Saturday, September 18, 2021

Winning is Better...

Photo Credit: John Minchillo, AP

Why can’t all wins be this easy?...

Friday night’s win over the soon-to-be renamed Cleveland Indians was one of the rare times the Yankees have won in a cake walk this season and it was nice…very nice. With homers flying everywhere, the Yankees easily backed starter Corey Kluber and the bullpen (thank you for not inserting Andrew Heaney), thumping the Indians 8-0. It was probably bittersweet for Kluber as he’ll never face his former team again while they wear Indians gear.  Next season they become the Cleveland Guardians and will have a different look. 



Things looked so sunny and bright for the Yankees a few weeks ago when they were on the 13-game winning streak, and then, as we know, they fell hard with miserable play to undo the strong wild card advancement they had made, putting them back into the mix with the Red Sox and Blue Jays.

As hard as it was to get swept by the Blue Jays earlier this month, Thursday’s ugly loss to the Baltimore Orioles was probably one of the toughest losses, for me, to accept. The Yankees have lost a few games this season they should have won, and Thursday’s game was obviously the latest example. They scored two early runs and couldn’t put more insurance runs on the board, and let the Orioles steal the victory in walk-off fashion, thanks to ineffective late relief and sloppy play. The Yankees inability to figure out the Orioles this season while the Tampa Bay Rays were beating them in 18 out of 19 games is why the Rays are in first place and the Yankees are not. 

When the Yankees can’t beat a truly inferior opponent, it leads me to believe there will be no October magic in the Bronx this year. They do not seem to have the “it” quality teams destined for championships have. They have not given me the confidence they can sustain excellence and steamroll opponents when the chips are on the line. It’s within the realm of possibility they can win, if they can win one of the wild card spots, but they need to play more like Friday night and less like Thursday night. Of course, I hope and want them to win, I am just not overly confident they will. Please, Yankees, prove me wrong.

I had started to see ugly comments from the Yankees fan base when Joey Gallo wasn’t hitting dingers, but honestly, I never lost faith in the guy. Even when he is not hitting, he is helping with strong defense and getting on base. He also seems like a cool dude to have in the clubhouse which helps team chemistry. Now that he’s been placed in the lower part of the batting order (which is apparently more comfortable for him), he’s seemingly crushing homers every day. Two last night.  He is certainly heating up at the right time, and I am happy that I’ve supported him from the start.

When the Yankees designated reliever Brooks Kriske for assignment last week and subsequently lost him to the Orioles, it rubbed salt in the wound for how badly the Yankees’ front office botched it last winter when they protected Kriske on the 40-man roster, leaving Garrett Whitlock, now enjoying success in Boston, unprotected, and subsequently lost in the Rule 5 Draft. Not that Kriske has enjoyed any major league success, but it was disappointing that the guy who took his place on the roster, Sal Romano, was lost to injury in his first game back with the Yankees. 

Thanks to former Yankee Michael Pineda, the Yankees are back in the second Wild Card spot. Pineda and his current team, the Minnesota Twins, beat the Blue Jays last night.  The Red Sox hold the top Wild Card, but the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays are in a virtual dead heat with 65 losses. They are only separated by the number of wins (84, 83, and 82 wins, respectively) which means the Yankees and Blue Jays can make up ground when they play an equal number of games (assuming they win those games).

I am happy the Yankees finally pulled Gleyber Torres from shortstop and put him back at second base. I like having Anthony Rizzo on the roster, but I do wish the Yankees had been successful in prying Trevor Story from the Colorado Rockies at the trade deadline. It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do in the off-season. With strong young shortstops in the system, like Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, still a couple of seasons away, will the Yankees make a play for a top free agent shortstop like Story or Corey Seager, or do they just try to find an average player that can fill the spot until one of the young shortstops is ready to ascend to the position? If they don’t go big, it sort of feels like they are wasting the prime years of Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge. Both Volpe and Peraza are targeted for 2023 which is not too far away. Big off-season decisions for the Yankees, especially if they miss out on the play-offs or take the one and done route. 


Photo Credit: David Gravely, Southwest Times

Speaking of off-season decisions, please fire hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere. The Yankees have made significant upgrades with pitching instruction with innovative, new-age hires like Matt Blake and Sam Briend. They need to do the same with the hitting coaches. Sorry P.J., I know you are a company loyalist, and you were cheated out of a bonus a few years ago, but the Yankees can do better. 

Hopefully the Yankees can ensure the Cleveland “Indians” never win a game against the Yankees ever again. Just win today and tomorrow, please. Every game counts. No more room for poor play. 

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Lucky 13...

 

Photo Credit: Jeff Chiu, AP

Yankees continue to roll since the corn field debacle…

The title of the post is, admittedly, misleading. The Yankees aren’t just lucky…they are damn good! Last night’s win gave the team thirteen consecutive victories, the best run since September 1-12, 1961. The 1961 Yankees, powered by Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, won 109 games, and of course won the World Series. The 2021 Yankees won’t reach 100 wins, but the World Series certainly remains on the table. After the uneven play earlier in the season and the COVID-19 attack on multiple players, I am very proud of the team’s accomplishments since the trading deadline. The balance provided by Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo have been great, but this has been a team effort. I love the ‘refuse to lose’ mentality.

Unfortunately, the Yankees have been unable to make up much ground on the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays, winners of five in a row, are in Baltimore so they’ll win a couple more games before any potential losses. The O’s have not been able to figure out the Rays, falling short in 16 out 17 games this season. Trailing the Rays by four games in the AL East, the Yankees currently hold the top Wild Card slot, three games up on the second Wild Card, occupied by the Boston Red Sox. The Oakland A’s, once the top Wild Card team, continue their fall and are 3.5 games behind Boston. I hold up hope the Yankees can catch the Rays. They end the regular season with three games at Yankee Stadium against Tampa on October 1st through 3rd. The Rays and Red Sox will play 7 games against each other in the next two weeks.

After the 1961 team’s 13-gamer, they went 9-8 to finish the season. Obviously, it didn’t prevent the team from reaching its goal, but I am hoping for better regular season results for the 2021 team once the streak ends.  Finishing with 95-96 wins, given the team’s earlier struggles, would be huge. 

Now, the Yankees are tied with the Houston Astros for the second-best record in the American League at 76-52, one game ahead the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.  No one could have predicted this in early July.

