Sunday, May 19, 2019

Yankees back in 1st place


Yankees won their 2nd series against the Rays in 1 week. They take 2 out of 3 games & have moved back into 1st place an 0.5 game up on Tampa. It was a great series & a lot of fun to watch!

Yankees went with the opener today & Chad Green started it off. He went 1 inning but gave up 2 runs along with 2 strikeouts. Yankees then turned to Cortes Jr, he went 4 innings giving up a big 3 run-shot. He settled down striking out 6 with 2 walks. Adam Ottavino & Chance Adams both combined for 3 scoreless innings with 5 strikeouts. Big confidence builder for Adams throwing those scoreless innings, as he looks to re-gain his stock.

Yankees offense broke out in the 6th inning scoring 7 runs in that inning. DJ LeMahieu keeps hitting with 3 hits one being a solo shot. Gardner also had 3 hits one bring a solo shot as well. Offense scored 13 runs on 12 hits today. Estrada had a huge pinch-hit bases clearing double.

It was a fun series as the Yankees look to stay in 1st place as the go to Baltimore to face the Orioles in a 4-game set. Since April 16th, the Yankees are 22-8, best in all of baseball. Yankees have J.A Happ going tomorrow as he looks to find his way to get back to the pitcher he was last year when he was acquired by New York.

      
Photo credit: (NY Post/Dan Martin)

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Resilient Yankees Capture 1st Place...

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II/AP
Comeback Win Vaults Yankees Past Rays in AL East…

Okay, it’s just mid-May and like Aaron Boone alluded to last night after the game, it’s a long season ahead. Yet, it is satisfying to sit atop the AL East even if it is only temporary depending upon the outcome of today’s game. Standings will become more important in the months ahead but I continue to be amazed at the resiliency of this team.  

Gio Urshela’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the ninth inning to win it last night may have been his game-winning hit, but it’s a microcosm of this season and how well the replacement Yankees have stepped up to support the team in the wake of injuries to multiple major team stars. I was kind of hoping Kendrys Morales would have his signature Yankee moment in his second game with a home run in the bottom of the ninth, which would have been his second of the game, to win it but it was not meant to be. Kendrys was probably wishing too hard for a homer too and that’s why he struck out. Oh well, Gio was there to pick him up.  

To answer your question, yes Michael Kay, the Yankees had a rally in their bones.  

Credit Luke Voit for the home run to open the bottom of the ninth to cut it to a one-run deficit. Perhaps the Yankees were destined to win it anyway but the homer changed the mood in the air. As a TV viewer, I know I was feeling a lift even if the Yankees were still trailing at that point after only putting up one run (the Morales homer in the bottom of the second) the prior eight innings.   

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post
I’ve seen many jump on Aaron Boone for pitching Chad Green in the eighth inning when the Rays put two runs on the board to break the 1-1 tie. I had no problem with the move. After the game, Boone indicated that the decision was to avoid Zack Britton this game since he had thrown 31 pitches in Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles. Aroldis Chapman would have only entered in a save situation. But even without his explanation for not using Britton (or Chapman), I had no problem with Boone’s decision to bring Green into the high leverage situation. I’m sure Green would have liked a mulligan on the sixth pitch to Brandon Lowe, which Lowe ripped to deep center for a run-scoring double, but otherwise, I thought he pitched very effectively. The unearned run on the errant throw to first base by Gleyber Torres which allowed another run to score was not Green’s fault. The bullpen has been pitching so well lately, I guess the fans have come to expect zeros every time a Yankee reliever takes the mound but guess what, shit happens. I want Chad Green to be a big part of this bullpen and I hope Boone keeps rolling him out in high leverage spots. I am convinced he rediscovered himself with his brief stay in Scranton a couple of weeks ago and the results, over a broader span, will prove it. Say what you will, but I think Aaron Boone has improved as a manager over the course of two seasons.

Great job by CC Sabathia. Outside of the fourth inning solo dinger by Willy Adames which tied the game, Sabathia was excellent. It was his longest start of the season at six innings, with an economical 84 pitches. He only walked two batters, while striking out four, and lowered his season ERA to 2.97 with the single earned run on the Adames homer. The four K’s pushed the future Hall of Famer’s career strikeout total to 3,013.  

