Monday, September 25, 2017

Judge Overruled by the Blue Jays...

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Blue Jays 9, Yankees 5...

Despite two home runs by Aaron Judge, the Yankees couldn't overcome shoddy pitching and lost the rubber game of the three-game series on Sunday to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Pardon me if I don't get excited when Jaime Garcia is on the mound. I know that he did a decent job last time out, but he's a subpar starter at best and a future ex-Yankee. Unfortunately, he played to form on Sunday. I don't know if it was the hangover from Saturday's celebration or simply the usual dismal performance from Garcia that put the Yanks in a hole early.

I suppose I shouldn't blame Garcia for the home run he allowed Teoscar Hernandez to lead off the game. Hernandez's home run to the second deck of the left field stands on the second pitch of the game was his third against the Yankees in three games. Both Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray felt Garcia's pain. The Jays up early, 1-0.

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

It didn't take the Jays long to add to their lead. Kevin Pillar led off the bottom of the 2nd inning with a double to the left field wall. With Russell Martin batting, Pillar easily stole third. Martin struck out, but Darwin Barney took advantage of the runner in scoring position to loft a sacrifice fly to center when he punched a low Garcia pitch. Pillar scored and it was 2-0.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Justin Smoak hit a one-out double to deep center between Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Garcia walked the next two batters, Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales, to load the bases. Manager Joe Girardi had seen enough (of course, I had seen enough of Garcia when he was taking his warmup pitches before the game) and made his way to the mound.

Credit:  Getty Images

Garcia was pulled and replaced with Jonathan Holder. Holder got Pillar to pop up in foul territory (third base side) for the second out, but then Russell Martin hit a double to deep right that Aaron Judge couldn't get to. The double cleared the bases, and the Blue Jays were up 5-0.  

The Yankees finally got to Jays starter Marcus Stroman in the top of the 4th inning. Chase Headley and Aaron Judge both walked to start the inning.  Didi Gregorius singled to center to score Headley. Judge moved to second.  It was a 5-1 game. Starlin Castro hit into a fielder's choice that forced Gregorius out at second, with Judge moving to third. Unfortunately, Judge would stay at third as both Jacoby Ellsbury and Todd Frazier struck out against Stroman to end the potential scoring opportunity.

Bryan Mitchell was brought in to pitch the bottom of the 4th inning. No offense to Mitchell but he's not the guy I would have brought into the game at that point. I like Mitchell but he's been like gasoline poured on fire this season and not in a good way. Ryan Goins singled to left to get things started against Mitchell. After Teoscar Hernandez walked, Josh Donaldson singled up the middle to center field to score Goins, with Hernandez taking second. With Justin Smoak batting, Mitchell threw a wild pitch to advance the runners. It didn't matter as Smoak walked to load the bases. Jose Bautista singled to right, scoring Goins, and the bases were still loaded. Kendrys Morales singled to left, scoring Hernandez and Donaldson. Bautista also tried to score but was nailed at the plate. After Mitchell hit Kevin Pillar with a pitch, Girardi finally pulled the plug on Mitchell. Not quite sure what took him so long to make that decision. Ben Heller came in and got Russell Martin to hit into an inning-ending double play. The Blue Jays held a commanding 9-1 lead over the Bombers.

In the top of the 6th inning, Aaron Judge led off with a home run to left, on a fly just over the wall, off Marcus Stroman. It was Judge's 47th homer of the season.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

With two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a ground-rule double to deep center. A walk of Todd Frazier ended Stroman's day. Matt Dermody entered the game to face Greg Bird and exited when Bird doubled to deep right off the wall to score Ellsbury. Frazier moved to third. Ryan Tepera took over for Dermody and got Austin Romine to ground out to third for the final out.  

Chase Headley reached base on a single up the middle with one out in the top of the 7th inning against Tepera. Aaron Judge followed with a two-run blast to left center to cut the Jays' lead to 9-5. It was Judge's second home run of the game and his 48th of the season (one shy of the MLB Rookie Record held by Mark McGwire).  

From there, the Yankees couldn't really mount much offense against Blue Jays bullpen. Jays closer Roberto Osuna took over in the 9th inning. After Osuna struck out Brett Gardner, the Blue Jays sent Ezequiel Carrera to right field to replace Jose Bautista. Joey Bats, perhaps playing his final home game for Toronto, made his way off the field through a series of hugs with the on-the-field players and received congratulations in the dugout. It is a foregone conclusion that Bautista won't be back for the Blue Jays in 2018 given a $20 million mutual option that the team would be foolish to pick up for a player in the twilight of his career. It was a nice moment for the long-time Blue Jay.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Credit:  Jon Blacker-The Canadian Press

Osuna struck out the next two batters, Chase Headley and Aaron Judge, to end the game.  

The Yankees (86-69) lost further ground to the Boston Red Sox with their first series loss since being swept by the Cleveland Indians in late August. The Red Sox rallied to defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4, and now hold a commanding five game lead in the AL East with seven games to play. The Minnesota Twins swept the Detroit Tigers with their 10-4 win on Sunday so they closed the gap in the Wild Card standings to 4 1/2 games. This definitely makes me wish that Jaime Garcia had been pitching for the Twins, and the not the Yankees, the last few weeks.  We would have had a much greater lead.