Congratulations to Gerrit Cole for becoming the fastest Yankee to reach 200 strikeouts in a season. He reached the milestone in 148 innings, breaking Michael Pineda’s previous team record accomplished in 168 1/3 innings (2016).  I like Cole’s response after the game, “It’s not a goal. It’s just my job.” Yeah, Gerrit, just keep doing your job. Life is good. 


Photo Credit: Jeff Chiu, AP

For as much heat as he takes from the Yankee fan base, it’s great to see Giancarlo Stanton on his best run since his 2017 MVP campaign with the Miami Marlins. He has homered in four consecutive games and has been valuable for the current 13-game winning streak. I’ve enjoyed seeing him play in the field again even if I had some initial skepticism. The Yankees are better when they can get Luke Voit’s bat into the lineup as the designated hitter. I remember the 2017 season when it did seem like Stanton was homering every day. It’s nice to see him wearing a better uniform doing it today. 


Photo Credit: Jeff Chiu, AP

I am cautiously optimistic for Monday’s return of Corey Kluber. I am hopeful that he stays healthy and does not suffer any setbacks. It will take him a few starts to raise his level of effectiveness so I am sure Andrew Heaney will have to pick up Kluber a few times before we see any potential Klubot dominance.  Maybe Kluber picks up where he left off, but I suspect there will be some rust to shake. He has potentially five starts to get ready for the October fun. Kluber has shown us he is not done, and hopefully the best is yet to come. Let’s get that man a World Series ring!


Photo Credit: Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports

It was good news to hear that Luis Severino has resumed pitching after getting a second medical opinion from noted orthopedic surgeon Neal ElAttrache. I always worry whenever a pitcher visits Dr. ElAttrache but thankfully the trip was positive and productive. It doesn’t seem like there is enough time for Sevy to get ready, but he only needs to ramp up for a bullpen role. After nearly two years away, he is not going to be starting games any time soon but could be a valuable weapon out of the pen if he is able to make it back. I am hopeful we’ll see him in October in some capacity beyond being a bench observer. 

Nice Major League debut for former Yankees prospect Glen Otto. Sent to Texas in the Joey Gallo trade, Otto made his debut in the Show by pitching five shutout innings, allowing only two hits while striking out seven. The Rangers didn’t back up his performance as the Houston Astros prevailed, 5-4, but it was through no fault of Otto.  It’s always a little bittersweet to see former Yankee prospects excel elsewhere, but I certainly want Otto to do well (unless he is pitching against the Yankees, of course). 

Today is Nasty Nestor Day as the Yankees go for Win number fourteen. Sweet Lou Piniella. 



As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, August 21, 2021

The (Less Rocky) Road to the World Series...

  

Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer, AP

Yankees gaining momentum toward goal…

It’s great to be a Yankee fan. No stress. Just casual winning every day with monster bats and stellar pitching. Life is good.

As The Greedy Pinstripes’ Daniel Burch (@GreedyStripes) continues to say, nearly every day from the start of the season, these are just more highlights for the World Series DVD. I may have laughed at first, but it is looking more and more like the odds are in Daniel’s favor and he might truly have the last laugh. A fervent believer despite the many earlier challenges, credit goes to him for never taking off the rose-colored glasses.

The August success for the Yankees does not typify the bumpy roads we’ve travelled to get here but I am feeling so much better about the state of the Yankees than I did last month. I find it hard to believe that I was wondering early last month if the Yankees should be buyers or sellers at the trading deadline. I guess I had become too accustomed of being disappointed about moves not made at the trading deadline (case in point, 2019) that I could not have imagined the brilliant job GM Brian Cashman was about to do this past July. Everyone acquired has contributed in some way.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

It’s goes without question the biggest acquisition is first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He’s the consummate pro who is brilliant on the field, both offensively and defensively, and a leader in the clubhouse. He brought such a winning attitude to the team. Not saying the Yankees don’t have other guys of the same mindset, but Rizzo has been the glue to pull it all together. The presence of his left-handed bat, along with Joey Gallo, finally provided the balance in the lineup that all of us Twitter GM’s have endlessly been calling for.  This is just another plug that I hope the Yankees re-sign Rizzo in the off-season. He’s another great in a long line of great first sackers.  @Yankees, make it happen!

To briefly digress, I do believe there is room on this team for Luke Voit. His homer and four RBIs last night are a testament to the production of a healthy Louis Linwood Voit III with regular playing time, and he should play. Historically, I’ve been against playing Giancarlo Stanton in the field (health concerns), but Voit changes the equation. Stanton should play left (or right on the days Judge is given a breather) and let Voit be the team’s DH. Nothing against Voit but I prefer to see Anthony Rizzo and his glove at first base. There’s risk of injury for Stanton, but he seems to be in the right place this year and I am hopeful he stays in good health.

Back to the trading deadline acquisitions, I like Joey Gallo on this team. I know there are those who are frustrated by strikeouts, but his ability to get on base and his outfield defense are so strong. He always says the right things in interviews and he is clearly a team-first guy. He has also melded into the cohesiveness of the clubhouse. I feel the home runs will come more regularly in time. I remember it taking at least a year before Jason Giambi truly settled in as a Yankee. It is not easy. There are very high expectations when you put on the Pinstripes. Some guys, like Rizzo, can come in and produce from the start. For other guys, there is a bit of a ramp up. I don’t blame him. I want to give him the necessary time because I know how good Gallo can be, and I will continue to support him. The Yankees open the 2022 season in Texas against the Rangers, and I am sure it will be a terrific moment for Gallo given how much he loved his time there. I am sure he will be very motivated to perform well in front of his many friends. I know, that doesn’t mean anything for this year. For now, I will just enjoy Gallo’s name written into the lineup every day and know that his next titan home run might only be an at-bat away. He can be one of the guys who deliver their signature Yankee moment in October.


