Tagged: YES Network

Crushing AL East Rivals…

(Photo: Mike Janes/AP)

Even if it means absolutely nothing…

Maybe the Yankees should use David Wells in the YES Network broadcast booth more often. He worked Friday’s game against the Boston Red Sox and yesterday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays and saw the Yankees score a combined total of 31 runs in the victories over two of their biggest AL East Rivals.  

It was enjoyable to see the Yankees win the 14-1 laugher over the Red Sox but sadly it is just a Spring Training game so it’s meaningless. I’d love to see one of those kind of games (or better yet, two) when the Yankees play the Red Sox on April 16th and 17th. The best way to get rid the memory of the devastating 16-1 loss to Boston in last Fall’s ALDS is to simply return the favor and ensure Boston’s season is shortened this year.   

Saturday’s 17-7 win, two touchdowns and a field goal, over the Blue Jays came at a price. The Yankees lost top prospect Estevan Florial when he tried to make a leaping catch against the wall in the eighth inning. He couldn’t reach the ball and came down on his right wrist against the turf, suffering what subsequent x-rays revealed to be a non-displaced wrist fracture. It’s a big loss as he’ll presumably lose valuable development time. Florial was having a great Spring with a batting line of .355/.429/.516 and .945 OPS in 13 games. In 31 at-bats, he had 11 hits and 7 runs scored to go with a homer and 4 RBI’s. He has also stolen 5 bags, which included one yesterday. There was no way he was making the big league club having just reached High-A last year, but with pitch recognition looming as the last major hurdle for him, his development will be further delayed. Florial missed three months last year after surgery on his hamate bone of the same wrist. If Florial misses 2-3 months with the latest injury, it will adversely affect his status as a potential July trading chip (not that I want the Yankees to trade him, of course). Further tests are scheduled for Monday before the Yankees will know the expected timetable for his recovery and rehab. I am hoping for better than expected results but admittedly it’s not looking good for the talented 21-year-old.  

MLB Network’s 30 in 30 focus on the Yankees is coming up this week…finally. It will air on Tuesday night at 7 pm Eastern during the hour-long MLB Tonight show. I am looking forward to the interviews with some of baseball’s greatest young stars and maybe Brett Gardner and/or CC Sabathia too.   

Listening to the many interviews with other teams around the league, there is a common phrase that Aaron Judge uses which is echoed by so many other players. “Picking (someone’s) brain.” As a fan of The Walking Dead, it’s hard not to get a visual of a Zombie, I mean a Walker, in search of food. I know, this is a game of knowledge and understanding and veteran players have so much to offer younger players. It’s just funny that the same expression gets used by so many players.  

Jacoby Ellsbury is expected in Tampa today. I am sure it will be a day of medical evaluations for him and who really knows where he is at physically except for him.  No way he makes the Opening Day roster but if healthy, for as much as I am down on him, he figures to be in position to help at some point as he works back into playing shape and redevelops his timing after being away from the game for so long. I do not expect anything from him and I had been doubtful he’d ever wear the Pinstripes again, but if he has anything left in the tank, the Yankees should give him a shot. If anything, the dude knows how to get catcher’s interference. I am sure Ellsbury, now 35, has tired of the negative comments from people like me and wants to show he is still capable of playing baseball at a high level, not too much unlike Troy Tulowitzki’s comeback attempt. If he can, play him. If not, cut bait and move on. Of course, it would be a much costlier decision with Ellsbury than Tulo, but I am sure the Yankees won’t use money as a reason not to part ways with Ellsbury if the insurance payments are no longer flowing in and Ellsbury proves to be an outfielder that can no longer play the outfield.

