|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Hunter Martin)|
An Easy Decision for Astros Manager A.J. Hinch…
I am starting to think that Luis Severino simply plays at a higher level than anyone else. If there was a league higher than Major League Baseball, he would have already graduated. I remember being so frustrated in 2016 when Sevy couldn’t buy a win as a starter. I was among many who felt that his future might be better served in the bullpen. Thank God I am not a baseball scout. Severino plays with confidence but that does not begin to equate to the level of confidence he gives us as fans when he takes the mound.
I remember the Summer of ’78 when Ron Guidry dominated the opposition (25-3, 1.74 ERA) and represented almost a guaranteed win every time he pitched. There have been some good pitching seasons by other pitchers since then but I don’t think I’ve had the confidence in any pitchers like I did Gator that summer until now. The fact that Severino is homegrown and not a product of free agency or trade makes it even better. I am very proud of the pitcher Severino has become and look forward to his exciting years ahead.
A day after Jonathan Loaisiga took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, Severino completely shut down the Phillies offense. Sevy (12-2) owned the strike zone and toyed with the Phillies hitters. He may have started to tire late but he gave the Yankees seven strong scoreless innings, scattering six hits and did not walk a batter. He had nine strikeouts to increase his season total to 132 (seventh best in MLB). If Severino is not chosen as the AL Starter for the All-Star Game, it will be a travesty. He has clearly outpitched the two usual suspects (Chris Sale and Corey Kluber) and has three more wins than A.J. Hinch’s own stud, Justin Verlander.
The day started right when Aaron Hicks led off Tuesday’s game with a homer over the center field wall against Phillies starter Jake Arrieta.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
The Yankees extended their lead to 4-0 in the third inning, thanks to a two-run single by Gleyber Torres which was immediately followed by Greg Bird’s RBI single.
Austin Romine, promoted to full-time starter for the next three or four weeks, opened the fourth inning with a double to deep left center. Sevy was the next batter and although it was anticipated that he’d be the first out, he did take a couple of good hacks before striking out. Rather than being an easy out, he battled and it paid off when Arrieta thew a wild pitch to advance Romine to third. Even though Sevy struck out, I felt his at-bat was productive. Aaron Hicks took advantage of Romine’s presence on third with a deep fly to right to score the runner. 5-0, Yankees.
The Yankees closed out their scoring in the top of the fifth inning when Didi Gregorius led off with a solo homer to right center, his 15th of the year. From there, it was Sevy and the bullpen to the finish. Adam Warren pitched a clean eighth inning, but I have to admit I got sick to my stomach when Aaron Boone brought Chasen Shreve in for the ninth despite the six-run lead. It got worse when Shreve walked Carlos Santana after the first out and was down 3-1 on the next hitter (Nick Williams). A two or three-run homer and the Phillies were back in this game. Fortunately, Williams grounded out and Scott Kingery hit a liner right at Gleyber Torres to end the game. Shreve did his job, but I am sorry, he still sucks.
Regardless of what happens today, the Yankees have won their series with the Phillies which helps overcome the weekend sweep by the Tampa Bay Rays. After the game, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said that Severino was “as dirty as you possibly could be”. Agreed and it’s quite alright by me. I am really hopeful Sevy is throwing like this when he makes his next start against the Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees (52-25) maintained their half-game lead on the Red Sox (53-27). The Sox had an easy time with Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels, winning 9-1 at Fenway Park behind David Price. Don’t look now but the Rays are hot. Fresh off their sweep of the Yankees, they’ve taken the first two games of their series with the Washington Nationals. Yesterday, Nathan Eovaldi and the Rays beat Max Scherzer and the Nats, 1-0. Nasty Nate is looking good. The Rays have won five in a row and have closed the gap with the Yankees to fourteen games. Ha! They’re not going anywhere but if the Rays win today, they’ll be back to .500. Not bad for a team that looked like a mess in the preseason.
Brandon Drury has cooled off at Triple A with only two hits in his last seven games but I remain hopeful that he’ll be back in the Bronx soon. He played first base again yesterday for the second time in five days. Aaron Boone was quoted yesterday as saying Drury at first was not on the front burner, but from my perspective, the versatility certainly helps. I remain a fan of Drury and I’d prefer to see him play for the Yankees as opposed to being part of a July trade for pitching.