Aaron Judge was clearly the hitting star with the two home runs, but he couldn't do it all himself. God bless him for trying.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Dellin Betances looked good. Pitching the 8th inning, he did hit a batter (Justin Smoak) but otherwise retired the batters he faced. He ended the inning with a swinging strikeout of Kendry Morales. The Yankees really need to get this guy back to form and soon. Hopefully this was a step in the right direction.  

I was hoping for better results yesterday but the Yankees need to focus on the task at hand. Time to head back to Yankee Stadium and make a strong home stand to end the season.  

Next Up:  Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York...

The Yankees and Royals play one game which is a makeup for the rainout on May 25th. At the time, the Yankees had taken two of three games from the Royals when the fourth game was postponed. Mathematically, the Royals still have a chance for the second Wild Card spot but their days are numbered (literally and figuratively speaking).  

Here is today's scheduled pitching matchup:

Royals:  Jake Junis (8-2, 4.05 ERA)

Yankees:  CC Sabathia (12-5, 3.81 ERA)

The Yankees currently lead the season series with the Royals, four games to two. At the time of the rainout, the Yankees were 27-17.  

The Tampa Bay Rays will be in town for three games beginning Tuesday night.

Odds & Ends...

The Washington Nationals plan to activate RF Bryce Harper off the disabled list today to begin their series in Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals, who already look like the best team in the NL with the recent collapse of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will try to get Harper in top form before October.  

Have a great Monday! Hopefully today is a royal success for the home team. Go Yankees!

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/25: Derek Jeter is Amazing

Derek Jeter played the final game of his Yankees career inside Yankee Stadium on this day in 2014 and Jeter went out only the way that Jeter could go out, dramatically. New York had a huge lead in the contest leaving many to speculate how and when manager Joe Girardi would take Jeter out for his standing ovation but David Robertson blew a save in the 9th inning setting up Jeter's heroics one last time. Jeter came up in the bottom of the ninth and laced the first pitch he saw through the hole on the right side scoring Antoan Richardson to give the Yankees a walk off victory. Jeter. Is.Amazing.

The 2009 New York Yankees team was good, really good in fact, and absolutely earned the nickname of the Bronx Bombers. On this day in 2009 Alex Rodriguez hit a third inning home run for the Yankees 127th home run at home of the season, a new franchise record. The 2004 and 2005 Yankees both went yard 126 times each at the old Yankee Stadium before the new record was set.

Also on this day in 1998 the Yankees set an American League record with their 112th win of the season, a 6-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The 1906 Chicago Cubs went 116-36 and still hold the major league record for victories in a season.

Finally on this day in 1968 Mickey Mantle stepped up to the plate for his last Yankee Stadium at bat. Coincidentally tonight is Derek Jeter’s final Yankee Stadium at bat but I digress. Mantle would walk against Luis Tiant before the Yankees fell to the Indians 3-0.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Bye-Bye Birdie, Hello Playoffs...

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images
Yankees 5, Blue Jays 1...

What a difference a day makes! Put Sonny Gray on the mound, give him a few runs and all is better in the world as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays and secured a post-season berth.  

On paper, Sonny Gray versus Joe Biagini seems like a mismatch. But early, Biagini was the better pitcher. Biagini breezed through the first three innings facing only the minimum number of batters (thanks to a double play in the second inning which eliminated the only Yankee baserunner). Meanwhile, Gray had a runner in scoring position in the first inning (which he escaped) and then allowed a third inning home run to Teoscar Hernandez which gave the Blue Jays the early 1-0 lead. Hernandez absolutely crushed the ball high into the center field stands. It was his second home run against Yankees in as many days.

The Yankees finally broke through against Biagini in the fifth inning. Chase Headley led off the inning with a walk. While Jacoby Ellsbury was batting, Headley successfully stole second. Ells subsequently struck out, but Starlin Castro followed by taking the second walk of the inning. Greg Bird, with a beautiful swing, homered to right center. As John Sterling said, "Bye-bye, Birdie! In the right field seats...the Birdman of New York...and the Yankees promptly take the 3-1 lead".  

Gray was cruising until the sixth inning when he had trouble throwing strikes and had two men on base with free passes with only one out. Kevin Pillar lined a sharp fly to left center on a ball that looked like it might have a chance to drop in but a great running catch by Brett Gardner prevented the potential extra base hit. Gray retired the next  batter, Ryan Goins, on a ground out to get out of the inning.  

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

For Gray, his day was done. Chad Green came in for the bottom of the seventh, and did what he does best. Three up, three down...two by strikeout. C-Green will certainly help the Yankees see green (the money) in October.  

Credit:  Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Frazier added an insurance run in the top of the eighth when he hit a solo home run over the center field wall. 4-1, Yankees. David Robertson took over in the bottom of the eighth and repeated Green's performance...three batters, two strikeouts. Wash, rinse, works for me.

