(Photo: John G Zimmerman/Sports Illustrated)
Season Opener is a week away…
Finally, we can see real baseball on the horizon. Well, if you are an early bird, I suppose you’ve been up to watch the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s play the last two days in Tokyo for an early preview of the regular season. But, c’mon, we all know that real baseball doesn’t start until the New York Yankees take the field.
The Yankees officially announced the signing of LHP Gio Gonzalez yesterday. Initially, it was reported to be a $3 million contract if Gio makes the Major League roster, but subsequently we learned it also includes an incentive of $300,000 per start up to 30 starts so the deal could be worth as much as $12 million. I’ve seen more than one Yankee fan say the team should use an opener before bringing Gio in so that he technically does not get credit for a “start” but seriously that’s not the way the Yankees operate. You may feel that Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner is a tight-wad but I firmly believe even if the Yankees used an opener like Jonathan Holder for an inning before bringing in Gio to cover the next five or six innings, the team would honor the performance as a start. They wouldn’t use an opener solely for avoidance of paying the incentive. Say what you will about the Yankees’ Front Office but the Yankees have proven, time and again, they take care of their own.
It was a little weird seeing the pics of Gio without his beard. Like James Paxton, going beardless makes him look so much younger.
Hey, maybe it will make his arm look younger too. Oh well, wishful thinking on my part. I do hope that Gio gets an opportunity to join the Yankees with this 30-day trial. If not Opening Day (which seems unrealistic from a timing standpoint), a few weeks into the season. I really hope it doesn’t come down to April 20th with us wondering whether Gio will be added to the MLB roster or if he’ll exercise his opt-out if he doesn’t. If the Yankees were truly the only team offering him a contract this month, it’s not like teams will be lined up for his services on April 20th unless there is an epidemic of arm injuries around both leagues.
Wednesday also saw Yankees RHP Luis Severino toss twenty-five pitches from 60 feet on flat ground with his resumption of baseball activity after two weeks of rest. Sevy reported a little rust from the time off, but overall felt good about the workout. There were no reports of pain or discomfort in the right shoulder/rotator cuff. Sevy plans to toss twenty-five pitches at 60 feet again today on his path to hopefully return in early May. I don’t want to say the season is lost without Severino but he is such a huge part of the mission to dethrone the Boston Red Sox and bring the World Series championship back to New York. Hopefully there are no setbacks on his road to recovery. We need this man and his right arm.
I didn’t realistically think Ichiro Suzuki would be a Mariner after the two-game series in Japan but he made it official when he announced that he would retire at the conclusion of this morning’s game. What a career! The future Hall of Famer will leave the game with 3,089 hits (or 4,367 hits counting his time in Nippon Professional Baseball). I had really hoped he would pick up one final hit in the games in Japan but it was not meant to be. In his final at-bat in the 8th inning this morning, the crowd yelled “Ich-Eee-Ro” as he prepared for the first pitch. After a lengthy at-bat, he hit an infield roller to short and the throw just beat Ichiro to first base. Bummer, I was so hopeful for a safe sign from the first base umpire. Ichiro took the field in the top of the 9th but once all of the players were in position, Mariners manager Scott Servais pulled everyone off the field. Ichiro, the last man on the field, slowly walked off where he was greeted with hugs from his teammates and coaches. The scene was especially emotional for Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi who made his Major League debut in the game. He bowed his head as he hugged Ichiro and it was evident tears were flowing down his cheeks. One Japanese career begins, another ends. A very touching moment. Congratulations with your retirement, Ichiro! It was our privilege and pleasure to watch you perform for so many years. We wish you the very best with your post-playing career. No doubt Ichiro will forever be a Seattle Mariner but I am grateful for his 360 games as a Yankee after his acquisition from the Mariners on July 23, 2012 for Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell. I really wish that Ichiro could have had a farewell game like Derek Jeter did, but there’s no doubt this one was every bit as emotional. I am sad we bring closure to such a fantastic career. It’s time but it doesn’t make it any easier. Thank you, Ichiro. We’ll see you in Cooperstown, New York in five years.
(Photo: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
Since I am dishing out congratulations, I should throw some towards Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, the best player in the game today. His contract extension, 12-years at $426.5 million including the money he was already owed in 2019 and 2020, is official. I think it’s only right he stays in an Angels uniform for the duration of his career. Many thought he’d join Bryce Harper in Philadelphia, including Bryce, and I am sure there are more than a few Yankee fans that had hoped he would find a way to the Bronx. As much as I would have loved Trout as a Yankee, he belongs in an Angels uniform and should stay there. He is such an amazing, selfless player who is head and shoulders above everyone else in MLB. Unlike Bryce Harper, Trout deserved to be paid like the best player in Baseball because he is.
