Saturday, July 4, 2020

Bats, Balls & Gloves Together Again...

Photo Credit: AP

The return of Spring Training brings familiar sounds…

Before I say how glad I am we have baseball again, I’d first like to say I hope Masahiro Tanaka is okay and he does not suffer any long-term health consequences after the mishap today when Giancarlo Stanton’s line drive to Masa’s head at Yankee Stadium workouts left him on the ground motionless for ten minutes. I say this for Masahiro’s sake first and foremost. Although I wouldn’t want to lose Masahiro this season, the Yankees are purely secondary when it comes to the pitcher’s health. It’s always tough to see those types of accidents as pitchers are clearly the most vulnerable players on the field once they release a pitch. For now, he’s resting at the hospital and will begin concussion protocol. 

Photo Credit: Brendan Kuty, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

I don’t get the hate on social media that was directed at Stanton. It’s not like he intentionally did it, and Stanton knows all too well what kind of damage a hard, fast traveling baseball can do. It’s just an unfortunate situation but hopefully all tests are negative and Masa has no lingering effects. We love you, Masa. We need you and we want you to be happy and healthy. If baseball’s not in the cards immediately, that’s fine. We’ll be here when you are ready, my brother. Word has been received that Masa has been released from the hospital. As he recovers from home tonight, our thoughts and prayers are with him. 

It’s been a little strange to have summer training at MLB stadiums after being so conditioned for training to only occur in Florida and Arizona. Living near Angel Stadium, I thought I’d see more activity around the stadium but I haven’t. I am sure the Angels are inside working out, no doubt, but from the outside, it appears to be business as usual which has been fairly quiet during my three months in the neighborhood. 

Listening to Mike Trout talk about the difficulty in making a decision to play, it would hurt to see the game’s best player take a seat at home but with all honesty, I can’t blame him. This is a personal choice that each player must make. Not sure what I’d do if I were in his/their shoes. I’d probably play but that doesn’t mean I am critical of any player who decides the risks are too great. Today, David Price announced he had decided to opt out, depriving the Los Angeles Dodgers of their first look at the Yankees’ former batting practice toy. I am okay with Price’s decision. I think he can help the Dodgers but it’s his decision to protect his family and I respect his choice. The 2021 baseball season will be here soon enough and the Dodgers have Price for two more years. The downside to Price’s choice is the Boston Red Sox are off the hook for the money they owed Price this year (approximately $6 million from what I’ve read). As for Trout, his first child is due in August and he doesn’t want to be deprived of the opportunity to welcome the newest Trout into the World. I get it, I really do.

I kept thinking Gerrit Cole might decide to opt out but with the birth of his son, Caden Gerrit Cole, on June 30th, it appears he is motivated to make good on his contract in Year 1. Selfishly, I am glad but conversely, if he had decided to stay home, I’d honor and respect the choice. I am envious of Caden. He gets to learn baseball from one of the most incredible baseball minds in the game. How cool is that? He has the benefit of inheriting Gerrit’s DNA too. For Caden, life is good, and it hasn’t even started yet. The little boy has an amazing future whether he likes it or not.


I know it’s not Yankees news but it’s hard not to associate Joe Girardi with the Yankees so please excuse the slight detour. Girardi has lost his best starting pitcher, Aaron Nola, who has been placed on the COVID-19 List. With no offense to Jake Arrieta, the Philadelphia Phillies cannot afford to lose Nola for an extended period. I am sure Joe’s anxious for a fast start with his new team, but he’ll need Didi Gregorius and others to step up in a big way.  

Photo Credit: Jose F Moreno, The Philadelphia Inquirer

I just saw a report that D.J. LeMahieu, ugh!, and Luis Cessa have tested positive for the coronavirus. LeMahieu is asymptomatic while Cessa has mild symptoms. I hope the guys are okay and can recover soon. I had really been looking forward to Season 2 for LeMahieu, especially with a new contract in the balance, but it will obviously be delayed. Can Matt Duffy play second? For the record, yes, but it has been awhile. Looks like we are back in the market for a second baseman again assuming the Yankees leave Gleyber Torres at short. I suppose Tyler Wade could play second in a pinch. Kyle Holder (or Wade) could play short, to push Torres back to second.  Interesting decisions ahead for Manager Aaron Boone.  After being down on Cessa the last few years, last year’s improvement had left me with hopes that he could be the new Ramiro Mendoza. But as with LeMahieu, we’ll have to wait and hope for their full and complete recoveries. Given LeMahieu, eats, sleeps, and dreams baseball, you know this must be killing him. Hoping all goes for the two week quarantine for both. Once the quarantine at home is over, they’ll have to clear at least two tests for the virus before clearance to play. For D.J., there’s still time to make the Opening Day Roster.  

