Tagged: Tommy Layne

52 Games To Go, Let’s Do This!…

Enjoyed An Off Day…


Monday, Monday.  I am glad it’s in the books but it was nice having an off-day while the Yankees enjoyed their free time in Toronto.  But it’s now Tuesday and back to work.

Last month, I was in favor of a trade for a proven first baseman like Yonder Alonso (then with the Oakland A’s) or Lucas Duda (then with the New York Mets).  Alonso’s bat cooled about the time Chase Headley started heating up so Headley probably blocked any potential deal that would have brought Alonso to New York as either part of the Sonny Gray trade or a separate trade.  There’s also speculation that the Mets had a similar offer from the Yankees to one they accepted from the Tampa Bay Rays for Duda which showed the only way the Mets would work with the Yankees would be in an “overpay” situation.

So, where does that leave us with the latest speculation that Jay Bruce would be a good fit for the Yankees?  Primarily an outfielder, he has played 11 games at first base this year making him at least as experienced at the position as Headley.  He is left-handed and has mashed 29 homers this year to go with 75 RBI’s.  He is batting .260/.324/.528.  The 30-year-old is a free agent at the end of the year so he’d be a true rental.  Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of Bruce as he has seemed too much like a feast-or-famine type of hitter.  But, like Duda, he might have the swing for Yankee Stadium.   So, I’d have to say that I am intrigued by this one to say the least.  With so much uncertainty around Matt Holliday and Greg Bird, Bruce would bring a big stick to first base/DH for the rest of the year.

Nevertheless, if the Mets insist an overpay because it’s the Yankees, then it is not worth it.  The Yankees are also included in Bruce’s limited no-trade clause but that’s nothing $$$ couldn’t solve.  I am skeptical that the Mets would ever give the Yankees a player that could potentially help them make the play-offs and risk losing market share as a result.

I am not sure what I think about rumors the Yankees should pursue Mike Napoli.  He is a proven winner.  His numbers in his age 35 year are down from last year but he still has some thump in his bat with 22 HR’s albeit with a batting average that is south of the Todd Frazier line.  Napoli’s contract carries a 2018 club option that can be bought out for $2.5 million.  A costly measure, unless the Texas Rangers pay some or all the freight, to add the potential for a few late season bombs.  If only Chris Carter had done what he was paid to do.

I hate to see any more prospects shipped away for a six-week need unless it is for someone that can truly be the difference-maker at this point in the season (a player with the potential to help for an October push).  I want to see what Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin can do, and then there’s, hold your breath, Greg Bird at the end of the month.  Okay, maybe don’t hold your breath.  I suspect that unless Matt Holliday is able to come back after his DL stint to resemble the player we saw in the first half (unlikely), the DH position is going to be very fluid on a day to day basis with player rotation.

More than anything, the Yankees need Gary Sanchez to step up and deliver the promise he showed us last August and September.  At the moment, he’s the most maligned Yankee.  The key will be how he responds to the criticism.  The Yankees are a better team with El Gary in the lineup but he needs to make the defensive plays and wait for his pitches at the plate.  The Yankees play 6 of the next 13 games against the Boston Red Sox and will face Chris Sale twice.  Between the two Red Sox series, the Yankees play a home and away set against the New York Mets for four games.  This is a very crucial two weeks that could go a long way toward deciding the eventual AL East winner.
According to Baseball America, the Los Angeles Dodgers have released former Yankees LOOGY Tommy Layne.  The Dodgers also removed former Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien from the 40-man roster and outrighted him to Triple A.  The Los Angeles Angels signed former Yankees reliever Branden Pinder, who was released earlier this summer by the Bombers.  I am sure that Angels GM Billy Eppler is relying upon past information about Pinder to take a chance.  I hope it works out for Pinder.

Next Up:  Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada…

The Toronto Blue Jays may be the AL East cellar dwellers but they always play the Yankees very tough.  The Yankees will see old friend Rob Refsnyder who is currently on the Blue Jays active roster as a backup infielder.

The scheduled pitching match-ups are:

TODAY

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (9-4, 3.81 ERA)

Blue Jays:  J.A. Happ (4-8, 3.92 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (8-10, 4.93 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Cesar Valdez (1-1, 7.63 ERA)

THURSDAY

Yankees:  Sonny Gray (6-6, 3.41 ERA)

Blue Jays:  Marco Estrada (4-7, 5.12 ERA)

I am not trying to look ahead but it’s a bummer that we won’t have Sonny Gray for this weekend’s series against Boston at Yankee Stadium.  The Red Sox have gone out of their way to ensure that Chris Sale gets three starts against the Yankees in the coming weeks.

