Sunday, August 30, 2020

Winning is Better...

Photo Credit: Adam Hunger, Associated Press

Yankees halt losing skid…

As I sit down to write this post, the Yankees have won one game today, albeit a big comeback to do it, but a win is a win. The Yankees have won the last two games in walk-off fashion, after finally snapping the seven-game losing skid on Saturday. The Yankees are just getting underway with the second of today’s games. Young rookie Deivi Garcia makes his Major League debut.

Photo Credit:

I hate losses. Sorry, but I grew up in the George Steinbrenner era where anything less than an undefeated season was unacceptable. Okay, I might not be too serious about that part but I was really hoping to avoid a losing skid this year with the shortened number of games. Seven games basically represents 12% of the schedule. Ouch! With the Yankees trailing the Tampa Bay Rays by four games in the AL East, they really can’t afford to keep losing. The regular season’s final month begins on Tuesday. The Rays have played a few more games than the Yankees due to the recent stretch of no games due to the COVID-19 concerns at Citi Field last weekend. The Yankees can make up ground with the rescheduled games but they need to win them. A nice 10-game winning streak would feel good about now.

When I woke up this morning, I was a little surprised it was my favorite NFL team, not my MLB team, that had pulled off the day’s biggest trade with MLB’s looming trade deadline tomorrow.  For what it’s worth (I realize most of you are Giants or Jets fans), the Minnesota Vikings acquired disgruntled DE Yannick Ngakoue from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ngakoue gives the Vikings a pair of elite defensive ends (homegrown powerhouse Danielle Hunter is the other) which is great for a team that took some heavy free agent losses this past off-season. I kind of expected Yankees news before anything Vikings but so far the Yankees have been quiet. On one hand, I’d love to see them get reinforcements, but on the other, I don’t want to get rid of quality young talent for rentals. Not this year. 

I was kind of disappointed today when I saw the Baltimore Orioles had traded reliever Mychal Givens to the Colorado Rockies. I always thought Givens would be a good pickup for the Yankees. I realize he didn’t have a great 2019 season but he formed a good duo with Zack Britton not long ago and he’s been much better this year in a setup role. Phil Nevin’s son, Tyler, is now in the AL East with his dad as he was part of the package the O’s received for Givens. 

Photo Credit: Dom Amore, The Hartford Courant

I don’t want to see the Yankees part with prospects to get Lance Lynn. I realize that Lynn has been much better in Texas than he was with the Yankees, but he feels a little like ‘been there, done that’ to me and I just don’t trust him for the long term. Mike Clevinger would be nice if the Cleveland Indians are really serious about trading him, but he just seems like the latest Tribe trade bait that will be discussed for years before it happens and by the time it does, the receiving team will get damaged goods a la Corey Kluber.  

It seems like it is the potential end of the road for Erik Kratz’ latest tenure in Pinstripes. With Kyle Higashioka preparing to return within the next couple of days, it appears as though Kratz will lose his seat at the table. This might be why the Yankees made the minor acquisition for catcher Rob Brantly last week, whom they have stashed at the alternate training site. You kind of feel bad for the 40-year-old Kratz who has been around the game so long but Major League jobs have been fleeting for him despite some minor success a couple of years ago with the Milwaukee Brewers. Say what you will about Higgy but he’s not going to be the one to get the pink slip. I’m sure there are a few Yankee fans who would like to see the Yankees cut Gary Sanchez. Yeah, right. I look forward to Gary’s contributions to deliver the next World Series to New York City. If you don’t cheer for him now, don’t cheer for him when he helps us win.  

I’d love to be in Brian Cashman’s “War Room” right now. I have no doubt Cash and his team are working the phones and have a strong sense of who’s available and who can be had for the right price. That kind of goes without saying (yet I did anyway). I guess it’s possible the Yankees do nothing. As they say, sometimes the best trade is the trade never made. While the starting pitching has looked better lately, the bullpen has been a bit of a concern. The blown games by the pen during the losing streak are uncharacteristic but, with the injuries the unit has seen and the fact this is just a friggin’ strange year, reinforcing a strength is not a bad idea. Despite the good performance by J.A. Happ this weekend, I would still like to see other options. I want to win now and while I like Mike King and Happ’s still around, I want better now! This is not a time to be patient. I say that as someone who felt the pain for years after the Yankees unloaded the promising young Al Leiter years ago, much to my disappointment at the time. We all know Leiter went on to have a very good Major League career. The infamous Jesse Barfield trade. Nothing against Barfield, but I don’t want to make another one of those types of trades. I am not advocating the trade of King, I just want better starting options for 2020. Let him battle for 2021 and beyond. This is an all-hands on deck situation, and we need the best possible arms for any chance in October.

