Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Why I'm Not Afraid of Carlos Carrasco in Game Two Tonight

 The New York Yankees offense was not afraid of 2020's presumptive American League Cy Young Award winner, so should they be afraid of Carlos Carrasco tonight in Game Two? In a word, no. Here's why!

The New York Yankees generally struggle against pitchers that they are seeing for the first time, it doesn't make sense but it is definitely a thing for this team. The good news tonight is that the Bombers have seen Carrasco plenty, to the tune of the stats below provided by ESPN: 

New York Yankees Career Statistics Vs. Carlos Carrasco
Clint Frazier31100001.333.333.6671.000
Brett Gardner226110356.273.407.409.816
Aaron Hicks100000013.
Aaron Judge20000012.000.333.000.333
Erik Kratz42000001.500.500.5001.000
Giancarlo Stanton10000001.

Is that a huge sample size? Unfortunately not, but it is better than nothing. With the above, do the Yankees start Clint tonight or do they start Gardner? Originally, my thought process was that Clint would get the start, but that was before Gardy's big game last night against Bieber and the Indians. 

Carrasco has made 12 appearances, nine of them starts, in his career against the Yankees and currently owns a 5-5 record with a 4.04 ERA. Carrasco has allowed eight home runs to the Bronx Bombers over that span with a 1.204 WHIP. Carrasco will get his strikeouts against this team, he has struck out Yankees batters 60 times in 55.2 innings pitched against them while drawing just 15 walks. That's not what you want to see, but ultimately I think the Yankees offense should be fine. 

Remember, Carrasco is not the same pitcher he was just two-or-three seasons ago, he is a shell of his former self. A lot of this gaudy strikeout numbers came while Carrasco was at his peak, and Carrasco has since fallen from that level due to injury. Carrasco's 3-4 record, 1.206 WHIP and 1.6 WAR, while good, are not what he was in 2017 and 2018. 2017 and 2018 were his Cy Young contending years, while he has stepped back each of the last two seasons. 

Bieber scared me a little last night, although I wasn't worried, but Carrasco really doesn't. I'm not looking past Carrasco by any means, but I am confident that the Yankees will close out this series with a victory tonight. See you in the ALDS. 

AL Wild Card Game 2 - New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians

 The New York Yankees slugged their way to a victory in Game One of the 2020 American League Wild Card Series with the Cleveland Indians, hitting the first home run of the season off Cleveland ace Shane Bieber while knocking him out of the game after just 4.2 IP. Tonight the Yankees offense will look for much of the same, and a series victory, while they back Masahiro Tanaka. Playoff Tanaka tonight on the mound with the series on the line, let's do this. 

Masahiro Tanaka owns a career 1.76 ERA in the postseason along with 37 strikeouts across eight starts since 2015, thus earning the nickname of Playoff Tanaka. Tanaka also finished the 2020 campaign strong with a 2-1 record over his last three starts, compiling a 2.25 ERA over that span. Tanaka looks to send the Yankees into the American League Division Series with a victory tonight. 

Carlos Carrasco will make his third career playoff appearance tonight for the Indians with their season and backs against the wall. In his two previous postseason starts, one in 2017 and one in 2018, Carrasco has posted a 1.64 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched. 

The game will be played at 7:08 pm ET inside Progressive Field and can be seen nationally on ESPN. Go Yankees!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Why I'm Not Afraid of Shane Bieber for Game One Tonight

 The New York Yankees begin their quest for the franchise's 28th World Series Championship tonight inside Progressive Field when the team takes on the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the AL Wild Card Round. The Yankees will have their ace on the mound, Gerrit Cole, while the Indians will counter with an ace of their own in Shane Bieber. Bieber has had an amazing 2020 campaign which included him winning the Triple Crown for pitchers, leading both leagues in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. That would normally spell disaster for the Bombers in October, but for some reason (and maybe it is actually having an ace of our own on our side this time around) I still feel confident tonight with Cole on the mound. Bieber is tough, but Bieber is not unbeatable, and here is why. 


  • Bieber has a batting average against of .092 this season when the ball is hit to an infielder, but has a BAA of .506 when hit to an outfielder. Easier said than done, but don't hit it to an infielder and the Yankees should be fine... right?