Farewell to #25…

Former Yankee Don Baylor died Monday at age 68 from cancer.  Baylor was American League MVP for the then California Angels in 1979 and he won a World Series with the Minnesota Twins at the end of his 19-year playing career, but I remember his toughness as the Yankees DH from 1983 to 1985, playing along side Don Mattingly and Dave Winfield. He was a magnet for baseballs with 267 HBP’s.  I wasn’t a fan of the March 1986 trade that sent Baylor to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Easler.  Rest in peace, Mr Baylor…

Have a great Tuesday!  Let’s turn a two-game win streak into three!  Go Yankees

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50 Ways To Lose A Game…

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 6…

I am not sure who to blame this one on.  Michael Pineda was awful at the beginning and Dellin Betances was awful near the end.  In between, the Yankees tried to make it a game but once again, the pitching staff gave away a freebie to the opponent as the Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays.


The Blue Jays picked up their first run in the top of the 1st inning, aided by an error.  Jose Bautista led off the game with a single.  After Russell Martin flied out to center,  Justin Smoak singled.  An error by Jacoby Ellsbury, he bobbled Smoak’s hit, allowed Bautista to score and Smoak to move to second.  


The second inning saw the Blue Jays pick up a couple more hits but they were unable to score, thanks primarily to a double play that erased the first runner.  Pineda wasn’t so lucky in the 3rd inning.  Jose Bautista walked to open the inning.  After Russell Martin hit a grounder into a fielder’s choice that erased Bautista at second, Justin Smoak hit a two-run shot to right.  3-0, Blue Jays.  Then, Kendrys Morales followed Smoak with a solo shot to center, 4-0 Jays.  


Kevin Pillar led off the 4th inning with a homer to increase the Jays’ lead to 5-0.  The next batter, Ryan Goins, followed with a single which mercifully ended Pineda’s day.  3 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 3 HR’s.  If you want to know how you can ensure that you will not be part of the 2018 Yankees, just watch Pineda.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees valiantly fought back.  Aaron Judge got the party started with a two-run shot in the 4th inning.  The home run, Judge’s 29th of the year, tied the Yankees record for most home runs in a season by a rookie held by Joe DiMaggio.  In the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury opened with a single which brought Ji-Man Choi, making his Yankees debut in this game, to the plate.  Choi, bringing the cry of “Ji-Man is the He-Man!  Oh boy, oh Choi!” from radio announcer John Sterling, homered to right, bringing the Yankees within a run, 5-4.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Austin Romine and Brett Gardner then walked, and Aaron Judge singled to load the bases.  With two outs, Didi Gregorius doubled to right, bringing home both Romine and Gardner, as the Yankees captured their first lead of the game, 6-5.  


The Yankees remained in the lead until the 7th inning.  With Chad Green on the mound and working his second inning of relief, former Yankee Russell Martin led off with a solo shot to right center.  Game tied.  Green was able to man up after that and exited the 7th with no further damage.  


On to the 8th inning and Dellin Betances…



Back when I played softball, I used to get mad when the pitcher for our team would drink about 3 or 4 beers before the game and then struggle immensely while trying to find the strike zone, walking in runs.  Watching Dellin Betances pitch the 8th was kind of like that.  No offense but Betances is not an All-Star pitcher at this moment in time.  He walked the first three batters he faced (Miguel Montero, Kevin Pillar, and Ryan Goins) to load the bases.  He somehow found the strike zone for Jose Bautista but then walked Russell Martin to allow Montero to score the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run.  Adam Warren had to come in to clean up the mess.  

Credit:  John Munson-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Yankees did not have another rally in them.  The stage was set when Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the bottom of the 9th against Jays closer Roberto Osuna which brought Aaron Judge to the plate representing the tying and go-ahead runs.  A home run in that spot would have set up Judge as one of the greatest heroes of the new Yankee Stadium.  Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another day.  Judge went down swinging and the Yankees were pinned for yet another loss.  Betances (3-4) took the loss but based on that performance they should have given him 3 or 4 losses instead of just 1.  The last Yankees pitcher to walk four batters in a third of an inning or less was Edwar Ramirez in 2007.  Tyler Clippard included, this was one of the worst Yankee bullpen appearances of the year.  Adam Warren was perfect in his 1 2/3 innings of work.  I guess he missed the memo about mandatory bullpen implosions while he was on the DL.  

Credit:  Kathy Willens-AP

Some losses just make me mad.  This was one of them.  It’s as if the Yankees pitchers from Masahiro Tanaka to Tyler Clippard to Betances are passing the “I Suck!” stick with Aroldis Chapman auditioning for the next turn with the baton.  It doesn’t help when you also have Luis Severino and Michael Pineda fighting for a turn.


The Yankees (44-39) continue their downward spiral.  Fortunately, they didn’t lose any ground in the AL East as the Texas Rangers finally stopped the Boston Red Sox, 8-2.  The Yanks continue to trail the Sox by four games. The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Chicago Cubs, 7-3, so they remain 1.5 games behind the Yankees.  