I know the Yankees had been hoping Trout would fall to them in the 2009 MLB Draft but the Angels thwarted those plans when they chose Trout with the 25th pick of the draft (ironically, a compensation pick for losing free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira to the Yankees). With Trout off the board, the Yankees regrettably selected outfielder Slade Heathcott, no longer in the game, with the 29th pick. Dang, so close, yet so far away. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, there were 24 foolish picks before Trout in that draft. With no offense to top pick Stephen Strasburg, there is nobody on that list who comes close to Trout. Now if the Angels could just settle their stadium situation. I know they’ve talked with the city of Long Beach but I really hope the team stays in Orange County. I love Long Beach (one of my favorite cities) but it feels like Dodgers country to me. Maybe that’s just because the Dodgers are my NL team. Long Beach is located in Los Angeles County and is just a short 45-minute train ride south of downtown LA. Mike Trout belongs to the Angels like the Angels belong in Orange County. I hope they can get this figured out now that they no longer have to worry about Trout.
I don’t know about you but I am ready for Yankees baseball. One week, just one week. I can smell those hot dogs and beers outside of Yankee Stadium already.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo by Christian Petersen|
Top Prospect Justus Sheffield joins the ranks of “former” Yankees…
The news broke suddenly yesterday afternoon. After a fairly quiet November (up to that point, the only significant MLB trade had been Seattle’s catcher Mike Zunino to the Tampa Bay Rays as the start of Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto’s “re-imagining” of his roster), reports came hard and fast like a James Paxton four-seam fastball that the Yankees had acquired the talented lefty from Seattle.
My initial reaction was ‘it’s a start, but we need more’. I didn’t expect the Yankees to lose Miguel Andujar in a trade for the much talked about trade speculation involving the 6’4” Big Maple and fortunately he was not involved. For a frontline ace like Corey Kluber, you’d part with the young third baseman but not for Paxton.
|Photo by Al Bello, Getty Images|
When it was announced the Yankees had sent top prospect Justus Sheffield, breakout minor league starter Erik Swanson, and rising minor league outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams to Seattle for Paxton, Yankee fans were immediately trying to find flaws in the prospects sent to the Northwest. I am not going to join the crowd and trash Sheffield. The fact remains he is only 22 and still has an excellent chance to be a difference-maker. For a team that is prepared to win in 2019, this is a trade that makes sense. Paxton makes the Yankees better when they step back on the grounds of Yankee Stadium next year. Sheffield is probably a few seasons away from reaching his potential. This is totally a ‘win now’ move.
The Yankees also needed to make room on the 40-man roster for Swanson or he would have been eligible for next month’s Rule 5 Draft so this saves a spot for someone else.
So where do we go from here? I really hope the Yankees continue their pursuit of free agent lefty Patrick Corbin. He was and continues to be my top choice. I’d love to have Corey Kluber but I don’t really expect the Cleveland Indians to trade their ace without asking for a King’s ransom. Admittedly, I will be disappointed if the Yankees sign J.A. Happ to fill the last spot in the rotation. Happ was great during his short time as a Yankee last year, but as a long-term piece, let’s say I would be a little underwhelmed. I would have been fine with Happ to go with Corbin, but not paired with Paxton who carries injury risk. I know, all pitchers carry injury risk. It’s the nature of the beast, but Paxton has consistently missed time over the last few years.
If the Yankees are successful in signing Corbin, the newcomers, along with Masahiro Tanaka, will certainly ease some pressure off Luis Severino to be “the man”. I suppose it’s not out of the question for the Yankees to sign both Corbin and Happ. Last year proved, once again, you can never have too many starters. Personally, I preferred signing Happ over long-time Yank CC Sabathia for the back end of the rotation. But regardless, you know that one or more starters in the rotation will miss time for various ailments and the Yankees need to be prepared. I really hope we’re not facing more rollouts of Luis Cessa to fill those spots. Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga and Chance Adams will have every opportunity to help, I am sure, but I hope we’re not leaning on those guys in multiple spots like we were at times last season.
Seattle fans seem to be taking the trade in stride. I think they realized that their team was mired in mediocrity in a division with some very strong teams. They have a few players with bloated contracts like Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez, and Kyle Seager. I have always loved Cano but the back half of his huge contract is not going to be pretty for the 36-year old. I am glad the Yankees were able to acquire Paxton without having to take on any of unmovable contracts. The M’s can use the young pieces received in the Zunino and Paxton trades to position themselves for 2021 or so. I read one Seattle columnist who said Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto basically had the choice of getting punched in the mouth or hit by a truck. He chose the former.
I fully expect Domingo German to give up #65 for Paxton. It’s not exactly like German is married to the number. I believe Jonathan Holder was wearing the number at the start of last season until he opted for a lower number in the 50’s. The number still reminds me of Phil Hughes but no doubt, in time, Paxton can make it his own.
There may be minor moves made today as teams finalize their 40-man rosters for Rule 5 eligibility next month. I doubt we’ll see anything as major as the Paxton trade, but there’s always a chance for the inevitable Sonny Gray trade now that his spot in the rotation has been filled. Otherwise, I expect the remainder of the week to be fairly quiet with no significant moves until we get past the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.
Paxton is the first step toward the enhancement of the 2019 Yankees (if you don’t count the re-signings of Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia). Multiple moves remain necessary before this team is ready to take down the Boston Red Sox. Another starter, at least two more for the bullpen, and an interim solution at shortstop. Yet, my excitement for February is building. It only gets better from here.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)|
Another Series Win, check…
What a week! After splitting Monday’s quasi-double-header with the Nationals in Washington, D.C., the Yankees swept the resurgent Seattle Mariners in the Bronx.