Photo Credit: AP

Even the pitching acquisitions have been strong. It goes back to the Mike Tauchman trade when the Yankees acquired Wandy Peralta (angering the fan base). I can’t imagine the bullpen without Peralta through the ebbs and flows of the unit’s success. Meanwhile, Tauchman struggled in San Francisco and is currently a Sacramento River Cat after being designated for assignment and clearing waivers. Adding Clay Holmes and Joely Rodriguez have proven to be solid moves. I was down on Andrew Heaney for his first two starts, like many fans were, but I have held out hope and optimism Matt Blake and Eric Cressey saw something in him they thought they could fix. His last start against the Boston Red Sox, a win, was an example of the pitcher he can be. The guy was once a very highly rated prospect. He is older and has never reached his potential, but it doesn’t mean he can’t. Granted, they are not the same type of pitchers, but I always think of Randy Johnson as a pitcher who took awhile to figure it out, but when he did, he was one of the best. That’s not to say I think Heaney will be bumping Gerrit Cole off the ace’s perch but I do believe, if Blake and Cressey are successful, he can be a valuable member of the rotation. There is nothing wrong with a consistent and effective #3 starter. 

So, the acquisitions have helped the Yankees seemingly turn their season around. Before, I didn’t feel like the team had the right drive or passion. That’s an unfair comment on my part because I am not in the clubhouse every day. But the team has bonded and they are winning and having fun while they are doing it. Yes, winning is fun and that’s part of it, but you don’t win by accident. I am proud of the Yankees for erasing Boston’s 10 ½ game lead from early July, finally catching and passing them this past week with a sweep of the Red Sox in New York. If you had asked me on July 6th if I thought the Yankees could catch Boston, I probably would have said no. But here we are with nearly a month and a half left in the season and Boston is in the rearview mirror. Not only that, the Yankees are only four games behind the division leading Tampa Bay Rays which is certainly well within reach. As the Yankees continue to get their players back from the injured list, they will continue to get better and better.

There was a time when I thought just getting the second Wild Card spot was huge. Now, the AL East division title is a possibility if the Yankees continue to play this well.  Someone posted on Twitter that the Yankees are never hot in August. Generally speaking, that seems to be true. I didn’t look up the stats but in past years, it has seemed like the Yankees have always run into a rough patch during this month. But just because it happened in the past, doesn’t mean it has to happen in the future or now. This is a resilient team that has proven they can change and adapt. I am sure other American League teams are fearful of the Yankees right now. They should be.

Hats off to the in-house “acquisitions” too. Nestor Cortes Jr is clearly the leader of the guys who have stepped up as part of the ‘Next Man Up’ brigade. I remember nearly losing him to the Baltimore Orioles a few seasons ago, actually losing him to the Seattle Mariners last year (November 2019 trade for international bonus pool money), and then getting him back on a minor league contract last December. After his less than successful season as a Mariner, I know I didn’t have high expectations for him, but he has delivered far greater…consistently…than I could have ever imagined. He, along with the magic of young Luis Gil, are the reasons the Yankees have maintained solid starting pitching despite the injury and COVID losses in the rotation.  Nasty Nestor deserves so much of the credit for the Yankees’ recent success.

Luis Gil will come back to Earth but what a breath of fresh air he has been. I love seeing his early success even if it is not sustainable. He is a guy that can get better and better, and even if he is not pitching shutouts every game, he can put the team in position to win every time which is very powerful.

Andrew Velazquez has been another great story. The Bronx native enjoying success in his hometown. When the Yankees signed him in January, I didn’t think much of the move. It seemed like just more fodder for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. But the 27-year-old utility man and one time Diamondback-Ray-Indian (Guardians?) has fully taken advantage of Gleyber Torres’ time away. I am happy to see his success. I don’t know what his long-term future will be. When Gleyber comes back, decisions will have to be made to open room. Never a great Tyler Wade fan, I’d prefer Velazquez but there are those who can make the legitimate argument for why Wade should be the choice to stay. I hope Velazquez can continue to make this a very difficult and complicated decision for the Yankees’ front office. For now, I will enjoy his play and the smile on his face when he comes up with a key hit or makes a challenging fielding play. 


Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post

Here is an image certain to bring a smile to the face of any Yankee fan:



As always, Go Yankees! 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Field of Bad Dreams...

  

Photo Credit: Zach Boyden-Holmes, The Register, USA Today Sports Network

Finding new ways to lose…

The Yankees seemingly find new ways to break my heart every day. The curse of our decision to follow the greatest franchise in the history of sports, at least this season. This has been a tough year for any Yankee fan, for sure. The Field of Dreams game featuring the Yankees against the Chicago White Sox was fun to watch in terms of the setting and the presence of Kevin Costner, plus the tie-ins to the movie even if you have never actually seen the movie. Growing up in Iowa but away for many years, I found the corn fields near by the newly built stadium and movie set to be soothing and comforting. I guess you must be an Iowan to understand the beauty of the flat rural, agricultural views because there are no mountain or ocean views, the things Californians appreciate (well, unless you live in the Central Valley). 


Photo Credit: Reese Strickland, USA Today Sports

But back to the game, it was tough to watch. Trailing for most of the game, the Yankees erased a three-run deficit in the top of the ninth inning to take a one-run lead off one of the better closers in the game (Liam Hendricks). It was such a feel-good moment and gave life to the thought the Yankees might win the game. But sadly, no, Zack Britton entered the game and promptly handed it to the Sox with a walk and a misplaced pitch that Tim Anderson was able to easily drive out of the park for the dramatic game-winning two-run home run. 

Using Britton in that situation was, in my opinion, another poor decision by Aaron Boone. Britton hasn’t been right this season (“pitching like shit” in his own words) and the White Sox might be the best team in the American League right now. Take a chance with trying to close a game with Britton if you are playing the Royals, but not the White Sox. Perhaps Jonathan Loaisiga would have given up the game-winning HR too, but that’s a better risk to take than simply gift wrapping a win for the White Sox. Not a big fan of Chad Green in the ninth so that’s why I am on board with Loaisiga as the best option until Aroldis Chapman returns.   

It will be a tall order for the Yankees to win this series with the White Sox as the remaining two games shift to Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. I hopeful of at least a split between these two games which unfortunately gives the series to Chicago. Winning both games would be huge, but I am not expecting it, unless Aaron Boone can miraculously start making better decisions…and if the ice-cold Joey Gallo could rediscover his home run stroke. Yeah, you too, Luke Voit.

I am thankful both Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery are on track to return to the Yankees next week. It was good to see Gerrit Cole at the Field of Dreams game for his brief interview on TV. When the guys go on the COVID-19 list, there is such eerie silence for how they are doing. Having Cole and Gumby back in the rotation will be great. Aaron Boone indicated we’ll see Luis Gil again for one of the games during Tuesday’s double-header against the other and smelly Sox. But as exciting as the rotation additions will be, it is concerning to hear that Luis Severino has suffered another setback. I had been hopeful to have Sevy back at least as part of the bullpen for the duration of the season. However, he didn’t “feel right” before his last scheduled rehab start on Friday, skipped the game, and headed back to New York for further evaluation. Not good. Another significant setback would seem to spell the end of any hopes of seeing Sevy pitch in 2021. Nearly two years since we last saw the former Yankees ace pitch in pinstripes.