Next Up:  Milwaukee Brewers at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees will entertain the Milwaukee Brewers for the final series before the All-Star Break.  The Brewers are fresh off a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in Milwaukee.  Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

FRIDAY

Brewers:  Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.62 ERA)

SATURDAY

Brewers:  Brent Suter (1-1, 3.00 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (5-4, 3.52 ERA)

SUNDAY

Brewers:  Jimmy Nelson (7-4, 3.20 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka (7-7, 5.25 ERA)

Hopefully, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez can get in some good “practice” for Monday’s Home Run Derby.  With a four-game set in Boston to start the second half, Dellin Betances needs to find himself in this series.  

Odds & Ends…

The Yankees have reportedly added a few more international prospects. Dominican Republic:  Stanley Rosario, OF; Miguel Marte, SS; Albert Vega, RHP; Nelson Medina, CF; Ezequiel Duran, SS; and Jose Martinez, 3B.  Venezuela:  Engelbert Ascanio, C.  Previously, it was reported the Yankees have signed Everson Pereira, an outfielder from Venezuela (ranked fourth on BA’s list of top international prospects); Roberto Chirinos, a shortstop also from Venezuela; and Anthony Garcia, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic.  There is some question about which position Chirinos will play and it is possible that he may be switched to catcher.  The Yankees are also expected to sign Ronny Rojas, a shortstop from the Dominican Republic, when he turns 16 on August 23rd.  Gary Sanchez signed as a 16-year-old in 2009 which shows how long it will be before we potentially see any of these guys at the Major League level.  

Although CC Sabathia lost on the 4th of July, the starting pitchers for the Yankees’ top three farm teams celebrated the holiday with masterful pitching as they combined for 20 innings of scoreless ball.  Nice job, Baby Bombers!

AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons):

Caleb Smith (8-0), 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 6 SO


AA-Trenton Thunder (2-0 win over the Reading Fightin Phils)

Brody Koerner (1-0), 8.0 IP, 9 H, 0 ER/R, 1 BB, 1 SO


High A-Tampa Yankees (2-1 win over the Fort Myers Miracle)

Ian Clarkin (no decision), 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER/R, 0 BB, 5 SO


The Yankees have released LHP Tommy Layne, who had been pitching for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after being designated for assignment earlier in the season.  I am okay with this move.  Make way for younger, talented arms.


Have a great Thursday!  I think all of us could stand a day guaranteed not to include a Yankees loss.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Let’s Go Yankees!

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda…

Credit:  Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

Angels 3, Yankees 2…

After a weekend when runs came so easily, they were hard to find on Tuesday night as the Angels took down the Yankees in extra innings.  The loss snapped the Yankees’ six-game winning streak.  However, the bigger loss may have been CC Sabathia who strained his left hamstring and is probably headed for a DL stint.  CC will undergo a MRI later today.

Credit:  Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

The feast or famine (with the emphasis on the latter) that surrounds Chris Carter was a primary ingredient for the loss.  Carter was 1-for-5 (with a meaningless single), and he popped out with the bases loaded and only one out in the top of the 11th inning.  He struck out 3 times, and committed an error at first in the fourth inning when he missed an accurate routine throw with two outs from Didi Gregorius, setting the stage for the first Angels’ run.  The runner, Andrelton Simmons, advanced to second on the play, and scored on a single by C.J. Cron.  

The Yankees tied the score in the 5th when Chase Headley doubled and Brett Gardner delivered a two-out run-scoring single. In the 7th, Headley hit a solo shot to center to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.  Headley, arguably the worst Yankees hitter not named Chris Carter, was the night’s best hitter.  He finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored.

From there, the Yankees were undone by a former Yankee, Eric Young, Jr.  In the bottom of the 8th, with the Yankees nursing the one-run lead, the Yankees brought in Tyler Clippard to pitch and he was greeted by a Young home run which tied the game.  As great a job as Clippard did last year after his acquisition last year at the trading deadline from the Arizona Diamondbacks, he’s been a weak link this year in the critical setup role.  A healthy Aroldis Chapman would have meant Dellin Betances in that situation and the outcome may have been different.  The homer denied the first Major League victory for Giovanny Gallegos who had relieved Sabathia in the fifth and pitched admirably for two innings, allowing only one hit and no runs.

The Yankees loaded the bases with one-out in the top of the 11th.  Gary Sanchez walked and then advanced to third on a double by Didi Gregorius.  Headley received an intentional walk, which brought Carter to the plate with a chance to bring runners home.  He jumped on the first pitch from new reliever Keynan Middleton, who had just entered the game, but unfortunately, he popped out with an infield fly to third.  Brett Gardner followed with another pop out which ended the Yankees’ threat and set the stage for the Angels’ walk-off in the bottom of the frame.

With Chasen Shreve pitching, Andrelton Simmons walked to open the bottom of the inning.  Shreve got the next batter, C.J. Cron, on a fly out to left, but then Manager Joe Girardi pulled Shreve (he had thrown 38 pitches to that point in his 1 2/3 innings of work) to replace him with Ben Heller.  Heller got the first batter he faced (Martin Maldonado) on a ground out, but Simmons stole second during the at-bat and advanced to third with the out.  Eric Young, Jr, came to bat after Heller had walked Cliff Pennington and he hit an infield single that was deflected off the pitcher’s backside, scoring Simmons with the winning run.

