Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Boston Red Sox are Losers...


Photo Credit: David J Phillip, AP

Win or go home, Boston chooses the latter…

The Boston Red Sox are home for the holidays, and it is a fantastic feeling. Sure, it is a little difficult to watch the Houston Astros celebrate another return to the World Series, but for one series, they were the lesser of two evils. My only hope now is the National League (either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves…most likely the latter) crush the ‘Stros in the Fall Classic.

It would have been more difficult to watch the Red Sox advance to the World Series. It is bad enough they have won more World Series this century than the Yankees. On paper, the Yankees were a much better team this season. But sadly, the game is not played on paper and the Red Sox, as disgusting as it is to say, were better than the Yankees in 2021. It is funny that Red Sox fans were chanting ‘Yankees Suck’ during the ALCS. They could not have even celebrated their place in the American League Championship Series without letting the Yankees seep into their minds.

By the time the Yankees announced Manager Aaron Boone had signed a new contract this week to return for three more years, I had reconciled myself to the fact he was coming back. I cannot really say that I like the move but it had become ‘expected’ to me. He seems like he would be a great guy to have a beer with and discuss the intricate details of the game of baseball, but, after four seasons, he has not proven to be an elite manager. If anything, he has regressed. His decisions cost the team multiple games this year, a season when one more victory would have secured home field advantage for the ill-fated Wild Card game or more success against the Baltimore Orioles could have yielded the division crown. I get why the Yankees Universe is upset about Boone, however, there is nothing we can do about it. It is not like Hal Steinbrenner is going to yield to the pressure and force Boone to resign. He is here and we need to make the most of it. He is the manager of our favorite team and as such, he needs our support. If you cannot support Boone, go join the Mets fan base. I hear there are plenty of vacancies to fill.

Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran, North

I remain convinced the Yankees need an extraordinarily strong bench coach, and someone who can challenge Boone’s ideas. He does not need buddies on the coaching staff…he needs guys who can make the team better with singular and collaborative focus. I have seen a few comments that current bench coach Carlos Mendez and Boone are too much alike. That is exactly what the Yankees do NOT need. For awhile after the regular season, I thought Buck Showalter was the frontrunner for the vacant San Diego Padres managerial position, but it no longer is the case. Buck would be an ideal bench coach for the Yankees. He has the right experience, confidence and temperament to be a tremendous sounding board for Boone. Not sure he would take that type of role, but he would be an excellent fit, in my opinion. A good inexperienced option would be someone like former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. His fire and determination would be a nice counter-balance for the more laid back and jovial Boone. No question Boone needs someone who will challenge his decisions. He may be the final word for in-game strategies but it is critical that he knows and understands the 360˚ view for any choice. Boone’s knowledge of baseball is advanced, having grown up in a baseball family, but there’s room for improvement with his managerial skills.

I am hopeful the Yankees make the right choices for Boone’s catching staff. They have done an excellent job with the pitching instructors they have brought into the organization over the last couple of years, including current pitching coach Matt Blake. They have reinvented hitting education in the minor league system with Dillon Lawson and others. Eric Cressey, on the health and conditioning side of the house, seems to be making a difference. Despite the team injuries this year, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton remained healthy at the same time for the first time in forever. The hope is for the continued innovative hires for the Major League coaching staff to join the holdovers.

If the right coaches are hired and Boone can show maximization of the talent on his roster, he can regain the support of the fan base. Just win, baby. That is the key ingredient. While Boone has many detractors, I do not feel the fan base dislikes the man. They simply doubt his ability to lead and bring the Yankees back to their rightful place in the game’s most important final series of the year. If he wins, all can be forgiven.

Did I mention the Red Sox are losers and headed home to Fenway Park to clear out their lockers? It was poetic justice that former Yankee Adam Ottavino was on the mound when the Astros broke open a tight game with three runs in the eighth inning during last night’s clincher. Ottavino was GM Brian Cashman’s “poison pill” to ensure the Red Sox would not be successful…wink, wink.