The games against the Mariners couldn’t have been more exciting. After a fairly easy win on Tuesday night, Wednesday featured the Yankees’ rally from a 0-5 deficit with a game tying two-run homer in the 8th inning by Gary Sanchez followed by Giancarlo Stanton’s dramatic two-out, two-strike walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th. Yesterday, the Yankees used two first inning two-run dingers by Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar to hold off the M’s for the series sweep.
|Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)|
Honestly, I did not expect the Yankees to sweep the Seattle series. The Mariners entered the game 20 games above .500, and were hanging with the Houston Astros atop the AL West. The M’s left NYC yesterday with a four-game losing streak and 3 1/2 games behind the Astros. Not a fun week for them. Still, the Mariners are playing much better than people expected when their star player, former Yankee Robinson Cano, was injured and then subsequently suspended for 80 games due to suspected PED use. There’s no doubt with a play or two here and there, the M’s could have easily taken two of the three games.
I didn’t really get Aaron Boone’s decision to bring in Chasen Shreve to relieve Jonathan Loaisiga during Wednesday’s game. Sure, Loaisiga created the fourth inning mess that had given the Mariners an early 1-0 lead and he departed the game with two outs and runners at first and second, but Shreve did him no favors by allowing a two-run single to Dee Gordon, with both runs charged to Loaisiga. When Shreve entered the game, it felt like it was a great opportunity for the M’s, not the Yankees, and it was. I do not trust the lefty and if there’s a spot in the bullpen that desperately needs an upgrade, it is Shreve. In a bullpen of stars, he is the weakest link.
Fortunately, after Shreve allowed a couple more runs, Boone made the decision to bring in Jonathan Holder who has been the best reliever not named Dellin Betances in recent weeks. Holder held the M’s scoreless over 2 1/3 innings to set the stage for the late inning heroics by Sanchez and Stanton. For me, Holder’s performance was the key to winning the game.
I don’t know if it (the dramatic 9th inning game-winning home run) was Giancarlo Stanton’s “signature moment” but it was certainly a huge one for the Yankees and their fans. Stanton benefited from a misplaced pitch but to his credit, he didn’t miss it. Seattle reliever Ryan Cook knew he had made a mistake almost as quickly as the ball had left his hand. Hopefully, for Stanton’s sake, it is a sign of great things to come at Yankee Stadium for the slugger who has been much better on the road than at home ala Sonny Gray.
On a day when the Yankees used a walk-off home run by #27 to win a game, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders did the same when Zack Zehner, wearing #27, hit a 9th-inning two-run homer to beat the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, 5-3. Very ironic and coincidental.
Yesterday, the Yankees scored four runs on two homers in the first inning against Seattle’s James Paxton, and then had to hold on when Luis Severino did not have his best stuff. Sevy allowed a two-run homer in the second to Kyle Seager and was touched again for a run-scoring single in the sixth inning by former Yankee Ben Gamel to make it a one-run game. The bullpen trio of David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman kept Seattle off the board from there to deliver Sevy his 11th victory of the season and it almost certainly ensures the young right-hander will be part of the AL All-Star team next month.
|Photo Credit: AP (Bill Kostroun)|
Thursday’s game also featured the first time that both Seattle’s Andrew Romine and his brother, Austin, started the same game. It seems like that would have happened while Andrew was playing for the Detroit Tigers but it never did. Andrew started at shortstop for the Mariners and was 1-for-4 (seventh inning single; stranded at second) while Austin was 0-for-4, starting at catcher in place of Gary Sanchez. I loved the punch that Andrew threw at Austin while at the plate.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
With the Yankees (50-22) in St Petersburg, Florida to face the Tampa Bay Rays for a weekend series, they enter play today with a two-game lead over the Boston Red Sox (50-26) in the AL East. The Red Sox averted a series sweep by the home team at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN yesterday when they beat the Twins, 9-2, but the two-game lead for the Yankees is the largest they’ve held this month. It’s incredible that both the Yankees and Red Sox are on a path for more than 100 wins and the Yankees have yet to play their best baseball. Yesterday was the first day of summer but it should be a very fun summer for the Yankees and their fans. Somewhere in other Major League cities, there are several talented players and/or pitchers that will soon find themselves on the roster of the greatest team in baseball. No offense to the All-Star Game, but the MLB trading deadline is THE event of July. We’re buyers this year, boys…
The Brandon Drury Watch continues to yield fruit. On Thursday, Drury’s two-run single keyed a series win by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Drury played first base (second time this season) in the 3-1 win and made some good defensive plays.
A.J. Cole finally got to pitch Tuesday after 22 days as a spectator with a good seat for Yankees games, holding Seattle scoreless over the final two innings in the Yankees’ 7-2 win and now he’s on the 10-day DL. Bummer. Cole apparently suffered a neck strain prior to Wednesday’s game while playing catch. I guess that’s better than landing on the DL after injuring yourself while pulling on your pants like Chicago Cubs closer Brandon Morrow. Luis Cessa, on a rehab assignment with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, was recalled to take Cole’s place. Pardon me if I am feeling a little underwhelmed.