On to the top of the ninth and the Yankees weren't done. Gary Sanchez led off the inning with a double off the center field wall. Kevin Pillar went to the wall and got his glove on the ball but surprisingly, for Pillar given his strong defense, wasn't able to make the catch. Gary Sanchez hesitated as if he thought the ball was either caught or out of the park but then ran safely to second after realizing it was in play. Moral of the story, always hustle. Chase Headley reached on a one-out walk, but he was erased when Jacoby Ellsbury hit into a fielder's choice that erased Headley at second. But Sanchez was able to move to third. So, runners at the corners and two outs for Starlin Castro.  Castro hit a slow infield grounder that got past the pitcher. Third baseman Josh Donaldson charged the ball but couldn't make the transfer. Runners safe as Sanchez crossed the plate for the Yankees' final run.

Aroldis Chapman took over in the bottom of the 9th. He didn't have the strikeouts of his two predecessors, but he still retired the three batters he faced in the non-save situation for the win. It was appropriate the final out was recorded by former Yankee Robert Refsnyder, pinch-hitting for Ryan Goins, when he hit a grounder to first with Greg Bird stepping on the bag to end the game. The Yankees win!

Credit:  Fred Thornill-AP

The Yankees (86-68) were business-like on the field with hugs and high-fives after the game, but pandemonium broke loose in the clubhouse as the Yankees celebrated their first post-season appearance since 2015.

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images
Credit:  Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the win, they were unable to make up any ground on the Red Sox and remain four games behind in the AL East. Boston defeated the hapless Cincinnati Reds, 5-0, in a game that featured an inning of relief by Reds reliever Luke Farrell, son of Red Sox manager John Farrell. It would have been poetic justice for the younger Farrell to beat his pop but it was not meant to be.  The Yankees also remain 5 1/2 games up on the Minnesota Twins for home-field advantage in the Wild Card game. The Twins haven't secured their WC spot yet but they continue to win and presently hold a commanding 4 1/2 game edge over the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, and Los Angeles Angels.  

Sonny Gray (10-11) showed what Masahiro Tanaka did not. When the stakes are high, raise the level of your play. Gray may not have had his best stuff on Saturday but he held the Blue Jays to four hits and one run in six innings. He walked three, but that was primarily the two he walked in the sixth when he was tiring. He struck out four.  

Excellent job by the Bullpen. Three innings, no hits, no runs, four strikeouts.  The Bullpen is the October difference-maker. If the Yankees can only get Dellin Betances right, you have to like the team's late inning chances against the game's best teams.     

Odds & Ends...

Magic Numbers:  The Yankees magic number to clinch home-field advantage for the Wild Card game is three (any combination of Yankees wins or Twins losses). The more impossible reach (AL East Championship) stands at five games (any combination of Red Sox wins or Yankees losses). With eight games remaining, the Red Sox do not play a team with a winning record until they entertain the Houston Astros at Fenway Park starting Thursday for the final series of the season. Even then, it's possible that the Astros won't have anything left to play for if the Cleveland Indians secure home field advantage for the play-offs. In other words, I don't see the Red Sox losing anytime soon.

It does seem weird to have a champagne (and beer) celebration for the right to play one game that may or may not be won by the best team. I know, it's better to have some chance than no chance. I personally do not buy into the Yankees' dominance of the Twins as reason for optimism. Too much can happen with a single game and a bad start by the likely starter, Luis Severino, can send the Bombers home for the winter. My excitement will come if the Yankees can win that single game to advance to the expanded play-offs against the division winners.  

Luis Severino was struck by a batted ball before yesterday's game. He was in the outfield playing catch during pre-game warmups when he was hit in the shoulder. The ball was believed to have been hit by Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile. Sevy dropped to the stadium turf but was able to get up to resume playing catch after being checked out by head athletic trainer Steve Donohue.  Fortunately, it was his non-throwing shoulder but it's still scary to see your ace go down.  

Have a great Sunday! Hopefully this is a winning final road game of the regular season kind of day. Go Yankees!

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/24: “The Yankees Were My Daddy”

Only five players in the history of the New York Yankees have ever hit 40 home runs in consecutive seasons. On this day in 2012 Curtis Granderson, the fifth player in franchise history, joined Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Mickey Mantle in a 6-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

Also on this day in 2011, speaking of home runs, the Yankees honored and celebrated the 50th anniversary of Roger Maris hitting his record breaking 61st home run on the season. Derek Jeter carried the actual bat that Maris used to hit the home run out to the plate in a pre-game ceremony while the fan who caught the ball, Sal Durante, brought the actual ball to home plate as well.

Finally on this day in 2004 the New York Yankees beat Red Sox pitcher so bad in Fenway Park that Martinez called the Yankees his daddy, literally. The Yankees fans did not let Pedro live that one down as chants of “Who’s your daddy?” rained in the Bronx during every Martinez start after that.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Quick Hit: Billy McKinney to Learn First Base This Winter

The New York Yankees presumably teach a lot of things down on their farm systems and in their various minor league affiliates but one thing more than anything this team may teach is versatility. Flexibility is the name of the game here in Major League Baseball these days and the Yankees are trying to keep pace, whether it be for usefulness on the field or whether it be to boost a prospects trade value is anyone’s guess but nonetheless the efforts are there. These efforts will be on full display once again this winter in the instructional leagues when one of New York’s up-and-coming prospects learns a new position, first base. His name is Billy McKinney and he is one of the many outfielders currently being blocked by the wall that is Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, and Jacoby Ellsbury to name a few.

