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!

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