(Photo: Chris Pedota/North Jersey.com)

A couple weeks ago, I gave my projection for the Opening Day Lineup. At this point, you have to scratch Jonathan Loaisiga. He is not going to make the OD roster. For as much as we say Spring Training stats don’t count, Lasagna has stunk big time.  In four games, he is 1-1 with a 10.00 ERA.  He has given up 11 runs (10 earned) in 9 innings pitched. He has walked 6 batters and is carrying a 1.67 WHIP. Granted, you could say that J.A. Happ’s Spring has been nearly as bad, but Happ, as a veteran, “is just working on things”. Loaisiga had something to prove, whereas Happ does not. The performance has most likely earned Loaisiga a trip to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, making Luis Cessa (the pitching surprise of the Spring) and Domingo German the probable replacement starters for Luis Severino and CC Sabathia. Unless the Yankees carry an extra position player, it should mean that Stephen Tarpley will take the last bullpen spot. With Aaron Hicks’ health and the potential he misses Opening Day, it could force the Yankees to bring along an extra outfielder since Brett Gardner will need to slide to center to cover for Hicks although Tyler Wade is fully capable of covering a corner outfield spot on a short-term basis.

There was an update this morning when Hicks told the media that he WILL be missing the opening series against the Baltimore Orioles. He had his second cortisone shot for back stiffness this past week. The Yankees will have to decide whether to carry Hicks on the Opening Day roster if they feel he’ll only miss the two games against Baltimore or place him on the 10-day Injured List if they fear he’ll be out longer. It’s frustrating the Yankees could spend the majority of April “short-handed” as they’ll also be down a man when CC Sabathia serves his five-game suspension. 2020’s 26-man roster is starting to look a year too late.  

If the Yankees aren’t that high on Clint Frazier to start the year, I thought Carlos Gonzalez would have been a sneaky good pickup for some outfield help. However, that option was lost yesterday when the Cleveland Indians signed the long-time Colorado Rockie outfielder to a minor league deal. I guess we’ve reached our quota of ex-Rockies. I know CarGo carries the ‘he can’t hit outside of Coors Field’ tag but for $2-$3 million (pocket change for Hal Steinbrenner), he could have helped.

Congrats to Michael King and Brandon Wagner. They were named yesterday the winners of the 2018 Kevin Lawn Award as the Yankees’ Minor League “Pitcher of the Year” and “Player of the Year”, respectively. King has gotten much recognition after his breakout 2018 season, but Wagner is a bit unheralded. The 23-year-old, in combined A/AA, hit .267/.380/.461, with .841 OPS, last season. He belted 21 homers and 67 RBIs. He is primarily a first baseman but saw multiple games at third base and has even seen time at second and in the outfield.  Diversity is a great ticket to The Show if you have the talent. It should allow Wagner to leap-frog the ‘first base only’ types, Mike Ford and Ryan McBroom, in the farm system in the not-so-distant future if he continues his progression.   

Lastly, Happy St Patrick’s Day to all!  

As always, Go Yankees!  

The Dog Days of Spring…

Less Than 3 Weeks to Opening Day…

I always love the arrival of pitchers and catchers in early February, followed shortly thereafter by the position players. The first images of Spring Training are always a welcome sight after a long, cold winter. The first glimpses of the players on the practice fields near Steinbrenner Field, the popping of catcher’s mitts and the sounds of bats as balls leave the yard. But gradually, the excitement fades and the arrival of Opening Day can’t get here fast enough. We’re here now. I am starting to lose interest in watching guys like Trey Amburgey and Isiah Gilliam playing games and want to see the MLB regulars consistently through game’s end.

Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

For the Yankees, hopefully there will be no further injuries this Spring. We know at least three players are headed for the Injured List to start the season. Luis Severino, Jacoby Ellsbury, and CC Sabathia. Sevy is currently in the midst of his two-week shutdown. It was reported yesterday that he isn’t feeling any pain after a cortisone shot. But like a doctor once told me after a cortisone shot, it masks the pain but doesn’t cure the problem. Based on Sevy’s positive words, I am cautiously optimistic that rest is the cure and there will be no further setbacks for him. Ellsbury, after such a late start to camp (expected to arrive next week), will need to stay for extended spring training, assuming he’s 100% healthy even when he arrives (unlikely if you ask me). Sabathia, as we know, had a delayed start this Spring after last December’s angioplasty and has been going a little slower than the rest of the starting rotation.