  • Bieber has never started a postseason game. Fans or not, that means something in my opinion. 


  • Bieber is susceptible to damage in the second inning, posting a 3.75 ERA in the second inning in 2020. 


  • Bieber compiled many of his stats against opposing team's offenses that do not stand up well when compared to the Yankees offensive capabilities. Facing DJLM, Judge, Voit, Stanton, etc. is not the same as facing Detroit, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Milwaukee or even Cincinnati. 


  • We still have Gerrit Cole on our side.


  • Bieber has not allowed a single home run inside Progressive Field in 2020. Zero. 


  • Bieber has been money with five and six days rest, and last pitched on 9-23. Bieber should be sharp and on his game tonight in Cleveland. 


  • Bieber is a strike out pitcher that will throw right-handed against a predominantly right-handed offense that is prone to the strikeout. 

Yankees fans, there's hope tonight. While the Bombers offense may not string together many hits or put up many crooked numbers, one thing you have to remember is that Bieber's stats were accumulated by beating up on the AL Central and NL Central, not the AL East. Don't get me wrong, the NL Central is tough and they sent four teams to the postseason in 2020, but Bieber hasn't really faced an offense like the New York Yankees much. 

Bieber faced the Royals twice, Detroit twice, and Pittsburgh once while facing off with the Minnesota Twins three times (twice without Josh Donaldson), Milwaukee once (barely slipped into the 8th seed in the NL) and the White Sox twice including Bieber's final start of the season. 

Bieber is good, Bieber is damn good in fact, but he is not unbeatable. It won't be easy, but if Cole World and Higgy can hold down Jose Ramirez and their offense I feel supremely confident that we will leave tonight with a victory and a 1-0 series lead. I've been right about a lot this season, and I don't expect to start being wrong now. 

AL Wild Card Game 1 - New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians

 This is what 60 games have led to, the 2020 MLB Postseason. The playoffs this year will be a little different than what we are used to, but I don't think that will make the second season any less interesting. Instead of five teams per league we have jumped to eight teams in each league, a total of 16 teams out of 30 have made the postseason, and two of those teams we will see on the field tonight inside Cleveland's Progressive Field. In the opener of the best-of-three series a pair of aces take the mound looking to give their team an early 1-0 lead in the series. On the mound for the Yankees will be Gerrit Cole, Cole World and Higgy, while the Indians will counter with presumptive 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber for Cleveland. 

This is why the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole, for a start just like this one tonight in Cleveland. Cole struggled early on in this 2020 campaign, but has seemingly turned things around just at the right time with his personal (yeah, I called him that. So what? Does anyone really want to continue to doubt me on this subject at this point?) catcher Kyle Higashioka. Cole has a career 2.60 ERA in this postseason across 10 starts including an impressive run in the 2019 MLB postseason that included a 4-1 record and a 1.72 ERA. 

Shane Bieber won the triple crown for pitchers in the American League in 2020, but all that and about $15 will get you a beer at the stadium tonight (if fans were allowed in attendance). Bieber will be making his first career postseason start tonight after posting an impressive 1.63 ERA with 122 strikeouts in 2020. The fans will not be a factor tonight, so I fully expect Bieber to be tough tonight with the Yankees heavy right-handed lineup looking for the big hit. 

The game starts at 7:08 pm ET inside Cleveland's Progressive Field and can be seen nationally on ESPN. Go Yankees!

Monday, September 28, 2020

My 2020 IBWAA Awards Votes for AL and NL Managers of the Year

 Aaron Boone is not the American League's Manager of the Year. In fact, I didn't even list him on my ballot (and for good reason). The New York Yankees were supposed to steam roll the entire American League en-route to a trip to the World Series and an eventual 28th World Series Championship for the franchise. All these things could still happen, but it will have to come as the 6th seed in the American League playoffs. To quote the manager that Boone replaced, it's not what you want. 

American League Manager of the Year: Rick Renteria (CHW)

Not many had the Chicago White Sox shocking the world and making the postseason in 2020, but I did, and the reason for much of their success has to start at the top. Their management rebuilt from within and did it the right way, and dividends are starting to pay off for the team, the management, and for manager Rick Renteria. Renteria had the AL's top spot until the final weekend of the season and absolutely deserves the AL's top manager award in my opinion. The only other manager who could give Renteria a run for his money, in my opinion, is Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays. 