Credit:  Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

‘Woulda, coulda, shoulda’ was the story to this game.  Losing is never fun, but losing games that should have been won are harder. 

No word who will replace Sabathia in the rotation.  Chad Green, Sunday’s starter, was limited to a pitch count of 50 (he was pulled after throwing 53 pitches).  I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Luis Cessa or Bryan Mitchell recalled to be the interim starter.  The less likely options would be Caleb Smith (who was the winning pitcher yesterday for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and is currently 4-0 with 2.71 ERA) or Chance Adams (3-2, 2.52 ERA) since neither one is on the 40-man roster.

The Boston Red Sox picked up a game on the Yankees, thanks to their second consecutive extra inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Red Sox now trail the Yankees (38-24) by three games.  The Tampa Bay Rays also won so they are 5.5 games behind.  Both the Orioles and the Blue Jays lost.  

Odds & Ends…

The MLB Draft completed Rounds 3 through 10 on Tuesday.  Like the day before, the emphasis was high on right-handed pitchers.  Only one position player was taken.  High School catcher (who will be converted to the outfield) Canaan Smith (not to be confused with the country singer by the same name).  Smith, a graduate of Rockwall-Heath (Texas) High School, was routinely pitched around with a Barry Bonds-like walk rate.  He was selected in the 4th round.  

The lone lefty taken was Dalton Lehnen of Augustana College in the 6th round.  Otherwise, Day 2 was stacked with righties.

Here is the list of players taken on Day 2:

Round 3 (92):  Trevor Stephan, Arkansas, RHP

Round 4 (122):  Canaan Smith, Rockwall-Heath HS, RF

Round 5 (152):  Glenn Otto, Rice, RHP

Round 6 (182):  Dalton Lehnen, Augustana College, LHP

Round 7 (212):  Dalton Higgins, Dallas Baptist, RHP

Round 8 (242):  Kyle Zurak, Redford U, RHP

Round 9 (272):  Austin Gardner, U Texas-Arlington, RHP

Round 10 (302):  Chad Whitmer, Southern Illinois U Carbondale, RHP

The Baltimore Orioles are gushing about the fall of D.L. Hall to them.  They didn’t expect him to be the board with the 21st pick on Monday.  Nothing against Clarke Schmidt, but I hope this choice doesn’t come back to haunt the Yankees in future years.

Day 3 concludes today with Rounds 11 through 40.  Start time is 12:00 pm Eastern.  

LHP Tommy Layne, who was previously designated for assignment, has been outrighted to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  

RHP Ronald Herrera has been named the Eastern League (AA) Pitcher of the Week.  In his last start, Herrera pitched 6 2/3 innings while only allowing two hits in the Trenton Thunder’s 9-0 victory over the Hartford Yard Goats.  After giving up a two-out single in the first inning, Herrera retired 16 consecutive Yard Goats before surrendering the second hit.  He struck out 9 in picking up the win.  Herrera is the fourth Thunder pitcher to win the weekly award this year, following Chance Adams, Yefry Ramirez, and Justus Sheffield. 

Credit:  TrentonThunder.com

Aroldis Chapman was scheduled to pitch yesterday for High-A Tampa, however, the game was rained out.  Chapman will pitch one inning Friday for AA-Trenton and is tentatively scheduled to rejoin the Yankees on Sunday in Oakland.  

Have a great Wednesday!  Time to start a new winning streak!

Sevvy + 5 Home Runs = Easy Win…

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Yankees 16, Orioles 3…

Like Michael Pineda the day before, Luis Severino’s even better start was lost among the sea of Yankees hits and homers.  

Last year, Severino was a failed 5th starter (0-8 when he started games with an 8.50 ERA).  This year, he’s playing like the ace (which is more pronounced since the so-called “ace” is now performing like a failed 5th starter).  Credit Severino for keeping his focus this game.  It would have been so easy to let up on the accelerator in a game that was 9-0 before many people had even found their seats.  He had a one-hitter going until Chris Davis tagged him for a homer in the 7th.  Sevvy (5-2) finished seven innings strong with two hits, one run, two walks, and eight strikeouts.  He lowered his team-leading ERA (for starting pitchers) to 2.75.  Severino continues to come up big for the Yankees and he is as responsible as anyone for the team’s placement atop the AL East.  

Now let’s set the pitching aside.  This was a monster game by the Yankee bats.  Aaron Judge owns the Statcast Leaderboard, and his first inning home run off Baltimore Orioles’ starter Chris Tillman topped his previous efforts in exit velocity at 121.1 mph.  The hit also ranked as a Statcast-era record.  The homer was Judge’s league-leading 19th of the season.  I sure hope that Judge didn’t have any plans for the All-Star Game break because travel plans are already underway for his trip to Miami.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

Tillman had retired the first two Yankees to start the game, but after Judge’s homer, Matt Holliday doubled.  Starlin Castro followed with a double, Holliday to third.  Gary Sanchez then singled both Holliday and Castro home.  Didi Gregorius stepped up and hit the second home run of the night to put the Yankees up 5-0.  They weren’t quite finished yet.  The useless Chase Headley walked.  A wild pitch by Tillman moved Headley into scoring position, and Chris Carter promptly singled to score Headley.  6-0, Yankees.  In an interesting note, Brett Gardner represented the first and third outs of the first inning.