I think it’s cool the Yankees will debut the 2020 season in Washington against the World Champions. A pitching match up featuring Gerrit Cole against Max Scherzer is a little bittersweet given how the Yankees were the favorites to sign Max a few years ago. But then again, if they had signed Max, would Cole be a Yankee now? Probably not, so as they say, things probably worked out for the best (with no disrespect intended for Max, who I feel is an incredible pitcher). A second game pitching match up with the Nationals, potentially, featuring James Paxton against Stephen Strasburg is almost as exciting. It should make for a great start to the 2020 season.

MLB is expected to officially announce the 2020 schedule on Monday. The Yankees and Mets will meet for 6 out of 60 games so Dellin Betances is going to get a good view of what the Yankees look like from the other side. Sorry Dellin, I hope the Yankees pin an “L” or two on you. 

Photo Credit: Alejandra Villa Loarca, Newsday

I am not sure what this season will bring. It’s a little sad we can’t say with 100% confidence it will even be completed. In Southern CA, the reopening has been rolled back for at least three weeks. Masks are mandatory, bars are closed, restaurants can only be open for outside dining or pickup. Movie theaters remain closed and I have to endure those long lines just to wait to get into a Trader Joe’s. Feels somewhat like trying to see a Star Wars movie in the 1980’s. If the coronavirus continues its strong upswing, it could potentially end the baseball season before it gets started. Minor League Baseball has already tossed in the towel. I long for the day when a coronavirus vaccine is readily available and life can return to some degree of normalcy. Maybe it’s me but there should have been a solid Plan B in place for life in the event of a pandemic. Unfortunately there was not and our period in time will be evaluated as a very unprepared, narcissistic, and sadly, racist group of people. We are better than this and I hope actions going forward prove the current generations of a legacy to remember. 

I hope this is a good 4th of July for you and your families. I can’t say great since so many fireworks celebrations have been cancelled but still, I trust you are with the ones you love and everyone is happy, healthy and safe. That’s all we can ask.



As always, Go Yankees! 

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Yankees and the 2020 MLB Schedule

Image may contain: 1 person, baseball and text
Graphic incorrectly says "NL West" It should say NL East*
The 2020 season for Major League Baseball is happening, at least where we stand here today at the end of June. What a year it's been, but the return of baseball (at least to me) means so much more than just a return to normalcy. To me, it's a return to everything.

While the entire 2020 schedule has not been released as of yet, we do know that the Yankees will be inside Nationals Park facing off against Max Scherzer and the defending MLB World Series Champions on July 23rd. Once the MLB odds are released, we will be able to see what the point-spread is. The presumed starting pitching matchup on that night will be Gerrit Cole, who will finally be making his Yankees debut after signing a 9-year deal worth $324 million, against Scherzer. 

What we do know thus far is that the Yankees will play 10 games each against each of their AL East rivals, as well as a total of 20 games against National League East teams as well. In some capacity, the Yankees will play 10 games each against the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays. New York will also play three games each with the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies, while playing four games against the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins. In a bit of a twist, MLB has decided to allow teams to play their "rivals" from their opposing division an extra two times, so the New York Yankees and New York Mets will play a total of six times head-to-head in 2020. 

 Check back in a few days after the full schedule is out.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Baseball's Back...or is it?


MLB Season slowly makes its return…

So, we will finally have some baseball soon. After the painful back and forth between the MLB Owners and the MLBPA which cast doubt on a potential season, I am glad they finally found a way to make it happen even if it wasn’t the product of an amiable agreement.  

Coronavirus continues to present itself as a factor which could create havoc for the restructured shortened season. Friday saw the largest single day increase of the virus (with over 45,000 new cases) as states continue reopening. The numbers since this pandemic started have been staggering. 2.4 million cases reported and over 125,000 deaths. Notable baseball players, such as Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies, have been diagnosed with the virus. I heard a news report that for every person diagnosed, there are ten undiagnosed people who have been infected which shows the reason for fear. 


SNY’s Andy Martino reported this week about the amended language added to the March agreement the MLB Owners executed and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred placed into force that gives the Commissioner the right to stop the season if necessary. Based on Manfred’s decisions in the Commissioner’s office up to this point, this type of power does not exactly inspire confidence. Per Martino, this paragraph was added:

"The Commissioner retains the right to suspend or cancel the 2020 championship season or postseason, or any games therein, in the event that (i) restrictions on travel throughout the United States are imposed; (ii) there is a material change in circumstances such that the Commissioner determines, after consultation with recognized medical experts and the Players Association, that it poses an unreasonable health and safety risk to players or staff to stage those games, even without fans in attendance; or (III) The number of players who are unavailable to perform services due to COVID-19 is so great that the competitive integrity of the season is undermined."

Martino referenced the first two covenants were agreed to by the two parties during their back and forth negotiations. The third covenant is the newly added wording that empowers Manfred to throw in the towel if the coronavirus threatens the integrity of the season. No doubt, while we hope for the best, we need to prepare for the worst.  


