Saturday, May 28, 2022

Baseball's Best Team Rolls On...


Miguel Andujar & Gleyber Torres / Photo Credit: Julio Aguilar, Getty Images

33 Wins in 46 Games, 6 ½ Game Lead…

It has been quite a week…where do we start?

For starters, the Yankees have a plethora of brilliant ones. Nestor Cortes, Jr has been a godsend, and arguably the best pitcher in the rotation. In the first two games Thursday and Friday against the Rays at the warehouse called Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida, Cortes, and Jameson Taillon each went eight strong innings against last year’s AL East champions, and the only run scored was a runner Cortes left when he tried, unsuccessfully, to pitch into the ninth inning. Both men struck out five Rays. There is no doubt in my mind that these are games the Yankees would have lost last year. It is a testament to the strength and cohesiveness of the 2022 New York Yankees.

When the Yankees win, it is friggin’ FANTASTIC! When they lose, it is the end of the World. Last year’s team gave us too many runs through the valleys. This year, onward and upward! Life is good.

I preface this by saying I wish injury upon no one. However, I am relieved that Aroldis Chapman has been removed, albeit temporarily, from his closer’s role with his placement on the injury list due to Achilles tendinitis. It has allowed the best reliever in the Yankees bullpen, Clay Holmes, to ascend to the throne. I do not know about you, but my confidence at the end of games has improved significantly.

Clay "The Closer" Holmes / Photo Credit: Getty Images

Holmes has pitched in twenty-three games this season, a total of twenty-four and a half innings. He has only given up one run on fifteen hits and has only walked two batters. He is 4-0 and has accumulated six saves and has not blown a save opportunity. He has punched out twenty-six batters and his fWAR is 1.0. I do not need to tell anybody those stats are damn good. Aroldis Chapman is a free agent at the end of the year. The Yankees should not be concerned with Chapman’s ego. It is a foregone conclusion he will not be back. Chapman has pitched a little more than ten fewer innings than Holmes, yet he has walked ten batters to Clay’s two. He has given up thirteen hits, six runs, and two home runs…with three wild pitches. Holmes has not surrendered a home run and has only thrown one wild pitch. Give me ninth inning certainty, give me Clayton Walter Holmes.

As for Chapman, he should join the setup crew when he returns. Choose his spots. If he demands a trade, comply with his wishes. I do not expect Chapman to rediscover gold. He is 34. He was great in his younger days, and maybe he can find new pitches, but not on our dime. It is time to move on. I am more excited about the return of Zack Britton from the Injured List than I am with Chapman. Britton knows a thing or two about being the most dominant closer in the game but even he should not close over Holmes.

Give props where they are due. The Holmes trade, which sent infield prospect Diego Castillo and Hoy Park to the Pittsburgh Pirates last July, ranks as one of the greatest in the Brian Cashman era. I can still remember my first reaction to the trade. “Who?” Cashman’s brilliance won out the day and I am extremely grateful Clay Holmes is a Yankee. Too often in years past, unheralded Pirates would go to Tampa and flourish. Turnabout is fair play. You could put Jameson Taillon on the list of great trades, but he was recognized, when he was still a Pirate, as a potentially great pitcher. His only vice was health. Still, Cashman placed his faith in Gerrit Cole’s buddy, and it has paid off too. So, congratulations Cashman. I have been down on you often, but I recognize you built the 2022 Yankees. Although you chose a different recipe than the one, we, the fans, wanted, the results have far exceeded expectations. Thank you for bringing the fun back to the Bronx.

Josh Donaldson suspended, sick and then hurt. What a week NOT to be Josh Donaldson! For calling Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson ‘Jackie,’ Donald received a one-game suspension. I agree. Something had to be done even if one-game seems light. Although Manager Aaron Boone was supportive of Donaldson, strong words from Aaron Judge brought light to the extremely sensitive issue. Although my initial reaction was the invocation of Jackie’s name was not racist, I have been able to see this in a different light and understand how the word could be viewed as inflammatory regardless of what Anderson may have said in the past.

Donaldson and Anderson will never be best buddies. They did not have the type of relationship that allowed playful words to be exchanged with each other. My bigger concern now is if Donaldson has alienated himself from a few of his current teammates. To Donaldson’s defense, he did issue a public apology to Anderson and the family of Jackie Robinson. Unfortunately, an apology only goes so far. Donaldson is not going to change who he is.

