Bryan Van Dusen, one of the founders of The Greedy Pinstripes, tackled a very sensitive and controversial topic yesterday with his defense of Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. He provides compelling arguments for why he’ll root for Chapman whenever he is on the mound. I might not be as opinionated on the topic as Bryan, but we are in agreement with our support for Chapman.
I think Chapman learned an invaluable lesson from the alleged domestic violence incident and although not charged for any crimes, he served his penalty for Major League Baseball. For me, the key is no further reports of domestic violence. I honestly do not feel that we’ll see Chapman’s name referenced in police blotters again.
In my eyes, he has proven he is worthy of our support. This isn’t just because the man knows how to throw a pitch 105 mph. I’d feel the same if it had happened to Robert Refsnyder, someone who is struggling to even make the roster.
In the off-season, the Yankees were linked to several free agent closers. The most notable was Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who subsequently re-signed with the Dodgers. I had also heard Mark Melancon, a former Yankee, who ended up signing with the San Francisco Giants. But in the end, I was most excited when the Yankees announced they had inked Chapman to a new deal for his return to New York.
I watched on TV when the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs met with former President Barack Obama during his final days at the White House. Chapman had already signed with the Yankees, but joined his former Cubs teammates for the trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. You could see Chapman standing in the back row and I was proud that he was standing there not only as a Champion but also as a New York Yankee.
Aroldis, we’re glad you are home.
I have to say that I am quietly impressed with reliever Jason Gurka. I don’t think there’s any chance he makes the Opening Day roster and I had never heard of him before this spring. He picked up the save in Sunday’s game against the Houston Astros, his second save of the spring season. He’s given up a couple of runs in 5 total innings pitched but has 6 strikeouts. When the Yankees announced he was a non-roster invitee to camp, I had to look up his name.
Although drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2008, he made it to the Show with the Colorado Rockies in 2015. Between 2015 and 2016, Gurka only appeared in 15 games and sported a 9.35 ERA. I asked a friend of mine who is a die-hard Rockies fan what she knew about Gurka, and her response was “Who?”.
He’s 29 and he may never get another shot at the major leagues but I like the work he’s done this spring. This could just be an aberration and the guy who has averaged giving up almost two hits per innings pitched at the major league level is the real Jason Gurka.
Speaking of non-roster invitees, I guess Ruben Tejada ought to be packing his bags. He’ll be leaving Tampa (unless he signs with the Rays), but he is certainly not going back to New York. I thought he’d give Ronald Torreyes more competition for the utility role. Instead, it’s Tyler Wade that is making waves. Wade is probably not going to beat Torreyes for the Opening Day Roster but the day is coming.
I keep reading that Chase Headley is disappointed with his performance as a Yankee. Surely, his disappointment can’t be as great as ours…
In not-so-great news on the WBC-front, Didi Gregorius is off the Dutch roster. He has what has been described as a hematoma of the subscapularis muscle. Hopefully, only rest is needed. I am glad to hear that it is not a tear or something more serious.
If, for whatever reason Gregorius is not ready for Opening Day, I'd like a better backup plan than Ronald Torreyes. The best option is perhaps Tyler Wade. I suppose that sliding Starlin Castro to short and inserting Rob Refsnyder at second is another option, but I’d prefer to keep Castro focused on the continued learning of the nuances of second base.
Some are calling for the Yankees to play top prospect Gleyber Torres. Although Torres has impressed during training camp, he is only 20 years old and has never played above A ball. I don’t feel he should be rushed to the majors regardless of how gifted he is or how desperate the need. There’s no doubt he’ll advance quickly at this point but it’s not his time…yet.
It's too bad for Gregorius. He was playing very well for Team Netherlands. Hopefully this isn’t too serious and he’ll be back on the field soon.
In Grapefruit League play yesterday, the Yankees continued their "march" through the spring schedule with yet another victory. It was a far from perfect outing by Michael Pineda, unlike his last performance, but in the end, the Pinstripers won 9-3 over the Washington Nationals. Pineda was pulled with 2 outs in the second inning after throwing 46 pitches. Immediately after relieving Pineda, JR Graham surrendered a double to Adam Lind, scoring two runners charged to Pineda. After Lind's hit, the Yankees bullpen held the Nats scoreless for the duration of the game.
The Yankees are now 18-6. Too bad these games don't count...
Have a great Tuesday!