Setting the threat of doom and gloom aside, I am happy there soon will be baseball activity. Next  week we’ll see the players begin reporting to their home stadiums for the start of “summer” training. The images of players throwing, catching and hitting will be a very welcome sight. I still find it humorous Aaron Hicks will be ready for the rescheduled Opening Day after his off-season Tommy John surgery. While I do not know if that’s ever happened before (I don’t think it has), it’s certainly a first for the Yankees. Listening to the R2C2 podcast this week, I enjoyed CC Sabathia’s observation that if you beat Hicks in a game, he wants to keep playing until he figures out how to beat you. The perfect mindset for a Major League baseball player. 

I am not sure what to think about the 60-game schedule which will see the Yankees play 10 games against each of their division rivals, and unbalanced games against NL East teams for the remaining 20 games (making the Mets the most frequent opponent for those games). It will be a season of reunions with Dellin Betances (Mets), Didi Gregorius (Phillies), Starlin Castro (Nationals), and Joe Girardi (Phillies manager), among others. I get keeping the Yankees in the Eastern time zone to limit travel. It’s kind of nice there will be no West Coast games and their late starts but I am a little saddened it also means there will be no visit to the Bronx by the Houston Cheaters…at least not until October if the paths of the two teams cross. I am glad the Astros will have to play in Los Angeles against the Dodgers but a Bronx crowd would be harder on Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and company than the laid-back, seventh-inning departing sunny Southern CA crowd…if fans are even allowed to come into the stadiums. For the Astros, the coronavirus is probably the best thing that could have happened for them to deflect the deserved Bronx cheer they undoubtedly would have experienced across the country from normal, fan-filled stadiums. At least the Red Sox have to come to New York, but it’s not quite the same since their level of cheating didn’t broach the heights of the Astros scandal.  
Although the MLB trading deadline will be pushed to August 31st, it is doubtful there will be much trading activity this year. There’s a part of me that kind of hopes the game stoppage has impacted the Cleveland Indians to the point that they need to unload shortstop Francisco Lindor. I know, that’s mean. Sorry Terry Francona. But Lindor would look awfully good in Pinstripes.  

Photo Credit: Al Bello, Getty Images

I like the new extra inning rule, even if it is temporary, that puts a runner on second (the last out of the ninth inning or a designated runner) to start the tenth inning of extra inning games. Hello Tyler Wade. I am not a fan of those long extended inning games and prefer conclusion sooner rather than later. The obvious downside is giving the visiting team the advantage as it forces the home team to play catch-up if the runner scores. Mike Axisa mentioned the likelihood teams would sacrifice the runner to third and the next batter would be potentially walked to create the double-play possibility. Axisa’s suggestion was to cut to the chase, eliminate the extra time, and simply put runners at the corners. Makes sense to me. Axisa also mentioned the home team should bat first to gain the advantage. Another strong point. I am kind of hoping there is some success with the interim rule so that we’ll see some permanent form in the future.  Baseball is not meant to be played at midnight or 1 am, in my opinion.

Congratulations to the newest Yank, catcher Austin Wells, the first round selection of the Yankees in the recent shortened MLB draft. I was getting a little concerned when so much time had passed without news of his signing while other teams were locking up multiple draft picks. Fortunately, the Yankees finally got the signature of the former Boston Red Sox fan on the dotted line by paying him slightly more than the $2,493,900 recommended slot value.  



I haven’t seen any news about the other two draftees, Trevor Hauver and Beck May, but hopefully they’ll sign soon. 

I’ve watched as people moan about the Yankees taking another catcher (they took two high level catchers in the 2018 draft, the year Wells was selected in the 35th round, in Anthony Seigler and Josh Breaux). According to MLB.com, Seigler is currently ranked as the 15th best prospect in the Yankees organization and Breaux comes in at 23. 2018 international free agent signee Antonio Gomez, only 18, sits a spot ahead of Breaux, which gives the Yankees three catchers in their top 25. Heck, I still miss Luis Torrens, the young catcher the Yankees lost to the San Diego Padres a few years ago in the Rule 5 draft.  

Primarily, I believe you can never have enough good catchers. Not every one will pan out and catching tends to be a high position of need for many teams, creating valuable trade chips.  There is no assurance Wells will even remain at the position. His bat will play regardless of position and there has been talk he is a future first baseman or left fielder. Regardless of what the future holds, I am glad the Bishop Gorman high school product (Las Vegas) and University of Arizona Wildcat is a Yankee. Homers are always welcome and Wells’ bat intends to be heard. Welcome to the Yankees family, Austin! 