Speaking of COVID-19, it was good to see the return of Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who had been placed on the COVID list during the Marlins’ series against the Yankees. Mattingly missed 12 games despite being fully vaccinated. Donnie Baseball told the Associated Press, “Getting the positive wasn’t necessarily a shocker because of the way I felt that day. I’ve been taking my temperature every day for two years and never had a fever. And all of sudden I had a fever and got a little headache; this doesn’t feel good. Honestly, you test, you’re positive and they kick you out the backdoor and you don’t see anybody for 10 days. It’s definitely an experience you don’t want anyone to go through.” I remain very concerned for the man who now holds Mattingly’s spot as Yankees first baseman, Anthony Rizzo. Given his status as unvaccinated, it is worrisome.  I lost a friend last year, younger than me with no health issues. The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate…it doesn’t care who you are. Keeping Rizzo in my prayers for a speedy and full recovery. Mattingly is further quoted in the Miami Herald, saying “Seeing so many people have so much trouble, you don’t want to be flippant about this thing and just think, ‘Oh it’s not a big deal’, because there’s lots of people that have had trouble and obviously lost their lives and things like that. But I was glad I was vaccinated from the standpoint of I had a couple of days of mild symptoms, and I felt good. And I didn’t pass it on to like my kid or my wife. Tried to do the right thing, but definitely glad I was vaccinated.”

Photo Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald

Speaking of the Marlins, I am glad to see they have given former Yankee outfielder Dustin Fowler another chance. Fowler, who will forever be remembered suffering the devastating knee injury during his Yankee debt at Guaranteed Rate Field a few years ago, was released by the Pirates organization last week. Fowler, now 26, is with Miami on a minor league deal, and will try to resurrect a once promising future in the game with the Marlins’ Triple A affiliate in Jacksonville, Florida. Best of luck to the former Yank.

I know he hasn’t played very well for several years but I was still a little surprised to see the Boston Red Sox designate utility man Marwin Gonzalez for assignment. His removal opens the way for the Red Sox to add former Yankee Twitter favorite Kyle Schwarber to the active roster. Despite never playing first base in the Major Leagues, Schwarber becomes Boston’s starting first baseman, a position that has seen dreadful production year-to-date for them. I had a brief thought the Yankees should try to sign Gonzalez if he is released by the Red Sox, but it passed quickly.

I also saw the Milwaukee Brewers have placed Travis Shaw on outright waivers. Despite his disappointing production (.191 batting average, .279 OBP, .337 SLG, and 68 wRC+, good for -0.3 WAR in 56 games), perhaps a change of scenery would help the 31-year-old left-handed hitter. When Gio Urshela comes back, he’ll need to help cover shortstop during the absence of Gleyber Torres so the Yankees could use better options than Rougned Odor to play third. Shaw, historically, has played better in the American League with his stints in Boston and Toronto than the National League. Since the cost to sign Shaw would only be the prorated league minimum, I could see the Yankees taking a flyer. 

Here’s hoping the Yankees can stay healthy for the duration of the year. Looking forward to the return of those temporarily away, and hopeful everyone on the field later today stays on the active roster for the hopeful path into October. 

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, August 7, 2021

The Rocky Road to the World Series...

 

Photo Credit: Lynn Sladky, AP

Challenges, old and new, persist in push for October…

Although the Yankees, with their power infusion at the trading deadline, made up significant ground this past week, it seems like nothing goes their way. I guess this just provides more highlights for the World Series DVD that Daniel Burch (@GreedyStripes) is currently producing (allegedly). 

As we know, the great Gerrit Cole (well, not so great in recent outings) and Jordan Montgomery are on the COVID-19 List and today, it was announced that closer Aroldis Chapman (also not so great this year) has been placed on the 10-day injured list with left elbow inflammation. It remains to be seen if Zack Britton, Chad Green or Jonathan Loaisiga becomes the interim closer or if the Yankees go the closing by committee approach.  Either way, it is yet another challenge that requires others to step up. Nick Nelson, called up to replace Chappy, needs to perform better at the Major League level than he has this year.

Speaking of stepping up, the same applies to Kyle Higashioka who becomes the starting catcher in place of the COVID-stricken Gary Sanchez. The less we must see Rob Brantly play, the better.  I don’t know why I was bummed to see the Yankees trade minor leaguer Kellin Deglan to the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s not like he was a strong option for call-up. However, he was always around Spring Training and seems like such a great organizational guy (even if he is not Major League material as a player). He is a native Canadian (British Columbia), although he is currently assigned to Toronto’s nearby Triple A affiliate in Buffalo, New York.  It would be cool if he gets a chance to play in Toronto. This is probably where I wish we had seen better growth and progression by catching prospects Anthony Ziegler and Josh Breaux (particularly the older Breaux who was recently promoted to Double-A Somerset after four years in the organization). I guess we’ll just have to bide our time until top catching prospect Austin Wells is ready. 

The past week, just from a true baseball perspective without all the figurative curveballs that have been thrown at the Yankees, has been fun. The team is winning again (as they have the past month), and the wins are magnified by the sudden downward spiral of the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees, once 9 games behind Boston, now sit 5.5 games out of first place (entering play today) and only 3 games behind the Red Sox.  They are only 1.5 games behind the Oakland A’s for the second Wild Card spot. At this point, there is a very real possibility the Yankees could claim the top Wild Card spot and remain contenders for the division should Tampa derail for whatever reason.  Life certainly looks better today than it did just a week or two ago.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

I have to say I really like the throwback jerseys the Yankees will wear in the upcoming Field of Dreams game in Dyersville, Iowa.


Photo Credit: Yankees

Born and raised in Iowa, I love to see the Yankees play baseball in my home state even if I must watch on TV, thousands of miles away in sunny Southern California.  I am excited for the game (Thursday, August 12th at 7:00 EDT) and what it will mean for Dyersville and the state. 