Yankees slugger (snicker, snicker) Tyler Wade has just given young Deivi a 1-0 lead over Seth Lugo and the New York Mets.  

Young Deivi seems to be making a statement today. Three innings of hitless ball so far with five strikeouts. Not sure what the final numbers will look like, but he’s certainly in a groove right now and getting better. No, I don’t want to see Deivi packaged in a deadline deal tomorrow. Not because of this performance but I am looking forward to a battle between Garcia and Clarke Schmidt next Spring as they attempt to take one of the vacated starting spots in the rotation, most likely the one currently occupied by James Paxton (well, when he is healthy). 

Ken Rosenthal is floating the availability of Starling Marte and Archie Bradley, currently with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both of those guys would look good in the Bronx. I’ve wanted Bradley for a few years now, and the Yankees could certainly use a quality outfielder with the health issues surrounding Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.  

Photo Credit: Mark J Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports

I was surprised to see the Tampa Bay Rays move DH Jose Martinez to the Chicago Cubs this weekend. When the Rays picked up Martinez last off-season from the St Louis Cardinals, I thought it would work out to be another sneaky good move by the Rays. Martinez was a defensive liability in National League with the Cards but he has a powerful bat. He’ll settle into the DH role with the Cubs. You don’t expect a division leader to trade away veterans, even if they are underperforming, but then again, it’s the Rays and despite their success, they have to pay very close attention to the bottom line, especially in a year that sees no fans flock to Tropicana Field rather than the usual one or two dozen that show up during normal times.  

I know this is not baseball news but I was really saddened to hear about the death of actor Chadwick Boseman, 43, from colon cancer. Since he had not disclosed his illness, his passing was a shock. He was such a great thespian who had presence, incredible talent, charm and charisma. He made us believe he was Jackie Robinson in 42 and of course we all bowed to the great King of Wakanda in his epic role as Marvel’s Black Panther. I am even more impressed with Boseman’s public appearances over the last few years, in retrospect, when unknown to us at the time, he had already been diagnosed with cancer.  He continued to give until he could give no more. I always like to say everybody is replaceable but unfortunately, Chadwick is not. There will never be another like him, and it’s a huge loss for Hollywood…and for America and the entire World. It is ironic he passed on a weekend when Major League Baseball was celebrating the legendary Jackie Robinson but it’s the perfect tribute. Two very great men that we’ll never, ever forget. Wakanda Fovever!…Jackie Robinson Forever!…Chadwick Boseman Forever!…

It’s the fourth inning and Deivi Garcia just gave up his first hit. Trade the bum!  Seriously, he has done better than I thought but the real challenge will be the Mets getting their second and possibly third looks at him depending upon how deep he goes into this game. Regardless of how the game turns out, Deivi is making the case he wants to be at Yankee Stadium for the long haul. Great poise by the youngster who was deprived a vibrant Yankee Stadium crowd  for his, so far, highly successful adventure in the Bronx on a warm Sunny late August day.   

One day to the trading deadline. Will tomorrow bring us some new Yankees? We shall soon find out, boys and girls. Stay tuned…

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Placing My Feelings on the Injured List...

The shortened season’s “bump in the road”…

I always found it difficult to face an off day after the Yankees are swept. The sting of the losses continue to resonate until the Yankees can snap the losing streak. The fact they were beaten in three consecutive games by their strongest AL East challenger, at home, and have had a weekend off for coronavirus avoidance makes it worse. I am not feeling good about the team at the moment but then again, it’s the normal roller coaster ride of a regular season. I guess the ebbs and flows are a little harder to handle when you know there are such few games compared to a normal season. Although outwardly I maintain a sense of calm and confidence, I am taking those highs and lows with reckless abandon on the inside, I can assure you.  

Photo Credit: The Simpsons/FOX

It is painfully obvious the Yankees need to figure out how to beat the Tampa Bay Rays if they plan to advance very far into October.  Unfortunately, a rash of injuries has developed which has deprived the Yankees of some of their best players…for at least the short term. It is ironic the injuries have continued despite the overhaul of the team’s physical conditioning unit last off-season. I know, this is not Eric Cressey’s fault. The modified season itself and the shortened second training camp hold much of the blame. I get it but I had optimistically hoped the Yankees could stay healthy this year with the new crew to maximize their fullest potential. Nope, it remains ‘Next Man Up’ and we continue to hold faith and trust for GM Brian Cashman and his team to deliver the next Gio Urshela. For the record, I do believe they will.