Donaldson was placed on the COVID-19 list earlier in the week with symptoms of the virus and has since been placed on the Injured List for shoulder inflammation. Although I appreciate the job Donaldson has done this year, particularly with the glove and the ‘take no shit’ attitude he brings to the team, the time away is probably good. Team chemistry is particularly important to me. I have not been in the Yankees Clubhouse, but you can sense that there is something different and incredibly special about this year’s team. I do not want anything to disrupt it. Hopefully, Donaldson returns to the team with some degree of remorse and can repair any potentially damaged relationships.

Chad Green, I am sorry. It was announced that Green, like Luis Gil before him, will need Tommy John surgery. I have been down on Green, but this is not how I wanted it to end for him. Since he will be a free agent at the end of the year, I wonder if the Yankees will simply move on like they once did with Michael Pineda and Nate Eovaldi. It would be nice to see the Yankees bring him back on a back-loaded two-year contract to help him through the rehabilitation and eventual return (he is expected to be out twelve to eighteen months), but I understand how valuable spots on the forty-man roster can be. Do you protect Green this winter or a young prospect with Clay Holmes or Luis Severino potential? As much as I appreciated the great years Green brought to the Yankees bullpen, it is most likely time for it to end and I am terribly sorry. I hope Green can recover and eventually find the payday that will set him up for the rest of his life.

Chad Green / Photo Credit: AP

Welcome to the Yankees, Matt Carpenter! The longtime St Louis Cardinals infielder is now a Yankee. I get that he has seen his better days. He is thirty-six and has not been great since 2018. The Cardinals chose not to re-sign him last Fall, and he subsequently signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. Last week, after failing to make the Rangers’ major league roster and stuck playing in Triple A, he asked for and received his release. There is hope off-season work he did to revamp his swing will pay dividends. He will never be the All-Star player he once was, but if he can help, great. Given the recent rash of injuries (Donaldson, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, etc.), Carpenter has a chance to contribute. In his first two games with the Yankees, he has homered once (last night) and scored three runs. I have no idea what his future holds. When everybody is healthy, he seems to be the odd one out. Marwin Gonzalez has proven his value with his versatility and appears to be the more valuable of the two players. I guess we will just enjoy the ride and see where it takes us. Feel free to swing for the fences (or into the deep corners), Matt. Welcome!

Matt Carpenter / Photo Credit: AP

Welcome back to the Yankees, Manny Banuelos!
 Manny, after starting the year with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, has finally achieved his dream of making the Yankees roster. Sporting Dellin Betances’ old number (68), he has yet to appear in a game but hopefully he will get his turn. Like Carpenter, I do not know how long Manny’s pinstriped dream will last. It could be short. I hope he makes the most of his latest opportunity. It has been a long, hard road for him, and I will really enjoy it if he finally achieves success. We are far removed from the Killer B’s (Banuelos, Betances, and Andrew Brackman) and Manny no longer holds the promise he once did, but conversely, he has worked extremely hard to get here and has earned this shot.

The Yankees also brought back another former Yankee on a minor league deal when reliever Shane Greene was signed. Greene was traded to Detroit in the 2014 three-team trade that brought shortstop Didi Gregorius to the Yankees from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Greene developed into an All-Star reliever and saved thirty-two games for the Tigers in 2018. Greene was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers to a minor league deal in March and had been pitching for their Triple A club this year. He was called up to the Dodgers on May 15th, pitched two scoreless innings and was designated for assignment two days later when the Dodgers activated one-time Yankees punching bag David Price. Like with Banuelos, I would like to see Greene find success with his original team. Given the injuries in the bullpen, he may get his chance.

Thanks to JP Sears for his successful spot start this week. It was a quick trip from and back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but with family in attendance, Sears performed brilliantly on Wednesday, May 25th when he pitched five scoreless innings against the Baltimore Orioles and held them to three hits. It was the second victory of the year for Sears. No doubt we will see Sears again. It was tough losing Luis Gil for the year, but I am glad Sears is making the most of his opportunities. There is confidence with both Sears and Clarke Schmidt as rotation stand-ins.

JP Sears

Lastly but most importantly, my thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims of the horrific shootings in Uvalde, Texas. Every story of the children and two teachers lost are heartbreaking. I am not against guns, but clearly, this country can do so much better with gun control and safety. I get that it is impossible to keep guns out of the hands of professional, cold-blooded killers, but an eighteen-year-old kid should not be permitted to buy an assault-style weapon. I am disappointed that we, as a country, have not learned anything from the tragedies of Columbine, Sandy Hook and now Robb Elementary. Throw partisanship out the window, the solutions and remedies require full and unwavering bipartisan support. We must all come together to stop senseless violence and loss of life.

Photo Credit: Jae C Hong, AP

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Unsinkable Josh Donaldson...