                        National League Manager of the Year: Don Mattingly (MIA)

The National League is a no-brainer for me, and not much needs to be said about it. Don Mattingly led the Miami Marlins, 60-game crazy season or not, to the postseason. David Ross and David Bell would have probably been frontrunners in any other season, but not in 2020. The undefeated (in the postseason) Miami Marlins enter the postseason ready to upset some people, and I am here for it. 

My 2020 IBWAA Awards Votes for AL and NL Rookies of the Year

The race for the American League Rookie of the Year Award may have been one of the most entertaining awards races to watch down the stretch with the Chicago White Sox Phenom Luis Robert contending with Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners for much of the season. Unfortunately, the Yankees did not have anyone who really entered the discussion this year, although that doesn't take away from the amazing season that Deivi Garcia and other Yankees enjoyed. Robert and Lewis were just on another level. Meanwhile, in the National League, the pitching side of things showcases a bright future for teams like the Miami Marlins and the Los Angeles Dodgers, but there was a certain guy out in San Diego that has been watching Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis a little too much to lose here in 2020. 

AL Rookie of the Year: Luis Robert (CHW)

For much of the season Robert and Lewis went back-and-forth, but Robert pulled ahead in the final three weeks of the season to secure the award, in my opinion. Robert and Lewis were neck-and-neck for much of the season, but while Lewis came down to Earth just a little, Robert got even better. At one point Robert and his surprise (to some) Chicago White Sox had the top seed in the American League before faltering on the final weekend of the season and settling for a third seed. 

NL Rookie of the Year: Jake Cronenworth (SD)

Listen, I love Dustin May as much as the next guy, and I really enjoyed watching Sixto Sanchez pitch before many of you knew who he was (admittedly, before 2020 I didn't know who he was, but Derek Jeter owns the Miami Marlins so I pay attention to his farm system), but Jake Cronenworth ran away with the NL Rookie of the Year vote in my opinion. Every good young team builds up the middle and the Padres have done with that middle infielder (and relief pitcher, in a pickle) Cronenworth. Cronenworth did a little bit of everything here in 2020 and is probably the most complete package of the three listed. 

My 2020 IBWAA Awards Votes for AL and NL Cy Young

The 2020 regular season is over and the Most Valuable Players from the offensive side of the game have been voted on, but what about the pitching. Good pitching beats good hitting, right? So, with that said, these guys should be mowing down everyone who was on that MVP list, right? Predictions incoming...

AL Cy Young Award: Shane Beiber (CLE)

There isn't much that really needs to be said here because no one is really anywhere on the level that Shane Beiber is this season. Liam Hendricks is in the discussion, as are Gerrit Cole and Kenta Maeda, but that's only because there is a discussion that needs to be had. Beiber leads in most every statistical category and just pitched out of his mind all season long. Beiber may win today, and may win the AL Cy Young, but I am okay with that as long as Cole wins on Tuesday night in Game One of the postseason. 

NL Cy Young Award: Trevor Bauer

The Cincinnati Reds have already announced that they were willing to do whatever they had to in order to keep Trevor Bauer after the 2020 season, but a National League Cy Young Award will make that pretty difficult in my opinion. I don't think the Yankees will even be in the discussion for Bauer this winter, so that is not factoring into my decision, but I think he will be one of the highest touted pitchers this winter after a strong 2020 campaign. The win/loss record isn't there, but the peripherals are. Bauer finished the season with 100 strikeouts, two shutouts, and an ERA under 2.00. Yu Darvish is probably going to finish second in the voting and had one more start than Bauer did, with comparable stats. My ballot was finished off with Max Fried, Clayton Kershaw and of course Jacob deGrom. 

