Yankees 6, Rays 1…
Masahiro Tanaka was dealing on Friday night as the Yankees took down the Tampa Rays for the second night in a row. He was backed by homers from all three starting outfielders and amassed 14 strikeouts over 8 innings before David Robertson capped off his brilliant game. The win vaulted the Yankees back into first place in the AL East.
|Credit: Julie Jacobson-AP|
The first inning showed that Tanaka was potentially on top of his game when he struck out the side. Brett Gardner, Thursday night’s hero with the walk-off home run, started the scoring for the Yankees with a home run. He became only the third Yankee with walk-off/walk-on home runs, joining Joe Gordon (1940) and Roberto Kelly (1990). Gardy’s homer, his 19th of the year (a career high), landed in the bullpen in right field under the Toyota sign. Rays right-fielder Stephen Souza, Jr climbed the wall with thoughts of making a spectacular catch but the ball was just beyond his reach. It was an interesting stat coming into the game that the Yankees are 15-0 when Gardy goes yard. We can make that 16-0.
After Rays starter Austin Pruitt gave up the lead-off HR to Gardy, he proceeded to strike out the side so it looked like we would be settling into a pitcher’s duel. Tanaka picked up two more strikeouts in each of the second and third innings, before striking out only one in the 4th. In the bottom of the 4th, the Yankees picked up their second run when Aaron Judge hammered a Pruitt pitch to left for his 33rd home run of the season.
After Tanaka set the Rays down in order in the top of the 5th, picking up another K, the Yankees added to their lead. Pruitt alternated strikeouts and walks with Chase Headley (out), Todd Frazier (walk), Ronald Torreyes (out), and Brett Gardner (walk). After a coaching visit to the mound by Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, Clint Frazier completed the outfield trifecta with a monster blast to left center, traveling 455 feet into the left field stands. Red Thunder continues to amaze with his blazing bat speed. I know that I am one of many who feel the Yankees would be very foolish to send Frazier back down to Triple A when Aaron Hicks returns. The team’s resurgence this month has been driven, in large part, by Red Thunder’s energy and heart.
Leading 5-0, Tanaka took a perfect game into the 6th inning but it was spoiled with two outs when Adeiny Hechavarria hit a grounder past a diving Didi Gregorius for the Rays first hit. In the 7th inning, the Rays marred the shutout when they got their only other hit, a homer to right by former New York Met Lucas Duda. 5-1, Yankees.
Tanaka completed the eighth inning exactly as he started the first by striking out the side. It was the end of the night for Tanaka but what a game! If he continues to pitch like this down the stretch, it will mean great things for the Yankees.
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
The Yankees picked up their final run in the 8th inning. After Rays reliever (and former Yankee) Chase Whitley shut down the Yankees for two innings, setting down all six batters he faced in the 6th and 7th innings, the Rays brought in Adam Kolarek to start the 8th. He hit Brett Gardner with a pitch to put Gardy at first. He struck out Clint Frazier and induced Aaron Judge to hit into a ground out which moved Gardy to second. Kolarek intentionally walked Gary Sanchez, but a passed ball advanced both runners to second and third. Didi Gregorius singled to left, scoring Gardner but Gary Sanchez was nailed at the plate as he attempted to score too.
David Robertson finished up the 9th with his usual “no drama”. Just another day at the office for D-Rob, and the Yankees emerged with their 55th victory of the season. Boo yeah! Yankees win!
|Credit: Mike Stobe-Getty Images|
As mentioned at the top of this post, the Yankees (55-46) moved into first place in the division standings. The Boston Red Sox, who had received disappointing news earlier in the day with the placement of David Price on the DL, fell to the Kansas City Royals, 4-2. It was the Royals’ ninth consecutive victory. The Red Sox now trail the Yanks by a half game, while the Rays are 3 1/2 back.
Aaron Judge visited the dentist earlier in the day to temporarily repair his chipped tooth. He’ll have to make a trip back for permanent work but it was very good to see Judge back out on the field. I liked the YES Network’s reference to “Babe Tooth”…
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-The NY Post|
A last note about Masahiro Tanaka. His masterpiece against the Rays follows largely horrific performances on the road against them. In two games at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL, Tanaka was 0-2 with 20.67 ERA. Tanaka improved his record to 8-9 and ERA to 5.09 with the victory. Simply an excellent game by the right-hander.