The first outsider, now part of the organization, to get a chance to return to the Major Leagues is former Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jordy Mercer. Most recently, the 33-year-old Oklahoman was playing for the Detroit Tigers but opted to become a free agent earlier this month when he refused an outright assignment to the Tigers’ alternate training site after clearing waivers. The one-time starting shortstop for the Pirates, a career .257/.315/.387 hitter, will get a chance help at second base, if the Yankees make room for him on the active roster, with the injuries to D.J. LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres. His glove has been scary at short but hopefully it plays better at second (at least it has over the small sample size in his Pirates-Tigers career).  

Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images

Mercer only played in three games for Detroit this year and doesn’t offer much upside but maybe he can help ‘hold the door’ while the other healthy players deliver the winning results. I’ve seen a few people say the Yankees should sign former Red Sox infielder Brock Holt, recently cut loose by the Milwaukee Brewers, but I think Mercer is the better player. It’s not like the Yankees are going to find high quality free agents on the open market at this time of year. It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do in the next week as we approach the trading deadline which is just a week from Monday.  

Speaking of trades, the Yankees did make one this week. After designating David Hale for assignment, they traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies to allow Hale to join their Yankees alumni association. With no intended knock against Hale, who has generally done a good job when asked, I was a little surprised the Yankees got anything for him. Addison Russ, a 25-year-old right-handed reliever is not exactly what you’d call a prospect but he has dominated the minor leagues with 200 strikeouts in nearly 153 career innings. I’ll be interested in seeing what the Yankees can do with Russ. Perhaps it is another gold nugget uncovered by Cashman. Then again, maybe he never sees the light of day at Yankee Stadium. I’ll hope for the former, but as the saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained” so, with that  being said, I am glad Russ is in the organization regardless of how this plays out. If he plays somewhere in the middle of my lofty unsubstantiated hopes for success and being a future DFA player, this trade will have turned out very, very well for the Yankees. Odds are we haven’t seen the last of Hale but at least he gave us something to work with in his latest departure.   

Photo Credit: Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos, via Getty Images

With thirty-five regular season games left to play, the Yankees will be without shortstop Gleyber Torres following his placement on the Injured List with Grade 1 strains of his left hamstring and quad. Manager Aaron Boone is on record saying Torres will be out in the “two to three week range” under their current thinking. My hope is the rest and recovery allows Torres to play more like the 2019 version of himself. At any rate, I’ll hold out optimism for his quick return to full health and when he does come back, he is accompanied by a very productive bat.  

The Yankees also lost James Paxton and Zack Britton to the Injured List. 

Regarding Paxton, I really thought it was the end as I expected an announcement he would need Tommy John surgery. Fortunately, and thankfully, I am not a doctor, and the diagnosis was just a strained left forearm (Grade 1 flexor strain). Yeah, the word “just” is a little ridiculous but it’s better than Stephen Strasburg’s fate. Paxton blames it on the shortened summer training, “I think it’s pretty simple. We didn’t get enough time going at a lower speed to kind of build up.” Regardless, I think Paxton’s days as a Yankee are numbered. I had previously thought it was unlikely the Yankees would re-sign him when he hits the open market after the season, but this year’s performance and the continuation of injuries is pretty much the nail in the coffin.  Oh well, it bodes well for the Clarke Schmidt 2021 campaign. After a couple of weeks rest, Paxton will get some time in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to rebuild his arm strength. Hopefully there’s enough time for him to make his mark on this season. He certainly has the talent if he can maintain his health after the most recent setback.  

As for Schmidt, we may get an early preview of the potential 2021 starter as soon as this week. I am ready for his time to start even if the Yankees aren’t quite ready to begin his service time clock. I’d really like to see Schmidt grow and develop as a Major League pitcher and there’s only one place to learn (clue: it’s not the alternate training site). The downside of a Schmidt move is the elimination of a seat holder on the current 40-man roster as a precursor to his elevation to active status on the Major League roster. While I’ve always liked Ben Heller, I know it is inevitable he’ll eventually get the tap on the shoulder that it’s time to go. I just hope it is for something of value and not just a trip down the DFA highway without a net. 