The Yankees announced this week that the 23-year old will learn first base this winter in the instructional league as well as playing both corner outfield positions. McKinney was sent to the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs last summer in the Aroldis Chapman trade along with Gleyber Torres and has paid immediate dividends for the Yankees, especially since New York ultimately ended up getting Chapman back this winter via free agency. Now McKinney faces the possibility of playing for a third team in his minor league career as New York is faced with the decision to protect McKinney and add him to their 40 man roster or leave the outfielder unprotected for any team to snatch him up in this December’s Rule 5 Draft.

McKinney, a left-handed bat, broke out in a big way this season after being promoted to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre and has opened a lot of eyes not only within the Yankees organization but outside the organization as well. Is this a power move for the Yankees as they prepare to trade McKinney in lieu of a roster crunch or does the team truly want and need another left-handed compliment to Greg Bird? The things that make you go hmmmmm. Stay tuned.

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays 9/23

And just like that ladies and gentleman it is game time once again between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. In the middle game of this three game set the Yankees will send Sonny Gray to the mound to face off with Joe Biagini for the Blue Jays. The game will be played at 4:07 pm ET inside Rogers Centre and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV. Enjoy the game!

Follow us on twitter by following @GreedyStripes and enjoy the game. Need a win, crush the Blue Jays and get a win. Go Yankees!

Prediction: Yankees win 14-5

Minor League Baseball Names 2017 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® Winners

Minor League Baseball Names 2017 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® Winners

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor League Baseball and Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc., today announced the nine recipients of the 2017 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® for defensive excellence. The winners at each position were selected from players in the 10 domestic-based, full-season Minor Leagues. Each player will receive his own Rawlings Gold Glove Award, modeled after the iconic award given to Major League Baseball’s top defensive players, during the 2018 season.

“The Rawlings Gold Glove Award® is recognized as baseball’s highest measure of defensive excellence and this year’s nine Minor League Baseball recipients are certainly worthy of this incredible honor,” said Mike Thompson, Executive Vice-President of Marketing for Rawlings. “Our long-standing partnership with Minor League Baseball continues to grow and evolve and we’re proud to share this prestigious award platform with its athletes.”

“This group has emerged as the finest in the field at the Minor League level, and I am pleased to honor these nine recipients with a Rawlings Gold Glove Award®,” said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner. “On behalf of Minor League Baseball, I congratulate each of them on their outstanding seasons.”

The 2017 Minor League Baseball recipients of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award® are as follows:

Edwin Espinal
Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)

Scott Kingery
Reading (AA), Lehigh Valley (AAA)

Daniel Castro
Albuquerque (AAA)

Ke’Bryan Hayes
Bradenton (A)

Tyler Ramirez
Stockton (A), Midland (AA)

Jacob Hannemann
Tennessee (AA), Iowa (AAA)
Chicago (NL), Seattle

Max Murphy
Fort Myers (A), Chattanooga (AA)

Jose Trevino
Frisco (AA)

Jordan Kipper
Mobile (AA), Bowie (AA), Norfolk (AAA)
Los Angeles (AL), Baltimore

Edwin Espinal posted the only perfect fielding percentage among Minor League first basemen in 2017. Espinal, 23, played 81 games at first base and recorded 698 putouts as an Eastern League All-Star with Double-A Altoona. He was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis on July 28, finishing the year with 27 errorless games and 208 putouts as the Indians’ first baseman. A native of Mao Valverde, Dominican Republic, Espinal was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 27, 2011.

Second baseman Scott Kingery recorded a .989 fielding percentage in 113 games, the highest mark among second basemen in Minor League Baseball. The 23-year-old handled 277 total chances in 59 games for Double-A Reading, and 252 more in 54 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, helping turn 75 double plays across the two levels. Kingery was selected by the Phillies in the second round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Arizona.
Albuquerque Isotopes shortstop Daniel Castro led all Minor League Baseball shortstops with a .989 fielding percentage in 96 games. Castro committed just five errors in 435 total chances, had a hand in 63 double plays and finished with 298 assists at shortstop. The 24-year-old from Guaymas, Mexico, signed with Colorado as a minor league free agent on November 21, 2016. He was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves in 2010.

Bradenton Marauders third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes posted a .974 fielding percentage in 108 games at the hot corner. The 20-year-old committed only eight errors in 307 total chances, recording 245 assists. Hayes was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, Texas.
Tyler Ramirez played 100 of his 128 defensive games in left field, and did not commit an error in 168 total chances with Class-A Stockton and Double-A Midland, finishing with a 1.000 fielding percentage. The Oakland Athletics selected Ramirez in the seventh round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Center fielder Jacob Hannemann recorded a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 106 games, handling 240 total chances. The 26-year-old opened the season with Double-A Tennessee, and was promoted to Triple-A Iowa before the Seattle Mariners claimed him off waivers and brought him to the big leagues in September. Hannemann was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the third round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Brigham Young University.
Max Murphy did not commit an error in 75 games in right field, nor in his 52 games in center, and recorded 18 outfield assists between Class-A Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga. Murphy, 24, secured 150 total chances across 669.2 total innings in right field. The Minnesota native was selected by the Twins in the ninth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Bradley University.