My 2020 IBWAA Awards Votes for AL and NL MVP

Good morning everyone and welcome back to the blog. With the regular season now over and with the 2020 MLB Postseason beginning tomorrow, Tuesday the 29th of September, we here at the IBWAA are scrambling to get our award ballots filled out and cast. Here is a preview of mine:

AL MVP: DJ LeMahieu (NYY)

I know many people may not agree with this decision, and I know that DJ probably will lose out on this award to either Jose Ramirez, Jose Abreu, or his teammate Luke Voit (who I voted for 2nd place begrudgingly because in my opinion he deserves the award as well), but I truly believe that DJ is the most VALUABLE player to his team on the list. The Yankees may not be in the postseason without LeMahieu at the top of their lineup, especially when the team faltered with injuries and lack of production. DJ has been a steady presence in the Yankees lineup and ,in my opinion, is the only reason the team is headed to October baseball. Voit held down the fort while many of the Yankees top guys were hurt, but the winning ways stopped, and returned, along with DJ. 

NL MVP: Freddie Freeman (ATL)

I am not sure there is even really a discussion to be had here. Freddie Freeman should, and will in my opinion, win the National League's Most Valuable Player Award, period. Juan Soto was interesting to talk about, and may have actually won the award had he not missed the beginning of the season with COVID-19, and Mookie Betts is right there in the discussion, but ultimately I just think that this is Freddie's year. I had Soto and Betts filling out the Top 3 and I had teammate Marcell Ozuna sixth overall. 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The End of the Wrong Season...


Photo Credit: Associated Press

Yankees stumble to the Finish Line…

Well, there is one more game to go, but this is my final regular season post. I’ll be back for the play-offs but no plans for a season recap after tomorrow’s game.

Suffice it to say I’ve been disappointed with the uneven play of the Yankees this shortened season and the errors lately have been atrocious but there are a few bright spots. I am grateful, incredibly thankful, Gerrit Cole is a New York Yankee even if we couldn’t deliver him a division championship. For his part, he tried. The middle linebacker at first base, Luke Voit, has been a shining star for much of the season. And D.J. LeMahieu just continues to do what he does best, playing pretty damn good baseball with both bat and glove.

I wish we could say this is Aaron Judge’s team. I know, it is when he is healthy (which he is right now) but, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of that this year.

When I say ‘Wrong Season’, I am not really implying what I think about the Yankees’ chances this year. Then again, maybe I am. My intent is mainly based on the fact it has just been a fucked up year with the Pandemic, the unnecessary loss of lives, total disruption of sports as we know it, empty stadiums, ballparks and arenas while games are played, the trials and tribulations of the Presidential election coming up in November (regardless of who you are voting for), and so much more about what went wrong this year. I am not a political person and I am certainly not going to make a political stand here but suffice it to say that I’ll be glad when 2020 is in the rearview mirror. 

As the Yankees continue to hang onto the fifth spot in the AL seeding order (by the narrow margin of the pinstripes on their jerseys). Maybe the Toronto Blue Jays, who are currently 1 ½ games behind the Yankees pending the outcome of their game tonight with Baltimore Orioles, will lose to make Sunday meaningless for the Yankees. But if the Jays beat the O’s tonight and tomorrow and the Yankees drop the season finale against the Miami Marlins, the Yankees fall all the way to eighth in the seeding order. It’s really hard for me to get excited about a team that can’t seem to win when it matters most. I have to admit that when the Marlins broke out to an unlikely 3-0 lead today, it felt like ‘here we go again’. Fortunately, the bats came to play and the Yankees took what turned out to be a cakewalk in the 11-4 victory. 

As crazy and pathetic as this year has been, it seems like a year an improbable team will emerge victorious. It could be the Tampa Bay Rays, well experienced with playing in empty stadiums long before the Pandemic, the Oakland A’s who have always fielded good but not great teams with a limited budget, the pesky Minnesota Twins and their thunderous bats, the Cleveland Indians and their pitching factory, and the Chicago White Sox, the up and comers, all seem to have a better chance than the Yankees in my mind. People like to laugh at the Twins and how the Yankees have owned them over the years. True, but I believe in the law of averages and inevitably the tide will turn. I don’t want it to happen this year, but that’s out of our control. The only team that can control it is the Yankees and of course the Twins.