I was fearful that the long inning would adversely impact Severino but those fears were unfounded.  Three up, three down, and it was time for the Yankees fireworks again.  After Aaron Hicks grounded out, both Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday walked.  Starlin Castro didn’t waste the opportunity, as he blasted a three-run homer to left center to increase the lead to 9-0, finishing  loser Chris Tillman’s night.  If you have Chris Tillman on your fantasy team, please accept my condolences.  

Credit:  Jim McIsaac-Getty Images

In the 4th inning, Aaron Hicks walked and Aaron Judge singled to put runners at the corners.  That brought Bald Brother Matt Holliday to the plate.  Trailing fellow Bald Brother Brett Gardner by one home run, Holliday tied the count at 13 homers with a shot to left-center.  12-0, Yankees.

Aaron Judge picked up two more RBI’s in the fifth with a double to left.  14-0, Yankees.

The Orioles scored their first run in the 7th with Chris Davis’ homer off Sevvy, and then added another in the 8th with a solo home run by Joey Rickard off reliever Giovanny Gallegos.  Leading 14-2, Ronald Torreyes was hit by a pitch from O’s reliever Mike Wright to open the bottom of the 8th.  Gary Sanchez then connected with the fifth home run of the night to cap the Yankees’ scoring at 16.  

The O’s added a final meaningless run in the 9th before Trey Mancini grounded out to end the game.  By a score of 16-3, the Yankees captured the series with the O’s as they’ve won two heading into the third and final game of the series today.  I always have concerns when the Yankees score more than 15 runs.  I do not have the stats to back up this statement, but it always feels like the Yankees struggle scoring runs the day after a huge blow-out.  Hopefully that’s not the case today as the Yankees prepare to embark on a California road trip following the conclusion of the game.

The Yankees (36-23) maintained their three game lead over the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox had an offensive show of their own, with an 11-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.  Of course, it didn’t help that they had Chris Sale on the mound.  The O’s slipped to 5 1/2 games back.  If the Tampa Bay Rays would have won (they didn’t), the O’s could have fallen into fourth place in the division.  This was probably not one of Buck Showalter’s better experiences at Yankee Stadium.

Odds & Ends…

As expected, Chad Green will start today against the Orioles.  Green will be the first time the Yankees have gone outside the original 5-man rotation that started the year.  However, in a more surprising move, the Yankees designated former LOOGY Tommy Layne for assignment and called up promising rookie Domingo German.  German, a starter for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will provide long relief for Green should he encounter any bumps in the road.  

Credit:  Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I knew Layne’s days were numbered as he always seemed to be giving up runs with any appearances.  He has not been the same pitcher for the Yankees as he was last year following his release by the Boston Red Sox.  I have no problem with Chasen Shreve as the key lefty, but I’d be surprised if the Yankees weren’t looking for another lefty.

Greg Bird was 2-for-5 yesterday in the RailRiders’ 11-4 victory over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  He had two doubles and a RBI.  Nice to see that he’s getting that extra base stroke back again.  There is still no timetable for when Bird will rejoin the Yankees.  

The current plan for Aroldis Chapman is to pitch on Tuesday for High-A Tampa and on Friday for AA-Trenton.  If all goes well, we’ll see Chapman next Saturday in Oakland.  Rajai Davis, look out, Chapman’s got your number.

Have a great Sunday!  I am hoping for a sweep to wisk the Yankees away to Southern California…

There’s Time For Sleep in November…

Sleep?  Who needs stinkin’ Sleep!  The Yankees arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio at 5:08 a.m. yesterday following their 18-inning marathon win over the Chicago Cubs and by the end of the day, they had their sixth consecutive victory with the 10-4 pounding of the Reds.  The Yankees treated their former top prospect Rookie Davis, banished to Ohio in the Aroldis Chapman trade, like, well, a rookie.  Run-scoring singles by Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius put three runs on the board in the first inning and the sleepless Yanks were in charge early.

It was another okay, but not great, pitching performance by Masahiro Tanaka.  He definitely went the ‘bend but not break’ route in picking up his fifth win of the year.  The Reds had the bases loaded with no outs in the fourth inning, trailing the Yankees by three.  But a pop out and a double play ended the threat.  It was probably the game-defining moment.

Credit:  John Minchillo/AP

In the seventh inning with former Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen on the mound, three Yankees were hit by pitches.  It wasn’t intentional but that’s a lot for one inning.  The last one, a pitch that hit Chase Headley on the bone just below his knee (ouch!) with the bases loaded, scored a run.  Ronald Torreyes, after being knocked down by a high, inside pitch from the wild Storen, singled to put the Yankees up 7-2.  The second runner, Gary Sanchez, was easily thrown out at the plate, for the final out.   