Photo Credit: Tony Gutierrez, AP

The Dodgers have been exceptionally good when their backs are to the wall, yet I am skeptical of their ability to overcome the 3-2 deficit in the NLCS, especially with the series’ return to Atlanta for the final game(s). Losing Justin Turner at such a critical time weakens the team despite their depth. The Dodgers have also announced Max Scherzer will be unable to make the Game 6 start due to a “dead arm”. I fully expect the Atlanta Braves to advance to the World Series to play the Astros, and it could happen as soon as tonight. For the Braves, it would be redemption for the many years they have come so close, only to falter. Even though I want the Dodgers to win, I will fully support the Braves in the World Series if they advance. A Braves championship over the Astros would be justice.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman is predicting the Yankees will sign Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager and Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Robbie Ray. I think I have cooled on Seager for no other reason than his days at shortstop are numbered, and he will require a move to third base sooner than later. I get the concerns about his defensive skills, but he is a talented player. I guess if you believe Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe can be Major League elite at shortstop within the next two years, it makes sense. I am not convinced Peraza and/or Volpe will be great until they prove they can at the Major League level. This is the reason I would much prefer to remove the potential doubt, and sign the better, younger (and understandably more expensive) Carlos Correa despite his role in banging the trash cans. Correa is so talented on both sides of the ball, and he is one of those guys who can make those around him better. Ray makes total sense to me. The Yankees have long admired the pitcher, and with Jameson Taillon scheduled to be delayed next season due to off-season surgery, they could use a guy like Ray to follow staff ace Gerrit Cole. I want to see a strong return by Luis Severino; however, he carries much risk for no other reason than he has not pitched much the last few seasons. I would not want to place the pressure that he must perform for the Yankees to be successful. Remove the pressure, and let Sevy contribute whatever he can in his second year removed from Tommy John surgery. Someone like Ray could be the staff’s workhorse, along with Jordan Montgomery, behind Cole.

Photo Credit: Mark Brown, Getty Images

I hope the Yankees do not go the ‘lipstick on a pig’ route to sign Andrelton Simmons. I want one of the top three available shortstops (Correa, Seager, and Colorado’s Trevor Story) fielding questions from the YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits in Tampa next spring.  I am less concerned about pitching and trust one of the younger arms (Luis Gil, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Medina, Deivi Garcia, etc.) will be ready for a breakout. The sad tale of Garrett Whitlock (lost to the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft) is proof positive that tremendous talent only needs opportunity. I would gladly take Robbie Ray or even the San Francisco Giants’ Kevin Gausman but clearly shortstop, first base, center field and catching are the higher areas of need. Gary Sanchez is the strongest ‘in need of a change of scenery’ candidate on the roster, but with no in-house options currently, they need to find a solid replacement. I have long supported Sanchez despite his struggles but at this point, it does seem he will never be the player we once thought he would be. I had really hoped catching coordinator Tanner Swanson could get through to Gary and help him realize his full potential. However, not everything is possible in this world. I am ready and prepared for change.

I am anxious to get the World Series behind us so that the Yankees can start building for a better, stronger and more successful 2022 season.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Closing the Book on the 2021 Season...


Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post

Turning off the Yankee Stadium lights…

The 2021 season was a disappointment. With the severe highs and lows, it never felt like that was a championship-quality year to me, and the uninspired play in the Wild Card game was hardly a surprise. I guess all things considered, it is better to exit the playoffs by getting trounced by your bitter division rival than it is to win 106 games and the division, only to lose to your hatred enemy on a called third strike that was clearly a proper checked swing.

Excellent job by Bryan Van Dusen (as usual) with his 2021-2022 Offseason Plan! His trade proposals and acquisitions always show great thought and consideration. You may not agree with his choices, but his logic is always sound, and he has a strong understanding of what will make the Yankees a team to watch in 2022.