Maybe everything changes when the playoffs start. The Yankees dominate every opponent. The starters hold the opponents to a run or two, and the bullpen slams the door game after game. The hitters spray the balls all over the playing field, with many going yard.  Everyone fields like they are Gio Urshela or D.J. LeMahieu. And Aaron Boones consistently makes the calls that no one can second guess. But then again, maybe not.

Depending upon the game tomorrow, the Yankees will either finish with 34-26 record or 33-27. If they hold onto the fifth spot, it is looking like they’ll be playing the Chicago White Sox or the Cleveland Indians. If they fall to eighth, there’s a date with the AL East Champion Tampa Bay Rays who didn’t really have any difficulty beating the Yankees this year. From my perspective, I don’t really care who the Yankees draw. To be the best, you have to beat the best. Very simple formula. I don’t believe in free hand-outs. 

Going back to the players, D.J. LeMahieu leads Major League batters with .359 batting average. His closest AL competitor is Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox at .337. This should give The Machine the AL batting title to go with the one he won in the National League a few years ago. If the Yankees do anything this off-season, they need to bring LeMahieu back. I hope they do more, but that’s certainly at the top of the list for me. Masahiro Tanaka is a very close second. I lived in Denver during LeMahieu’s final season with the Colorado Rockies. I was amazed they were going to let one of their best players walk. I know they were saving their pennies to sign Nolan Arenado to an extension, but D.J. is a guy his Rockies teammates and fans alike loved. I get keeping Arenado but they should have kept D.J. too. Glad they didn’t, of course, but at the time, it seemed foolish they didn’t try. 

Luke Voit is the only Major League hitter with at least 20 home runs (22). He enters the final day of the season with a three-homer lead on Jose Abreu of the White Sox and, surprisingly, five more than the great Mike Trout. Abreu has the edge with RBI’s at 57 while Voit stands at 52 (with a couple of Braves hitters, Marcell Ozuna and Freddie Freeman, in between them). I like Voit but I honestly didn’t think he’d be one of the best players on the team. It wasn’t that long ago everyone had great debate about whether the first baseman should be Voit or Greg Bird.  With no disrespect to Bird who is currently quarantined with the coronavirus, I am so glad the Yankees didn’t bet the farm on Bird’s health and success. I will always love Bird’s swing but I like knowing Luke Voit, and not Bird, is the first baseman for the New York Yankees. Maybe Bird can eventually find some healthy success with his current team, the Philadelphia Phillies. I am not rooting against him, I just think it’s an uphill battle for him and his hairless cat. 

Sunday’s game against the Miami Marlins will also be noteworthy for another reason, aside from the potential playoff seeding implications depending upon what the Blue Jays do tonight. Top Yankees pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt will make his first Major League start. The first of many, I hope. Every great success story has a beginning and although Schmidt has sampled Major League hitters through bullpen eyes, he has a huge opportunity as a starting pitcher for the Yankees as soon as 2021. We know James Paxton is gone, we might lose Masahiro Tanaka, and hopefully J.A. Happ finds his way to the exit, so there will be plenty of room in the rotation, even if the Yankees grab someone like Trevor Bauer out of the free agent pool.  

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, The New York Post

I can’t say I was surprised Giancarlo Stanton will not be exercising his opt-out in the off-season. There is no way that he could have commanded a seven-year, $218 million deal (the money he is still owed on his existing contract). I know how agonizing those last few years of Jacoby Ellsbury were and he was never the player Stanton was. If Stanton has a continued downward decline, it’s going to hurt more than Ellsbury ever did until it reaches the price point the Yankees bite the bullet and cut him free. I keep hoping we’ll see 2017 NL MVP Stanton show up at some point. I remember that year. Stanton was blasting ‘em out of parks on almost a daily basis or so it seemed. When I was (much) younger, I always loved the way Dave Winfield would get hot and carry the team on his back. Stanton certainly has that ability. I am not talking about Winfield’s post-season history with the Yankees. He had to go to Toronto to win a ring, but when he went on one of those regular season tears, it throttled the team into better performance. 