Catcher Jose Trevino earned a Rawlings Gold Glove for the second straight season after the 24-year-old finished with a .996 fielding percentage behind the plate. Trevino, 24, allowed just three passed balls while catching 99 games this year for Double-A Frisco. Trevino also limited the running game, throwing out 41.3 percent (33 of 80) of would-be base stealers. Trevino was selected by the Rangers in the sixth round 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Oral Roberts University.

Pitcher Jordan Kipper posted a perfect fielding percentage while handling 42 total chances in 132.1 innings pitched over 26 appearances (19 starts). The 24-year-old opened the season in Double-A Mobile before a trade on May 6 sent him to the Baltimore Orioles organization, where he appeared in nine games for Double-A Bowie and 12 for Triple-A Norfolk. Kipper was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the ninth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Texas Christian University.

Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays 9/23

The New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays will continue their three-game weekend set today with the middle game of the series inside the Rogers Centre, eh. In the middle contest the New York Yankees will send Sonny Gray to the mound to square off with Joe Biagini for the Blue Jays. No matter where the Blue Jays or the Yankees are in the standings these two teams always seem to bring their “A” games against one-another so expect a fun contest today between these two clubs. Enjoy the game.

Gray had probably his worst start as a Yankee last time out giving up five runs and six hits in just four innings of work against the Baltimore Orioles in a loss. Gray had been great for New York up until that last start posting a 2.66 ERA in eight starts for the Bombers so it’s probably best that he get that inevitable one bad start out of the way now rather than in October.

Biagini has been consistently inconsistent for the Blue Jays so who knows what the Blue Jays will get out of him this afternoon in Toronto. Biagini could not make it out of the second inning in his last start allowing six runs, although in the start prior Biagini tossed a career-high eight innings against the Orioles. Does that mean Biagini will be dominant once again today against the Yankees? I hope not.

The game will be played at 4:07 pm ET inside the Rogers Centre in Toronto and can be seen on the YES Network, MLB Network and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio by tuning into the WFAN broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Need a win, clinch a spot, and get a win. Go Yankees!!!

Thank You, We'll Just Take The Wild Card...

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 1...

The title is sarcastic (if you didn't notice). I am very disappointed with Masahiro Tanaka and the blow out loss to the AL East Cellar Dwellers. Trailing the Red Sox by four games with only nine games to play makes it a near impossibility to catch Boston unless they go into a tailspin like the Los Angeles Dodgers recently did. I seriously doubt that will happen for the Red Sox as they keep winning.

The Yankees had been playing so well, winning 15 of 20 games since August 31st. For a year that the Yankees have exceeded all expectations, Tanaka's overall performance is the reason the Yankees are talking Wild Card and not AL East title. If he had pitched like his previous three years, we'd be talking about how many games the Red Sox are behind. It bothers me that we can hold a 5 1/2 game lead over the Minnesota Twins, we can sweep the most recent series with the Twins, and yet, the Twins have a chance for one game to send the Yankees packing for the winter. If the Yankees play like they did yesterday, there will be no expanded playoffs for the Pinstripes.  

Aaron Judge is the only player that came ready to play. His solo home run in the first inning, a monster 469 foot blast to left center off the facing of the second deck, gave the Yankees an early lead but it was the last run the Yankees would score. It was Judge's 46th home run of the season, matching Joe DiMaggio's career high. 

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

The Blue Jays quickly tied the game in the bottom of the 1st against Tanaka.  Teoscar Hernandez led off with a single to left center. Josh Donaldson hit into a fielder's choice at third but Todd Frazier's throw to Starlin Castro, which should have been an easy force out at second, got past Castro for an error as Hernandez raced around to third. Runners at the corners. Jose Bautista hit a soft grounder to third and was thrown out at first but Hernandez scored. Game tied, 1-1.

In the top of the 3rd, Todd Frazier doubled to right on a ball that went to the wall, sliding into second just under the throw from Jose Bautista. Clint Frazier popped out to the shortstop for the first out.  Jacoby Ellsbury lined out to right on a great running catch by Bautista, who then threw the ball in to second baseman Ryan Goins.  With the Toddfather standing on second, Goins used the old hidden ball trick with a fake throw.  Frazier momentarily lifted his foot off second to turn around and Goins nabbed him for the out to complete the double play. It was that type of game...

Credit:  Frank Gunn-The Canadian Press via AP

In the bottom of the 3rd, Teoscar Hernandez got to Tanaka again, this time a solo shot to left to give the Blue Jays the 2-1 lead. Bottom of the 4th, it was Russell Martin's turn. His two-run shot, a liner just over the left field wall off Tanaka after Joey Bats had walked to start the inning, put the Blue Jays, 4-1.  

The Yankees' third and final hit came in the top of the 6th when Aaron Judge led off with a double to deep left center that hit the warning track and bounced off the wall.  But the silent Yankee bats left him stranded behind the pitching of Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada, the recipient of a $13 million contract extension a few days earlier.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Blue Jays put the game away against Tanaka.  Jose Bautista walked to start the inning.  Kevin Pillar singled to center as Joey Bats moved to second.  Tanaka struck out Russell Martin and Miguel Montero so it looked like he might be able to get out of the inning, but then he walked Kendrys Morales, pinch-hitting for Darwin Barney, on four consecutive balls out of the strike zone to load the bases.  Tanaka had two strikes on the 'Hidden Ball' Master, Ryan Goins, but the third pitch, a slider, left the park in right for a grand slam. 8-1 Blue Jays, and, finally, the end of the night for Tanaka.  