Britton feels he’ll be ready to go after 10 days following his trip to the Injured List for a strained left hamstring. Britton, the team’s closer for much of the season until the recent return of Aroldis Chapman, is such a huge part of the Yankees bullpen so we certainly need him back sooner than later but, as with any injuries, never too soon. I fully expect superior physical therapy management from Eric Cressey and his team. 

The Yankees also lost reliever Luis Avilan, a mild surprise this season, to the IL on Friday with Torres and Paxton. He was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation.

Of the current players already on the IL, there is strong optimism we’ll see Aaron Judge this week when the Yankees return to play. LeMahieu, already taking dry swings, should not be too far behind. It will be fantastic to get both of those guys back. I haven’t really heard any updates on Giancarlo Stanton but that’s what I’ve grown to expect. A mystery when he’ll be able to play and total pessimism of his ability to stay healthy when he is. As the current White House occupant would say, “it is what it is”.  Thankfully, it’s Hal Steinbrenner’s money and not mine.

Hopefully the Yankees are back soon. I am ready to put the recent slump aside and move back up the AL East standings. They’ll play two in Atlanta starting Tuesday night. The Mets, their planned opponent for the cancelled series this weekend, will come to Yankee Stadium (hopefully) next weekend. After the Braves and the Mets, a rematch with the Rays looms in the Bronx for their final three-game head-to-head match-up before the fun of October begins. Not trying to look too far ahead but anything less than taking at least two of three will be unacceptable. There’s a day off after the series, Thursday, September 3rd, and I want that to be a GOOD day. Make it happen, Pinstripers!

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Injured List Champions…

Yankees continue to use the all-too-familiar IL…

I was kind of hoping that we would have left the ‘Next Man Up’ in 2019 yet here we are. The Yankees have shelved multiple expected key 2020 key contributors. Granted, Giancarlo Stanton, Aroldis Chapman, and Aaron Judge are just temporarily away, unlike Tommy Kahnle, but any lost time in 2020 is significant due to the limited number of games. Chapman, who overcame the coronavirus, has yet to throw his first regular season pitch. 

Seeing the names of Stanton and Judge in the lineup is such a fleeting opportunity. The way Judge was crushing the ball, I am hopeful that he’s back after the minimum time on the Injured List. Not sure why the Yankees are always so secretive about his health. It leads to such mystery about how he’s really doing and if the Yankees are being straight with us. With both Stanton and Judge, my mind always wonders if we are looking at just 15 days or if the season is lost. Hard to keep the ‘glass is half full’ approach regarding the health mysteries that always swirl around both of the players, Judge in particular. 

When Judge went on the IL, I was surprised it was Thairo Estrada who got the call rather than Miguel Andujar. I get there are things Miggy needs to work on, but his bat needs to face Major League pitchers if it is going to come around like his pre-surgery self. Okay, the Yankees pitchers at the alternate training site in Pennsylvania are technically Major League pitchers but it is not the same. I am not sure that a couple weeks playing simulated games will substantially improve Miggy at this point. Either he is going to get better in real games or he is not. Seems like he may be trade fodder with the deadline just a couple of weeks away. I like Miggy and trading him now seems like you’d be selling low so the potential return does not seem as great as it could or should be. Maybe some other GM seems the potential in the player and his bat and is willing to roll the dice. We’ll see. I’d rather see the Yankees hold on to him but they need to play him.

I was disappointed when the Yankees recently lost three of four to the red hot Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays subsequently swept the Boston Red Sox but fortunately…and finally…lost to the Toronto Blue Jays last night so the Yankees have a two-game lead in the AL East over the Rays and the surprising Baltimore Orioles. The Gerrit Cole-led Yankees easily defeated the Red Sox yesterday in their weekend series opener. The rest of the rotation needs to man up and match Cole’s performance, especially against the AL East’s worst 2020 team. If the Yankees do not sweep the Sox or at least win the series, it will be a big disappointment. I’d prefer the sweep. Kick the Sox while they are down. It always feels good to me. 

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Speaking of Cole, the guy simply refuses to lose. Last night’s win was Cole’s 20th straight win, dating back to his time in that other disgusting uniform. Oh well, he is 4-0 as a Yankee and I am loving every moment of his time in Pinstripes. It’s so great to have a starter who gives you 100% confidence every time he takes the mound. I think I may be suffering from post traumatic stress  disorder watching James Paxton and J.A. Happ pitch. Now is a good time for them to turn it around, please. As for Cole, the MLB record is 24 consecutive games, held by Carl Hubbell in 1936 and 1937, so hopefully he continues this winning march to October.  