Why do so many non-Yankees fans try to sell the idea of a Gleyber Torres-for-Jacob deGrom trade? Look, I’d love to have deGrom on the Yankees, but there’s no way that I would trade Torres for him. With Torres, we have second base locked up for the next decade (or more) with a player that should make a few All-Star teams. Pitchers are too fragile. deGrom is great but not at the cost of Torres. Down the road in about five years when deGrom is trying to reinvent himself as an older pitcher, Torres will still be a superstar in his mid-20’s.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
Another former Yankee was thrown on the scrap heap this week when the San Diego Padres designated reliever Tyler Webb for assignment. He’s one of those guys I always wanted to succeed but for whatever reason it has never happened for him. Hopefully he’ll find better luck with his next organization. If not, maybe he can play cards with Chase Headley, Rob Refsnyder and Jesus Montero.
Although I was very confident yesterday thanks to Luis Severino, today is “not-so-much”. The Phillies stand a very good chance of taking the series finale since the Yankees will be throwing out Luis Cessa to make the spot start in order to push CC Sabathia to the Red Sox series. The Phillies will start Zach Eflin (5-2, 3.44 ERA). Advantage Phillies. I really wish that I could bring myself to like Cessa as a starter but I just can’t do it. Oh well, with the Yankees offense, it’s always possible that Cessa could win despite himself.
Yankees 6, Rays 1…
Pitching like I hope he does next week against the Minnesota Twins, Luis Severino dominated the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday behind home runs from Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks. He amassed nine strikeouts to put place his name among the greatest statistical leaders in franchise history.
On paper, the matchup looked like a mismatch in favor of the Yankees. However, Rays starter Matt Andriese kept the game scoreless for the first four innings. Then, Tampa’s Adeiny Hechiavarria led off the top of the 5th with a home run, a high fly into the left field seats, to give the Rays an early 1-0 lead.
Fortunately, the Yankee bats finally woke up in the bottom of the inning. Jacoby Ellsbury got it started by working a walk off Andriese. Aaron Hicks hit a grounder into right field, on a ball that got past a diving Brad Miller at second, for a single. Ellsbury raced around to third base. After Brett Gardner hit a line drive right at the shortstop for the first out, Aaron Judge doubled to the left field corner to score both Ellsbury and Hicks. The Yankees had taken the lead, 2-1.
|Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports|
After Severino breezed through the Rays in the top of the 6th, retiring two batters by strikeout, Starlin Castro led off the bottom of the inning with a home run to left center into the Rays bullpen. The Rays pulled Andriese and brought in reliever Xavier Cedeno. Greg Bird, with his beautiful swing, greeted Cedeno with a homer to right. Chase Headley kept it going with a single to left that squeezed through 3B Evan Longoria and SS Adeiny Hecchavarria. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded back to the pitcher for the out at first, while Headley moved to second. Aaron Hicks ended Cedeno’s short stint when he homered on a high fly into the left field seats. The Rays pulled Cedeno and replaced him with Jose Alvarado. It looked like the Yankees’ big inning, with four runs already across, might continue. Brett Gardner doubled to left, and Aaron Judge walked. However, Alvarado struck out Gary Sanchez on three pitches and got Didi Gregorius to hit into a ground out at short. However, the Yankees had increased their lead to 6-1.
In the top of the 7th, Chasen Shreve replaced Severino. As the team’s primary lefty in the bullpen, Shreve has been consistently inconsistent for weeks. He walked the first batter he faced, Stephen Souza, Jr. Corey Dickerson hit a grounder to first and the Yankees were able to force Souza out at second. But Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a single to right. Shreve was able to strike out Brad Miller, who has been struggling this year. But that would all as Joe Girardi opted to go with Chad Green to face Jesus Sucre. Green retired Sucre on a grounder to short that forced Hechavarria out at second with a flip from Didi Gregorius to Starlin Castro to end the inning.
Dellin Betances pitched the 8th inning and looked strong. He retired the three men he faced with a total of 13 pitches. No walks, no hits, his 100th strikeout of the season…this is the Dellin that we need for October.
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
Aroldis Chapman pitched a clean 9th inning, ending the game on a swinging strikeout of Corey Dickerson. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (89-69) moved to twenty games above .500 for the first time this season. Unfortunately, the Boston Red Sox took a step closer to sewing up the AL East Championship with a come-from-behind 10-5 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees remain three games behind the Red Sox with four to play. The Minnesota Twins lost 4-2 to the Cleveland Indians but they clinched the second Wild Card spot when the Los Angeles Angels fell to the Chicago White Sox in extra innings, 6-4. The Twins become the first team to reach the playoffs after losing 100 games in the preceding season.
|Credit: Ron Schwane-AP|
Luis Severino (14-6) now awaits the probable Wild Card game start next week against the Twins in the Bronx. He lowered his season ERA to 2.98. His six innings of work yielded only four hits, a walk and a single run for the Rays. His nine strikeouts allowed him to reach 230 for the season, putting him in a third place tie with CC Sabathia for the most strikeouts in club history. Sabathia reached the mark in 2011. The strikeout leader is Ron Guidry who struck out 248 batters in his magical 1978 season, while Jack Chesbro had 239 K’s in a mind-blowing 454 2/3 innings in 1904.