A hat tip to Daniel Burch, the owner of the Greedy Pinstripes blog. He said that Gary Sanchez would not catch another game for Gerrit Cole a few weeks back and took much heat for making the statement. In the end, his take on Sanchez stood the test of time. If the Yankees want to dump Sanchez in the off-season to go after J.T. Realmuto, have at it. I have wanted Gary to be great for so long and we’ve seen it in brief flashes, but I am tired. I am ready for greater consistency and a backstop who draws raves from baseball’s highest paid starting pitcher. 

I am not sure what 2021 will bring for the Yankees. No doubt the lost revenue will impact the game for years to come. I can’t imagine the Yankees maintaining their current salary level. There will be cuts, for sure. For now, it’s best to have near-sightedness and cheer on the Yankees for post-season success from the confines of our living rooms. Despite my pessimistic attitude, the Yankees are a good team and they have the players and pitching to be successful. The new season, the post-season, is nearly upon us. Time to saddle up for the ride. Let’s win this damn thing.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Nine is Fine but Ten is Better...

Photo Credit: AP

Yankees rally for ninth-straight win…

It was frustrating a few weeks ago when the Yankees were losing games they should have won, but it’s great to be back in the saddle again with the team winning the games it should have lost.

Last night, for example. Jordan Montgomery, in his best impersonation of typical J.A. Happ, gave up a three-run fourth inning home run to journeyman infielder Christian Arroyo which put the Yanks in a 3-0 hole. With Martin Perez somehow pitching like Pedro Martinez in his prime (WTF?) it did not look good for the Yankees. Picking up another run in the fifth on a sac fly by Christian Vazquez, the Red Sox took a 4-0 lead into the seventh inning.

At this point, I was not overly optimistic despite knowing Boston’s bullpen is talent-deprived. The Yankees, fielding its strongest starting lineup in a very long time, could not muster any offense against the AL East cellar dwellers. Thankfully, it was Boston the Yankees were playing against and not a top AL challenger. A couple runs here, a run there, and it was a one-run game. I think the at-bat that bothered me the most was when Gleyber Torres struck out to end the top of the eighth inning with Mike Tauchman at second base, pinch running for Giancarlo Stanton. It was a weak, pathetic at-bat and it left the Yankees down by a run.  Thankfully, Gary Sanchez, who has taken a quite bit of heat in recent days, tied the score in the top of the ninth with his two-out solo shot to left over the Green Monster.

Still, it felt like an uphill battle for the Yankees. After taking a brief lead in the top of the 11th inning when Luke Voit singled to score the extra inning runner at second base (Tauchman), the Red Sox came right back in the bottom of the frame when Christian Arroyo laced a single to center to score their designated second base runner (Michael Chavis). It looked like Boston was going to be able to celebrate a walk-off win when they loaded the bases against Jonathan Loaisiga and only one out. Fortunately, Loaisiga came up big by striking out J.D. Martinez and inducing Christian Vazquez to fly out. 

The Yankees were finally able to score the winning run in the 12th.  Gio Urshela (glad you are back, buddy!) reached on an infield single, which moved the designated second base runner (Aaron Hicks) to third. Two strikeouts and it kind of felt like it was going to be a ‘nothing for something’ situation. Step up, LeMachine. D.J. LeMahieu, having an O-fer night, drilled a double to right to score Hicks. Yanks up, 6-5. Hal, please re-sign this man.

Loaisiga was back out for the bottom of the 12th to close it out. Although the Sox were able to move the second base runner to third with only one out, the little guy came up big by recording outs against the three batters he faced. Game over, Yanks win.

I did like putting Loaisiga in this spot. He was able to face adversity and survive. He persevered and picked up his third win of the year against no losses. The growth of a pitcher. I love it. We’ll need Loaisiga in October, especially since Adam Ottavino continues to struggle. I want to see less Luis Cessa and more Loaisiga.

The change in attitude with the Yankees since they ended their recent slump was evident in LeMahieu’s words after the game. “We were down in a hole today and we had absolute confidence we were going to find a way back in the game.”  LeMahieu went on to add, “A couple of weeks ago, 4-0 felt like 20-0. Tonight, 4-0 felt within reach.” Winning spirit and confidence. Welcome back! It couldn’t happen at a better time.

