|Photo Credit: SI.com (Kristyn Ulanday)|
Opening the Gates of Steinbrenner Field…
As the saying goes, today is the first day of the rest of your life. Or as I prefer to call it, the first day of the 2018 New York Yankees. Welcome, Pitchers and Catchers! Your host, Aaron Boone, and his staff are eager and ready to serve you.
I am excited and anxious to hear Boone’s kickoff press conference today at 12:00 pm ET. We’ve heard Boonie talk over the winter but now he’s officially in uniform and ready to lead Baseball’s most storied franchise to the Promised Land. It’ll be cool to get a glimpse inside his mind as he begins his Pinstriped Journey in earnest. Sure, he’s had the conference calls with his coaches and shared text messages, a few rounds of golf or dinner with his players, but today it gets real. It’s a very exciting time in the Yankees Universe. After meeting with the press today, Boone will lead the first official workout tomorrow on Valentine’s Day. Very appropriate given how much we love these Yankees.
My most recent fear was averted yesterday when it was the Texas Rangers (and not that the Yankees) that gave a minor league contract with training camp invite to free agent third baseman Trevor Plouffe. I was starting to get worried that we’d see him in Tampa, but alas, the Rangers saved the day.
There’s still time for new faces to appear but at the moment, the starting rotation returns intact from top to bottom and the leading contenders for second and third bases are Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, respectively. The next few days will feature many bullpen sessions and we’ll get our first images of the new season.
I am ready for Yankees baseball.
The Freak is back…
Speaking of reclamation projects, the Yankees will send a scout to watch Tim Lincecum’s showcase in Seattle on Thursday according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Admittedly, when I first heard the 34-year-old was attempting another comeback, I scoffed. Two years ago, he signed a deal with the Los Angeles Angels after providing an open tryout in front of scouts. He failed miserably, going 2-6 with 9.16 ERA in nine games pitched. His WHIP was an unsightly 2.374. Maybe there’s nothing left, but then again, maybe there is.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images, via Men’s Fitness (Joe Robbins, Otto Greule, Jr)|
People scoffed at Bartolo Colon when he made a comeback with the Yankees a few years ago, yet he continues to pitch and it is likely he’ll find another Major League contract somewhere this year. I am not saying that Lincecum is Colon, but at one time, Lincecum was a very good pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. I seriously doubt he’ll ever be anything close to that level again but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Why not take a shot? If he shows nothing, you help him pack his bags and send him on his way. He certainly won’t be cost prohibitive at this point in his career. I’d sign him if he shows anything on Thursday. He wouldn’t unseat any current starters in the rotation regardless of how well he throws but he could be a better option as a replacement starter than Luis Cessa if he has anything left. I am sure some team will take a chance on The Freak through a minor league deal to see if he can help.
Stick a fork in him, he’s done…
I am so very disappointed in Rich “Goose” Gossage. At one time, the guy was my favorite player. I loved to watch him come into games throwing heat and shutting down the opposition. It was tough to watch Goose leave the Yankees when he signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Padres in January 1984. Even tougher watching the Padres in the World Series that year, who also featured former Yankee Graig Nettles at third base, even if they lost to the Detroit Tigers. I was excited when he played for a couple of months with the Yankees at the end of the 1989 season despite being in the twilight of his career. I was proud when he was named to MLB’s Hall of Fame in 2008. Unfortunately, his behavior since that time has been anything but professional.
Last year, he took shots at Hall of Famer-to-be Mariano Rivera, one of my all-time favorite Yankees over the course of my lifetime, which I did not appreciate nor respect. When I heard the Yankees had not extended an invitation to Spring Training for Goose this year, I felt it was the right thing. The Yankees did not need the unwanted attention and distraction for a new manager and coaching staff. Yet, the New York Daily News beat writers had to reach to Goose to get comment about the spurned invitation and he chose to use it as a forum to go off on GM Brian Cashman.
Frankly, I don’t care if Gossage ever sets foot in Yankee Stadium again. He comes across as an angry old man to me. I am tired of his “back in my day” rants. He played in a different era but it doesn’t mean that it was better. The game has changed. Sadly, Gossage has not. There is no place for him with today’s game and no place for him in the Yankees Universe. Let him go play Old Timer’s games with the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s or Seattle Mariners. What? Those teams do not hold their former players in same high regard as the Yankees? Sucks for him. Good riddance…
Rest in peace, facial hair…
We also say goodbye to CC Sabathia’s beard.
While I personally feel that the Yankees should change the long-standing team policy that prohibits facial hair outside of “porn star” mustaches, it’s too bad that they can’t at least open Spring Training to a relaxed hair policy before the team heads north to put on the famed pinstriped jerseys. Sabathia had a very cool beard this winter, as did a number of other players. It would be nice to see them with a tougher look, if only for the exhibition games at Steinbrenner Field. Some guys, like Jordan Montgomery, could seriously stand an edgier look instead of the choir boy approach. I know, the hair policy will never change. The Steinbrenner Family will always preserve George’s wishes as long as they own the team. I get the professionalism aspect to the policy but I am also a believer in self-expression. I am not crazy about Justin Turner’s flowing red hair and beard with the Los Angeles Dodgers but it is who he is and I would not want to change him. If it works for the player, it works for me.