This was another great team win with multiple hitting stars. The Yankees can become a 90-win team with their next victory. Honestly, that seemed impossible at the start of the season. Without so many key injuries, I have no doubt the Yankees would be leading the AL East right now. But the Yankees are now nearly healthy as they approach the season’s biggest game next week against the Twins. I am not giving up on the AL East until the numbers say it’s over, but at this point, it does seem improbable. This is a much better team than the one that lost the 2015 Wild Card game to Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros.
Odds & Ends…
MLB Owners officially approved the sale of the Miami Marlins to the investment group headed by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The sale is expected to close within the next few days. I was never a big Jeter fan so I guess I am a little indifferent to the end of his direct association with the Yankees. I am sure that the true Jeter lovers are having a more difficult time but realistically, the Yankees won’t see the Marlins very often. If they meet in the World Series, great! Otherwise, it’ll just be a few games every few years in interleague play. I am not going to lose any sleep about Jeter. He was a great Yankee and he is immortalized in Monument Park. But he’s a Marlin now. I don’t wish him any more luck than I’d wish Brian Sabean in San Francisco or Billy Eppler in Anaheim. They are simply other teams and…they are not the Yankees.
|Credit: Getty Images|
My favorite Core Four player was Mariano Rivera. No disrespect for Jeter and what he did for the Yankees. But now, he’s just another guy trying to beat the Yankees.
I hate the one-game ‘do or die’ Wild Card format. I prefer at least a three game series that MLB could squeeze in without pushing the World Series to November. I still think the best team may or may not win a three-game series but it’s a thousand times better than the single game elimination. I take this position regardless of whether or not the Yankees win the Wild Card game.
Have a great Thursday! Let’s say goodbye to the Rays in good fashion…with a win! Go Yankees!
13 long years…
As Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins approach the finish line on the potential largest contract in the history of Major League Baseball, I can’t help but wonder how crazy this is. 13 years at $325 million is a lot of money any way you slice it. Granted, Stanton will only be 37 at the end of the deal, but I stand with the many who believe that excessively long contracts are not good for the sport.
While guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera earned their pay through their last games, the tail end of the contracts for Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia are looking ghastly. For A-Rod and over $30 mil per year for three more years, the Yankees get a guy who hasn’t played for a year and is being mentioned as a back-up first baseman/DH type. If he manages to hit 20 home runs next season, it will be considered a success but not when you tally the cost of each of those home runs. Stanton is not A-Rod and odds are that Stanton will be playing at a higher level toward the back end of his contract, but there is so much potential for this deal to go drastically wrong. With players now frequently receiving opt out clauses, it’s too bad that the teams do not get an opt out when things go sourly. I would love to see the Yankees use the money slated for A-Rod, Teixeira and Sabathia elsewhere. If the Yankees maintain the status quo this offseason (signing only their own free agents) and do not make any attempt to upgrade the team, we’re faced with another mediocre season and it’s directly the result of the bad contracts.
The Yankees lost a great player when Robinson Cano signed his monster deal in Seattle, but even in retrospect, I think the Yankees were smart in not matching Seattle’s offer.
Giancarlo Stanton is a great player and the Marlins are better with him than without. But I do not like the precedent that it sets. Odds are that Stanton opts out and gets even more money so good for him. Yet, what protects the Marlins from a bad investment? Or how the bar is elevated for future deals? I am trying wondering if I will see players receiving a percentage of team ownership one day.
When I was a kid, I remember star pitcher Ron Guidry having to settle for $900,000 because George Steinbrenner said that he’d never pay a pitcher a million dollars a year. I guess times have changed…
The early results…
So far, the Yankees have re-signed Chris Young and acquired lefty reliever Justin Wilson. I think both moves are good for the back of the roster. The Yankees needed to do something with Francisco Cervelli given the catching depth and to get a guy like Wilson was a smart move given the team’s difficulty in finding a replacement for Boone Logan.
Young earned a return to the Bronx with his September performance. Hopefully, that’s the player the Yankees are getting for 2015 and not the earlier Mets version.