Given the Yankees are back in Florida to play the Rays, it means more starts against “openers”. Ryne Stanek opens tonight. He opened for the Rays last Saturday in New York when the Rays lost to the Yankees, 4-1. Stanek pitched an inning and a third before making way for a more extended stint by Ryan Yarbrough. I expect the same 1-2 formula tonight. Yarbrough hasn’t pitched since Saturday’s game, while Stanek pitched an inning of relief for Blake Snell on Tuesday night when the Rays snapped Houston’s 12-game consecutive win streak. CC Sabathia will open, okay start, for the Yankees. The Rays (34-40) are currently tied for third place in the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays, 17 games behind your favorite Pinstripers.
The Rays go with another opener on Saturday (Wilmer Font) against Sonny Gray. As a road game, I am looking for much better things from Gray. Sunday will feature the first legitimate starter for Tampa when the talented Blake Snell takes the hill. He’ll face the ever-improving Domingo German in what should be a great pitcher’s duel.
A great time to be a Yankees fan. A great day for a Yankees win.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Mike Stobe)|
Yankees win again behind German…
The Yankees got off to a good start with their three-game series against the Seattle Mariners last night with a 7-2 win at Yankee Stadium.
Very nice pitching performance by young Domingo German. I wish Sonny Gray could take notes on how to pitch in the Bronx. The veteran could learn a thing or two from the rookie. German could have broken in the first inning when the Mariners had runners at the corners and no outs following a double and an error by Didi Gregorius. Sure, the M’s picked up a run on Mitch Haniger’s fielder’s choice to short but German shook it off and struck out Corey Seager’s brother Kyle to end the threat. From there, German shut down the Mariners, retiring 18 in a row, until Nelson Cruz did what he does best in the seventh inning, a dinger to left. You can’t really blame German for that one. Cruz does it to the best of ’em.
German’s final pitching line was something Sonny Gray can only dream about at Yankee Stadium. Seven very strong innings, two hits, two runs but only one earned, zero walks, and nine strikeouts. German is pitching like he doesn’t want GM Brian Cashman to make any pitching acquisitions at the trading deadline. While I’d leave German in the rotation, I would still make a trade for a proven veteran starter. Nothing against Jonathan Loaisiga but I’d rather limit the rookies in the rotation for the stretch run to only one (German).
I liked the tag line used by Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues: Dominant Domingo and the Dingers. It was a very good description of the game. I can’t wait for the movie.
|Photo Credit: NY Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
With German easing the Yankees’ desperation for starting pitching help, I hope it opens the possibility for a trade to acquire a shutdown arm for the bullpen. None better than San Diego’s LHP Brad Hand which would allow the Yankees to dump Chasen Shreve. I think it was Sweeny Murti who said the other day that he’d like for the Yankees to acquire the Padres closer for no other reason than to be able to say “Aloha, Mr Hand!”. Yes, that’s true. Good point. But Hand is also the most highly sought-after reliever now that former Kansas City Royals closer Kelvin Herrera resides in Washington, D.C. and he has drawn attention from many teams including the Boston Red Sox. I really would not want to see Hand go to Boston to help shore up their bullpen deficiencies. The move to acquire him by the Yankees would not be all about keeping him out Boston but rather give us a deadly bullpen that can shut down anyone, anytime, anywhere.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Denis Poroy)|
If the Yankees make no moves for starting pitching, they should most certainly look to add additional bullpen pieces. I really don’t want to see Shreve as the top lefty come October. He’s too inconsistent for me and a few others on this site.
It was good to see the Yankees offense come to life last night. Marco Gonzales has pitched very well for the Mariners this year and he entered the game with a 7-3 record. I thought well enough of him to add him to my fantasy baseball team a few weeks ago. He killed my team last night with six runs allowed, including three home runs. But hey, it was worth it. I cut him after the game but there’s no way I can be disappointed with his dismal performance.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Seth Wenig)|
The homers were really fun to watch. Giancarlo Stanton’s shot to center in the first inning to tie the game, Miguel Andujar’s two-run homer to left in the bottom of the fifth to give the Yankees their first lead, Aaron Hicks’ two-run blast to left in the fifth after Clint Frazier had singled to increase the Yankees’ lead to 5-1, and the eighth inning ‘tack-on’ homer to left by Gleyber Torres off former Yankees reliever Nick Rumbelow. If you saw only the homer and not the batter, you would have sworn that Gleyber’s shot was courtesy of Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton. It was certainly worthy of the words “All Rise” or “a Stantonian blast” if it had been hit by #99 or #27 rather than #25. The ball traveled 446 feet, easily the longest hit of the night. After Torres hit his homer, I saw one Yankees tweet say only 38 more to go to the rookie record. Very funny even if impossible. Still, I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams could have forecasted 14 home runs, 35 RBI’s, and a slash line of .291/.346/.566 for Gleyber Torres on June 19th. The guy is such a joy to watch game after game. Sure, he’ll have to continue to make adjustments as pitchers adjust but he’s shown us enough to be confident he will.
