Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday Game Thread: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays 3/30

Good evening, and welcome back to Yankees baseball as the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays continue their three-game set with the middle game of their series. In the opener we watched as Luis Severino and JA Happ attempted to keep the opposing offense down from the other team and tonight we are treated with the pitching matchup of Masahiro Tanaka taking the ball for the Yankees against Aaron Sanchez of the Blue Jays. The game will be played at 7:07 pm ET inside the Rogers Centre, eh, and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB Network. You can also follow along with the game by using MLB TV, the app or by tuning into the Yankees radio broadcast on WFAN with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman.

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Five New York Yankees BOLD Predictions for the 2018 Season

The 2018 season kicked off officially yesterday afternoon with the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays squaring off head-to-head inside the Rogers Centre. These two teams will meet plenty of times this season including once again tonight so to say that these two teams will be familiar with each other by the time September and October comes around is an understatement. I don’t usually partake in the understatements of the world, I like to be bold and I like to make predictions, so here are five bold predictions for the New York Yankees here in the 2018 season.

Sonny Gray Will Be the Ace of the Yankees Staff:

Luis Severino started on Opening Day, Masahiro Tanaka starts tonight, and the Yankees stopper from the 2017 season starts tomorrow leaving little (figuratively and literally) Sonny Gray to start the Yankees home opener in the Bronx against the Tampa Bay Rays. Being a fourth starter and having to wait that long to make your first start of the season has to be a huge adjustment for Gray who has been the ace of the Oakland Athletics staff for quite a few years now, when he was healthy enough to do so anyway. Some may take this as a slap in the face and as a bit of an insult, but others will only use this as motivation to do better and strive to be great. For some reason, and this is obviously pure speculation on my part as I personally do not know Sonny, I have a feeling Gray will be the latter kind of guy on the field here in 2018 more so than the former. In fact, Gray will ride that chip on his shoulder all the way to becoming the ace of this Yankees staff here this season.

A full offseason and spring training camp with pitching coach Larry Rothschild and with primary starting catcher Gary Sanchez will only help Gray as he moves forward towards his first start here in 2018. It isn’t like Gray pitched bad in 2017, he pitched quite well actually, but fell victim to a lack of run support more times than not. This will not be the case here in 2018. New York has too much depth, too much versatility, too much power and too much talent to be consistently held down on a nightly basis in my opinion. The team has the potential to be an offensive juggernaut and every pitcher on the staff will benefit from it, especially Gray. Gray will no longer have the pressure of pitching in a close game or from behind every single time he takes the ball here in 2018 and his on-the-field production will benefit from it in my opinion.

Brandon Drury Will be Boo’d Within Two Weeks:

The New York Yankees fans are some of the most passionate, loud and best fans in the world in my very humble, yet clearly bias, opinion when you are doing well, but at the same time they can be toughest and most impatient fans in the world when you’re struggling. Most of the current Yankees have seen at least a glimpse of what the Yankees fans can be like, especially players like Didi Gregorius who had a tough transition to the Bronx after being acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks to replace the legend that is Derek Jeter. Didi made a few errors at shortstop to start his Yankees tenure and the fans in the Bronx were not shy about showing their displeasure with the now fan favorite, and I think unfortunately that Brandon Drury will be in for a similar treatment from the Yankees faithful.

I give it two weeks, tops, before Drury comes out of the gates struggling either offensively, defensively or both and the Yankees boo birds let him have it. This may not be a bold prediction given the current state of affairs, but at least we aren’t Phillies fans. Those guys are absolutely horrible, so I hear.

Gary Sanchez Will Hit 50 Home Runs:

All offseason long it has been Aaron Judge this and Giancarlo Stanton that, but I truly think many fans and writers alike are sleeping on Gary Sanchez a little bit. After a slow start to his 2017 campaign Gary bounced back to hit 33 home runs for New York, a number he is going to smash out of the park here in 2018. There will be no slow start for the Kraken, only bomb after bomb after bomb after bomb after bomb after… well you get the point. Sanchez, not Giancarlo or Judge, will lead the team and the league in home runs with at least 50 long balls in 2018.

Gleyber Torres Will Play in 100+ Games:

The New York Yankees teased their fans this winter with the idea that one of, or both of, Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar could be on the team’s Opening Day roster. A Brandon Drury acquisition and Neil Walker signing threw a bit of a monkey wrench into those plans for both of the Yankees young stars in the making, but I don’t think either addition will have much of a factor in how much playing time Torres gets at the Major League level in 2018.

We know Torres will be down on the farm for at least the first three weeks and 20 games of the Minor League season, so the Yankees can delay his free agency by one year, but after that I think Torres will be unleashed on the rest of the league for good. I am not all that high on Walker and Drury may be too useful and versatile for his own good which could lead him into more of a utility role than an every day slot thus opening the door for Torres at either second base or third base. With the injury to Greg Bird I think we will see a lot more of Walker at first base than we are comfortable with, even with Tyler Austin on the roster, leaving plenty of at-bats for Torres to have in 2018.

Gleyber Torres will play in at least 100 games at the Major League level in 2018.