It goes without question, there are necessary changes in the Bronx. The week’s announcement that three coaches (Marcus Thames, P.J. Piliterre, and Phil Nevin) would not be returning was expected and needed. The body of Thames’ work has been strong, but the hitters’ struggles in 2021, unless your name is Stanton or Judge, sealed his fate as a scapegoat. I would not be surprised to see minor league hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson promoted to the Major League team as Thames’ replacement. If Lawson gets the job, there is a chance he could make Rachel Balkovec his assistant hitting coach. I think both would be excellent choices. They know and understand how the organization works, and they have familiarity with the younger hitters in the farm system. If the Yankees decide to bring in coaches from outside the organization, there is no doubt they will have similar technology savvy backgrounds for today’s analytics-driven team philosophies.

I like bench coach Carlos Mendoza, just not as bench coach. Maybe he moves to third base with Nevin’s removal. I have never understood why the Yankees have not gotten a strong bench coach with managerial experience during the Aaron Boone regime. His buddy, Josh Bard, did not work out for whatever reason, although he does find himself in the National League Championship Series as bullpen coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I saw one post this week that said the Yankees need a ying to Boone’s yang. I agree. There needs to be a strong voice that can provide Boone, if he returns, with solid options. He would never take the job and is a strong managerial candidate this off-season, but a Buck Showalter-type is what comes to mind. I have heard names like Eric Wedge and Fredi Gonzalez. Those are not names that excite me as a manager, but I think either could be a sound choice as a bench coach. They both have managerial experience, and they have past relationships with Boone. Neither man would be afraid to speak their minds to Boone and challenge him on his decisions.

I have gotten over my anger with Aaron Boone. There were a few days that I wanted his head on a platter, but I have gotten over it. I feel that he can get better by improving those around him. Coaches and players. By all accounts, he is a good guy, and the players like him. A manager needs to be more than a friend, and Boone does not strike me as a strategist like other managers in the game. Even Binder Joe seemed more prepared for games. I am not saying that I wish Joe Girardi were still manager. I keep seeing those comments, but that ship sailed. We can only look forward. If Boone had a strong right-hand man that was a strategist and visionary with experience, he would be better because he would have stronger and more informed choices. I expect an announcement that Boone will be returning on a two or three-year deal within the next couple of weeks.

Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin, NY Post

I love the speculation by Yankee fans for potential shortstop and first base options. I enjoyed having Anthony Rizzo on the team. I would not mind seeing the Yankees re-sign him, although if they have an opportunity for either Matt Olson or Freddie Freeman, those guys would be preferred. The Yankees need to move on from Luke Voit. I am not enamored with the talk of moving D.J. LeMahieu to first base. He is such a brilliant defender at second base. I would rather trade Gleyber Torres and keep LeMachine at second base. I am expecting a better 2022 season for D.J. Worst-case, move LeMahieu to third, not first. Keep him within his highest and best use. If Rizzo, Olson, or Freeman is the team’s first baseman next season, I will be happy.

Like many, I would love to have one of the elite shortstops that will soon be available for money. I have long admired Trevor Story, and I appreciate the left-handed bat of Corey Seager. The best choice is a very hated Astro, Carlos Correa. Many talk about the young guys, Oswald Peraza, and Anthony Volpe, however, they are at least a year away from the Major Leagues and a few years from being potential frontline performers. The time is now. Let us not waste the prime of Gerrit Cole’s career. I would not let Peraza or Volpe keep me from pursuing an elite shortstop. If Torres is traded, Volpe could be D.J’s eventual replacement at second. Worry about where to play them when they are ready. For now, let us build a team that can challenge the Rays, Red Sox, and Blue Jays for AL East superiority.

I know Gio Urshela has expressed interest in staying at short, but that does not excite me. Either keep him at third or trade him if LeMahieu becomes the team’s third baseman.