Two inactive players in camp are already destined for the Injured List as they continue their respective recoveries from Tommy John surgery: Didi Gregorius and Jordan Montgomery. I had been bracing myself for the possibility Gregorius could be out until August but he is seemingly ahead of schedule and we could see him as early as June. Regardless of how well Tulo may be playing at the time, Didi will be such a welcome sight when he is cleared to play. Montgomery is doubtful to provide any meaningful contribution this season. When he is cleared to throw and begins his rehab, he’ll head to the Minor Leagues. I see him as nothing more than a spot starter very late in the season, if at all. Many fans are acting like he’ll be a great trade deadline “acquisition” but honestly I don’t see him pitching any big games for the Yankees this year. Even healthy, he is not one of the best starters and I think it will be next season before he’s truly back and ready to help.

So, in my opinion, Opening Day seems to be pointing to the following roster:

Projected 2019 New York Yankees Opening Day Roster
Catcher Gary Sanchez
First Base Luke Voit
Second Base Gleyber Torres
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki
Third Base Miguel Andújar
Right Field Aaron Judge
Center Field Aaron Hicks
Left Field Brett Gardner
Designated Hitter Giancarlo Stanton
Super Utility D.J. LeMahieu
Bench Tyler Wade
Bench Austin Romine
SP-1 Masahiro Tanaka
SP-2 James Paxton
SP-3 J.A. Happ
SP-4 Jonathan Loaisiga
SP-5 Domingo German
Closer Aroldis Chapman
Setup Dellin Betances
Rest of the Bullpen Zack Britton
Adam Ottavino
Chad Green
Jonathan Holder
Tommy Kahnle
Luis Cessa

This is not necessarily the OD roster I want but rather what the tea leaves seem to be saying according to my eyes. I know many fans can’t let go of the homer Greg Bird hit off Andrew Miller in the playoffs a couple of years ago but Voit deserves the first base job based on last season’s performance (until proven otherwise). As the loser of the first base job, I expect Bird to begin the season at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. I’ve seen people say one of Voit or Bird should be traded but I do think it would be unwise. As much as I like Voit, he needs to prove last Fall was not a fluke. If not, Bird needs to be ready for the call-up while playing every day for the RailRiders. LeMahieu is expected to be the backup first baseman.

This lineup forces the Yankees to use Stanton in left field more often than they would like. I know I don’t see Brett Gardner as an every day starter anymore but no doubt Manager Aaron Boone will run him out there as often as possible. I still expect Clint Frazier to eventually come up from Triple A to mount a serious threat for playing time but realistically it won’t happen until later this summer if Frazier mashes for the RailRiders unless injuries mandate an earlier call. There’s no circumstance I see Gardy as the starter when the calendar page turns to September.

I am a bit concerned about the nagging little ailments that always seem to bother Hicks. He has been held out of games over the past week due to tightness in his back and is still feeling some discomfort. He is not expected to return to play until next Tuesday at the earliest according to Aaron Boone’s words yesterday. I am hopeful the back does not become a season-long malady. I am sure Hicks wouldn’t have missed as much time if it had been the regular season but there’s still concern (if not the Yankees, at least for me).

Tyler Wade’s speed and versatility (ability to play infield and outfield positions) makes him the most logical option for the bench. If he gets the job, I really hope this serves as his breakout year.

My preferred starting lineup would feature LeMahieu at second, with Torres sliding to shortstop, until Gregorius returns. But hey, what do I know. Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone get paid a lot of money to make those decisions and they’re certainly much smarter and more knowledgeable about the Yankees than I am.