Oh yeah, Aaron Judge had an RBI on single to left in the bottom of the seventh off Rumbelow with the run charged to Gonzales. A single. How pedestrian! Seriously, I love what Aaron Judge means to this team and how he is continually a difference-maker with both bat and glove.
I was hopeful that Gary Sanchez was breaking out of his slump but he was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, dropping his season batting average back down to .191.
It was a fun game. The Mariners are a very good club and this series could easily be a preview of October if the M’s continue to play well. They are currently 46-27 and sit just two games behind the World Champions in the AL West. I don’t expect the Yankees to sweep the series but I am hopeful they capture at least one of the next two games before hopping on a plane bound for Tampa, Florida.
The Boston Red Sox, despite having their ace, Chris Sale, on the mound, lost 6-2 to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN so the Yankees (48-22) increased their AL East lead to one game. Credit to the third-place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees’ next opponent. They used Blake Snell (a pitcher that I’d love to see Brian Cashman acquire) to beat the Astros and Justin Verlander, snapping Houston’s 12-game winning streak.
Congratulations to Brandon Drury for winning International League Player of the Week honors. The Major League player, who deserves better than Triple A, hit .471 with one home run and 11 RBI’s during the week of June 11th through 17th. He had 16 hits, 25 total bases, and 11 runs scored. In last night’s 7-5 loss by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders to the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (love that name!), Drury was 0-for-5 with a couple of strikeouts. It doesn’t deter me. I still want Drury back in Pinstripes where he belongs. With Ryan McBroom’s demotion to Double-A, I saw a quote by RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell that the plan is to play Drury at first periodically. Operation Dump Neil Walker; Promote Brandon Drury is well underway. I liked Mitchell’s quote about Drury earlier this week: “He’s a big leaguer, you know? Just happens to be with us. He can play for a lot of teams, obviously, and even ours if they needed him.”
|Photo Credit: Todd Hiller|
As for Chance Adams (the loser in the game), he is stepping dangerously into “Chance Adams Sucks!” Territory. Once considered the top pitching prospect in the organization, Adams gave up six runs in four innings (four earned) yesterday. He walked four batters while striking out only one. Control continues to be his Achilles Heel. Suffice it to say that I don’t think we’ll be seeing Mr Adams (2-3, 5.21 ERA) in the Bronx anytime soon.
It’s Wednesday and an awesome day for Lasagna! It will be Old versus Young today as 32-year-old “King” Felix Hernandez takes on rookie 23-year-old Jonathan Loaisiga who was phenomenal in his debut appearance. When I looked up Hernandez, I was thinking he was older than he really is. He seems to have aged prematurely and is certainly not the ace he once was. This season, he is 6-6 with 5.44 ERA and an unsightly 1.38 WHIP. For all the years the Yankees were linked to him in trade rumors, I am glad it was a trade never consummated. Let’s get a win and take this series.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Lynne Sladky)
A Meaningful Monday…
Not bad for a Monday. The day started with the arrival of Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in training camp to field grounders with Didi Gregorius and blast a few homers (six) for batting practice in a group that featured Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. After the eventful day, third baseman Miguel Andujar capped it off with a dramatic 9th inning two-out walk-off home run to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-3.
Clearly, the story of the day was Russell Wilson. It’s funny how every news article, especially those in Seattle, expressly state that he has not suddenly decided to give up his day job (as if they are worried about it). Some Yankees fan think Wilson is a distraction, but I take it for what it is. It is an opportunity to break up monotonous Spring Training by spending time with a Super Bowl-caliber professional athlete. I’ve always said there are guys who know how to play the game and there are guys who are winners. The rare combination is the guy who embodies both. Wilson is one of those rare athletes. I think he has much to offer the young Yankees even if he never fields a single play or takes an at-bat in an exhibition game. Winners breed winners. I am glad that Wilson is a Yankees fan and is spending his off-season in a baseball environment around the Yankees. His five or six days in camp will pass quickly and he’ll be gone. But the impact of his visit will remain with the players as they march toward the start of the 2018 season and its grand expectations.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Lynne Sladky)
Maybe Wilson should spend some time trying to talk some sense into reliever Tommy Kahnle and his “overkill” love for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sadly, I think that’s a lost cause.
At the very least, I’d give Wilson an at-bat in one of the upcoming exhibition games but it is possible the Seahawks have imposed a moratorium on what Wilson can and cannot do while in Yankees Camp. It would be nice to see Stanton and Judge catch a few passes before Wilson departs.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Lynne Sladky)
Monday evening, in the first night game of the Exhibition Season, the Yankees continued their winning ways, fourth win in four games, to make Aaron Boone an undefeated manager to start his career. I know, these games mean nothing but it’s tremendous to see everyone embrace Boone’s desire to be “great”. I was disappointed the Phillies game was not televised as I would have enjoyed watching Sonny Gray’s Spring debut. He pitched two innings, giving up two isolated singles, but struck out 2 batters and did not allow any runs. He was throwing strikes as all 12 of his pitches were in the zone.
Chance Adams made his debut (which is another reason I wanted to watch the game). Adams got into trouble with the first batter he faced, his high school teammate Dylan Cozens. Adams and Cozens were in the same class at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona (Class of 2012).