When the Yankees acquired Los Angeles Angels LHP Andrew Heaney at the trading deadline, I figured the Yankees must have seen something in the pitcher they could fix. So, it comes as no surprise to hear that Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake has been working with Heaney to tweak his mechanics. I am hopeful this is not another Sonny Gray situation. Hopefully Heaney responds to the changes in a positive and constructive way and does better than his Yankees debut when the lowly Baltimore Orioles crushed four home runs off him. 

If the Yankees had somehow managed to pull of a trade for a top starter like Jose Berrios at the trading deadline, GM Brian Cashman would look brilliant right now. He looks good for Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo (and maybe Clay Holmes), but a top starter with the unforeseen COVID-19 diagnoses for key starters would have been invaluable.

Is it too early to call for the Yankees to extend Andrew Rizzo? Setting aside what he can do with a baseball bat, I love the defense he brings to first base. He is a natural leader and just one of those guys who seems to make everyone around him better. I am glad Joey Gallo will be back next year despite his slow start and I really hope we see both Gallo and Rizzo together next Spring when the Yankees report to Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.  Many Yankee fans want an elite shortstop (like Corey Seager or Trevor Story) this upcoming off-season to move Gleyber Torres back to second base, which, in turn, would push D.J. LeMahieu to first base, but I really like having Rizzo on this team. He brings so many great intangibles and has meshed incredibly well with team chemistry. The Yankees will figure it out. There are ways to bring in an elite shortstop and re-sign Rizzo.  I am hoping Rizzo is enjoying the Yankees as much as we have enjoyed him. 


Photo Credit: Fox Sports

It’s nice to see Luis Severino pitching again but I have to say I am cautiously pessimistic. Rarely do you see a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery have immediate success. It generally takes the next season after his return to see the successful results. So, it’s hard to count on Sevy as a key factor the September push to the playoffs. Same with Corey Kluber. He’s not coming off surgery, but the long layoff can’t be good and the potential for continued trouble for him remains high.  I am hopeful Gerrit Cole can shake off COVID and return with renewed fire, aided by the forced rest.  Same with Gumby.  We need both.

I am anxious to see Luis Gil’s next start. There’s no doubt he’ll fall back to Earth and there will be games the control issues are a problem, but if he can provide serviceable back of the rotation support, it would be huge for this team.  One of these years, I’d like no need for ‘next man up’ yet it is fun and exciting to see guys get their Major League opportunities and make the most of it. 

Lastly, my apologies to dinosaur Brett Gardner for being skeptical he’d come up big in Friday night’s game. His walk-off 11th inning single in the 3-2 win was/is much appreciated.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Power of Lefties...

  

Photo Credit: Eric Espada, Getty Images

Busy Trading Deadline for Yanks…

This was the type of trading deadline I had hoped for in 2019 that didn’t come to fruition. The Yankees were heavily involved this year, adding all left-handers. We’ve been screaming for lefty bats (a glaring weakness since the departure of guys like Didi Gregorius) and were gifted two of the most powerful lefty bats on the market. The long-anticipated bat of Joey Gallo and the surprise acquisition of Anthony Rizzo. The moves on the pitching side lacked the substance of the offensive additions but the Yankees also acquired lefty pitchers Joely Rodriguez and Andrew Heaney.

I know the complaints about Gallo (too much like other hitters in the lineup, strikes out too much) but he is a good baseball player. The batting average doesn’t mean anything. His ability to crush baseballs and get on base, to go with excellent baserunning instincts and Glove Glove level defense make him a tremendous addition. The fact he’s not a rental is that much sweeter. I’d rather have Joey Gallo playing for me than against me. For as much talk as I’ve heard how he’ll like the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium, I was a little surprised when I heard that he has not hit a home run at Yankee Stadium. I looked it up and he has one career homer against the Yankees. It was a second inning home run off Masahiro Tanaka at the old Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas on May 21, 2018 (Yankees won that game, 10-5).

As much as I am excited about the addition of Anthony Rizzo, I am less enthused about a rental for this year’s team. If I felt better about the team’s chances this year, it would be one thing, but I do not. Kevin Alcantara was my favorite outfield prospect outside of Jasson Dominguez and I feel he has tremendous potential. I was excited about a future outfield featuring Alcantara and Dominguez. Not trying to “prospect-hug” but sacrificing such a promising player for 2-3 months of Rizzo seems like a huge risk. If the Yankees surprise me and win the World Series this year, no doubt it will have been worth it. But if not, it will be tough to watch Alcantara achieve future Major League success. Nevertheless, now that Rizzo is a Yankee, I am happy. I love superior defense at first base…something that has been missing since Mark Teixeira retired. I’d love to see the Yankees find a way to re-sign Rizzo in the off-season, but not sure if that’s in the cards. Now that the Los Angeles Dodgers have shortstop Trea Turner, it seems like there is a good chance they might let Corey Seager walk at the end of the year. I’d love to see either Seager or Trevor Story take over shortstop to push Gleyber Torres back to second base. This of course would push D.J. LeMahieu to first base and he obviously needs to play. I suppose the Yankees could trade Torres for pitching, sign either Seager or Story AND Rizzo, keeping LeMahieu at second. After one game and listening to Rizzo talk, he seems like he could become such a fan favorite in the Bronx like he was in Chicago. Team chemistry is so important and Rizzo is clubhouse glue.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

There’s no question the Yankees will need to reconstruct the team this off-season. Good for them to stay below the luxury tax penalty but they need to use the savings to help rebuild a team that can be a force in the AL East and not a marginal Wild Card team like they are now. 

I was probably more excited about initially speculated reliever John King as part of the Gallo trade than I was the pitcher who was actually acquired, Joely Rodriguez. The Yankees saw something in the medicals for King (shoulder issue) which caused the restructure of the trade. On the bright side, the step down from King to Rodriguez meant the Yankees were able to hang on to outfield prospect Everson Pereira, another one of my favorites. I am sure the Yankees did their homework on Rodriguez and I am hopeful he’ll find success in the Yankees bullpen.


Photo Credit: Smiley N. Pool, Staff Photographer, The Dallas Morning News

I think all of us wanted the Yankees to acquire former Minnesota Twins ace Jose Berrios. It was a little disappointing a division rival (Toronto Blue Jays) acquired him, but I can’t fault the Yankees. The Blue Jays gave up two top five prospects. Not sure I’d want to see the Yankees pay that price. Given the strength of Toronto’s farm system, the bright side is they depleted some of it. Sure, I’d rather have Berrios than not, but it’s not the end of the world. 