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tanaka at the top of the rotation is my speculation that he’ll be named as the Opening Day starter. Otherwise, I’d rate Paxton as the slightly better pitcher (sorry Masa). Sevy is expected to be checked late next week to see if he can resume throwing. Best case scenario, we won’t see him until late April or even possibly early May. The concern here is the potential for further setbacks which would delay Sevy much longer than originally expected. Everyone keeps expecting CC Sabathia to come back pitching like he did last season but that’s not a certainty by any stretch of the imagination. The guy had a stint placed in a heart valve. It’s a serious procedure and we honestly do not know how it will affect him until he actually pitches against live hitting in games that matter. I can’t say that I am too enamored with the heavy reliance upon Loaisiga and German (or Cessa) in the early going. I know GM Brian Cashman has said the Yankees intend to go with the internal options, but really, what else is he supposed to say. Even if he is very interested in signing a free agent arm or acquiring another pitcher via trade, he is not going to tip his hand and show any signs of desperation. It would force the Yankees into an overpay situation. So, while I expect the Yankees to go into the season with Loaisiga and German as starters, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Yankees make another move to bring in a veteran starter. There’s no scenario I see Dallas Keuchel as a Yankee. The money, the years, and the draft pick compensation attached simply do not make any sense. I guess age 31 is the new 41 in Major League Baseball. The next few weeks should be interesting as the 2019 Opening Day Roster takes shape. Inevitably, there is always a surprise or two. We’ll see.

As expected, the Yankees reacquired controlling interest in the YES Network.  Holding 20% ownership in the network, they purchased the remaining 80% from Disney with the help of other investors, including Amazon, Blackstone Group and Sinclair Broadcast Group, for $3.47 billion. The transaction presumably increases the Yankees’ stake in YES to 30% and controlling interest among the financial backers. I’ve seen many fans complain about the Yankees’ investment in the YES Network over signing former free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado but, in my opinion, one does not affect the other. I don’t think the YES Network acquisition impacted the decision not to pursue Harper and Machado, nor do I feel that signing one of those guys would have prevented the purchase. Long-term, for the Yankees, I feel reacquiring control of the YES Network is a wise decision. It does underscore the fact the Yankees are a very valuable franchise and regardless of how one feels about Harper and Machado, a very financially astute one.

The sale does not require FCC approval but it is expected to take 120 days to complete. It was reported the financial partners have their own strategic plans for the acquisition but the Yankees will control programming, and the choice of announcers. We may love baseball but it’s hard to ignore the Yankees are a major business and all decisions are made for the long-term vision and success of the organization.

Speaking of the YES Network, I’ve been very pleased with their decision to have guest announcers this Spring. I particularly enjoyed the recent insight of Reggie Jackson. As a fan who grew up with the famed Bronx Zoo, it was fun listening to Reggie’s stories of those days. I loved Thurman Munson and enjoyed hearing his name again. Willie Randolph did a great job too. David Wells is scheduled to sit in the booth next Friday and Saturday when the Yankees play two of his former teams, the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays. Boomer remains one of my all-time favorites and I am looking forward to his appearance.

As always, Go Yankees!

2 1/2 Weeks to Tampa…

The Yankees’ Migration to Florida Begins…

When the calendar page turns next Friday, we will enter a month WITH Yankees baseball for the first time since last October. It may not be “real games” but we’re getting the band together again in Tampa, FL and the Yankees will be playing their first organized exhibition game in less than a month when they travel to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers on Saturday, February 23rd to take on the bullpen-challenged Boston Red Sox.

I don’t know about you but I am ready to see the guys at Steinbrenner Field and watching the navy blue spring jerseys in full force.

Before pitchers and catchers report to camp in roughly two and a half weeks, I’d really like to see the Yankees formally introduce their off-season acquisitions in a press conference at Yankee Stadium. It doesn’t appear it is going to happen but I always loved it when the Yankees held press conferences at the Stadium followed by photo sessions down on the often snow-covered field. It seems like ages ago when the Yankees acquired James Paxton, yet we’ve only heard his voice in interviews. Most of us have yet to see the smile on his face and the Big Maple tattoo on his arm as he talks about the excitement of being a Yankee.