Odds & Ends…
Robert Refsnyder is expected to return to the Major Leagues today for the Toronto Blue Jays. The utility man would take the place of Troy Tulowitzki who sprained his right ankle and will undergo further tests. The thought is that Ref could play some second base while Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney cover short during Tulo’s absence. All the best to Ref as he tries to make his mark north of the border.
|Credit: James P McCoy-Buffalo News|
The division foes are being very active on the trade market this week. The Rays have been the loudest with their acquisitions of Lucas Duda, Dan Jennings, Sergio Romo and Steve Cishek. The Baltimore Orioles, only 7 1/2 games back, acquired Philadelphia Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson overnight. With David Price going on the DL, it will be interesting to see if the Boston Red Sox make any further moves after their acquisition of former Yankees third baseman/infielder Eduardo Nunez. The Red Sox “say” they are not going to chase down another starter but that remains to be seen.
It was incredible game for outfielder Billy McKinney yesterday as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders crushed the Charlotte Knights, 15-8. McKinney was 4-for-5 with a double, two triples and a grand slam and a career high 6 RBI’s. His outfield throw also nailed a runner at home plate in the third inning. Miguel Andujar, making a statement that he wants to be the Yankees third baseman in 2018, was 2-for-6 with a homer and has raised his batting average to .324 as he continues to feast on Triple A pitching.
Have a great Saturday! Here’s hoping the Yankees can continue their success against the Rays. Go Yankees!
|Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports|
Yankees 5, Mariners 1…
Powered by a monster blast from Aaron Judge that nearly reached the back wall of the upper left stands (if not for a fan in the next to the last row), the Yankees won for the second night in a row in Seattle. Statcast was unable to capture the length of the homer and it was estimated at 440 feet although it seemed longer to most people watching. It probably wasn’t the game highlight that Mariners starter Andrew Moore wanted to see after the game but he’s not the first nor the last pitcher that will have to wait a very long time to watch a home run ball drop with Judge at the plate.
The game should have been about veteran lefty starter CC Sabathia (9-3). Celebrating his 37th birthday, CC had previously never won a birthday start in his career. Friday night was a different story. The game didn’t start like it was going to be a good evening for the road gray. After Moore breezed through the first three of the Yankees order in the top of the first inning, CC ran into trouble after easily retiring the first two batters in the bottom of the inning. He lost Robinson Cano, walking him on a full count. Nelson Cruz hit a “loud” single to the left field wall, with Cano racing around to third. Chase Headley’s inexperience as a first baseman showed with the next batter, Kyle Seager. Seager hit a grounder that deflected off Headley’s glove and was retrieved by Starlin Castro in shallow right. Headley went back to first but his foot placement was inch or two off the base. So, although Castro’s throw to first was in time, Headley’s recovery to move his foot to the base was too late to get Seager. Cano scored on the play. Mitch Haniger laced a line drive down the first base line, past a diving Headley, to load the bases. Fortunately, CC induced Guillermo Heredia to hit an infield grounder, Todd Frazier to Starlin Castro, to force Haniger out at second for the final out. Whew!
|Credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images|
After the Yankees failed to score in the of the 2nd despite a couple of hits, Ben Gamel opened the bottom of the inning for the M’s with a double to center past a running Brett Gardner. Mike Zunino followed with a hard hit liner to left but Clint Frazier made a terrific diving catch for the out and held Gamel at second. As YES Network Analyst David Cone said, “Young athleticism on display”. Gamel was subsequently erased at third on a fielder’s choice by Didi Gregorius with a snap throw to Todd Frazier. CC was able to retire Danny Valencia on a weak grounder back to the pitcher to emerge from the inning unscathed.
The Yankees were finally able to get to M’s starter Andrew Moore in the 3rd inning. Chase Headley opened the inning with a double to left center, just beyond the glove of diving center fielder Guillermo Heredia. Red Thunder blasted a double off the right center wall as Headley circled around to score just ahead of the throw which got away from catcher Mike Zunino. Clint Frazier tagged on the next play, a fly ball by Brett Gardner to center, and made it to third just ahead of a tremendous throw by Heredia. A sacrifice fly to warning track in center by Aaron Judge scored Frazier and the Yankees had a 2-1 lead.