In the bottom of the seventh inning, with Tanaka running on fumes after reaching the 100-pitch mark, he walked Zach Cozart and then gave up a no doubt-about-it home run to Reds slugger Joey Votto.  With his 112th pitch, Tanaka somehow got Adam Duvall on a swinging strikeout to end the inning.  As Tanaka walked off the mound, he was clearly upset about the Votto home run but his night was done with the Yankees leading 7-4.

The eighth inning featured another long home run to right by Brett Gardner, scoring two runs, and a solo shot by Matt Holliday, playing his second straight game at first base.  

From there, it was up to the depleted Yankees bullpen.  With most of the relievers unavailable, the Yankees went with Tyler Clippard for the eighth.  Clippard was his usual self with a quiet inning that saw three up and three down.  I have to admit that I got a sick feeling to my stomach when I saw lefty Tommy Layne warming up for the ninth inning.  A six-run lead should make one feel fairly secure, but if any Yankee could blow a large lead, it’s Layne.  It didn’t help when the first batter reached on an infield single.  The next batter hit into a ground out but the Yanks were unable to turn a double play, capturing only the lead runner.  That brought the speedy Billy Hamilton to the plate.  Layne fell behind in the count very quickly with three successive balls.  I started to have chills, knowing the heart of the Reds order was coming up.  After a couple of well-placed strikes, Hamilton hit a grounder to Didi Gregorius.  This time, the Yankees were successful in turning the double play and it was game over.  Yankees win, 10-4.

The Yankees (21-9) maintained their half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s withstood a late challenge to beat their former catcher Matt Wieters and the Washington Nationals 6-4.  The O’s have won five in a row as they seemingly match the Yankees step-for-step on a nightly basis.  The Boston Red Sox had the night off.

Prior to yesterday’s game, there had been speculation the Yankees might send down Sunday night heroes Chasen Shreve and/or Jonathan Holder to bring up fresh arms.  But in the end, it was Rob Refsnyder who got the ticket to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  In his place, the Yankees recalled pitcher Chad Green.  

For the Reds, the loss cost them first place in the NL Central as they were overtaken by the St Louis Cardinals.  

The Yankees face a more challenging pitcher today in Tim Adleman (1-1, 4.22 ERA).  For the Yanks, CC Sabathia (2-1, 5.45 ERA), who hasn’t instilled confidence in anyone except opposing hitters in recent starts, takes the mound.  I expect to see a much stronger Reds team today so hopefully the Yankees offense can rise up to the challenge.  It will be good to see a rested Aaron Judge back in the lineup.  

Tomorrow is a day off so the Yankees will be able to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Have  a great Tuesday!  Let’s grab a W and head back to New York!

True Statement — The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field!…

Credit:  Chris Sweda/The Chicago Tribune

While the Cubs did have their chances, Saturday’s game felt like it was over after the Yankees took their first swings in the top of the first inning en route to the 11-6 victory.  Admittedly, I felt badly for Cubs starter Brett Anderson.  He gave up three doubles, two singles and a bunt with a throwing error that led to multiple runs.  When Anderson departed after 23 pitches, he had gotten only one out…a swinging strikeout by Aaron Judge.  The Yankees held a 5-0 advantage, and we were off the races.

Anderson was once a promising young starter for the Oakland A’s.  He’s pitched very well when healthy, but unfortunately health has not been his friend.  He made 31 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015 and then missed most of last year after surgery for a bulging disk in his back.  After yesterday’s start, Anderson was showing signs of back trouble so yet another DL-stint is likely.  After the game, Anderson said that it was “embarrassing”.  He went on to say “Whenever the backup catcher gets more outs than you, it’s not a positive”. Cubs catcher Miguel Montero pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Cubs although he did walk two. Hopefully Anderson is able to recover from his latest setback.

Credit:  Chris Sweda/The Chicago Tribune

Jordan Montgomery (2-1) was solid again for the Yankees as he continues to cement his role in the starting rotation.  He made it into the seventh inning until running into some trouble after throwing 100 pitches.  He allowed 3 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 3.  He did walk 4 batters.  After two groundouts in the top of the 7th, it looked like it was going to be another quiet inning for Monty.  But he walked Jon Jay and it was followed by a run-scoring triple by former Tampa Bay Rays nemesis Ben Zobrist which ended Montgomery’s day.  

Aaron Hicks, subbing for Jacoby Ellsbury who is still nursing a sore elbow, delivered the clinching shot, a three-run homer in the eighth inning, that put the Yanks up 11-3.  The Cubbies tried to mount a rally in the bottom of the 8th against reliever Tommy Layne, scoring three runs.  Adam Warren came in with a runner at first (Miguel Montero) and two outs.  He allowed a double to Jon Jay which advanced Montero to third.  Ben Zobrist came to bat with a chance to chip away at the 11-6 Yanks lead but Warren struck him out swinging.  Another nice job by the  2016 World Series ring holder.  