It felt a little underwhelming when it was announced the Yankees had acquired former Los Angeles Angels starter Andrew Heaney. I know he has become a journeyman pitcher, but there was a time when he was considered one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in the game back during his days in the Miami Marlins organization. Perhaps the Yankees can find something in him to help position him for great rotation depth as the team’s “sixth” starter, pushing Nestor Cortes, Jr back into a more traditional bullpen role. 



Welcome to the Yankees family, Joey, Anthony, Joely, and Andrew!  Your mission is simple…get us to October baseball and just win.

Yankees fans have been calling for Kyle Schwarber for years. I guess we’ll painfully see that swing in Yankee Stadium more often now that he is a member of the Boston Red Sox. I am glad Boston was unable to make any significant pitching upgrades at the deadline. I would have hated to see them get Max Scherzer although that was never realistic given Max’s geographical preferences. Unfortunately, the Red Sox will soon get a pitching upgrade in the form of a healthy Chris Sale, but Boston is far from our worry right now. As Buck Showalter said last night, the Yankees may be 3 ½ games out of the Wild Card chase, but if you look at the loss column only, they are two games out. I say this from a biased point of view, but I do feel strongly the Yankees are a better team than the Oakland A’s or Seattle Mariners. Now that they have balance in the lineup, and will soon get help from Luis Severino and Corey Kluber, there is a very strong chance that the team will get hot and go on an extended winning roll with the newly improved roster.

The jury is still out on Aaron Boone. If the Yankees do fail to achieve the playoffs or make the Wild Card game and bow out, his time as Yankees manager must end. Let’s not waste the best years of Gerrit Cole’s career with poor managerial decisions. Time for a pro to handle the reigns. 

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

To Buy or To Sell...

 

MLB Trading Deadline approaches…

Friday, July 30th, 4:00 pm ET.

If anything, I have always tried to be a realist when it comes to the Yankees. There are years I have felt the team was a dominant performer capable of boldly sweeping October. Sadly, this is not one of those years. As I type this post, the Yankees sit eight games behind the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. One of the AL co-leaders and the Oakland A’s hold the two Wild Card spots with the Yankees sitting 3.5 games behind the A’s. They trail the Seattle Mariners by a game. Yes, I think the Yankees can catch and pass the Mariners and the A’s, but realistically, how deep into October can this team go?

I know, playoffs are always about which teams are “hot” at the moment, and it could be the Yankees as much as anyone, but the team carries too many flaws in my opinion and they’ll be exposed facing a steady diet of #1 and #2 starters if they somehow get in as a Wild Card participant. I don’t see the Yankees advancing very far and wonder if the team would be better served to make potential trades this week to help enhance chances for 2022…not this year. Short term rentals make no sense to me. Why throw away prospects when, in all likelihood, there is no chance for World Series participation in 2021? I’d rather use the prospects to help build the stable of quality, cost-controlled young talent that can help develop the next Yankees dynasty. 

I am not bailing out on the 2021 Yankees. I want the team to win as much as anyone. But to say they are the best team in the American League is something only a myopic Yankees fan would say. When there was the standard “Yankees suck” chant at Fenway Park the other night, I liked the social media comments asking if those were Red Sox or Yankee fans? Fair question…

This season has caused me to question if Aaron Boone is the right man to lead the team. I like Boone and I enjoy the good rapport he has with his players, but he doesn’t seem to get the maximum performance out of his players like some managers do. I always struggle with the question of who is better from the current managerial availability pool? I’ve heard people say Buck Showalter, but he had his time with the Yankees. He is a knowledgeable baseball man but the Yankees can do better. Of course I always quietly hope Don Mattingly becomes available to return home, but that’s not likely. Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter recently picked up Donnie Baseball’s mutual option for 2022. Ideally, you’d want someone with some experience. After the inexperienced Boone got the Yankees job most recently, I don’t think the next manager would be as inexperienced as he was. It takes too long to determine if he is the right fit for the job as the first year is always written off as “he’s learning”. I don’t want on-the-job training with someone wet behind the ears. The Yankees were interested in Bob Melvin after they parted ways with Joe Girardi. Perhaps it’s time to rekindle that interest. Oakland exercised Melvin’s option for 2022, so it would take prospects and bucket loads of cash to get Melvin but his track record shows he would be the right man for a job with a stronger budget than the cost-conscious Athletics. If not Melvin, it needs to be someone who can inspire his players like Melvin does. Baseball is not about being your friend. Winning is everything.


Photo Credit: Associated Press

Nice comeback by the Yankees yesterday against the Red Sox. Credit to Estevan Florial for starting the rally against former Yank Nathan Eovaldi. He’ll probably be headed back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but I am reaching the point I’d prefer to have Florial over the unreliable Aaron Hicks for next season. I felt a little bad for former Yankee reliever Adam Ottavino for the dunk hits that Sox right-fielder Franchy Cordero couldn’t get to (okay, not really) but whatever it takes. The Yankees needed to steal a game after so many losses of winnable games. I hate the uneasy feeling that comes when Aroldis Chapman enters the ninth, but it is slowly getting better. It wasn’t that long ago Chapman and Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen were the best closers in the game. Now, it’s potential disaster any time either guy enters a game. It would be nice for Zack Britton to round back into form, but we’re not there yet. Hard to blame Chad Green for the occasional blow-ups. I think he is better served in the seventh and eighth innings than the critical ninth. I am grateful for the return of Jonathan Loaisiga who has arguably been the most trusted reliever in the Yankees bullpen this year.



It will be interesting to see what this week brings. Will GM Brian Cashman be an active player, one way or the other, or will there be nothing but crickets in the Yankees’ front office? I am not going to make a pro-Trevor Story or pro-Joey Gallo statement as I feel the team has much greater needs. I am glad to see Corey Kluber is throwing again, placing both him and Luis Severino on the team’s radar in the coming weeks and months. Too little too late, but it’s a start for a better 2022. Regardless of what happens, I always enjoy the usual hectic pace of the days leading up to the trading deadline. Always a bit like Christmas even if we walk away with a lump of coal. 