As much as I would like to see the Yankees pursue Jon Lester or Max Scherzer, I’ll be very relieved if and when the Yankees re-sign David Robertson, Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy. New York is a hard place to play, but all three of these guys have shown they can prosper in the Bronx. Robertson followed a legend with grace and ease, Headley showed brilliant defense at a position we really haven’t seen since Graig Nettles, and McCarthy gave the Yankees a chance to win with almost every start. Dellin Betances had a great first year but we really do not know if he could make the transition to closer. It wasn’t something that Robertson was able to do immediately as he did not enjoy success the year Mariano Rivera was hurt in Kansas City. I believe that A-Rod will look to be the older, injury prone player that he has become, if not worse.
The Yankees need to make some inspired trades. It may mean taking a chance on someone who, for whatever reason, has not found his potential, but that’s okay. I’d rather take a chance on a young player with upside than getting locked into a three year deal with an aging outfielder.
I was glad to see former Yankee and Pirate A.J. Burnett re-sign with Pittsburgh, foregoing more money from his last year’s team, the Philadelphia Phillies. Burnett was a good fit in Pittsburgh and it was nice to see a player take an offer that extended beyond just money.
Not that I want to wish the year away, but I am anxious for next month’s winter meetings so that Project Improve the Yankees can start taking form…
The House that Hal…allowed deferred maintenance…
The season is fully underway and the DL is standing room only. 2013 did not get off to a great start with the season series opening loss to the Boston Red Sox, in Yankee Stadium no less. It was par for the course after an off-season that was satisfying, apparently, for Yankee ownership but not for its fans.
The series loss cost me my latest wager with former MLB Blogger Julia’s Rants. As a penalty for the loss, I have to read Terry Francona’s autobiography and provide Julia with my report. Had the Yankees won, she would have had to read Driving Mr Yogi, but it was not meant to be. I have the Francona book and I need to open it but I guess I can procrastinate for another day.
Fortunately, after the series loss to the Red Sox and one to the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees have started to right the ship. After tonight’s win over the Baltimore Orioles (which, by the way, included a triple play), the Yanks finally have a winning record for the season at 5-4.
Nevertheless, the injury concerns persist. While the news lately has been positive about Mark Teixeira and his ability to return on or around May 1st, Andy Pettitte has postponed his next start due to back spasms. This is unfortunate as Andy has been stellar out of the gate. Hopefully, it is just a temporary setback and not indicative of a season long affliction.
I am not ready to climb on the ‘old guys are good’ bandwagon, but Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner have played better than I had anticipated. The key is continuance and consistency so we’ll see. Check back with me in June or July. In a scenario where Wells and Hafner continue to hit, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do when Curtis Granderson returns. It’s fairly evident that the odd man out would be Ichiro Suzuki.
It was tough to see two games in Cleveland get rained out considering the Yankees did not have any further trips to Cleveland scheduled this year. So, later on what would have been an off-day, they’ll have to play a double-header. Hopefully it doesn’t come at a time when the team desperately needs a break. I guess it could be worse. I saw that tonight’s game in Minneapolis was in the 30’s. Minnesota-cold is beyond cold in other parts of the country. But throwing that aside, I do miss Minneapolis. It was a wonderful city to live in…at least from my perspective.
As tough as the Yankees’ schedule is for April, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got swept at the end of the month by the Houston Astros…
How to destroy $147 million with a single shoulder blow…
I feel bad for Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Thanks to the stupidity of San Diego Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin, the Dodgers loose their $147 million investment (Zack Greinke) for eight weeks with a broken collarbone as a result of last night’s melee. As if the pressure wasn’t already intense on Donnie Baseball, the loss of an ace will certainly hurt. It’s rather disgusting that Quentin can get off with an 8-game suspension when he costs the Dodgers several months of one of their key pitchers. I can completely understand why the Chicago White Sox ditched Quentin.
Random Pinstripe Thoughts…
Nothing against Lyle Overbay but I suspect his Yankees career will be fairly short. Francisco Cervelli has done better than I had expected…so far. I am still a proponent for getting Austin Romine into the position when he’s ready but I don’t think Cervelli has been a drop-off from his predecessor, Russell Martin. I was glad to see Clay Rapada clear waivers and re-sign with the Yankees. I am in favor of a long-term Yankees tour for Brennan Boesch. Eduardo Nunez is not the solution for a post-Derek Jeter tenure. Give Robinson Cano his money. If Travis Hafner can hit like he did against his former team in other games, I will consider him an upgrade over former DH Raul Ibanez. If not, why is Ibanez in Seattle? Kevin Youkilis is as tough as advertised. I can see why the Red Sox fans loved the guy.
Baseball, I am glad it’s back…
Next week (the Baseball Winter Meetings) is my favorite
time of the off-season. Like the trading
deadline in July, each day of the meetings bring anticipation and the hope that
your team can improve themselves in some way.