Spring training participant Chad Bettis, the former Colorado Rockies hurler and cancer survivor, has retired. I was doubtful he would make the Yankees but it’s hard not to root for a guy like him. There was a time when he was among the best starting pitchers with the Rockies but it’s been a tough road for him the last several years. The Yankees released him from his minor league contract after the retirement announcement. I do wish Bettis the best for whatever the future holds for him and I hope it is a happy and healthy life moving forward.  



I am fearful Gerrit Cole will decide to opt out of the season as a high risk athlete with a pregnant wife at home. His recent workouts at Yankee Stadium seem to imply he is “all in” but until he’s officially wearing Pinstripes, staring down Major League hitting opponents, nothing’s for sure. If he opted out, I would be very disappointed, as I am sure you would be too, but conversely, it would be hard to find fault with his decision. He has to do what makes the most sense for him and his family. If that means no baseball in 2020, I’d respect his decision (while quietly crying inside).  

I’d love to see some positive news about the health of Aaron Judge. I guess we’ll soon see when training camp resumes but Judge has clearly been the off-season mystery at least from a health perspective. Nothing against Clint Frazier, Mike Tauchman, or even Giancarlo Stanton, but I want to see Judge in right field on Opening Day.  Hopefully I am not asking for too much.

I am glad we can start talking about baseball again. This has been a very trying and painful year for so many reasons. The Yankees give us an exciting distraction from the brutal realities of life.  Who knows how this year will conclude but early predictions have the Yankees emerging as the World Series champion. A weird year to win a championship, sure, but ultimately a championship is a championship and I’d gladly embrace it without a caveat.  

As always, Go Yankees!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Meet the Undrafted Free Agents That Became the Newest Yankees


The MLB First Year Player's Draft was reduced from 40 rounds to just five rounds here in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, severely limiting the field and the number of amateur players that would begin their professional careers. Those undrafted in the five rounds this year were eligible to be signed by any team for no more than $20,000. Every team is expected to pick up multiple undrafted free agents this summer, especially now that the 2020 season is now a reality, and the Yankees are no exception to that. The team has already signed Elijah Dunhman, whom we met earlier on the blog, but there were a few more names that have inked Yankees contracts since the Draft... so let's meet them all too.


Carson Coleman (@Carson_Coleman) is a RHP out of the University of Kentucky. Coleman is a right-handed relief pitcher that may be on the fast track to the Bronx as early as 2020, or mid-2021. I won't count out 2020 because this year has been insane. Weirder things have happened. Coleman has three years under his belt with the Wildcats and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 33rd round of the 2019 Draft, but did not sign. In a pandemic-shortened 2020 season Coleman posted a 3.18 ERA in just six games, 5.2 IP, while striking out 13 batters (20.6 K/9) and walking just one on the way to a 0.882 WHIP. Coleman never started a game for the University of Kentucky, nor the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League, so the right-hander is a pure reliever at this point. Not to say that the Yankees won't attempt to convert him into a starter (Chance Adams and others come to mind as recent examples of this), but it appears for now Coleman may be a part of the Scranton Shuttle sooner rather than later.


Ocean Gabonia is a right-handed pitcher out of Everett Community College. Gabonia is looking to be the next hidden gem that we are all talking about in 5-10 years that found his way to the Major League Level after going relatively unnoticed prior to his drafting. I don't mean that as an insult, Gabonia himself said that he was "surprised" by the signing, but also stated that he is ready to "chase his dreams" with the New York Yankees. Gabonia is not yet 19-years old and has a ways to go in terms of physical development, currently standing 6'1" but just 175 lbs. Gabonia is limited in experience as he is yet to pitch in the Cape Cod League or an equivalent. Gabonia was throwing just 84 MPH fastballs in 2019, but improved his velocity to 88-89 MPH while topping out at 91 MPH at a preseason Northwest Athletic Conference showcase last year. The Yankees like Gabonia's "live and loose arm," his mechanics, his makeup on the mound, and his passion and heart for the game while he is on the mound. The next Mariano Rivera? Unlikely, but wow this could be a great story for Gabonia and the Yankees alike.


Trevor Holloway is a right-handed pitcher out of the University of Central Florida. In two seasons, including the shortened 2020 season, Holloway has started a total of 10 games for UCF posting a combined 5-1 record in 49.1 innings pitched. Holloway posted a 2.01 ERA in 2019 and a 1.19 ERA in 2020 while striking out 66 and walking only 21 batters. Holloway is an advanced metrics driven pitcher that possesses a 90-92 MPH fastball that matches up well with his slider and curveball. Holloway is certainly a project for the Yankees and their minor league development team, but given the current state of the game and the draft it almost makes no sense not to take a flyer on a guy like Holloway. While he has had pitching arm injuries in the past, for example a biceps injury ended his 2019 season prematurely, for $20K you take the chance of finding lightning in a bottle. I, for one, am rooting for Mr. Holloway in pinstripes.