Congrats to the Yankees for the MLB Draft. I had been hopeful the team would sign the 20th round pick, Sean Hard, but he announced the intention to fulfill his commitment to Boston College. He will certainly win brownie points in Boston for spurning the Yankees. Fortunately, the Yankees were able to sign the other player that I thought was a long-shot, third round pick LHP Brock Selvidge, Hamilton High School (Chandler, AZ), who had previously committed to LSU. By signing their first and second round picks for under their slotted values, along with some of the lower picks, the Yankees were able to give Selvidge a signing bonus of $1.5 million (slot value was only $637,600). So, even though they lost out on Hard, I thought it was good strategic management of the bonus pool to sign 18 of 20 players picked. 


Photo Credit: Michael Chow, The Republic

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

A Soggy First Win Against the Red Sox...

  

Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer, AP

A win is a win is a win…

First and foremost, prayers to those who were shot last night outside of Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. during a game between the Nationals and the San Diego Padres. Three people were injured in the gunfire exchange between two cars, but thankfully no deaths. The number of shootings in the United States this year is incredibly disturbing and quite sad. Last night’s incident, at an intersection outside of the Third Base Gate of the stadium, had the potential to be much worse than it was. Play was suspended with the Padres leading 8-4 in the sixth inning. The game will be completed later today.


As for the Yankees, they finally found a way to beat the Boston Red Sox for the first time this year. In the rain-shortened game called after six innings due to rain with the Yankees leading 3-1, we should be thankful play was unable to resume, potentially bringing Aroldis Chapman into the game. I know, he pitched better on Friday night, but still, Yankee relievers in the ninth inning have not been fun to watch for the last couple of weeks. Perhaps they have turned the corner, and the talent will re-emerge to restore its usual dominance. Nevertheless, I will gladly take the win any way it is delivered (within ethical boundaries, of course).  If the Yankees were 7-1 against Boston this year instead of the other way around, the AL East standings would look so much differently (and much, much better). 

Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer, AP

I feel very badly for outfielder Tim Locastro. When he made the leaping catch in left field against the wall padding, the injury did not appear so badly at first. Obviously, reaching for your knee is never a good sign, but Locastro stayed in left to finish the inning. He even ran back to the dugout after the inning was over, but he never came back out, replaced by Tyler Wade in the second inning. After the game, it was disclosed Locastro had suffered a season-ending torn ACL. Even though he does not have much of a hit tool, Locastro’s speed had brought a nice dimension to the Yankees lineup. I always love to see native New Yorkers do well in Pinstripes. It is unfortunate but it was probably Locastro’s final moment in Pinstripes. I guess there is a chance the Yankees keep him for 2022, but I am expecting more roster activity this off-season for deconstruct/reconstruct if the team continues to play below expectations.  Locastro’s acquisition had appeared, at least to me, to be a temporary solution for the Yankees because of the loss of Aaron Hicks for the season and the declining performance of the aging Brett Gardner, better used in situational spots than extended play.  I did not really expect Locastro t be a Yankee in 2022, but now the torn ACL could rob Locastro of his primary weapon…his speed.  The deck is clearly stacked against him. I hope for the best and pray that he can resume his MLB career, regardless of whether it is with the Yankees or another team. 

Gerrit Cole, fresh off his 129-pitch start/gem, continued his dominance with 11 strikeouts in six innings even if things got a bit dicey in the top of the sixth, in what would prove to be the game’s final inning, when the Sox loaded the bases with two outs. But Cole was able to end Boston’s threat by striking out Christian Vazquez in a heavy downpour. 


Nasty Nate, aka Nathan Eovaldi, almost matched Cole with an equally dominating performance as he yielded only two hits and a run, while striking out 7, in five innings. It was tough going early as the Yankees did not get their first hit until the fifth inning against the former Yankee pitcher. Fortunately, the Yankees, unlike the Red Sox, they were able to get into the opponent’s bullpen. The Yankees made it count with consecutive homers by Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres in the bottom of the sixth, two outs before the rain delay.  The home run by Sanchez was disputed by the Red Sox for fan interference, but it was upheld upon review as the ball landed past the wall despite the fan’s reach. For Gleyber, hopefully the homer in a key opportunity is the start of his rediscovery of power. 

 The Yankees fan who threw the ball at Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo at the start of the bottom of the sixth is a disgrace to the Yankees Universe.  I certainly do not blame Sox manager Alex Cora for pulling his team off the field. Thankfully, Verdugo, acquired in the Mookie Betts trade, was not hurt. As much as I dislike the Red Sox, I certainly would have clapped for Verdugo if I had been in the outfield stands, as a show of respect, when he walked back into left field.

Photo Credit: Robert Sabo, New York Post

With the win, the Yankees are still 8 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East, so the team has much work to do to dig out of their hole. They are 4.5 games from the second Wild Card spot, with a few teams ahead of them. I will always pull for the Yankees, but I am trying to maintain perspective. I am not optimistic, but I am hopeful. Throughout the history of Baseball, teams have overcome bigger challenges so anything is possible. For now, it is just to hold the words of former Yank Mariano Duncan close, “We play today, we win today…das it”. 

It is great that Hoy Jun Park and Trey Amburgey are on the Yankees roster, but Aaron Boone should play them. I have seen enough of the Rougned Odor Show to know that I would rather see another option while D.J. LeMahieu temporarily handles third base for Gio Urshela.  It is hard for me to think of Trey Amburgey as anything more than a Quad-A hitter, but he deserves the opportunity to perform. Like Locastro, I cannot really see Amburgey retaining a spot on the 40-man roster despite his years in the organization.  I always love to see a player outperform expectations and it would be nice to see the homegrown Amburgey achieve some success at the big-league level even if he will never be a star. 

All seems to be going well for Corey Kluber so it is exciting to think the Yankees could have both Luis Severino and Kluber back within the next two months, with August looming a possibility for Sevy. I am getting excited at the prospect of seeing #40 on the mound again. I know there will be rust, but hopefully he will be the #2 starter as soon as 2022 if all goes well.  It has been too long since we last saw Severino and I look forward to his continued journey back to league excellence. 

I felt the Yankees could have done better during the recent MLB Draft, but admittedly, I do not follow the minor leagues very closely. While it has been said that first round pick shortstop Trey Sweeney (Eastern Illinois) was a reach, I trust the Yankees for their ability to evaluate players (setting aside the state of the current big-league club, of course). I had expected the Yankees to grab Mississippi RHP Gunnar Hoglund, but the Blue Jays selected him a pick ahead of the Yankees, so we will never know. The MLB Draft, unlike the NFL Draft, has always seemed like a crapshoot. You look back at prior drafts, and the picks are littered with so many names that never made it. 