Credit:  Tannen Maury/EPA

Hicks finished the day 4-for-5 with 3 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  He continues to impress and is making it hard for Manager Joe Girardi to keep him on the bench.  I read one columnist who suggested that Hicks should permanently replace center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.  I wouldn’t necessarily argue but are we really only four years into Ellsbury’s seven-year $153 contract?  The end of the contract seems so friggin’ far away.  Despite his recent heroics, Brett Gardner remains the more marketable outfielder and it seems that it would make more sense to move him to make room for Hicks…unless GM Brian Cashman would hoodwink some other GM into taking Ellsbury off his hands.  Maybe ply former buddy Billy Eppler with some tequila when the Yankees visit Anaheim in mid-June.  

The other hitting star of the game was the former Chicago Cub Starlin Castro.  You know that he enjoyed his fourth inning home run.  He even paused for a moment to enjoy the view as the ball traveled to the left outfield bleachers.  Increasing his batting average to .381, Castro went 3-for-4.  He had 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  Starlin has been enjoying his time at Wrigley Field so I am sure these games will be memorable to him for a very long time.  

Credit:  Chris Sweda/The Chicago Tribune

The Yankees maintained their half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East.  The O’s held off a late challenge by the Chicago White Sox to win 6-5.  Sadly the Boston Red Sox also won.  

I’ve said it before but Tommy Layne is just not doing it for me this year.  His appearance always seems to be accompanied by multiple runs for the opponent.  His ERA is now an unsightly 9.45 after giving up the 3 runs to the Cubs while only recording 2 outs.  I will gladly take Chasen Shreve as my lefty specialist over Layne.  I think we’re seeing why the Boston Red Sox gave up on Layne last year.

I wonder if we’ll see Matt Holliday at first base today as the Yankees face an old foe in former Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester.  It should be a great game as the Yankees go for a sweep with Luis Severino on the mound.

The Yankees completed their off-season trade that sent reliever Nick Goody to the Cleveland Indians.  On Friday, they acquired 21 year-old pitcher Yoiber Marquina, a converted catcher, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month.  The Yankees see promise in Marquina’s lively arm, but meanwhile Goody is delivering the goods for the Indians.  He has an 0.00 ERA in 7 appearances with 10 strikeouts.  He has allowed only three hits in 9 1/3 innings of work.  Sounds like the Indians are making up for lost ground with the talent they gave up in the Andrew Miller trade.

I saw the debate that TGP’s Daniel Burch sparked yesterday when he suggested that the Yankees should trade backup catcher Austin Romine.  My first question is why?  Unless you can include Romine in a trade for a frontline pitcher, I do not see the motivation to make a deal.  He has shown that he can be a very valuable backup catcher.  It’s not that I dislike Kyle Higashioka, but Romine has earned his shot to be a member of the New York Yankees.  If you tell me that the Yankees could acquire Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates (don’t we always send our catchers to the Steel City?) by including Romine with other prospects, I’m on board.  Otherwise, I think Romine should stay.  

I am not trying to look ahead but the Yankees will, for the first time, face the ramifications of their  December 2015 trade for closer Aroldis Chapman.  The team will be traveling to Cincinnati after they complete the three game series against the Cubs later today.  On Monday, they’ll face former top pitching prospect Rookie Davis who is scheduled to start opposite Masahiro Tanaka.  Davis is the only player on the Reds MLB roster in the deal that sent Davis, third baseman Eric Jagielo, pitcher Caleb Cotham, and second baseman Tony Renda to Cincy.  

Credit:  Justin Berl/Getty Images

Have a great Sunday!  Let’s hope the wind carries us to a sweep out of Chicago!

The Rookies Have Been Judged…

Credit:  Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Live from New York, it’s The Aaron Judge Show!

Aaron Judge has been named AL Rookie of the Month for April.  He becomes the fourth Yankee to win the award.  The previous winners were Hideki Matsui (June 2003), Robinson Cano (September 2005), and Gary Sanchez (August 2016).

For the month, Judge was a little busy:

  • 1st in AL with 23 runs, .750 SLG
  • Tied for 1st in AL with 10 home runs
  • Tied for 5th in AL with 20 RBI’s

Judge was also the leader with exit velocity.  His homer off Greg Bird’s high school buddy, Kevin Gausman of the Baltimore Orioles, on April 28th had an exit velocity of 119.4 mph.  He was also seventh in the AL with the longest home run (457 feet).  I still expect Judge to top 500 feet at some point.  The current major league leader is Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks at 481 feet.  

I have not really had a favorite Yankee since Mariano Rivera retired but I am certainly a huge fan of Judge.  I just can’t decide who I like better…Judge or Gary Sanchez.  Well, I’d have to put Aroldis Chapman into the group as I’ve always loved a great closer dating back to the Rich “Goose” Gossage days, or maybe even Sparky Lyle.  All I know is that Judge and Sanchez are incredibly fun to watch.  Looking forward to getting the band back together this weekend when Sanchez returns from the DL.  