Connor Pellerin was also signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane University. Pellerin is the 5th college right-handed pitcher that the Yankees signed after the draft, but Connor may throw the hardest out of them all. Pellerin spent the bulk of his time at Tulane as a relief pitcher, meaning a fast track to the Bronx could be in the works. Pellerin fits the "mold" that the Yankees like when drafting or signing a pitcher. The RHP is an intimidating presence on the mound standing 6'4" and weighing in at 210 pounds. Pellerin will be 21-years old next month and is coming off an impressive 2.25 ERA in six relief appearances during the shortened 2020 season. Pellerin compiled a 4-4 record with a 5.67 ERA over 55 collegiate appearances (two of them as a starter) allowing 54 hits and 75 walks (maybe his biggest gating issue en route to the Bronx) and 94 strikeouts in 74.2 innings pitched. Pellerin has a mid-90's fastball that can touch as high as 97 MPH with a solid, average slider. Pellerin's lack of a third pitch will likely keep him in the bullpen, as well as his lack of control. Control can be worked on and fixed.



The final UDFA the Yankees signed that we will talk about on this post is a right-handed pitcher out of BYU that goes by the name of Jarod Lessar. Lessar has pitched for two seasons with BYU after losing his freshman season to Rheumatoid arthritis. As a Sophomore, Lessar was throwing 92-MPH fastballs which offered him the chance to play for the Cougars professionally. Lessar posted a 3-2 record with a 4.44 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 48.2 IP as a Junior. As a Senior, Lessar appeared in five games, four starts, with 15 strikeouts in 16.1 IP in a shortened season. Lessar grew up a Yankees fan and even wore the #13, the number of his favorite player Alex Rodriguez. Lessar, the starting pitcher, possesses a low-90's cutting fastball to go with a slider, a curveball and a changeup as well. As a reliever, though, Lessar drops his repertoire to just a fastball and a slider with his heater touching 94-95 MPH. Lessar played football, not baseball, for much of his High School career and lost his freshman year, as we stated earlier, so his development is still in the "raw" stage. Don't expect Lessar to fly through the ranks, but that doesn't mean he won't get to the Bronx. His makeup is there and so is the stuff, he just has to stay healthy and put the work in.


To all the recent draftees and UDFA signings, welcome to the family. 






Meet a Prospect: Elijah Dunham


The New York Yankees signed an undrafted outfielder out of the University of Indiana, and his name is Elijah Dunham. Let's meet him.

Dunham was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 40th round of the 2019 MLB First Year Player's Draft, but did not sign with the club. Dunham was able to break into the Top 250 rankings by ESPN's Kiley McDaniels before the 2020 MLB Draft that was reduced from 40 round to just five, but was not drafted. The Yankees scooped him up for the $20K signing bonus that all undrafted players must sign for.

Dunham is a left-handed batting and throwing outfielder from Evansville, Indiana. Dunham is listed at 6'0" and weighs in at 213 lbs. Dunham is also listed as a first base option, playing 18 games there during his amateur career. It appears, though, that Dunham's future is as a corner outfielder due to his size and balanced offensive profile.

In a shortened 2020 season, Dunham put up a .390/.493/.559/1.052 quad slash in 15 games (71 PA) with one home run and 11 RBI. Dunham struck out just eight times and drew 11 walks with seven doubles.

Here is a statement from Dunham, linked off his Twitter account:

“After much consideration of what is best for my baseball career I have decided to sign a deal with the New York Yankees.  It’s time for me to take my opportunity and bet on myself.  I’m extremely confident in my abilities and know the Yankees can continue to develop them at the highest level.  I first want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing me with this chance.  Also a huge thanks to Coach Mercer, the unbelievable staff, and teammates at IU who have helped me come to this point.  I don’t know where I’d be without them.  It’s time to get to work.”

Dunham joins other undrafted players the Yankees have signed since the Draft:

Carson Coleman, a RHP from Kentucky
Ocean Gabonia, a RHP from Everett Community College
Trevor Holloway, a RHP from Central Florida
Jarod Lessar, a RHP from BYU


What You Need To Know About Baseball in 2020


Major League Baseball will be back for the 2020 season, here is what you need to know:

- Spring Training v2 starts on July 1st with players reporting. Actual camp begins July 3rd. Players have to arrive two days early for coronavirus testing. Spring training will take place in team's home cities.

- The regular season starts on July 23rd or 24th.

- No expanded playoffs.

- Players will be able to opt out of the 2020 season and receive full service time if the players are at high risk of contracting the coronavirus, or if they live with a spouse who is at a high-risk, or pregnant).

- 60 game season including 40 games within your own division, and 20 games against your geographical counterpart in the other league. AL East plays NL East, etc.

- Universal DH for both leagues will be implemented.

- 10-Day DL for all players, and there will be a COVID-19 DL with no specific timetable for return. 60-Day DL has been cut to 45 days for severely injured players.

- Trade deadline day is August 31st.