Every off-season I say the same thing, but he keeps coming back. It is time for Brett Gardner to hang up his cleats. He has been a great Yankee and he will not be forgotten, but it is time for younger guys. Estevan Florial is ready, and I would prefer to move forward with him over Gardy. I do not trust Aaron Hicks from a health perspective, so the Yankees do need to address centerfield. I am expecting a better 2022 season for Joey Gallo. I know how awful his time in pinstripes has been, but I am truly hopeful the Yankees can collaborate with him to improve his hitting skills. He will never hit for average but if he could reduce the strikeouts, I think he can play a bigger role in the team’s success. His defense and ability to get on base did not desert him. If not, the name mentioned by many (Starling Marte) seems like such a great fit.

Photo Credit: Frank Jansky, Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Of course, the Yankees are not going to balloon payroll to $300 million so we can only dream. At the end of the day, the Yankees will be economical with their choices. They will spend but they will be financially prudent with their choices. This could prevent the possibility for a guy like Correa.

Catcher is another position that needs to be reconsidered. I have reached the conclusion that Gary Sanchez needs a change of scenery. The problem is that Kyle Higashioka is a backup at best. If the Yankees do move on from Sanchez, they need a good replacement. It is not like J.T. Realmuto is available. I keep hearing Tucker Barnhart’s name. I would not be opposed to the catcher, who will be 31 in January. Austin Wells, like Peraza and Volpe, is expected to make his MLB debut in 2023. Barnhart could keep the seat warm until he is ready and provide the Yankees with a solid bridge if Sanchez leaves. I am disappointed that Anthony Seigler, a former first round pick (2018), has not progressed as expected.

I am anxious to get the World Series over so that preparation for the 2022 season can begin. I never thought I would find myself rooting for the Houston Astros but here we are. That seems so wrong on so many levels, but there is simply no way I could ever bring myself pulling for the Red Sox. Congrats Astros for the Game 1 win, despite the heroics of former Dodger Kiké Hernández. My support for the Astros will end with the ALCS. Regardless of whether the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves win the NLCS (Go Dodgers!), the NL will have my full support in this year’s World Series. I hope it is the Dodgers but will stand behind the Braves if necessary.

As always, Go Yankees!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

2021-2022 Offseason Plan

Before you get into this I wanted to say that yes... I know this team's payroll would go up by around $50 million over last season. However, I went with this because their payroll would still be lower than the Dodgers was this past season. Not to mention that fans are back and revenue is returning to normal, and the Yankees were under the Luxury Tax threshold. So this shouldn't be a ridiculous idea I've come up with. Is it likely? Probably not. But it's still not the highest payroll in the league. 

So with that out of the way, here goes nothing... 

I believe the 2021 Yankees had enough talent that they should have won a lot more than they did. Good hitters don't just forget how to hit like Urshela, Torres, and LeMaheiu seemingly did (at least for large chunks of the season). That, along with many questionable strategic and lineup decisions, make me want to see changes in the coaching staff. That not only includes Aaron Boone, but basically everyone except pitching coach Matt Blake. 

I don't mean to take any blame away from the players, as they should still perform no matter who is leading the charge. But there's a reason coaches and managers get paid like they do. They can absolutely make a difference by at least creating an atmosphere that pushes players to be better. 

It makes me think of car racing... You can have the best car on the track, but if you don't take the turns right, don't change the tires when you should, and don't make the correct in-race decisions then chances are you won't cross the finish line first. You should still do well, but more often than not you'll still fall short of victory. 

Sorry to you racing fans out there, as that analogy was probably really sloppy. But you should get the gist. 

Can they win if the same coaching staff returns? Absolutely. Hell, I believe the team I put together below could win with my dumbass running the show. But I can't help but think there are better options, and the Yankees should never settle for second best.