Photo Credit: Sarah Stier, Getty Images

I was glad to see Gary Sanchez homer again last night and Gleyber Torres going for 4-for-4. Two cold bats that may finally be warming up. With the big boys on the IL, the Yankees really need El Gary and young Gleyber to play to their expected levels. 

After watching D.J. LeMahieu post another multi-hit game, his 69th since 2019 which leads the Majors according to the YES Network team, I have to wonder when the Yankees are going to sign him to an extension. I really do not want to see this guy hit free agency. Sure, the Yankees will likely re-sign him but I just don’t enjoy the thought of total freedom where anything can happen. The last thing I would want is to see D.J. playing for Boston or Tampa.  I know he likes being a Yankee and we like him as one. The Steinbrenner Family needs to ensure that he stays one.

I thought Texas might be a good opportunity for former Yankees first baseman Greg Bird and maybe it still will be, but his latest chance ended with his designation for assignment on August 11th, a week after he had been placed on the (surprise!) Injured List. Maybe he clears waivers and is sent outright to the Rangers’ alternate training site but Bird, the man with the beautiful swing, has certainly fallen on hard times. Here’s hoping that he can rise from the ashes to become the player he was destined to be. 

Another player who has been given another chance in Pinstripes is Clint Frazier. No longer a prospect, Frazier has an opportunity to show he belongs in light of the outfield injuries. With a homer against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday and a two-run double last night, he seems to be taking advantage of the opportunity even if two games does not define a career. Keep it going, Clint. We legitimately want you to succeed. If you win, we win. 

The St Louis Cardinals will finally play their first game since July 29th when they face the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in the Windy City. It’s funny looking at the NL Central standings. The Cards, stricken by the coronavirus, have only played 5 games, winning two. Yet, they are the second place team, 5 games behind the division leading Chicago Cubs. I do kind of feel badly for them, knowing they have a number of double-headers in their future as they attempt to make up games. Thank God for seven inning games.  

To address a question posed by fearless TGP leader, Daniel Burch, on Twitter (@GreedyStripes), I am getting used to it. The question was ‘Do you still notice the fact there’s no fans in the stands?’ I think what bothers me most is the teams with cardboard cut-outs in the seats. Considering I live in Southern California, I tend to watch a lot of Dodgers games and the cut-outs bother me every game. I am glad they are currently playing in my neighborhood at Angels Stadium so that I can get a break from those foolish views despite my love for Dodger Stadium.   

Back to the trading deadline, I still think the Yankees will seek help for the pitching staff or at least I hope so. This seems to be an on-going hunt every year. It’s nice having Cole this go-around but we still need better arms to surround him. It will be nice to get Aroldis Chapman back as it deepens the bullpen which compensates for the loss of Kahnle. Word is circulating that Chappy could be back tomorrow. Zack Britton has been an excellent stand-in for the Cuban Missile and it’s nice to know he’s there if needed. Listening to the R2C2 Podcast this week, it didn’t surprise me to hear that Britton is the guy Gerrit Cole gravitates to when talking baseball.  I’d love to listen to those two guys talk about pitching. Throw in pitching coach Matt Blake and I am sure the conversation goes well above my knowledge and comprehension. Well, that’s with or without Blake. 

Considering the Boston Red Sox (6-14) should be sellers this year, I wonder what it would take to pry short stop Xander Bogaerts from them. I know, Boston would NEVER trade a star player to the Yankees. They’d be foolish to part with Bogaerts in any scenario to any team as he is huge building block for future success. I am consistently on record as a Francisco Lindor in Pinstripes dreamer, but I’d be as happy with Bogaerts calling the Bronx home. He is a fun player to watch. There is always at least one Red Sox player I really like and Bogaerts has become that guy for me ever since the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Not that I am trying to push Gleyber Torres out of shortstop, but I never stop dreaming of the desire to be the best.  You’ve got to remember I grew up in the George Steinbrenner “All-Star players at every position” era.  

Kind of a bummer we have to wait until this evening to watch the Yankees and Red Sox. The aforementioned James Paxton gets the start against former Yankee “Nasty Nate” Nathan Eovaldi. The Big Maple comes into the game with a July 1984 ERA (7.84). Time for him to start working towards earlier months in the year. February or March would be nice. I know that my PTSD will set in for those first few innings. Hopefully Paxton can overcome the early innings to deliver a quality performance. At some point, you’d think Cole has to rub off on Paxton. Let it be tonight!  