The win kept the Yankees’ winning streak intact at 9 games. They are only a game away from the 10-game winning streaks I thoroughly enjoy. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays won Friday night so the Yankees (30-21) were unable to pick up any ground on the Rays. They remain 3 ½ games behind with only nine games to play. But Joe Girardi and the Phillies beat the Toronto Blue Jays by a run so it pushed the Blue Jays a full four games behind the Yankees so at least second place in the AL East feels fairly secure even if there are more games against Toronto this upcoming week.

At some point this week, Aaron Boone will concede first to the Rays and will begin resting key players in preparation for October. I just can’t see the Yankees pull out all stops to try to catch Tampa at the risk of injury and fatigue for the playoffs. 

Photo Credit: Paul J Bereswill, NY Post

The playoff format with AL games in sunny Southern California is going to be weird. Yankees playing post-season games in nearby stadiums (Petco Park in San Diego and/or Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles) and, despite living within driving distance, I cannot attend the games. Nevertheless, it will be fun to watch the Yankees out here even if it is on TV. Equally strange the Los Angeles Dodgers will not be able to play any playoff games at home since the National League (and the World Series, if they make it that far) will be held in the bubble of the new Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.  The Dallas/Fort Worth Dodgers, I guess.

I thought it was funny to see the Phillies acquire another former Yankee. Greg Bird, recently handed his walking papers by the Texas Rangers, signed with Philadelphia and is re-united with his former manager and a couple of teammates. One former Yank, Ronald Torreyes, had been designated for assignment earlier but he cleared waivers and was sent outright to Philadelphia’s alternate training site. Not that I am really paying much attention to what the Phillies do. I do wish Bird the best but I am obviously very happy the Yankees have Luke Voit and not Greg Bird (or Mike Ford) at first base. For now, Bird will be working out with Toe at the alternate training site as he tries to get another opportunity to find health and get back on a Major League field.

I am glad Steve Cohen was successful in his bid to buy the New York Mets. Not that I really want to see a billionaire who has some common sense buy the crosstown rivals, but with no disrespect to Alex Rodriguez or the lovely Jennifer Lopez, I didn’t really want to see the former Yankee as the owner of the Mets. Despite his incredible success as a Yankees legend and Hall of Famer, it is hard for me to look at Derek Jeter the same when he is an owner and managing executive of another team. I haven’t exactly been a huge A-Rod fan in my life but if he wants to buy a Major League team, I prefer a team that is irrelevant in the Yankees Universe (kind of like Jeter and Miami Marlins). Irrelevant only in the fact they rarely play against each other and the only meaningful games against one another would be in a World Series in which case it would be great for both teams to make it that far.

It is good to know the Wilpon family will finally be exiting Major League Baseball. A little scary that the dysfunctional Mets will have better leadership (kind of wonder how this plays out for the agent trying to masquerade as a GM). Early rumors the Mets could go after Brian Cashman to run baseball operations. Now THAT I’d really hate to see. However, with Cohen’s money, he is a threat and he could put together a strong package of compensation and control that could entice Cashman to make the move. No doubt that Cohen will want to recapture the hearts of New York for his Mets. I’d like to think he will be unsuccessful but he didn’t become a billionaire by accident. He will be better for the Mets than the Wilpons, whether we like it or not.

There seems to be a few articles lately about Brett Gardner’s desire to return for another season. I feel bad because even though I’ve loved Gardy’s time as a Yankee, I do believe it is time to move on. Mike Tauchman may not be the answer but I do feel Clint Frazier has earned the right to take left field. Even with the risk of injuries, Gardy is just not a full-time player anymore. He is better to be used in spots. His option for next season is too much. If the Yankees can decline the option and perhaps re-sign Gardy for less money, maybe I’d be in favor of re-signing him. However, I don’t really want to see him off the bench very much. Sorry, Gardy. I hate saying that, but age sucks. You are not the player you were as recently as 2019. There is not going to be a huge resurgence for a 37-year-old outfielder who turns 38 next August.  I hope Gardy becomes more of a coach-in-waiting.  I think he has a lot to offer in his post-playing career (if he decides to stay in the game) and I think it’s time for the transition. Sorry to those who love Gardy but it’s just my feelings. Loyalty is great, but ultimately, you want the best players on the field regardless of past performance.

Photo Credit: AP

As always, Go Yankees!