To start with the moves I'd make this offseason, I've decided on Trevor Story as my pick to be the new shortstop. Trevor is a good overall hitter with 25-30 HR power, has good speed, and that bat comes with elite defense. He does have a fairly high strikeout rate and is another right-handed hitter, but he's still my guy. And since the Yankees had interest in him during the season, I don't think I'm the only one with strong interest in Story. Carlos Correa has a better bat and a championship pedigree, but that comes with just an okay glove and without the speed the Yankees could really use. Either man would make me happy, though. Oh, and when it comes to Corey Seager... pass, as his defense is not good at all, which is too bad as his strong left-handed bat would be great. But if you thought Torres was bad at sthorstop, then you wouldn't be happy with Seager there.

My next move would be trading Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, Luis Medina, Alexander Vargas, and Albert Abreu for Matt Olson & Frankie Montas. Olson is entering his second year of arbitration, while Montas is entering arbitration for the first time, making both men a little too rich for a poverty team like Oakland. You might say that Torres and Voit are both arbitration-eligible as well, however, those two will get paid as much as Olson himself (based on MLB Trade Rumors projections it's Olson's $12m vs. Voit & Torres' $11.3m). By the way, MLBTR predicts Montas will cost $5.2m, making this deal a total savings for Oakland of nearly $6 million. I don't have to explain why I'd like Olson, so allow me to point out that Frankie Montas was among the top 20 in MLB in spin-rate for his 4-seam fastball, has an ERA+ of 119 over his past three seasons (it was 75 in that stupid 2020, meaning he's likely better than that 119), struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings over the last three years, and has been good at avoiding the long-ball (mind you, that's in cavernous RingCentral/Oakland Coliseum).

Then I'm trading Clarke Schmidt and Gary Sanchez for Willson Contreras. The Cubs #4 prospect is catcher Miguel Amaya, who is an on-base machine (.406 in AA this past season), but they may want to bring him along slowly by starting him in AAA next season (he only played in 23 games last season in AA), with a possible call-up later in 2022. In the meantime, having the MLB-experienced Sanchez should help bridge the gap. Meanwhile, the Cubs are in need of pitching, and while they'll likely spend on somebody for the top of their rotation, a young pitcher that is ready for MLB with good upside should be quite attractive. Conteras isn't going to excite Yankees fans much, but he's a very good defender whose bat isn't going to be a negative. 

While I'd like the Yankees to go after Starling Marte to take over center field, I just don't see it happening. With the moves I think they should make, which I feel are more important than signing Marte, their payroll would be higher than I think they'd go. Hell, I already think the payroll my team would cost will be too much. And with Marte being a right-handed hitter, putting Hicks... a switch-hitter... back into CF would give their lineup that good right/lefty mix they've been missing. The fact that Story has some speed to put at the top of the lineup makes passing on Marte easier to handle as well.

I really thought the Yankees needed to address the bullpen this offseason, but they have been so good at finding and developing relievers that I decided against it. I was looking at Aaron Loup, and also looked into trades, but after seeing what we already have I think we're good to go. The only thing I may like to see is picking up the team option on Joely Rodriguez. Darren O'Day returning has plenty of upside, but I'd be more comfortable with Joely there instead. But what happens between those two depends on whether O'Day picks up his player option after an injury-shortened season.

With signing a shortstop to a long contract, I'm sure prospect huggers would be in tears over Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza being blocked. Well, Gio Urshela will be a free agent in a couple years meaning that after 2023 we can give third base to Peraza or Volpe (or move Story to third and give shortstop to either of them). If they are both ready for MLB then we have a mighty nice problem on our hands. Either way, I don't like the idea of passing on very good MLB players for what might be in a year or two. 

To finish up, here are a few quick notes...

-If you're worried about starting depth, which will be necessary for every team in MLB, the Yankees still have Nestor Cortes Jr, Luis Gil, and Deivi Garcia.
-I'm not a fan of Odor, but seeing that Texas is paying his entire salary for 2022 then why not keep him to at least start the season? We can always dump him since we wouldn't have to pay him, anyway. 
-If Gardner retires, then put Estevan Florial on the bench instead. 
-Non-tender or trade arbitration-eligible players Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar, Domingo German, and Tim Locastro.