- Rosters are 60 players deep and are expected to be finalized by Sunday, June 28th.

- Each team can carry three "taxicab players" with them at all times, but one must be a catcher.

- Teams can invite all 60 players to spring camps, but can send up to 20 to "alternate sites."

- Players have to be added to the MLB roster by 9/15 to be eligible for the postseason.

- The league is considering having two full "emergency teams" that will be paid $400 a week as an emergency pool. Teams will have to pay the Nashville team to sign any of their players.

- Starting in the 10th inning, every team will start with a runner on 2nd base for extra innings. This would only apply for the regular season and not for the postseason.



More to come as it gets released, but baseball IS happening in 2020. It's still Cole World, and it's still the Yankees World Series to lose.


The World Series is Back On in New York!



Welcome back to the blog!

As I am sure most everyone has heard, baseball is back for the 2020 season. Despite the concerns surrounding the country right now, including COVID-19, Major League Baseball and the Players Union have agreed to a 60-game season here in 2020. The 2020 season will be unlike any other that any of have seen during our lifetime, and not just because the number of games being played is significantly less than the usual 162-game marathon. The universal DH will be making its way to the league, giving the National League their first real taste of the designated hitter. Also, there will be a schedule change that will include 40 games within your own division and 20 games against teams in the NL that share your divisional alignment (The AL East plays the NL East, the AL Central plays the NL Central, the AL West plays the NL West). The Yankees will play 10 games each against the Baltimore Orioles, the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays while they will also play 4 games each against the Atlanta Braves, the New York Mets, the Miami Marlins, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals.

There will be no expanded playoffs, and whether anyone likes it or not... the World Series WILL count for 2020. It's in the record books, deal with it. No asterisk. Wouldn't be an asterisk if the Red Sox, Astros, or Mets won it, so there won't be one when the Yankees win it. Deal with it and save your tears.

I am so excited to be back, ladies and gents. The game needed this, in some opinions the country needed this, and I really, REALLY needed this.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

To Be or Not To Be, MLB is the Question...

Photo Credit: Mark Cunningham, Getty Images

Players Association Expected to Vote Today…

I had hoped that we could be talking about the Yankees and actual baseball by now but, sadly, we’re not. As the pain back and forth continues, we’re caught in the middle. The players will vote today regarding the MLB Owners’ latest proposal (instead of “a few days” according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale). The billionaire boys club is proposing a 60-game schedule with full pro rata pay which includes expanded playoffs and a universal DH in both leagues.

I don’t know. I am starting to lose interest in salvaging this season. I thought a schedule of 82 games was the last hope for meaningful baseball.  60 games does not really prove anything except which teams get hot at the right time which will not necessarily the best teams in the game. I know the expanded playoffs are a financial boon for the owners but it further dilutes our ability to see the best teams play. 

I am disappointed. If the Yankees still manage to win the World Series this year (assuming they actually play), I’ll be happy and I won’t place a caveat on the season. By the same token, if the Chicago White Sox blaze through with a rapid ascension of their young talent, it wouldn’t surprise and I wouldn’t place a caveat on them either. Nevertheless, this will be a strange, perplexing year no matter how it ends. From a sports fan’s perspective, it might be the worst year of our lifetimes. 

Seeing the Instagram pics Gerrit Cole posted, throwing from the Yankee Stadium mound in shorts was not exactly the image I wanted to see this summer in the Bronx. I would have preferred pinstripes and real competition.  It’s a sad reminder of what we are missing.

Photo Credit: Gerrit Cole via Instagram, @gerritcole45

I am bummed we are missing out on a year of the careers of our favorite players. The life of a baseball player is short even if you can make it to the Major Leagues.  In some cases, a player may only get a year or two (or less). The time lost could mean guys who might have made it never will.  Players on the downslope are still on a downward trajectory despite no games. Time and age will not wait for anybody except for maybe Tom Brady. Players in their prime move closer to the edge of downward spiral. Who knows what magical moments might have happened so far in the 2020 season if it had started on schedule. Or missing the beautiful sights and sounds of great baseball fans everywhere hurtling deserved insults and boos at the Houston Astros.  

I feel MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has been largely ineffective since he took over the role from Bud Selig. I have felt the players have reasonably tried to make the season happen while the owners are most concerned about how to protect their investments (the dollars, not the players). These tense negotiations are setting up a very contentious, difficult battle after the 2021 season when the current collective bargaining agreement expires.  

Frankly, if the next few days only bring more rejections, I will be officially on board with shit-canning the season. 


I am truly at the ‘why bother?’ stage. The MLB owners obviously do not care about us so why should we care about them? I’d love to see some decisions made “for the good of the game”. 