Congrats to Aaron for the AL Rookie of the Month Award.  I will really go out on a limb and say this is the first of many awards for the talented young slugger.  Seriously, I thought he was going to be good when he figured this level out but I was never expecting this type of performance.  There’s no way he can sustain it (can he?) but for now I’m enjoying the ride!

I was reading some columns on The Bleacher Report yesterday and I came across one that referenced the single thing every team should do right now.  For the Yankees, it was cutting Tommy Layne and promoting Luis Cessa.  I have to admit that I am probably on board with cutting Layne.  After his release by the Boston Red Sox last year, he did a decent job for the Yankees.  He was 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 16 innings pitched.  He gave up 10 hits, 6 runs, 7 walks, and struck out 13.  His WHIP was 1.063.  This year, at least for his last few outings, he’s been touched for runs.  He is currently carrying a 6.00 ERA in 6 innings pitched.  He has allowed 9 hits, 4 earned runs, and 3 walks.  He has struck out 7.  The innings aren’t sufficient to give great credibility to his WHIP but it is presently very high at 2.00.  Bottomline, Tommy Layne is what he is.  He will never be Andrew Miller and he is not a pitcher with great upside.  He’s replaceable.  The Yankees currently have a better lefty on the 25-man roster in Chasen Shreve.  I have no problem with cutting Layne loose to free up a spot on the 40-man roster.  As for who should take Layne’s place, I would not have any issues with Cessa.  I like him and think he provides a good option for long relief and rotation insurance as a potential back-end starter.  I remain a Bryan Mitchell fan, and there are probably a couple of other pitchers on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster that I could buy into over Layne.  

I feel every youth movement is best served with a combination of veterans and young talent.  If the veterans perform, they should stay.  If they don’t, I’d have no problems showing them the door.  But then again, I don’t write the checks.  I am tired of uneven and at times horrific play from overpaid, aging veterans.  I started to buy into the early season results of CC Sabathia but his last few starts have only reaffirmed that he is clearly no longer the pitcher he once was.  I am ready to move on.  I’d rather see a young pitcher learn at the Major League level like Jordan Montgomery is currently doing than pay an aged veteran who is just collecting paychecks until contract expiration or release.  CC has been great in the clubhouse but there are other guys who can rise to the challenge. I am more tolerant of mistakes by a young player who is learning than a veteran showing signs of decay.  

Credit:  Bill Kostroun/AP

Speaking of Sabathia, the results were not pretty on Wednesday night.  Before the Yankees had even picked up a bat, CC had put the team in a 4-0 hole against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Justin Smoak delivered a run-scoring single in the top of the first inning and Steve Pearce, who had two homers the night before, followed with a three-run home run.  Fortunately, the Yankees answered quickly as Matt Holliday hit his 300th career home run in the bottom of the frame, driving in three runs.  It seemed like it wasn’t going to be the Yankees’ night when the Blue Jays scored two more runs in the second inning to go up 6-3.  But these are the new and improved Yankees and when the April AL Rookie of the Month came to the plate with Starlin Castro on first base in the third inning, it was a one run game again as Judge sent a Marcus Stroman offering 426 feet over the center field wall.  Fortunately, Sabathia would not allow further damage although he was gone after just four innings.  His line for the night:  4.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R/ER, 4 BB, 5 SO.  In just two games, Sabathia’s ERA has gone from 2.70 to 5.45.  Sabathia pitched to two batters in the top of the fifth without recording an out, giving up a walk and a single.  Adam Warren came in and stopped the potential Jays rally.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Yankees scored three runs to take the lead.  Two run scoring singles and a bases loaded walk put the Yankees up 8-6.  They could have gotten more runs, but Matt Holliday hit into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to end the inning.  At that point, the game was in the hands of the dynamic duo, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.

The Blue Jays didn’t threaten in those final two innings, although the game’s final batter, Russell Martin, had the benefit of four strikes before ending the game.  The umps missed a call when Martin swung and missed for an apparent third strike which subsequently bounced off his shoulder.  It should have been game over, but was not.  It took two more Chapman pitches, but the last one gave the Yankees closer his sixth save of the season.  The Yankees win, 8-6.  

Thanks to another Boston Red Sox victory over Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees (17-9) took sole possession of first place in the AL East.  There seems to be much bad blood in Boston between the O’s Manny Machado and the Red Sox.  I can’t help but think this plays into the Yankees’ hands for when Machado becomes a free agent in a couple of years.  There’s nothing better than beating the Red Sox wearing pinstripes.   

Today is an off day as the Yankees make their way to Chicago.  TV is going to be so boring tonight.  I have really gotten used to watching The Aaron Judge Show every day.  I guess I’ll just have to look forward to Friday afternoon when Michael Pineda takes the mound agains the Cubs.

Have a great and restful Thursday!