All of that would leave the 2022 New York Yankees with an excellent team, that has a very good shot at finally winning their 28th World Series Championship. So I'll leave you with the roster I've put together...

Salaries listed next to a player include contracts, non-arbitration eligible minimum salaries (King only), and MLB Trade Rumors arbitration projections.
* = left-handed pitcher/batter
# - switch-hitter

Starting Lineup
1. Trevor Story SS ($30m)
2. Aaron Judge RF ($17.1m)
3. Matt Olson* 1B ($12m)
4. Giancarlo Stanton DH ($22m... Miami is paying $3m)
5. DJ LeMaheiu 2B ($15m)
6. Joey Gallo* LF ($10.2m)
7. Gio Urshela 3B ($6.2m)
8. Willson Contreras C ($8.7m)
9. Aaron Hicks# CF ($10m)

Kyle Higashioka C ($1.2m)
Tyler Wade* IF ($.7m)
Francisco Odor* 2B ($0m... Texas is paying him)
Brett Gardner* OF ($2.575m)

1. Gerrit Cole ($36m)
2. Luis Severino ($10m)
3. Frankie Montas ($5.2m)
4. Jameson Taillon ($4.7m)
5. Jordan Montgomery* ($4.8m)

Aroldis Chapman* ($17.5m)
Jonathan Loaisiga ($1.7m)
Chad Green ($4.1m)
Lucas Luetge* ($1.1m)
Wandy Peralta* ($1.7m)
Clay Holmes ($1m)
Mike King ($.6m)
Darren O'Day ($1.575m)

Miscellaneous Payments
Zack Britton ($14m while he recovers from Tommy John surgery)
Joelly Rodriguez ($.5m buyout)
Remaining 40-man players ($2.25m)
Player Benefits ($16m)

Total Projected Payroll - $258.4m (Dodgers were at $262m in 2021)

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Nothing Comes Easy...


Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer, AP

The Yankees’ Rollercoaster continues…

Just when the Yankees start to give you some confidence, they take it away. Such has been the 2021 season for Yankee fans. Last night’s 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays was disappointing despite the Yankees attempted comeback that fell short. Many fault Aaron Boone’s handling of the bullpen for the loss (true belief, in my opinion) but was clear to me that Rays manager Kevin Cash continues to out-manage Boone in their head-to-head matchups.

Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer, AP

With only a game lead in the Wild Card chase, anything can happen with just two games left. I see many predicting when the Yankees will clinch a playoff spot, but with all honesty, they could see themselves out of the playoffs as easily as grabbing one of the two Wild Card spots. It’s unfortunate the two primary Wild Card challengers, the Boston Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays, drew losing teams for their final regular season series while the Yankees were handed a division champ that is one victory away from 100 wins.  I like the challenge of beating the best to be the best, but of course you must actually beat them. 

Since the start of the recent Red Sox series, every game has been must-win. The Yankees did very well against both Boston and Toronto, yes, but they need to step up and take care of business against the Rays. They can’t depend on the Washington Nationals or the Baltimore Orioles (Boston and Toronto opponents, respectively) to deliver a playoff spot for the Yankees. They need to control their own destiny…and they need to make a statement in doing so…to secure home field advantage for the single-game elimination if they do succeed in making the playoffs. I don’t think any team really fears the Yankees at this point.

I will never say ‘I wish Joe Girardi was the manager’…that ship sailed several years ago, and I refuse to look back. However, the Yankees, regardless of how this season plays out, need to revisit their current managerial choice. If they win the World Series, odds are Aaron Boone would be rewarded with an extension, but realistically, I do not see a World Series championship in the cards for us this year. The deck is stacked against the Yankees, and they haven’t proven they can beat the better teams ahead of them when the chips are on the line.  I so want to be proven wrong in this belief, trust me. The Yankees can do better than Boone at the helm. I always thought Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin would be a good choice and the Yankees have had interest in the past, but just like the Rays went with an unknown when they hired Kevin Cash to replace Joe Maddon, the Yankees can find the right guy. Not that I necessarily want a manager with no experience, but everybody must start somewhere. They’ve rebuilt and upgraded the level of pitching instruction and can use similar strategy to upgrade all facets of the organization. Bottom-line, Aaron Boone has shown enough to know that he is not the one to lead us to the promised land

Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Okay, enough beating up on Boone. I just hope the Yankees can win today and tomorrow to make anything less than the top Wild Card spot moot. 