Photo Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images
This is a strange season. I am excited about how well the Yankees have done despite missing so many huge parts of the team. On the other hand, I keep wondering when the shoe is going to drop. I really hope the replacements can keep this up until we start to get the big guns back.  

Before the Yankees completed their comeback win, the Houston Astros exerted their position as the best team in the American League, right now, with their 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Despite their sluggish start, the Red Sox have been very strong lately as they have charged back into AL East relevance (which I had fully expected, hence, the reason I never talked smack when the Red Sox were down). The Red Sox loss and the Yankee win leaves the Sox 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees…not that it matters at this point. I didn’t watch the Astros-Red Sox game but I did see enough to shake my head and say that Alex Bregman is incredible. He didn’t do anything with his bat (1-for-4, a meaningless first inning single) but his defense play was, as usual, outstanding. Such a great all-around player. It really makes me appreciate Gio Urshela as the Yankees’ third baseman in Miguel Andujar’s absence.  A great glove at third cannot be underestimated. After the Rays game, CC Sabathia was asked if he had ever played with anyone as good defensively as Urshela, and CC couldn’t come up with a name. 

Last winter, I had wanted the Yankees to sign Manny Machado for his all-around play. Who knows if he can keep it up, but at this point, Urshela has provided everything I wanted from Machado at a fraction of the cost. Manny is batting .268/.346/.470 with .347 wOBA and 120 wRC+ (1.4 WAR) in 44 games. He has 9 homers and 23 RBIs. In 10 fewer games, Urshela is batting .347/.398/.500 with .384 wOBA and 142 wRC+ (1.0 WAR).  He has 2 home runs and 16 RBIs. Granted, Machado has more power but Urshela has more than fulfilled expectations. I am not saying that Urshela will ever be the player Machado is, but I really hope that he is able to keep this up to prevent GM Brian Cashman from going outside to get further help at third base. It would be awesome if this is truly Urshela’s breakout year. Not sure how this plays out when Didi Gregorius returns to take shortstop, creating an infield crowd. But that’s a problem for another day. Today, I’ll gladly watch Urshela with amazement, play after play, day after day.  

I guess it was in the back of all of our minds but it was rough hearing Carlos Beltran say that Aaron Judge will not fully recover from the oblique injury this season. I know, it’s a core muscle and anyone who has had a similar injury knows how difficult it is to let the muscle rest. In other words, you can’t. Hopefully Judge is able to get healthy enough to help the team at some point in the not-so-distant future although he hasn’t resumed baseball activities yet. I’d rather he waits until he is truly ready, even though he won’t be 100%, and not try to come back too soon. We need Judge when the summer months get here. 

Photo Credit: Paul J Bereswill/NY Post 
It’s a new day. Let’s hope the Yankees magic continues today (and tomorrow and the next day…). As with The Three Musketeers, same with The Twenty-Five New York Yankees, “all for one and one for all”.  

As always, Go Yankees!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Doubleheader with Sweeping Success...

Photo Credit: Al Bello, Getty Images
Yankees take 2 from the lowly O’s…

After a couple of rainy days and no Yankees baseball, everybody’s favorite team returned yesterday with a sweep of the doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles to salvage two of the three scheduled games of the series. The third game, Tuesday’s rainout, will be played as part of another doubleheader on August 12th.  

The two wins, by scores of 5-3 and 3-1, put the Yankees a half-game behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays, who won a 1-0 pitching duel with the Miami Marlins, entering this weekend’s AL East Showdown between the Yankees and Rays. I really wish that Donnie Baseball’s team could have put up a couple of runs against Tampa. A Rays blowout would have been easier to take than a one-run victory.  

A common phrase during this injury-challenged year is ‘where would we be without (insert player name)?’  Yesterday, the man was Gleyber Torres. His three home runs (two in the first game and one in the second) represented the first time a Yankee at age 22 or younger, had homered three times in one day since Joe DiMaggio homered three times during a game in 1937. Joltin’ Joe actually did it twice with three homers during a 1936 doubleheader, but still, anytime you can put your name with DiMaggio, you’re doing something right.  