With CC Sabathia seemingly gaining steam as he progressed through the innings, the Yankees scored again in the 5th. Brett Gardner singled on a line drive to right. Gary Sanchez singled to left, with Gardner moving to third. Aaron Judge came up and smashed the Andrew Moore offering to left as the ball nearly left the stadium. 5-1, Yankees. 4 RBI’s on the night for Judge.
|Credit: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports|
CC opened the sixth but he walked the leadoff batter, Kyle Seager, and his night was done. I know that CC could have continued to be effective, but the high pitch count in the early innings had Sabathia at 98 pitches following the walk to Seager. Nevertheless, this is no longer the Tyler Clippard era of the bullpen. Tommy Kahnle, who might be my new favorite Yankee, came in to strike out Mitch Haniger. He easily retired pinch-hitter Jarrod Dyson and Ben Gamel for another highly effective inning of work.
The bottom of the 7th saw the 2017 Yankees debut for former Yankees and White Sox closer David Robertson. D-Rob was the magnificent reliever of old as he retired the side by strikeout. Welcome back, D-Rob! We have certainly missed you and your leg kick. My only concern about D-Rob pitching the 7th was that he would not be there as a safety net in later innings. Fortunately, the Yankees bullpen was as good as advertised. Dellin Betances got into a little trouble with a double by Robinson Cano and a single by Mitch Haniger, sandwiched between two strikeouts, had runners at the corners. But he was able to get Jarrod Dyson to pop up to third to leave the runners stranded.
With Aroldis Chapman taking the night off due to a non-save situation, Adam Warren came on in the 9th. The pesky Ben Gamel opened with a single to left, but was eliminated when Mike Zunino grounded into a double play, Gregorius to Castro to Headley. Jean Segura hit a hard grounder to Didi Gregorius and he threw to Chase Headley for the final out. The Yankees win!
|Credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images|
The Yankees (50-45) were unable to gain ground on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East, however, they did move into a tie for second place. The Red Sox scored five runs in the first inning to back Chris Sale as they beat the Los Angeles Angels, 6-2. The Tampa Bay Rays fell 4-3 to the Texas Rangers. The Yankees and the Rays are both 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.
The Toddfather was the only Yankee without a hit other than the bench players who didn’t get into the game. So, we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the first T-Frazier blast.
Odds & Ends…
It’s tough watching Ben Gamel have such success in Seattle. I understand the reasons for the trade but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch him thrive at the MLB level for another team. I don’t know if he’ll have a Jay Buhner type career but it was comparable circumstances. Enjoyed watching the tremendous Minor League exploits of the player, only to watch him traded to Seattle for a long and prosperous career. The two players the Yankees received for Gamel are Jio Orozco and Juan De Paula. Orozco, 19, a right-handed pitcher, is 2-0 with 2.36 ERA in five games (four starts) for the Advanced Rookie League Pulaski Yankees while De Paula, also a 19-year-old righty, is 2-3 with 5.25 ERA in five games (all starts) for the Short-Season A Staten Island Yankees. In other words, it is going to be a very long time before we see any payoff for Gamel.
I liked David Cone’s comments about the Yankees new and improved combination of power arms in the bullpen. He said that it has reduced the need for starting pitchers to a “soft-tossing lefty to give you three or four (innings)”. I know that I am loving the bullpen parade of the current crew. I do not miss the cringing feeling that came with the entry of Tyler Clippard into the game. But despite the strong pen, the Yankees do need to do something about the starting rotation. We’ll probably have to live with a few more starts by Luis Cessa (I’d prefer to see Caleb Smith) as I doubt any of the available starters are moved until the last minute before the trading deadline as their current teams seek maximum return. I have no speculation who the Yankees should acquire other than I don’t want to lose top and highly regarding prospects which probably means the team will have to stand pat or take chances for catching lightning in a bottle with bottom feeders. I am hopefully optimistic that GM Brian Cashman will surprise me.
Brian Cashman is on record saying that Red Thunder will be returned to Triple A when Aaron Hicks comes off the DL but with each passing game, it is so hard to think that the Yankees most exciting outfielder, behind Aaron Judge, will have to go down. He has shown he is ready the big time and he has nothing left to prove for the RailRiders. He is better player, right now, than Jacoby Ellsbury despite the $20 million plus difference being paid to the latter player this year. Money for nothin’ and the chicks for free. I hope Clint Frazier stays.
Have a great Saturday! Let’s keep this winning streak alive! Go Yankees!
|Credit: Ted S Warren/AP|
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill|
Yankees 9, A’s 5…
On the eve of thirteen consecutive games against American League East teams, the Yankees used the Judge to set sentence Sunday on the three game series with the Oakland A’s. The verdict — the Yankees are guilty of taking the series, two games to one.