Photo Credit: The Seattle Times (Ken Lambert)

If I owned the Yankees, I’d pull Paxton, Troy Tulowitzki, DJ LeMahieu, and Adam Ottavino to New York before they head to Tampa. Heck, Ottavino is already there so it would save Hal Steinbrenner some money.

Nice post yesterday by Bryan Van Dusen entitled “Bryce Harper Will Be a Yankee”.  It’s worth checking out if you haven’t already done so. The way the market is playing out seems to be opening the possibility that Harper could find his way to Yankee Stadium. While I’ve long been a Manny Machado guy, I don’t really see the fit with Manny anymore given the infield acquisitions and the optimism Didi Gregorious could be back sooner than expected. Will there be a mid-summer “acquisition” better than Didi? I don’t think so. But as Bryan outlined yesterday, Harper fits the Yankees so many ways. I am sure they’ve heard the words of the newest Yankees talk about the reasons they joined the team. The theme of of an organization that wants to win every year resonates as does the lifelong dreams of wearing the famed Pinstripes. We know Bryce desires to be a Yankee. Hal Steinbrenner can make it happen and provide Yankee fans with one of the greatest young players in the game today (to go with our collection of other great young players).

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

The Boston Red Sox are seemingly hamstrung by their payroll. Not that I want the Yankees to be in a similar position, but the time to strike is now. Show no mercy. I want a roster that ensures the Red Sox are the team battling for Wild Card position this season and not the Yankees. The weakest position on the team, in my opinion, is left field. Brett Gardner is simply no longer the player he once was. Getting old sucks. I have no trust in Clint Frazier’s ability to stay healthy until he proves that he can. Jacoby Ellsbury? Please. Bring Bryce Harper to New York. His presence would help the other guys in the lineup and he’d deflect pressure off guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez.

If the market moves in the Yankees’ favor and they do sign Harper for less than original estimates, it will be one of Brian Cashman’s best moves in his Yankees career. Bryce Harper, New York Yankees. It sounds so right (or should I say ‘so lefty’?). Works for me. Let J.A. Happ pick out a new number. I hope he has that problem.

Staying with the “it’s just money” theme, the Yankees got a good idea what it might take to retain CF Aaron Hicks when the Los Angeles Dodgers signed oft-injured CF A.J. Pollock to a five-year, $60 million contract this week. Hicks, if he can stay healthy this season, figures to command an equal if not greater deal. I probably wish Estevan Florial was closer to The Show but the Yankees will have some tough choices next off-season with Hicks, Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances.

It’s great to see the finalization of Adam Ottavino’s three-year contract. I am really excited about his presence on this year’s team. I wanted Ottavino to wear Number 0 but I understood the concerns of those who didn’t want the Yankees to issue a number that has never been worn in the history of the franchise. In the end, I am glad the Yankees made the decision to allow Otto to wear his number. I know many wanted Number 2 to be the last single digit worn but there’s no disrespect with Otto continuing the tradition of single digits. I was a little surprised when the Yankees retired Joe Torre’s Number 6. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the manager and I loved the championships he brought to the organization, but it’s not like he played on the field with number 6 and it’s not necessarily a number we strongly associate with him. I get retiring Casey Stengel’s number but honestly I think retiring numbers should be reserved for players, especially when the organization has so many retired numbers. Aaron Boone managed 162 regular season games last year plus the Wild Card game and ALDS, yet we could probably count on one hand the number of times we actually saw his number. Boone could win the next five consecutive World Series but I wouldn’t retire Number 17. The recognition should be for the players, not the coaching staff. Players have a greater effect on the success of a manager than the manager has on the players. The point is, Number 6 should still be in circulation, and Otto’s number 0 should not be the last single digit.