Domingo German (8-1, 2.41 ERA) continues to amaze. Entering the season, it was a question if he’d even make the MLB roster and if so, a swing role probably represented his best opportunity. Asked to step in for the injured Luis Severino, German has never looked back. His eight wins, one more than Houston’s Justin Verlander, lead Major League Baseball. If he continues to pitch like this, there’s no doubt he’ll be at Progressive Field in Cleveland on July 9th for the All-Star Game. Yesterday, he pitched seven innings in the second game, yielding only a single run although he did have to escape a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh inning. He struck out eight. His emotion in getting the final out on a groundout to third by Joey Rickard told the story. He was great this game. Despite the struggles in his final inning, he pitched very efficiently with only 85 pitches, walking just one (the next to last batter he faced).  

When James Paxton and Luis Severino return, the Yankees will have an interesting decision to make. Of course, this is one of those situations where you worry about it when it happens, but there’s no way the Yankees can pull German from the starting rotation if he continues to pitch like this. I can easily see J.A. Happ as the odd man out, but then the question is what do you do with Happ. Signed to a two year deal, with vesting option for a third year, in the off-season, Happ seems to be coming around despite the two homers he allowed yesterday.  His vesting option is not impacted by innings or starts in 2019 so he seemingly is a candidate to move into the bullpen as the long man if necessary. 

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post
Seems a bit of a waste of a proven Major League starter but honestly who else are you going to pull from the starting rotation? Tanaka is not going anywhere and CC Sabathia, in his final season, has earned the right to start to season’s end. These things usually work themselves out and while I don’t want to see any more injuries, it is inevitable somebody will go down beyond the present list of injured players. If Happ gets on a summer-time roll or pitches like he did down the stretch last year for the Yankees, it will be hard to remove him from the rotation but I honestly see no other alternatives and do not feel the Yankees would move to a six-man rotation. Oh well, that’s a problem to think about if/when it happens. I’d much prefer having guys Domingo German and Gio Urshela take strangleholds on their positions and forcing the hard decisions by Brian Cashman and his team.

Speaking of Urshela, his long-term future with the Yankees for the season was solidified with the somber news that Miguel Andujar has opted for season-ending surgery to repair the torn labrum in his right shoulder. While Miggy was contemplating whether or not to have the surgery, I felt it was the right move from the start. He tried rest and rehab and it didn’t work. Rather than gamble with continued rest and potential setbacks, get the problem fixed and come back healthy and strong. It may mean 9-12 months lost, but that’s better than trying to play deeper into the 2019 season  with unsuccessful results and potentially losing all of next year. Hopefully Andujar comes back as good as new and enjoys a Didi Gregorius-like road to recovery.  

Someone mentioned the Yankees should make a trade for Toronto’s Brandon Drury for third base. No question he is a good player, the Yankees liked him and he only lost out with the team because of Andujar’s stellar play. However, I think the Yankees are in good hands with Urshela and DJ LeMahieu. I really liked Drury during his brief Yankees career but once Didi comes back, Torres will take back second base. You have to keep LeMahieu in the lineup so I think you’ll see him spend the majority of his time at third when Didi and Gleyber are on the field. Regardless of whether it is Gio or DJ at third, you know great glove work will be in play. No offense to Andujar but I love above-average defense at third base.  

I am not sure what I think about the Yankees’ acquisition of Kendrys Morales. I don’t necessarily look at him as a feared hitter but he always seemed to have the annoying knack of clobbering home runs at the worst times against the Yankees. At least he can’t do that anymore since his dingers will only help the team. I guess i’s a good, cheap move. The Yankees have no long-term commitments to Morales and he can help now. I think his body of work in 2019 with the Oakland A’s was too limited to draw any conclusions, and feel he’ll be closer to the guy he was last year in Toronto. He is what he is. He’s a .250 hitter that will potentially give you 20 bombs.  Nothing special but he can help until the Yankees get the big bats back in the lineup. When Morales was at first base three times during yesterday’s second game (two walks and a single), I couldn’t help but think it was a reunion of sorts for Morales and first base coach Reggie Willits. Willits is only two years older than Morales and they were teammates on the Los Angeles Angels for a few years, as recently as 2011 (Willits’ final year as an active player). If Morales helps, great. If not, GM Brian Cashman will be on to his next “discovery”. I have confidence this will work out. But no doubt I’ll sleep better once Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are back in the everyday lineup. I doubt Morales is on the team by season’s end but if he is, it means his bat made the difference.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP
I am proud of the 2019 New York Yankees. They’ve faced more adversity than most teams, yet they are 26-16. If you had told me during Spring Training the Yankees would be ten games above .500 by mid-May without Severino, Betances, Judge, Stanton, Gregorius and others, I would have laughed at you. I would have been thinking about division battles for positioning with the Baltimore Orioles, not the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. I am not sure how this season will play out if we don’t start getting some of the big guns back but I am sure the ‘never quit’ mentality will persevere. It’s a little early to say the team has the “it” quality to it this year, but they are on their way of proving the point. 