Yasmani Grandal & Josh Donaldson / Photo Credit: Sarah Stier, Getty Images

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but…

Suffice it to say that Tim Anderson will not be inviting Josh Donaldson over for Thanksgiving dinner in November. The bad blood between the two players this season boiled over yesterday after Donaldson called Anderson “Jackie.” The White Sox took the approach it was a racist comment. Donaldson, trying to defend himself, stated it was about Anderson’s 2019 Sports Illustrated story where the White Sox shortstop described himself as “today’s Jackie Robinson.”

The Athletic, via Twitter

I am a Yankees fan, so I am biased toward Donaldson, but I honestly do not believe he is a racist. When I first heard Donaldson’s rebuttal to the allegation, I could see how Donaldson might use Jackie’s name in mocking manner to imply that Anderson was no Jackie Robinson or, the way Donaldson described it, he was just being playful with the reference in jest to Anderson’s prior proclamation. Not saying that is right. I certainly would not have used those words, but Josh Donaldson is his own man. If there were any racial overtones with Donaldson’s words or actions, I strongly believe the Yankees clubhouse would call him out on it and take the necessary disciplinary action through their own means behind closed doors.

For the White Sox, it is easy for them to try to make this worse than it was. They have not been successful against the Yankees this year, and frustrations are rising. The White Sox, beneficiaries of current elite Major League talent derived from having one of the best farm systems in baseball from 2017 to 2020, were projected by many to reach the World Series this season. They are 19-20 entering play today and sit 4.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central. They are 2.5 games out in the Wild Card chase. So far this season, the teams have played five games and the White Sox have only one win to show for it. Over the last three years, the Yankees have won nine of eleven games against the White Sox. They conclude their regular season play today with a double-header, weather-permitting. If both teams make the playoffs, it is possible this feud will be reignited in October when tensions are even higher.

But setting aside my defense of Donaldson, I understand and accept those who say that how words affect the recipient is the key point which must not be lost. Regardless of what we may think, Tim Anderson took exception to Donaldson’s words. It is his right, and only he knows how deeply the words hurt. We cannot speak for Anderson. If Donaldson’s words did hurt Anderson, then MLB or more specifically the Yankees should take the appropriate action against Donaldson and sit him for a few.

One thing is for sure. Josh Donaldson will never back down from a fight. He brings an edge to the team, and whether we agree with his methods, he gives the team toughness it did not previously have. I truly hope in my heart there was no racial motivation or intent. 

More Clay Holmes, less Aroldis Chapman. Holmes, arguably one of the best relievers in baseball among non-closers is quickly becoming a much stronger ninth inning option than Chapman. Anytime Chapman enters a game, you can only hope the Yankees have put enough runs on the board to offset the runs the opponent will score off Chapman. A one-run lead? Give me Holmes over Chapman any day of the week. I know Chapman has not blown a save this year, but every outing feels like a tightrope walk with a few wobbles along the way.

Aroldis Chapman / Photo Credit: EPA

As it stands, Chapman has not pitched since last Tuesday. It is never a good thing when he does not pitch for long stretches. With two games on tap for today, it seems he will be used out of necessity. It may be the best opportunity for the White Sox to take at least one of the games. I have always liked Aroldis Chapman but my confidence in him has waned. I would have no problem if the Yankees moved Chapman at the trading deadline although I am not sure what they could get. Chapman will be a free agent at the end of the year. He is gone. There will be no further reunions.

Jonathan Loaisiga was my choice for closer-in-waiting at the start of the year, but Holmes has re-written the script. He seems likely to be the next closer, perhaps as early as this season. Move Chapman around in other innings, dependent upon the situations. It might reinvigorate Chapman to face other high leverage spots instead of exclusively the critical, tension-filled ninth inning as he transitions away from a once dominant fastball.

Chad Green placed on the Injured List. As frustrated as I was this year with Chad Green, this is not the way I wanted it to go. If the injury, right forearm discomfort, is serious and requires surgery, it is very probable that Green will not wear the Pinstripes again. He will be a free agent at the end of the year, and it was already unlikely the Yankees would extend him given his struggles for the last season and a half. It was great when Green was one of the most dominant relievers in the Yankees bullpen and rated as one of the best relievers in baseball. Sadly, he is no longer that guy. Age happens, and the life cycle of a dominant reliever, unless your name is Mariano Rivera, seems to be noticeably short. Whatever happens with Chad, I wish him the best. If he can get back out on the field this season, I hope that he is able to rediscover the magic. If not, I hope he finds success with his next team.

Chad Green / Photo Credit: Nick Wass, AP

RHP Ron Marinaccio was recalled from Triple A, taking Green’s spot on the roster.