Cozens, comparable to Giancarlo Stanton in size and weight, drew a walk off his friend to start the third inning. He stole second and then advanced to third when Rhys Hoskins hit a grounder to first. A sacrifice fly by Phillies free agent acquisition Carlos Santana brought Cozens home for the only run off Adams. The next batter, Cesar Hernandez, got the only hit off Adams over his two innings of work, with a single to left. Aaron Altherr followed with the second walk of the inning but Gary Sanchez rescued Adams when his throw to second caught Hernandez off base for the third out.
The player of the game was, no doubt, Miguel Andujar. Andujar entered the game as a pinch-hitter for right fielder Billy McKinney in the bottom of the 7th inning. Andujar’s double to left scored Mark Payton, running for Brandon Drury, from third to tie the score at 2. Andujar stayed in the game as the replacement for Drury at third base. The Yankees had a chance to win it with a RBI single by Jorge Saez in the 8th, but Cody Carroll’s attempt to earn the save failed when he allowed a solo home run to Scott Kingery, another Arizonan, in the top of the 9th. No worries. Gleyber Torres and Mark Payton recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, bringing Andujar to the plate. After two balls, Andujar swung and missed at the next two pitches. On the fifth pitch from Phillies reliever Ranger Suarez, Andujar sent the ball over the fence in left clearing most of the Phillies off the field before Andujar could finish his home run trot.
For a meaningless game, it sure was exciting. If only we had been able to watch it…well, those of us not so fortunate to be at Steinbrenner Field. So far, the battle for third base between Brandon Drury and Miguel Andujar has been very spirited. It’s early but the competition at third base has been better than second base.
Photo Credit: Newsday
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
The Yankees starting lineup for today’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida at 1:05 pm Eastern will be:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Miguel Andujar (aka “The Stud”), 3B
Tyler Austin, 1B
Danny Espinosa, 2B
Austin Romine, C
Jace Peterson, DH
Ronald Torreyes, SS
Billy McKinney, LF
Shane Robinson, RF
The starting pitcher will be Bullpen Ace Chad Green.
I am not exactly a fan of Hanley Ramirez, but the Red Sox 1B/DH was popping off yesterday after Boston finally announced the signing of free agent slugger J.D. Martinez. His words were something to the effect that they were going to step on everybody’s neck now. I harbor no ill will toward Ramirez, Martinez or the Red Sox but I am looking forward to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton putting on a display this year against the Red Sox, along with the other great young Yankees hitters. Let’s see whose neck gets stepped on. I hope, and I suspect, that this will not be a fun year for Ramirez. The best way to shut up Han-Ram is for the Yankees to win the American League East. I like our odds.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
|Photo Credits: Getty Images|
How about Aaron Judge at Tight End?…
Admittedly, I was surprised when I saw the news that the Yankees had acquired infielder Russell Wilson from the Texas Rangers. Wilson, better known as the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, is nothing more than a guy who likes to experience Fantasy Baseball in a Major League Camp. He has no plans to play two sports and really only wants to maintain his connection to baseball, which is obviously one of his loves.
Even more surprisingly was the negative reaction of many Yankees fans. Personally, I had no issue with Wilson’s desire to achieve a dream of playing with the Yankees. His late father was a lifetime Yankees fan, and Wilson himself was a Yankees fan during his childhood and perhaps still is. I guess I see the positives of Wilson’s addition. He is an inspiration for the players and I view him as a great motivational speaker for the few weeks he will spend in Tampa. The Yankees have said that he’ll participate in pre-game workouts and will be in the dugout, but it doesn’t really sound like he’ll see much, if any, action on the field during games. So, I have no problems with Wilson’s presence. I am not a Seahawks fan, but Wilson has played his sport at the highest level and can share insights from his experiences as a very good, quality professional player.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
The Seattle Times speculates that while Wilson may not be using Baseball as leverage, it is possible that he is sending a signal to Seahawks ownership that there is life outside of Seattle. What’s better than going to one of the most recognizable teams in Sports in the biggest city in the country? Wilson is sure to draw a huge crowd when he makes his first appearance at Steinbrenner Field sometime during March. The paper indicated when Wilson last participated in Spring Training for the Texas Rangers (2014 and 2015), he was in negotiations for an extension with the Seahawks. It led to a four-year deal that expires in two years. At the time of the contract signing, Wilson was the second highest paid QB behind Aaron Rodgers (although he wanted to be the highest paid). However, since that time, he will fall to the tenth highest paid at the position once Alex Smith’s new deal with the Washington Redskins becomes official and Jimmy Garrapolo re-signs with the San Francisco 49ers. Wilson hasn’t played professional baseball since 2011 when he appeared in 61 games at the Class A level for the Colorado Rockies organization.
I did like CC Sabathia’s tweet that the Yankees were going to win the World Series and the Super Bowl this year. And the various memes that said the Yankees now have the best quarterback in New York, poking fun at Eli Manning, and, yes, Tim Tebow.
