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!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)