Well, since Number 6 is retired, I do think they should honor Roy White and give him equal credit for the number in the way Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra share the retirement of Number 8. Roy White was such a huge and consistent part of the Yankees in the early years of my fandom. The lifetime Yank deserves his day in the sun at Yankee Stadium, and recognition with a plaque in Monument Park. White played 15 years for the Yankees from 1965 through 1979. He was always overshadowed by the bigger names but he was the consummate professional and the glue on so many of those great Yankee teams. Maybe his numbers did not warrant the sole retirement of his number but he deserves credit for it as much as Joe Torre in a shared capacity, in my opinion.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Speaking of retired numbers, it will be interesting to see if the Yankees take Number 35 out of circulation now that Mike Mussina has been elected to the Hall of Fame. I was pleased to see Mussina make the HOF but he was never a lock to make it in my opinion. There are certainly a number of players who are equally deserving, or maybe even more so, that have never gotten the call. Nevertheless, I am proud of Mussina’s accomplishment. I had felt he should go into the Hall of Fame with his Orioles cap but I was pleased with his decision to go in with no logo like fellow Hall of Famer Roy “Doc” Halladay who was equally great on two teams (same as Moose).

Mariano Rivera. What else can you say? The first man unanimously selected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame. There is no one better deserving of the honor and recognition.  We were privileged to see one of the game’s greatest and the best to ever play his position for so many years at Yankee Stadium. Growing up, I always thought how cool it would have been to see Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle (in his prime) play. As it stands today, I am glad I was able to see guys like Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, and the Sandman. It makes up for never having seen the earlier legends. Congratulations Mo! You were one of a kind and we may never see someone of your greatness again. It was our pleasure to watch you.

Lastly, I was disappointed to see Al Leiter’s departure from the YES Network. I get his reasons for stepping down (to spend more time with his family and mentor his 18-year-old son Jack who will most likely be seen on Major League mounds in about a half decade or so). I was glad to hear Al will continue to appear on MLB Network but his voice will be sorely missed in the YES Network broadcast booth.

I am excited that Baseball is right around the corner. After next weekend (the Super Bowl), all eyes will turn to America’s greatest game. Well, maybe not basketball fans and March Madness, but for the rest of us, the dawn of the 2019 season is on the horizon. Can’t wait.

As always, Go Yankees!

Happy Birthday to Mickey Mantle!…

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Yankees Legend would have turned 87 today…

Mickey Mantle was born October 20, 1931 in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, a town with a population of 437 (according to 2010 census) in Northeast OK. He died August 13, 1995 in Dallas, Texas at the age of 63. Mickey was taken from us too soon but he’ll never be forgotten. I remember following the news of his liver cancer and other ailments, subsequent transplant, and finally his death, and even attended his funeral in Dallas. My earliest memories of Mantle were late in his career so I didn’t get to see the great Yankees Legend at his best but you didn’t have to be there to know that he was one of the finest Yankees in the history of the organization. He had his faults, but that’s true of us all. Mantle, the  baseball player, was one of the greatest to ever play the game.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

A funny thing happened to the Los Angeles Dodgers on their way to the World Series. I’ll have to give Game 6 of the NLCS to the Milwaukee Brewers and especially their fans for getting inside the heads of the Dodgers and Manny Machado. Many on Social Media were referring to the fans as the Milwaukee Booers and there’s no doubt it played a huge role. It will be interesting to see how the Dodgers rebound today for their final chance to win a trip to Boston, Massachusetts to play the Red Sox starting Tuesday night. If the Dodgers lose, I am finished with baseball for 2018 as I have no interest in Brewers/Red Sox even if there are a few former Yankees involved.

I was surprised to see Joe Girardi remove his name from consideration for the Cincinnati Reds managerial vacancy. Girardi apparently had been a frontrunner for the job, in competition with former Detroit Tigers manager, current Los Angeles Angels special assistant and one-time Yankees prospect Brad Ausmus and David Bell, currently VP/Player Development for the San Francisco Giants. I wonder if Girardi has a preference for the American League or if he wants to hold out for a Chicago job should one of the jobs open within the next year or so. Girardi is apparently still under consideration for the job with the Texas Rangers. With no offense to Cincinnatians, I know that I’d prefer to call Dallas/Fort Worth home but that’s me. For now, Girardi will continue his work with The MLB Network. Regardless of what he does, I suspect he doesn’t have to worry about where his next meal is coming from.