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Dog Days of Summer...


2 Losses and the Sky is Falling…

I know, I know…it’s just a momentary bump in the road but I dislike consecutive losses, especially those of the one-run variety as it means a timely hit here or there could have meant the difference between winning and losing.

Last night, the Yankees lost to Blake Snell and a bevy of Tampa Bay Rays relievers in St Petersburg, Florida. Admittedly, I could not tell the difference with the stadium crowd or lack thereof with the “fan-less” games of 2020 versus a normal Tropicana Field audience. Credit Masahiro Tanaka for a great performance. There were goose eggs on the scoreboard (run column) when he departed after five innings. Masa only allowed one hit while striking out five Rays. A brief pause here to say that if the start of the season is an indicator, I want the Yankees to re-sign Tanaka over James Paxton if we can only have one of the pending free agents back next year. I like Paxton and I continue to feel that he has the higher ceiling among the two arms but Tanaka is more consistent and capable to delivering the goods like last night when it matters the most.

Photo Credit: Chris O'Meara, AP

The loss was attributable to Adam Ottavino. He remains one of my favorite relievers but he is always going to have one of those games where control issues raise their ugly head. Last night was one of those nights. He walked two of the first three batters in the bottom of the eighth inning and a wild pitch advanced the runners. The Rays were able to pick up an easy and, ultimately, game-winning run on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Michael Perez. Otto will be fine. He’ll just take a page out of the Mariano Rivera playbook and forget about last night. For the game, there were only four combined hits, evenly split between the two teams, so it wasn’t the most exciting game to watch unless you love to watch dominant pitching and ice cold bats. Aaron Judge, off to a blazing start this season, struck out three times. 

The best advice about the loss was offered by Tanaka after the game. “I think there’s going to be games like this where both teams aren’t really able to score. So you just kind of have to leave this and just go into tomorrow. I think it’s really important for us to just kind of move forward. Just kind of change the mood.” True, today is a new day. The Yankees (9-4) hold a three-game over the Rays and, WTF?...the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees send ace Gerrit Cole to the mound today. He’ll be opposed by his former Pittsburgh Pirates teammate, Tyler Glasnow. Today seems like a good day to start a new winning streak. Not to take anything away from Glasnow, whom I feel is an excellent pitcher, but, win or lose, I am always over-confident when Cole is on the mound and damn proud of it.

Photo Credit: Rob Carr, Getty Images

It was cut-down week for MLB as teams had to pare down the rosters from 30 to 28. Granted, he wasn’t playing and when he did, the results weren’t terrific but I was still very surprised to see Miguel Andujar among the cuts. Sure, it gives him some time to work on the finer points of outfield play and shake the rust off his bat. One hit in 14 at-bats is not going to help your cause when you are battling for a valuable roster spot. I know he’ll be back and hopefully the time away allows him to reset and return as a valuable contributor. My position remains the Yankees are stronger with Miggy on the roster than not so I am hopeful the “vacation” in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania is positive and productive.  Infielder Thairo Estrada and reliever Nick Nelson accompanied Andujar to the alternate site while former Anaheim, I mean Los Angeles, Angels pitcher Nick Tropeano headed the other direction to join the big league club. Note: As a relatively new Anaheim resident, I find it more ridiculous than ever now that the Angels call themselves “Los Angeles”, a city that is nearly an hour away.  Okay, 30 miles but have you ever driven in Southern CA traffic?  I love Los Angeles and if I had a job that allowed me to live in downtown Los Angeles or out in one of the beach cites, I’d be there. But where I live near Angels Stadium is NOT Los Angeles even if everybody around here wears Dodgers (not Angels) caps. Sorry, I digress. Welcome to the Bronx, Nick! I hope you make the most of your opportunity with the Yankees.

MLB nixed plans to further reduce rosters from 28 to 26 so the 28-man roster will remain for the duration of the season.  Teams still get an extra man for double-headers, even those of the seven innings variety temporarily in effect this season. Mike Ford is clearly the big winner with the decision to stay at 28 players. When Ford is having a good time, I am having a good time. I love watching that guy succeed as his happiness to be a Yankee can be so infectious.   

