to be heavily counting on the posting of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka if MLB and the Japanese are able to come to an agreement for a new posting system. But you have to wonder what Plan B will be. So far, I have not heard much about Hiroki Kuroda but I would like to see the team try to bring him back for one more year.
The next few weeks will go a long way toward determining how strong and competitive the 2014 Yankees will be.
Coaching staff intact…well, almost…
Several weeks ago, I heard that Joe Girardi’s entire coaching staff would be returning. However, today, I saw that the Arizona Diamondbacks have named Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey as their new pitching coach. Congratulations to Mike! Larry Rothschild is not going anywhere so it is good to see Harkey get his opportunity elsewhere. Now, the Yankees will be in the market for a new bullpen coach. Say, I wonder what Mariano Rivera is doing… 😉
Well, that’s all for now. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!