The baseball offseason is over. It is time to get to work…
|Photo Credit: Newsday (J Conrad Williams, Jr)|
Yankees 5, Rays 1…
A fielding error by Rays third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the 4th inning opened the door for an offensive outburst that was capped by a three-run homer by Todd Frazier. The single inning explosion carried the Yankees to victory over the “home” Tampa Bay Rays in Queens, NY.
|Credit: Steven Ryan-Getty Images|
For three innings, the Yankees couldn’t muster a hit off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi. Meanwhile, the Rays scratched out a run against the Yanks in the bottom of the 2nd. Lucas Duda, at home at Citi Field and using his old locker, drew a walk to start the inning. Yankees starter CC Sabathia retired the next two batters and had Adeiny Hechavarria down to two strikes. Hechavarria battled and finally on the 9th pitch of the at-bat tripled to the center field wall, splitting the outfielders, to score Duda with the game’s first run.
Aaron Judge opened the 4th inning with a walk, extending his own MLB record for most walks by a rookie to 108. Gary Sanchez finally got the first hit for the Yankees, a line drive to center. The Yankees had runners at the corners. Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly to right which scored Judge standing up. The game was tied. Starlin Castro struck out for the second out. Then the magic happened. Well, maybe not from Trevor Plouffe’s perspective. Matt Holliday hit a grounder to third that Plouffe was unable to field (under his glove). As the ball rolled down the left field line, Sanchez scored to give the Yankees the lead and Holliday moved to second on the play. On a full count, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on catcher’s interference when his bat hit the catcher’s mitt. It was the 30th career catcher’s interference for Ellsbury which surpassed Pete Rose for the most all-time. Todd Frazier came to the plate and homered to left off the facing in the second deck to make it 5-1. The Yankees got two more runners on base when Tyler Austin doubled to the left field wall and Brett Gardner walked. It spelled the end for Jake Odorizzi who went from a no-hitter to a four-run deficit despite only allowing one earned run. Rays reliever Chaz Roe came in and struck out Aaron Judge, who had led off the inning, to end the Yankees’ rally.
CC Sabathia was allowing baserunners, giving up two singles in both the third and fourth innings, but had been escaping unscathed. He got into trouble again in the bottom of the 5th. He walked Peter Bourjos to start the inning. After striking out Kevin Kiermaier on three pitches, Trevor Plouffe singled to center over Sabathia’s back with Bourjos moving to second. Manager Joe Girardi opted to take no further chances and pulled Sabathia (to avoid a confrontation with Evan Longoria). The move appeared justified when David Robertson came in and struck out both Longoria and Lucas Duda to end the threat. Sabathia probably wasn’t too happy with the early hook, but he had thrown 88 pitches and allowed six hits. It was only a matter of time before the Rays broke through but the D-Rob insurance card paid off.
|Credit: Andrew Savulich-The New York Daily News|
The Rays did have a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 6th with D-Rob still pitching. Adeiny Hechavarria hit a two-out ground-rule double which hit the warning track in left and bounced off the back wall. He took third on a passed ball by Gary Sanchez, but was left stranded when Danny Espinosa grounded out to short.
The Yankees got their final hit of the night in the 7th inning when Brett Gardner led off with a single to left. A failed stolen base attempt, a perfect throw from catcher Wilson Ramos to second baseman Danny Espinosa, sent Gardy to the bench.
D-Rob pitched the bottom of the 7th, making this outing the longest in his career (pitching a total of 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief with 4 K’s).
|Credit: Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images|
The bottom of the 8th brought out Dellin Betances and it was time to start drinking heavily. Evan Longoria started off with a single that dropped in right field. Betances struck out Lucas Duda for the first out, but then walked Cesar Puello. Aargh! Logan Morrison was up next, pinch-hitting for Wilson Ramos, and I was seeing images of a three-run home run to make it a one-run game. Fortunately, those visions proved false as Betances struck out Morrison. He got Adeiny Hechavarria to fly out, with Aaron Judge running to the wall, for the final out. Whew! That was a hard inning to sit through…
Aroldis Chapman took over in the 9th. After a brief pause on my part hoping that Chapman has truly righted the ship, he proceeded to retire the side on ten pitches. It wasn’t a save opportunity but the result was the same. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (78-65) picked up a 1/2 game on the idle Boston Red Sox so they now trail by 3 games. The Baltimore Orioles fell to the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-3, so the gap between the Yanks and the third-place O’s is now 7 1/2 games. The win also increased the Yankees lead in the Wild Card Standings to 4 games.
David Robertson (8-2) picked up the vulture win with Sabathia’s inability to make it through five full innings. The Yankees were outhit by the Rays, 8 to 4, but they obviously made the most of their hits with Todd Frazier’s home run leading the way.
|Credit: Tony Gutierrez-Associated Press|
Odds & Ends…
The Yankees activated OF Clint Frazier off of the disabled list on Monday. Red Thunder was somewhat underwhelming in his rehab stint with the Trenton Thunder. In 17 at-bats, he had only 2 hits and 10 strikeouts. Here’s hoping that his return to the Pinstripes is little more successful. He should slot back into the fourth outfielder role that has been lacking since Aaron Hicks went on the DL.
When Aaron Judge hit his 40th home run, he joined some lofty company. Prior to Judge’s home run, the only Yankees to hit 40 home runs at 25 years or younger were Babe Ruth (54, 1920), Lou Gehrig (47, 1927), Joe DiMaggio (46, 1937), and Mickey Mantle (52, 1956). That’s a nice group of names to rub shoulders with…
Have a great Tuesday! Seems like a great day for another win! Go Yankees!