Credit:  Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The only remaining runner that the Yankees could muster was when Aaron Judge walked in the 8th. The Blue Jays easily coasted to victory and most likely handed the Boston Red Sox the AL East Championship.

I apologize to those of you who are Tanaka fans but he sucked. His win-loss record now stands at 12-12 and his season ERA has increased to 4.94.  He gave up eight runs (seven earned) and three home runs in 5 2/3 innings.  He disappeared at a time when the Yankees needed him the most.  Dude, please opt out at the end of the year if this is truly the pitcher you are now.

Credit:  Tom Szczerbowski-Getty Images

The Yankees (85-68), as mentioned, fell four games behind the Red Sox.  Boston beat Sal Romano, who grew up as a Yankees fan, and the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4.  The Minnesota Twins have won two straight since they were swept by the Yankees so they have reduced their Wild Card deficit from 7 games to 5 1/2 in two days.  The Los Angeles Angels are in a downward spiral, losers of five in a row, so they trail the Twins by 3 1/2 games, along with the Texas Rangers.  

I don't mind when the Yankees battle hard and lose, but Friday night was not one of those games.  Outside of Aaron Judge, it was a complete team letdown. If I didn't know better, it looked like the Toronto Blue Jays were the playoff team, not the Yankees.  We expect and demand better play today.

Odds & Ends...

Today's pitching matchup will feature Sonny Gray (9-11) versus Joe Biagini (3-11). A change was announced for Sunday. Jaime Garcia (5-9) now gets the start. He'll oppose New York native Marcus Stroman (12-8).  

Todd Frazier was able to talk to the father of the little girl struck by the foul ball during Wednesday's game. The little girl is still in the hospital and as one relative indicated, it will be a long process. Frazier was told by the girl's father that "she's doing okay". Our thoughts and prayers remain with the little girl as she continues to recover.  

After last night's game, an unauthorized man apparently gained access to the Yankees clubhouse in an attempt to steal some towels and a batting helmet. He was chased away by Todd Frazier, Tyler Wade, and others. The man was subsequently detained by stadium security but it's scary that someone could have penetrated the crowded clubhouse that easily.  

Have a great Saturday!  Hopefully this a much better baseball day for all of us.  Go Yankees!

The Idea of Extended Netting at Yankee Stadium

In case you missed it there was an unfortunate accident that happened at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday afternoon where a young girl, just two-years old, was struck in the face with a 106 MPH foul ball. Since the incident which resulted in the girl being rushed to the hospital the father of the child has stated that his daughter is doing better, thank the lord, but that hasn’t stopped fans from revolting and asking the question of why the Yankees have not put up protective netting at Yankee Stadium like some teams have around the league. Just in case you missed it, again, if you watched the game you would know that the netting that those teams are putting up would not have protected this little girl in this incident unfortunately but let’s pretend that it would have. Are you in favor of putting up nets before the league eventually makes it mandatory or are you on the side of the argument that is against it. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions down in the comments section or on Twitter (@GreedyStripes) but until then I will leave my comments here for you this morning on the blog. Enjoy.

My thoughts are this, I think it is unnecessary to put the nets up but I think eventually the nets are going to be mandatory. Why not just get ahead of the game, get a little bit of PR and put the nets up as soon as possible. Fans were unprotected by these nets for hundreds of years now and it was never a huge issue until recently and if the nets remained down I truly think it wouldn’t be a huge issue in terms of injuries and fatalities but I do get the concept behind it. If the nets can save one little child or one person from getting hurt or killed the nets become instantly “worth it” to me. I get that. I also disagree with the people who are essentially saying that fans with children shouldn’t see in these “hot zones.” That’s crap. I should be able to sit where I want with my children, period, and you aren’t going to tell me otherwise. At the same time though I would personally take full responsibility for my child sitting in those seats that I as a parent chose to sit in. I wouldn’t hold the Yankees, the opposing team or the player responsible. Maybe that’s just me though.

The nets are coming. Whether the nets stretch down to the dugout or all the way down to the foul pole, they are coming. I hate that they are coming because it takes the fans away from the game and it just isn’t baseball to have these huge nets blocking you from catching a foul ball or something like that. I understand the need and the cries for them though so just get it over with and put the damn nets up. Don’t wait for the league to make you put the nets up, be the bigger person and the concerned person and just put them up already.

The fans will have to get over it because I am sure those same fans who are worried about their field of vision and such would appreciate it if it were them or their children who got saved from a 106 MPH foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier. It only takes saving one fan from injury or death to much outweigh the field of view concerns, in my opinion anyway, so just get it done already. 

This Day In New York Yankees History 9/23: RIP Yogi Berra

On this day in 2015 the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball lost a great man and a member of the family. Yogi Berra passed away on this day, he was 90-years old.