With the Yankees trailing 2-1 in the third inning, they loaded the bases (I can’t believe that Matt Joyce dropped that fly ball by Matt Holliday but hey, I’ll take it) with two outs for Aaron Judge. In the preceding at-bat, Starlin Castro had a chance for the grand salami but he struck out. A’s pitcher Andrew Triggs, with the count at two balls and a strike, threw a two-seam fastball to Judge. As Julia Roberts said in the movie ‘Pretty Woman’, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” Judge made the most of his swing as he sent the ball over the center field wall for his 16th home run of the year. The Yankees were up by three runs at 5-2 with the grand slam, Judge’s first, and a lead that they would not relinquish this day.
It wasn’t a clean outing for Michael Pineda (6-2) but he did enough to capture the win. He needs to clean up the mental errors…the three walks (two of the runners eventually scored), a balk and a throwing error. In the sixth inning, with the Yankees leading 6-2, Pineda walked Jed Lowrie and then, with Khris Davis at the plate, balked to allow Lowrie to advance to second. Davis subsequently reached first base on a throwing error by Pineda, while Lowrie raced around to home plate to close the gap to 6-3. As the YES Network’s Michael Kay put it, “A walk, a balk, and an E-1”. Pineda finished the sixth, thanks to a double play, but that would be it for his day. He finished with three hits, three runs (two earned although he was the responsible party for the unearned run), and five strikeouts.
|Credit: Kathy Willens/AP|
The Yankees picked up another run in the seventh inning when Gary Sanchez doubled to left with two outs and Ronald Torreyes on first. The hit scored Torreyes, to push the score to 7-3. The A’s challenged the call saying that left fielder Khris Davis held the ball long enough before bouncing out of his glove but the call on the field was upheld.
The A’s responded with two runs in the eighth inning when Khris Davis hit his fifteenth homer of the season, a two-run shot off Yankees reliever Chad Green (with yet another walked batter that scored) to tighten the score, 7-5. After a one batter appearance by the LOOGY (Tommy Layne, who retired lefty swinging Yonder Alonso on a fly out to right), Adam Warren was brought in for the role of cleaner (Mr Kaplan?) and he eliminated Ryon Healy with a fly out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Brett Gardner gave the Yankees some breathing room with a two-run double to increase the Yankees lead to 9-5. Warren stayed in the game in the ninth to clean up the bodies with three up, three down for his first save of the season. Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today, I want to be a part of it, New York, New York…
|Credit: Kathy Willens/AP|
It was a good day all around for the Yankees (29-18). The Boston Red Sox finally dropped a game to Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners, 5-0, while the Baltimore Orioles, today’s opponent, lost their seventh consecutive game, 8-4 to the Houston Astros. The losses increased the Yankees’ lead in the AL East to 3 games over the Red Sox and 4 1/2 games over the Orioles. The Tampa Bay Rays, the only other team to win in the AL East on Sunday, are 5 games back.
Down on the Farm…
Tyler Austin continued his latest rehab assignment in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. At DH, he was 1-for-3 with a run scored in the RailRiders’ 3-0 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens. Gleyber Torres, at short, was 1-for-4 with a single.
Yankees left-hander Justus Sheffield had a great game for the AA-Trenton Thunder. He pitched a three-hitter in 6 2/3 innings to beat the Portland Sea Dogs, 6-2. He only gave up one run (none earned), walked one and struck out six. With more performances like that, the 21-year-old could very well find himself in Pennsylvania. The hitting star for the Thunder was third baseman Miguel Andujar. He was 3-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored.
The Road Ahead…
The Yankees take to the road today with a trip to Baltimore, Maryland for three games with the Orioles, followed by a trip north of the border to Toronto, Canada for a four-game set with the Blue Jays. Upon completion of the road trip, the Yankees return home to face the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in three-game series. As losers of seven straight, the Orioles will be looking to turn things around in their home park. It’s not going to be an easy series by any stretch of the imagination.
Here are the pitching matchup’s for the Baltimore series:
Yankees: Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.30 ERA)
Orioles: Dylan Bundy (5-3, 2.92 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Severino (3-2, 3.11 ERA)
Orioles: Chris Tillman (1-1, 4.43 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (5-4, 5.86 ERA)
Orioles: Kevin Gausman (2-4, 6.17 ERA)
Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day! Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has lost family, friends, and loved ones in the defense of our Country. Our eternal thanks to the men and women who gave all…
|Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images|
Yankees 3, A’s 2…
The Yankees didn’t get much offense on Saturday, but thanks to the rejuvenated CC Sabathia (5-2), they didn’t need it.