For this year’s Yankees, it will hopefully bring pitcher Cliff Lee to
the Bronx and perhaps bring an end to the impasse between the team and star
shortstop Derek Jeter.
Today was an interesting day with reports that the Texas
Rangers had approached free agent pitcher Andy Pettitte. Subsequently, the Rangers were denying those
reports. However, I wonder if the “rumor”
had been strategically placed in the media by the Rangers or an alliance to
tweak the Yankees. Pettitte is already
on record saying that if he plays, it will be with the Yankees or no one. If his only attraction was to play in Texas
to be closer to home, then maybe I could be convinced that the Rangers rumor
has legs. However, at this stage of Andy’s
career, it is simply whether or not he wants to stay home with his family with
no baseball distractions or play one more year with the Yankees to build upon
his legacy. The three years in Houston
already cost him the status of the greatest lefthander in Yankees history. At this point, he is playing for the way he
wants to be remembered (if he decides to play).
There was also a report that the San Francisco Giants, on
a day that saw shortstop Juan Uribe sign with the division rival Los Angeles
Dodgers, had reached out to the agent of Derek Jeter. Financially-speaking, there is no way the
Giants can compete with the Yankees offer.
Yes, they have the money, thanks to the World Series championship, but
it would be foolish on their part to invest that kind of money in an aging
shortstop when the money could be better spent in other areas to improve the
team in its 2011 title defense.
For as loud as the Jeter negotiations have been, there
has hardly been a peep about the Yankees negotiation with closer Mariano
Rivera. Tonight, the Toronto Sun is
reporting the parties are close to an agreement that will pay Mo $17 million
next year. There is still a question
about whether it will be for one or two years.
Every time I hear those kind of dollars, it always makes me remember
when George Steinbrenner said that he’d never pay a pitcher a million dollars a
year. I think that was the year Ron
Guidry had to settle for $900,000.
One Yankees is gone.
The Florida Marlins signed former Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez. I saw one headline that said the Marlins
stole Vazquez from the Yankees, but of course, the team made no effort to
re-sign Javy after the very disappointing 2010 campaign. Early last season, one writer called Javy a
National League pitcher and I have to agree.
I wanted him to succeed in New York, but I am just not convinced that
would ever happen. It’s too bad. I like Javy and I wish him the best in the
National League East. He certainly knows
the division from his days with the Atlanta Braves. The competition is steep but you have to like
the Marlins starting rotation. I am not
going to anoint them as the next World Series champion and they still have to successfully
replace the production of former second baseman Dan Uggla, but the Giants
proved that as long as you have pitching, nothing else really matters. I say that in jest but there is a certain
degree of truth assuming that you have the players capable of scoring runs and
playing defense. The Yankees pick up a
supplementary draft pick due the free agent loss since they offered Vazquez
arbitration (which he had agreed to decline).
I liked the Texas Rangers signing of catcher Yorvit
Torrealba. The Yankees will be in the
market for a strong backup catcher in light of the decision to permanently move
Jorge Posada to DH and make minor leaguer Jesus Montero the starter. At some point, Austin Romine will be in the
Bronx and perhaps the starting catcher, but I don’t think the Yanks can afford
to go into the season with both Romine and Montero on the roster. I like Francisco Cervelli but I don’t think
he’s the answer either. The Yankees need
to find a solid, veteran backup for Montero.
John Buck, who has since signed with the Marlins, and Torrealba are
certainly guys who could have fit the bill.
Now, the team will need to look at guys like Bengie Molina if they
decide to go externally for a backup.
Congratulations to all the former Yankees on the Hall of
Fame ballot. Of course, I’ll always pull
for my favorite living former Yankee, Don Mattingly, but I agree that his back
problems robbed him of the additional years he really needed for
induction. The other former Yanks
include Tino Martinez, Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Fred McGriff (why did we trade
him again?), Raul Mondesi, John Olerud, Tim Raines, and Lee Smith. Of the group, Martinez was really the only
one who defined himself in pinstripes but I don’t see him making the Hall of
Fame. Sorry Tino, but I can assure you
that I was a huge fan every game you played for the Yankees.
Barton Silverman/The New York Times
I was very saddened today to hear the news of the passing
of former Yankees infielder Gil McDougald.
Growing up as a kid, I’d read about the great Yankees of the 1950’s
dynasty and they always included mention of McDougald. He only played for 10 years but they were
perhaps the greatest 10 years of Yankees history as he teamed with Mickey
Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Billy Martin to dominate the 50’s with 5
World Series championships. I remember
thinking as a kid how cool his name was.
I wish I could have seen those 50’s teams playing for Casey
Stengel. It would have been a great time
to be a Yankees fan.