Aaron Judge Will NOT Be the 2017 Version of Aaron Judge:

When I posted my post comparing the lineups and defensive positioning for both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox one reader and fan had a question for me, why in the world did I pick Mookie Betts, the presumed starting right fielder for the Red Sox this season, over Aaron Judge, the Yankees starting right fielder on more nights than not. The answer is simple, while I think Judge is a great player that will do great things during his MLB career and 2018 season I just cannot see him matching his production from his breakout 2017 campaign. History is against it, and baseball (and the fact that you cannot predict it) is against it happening again.

Judge slashed .284/.422/.627 in 2017 with 52 home runs, 114 RBI, 128 runs scored while walking 127 times. How many times has a right-handed hitter hit 50 home runs playing his home games inside Yankee Stadium? Not often, in fact only five players have ever hit 50 home runs in a season as a Yankee, period. Babe Ruth did it four times (1920, 1921, 1927 and 1928), Mickey Mantle did it twice (1956 and 1961), Roger Maris did it once (1961), and Alex Rodriguez did it once (2007). That’s quite the cast of characters to keep company with for Judge, but that also means it is highly unlikely for him to match that this coming season, let alone improve upon it.

Looking at Judge’s career numbers in the Minor Leagues he is career .278/.373/.473 hitter which is a far cry, and a much larger sample size, from his 2017 stats. Judge will still be great in 2018, and in my opinion, he is truly a once-in-a-generation type talent, but I can’t see him matching that slugging or on-base percentage in 2018. The average I expect to drop slightly as well, although I am skeptical to commit to that with what he has backing him up and protecting him in the Yankees lineup. Either way, I think we see a regression, however slight, for Judge in 2018.

I have been told to start writing with an edge, hopefully this was a step in the right direction there. More to come I’m sure, so stay tuned.

Good Friday Game Preview: New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays 3/30

You know what possibly the best thing about Major League Baseball is? I personally love the fact that the games are played basically every single day. Sure, I love football and basketball as well from time to time, but watching your team lose on a Sunday only to have to feel that sting for a few days or a week can sometimes just be torture. In baseball if you have a tough loss on Sunday you usually go right back out on the field on Monday and can turn things around. At the same time a big win on Sunday can be erased just as fast the following Monday with a tough loss, it is just one of the many things that make the game great in my opinion. With that said the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays are back at it again tonight inside the Rogers Centre with the second game of their three-game set to open the 2018 season. Yesterday afternoon we all watched as JA Happ and Luis Severino squared off to kick off the season and tonight we are treated with another great pitching matchup. Masahiro Tanaka, who normally starts on Opening Day for New York, will take the mound for the Yankees while the Blue Jays will counter with Aaron Sanchez, who missed almost all of the 2017 season with an injury for Toronto.

Tanaka made his Major League debut pitching in the second game of the season back in 2014 against these same Toronto Blue Jays inside the Rogers Centre and he will do so again tonight after Luis Severino took the Opening Day nod from him here in 2018. Tanaka gave up a home run to the first batter he faced that season and gave up a ton of home runs in 2017, a career-high 35 long balls to be exact, which led the right-hander to focus on his fastball command and control in hopes of lowering that number significantly here in 2018.

Sanchez missed most of the 2017 campaign with Toronto due to lingering blister issues on his throwing hand. Sanchez has put to bed any rumors of this becoming a recurring issue this spring after showing no signs of trouble while in camp with the Blue Jays. In Sanchez’s final tune-up start before the season he allowed just one earned run in 6.1 innings pitched at home against the Atlanta Braves, hopefully a sign of what’s to come if you are a Blue Jays fan.

The game will be played at 7:07 pm ET inside the Rogers Centre in Toronto and can be seen on the YES Network and MLB Network. You can also follow along with the MLB TV and the app or you can tune into the WFAN radio broadcast with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. No matter how you get to follow along enjoy the game and go Yankees!

Hello… and Good Friday to You All

Good morning everyone, and a Good Friday to all if you celebrate. If not, then just Happy Friday to you as we inch towards the weekend. Good Friday, according to Wikipedia, is a Christian holiday that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. Jesus died on Good Friday and was reborn on Easter Sunday. Whether you believe or not, celebrate the day or not, or whatever you choose to do just make sure it is a great day regardless. It is another day with Yankees baseball, and it’s a Friday, so how could it not be? Right?

Have a great day everyone. Especially you. I hope you have an amazing Friday, because you deserve it. You deserve the world and everything in it, and I won’t sleep until you have it all. I love you. My rock. My Kari. My baby.

Have a great day everyone!

This Day In New York Yankees History 3/30: Dwight Gooden's Final Walk

On this day in 2001 former Yankee Dwight Gooden announced his retirement from baseball. Doc finished with a 194-112 record playing for the Mets, Yankees, Indians, Astros, and Devil Rays and won a World Series and pitched a no hitter with the Yankees.

On this day in 1991 the Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles played an exhibition game at Joe Robbie Stadium which drew 67,654 fans, a new spring training attendance record. The two day series between the two teams was a part pf South Florida's efforts to get a National League expansion team, soon to be named the Florida Marlins.

On this day in 1984 the San Diego Padres obtained Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles for pitcher Dennis Rasmussen and prospect Darin Cloniger.