In the first inning, they scratched out a run through a walk, hit by pitch, wild pitch, and sacrifice fly (by Starlin Castro). By the time Oakland’s Ryon Healy doubled in the sixth inning to tie the score, the Yankees were still searching for their first hit against A’s starter Jharel Cotton.
CC was pitching great but I did have a heart attack in the top of the sixth with two outs when Trevor Plouffe sharply hit a fly to right. Starlin Castro, on the run, appeared to catch the ball but it bounced out of his glove. Alertly, a running Aaron Judge was in the right spot at the right time and made the catch to end the inning.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill|
Cotton, who entered the game with a 5.68 ERA, pitched liked an ace. Despite a walk to Brett Gardner in the third (subsequently erased when he tried to steal second), Cotton was cruising from the second inning through the fifth, with three up-three down each frame. It was more of the same to start the sixth as Cotton recorded two quick outs on fly balls.
Then, the walk raised its ugly head for Cotton again when he gave Gary Sanchez a free pass. Matt Holliday came to the plate, with two outs and no team hits showing on the scoreboard. After a first pitch ball (low and inside), Holliday got a hold of Cotton’s second offering and launched a blast to left-center. “High fly ball, left field…going back Davis. Track, wall, SEE YA!” (courtesy of Michael Kay of the YES Network).
After giving up a single to the next batter (Castro), Cotton was done even though he had allowed the only two hits the Yankees would get in this game. Cotton pitched his heart out in his 13th major league game and recorded a career high 107 pitches, but like Masahiro Tanaka found out the other night, Baseball can be a cruel sport.
CC tired in the seventh when, with one out, he gave up a homer to Josh Phegley, to bring the score to 3-2 Yanks, and a double by Adam Rosales. Time to turn to the Yankees bullpen which had ignited an A’s rally the night before. Fortunately, Adam Warren got Matt Joyce on a groundout and left Rosales stranded at third when he struck out Mark Canha.
The eighth inning brought Tyler Clippard into the game. With the disaster of the night before fresh on everyone’s mind, Clippard struck out the first batter, Jed Lowrie. Lowrie, who seems to rise to the occasion against the Yanks, was subsequently ejected for arguing strikes. At that point, the Friday night version of Clippard reappeared. A walk to Khris Davis and a double by Ryon Healy put runners at second and third with just one out. Exit Clippard, and enter Dellin Betances. Ball, called strike, foul, called strike…inning over. Hey Randy Levine, stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.
|Credit: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports|
In the ninth inning, it was three up and three down for Betances, with a swinging strikeout by Matt Joyce to end the game.
Cut to Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York”…ah, I love that song on winning days.
With the win, the Yankees (28-18) held their two-game lead in the AL East over the Boston Red Sox. The Sox beat the Seattle Mariners again. The scary part is that the complete game shut-out was by a rookie pitcher, Brian Johnson, making his first career start at Fenway Park. Johnson was optioned back to AAA after the game but he’s making the way for the return of David Price who will be activated from the DL this week. The Baltimore Orioles lost their sixth game in a row to slide 3 1/2 games back.
Tyler Austin was elevated to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday with his rehab assignment. On Saturday, he contributed a run-scoring single to help the RailRiders defeat the Toledo Mud Hens, 5-1. Gleyber Torres was 1-for-5 with a double, driving in a run.
Greg Bird departs for Tampa today. He’ll most likely take a few at-bats in extended spring training at the Yankees’ minor-league complex on Tuesday and Wednesday before beginning his rehab assignment. He spoke of muscle soreness yesterday (typical soreness after not using certain muscles) but otherwise everything seems to be moving forward with his progress.
Also progressing is closer Aroldis Chapman who must have received favorable news from the doctor on Saturday as he was able to make 25 throws from 60 feet. He’ll continue with playing catch on Sunday as he begins his preparation for hopefully a mid-June return.
Speaking of Chapman, I am hopeful that he’ll be activated during the Yankees road trip to California when the Yankees travel to Oakland on June 15th. I really want to see a rematch between Chapman and the A’s Rajai Davis. Davis had the game-tying home run off Chapman in Game 7 of last year’s World Series. I want to see Chapman punch out Davis to win a game as retribution. Hey, I am not a vindictive person…just competitive.