The year 2008 was a year of change for the New York Yankees. Joe Torre was no longer the manager after spending the last 12 seasons as the skipper and was replaced by Joe Girardi. This was the final season at the old Yankee Stadium as a new stadium was being built across the street. This also marked the first year in 13 seasons that the Yankees would not make the playoffs. The Red Sox beat the Indians 5-4 at Fenway Park clinching at least a Wild Card berth and officially eliminated the Yankees.

Also on this day in 2007 Mike Mussina became the 45th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win 250 games in his career. On this day the Yankees would beat the Blue Jays 7-5 and in the game Joba Chamberlain picked up his first career save. Mussina insisted that the game ball go to Joba rather than himself.

Also on this day in 2001 Mariano Rivera set a single season record for the Yankees when he recorded his 47thsave of the season. Dave Righetti held the old record at 46 when he set the record in 1986.

Also on this day in 1999 the Yankees set the New York City record for attendance in a single season when their crowd of 27,549 fans set the season total at 3,072,009. The New York Mets held the previous record for New York with 3,047,724 fans attended a game in one season.

Finally on this day in 1998 the greatest team of all time the 1998 Yankees tied the 1927 Yankees team for the most wins in franchise history with 110 wins. This win put the Yankees just one win behind the American League record of 111 wins by the 1954 Cleveland Indians.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays 9/22

Friday night baseball in Canada, eh, tonight between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. This series will be a series of two entirely different stories as the Yankees try to clinch a playoff spot this weekend while the Blue Jays look to simply play spoiler. Masahiro Tanaka will head to the mound for the Yankees looking to push that magic number down some more for New York while the Blue Jays will counter with Marco Estrada. The game will be played at 7:07 pm ET inside the Rogers Centre and can be seen on WPIX channel 11 and MLB TV. You can also follow along in your cars and on the radio by tuning into the WFAN broadcast.

Follow us on twitter by following @GreedyStripes and enjoy the game. Need a win, get a win all while crushing another team’s hopes and dreams along the way. Sounds like a great Friday night to me. Go Yankees!

Prediction: Yankees win 4-2

Why is getting under the Luxury Tax threshold an issue?

While I was once big into the team's payroll I shied away from it the past couple of years. I just couldn't spend any more time thinking about money after years in which the team didn't seem to care about it at all. At least while the team still had large contracts such as those for Alex Rodriguez around.

Sorry, Alex. No more Yankee money for you.

Once the contracts for ARod and CC Sabathia finish up, to go along with the emergence of guys like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Luis Severino, it seemed inevitable that the Yankees were going to get under the Luxury Tax threshold for 2018. With that, their luxury tax percentage would reset, allowing them to sign future free agents such as Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, or Clayton Kershaw without having to worry about the tax hit they would take.

Earlier this season I was thinking about all of this and took a quick look to see if it would really happen. Hell, the Yankees have been talking about getting under the Luxury Tax threshold for years with no success. Would that change this time? Especially seeing as how the team is not at all in "rebuilding mode"?

Let's start by looking at the projected active roster, along with the player's salaries, for 2018......
Note: I'm not good with projecting arbitration salaries, but I feel my numbers are not that far off.

C- Gary Sanchez ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
1B- Greg Bird ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
2B- Starlin Castro $10.857m
SS- Didi Gregorius ~$8m (made $5.1m in his second year of arbitration this season)
3B- Chase Headley $13m
LF- Brett Gardner $11.5m
CF- Jacoby Ellsbury $21.143m
RF- Aaron Judge ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
DH- Clint Frazier ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)

BE- Aaron Hicks ~$3m (made $1.35m in his first year of arbitration this season)
BE- Austin Romine ~$1.5m (made $.805m in his first year of arbitration this season)
BE- Ronald Torreyes ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
BE- Garrett Cooper ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)

SP1- Luis Severino ~$.7 (pre-arbitration)
SP2- Sonny Gray ~$6m (made $3.575m in his first year of arbitration this season)
SP3- Jordan Montgomery ~$.7 (pre-arbitration)

CL- Aroldis Chapman $17.2m
RP- Dellin Betances ~$5m (made $3m in his first year of arbitration this season)
RP- David Robertson $13m
RP- Tommy Kahnle ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
RP- Chad Green ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
RP- Adam Warren ~$3.5m (made $2.29m in his second year of arbitration this season)
RP- Bryan Mitchell ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)

Before adding those numbers up there are a couple of more things to add. One is that the Yankees will still owe the Houston Astros $5.5 million as part of the trade that sent Brian McCann their way. The second thing is that the team payroll for luxury tax purposes is based on the 40-man roster, therefore you need to add about $9 million (assuming the final 15 spots are filled by players making the league minimum).

Therefore, at this point, the Yankees are on the hook for around $137.9 million next season. I should note that any team will want to have some money set aside for mid-season pickups, which most often occur via trades (see the trade for Sonny Gray as an example).

Now for some questions about this projected roster...

1. How will the Yankees fill the last two starting spots? 

I believe one of them will be filled from within. One man that I can see getting the call is Chance Adams, who has started 21 games in AAA and ERA of 2.89. Or we could see Caleb Smith or Domingo German. Maybe even Domingo Acevedo. As for the other spot... more on that later.