Luis Gil meets Tommy John. Unfortunately, it is not an opportunity to meet the great former Dodgers/Yankees starting pitcher, but rather the misfortune to go under the knife. This, the Tommy John surgery, is not news that any Yankees fan wanted to hear. Gil was removed from a Triple A game on Wednesday against the Worcester Red Sox after turning to face the RailRiders dugout while pointing to his right elbow after throwing a pitch. It has been confirmed that Gil will require surgery. Gil had met with Yankees team physician Christopher Admad in New York City on Friday and presumably received other medical opinions.

Gil made only one start for the big-league club in 2022, when he pitched four innings on May 12th against the Chicago White Sox. He started, giving up four runs over four innings, and departed with a lead, but the White Sox later tied the game ultimately won by the Yankees, 15-7. Jonathan Loiasiga picked up the win in relief.

Recovery and rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery generally takes at least one year to eighteen months. It can take some athletes up to two years to reach their previous level of ability. It is going to be a long road ahead for Gil, and hopefully he is successful in his journey back to the Major Leagues in either late 2023 or early 2024.

It is a tough break for the Yankees since they lose a starting option. Presumably, Clarke Schmidt becomes the ‘go-to’ if the rotation needs assistance. It would be enticing to consider Michael King, but he has been so hugely valuable in the pen. The dominance of King and Clay Holmes has helped cover for other bullpen flaws.

Roderick Arias will be delayed. It was reported this week that the Yankees’ latest elite international free agent signing may be delayed this season. He ceased baseball activities two weeks ago for an undisclosed injury. Yankees international scouting director Donny Rowland described it as nothing major, just a tweak that is lingering. Hopefully, it is nothing significant, and Arias will be able to make his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League this season. The DSL is scheduled to begin play on June 6th.

The Yankees signed the 17-year-old Dominican shortstop in January for $4 million.

Minor League free agent signings. Over the last week and a half, the Yankees have signed three players to minor league contracts. On May 13th, they signed Danny Salazar, once a promising pitcher for Cleveland, who has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2019. The right-hander is now thirty-two. Who knows if he will be successful in the Yankees organization but I wish him the best of luck in his journey to find his way back. Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake knows a thing or two about Salazar from their days in Cleveland, so perhaps the signing was based on his recommendation.

The Yankees also signed LHP Rafaelin Nivar and RHP Ryan Miller. There are no minor league stats for Nivar, and I was unable to locate any information on him. Miller, 26, is a former Arizona Diamondbacks prospect who was released in 2020. Miller was assigned to the Yankees High-A Affiliate, the Hudson Valley Renegades.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Rise of the Unicorns...


Giancarlo Stanton & Aaron Judge / Photo Credit: Nam Y. Huh, AP

Enjoying the Yankees Ride…

For a team that generally starts slowly, the 2022 New York Yankees are different. Of course, I mean it in the best conceivable way. Their 24-8 record through thirty-two games is the first time it has happened since the legendary 1998 championship season. They were matched by only three other teams in franchise history (1928, 1939, and 1958). World Series championships awaited those four teams. Time will tell if the 2022 team joins that achievement, but the season, thus far, has been a tremendously fun ride. Surprisingly, the famed 1927 Murderers’ Row Yankees who won 110 games in a 154-game schedule and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series only had twenty-one wins after 32 games.

1928 Yankees, 101-53, Swept St Louis Cardinals in the World Series

1939 Yankees, 106-45, Swept Cincinnati Reds in the World Series

1958 Yankees, 92-62, Beat Milwaukee Braves in 7-game World Series

1998 Yankees, 114-48, Swept San Diego Padres in the World Series

It is way too early to talk about the World Series this year. Too many games between now and October. Yet, it is obvious that this team has an exceptional quality, and the team cohesiveness seems to be its strongest since the 2017 Baby Bombers made a deep October push that was thwarted by trash cans.

Leading the charge are Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. When both guys homered in last night’s 10-4 win over the Chicago White Sox, it improved the Yankees’ record to 5-0 in games when both giants go yard. Since Stanton joined the Yankees in 2018, the team is 21-1 in games when both men homer. Putting this season into further legendary status, Judge (12 home runs) and Stanton (10) are the first Yankees duo with double digit home runs after 32 games since Mickey Mantle (16) and Yogi Berra (12) in 1956. The only other time it happened was 1930 when Babe Ruth (14) and Lou Gehrig (10) achieved it. Standing among the Legends…

Stanton & Judge / Photo Credit:

Yogi Berra & Mickey Mantle / Photo Credit: AP

Lou Gehrig & Babe Ruth / Photo Credit: Kenan Research Center, Atlanta History Center

In speaking about what it must be like for opposing pitchers to face Judge and Stanton, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, last night’s winner, offered, “It’s brutal. There’s a lot of power. There’s different types of hitters, and Judge and Stanton are obviously kind of unicorns.” His inner dialogue was probably, “I am fuckin’ glad that I don’t have to face them!”