Have a great Sunday! Let’s win again while Chase Headley continues to sit…
The opening game of the Yankees-White Sox Series was a loss before the first pitch was thrown…
I am a Yankees fan and I’ve been one since 1974 but today, I am disgusted. It is revolting to see Alex Rodriguez take third base for tonight’s game against the Chicago White Sox on a day when he was suspended for 211 games. All other 12 PED users who were suspended accepted their fates and are serving their 50-game sentences. But the guiltiest of all (thus, the longer penalty) is playing baseball because he chose the appeal process. He has blood on his fingers and the gun was in his hand, yet as typical A-Fraud, he refuses to take personal responsibility for his actions. I am sure that somehow his cousin or maybe bad advice he received from Francisco Cervelli will ultimately be to blame for his latest problems, but for now, he only blames Bud Selig and the people who really know and understand what a miserable human being he is.
Even if it means counting A-Rod’s scheduled salaries against the Yankees for the purposes of the salary cap, I want this guy gone. He disgraces the Yankee pinstripes and he tarnishes the great storied franchise. Tonight, I actually found myself cheering for the Chicago White Sox because it was too hard to root for a Yankees lineup that features A-Fraud in the middle of the order. My lifelong idol has been Lou Gehrig. He wore the pinstripes very proudly and he was a true Yankee from start to finish. A-Fraud is the anti-Gehrig. He has disgraced the uniform since the beginning and the end can’t get here soon enough. I had truly wished that I had seen the last of A-Fraud in a Yankees uniform, yet here he is playing third base tonight.
Per the YES Network’s website, the Yankees released this statement:
“We are in full support of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We also recognize and respect the appeals process. Until the process under the Drug Program is complete, we will have no comment. We are confident that the process outlined in the Drug Program will result in the appropriate resolution of this matter. In the meantime, the Yankees remain focused on playing baseball.
However, we are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees’ role in this matter. The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez.
Separately, we are disappointed with the news today of the suspension of Francisco Cervelli. It’s clear that he used bad judgment.”
Where does it say that the Yankees had to start Alex Rodriguez tonight? Why does this guy get a privileged card? Less guilty players are done for the year yet A-Fraud is on the field. It makes me sick, disgusted and angry. If I were Hal Steinbrenner, I can tell you there’s no way that A-Fraud would have been swinging a bat tonight. He’d be picking splinters out of his derriere.
Interesting that the Yankees call out Francisco Cervelli, yet sound like they are posturing with Alex Rodriguez without any condemnation. You can never convince me that Cervelli is as despicable and dishonest as A-Fraud.
I am a Yankees fan, but admittedly it is out of protest until the team does the right thing and separates themselves from the most dishonorable and narcissistic player in franchise history.
The White Sox are still throttling the Yanks in tonight’s game (8-0 in the bottom of the 6th inning). Good. Now, if Robin Ventura could take a bat and stick it up A-Rod’s…
What to believe?…
Admittedly, I am concerned with the Yankees’ desire to get under $189 million in payroll by 2014, and what it will mean to the team in the long run. Granted, many teams would love to struggle with the wherewithal to afford a payroll of $189 million, but the Yankees have $30 million tied up in annual salary to Alex Rodriguez and he’s hardly the player he once was. As it stands, the Yankees need to find a quality, effective third baseman to play behind a guy who absorbs so much of the team’s payroll budget. So, how much do the Yankees actually have to pay just to cover third base? Obviously, the answer is a lot more than $30 million.
Granted, the Yankees are not about to become the new Minnesota Twins or Kansas City Royals, but to those teams’ defenses, they have better minor league systems at the moment (particularly the Royals). In a statement of the obvious, the quickest way to reduce payroll is to replace highly paid, unproductive veterans with cheap, inexpensive young talent. While there is quality youth in the Yankees’ farm system, most are at the lower levels. The highly rated AAA prospects have stalled for various reasons, like Manny Banuelos and his Tommy John surgery. A trade for young, inexpensive talent is not out of the question, but so far this off-season, the Yankees have been very quiet. I do understand it when GM Brian Cashman says that you have to a tortoise and a hare. Striking too quickly can be more expensive in some situations. It is a never-ending balancing act. Strike quick when you must, lay in the weeds when you can.