If Baseball somehow finds a way to play this year, it does seem weird the Yankees will have to use Yankee Stadium to hold “Spring” Training. Since the seasons changed yesterday, I guess this makes the first Summer Training for MLB. With spring training homes closed in Florida due to the coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said the Yankees (and the Mets) have permission to use their New York stadiums for training purposes. Too bad they didn’t leave the old Yankee Stadium up. Then they would have had two legitimate baseball fields to work with. As it stands, they have the single main field of the current Yankee Stadium, four bullpen mounds and an indoor batting facility. I guess they should model Adam Ottavino’s idea from several off-seasons ago when he rented vacant commercial space and converted it to a pitching facility. 

It seems strange, with the possible restart of baseball, Aaron Hicks is a stronger bet to start the season than Aaron Judge. I have absolutely no idea what is going on with Judge. Meanwhile, Hicks has proclaimed he is ready. I guess the doubt about Judge will keep Clint Frazier’s name relevant in training camp. Clint has been the guy I’d love to see the Yankees trade to create opportunity for him, but as long as he is a Yankee, I guess I will continue to hold out hope he has that magical, transformational Yankee moment. If I was a betting man, that’s not exactly a bet I’d make but I’d love to be proven wrong and if he is going to find Major League success, better with the Yankees than not.  

Until the Yankees sign their draft picks, I am not going to get excited about Austin Wells, Trevor Hauver or Beck May. I liked the picks but they are just guys who happen to play baseball and are not true Yankee prospects until they sign on the dotted line. With other teams locking up their draftees, the eery silence among the Yankees’ picks worries me that they might not sign at all.  I think Wells is a great story. Drafted in high school by the Yankees in 2018 (35th round, the same year they took catcher Anthony Siegler with their first pick), he chose to go to college over signing with the Yankees. Betting on himself paid dividends as he parlayed his worth into the Yankees’ first pick in the 2020 draft. The negative is that he picked the wrong year to do it. The other negative is his agent (Scott Boras). The odds of getting Wells signed this time around appear to be nearly as challenging as two years ago. We’ll see. I hope the one-time Red Sox fan realizes how much the Yankees want him and have the resources and coaching talent to help him become the best he can be, whether it is behind the plate or at another position.  

I was a little saddened to see former Yankees pitching prospect Manny Banuelos, 29, sign to play in the Chinese Professional Baseball League this week. Not that I thought he had any chance of making it back to the Major Leagues at this point, but the failure to fulfill the promise he once showed when he was part of the Killer B’s in the Yankees’ farm system with Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman. Every time Banuelos landed with a new MLB team, I had hoped he would find success but it has not happened for him. I know non-Yankee fans like to say Banuelos is just another overhyped former Yankees prospect but I did and still do believe that he had the talent  at the time necessary to succeed. Whether it was injuries, focus, control, consistency or whatever stopped him from reaching his ceiling, it doesn’t erase the fact he was once a talented, young prospect with value. Even though it didn’t work out, I think it is unfair to dismiss him as over-hyped. Jesus Montero, yeah, he was over-hyped…

I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. To all fathers, I hope this has been a wonderful Father's Day for you and your families.  

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Ready, Set, Wait...

Photo Credit: AP

Continued waiting game for possible MLB Season…

I had been hopeful MLB would resolve the plan to return for the 2020 season by now but so far, it’s been a stand-off. Meanwhile, the NBA and NHL in what seemed to be peaceful and easy negotiations from afar, are preparing for their modified seasons.

I thought the proposal by the players association for a 114-game season was a bit aggressive with October seemingly right around the corner, but the owners’ idea of a 48 to 54 game season makes even less sense. Personally, as much as I would like 100 games, a season of 82 games seems reasonable and possible if we can get Spring Training restarted soon. Probably the one thing I do not like about the NBA’s plans is the season extending to December 1st which delays the start of their 2021 season. I’d rather see season modifications made for this year, without impacting next. If MLB is still playing baseball in December, next season would have to be delayed. Honestly, the thought of baseball past Halloween is bone-chillingly cold.  

It seems like in what could have been (should have been?) a championship year for the Yankees, we’ll somehow get cheated out of watching this talented team perform at its highest level. A random team will get hot and ride it to short season success. No doubt a reduced schedule will help teams like the Boston Red Sox as their flaws can be masked over a shorter collection of games. The cheaters win again. However this season plays out, I am ready to begin and finish it so that we can move on to, hopefully, 162 regular season games next year. 2020, despite the numbers, has not been a good year to see clearly.  

I do think the longer this drags out, the more I am in favor of scraping the entire season. I never thought I’d say that, but I am tired of the MLB owners using their own self-serving agendas in an attempt to get far-reaching concessions from the players. I know the players may be guilty of their own selfishness but if the two sides wanted to play baseball as soon as possible, it would happen…particularly the greedy owners.   