As awful as James Paxton and J.A. Happ have been this year, you wonder when Clarke Schmidt will make his Major League debut. I’d take Schmidt over Happ right hereright now. I know he’ll encounter bumps and bruises along the way in his continued development, but that’s okay with me. I’d rather take the pain knowing there are brighter days ahead than pinning my hopes on an aging pitcher on the fast track to his post-playing career. 

A couple of days before the roster cutdown, the Yankees designated catcher Chris Iannetta for assignment and outrighted him to the alternate training site. Last evening, Lindsey Adler of The Athletic tweeted that Iannetta has been placed on the restricted list. No details were provided. The restricted list is for players who are out of organized baseball, for whatever reason, and are not free agents. It could be for leaving the team without a valid reason (failure to report to the alternate training site), temporary unpaid leave for personal reasons or some other cause. I think the Yankees will be fine with or without Iannetta although those Yankee fans melting down about Gary Sanchez and his slow start might think differently. 

The MLB trading deadline is just a short three weeks away. It remains to be seen how active teams will be this year but I am hopeful the Yankees can pick up some pitching help.  I am not sure who will be available since the worst teams in the American League (Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners) are only 5 ½ games out in their respective divisions. Hard to determine who will be sellers although you’d think finances play into the equation with the lost revenue this year. The Yankees should provide a friendly helping hand to the Cleveland Indians and take the salary of Francisco Lindor off their hands. It would be a very generous move by the Yankees…wink, wink. I am sure speculation will start heating up about certain players in the coming weeks.

I’ll admit it was good to see Didi Gregorius during the recent series with the Philadelphia Phillies but I don’t pine for his return. I wanted him to stay, yes, and I was disappointed when he left, but once he did, he was just another ex-Yankee to me. I am appreciative for his time in Pinstripes but life moves on. I wish him well in Philly and if he ever has an opportunity to rejoin the Yankees, fine. Until then, he is just another player. My shortstop is Gleyber Torres and he has my 100% support even if his bat has been a little slow to come around this year. I know at the end, he’ll be there. I can’t believe there are still Yankee fans who cry for Joe Girardi and, what’s his name again?, Robert, no, Richard, um, Ronald (yeah, that’s it!) Torreyes. Give me Aaron Boone and Tyler Wade…I’m good.

I hope it’s a Cole-fully wonderful day for you and all Yankees fans. As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Loss of Great Arm & Better Personality...

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac, via Newsday

Kahnle succumbs to Tommy John surgery…

The Yankees are off to a tremendous start, 5-1 entering play today which includes last night’s win over the hated Boston Red Sox, yet today feels like a loss. I am not talking about the potential outcome of today’s game with Boston, but rather the somber news that reliever Tommy “Tightpants” Kahnle is lost for the year (and next) with the announcement he needs Tommy John surgery. 

The Yankees have a great bullpen, even without Kahnle, so they’ll move on and find other replacement parts but Kahnle will be missed. Not only is he a quality reliever for Manager Aaron Boone, but he has an infectious personality that helps to keep the team loose. I guess after his surgery, he’ll be able to be around the team but it’s not quite the same as being in uniform and going to war with the boys.  

As Kahnle enters his final arbitration-eligible year next season, there’s a real chance he has thrown his last pitch for the Yankees. I say that given the Yankees’ recent history of non-tendering guys headed for surgery or letting them walk, the most notable in recent years being former Yanks Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda. It’s an unfortunate situation for both Kahnle and the Yankees. I’ve enjoyed his time with the organization and have been a big fan since his time in the minors for the team prior to being plucked away in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft by the Colorado Rockies. He is the last piece of the trade that sent Yankees outfield prospect Blake Rutherford, among a few others, to the Chicago White Sox in July 2017. The other two players acquired in that trade have obviously moved on (Todd Frazier, currently with the Texas Rangers, and David Robertson, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery himself, with the Philadelphia Phillies) but despite losing Rutherford, I still felt good about the trade with Kahnle in the family. 

Photo Credit: The Canadian Press

I hope the surgery goes well and Tommy is able to rehab himself back to elite status. I hope it is with the Yankees but if not, I’ll wish the Eagles fan well wherever the road ahead may take him…unless he decides to take I-95 north.  