After no Yankees baseball in two of the last three days, it’s another off-day today. At least we have yesterday’s wins to carry us into the AL East Showdown that starts tomorrow night in the Bronx. Thank God we don’t have to play at the horrific Tropicana Field this series. Not that I mind road games, but man, I hate that empty warehouse posing as a Major League park.

As always, Go Yankees!  

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Yankees Are Stacked!

I don't know about you, but I'm always thinking of ways the Yankees can improve. More particularly, I'm thinking about what the team could do before the trade deadline to make their last big push for another title.

However, unlike just about every season before this one, I don't see what this team needs.

The one area the Yankees seem to always have a need, like almost every team in Major League Baseball, is in their starting rotation.

Although he just landed on the Injured List, James Paxton and his ERA+ of 145 will be back helping lead the rotation soon. By the way, Paxton isn't even the team's top starter. That title goes to Domingo German, with his team-leading win total (6), ERA (2.35), and ERA + (192). Then you have CC Sabathia, who has been a rock in the rotation and is having his best season since 2011. Then there's Masahiro Tanaka, who hasn't been stellar this season, but his sub-4.00 ERA and ERA+ of 115 is still pretty darn good. The only weak spot is J.A. Happ, and I believe he's going to get better.

That's five starters and I haven't brought up Luis Severino, who's expected to rejoin the team sometime in July. And while I wouldn't expect anything out of him this season, Jordan Montgomery should make his return to the team sometime this season too.

I suppose you can say the Yankees could move on from J.A. Happ, and while I wouldn't be totally against it, I don't think it'll happen after they just signed him to a two-year contract worth $34 million (not counting his vesting option for 2021). But, for the sake of argument, let's go with it. Furthermore, you could say the Yankees should write-off Severino and Montgomery for 2019. That would leave a spot for the Yankees to add a top starter such as Trevor Bauer (the Indians looked into trading him and Kluber this offseason, so it's not totally unlikely).

But without an obvious need or any good reason to make a big trade like that, I feel confident in saying nothing will happen on this front.

Okay, so what about the bullpen?

I'll just give you this list of relievers and their ERA+...

Aroldis Chapman* 215
Zack Britton 122
Adam Ottavino* 232
Tommy Kahnle 331
Jonathan Holder 116 (only five hits and one earned run in last 9.1 innings/7 appearances)
Luis Cessa 135
* - indicates left-handed pitcher

The team should get back another reliever who should contribute well to the bullpen... Dellin Betances.

I know about the old saying "you can never have too much pitching", but I really think this team is well beyond any need. You can't even say "move Happ to the bullpen" because there's no place to put him. The bullpen is already stacked.

The offense has been a big topic of conversation, and it's not because it's been bad this season. Currently, the Yankees are third in runs scored in the American League this season, and fourth in fWAR. I don't think I need to remind you of all the hitters that have missed a good chunk of time this year, either. But what the hell? Here...

Didi Gregorius - has yet to appear to play at all this season
Aaron Hicks - has yet to appear in a regular season game
Aaron Judge - has missed 14 games
Giancarlo Stanton - has missed 31 games
Miguel Andujar - missed 28 games
Clint Frazier - missed 15 games
Gary Sanchez - missed 13 games

Meanwhile, the Yankees have gotten more than expected out of projected regular Luke Voit, projected utility infielder DJ LeMahieu, and fill-ins Clint Frazier (before his injury) and Gio Urshela (two guys that should probably keep playing regularly).