I know it’s easier for the NBA and NHL to put together plans for their respective post-season schedules since they’ve both already played the bulk of their regular season games this year whereas MLB is just trying to get started. That’s a big difference and surely accounts for some of the delay in the two sides coming together for the greater good. I think what bothers me more is that a labor dispute is right around the corner when the current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2021 season. There is potential for more disruptions in play regardless of what happens this season. The next couple of years are going to be rocky. I wish MLB had a better, stronger commissioner in place than Rob Manfred. As they say, it is the difficult times that define us. Manfred faces the biggest challenges that have been encountered by his office in years. Good or bad, he will be remembered for how he handles this path and the success (or lack thereof) emerging from his choices and decisions. 

Photo Credit: John Raoux, AP

I think there is still some optimism for a 2020 season but honestly I think it’s anybody’s guess.  This could easily go either way. You’d think eventually the almighty dollar would be the winner for bringing back baseball but when you have billions like a many of the MLB owners, it’s easy to move on to other play things.  

Thinking about a potential season, I know I am, like many, anxious and excited to see Gerrit Cole in Pinstripes but I am equally excited to see the potential of young players who will get their first significant opportunities for the Show, like Michael King, Deivi Garcia, and others. 

I can still remember when Don Mattingly was in the minors and referred to as “just a singles hitter”. The excitement of opportunity and changing perceptions is the beautiful aspect of our favorite sport. Mike Ford surprised many people last year. Going into the season, it appeared he was just another name on a long list of prospects that would probably need a change of scenery for any hope to accomplish his Major League dreams. A Ryan McBroom type of dump on the Kansas City Royals (no disrespect to McBroom…just making the point that the door of opportunity never opened for him at Yankee Stadium). I want to see what Ford can do now that his stock has been raised in the eyes of the Yankees. I like the current combo of Ford and Luke Voit, certainly more so than the previous Voit/Greg Bird duo. I liked Bird but you couldn’t trust him to stay healthy. Ford seems more durable. They may not be Mattingly, Tino Martinez, Jason Giambi or Mark Teixeira, but they can be World Series champions.   

Photo Credit: AP

Is Gio Urshela for real? This remains a valid question. I am glad the roster includes Miguel Andujar, defensive shortcomings and all, as a fallback plan if Urshela proves to be a one season wonder. Ideally, I hope Gio builds upon last season and is even better, with greater consistency, this season. There’s a role for Andujar on this team regardless of what happens with Gio.  

If I have one big concern, it has to be the mystery of Aaron Judge’s health. We really need Giancarlo Stanton to stay healthy so that he can be the monster bat if Judge is not ready for whatever reason. It seems weird that I am more concerned about Judge’s health than Stanton’s but it is what it is. I think Judge is such an important part of the team and I don’t want to see injuries derail his luster in the Bronx and lead to an eventual premature exit. For Stanton, I would just like to see a strong beginning to end with no or minimal time on the DL. I may be asking for a lot but the lineup is better with one or both of these guys in it. 

While I think Aaron Boone has really grown into a great manager, I am interested in seeing how the dynamics of a new bench coach play out with Carlos Mendoza taking over for the departed Josh Bard. We didn’t really get to see much of the relationship during the shortened Spring Training in late February and early March. I am excited for Mendy and I think he’ll be successful in his new role. He certainly has the command and respect of the players. A bench coach is a bit of an unsung role but the power of in-game decisions is hugely important and Boonie needs as much input as possible to make the best possible decisions. I know Bard is a smart guy but from the outside looking in, Mendy seems to be more of a players coach. I could be wrong on that one since I don’t have any insight into the relationships but from my outside view, there seems to be better trust in the new bench coach.  

Lastly, but most importantly…

Photo Credit: Adam Berry, Getty Images

This week has been a very challenging time for our Nation. I am not a political person and I don’t want to use the blog as a soap box, but I would be remiss for not saying anything. I believe George Floyd was a good man and I believe his death was wrong, so very wrong. I am grateful his killer has been charged with second degree murder but I want more, I want a conviction with the maximum sentence. I am glad his accomplices, the other Minneapolis police officers who stood by doing nothing, have also been charged. 

#BlackLivesMatter

Too many men and women have died unfairly for the color of their skin. White supremacy or privilege must end. We are all people with genuine feelings and emotions who love our friends and family. We’re all capable of accomplishing great things in this world and making it a better place for our children. I support the peaceful protests staged around the country, while separating the looting and violence as acts of ignorance and greed. I tend to be an eternal optimist but I hope the tragedy that befell George Floyd can be used to exact the necessary change from our country to make this a safer world for everyone and eliminate racial injustice forevermore. The realist in me knows this will be an ongoing fight but I truly hope we can make positive advances in the right direction and the end of wrongful injuries and death and police brutality are near. When we’re dead and gone, we’ll just be a collection of bones or ashes. The time to make a difference is now. Together, we can bring unity to the United States and make this a better place for everyone.  

As always, Go Yankees!