This is a total publicity ploy for both sides. No one has any illusions that Wilson has suddenly decided to embark upon a professional baseball career like Tebow. He’ll be back on the field for the Seahawks this fall when they try to rebound from a lost season. But when he does take the field, he’ll do it knowing that, for a few days or weeks, he was a New York Yankee. Life is good.
FlavaFraz21 gets his number back…
It was tough watching Todd Frazier with a Mets cap and a NYM jersey bearing his number #21 that he was unable to wear with the Yankees, thanks to Paul O’Neill, at his introductory press conference. Listening to him talk only reaffirmed what an incredibly positive voice he is for a clubhouse.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Kathy Willens)|
Based on reports, the Yankees were never willing to offer more than a one year deal. I know it’s not my money, but I would have gone two years with Frazier like the Mets did. Even if the Yankees acquire Manny Machado next off-season, Frazier could have provided backup support for both first and third bases, with some pop for DH. Or, based on the team-friendly contract that Frazier signed with the Mets, if the Yankees had signed him for the same approximate dollars, he would have had some trade marketability for the teams that strike out in their bids for free agents-to-be Machado and Josh Donaldson.
I hope that not signing Frazier does not come back to haunt the Yankees.
If at third you don’t succeed…
As stagnant as the free agent market has been, I still do not see Mike Moustakas taking a one-year “pillow” contract. I am intrigued by the thought of the damage that Moose Tacos could do with the right field porch and his lefty bat would be a very healthy addition to the predominantly right-handed Yankees lineup. I don’t know where he’ll end up, but I don’t envision Moustakas in Pinstripes regardless of how greedy the Yankees decide to get (or not).
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)|
I am not opposed to Miguel Andujar as the starting third baseman but I do want a solid Plan B in place. Ronald Torreyes filled in capably at third last season but he’s not my preference for a starter if Andujar proves that he needs more seasoning in the Minor Leagues. Torreyes is best served as the team’s utility player.
Shane Spencer, he is not…
The Yankees signed former Los Angeles Angels outfielder Shane Robinson to a minor league deal with a training camp invitation. I am not sure that I really understand the addition of another outfielder given the plethora of outfielders participating in training camp. Robinson has played for the St Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins and Angels over his 8-year career, playing in 436 games. He doesn’t offer much with his bat (.226 lifetime batting average with six career home runs). He only played 20 games last year for the Angels, batting .194 with no homers and one RBI.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
I’d say this is a depth move for Triple A, but even the outfield at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is overflowing. Robinson will make $950,000 if he makes the Major League roster but at face value, it seems so unlikely. If he does not make the MLB roster, he can opt out of his contract on June 15th.
5 more days until Pitchers and Catchers report…I cannot wait.
Credit: Noah K Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Yankees 10, Mariners 1…
Okay, the ugliness was isolated to the first inning, for the most part, but the Yankees came out on the right side and coasted to the easy victory over the Seattle Mariners. I would love to have one of these kind of games against the Boston Red Sox but we’re never so lucky.
The top of the first inning didn’t start out very well as it took Masahiro Tanaka a few batters before he could find his groove. After Jean Segura lined out directly to Aaron Judge in right to start the game, Yonder Alonso singled to left and advanced to second when left fielder Aaron Hicks was unable to field the ball cleanly. Error on Hicks. Robinson Cano, making his first start in the series after sitting out two games with hamstring tightness, singled to left in front of Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury (“you get it”…“no, no, after you”). Alonso moved to third. Nelson Cruz was next and he smacked a double to the left field wall, scoring Alonso. Cano advanced to third. Fortunately, from there, Tanaka found his pitches. He struck out Kyle Seager and then got out of the inning with only one run scored when Mitch Haniger flied out to right center. It could have been much worse but Tanaka was able to limit the damage.
|Credit: Corey Sipkin-NY Post|
In the bottom of the 1st, Tanaka was rewarded for his effort. Aaron Hicks led off against Mariners starter Andrew Albers and popped out to short. Starlin Castro followed with a double over the head of right fielder Mitch Haniger. The Baseball Gods decided to smile upon the home team at this point. Gary Sanchez singled to left and Ben Gamel ran up on the ball and missed it with his glove. By the time center fielder Guillermo Heredia had retrieved the ball and threw it to the infield, Castro had scored and Sanchez was standing on second. The game was tied. After Aaron Judge walked, Didi Gregorius hit a fly to shallow left. With the trio of Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia and Jean Segura converging, no one called for the ball and it fell in. The error was charged to Segura and the bases were loaded. For the Mariners, the nightmare continued. Chase Headley hit a grounder to third that Kyle Seager bobbled and dropped. Sanchez scored and Headley was safe at first. The bases were still loaded. Todd Frazier struck out for the second out. It brought Jacoby Ellsbury to the plate. Ells lined a double to left. Ben Gamel retrieved the ball and threw it into Jean Segura at short who dropped the ball and momentarily lost sight of it. Judge and Gregorius scored. Headley, seeing the opportunity when Segura dropped the ball, broke for home. Segura’s throw bounced past the catcher as Headley scored and Ellsbury took third. Ronald Torreyes hit a grounder to third and then beat out the throw from Seager. Ellsbury scored and it was 6-1 Yankees. Aaron Hicks, who had started the inning with a pop out, flied out to center to end the inning. Alas, all good things must end. The Mariners were charged a total of five errors in the inning.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
Manager Joe Girardi’s day was over before the Mariners starter was out of the game. With one out and Jean Segura at first in the top of the 3rd, Robinson Cano hit a grounder to first baseman Chase Headley who threw to Didi Gregorius at second for the force out. However, the Yankees were unable to turn the inning-ending double play when Segura ran out of the base path and obstructed the view of Gregorius to first which caused an errant throw. Girardi came flying out, demanding an explanation and got tossed for his inquisitive approach. He received a standing ovation as he walked off the field. Fortunately, Tanaka struck out Nelson Cruz to avoid any damage, but Girardi got to watch the rest of the game on TV like the rest of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be at Yankee Stadium.
Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images
In the bottom of the 3rd, the Yankees added to their lead. Ronald Torreyes, singled to center for his second hit of the game with two outs. Aaron Hicks lined a single to right, moving Toe to second. Starlin Castro singled with a blooper to center to score Toe and the Yankees were up 7-1.
Credit: Corey Sipkin-NY Post
Todd Frazier committed the game’s seventh error, and the second by the Yankees, to open the top of the 6th when he was unable to field a grounder hit by Nelson Cruz. Tanaka struck out the next two batters and got Ben Gamel to ground out to first to leave Cruz stranded at first. No harm, no foul.
In the bottom of the 6th with Andrew Albers still pitching for the Mariners, Starlin Castro led off with a soft line drive to center. After Gary Sanchez walked, the Mariners made a pitching change to bring in reliever Dan Altavilla. A wild pitch allowed the runners to move to second and third. Aaron Judge walked to load the bases. After Didi Gregorius struck out, Chase Headley hit a sacrifice fly to center. Castro scored but Gary Sanchez was caught between second and third on the throw back into the infield and the Mariners were able to complete the double play. However, the run counted and it was 8-1 Yankees.
After Masahiro Tanaka cruised through the Mariners in a three-up, three-down top of the 7th, the Yankees made more noise in the bottom of the inning. Todd Frazier led off with a walk and moved to second when Jacoby Ellsbury singled on a roller to right. Ronald Torreyes, with his third hit of the game, lined a single to left and the bases were loaded. After Aaron Hicks popped out (infield fly rule invoked), Greg Bird pinch-hit for Starlin Castro. Bird singled to right between the two infield defenders, scoring both Frazier and Ellsbury. The Yankees now led 10-1.
|Credit: Bill Kostroun-Associated Press|
Caleb Smith took over for Tanaka in the 8th and retired the six batters he faced over the final two innings. Danny Valencia, the game’s final batter, took Smith deep with Aaron Judge’s back nearly to the wall, but the ball landed in Judge’s glove for the final out. Game over. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (70-59) were able to pick up another game on Boston as the Red Sox fell to the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1. The Yankees now trail the Red Sox by only 2 1/2 games. Oh, if only the Yankees could have scored more runs Friday night. The O’s finally reached .500 with their sweep of the Red Sox and continue to trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 games. The Tampa Bay Rays won in extra innings over the St Louis Cardinals, 3-2, so they remain 6 1/2 games back of the Yankees. No change in the Wild Card Standings as the Minnesota Twins beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-2, behind three homers by Byron Buxton to remain 3 1/2 games behind New York.
I was worried going into this game given Masahiro Tanaka’s weird split of pitching much better at night than during daytime games. But after the bumpy start, he settled down and gave the Yankees an ace-like performance. Tanaka (10-10) went seven strong innings, holding the Mariners to the one run on six hits. He walked one batter but more importantly did not give up any homers. He struck out ten. Nice job by Caleb Smith in saving the bullpen for the Cleveland Indians.
Starlin Castro was 4-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Ronald Torreyes was 3-for-4, with a single RBI and a run scored. The Yankee offense finished with 15 hits but surprisingly no home runs. No matter, it was a very solid win and good momentum for the week ahead.
Next Up: Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY…
The Yankees begin a very difficult week that starts with the Indians and ends with the Boston Red Sox. Every game is important at this stage of the season. The Indians come into this series a little banged up. They have a total of nine players on the DL, including LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Danny Salazar, OF Lonnie Chisenhall, OF Michael Brantley and 2B Jason Kipnis. The Indians have a comfortable 6 1/2 game lead in the AL Central over the Minnesota Twins.
Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Indians: Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.65 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (11-5, 3.10 ERA)
Indians: Trevor Bauer (13-8, 4.59 ERA)
Yankees: Jaime Garcia (1-1, 5.47 ERA)
Indians: Josh Tomlin (7-9, 5.38 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (10-5, 3.82 ERA)
This will be a tough series. Admittedly, I wish Jordan Montgomery was here with the big league club and pitching on Tuesday night. Jaime Garcia does not inspire much confidence and certainly not when he’s facing a very tough Trevor Bauer. I hope Caleb Smith is prepared to pitch that day.
Have a great Monday! I know that Corey Kluber will be tough but let’s make it three-in-a-row! Go Yankees!