Is it time for Romine?…
While I am disappointed to see catcher Russell Martin depart (signing a two year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates), I realize that I won’t miss his .211 batting average. At times, he was a force in the lineup with his bat, but other times, he completely disappeared. The only downside is the lack of replacement talent at the major league level. I do not feel that perennial backups Chris Stewart or Francisco Cervelli are starter material. After a lost year due to injury, all indications are that Austin Romine needs another year of AAA seasoning. At this point, I am probably with those who feel Romine should be given a legitimate shot at the job in spring training. He has the pedigree (his father is former Red Sox player Kevin Romine) and he is 24 years old. If he is healthy, he deserves a shot and certainly has more upside than the other catchers on the roster.
Regarding the loss of Martin, Cashman’s quote was “This isn’t something that caught us off-guard”¹. Clearly, the Yankees have already identified a plan of action in the event Martin left. But it will probably fall into the tortoise category.
Maybe Jenny Craig should be hired as a second bench coach…
This past week also brought forward a photo of a seemingly overweight Derek Jeter. Staying with quotes from Brian Cashman, “It’s probably a wrinkle in the shirt”². Hmmm, right…
INF PHOTO, New York Daily News
I have no reason to believe that Derek Jeter will not arrive at spring training in shape, but it’s tougher as you get older and having a foot in a cast is not ideal for physical workouts. So, I guess that quality, effective third baseman we need for third had better be able to play short too.
Now playing in right field…
The Yankees have chosen not to be players for any major free agents. It doesn’t mean that I think they should throw millions at Josh Hamilton, but they do need to find a quality replacement for departing right fielder Nick Swisher. Plugging in an aging veteran is not the answer. Hamilton is not old, but there are lower risk and lesser paid options available.
The sleeping giant or the ‘Feeble 40’?…
Brian Cashman says, “We’re still capable of a lot. People should be leery of us and afraid of us, as if we’re the stalking horse”³. I really hope so, but it appears to me that the 2013 roster will feature highly paid but underproductive veterans, supplemented by waiver signings and minor leaguers. That might be a bit extreme, but it does feel that way at the moment. I do not want to take away anything from the recent re-signings of Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda and Mariano Rivera, but the fact remains that all three are at the tail end of their respective careers. They’ll be serviceable major league players in 2013, and perhaps will shine at times, but they need help. “40” is not necessarily the new “30”.
With the baseball winter meetings next week, we should start to see some moves unfold. The Yankees need to strengthen their roster and put a team on the field next year that is capable of overcoming the Detroit Tigers (among other teams). They also need to somehow excite the fan base. George Steinbrenner felt like the master showman at a Barnum and Bailey Circus, whereas Hal Steinbrenner comes across as a nebbish bookworm (even if he really is not). Yes, Yankee fans are spoiled but it’s also one of the largest fan bases if not the largest. Rupert Murdoch would not have invested so much money into the YES Network if he believed the team was headed for a downward spiral. But the truth remains that if left unchanged, the current roster is no better than third in the AL East and perhaps headed for worse in 2014 when guys like Pettitte, Kuroda and Rivera are settling into their retirement homes and the team makes the moves necessary to come in under the $189 million wire.
Despite my pessimistic comments, I do believe that the Yankees will do the right thing in the end. I am confident the team that takes the field next April will be one capable of competing with the league’s best. I guess maybe I always preferred the hare over the tortoise…
¹ Source: The New York Post
² Source: The New York Daily News
³ Source: The LoHud Yankees Blog
His accounting degree was the first tip-off…
So, it’s true that the fiscal conservative in Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner is coming to the forefront. It’s clear that the Yankees have shown considerable restraint in their financial decisions in recent years and none more evident than this off-season when the Yankees watched and let others pay exorbitant dollars for free agent talent. It was widely rumored that the Yankees have their eye on 2014 and the desire to get their payroll under the $189 million threshold for luxury tax purposes. But now that Hal Steinbrenner is on record for the stated goal, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few years.
While there are other guaranteed contracts, the most notable in 2014 will be Alex Rodriguez. If he continues his deterioration as a star player, that $25 million in 2014 is going to look like a huge albatross. I haven’t tallied the guaranteed dollars, but it’s clear that the next few years will see similar off-seasons like the one we just experienced. No significant free agent signings, bargain basement ‘right before training camp’ deals like the one given to Raul Ibanez, and trades for young (and cheap) talent. It will also mean the Yankees won’t overpay to retain talent, which probably shows the door to Nick Swisher.