By about mid-June I think the offensive part of the roster will look something like this...

LF - Clint Frazier
CF - Aaron Hicks
RF - Giancarlo Stanton
3B - DJ LeMahieu
SS - Didi Gregorius
2B - Gleyber Torres
1B - Luke Voit
C - Gary Sanchez
DH - Miguel Andujar

Bench
C - Austin Romine
3B/SS - Gio Urshela (I see him getting plenty of playing time to give Didi and Miguel regular rest)
OF - Brett Gardner

That's before Aaron Judge returns to the team sometime in July, which would still be before the Trade Deadline. Oh, and I never mentioned Troy Tulowitski, who will most likely get some playing time once he returns from the IL. And how can I forget about Thairo Estrada, who will go to the minors unless the team actually goes with a 12 man pitching squad?

The fact is this team is incredibly deep and simply has no holes to fill. Beyond another significant injury, I don't think we're going to see any big moves. Hell, I'm not sure we're going to see any moves at all. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

May the 4th Be With You All


Happy Star Wars Day everyone!!

Love, 

The Evil Empire. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 5/4: Yogi Berra & the New Jersey Hall of Fame


On this day in 2008 Yogi Berra was one of 15 inaugural honorees to be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. Yogi was not without a "Yogism" as he called fellow inductee Albert Einstein "a pretty smart guy," although he did not think the Nobel Prize winner for physics would have made a good MLB manager.

Also on this day in 2006 Forbes magazine valued the New York Yankees at $1 billion making the Yanks the first Major League Baseball team to be valued over $1 billion. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were valued at $209 million coming in last in the publication.

Also on this day in 1981 the Yankees Ron Davis set a major league mark for consecutive strikeouts by a reliever when he struck out eight consecutive Angels batters in a 4-2 New York victory. Davis came in for the seventh inning and immediately got Don Baylor to pop up and followed to strike out the rest of the batters he faced en route to a save and a Yankees victory.

Also on this day in 1968 the song Mrs. Robinson made its debut on the Billboard Top 40. The lyrics in the song ask "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you."

Finally on this day in 1931 the Yankees put Babe Ruth at first base to take some strain off his legs and moved Lou Gehrig to right field. Gehrig commits an error in right and the Senators would win the game 7-3.

Friday, May 3, 2019

This Day In New York Yankees History 5/3: Three Sac Flies in One Game

On this day in 1986 Don Mattingly hit three sacrifice flies in a 9-4 victory over the Texas Rangers. The Yankees first baseman and All Star is only the sixth player to ever have three sac flies in one game in major league history.

On this day in 1952 the Yankees traded Jackie Jensen and right handed pitcher Spec Shea to the Washington Senators for veteran outfielder Irv Noren. The Yankees felt the need to make the move after Joe DiMaggio retired and Mickey Mantle required a knee surgery that season. In 1958 Jensen would win the American League MVP award for the Boston Red Sox.

On this day in 1936 Joe DiMaggio finally makes his major league debut after his season was delayed due to a foot injury. The 21 year old rookie outfielder started off great with three hits, one of them a triple, and scored three runs in a Yankees 14-5 victory over the Browns.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Yankees interested in Dallas Keuchel

 
                                                              Photo credit: (New York Post)

Jon Heyman reporting Yankees will be interested in starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel once his draft pick comp drops after this years draft. As we know Severino is likely out until the second of the season. Although the Yankees might have another starter return soon in Jordon Montgomery who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Draft is June 4th so it’s not far away, Yankees do have to make a decision soon. As June nears teams start selling as the new deadline is in place. It'd be interesting what type of contract the Yankees offer, 1 year or a multi-year deal. Another idea is just to trade for a starter or just continue to stay with German in the rotation who has been great. 

Keuchel provides depth, veteran-ship & innings to the Yankees. Since 2015 his CY year, he’s averaged 200 innings & has a ERA of 3.41 over the past 4 seasons. He’s a ground ball pitcher which is great for the Yankees.  His ground ball rate in 2018 was 53.7%. Interested to see if anything develops between the Yankees & Dallas Kuechel.