2. Can Greg Bird stay healthy? 

I'm not ready to give up on Bird being able to stay healthy, but after missing all of 2016 and a large chunk of this season, I wouldn't feel totally comfortable relying on him to take over first base regularly next season. However, I can see him platooning with Garrett Cooper, which should help Greg stay healthy.

And don't forget that should Bird get injured, and Cooper can not be relied upon to play regularly, the Yankees could move Chase Headley to first base and call up Miguel Andujar to take over third. Not to mention that Ronald Torreyes did a good job filling in for Starlin Castro while he was on the DL this season.

3. Will the Yankees trade away Brett Gardner and/or Jacoby Ellsbury?

This seems like a certainty... at least for one of those two. Clint Frazier is more than ready to play regularly, and to get that done I believe at least one of those two players needs to go. While I lean towards Gardner getting dealt, I can't say for sure as dealing away Ellsbury should be something the team really wants to get done, and doing that after his solid season in 2017 would probably be the best bet.

A trade of Gardy or Ells would also open up more playing time for Aaron Hicks, who I believe deserves more than being a 4th outfielder.

4. Will Masahiro Tanaka opt-out?

Remember how I left the first question? Yeah, this is where the rest of the answer to that question lies.

This will probably be the biggest question the Yankees will face heading into the off-season. However, I don't think the answer will negatively effect the Yankees at all.

Either 'Hiro (why am I the only person that calls him this?) opts out, leaving the team to find his replacement to go along with  the aforementioned starter from the first question, or Tanaka stays and rounds out what would be a very nice starting rotation (Severino, Gray, Tanaka, Montgomery, and ?). No matter what, though, I believe the Yankees will spend big on Tanaka, or a free agent like Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish (mind you, the free agents would likely cost more than the $22 million the team would have to pay Tanaka if he doesn't opt-out).

That's right, Hal... somebody's getting paid.

That's the thing! The Yankees should be able to spend big on that rotation spot without having to worry about the Luxury Tax threshold. Let's take a look at that roster again, only this time I'll include those pitchers...

C- Gary Sanchez ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
1B- Greg Bird ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
2B- Starlin Castro $10.857m
SS- Didi Gregorius ~$8m (made $5.1m in his second year of arbitration this season)
3B- Chase Headley $13m
LF- Brett Gardner $11.5m
CF- Jacoby Ellsbury $21.143m
RF- Aaron Judge ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
DH- Clint Frazier ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)

BE- Aaron Hicks ~$3m (made $1.35m in his first year of arbitration this season)
BE- Austin Romine ~$1.5m (made $.805m in his first year of arbitration this season)
BE- Ronald Torreyes ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
BE- Garrett Cooper ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)

SP1- Luis Severino ~$.7 (pre-arbitration)
SP2- Sonny Gray ~$6m (made $3.575m in his first year of arbitration this season)
SP3- Masahiro Tanaka/Jake Arrieta/Yu Darvish $27m (I'll go big on money here just in case)
SP4- Jordan Montgomery ~$.7 (pre-arbitration)
SP5- Chance Adams/Domingo German/Domingo Acevedo ~.7m

CL- Aroldis Chapman $17.2m
RP- Dellin Betances ~$5m (made $3m in his first year of arbitration this season)
RP- David Robertson $13m
RP- Tommy Kahnle ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
RP- Chad Green ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)
RP- Adam Warren ~$3.5m (made $2.29m in his second year of arbitration this season)
RP- Bryan Mitchell ~$.7m (pre-arbitration)

After the $9 million for the final 15 spots on the 40-man roster, that gives us a total of $165.6 million. If you want to figure $10 million for mid-season pickup money, that still leaves the Yankees with $21.4 million to spend on a possible regular DH. And that's without figuring in any savings the team would get should they trade away Gardner and/or Ellsbury (I assume their replacements on the roster would cost less, even if the Yankees picked up some of the remaining salaries).

Honestly, I feel like I'm missing something, because every other writer doesn't see the Yankees getting under the Luxury Tax threshold next season as a certainty at all. Especially if they were to pay upwards of $27 million for a starting pitcher. So please go easy on me if I missed something.

Otherwise, the future of the Yankees is looking better than I already thought it did.

Yankees Statistical Leaders Through 152 Games

The Yankees just took their final off day of the regular season after sweeping away the Minnesota Twins and before beginning a three-game weekend set with the Toronto Blue Jays. New York is on the verge of clinching a playoff spot, whether it be as a division winner or as a Wild Card winner has yet to be determined as of today, so let’s take a look at whose big arms and even bigger bats guided the Yankees to where they are today. Enjoy!

The Yankees Offense

At Bats:

Brett Gardner – 569


Aaron Judge - 146


Brett Gardner - 152


Chase Headley – 30

Home Runs:

Aaron Judge - 45


Aaron Judge - 101

Batting Average:

Starlin Castro - .298

The Yankees Pitching


Luis Severino – 13


Masahiro Tanaka - 11


Starters: Luis Severino - 3.03
Bullpen: Chad Green - 1.93


Starters: Luis Severino - 221
Bullpen: Chad Green - 99


Aroldis Chapman - 20


Masahiro Tanaka - 1