Meanwhile, teams like the Los Angeles Angels and the Texas Rangers are profiting from regional TV deals (not to mention previous dollars they received through revenue sharing at the Yankees’ expense). So, it will be other teams splurging on big talent, and the Yankees as a passive by-stander. There is some logic in the team’s decision but I am concerned that it will bring an end to the winning run the Yankees have been on since the early 1990’s. As a Yankees fan, the 1980’s were very difficult. Yes, we were spoiled by George Steinbrenner’s win at all costs mentality, but 90 to 100 loss teams wearing the grand tradition of the pinstripes seems sacrilegious to me. I am sure that the YES Network is not excited at that prospect either. But if the stars, like A-Rod and Derek Jeter, continue to wither while eating up valuable salary dollars, the team is going to develop a Pittsburgh Pirates feel to it. Very limited dollars to fill the holes.
In many respects, it is unfair that the salary threshold is equal among teams given the higher cost of living in New York, combined with the increased pressure that goes with playing on the biggest stage. Once the ownership situation with the Los Angeles Dodgers is settled, there will be a slugfest in LA as the Dodgers spend to rebuild their legacy and prominence in the City of Angels. Meanwhile, in New York, the Mets and Yankees will be scooping up the leftovers from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals.
Okay, I might be a bit pessimistic but there will be a number of very difficult decisions to be made between now and 2014 as the Yankees attempt to reach their goal. If the Yankees win the 2014 World Series, then credit Hal Steinbrenner for being one of the greatest owners in Yankees history. If not, how long will it take to recover?…
Open mouth, insert foot…
You know, I don’t really care what Bobby Valentine is saying in Red Sox camp. I know that if he were the Yankees manager, he’d be making disparaging remarks about the Sox. It just goes with the territory when it comes to Bobby V. Whatever helps him get motivated. Speaking of Red Sox managers, it was really weird seeing the ESPN clips of Terry Francona in Yankees camp, hugging Yankees and talking with Joe Girardi and his coaches. Unlike Valentine, I have a great deal of respect for Terry Francona. Regardless, the Bobby V ingredient should make the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry very spicy this year. It kind of sets the stage for Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays to steal the show…
I’m sure that A-Rod wasn’t saddened by the news…
Since I am on the topic of the Red Sox, I should say congratulations to Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who announced his retirement today. He was a hated players at times, but like Jorge Posada, his intensity was off the charts. He is the kind of guy you hate on another team but you’d love to have him on your team. I think his baseball career is only getting started as I see future success as a manager for him. I could even see him being an eventual replacement for Bobby Valentine. Regardless of what he decides to do, we haven’t heard the last of Tek.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em…again…
Back to the Yankees, I am glad to see the return of third baseman Eric Chavez. It took a long time…right up to the start of training camp…but it got done. I liked Chavez in his years as an Oakland A, and while he isn’t the player he once was, he is a great role player and teammate. He is also a very sorely needed third baseman given the fragility of the guy in front of him. Yes, Chavez is an injury risk but if he can stay healthy, he’ll be an invaluable part of the 2012 Yankees.
The Seattle Mariners pipeline worked last time (Tino Martinez)…
I liked the Yankees signing of former Seattle Mariners closer David Aardsma. I don’t think he’ll be in the running for Mariano Rivera’s replacement when THAT day comes, but it was a low risk, high reward signing. Having 7th and 8th inning options in late summer of David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Joba Chamberlain, and Aardsma is a manager’s dream.
Best wishes for a fast return…
Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for former Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett. In a batting incident the other day, a failed bunt attempt led to a broken right orbital bone in his face. I was frustrated with Burnett as a Yankees pitcher, but I’ll never dispute that he is a great guy and a terrific teammate. I am hoping that the move to Pittsburgh allows Burnett to flourish and hope the latest injury is not a precursor of things to come.
Don’t trip on the snow rounding first…
It is hard to think of baseball when it is snowing. Snow has been a rare commodity in Minnesota this year, but we received slightly more than a dusting this week. Living by Target Field, it’s strange to see the stadium and the surrounding snow while thinking that Joe Mauer and company are practicing to get ready to make the trip home to Minneapolis. I have already bought my tickets for when the Red Sox and Yankees come to town, however, the Yankees don’t arrive in Minneapolis until late September. I hope that AL East will be decided in the Yankees favor by that time…
Names I’ve known all of my adult life, and in some cases, when I was just a Daydream Believer…
Whitney Houston, Gary Carter and now Davy Jones? This has not been a fun couple of weeks…