With the trade deadline looming around the corner (at the end of the month…yes, we’re now in August, my friends), it will be interesting to see if the Yankees pursue bullpen upgrades to help the now healthy Aroldis Chapman, closer stand-in Zack Britton, the ever reliable Chad Greene and the ultra-talented Adam Ottavino. Perhaps some of the younger arms on the roster are capable of stepping up to fill Kahnle’s shoes but I suspect the Yankees will double-down with additional help to be acquired soon. It will never happen but I always hold out hope in the back of my mind that the Yankees can find a way to bring Josh Hader to New York. I know, it’s kind of like hoping that I’ll win the Power Ball lottery. I get it but would love to see another power arm in the pen. 

I remain skeptical we’ll be able to pull off the shortened MLB season this year. The St Louis Cardinals are the latest team to be decimated by positive tests for the coronavirus which has affected their players and coaches. The Miami Marlins haven’t played since last weekend and now the Cardinals, with their game called off today, face a similar week ahead with no games until they can recapture their health. At some point, it seems like the Commissioner has to step in and say ‘enough is enough’. With reports Rob Manfred told MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark the leagues may need to shut it down due to the coronavirus, it seems we’re headed in that direction. I love baseball being back, and I don’t want to see it go away again, but if this continues to get worse, it is not worth risking the health and potentially lives of people involved with the game. I wish the players and the teams were more diligent to protect their health. It’s more than just “wear your damn mask” and social distancing. I am sure the case studies involving the Marlins and Cardinals have certainly opened some eyes. Hopefully the implementation of more stringent measures will help protect other teams from suffering similar fates.

As for the Yankees, they have played as well as you could have expected or imagined. I was worried before the beginning of the 60-game season the team would get off to a slow start (which seems to happen more often than not with the Pinstripers), but thankfully, this Yankees team appears to be on a mission. They know they are good and are capable of beating anyone, anywhere. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge have been the beasts we expect them to be. I kind of wish Gary Sanchez would join the hit parade but he’ll get there. He’s not going to get “fat and lazy” screams from me. I know when this season is done (if we can make it to the World Series), Gary and his bat will be humming. I was worried the other day when Gleyber Torres was pulled from the game in Baltimore after getting hit by a pitch, but so grateful the tests were negative and that he was back on the field last night for the Yankee Stadium home opener. He is so vital to the success of the Yankees.

I am excited to see Masahiro Tanaka this evening. Armed with a protective insert in his hat, I am hopeful that he shows no residual effect of the very scary incident last month when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton. I want the Yankees to win tonight’s game, obviously, but more than anything, I want to see Masa do well. He’ll have my support regardless of the outcome but a strong performance would certainly help him and provide confidence going forward. The starting rotation is better with him than not.  

Speaking of important starters, a hat tip to Jordan Montgomery. I’ve been very impressed with him this year (summer training and his season debut last night). I am glad he’s healthy and ready to help.  I never thought I’d feel much better about Gumby than I do currently with James Paxton as I didn’t feel the pitchers were on the same level but here we are.  Hopefully the Big Maple is able to turn it around like he did last year to become a force by the time the season is over. If everyone is firing on all cylinders behind Gerrit Cole, there is literally nothing this Yankees team cannot accomplish on their march to take away the World Series championship from the Washington Nationals.

I like the story about what led Suzyn Waldman to sing the National Anthem last night. Apparently, during an interview at spring training in 2012 when the Yankees were playing Pittsburgh in Florida, Waldman told young Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole that he’d make a great Yankee one day. He responded that if he did, she’d have to sing the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium. Suzyn made no promises or guarantees but fast-forward 8 years later, Cole is a Yankee and Suzyn was singing the National Anthem with her usual display of grace and talent for Friday night’s home opener. It was a great moment and Suzyn clearly belted one out of the park.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The trend continues…another former Yankee becomes a Marlin. Team Derek Jeter acquired another former Yank when they picked up Baltimore Orioles reliever Richard Bleier today. Bleier, a 33-year-old lefty, gives the M’s a healthy player which they desperately need. Last year was a disappointing one for Bleier but overall he proved to be an effective reliever for the O’s after they acquired him from the Yankees a few years ago. I wish Bleier well in Miami and hope that he is able to contribute effectively for Manager Don Mattingly and the Marlins.  

It’s kind of disgusting to think as I type this post, the Houston Astros are or will soon be a couple of blocks away to play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Yuck, the stench in the air. I am anxious for their series with the Angels to end tomorrow so that they can get the hell out of Orange County. I just wish Mike Trout and company would be a little more effective than they were last night when they dropped a 9-6 decision to the Cheaters.  Today’s a new day and an opportunity for the Halos to pin an L on MLB’s biggest losers.

As always, Go Yankees!