Not great news to hear D.J. LeMahieu has a sports hernia. I suppose it is good news he plans to play through it and could potentially be back on the field on Sunday after receiving a cortisone injection. The only question is how effective he can be with the injury. It was nice to see the return of shortstop Andrew Velazquez (at the expense of Albert Abreu who optioned to the sidelines) earlier this morning.  While Gio Urshela has done a decent job at short, he’s obviously needed at third with the state of D.J.’s health, and I clearly have more trust in the Bronx native’s glove than I do Gio despite his strong defensive skills. You must accept less offense with Velazquez in the lineup (he’s starting at shortstop today), but it just means everyone else needs to step up and take care of business. Gary, yes, I am talking to you…among a few others. For Velazquez, he gets a chance against his former teammates, and I am sure he’d love to be celebrating this weekend on his truly home turf. 

Just win, Yankees, just win…

I will be going to a baseball game today. I wish I was in New York and going to Yankee Stadium, but living in Southern California, I’ll have to settle for the next best thing. Headed to Dodger Stadium later today for a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. By game time, the Dodgers should know if they’ve been eliminated from the NL West division championship or if they still have slight hope for at least a tie. The San Francisco Giants, up by 2 games with 2 games to go, are playing the disappointing San Diego Padres in the City by the Bay this afternoon. A win by the Giants and the best (or worst) the Dodgers can do is where they currently sit, top Wild Card team with an upcoming visit by backup first baseman Albert Pujols’ old team, the St Louis Cardinals, on Wednesday. 

Hey Daniel Burch, I will be wearing my Bat Flip Brotherhood t-shirt featuring Cody Bellinger. This hasn’t been the greatest of years for the son of former Yankee Clay Bellinger and who knows if he’ll even play but I’ll be pulling for bat flips by Mookie Betts, the Turners (Justin and Trea) or possible future Yank Corey Seager. Thanks for the shirt, Bro.

Bat Flip Brotherhood on Etsy, by Dan Burch

Not trying to turn this into a Dodgers post (sorry), however, it was sad to see Dodgers Great Clayton Kershaw walk off the mound due to injury last night. He is suffering from forearm discomfort. While he still needs to undergo further testing, it is possible this was the final start as a Dodger for Kershaw. The injury could rule him out of the playoffs if the Dodgers can advance past the Cardinals, and he’s an impending free agent. The Dodgers trade deadline acquisition of Max Scherzer looks so huge right now.  For Kershaw, as much as he has meant to the Dodgers, he is not the pitcher he once was even if he’s Cooperstown-bound. I could see him returning to his native Texas since he continues to make his home there. Regardless of what happens, I wish Clayton and his family the best. I hope he has a chance to pitch again this year in trying to look at this with glass half full. Kersh has been such a tremendous Dodger. 

Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of Joe Girardi, I thought it was interesting this week when his team hired the son of Yankees great Don Mattingly as their new director of player development. Preston Mattingly, 34, previously Major League advance scouting and game planning coordinator for the Padres, is viewed as an up-and-coming Major League executive. Rumor has it he came with a strong recommendation from the manager of the Miami Marlins. Seriously, this is a good hire by Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, a man who knows how to tear down a farm system or two. Not that I wish anything good for the Phillies, a team I don’t care for despite their Yankee connections on the team, but congrats to young Mattingly as he continues his rise among front office executives. 

As always, Go Yankees!