I did like the second pick of pitcher Brendan Beck, 22, a college senior out of Stanford. I knew in 2017 when the Yankees selected Brendan’s brother Tristan in the 29th round, he was not signable. I had kind of hoped the Yankees would somehow convince him to sign, but it was never realistic. Tristan was picked the next year (in the 4th round) by the Atlanta Braves, and is now in the San Francisco Giants organization. Brendan, unlike Tristan, gets the opportunity to pitch for Baseball’s most storied and historic franchise, and I wish him the best for much success. Beck’s signing bonus is $1,050,000; below the slotted bonus of $1,307,000.  I hope they can use the extra money to entice the third pick, Hamilton High School (AZ) LHP Brock Selvidge from fulfilling his commitment to LSU. 

Although Sweeney has yet to sign, the Yankees have signed 2B Cooper Bowman (4th Rd); Pitcher Robert Ahlstrom (7th Rd); Pitcher Chandler Champlain (9th Rd); and SS Benjamin Cowles (10th Rd). They have also signed a copy of the later picks (C Ben Rice, 12th Rd; and Pitcher Danny Watson, 15th Rd). 

I would love to see the Yankees sign the 20th round pick, RHP Sean Hard, but that is just the latest late round pick of a guy headed for college, ala Tristan Beck and Jack Leiter, hoping to create good will for future discussions.  Aside from Hard’s obvious talent, his name is right up there with Yankees’ prospect Janson Junk for greatest pitcher names. 

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, July 10, 2021

You Win Some, You Lose Some...

  

Photo Credit: Michael Wyke, AP

The state of the 2021 Yankees Season…

We are nearing the end of the first half of the MLB season and despite last night’s blanking of the Astros in Houston, a field that has troubled the Yankees in recent years, it has been a disappointment. I did not expect the Yankees do be this bad or the Boston Red Sox to be this good. I still do not think the Red Sox are great but now, they are 2.5 games better than the Tampa Bay Rays and 9 games better than the Yankees or the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Yankees can make up lost ground in the second half, but admittedly, I am not fully confident they can or will. There are players on the team that need to do their part. It sucks that Aroldis Chapman, so dominant early in the season, has become Tyler Clippard.  I am thankful for Chad Green and Jonathan Loaisiga to help close out games but long-term the Yankees need to get Chapman right or get a healthy Zack Britton to keep Green and Loaisiga in high leverage seventh and eighth innings. 

Gerrit Cole gets his chance for redemption today against his former teammates. Today would be a nice day for Cole’s return to superiority. He will be facing the Astros’ Zack Greinke so it should be a good pitcher’s game. Hopefully, the Yankee bats come alive against Greinke who has not really showed any signs of slowing down despite his age (37). 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

At what point does Yankees Management get held responsible for the under-performance of the team? I get it that the game is played by the players and not the manager, coaches, general manager, or owner, but motivating the players and maximizing performance does lie with Teams Boone and Cashman.  I have been supportive of Boone since he was hired, but this season has eroded some of the confidence I have had in him. It is tough to watch a guy like Alex Cora, whom I personally despise for his smugness and role in the cheating scandals in Houston and Boston, routinely get the most out of his players. He has shown a better aptitude for the job than Boone. I really hate to say that…I honestly do.

If the Yankees finish this season with less than 90 wins, Hal Steinbrenner needs to look awfully hard at the manager and general manager. At some point, the hard decision to make a change must be made. I know that Brian Cashman has been GM longer than some younger Yankee fans have been alive but that does not make him invincible or mean that he is the right leader for the 2022 season and beyond.  Roster construction has been heavily criticized in recent years by the fans, and I feel there are some merits in the arguments. There are obvious moves that we have seen the team should have made but for whatever reason did not. I am not referring to the screams to call up outfielder Trey Amburgey, whom Mike Axisa (rightfully) referred to as a Quad-A player this week, but the weaknesses of the team have been glaring yet not addressed. While the trade for Tim Locastro may not be one that I condoned at the time, I do like his presence on the team. I have no idea if he will be around for the long haul and it probably does not matter, but the Yankees need to recognize that Aaron Hicks is not the answer next year and Brett Gardner, despite last night’s heroics, is not the player he once was.  A long-term solution for centerfield is needed now.

The one player that does seem to be turning the corner is Jameson Taillon as he continues to distance himself from Tommy John surgery (August 2019).  I was down on him earlier in the season, but I recognize it was unfair. I really like the guy and I love how much he cares about this team and about winning. I know he has great potential, and I am glad he is a Yankee. A win on Sunday against Houston to close out the first half would be a wonderful thing indeed. 

Photo Credit: David Dermer, USA TODAY Sports

I care about the Yankees, and I want them to win, but unless this team can get hot and go on a long winning streak, we will have to watch teams we dislike in the playoffs while the lights of Yankee Stadium have been shuttered in October. I probably get less worked up about losses right now than I did earlier in the season when I felt like the team had a great chance to reach the World Series. The team needs to prove to me and to the fan base they want to win and will do what it takes to win the winnable games and minimize the losses with strong fundamental play, timely hitting and consistent pitching. Aaron Boone, you are on the clock. If this team cannot turn the corner, it is because you could not motivate them to do better, to play within the realm of their talent and passion.  If the Yankees do get hot in the second half and the Red Sox and Rays cool off, the current AL East standings could change significantly despite the current nine-game gap.  I remember how defeated I felt in the summer of 1978, despite Ron Guidry’s incredible dominance in each start, when the Yankees were 14 games behind in July. We all know how that one worked out. It can happen again.

I still do not know if the Yankees should be buyers or sellers at the trading deadline. If they are still limping along two weeks from now, it may be time to start looking at ways to improve the team for the 2022 season. Not ready to throw in the towel this month or next, but realistically, we should have a better idea of the team’s direction by the last week of July. 

For now, let us focus on winning the next two games, and then enjoy the break. It will be nice to watch some baseball in the Mile High City even if I must watch on TV (called Denver home for four years until moving back to California in 2020). I love Coors Field and it has long been one of my favorite parks. I have a ticket to see a game there later in the season and look forward to seeing it in person again. It is just too bad I cannot be there to enjoy the week’s All-Star festivities.

As always, Go Yankees!