I know the Yankees don’t need a superstar at every position. Erik Kratz is proving that you can be one game away from the World Series with a marginal catcher. But the more I think about it, why wouldn’t you want to drop Bryce Harper in the Yankees lineup between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton? I know, money. But I am confident money is not an issue for the Yankees organization. Sure, I believe you don’t need to spend $200 million to win a World Series, but I also believe in putting the best players on the field. TGP’s Bryan Van Dusen made a great correlation earlier this year about how success = money for those who think Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner doesn’t want to spend money. I don’t just want to beat the Boston Red Sox next year, I want to crush them.  Having Judge-Harper-Stanton in the heart of the Yankees order, with so many great bats elsewhere in the lineup would truly be the modern Murderer’s Row. Harper can’t pitch, it’s true, but I fully expect the Yankees to bring in reinforcements to help Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka in the starting rotation regardless of any run for Harper.

The Yankees are apparently going to buy back controlling interest in the YES Network according to reports. The Yankees sold 80% of the network, retaining 20%, in separate deals completed in 2014 to 21st Century Fox.  The YES Network, at the time, was valued at $3.8 billion. If the Yankees have the money to buy back the YES Network, they have the money to sign Bryce Harper. Another superstar for YES Network subscribers? Makes sense to me. Remember, Success = Money.

Photo Credit:  New York Daily News Illustration

If the Yankees were headed for the World Series, non-Yankee fans would be in an uproar about how they are the best team money can buy, yet nobody is saying a word about the nearly $240 million payroll-bloated Red Sox.

After a lost season for Yankees prospect Thairo Estrada (he was shot in the hip during a robbery attempt in Venezuela in late January, missed Spring Training, and then was lost for the season in June due to the hip and a back injury), it’s good to see his participation in the Arizona Fall League. The numbers aren’t there (4-for-25, with no extra base hits and a lone RBI) but at least he’s back on the playing field. Here’s hoping 2019 will be much more productive for the talented shortstop. He still has the bullet lodged in his hip but hopefully he is back stronger than ever next year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Didi Gregorius.  As most of us know, he had successful Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Wednesday morning in Manhattan. At this point, we don’t know when we’ll see Sir Didi again as some reports say he may be out until August, but I wish him much success and a quick return to good health with his post-surgery rehabilitation. I really hope the Yankees move to lock up Didi long-term and don’t allow the surgery, and subsequent lost time, as a reason to non-tender the player. I’d prefer to see the Yankees find shortstop alternatives to hold them over until Didi’s return, keeping Gleyber Torres at second, rather than moving Torres back to his natural shortstop position and bringing in a name second baseman like Joe Panik or D.J. LeMahieu. I love having Didi Gregorius as this team’s shortstop and I don’t want that to change anytime soon. Get well, Didi!

I am anxious to get the playoffs and World Series over so that we can begin the Hot Stove League season. I am excited to see what presents Santa Cashman has in store for us this year. Fans of the Red Sox, Brewers and Dodgers may think differently, but I am ready to begin building the 2019 New York Yankees and starting their run for the Championship. Pinstripes for you, Pinstripes for everyone. Climb aboard the 2019 Victory Train!

Go Yankees!

The Ace & The Outfield Trio…

Credit:  MLB.com

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!

Judge Rules In Favor Of Yanks…

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

I’d Judge the Weekend a Slamming Success…

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:

TODAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.30 ERA)

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (5-3, 2.92 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Luis Severino (3-2, 3.11 ERA)

Orioles:  Chris Tillman (1-1, 4.43 ERA)

WEDNESDAY

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…