According to Fangraphs, the Yankees lead Major League Baseball with 7.6 fWAR. The closest team is the Houston Astros at 7.0. Comparing the Yankees to their AL East Rivals (courtesy of Fangraphs), I would say it is a clear and distinct advantage Yankees.

























4 ½










7 ½










10 ½







Red Sox










If the Yankees can get Josh Donaldson and Joey Gallo going (both men homered last night), the offense becomes even more formidable. I love watching away game crowds flood the exit gates early like we have seen the last two games at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago.

While I felt the Yankees had given Aaron Judge a fair contract offer prior to the season, there is no doubt Judge has let his play put the pressure on the Yankees to raise the ante.

This year’s trade deadline should be fun. Given how much last year’s moves helped the Yankees, it seems a few of the team’s current flaws could be eliminated with the right moves come July. Despite last night’s multi-hit performance and three-game hitting streak, Joey Gallo heads my list of regulars who could be dealt. A frequently rumored outfield target, Andrew Benintendi, defeated the Kansas City Royals in his arbitration case yesterday which increases the likelihood he will be moved. Benintendi, the former Red Sox outfielder, will make $8.5 million (or $1.2 million more than the Royals were offering). He will be a true rental since he will become a free agent following the season.

As Gallo, it is tough. I really like the guy. He plays good defense and has an enjoyable personality. The home runs, when they happen, are beautiful, and the walks are nice, but the strikeouts are too much. Through last night’s game, Gallo has a 37.5% strikeout ratio. It is pretty much his career norm (lifetime percentage is 36.9%) so the Yankees clearly knew what they were getting when they acquired him. Yet, this is his last year with the Yankees. Either they trade him in July or let him walk in the off-season when he reaches free agency. I cannot see an extension on the horizon for him. Gallo could potentially flourish in a less-pressurized environment so I would prefer to get something for him rather than nothing.

The Yankees should include Chad Green in any Gallo deal. I remember when I dreaded it when Chad Green would start a game. The switch to the bullpen was magical for a couple of seasons, but now I get the same dread I used to when Green enters a game in relief. No lead is safe. Zack Britton could possibly return in August, and there will be other guys available later this summer like Domingo German and Stephen Ridings. At some point, there will be no room for Green. He is another guy who could benefit from a change in scenery.

I am not ready to give up on Jonathan Loáisiga. He is too talented, and I am confident he will find his way back to his standout 2021 performance. If the Yankees can get him right, it will be the latest testament to the success of pitching coach Matt Blake and the new superior philosophies developed and implemented by organizational pitching leadership team. The Yankees most likely need a new closer in 2023. Earlier this year, I had thought the natural successor for free agent-to-be Aroldis Chapman would be Loáisiga. Right now, he does not seem to be a viable candidate, but he can change that perception. I hope he does.

Jonathan Loaisiga / Photo Credit:

Setback for Ben Rortvedt. I feel badly for the young Yankees catcher. When he was dealt to the Yankees with Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela, he seemed primed for a tremendous opportunity in Pinstripes. The oblique injury delayed his start and forced the Yankees to acquire elite framer Jose Trevino from the Texas Rangers, who has essentially become a Major League block for Rortvedt. Rortvedt finally got into two rehab games for the Single-A Tampa Tarpons, picking up two hits including a home run, but has been sidelined again, this time for a knee injury.

This is shaping up to be a lost year for Rortvedt. Hopefully, the knee issue is not serious, and he can get back to his rehab games soon. If he is healthy and ready, he would be the first call if/when the Yankees need catching help. I really want to see him get to that place so that he can be prepared for his opportunity when it arrives. Get well soon, Ben.

Ben Rortvedt / Photo Credit:

Robinson Canó finds a new team. When the New York Mets designated Canó for assignment and subsequently released him, it appeared to be the end of the road for the one-time Yank. No way I wanted the Yankees to consider reuniting with the 39-year-old infielder (they did not have the room for him anyway), but I am surprised that a first-place club, the San Diego Padres, rolled the dice. The Padres have been struggling with consistent offense despite sharing the NL West lead with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they look to Canó for bench support and leadership. I hope it works out for him. This may be his last chance for another World Series championship. The Padres are hoping Canó can provide them what Albert Pujols gave the Dodgers last year.

Robinson Cano / Photo Credit: San Diego Padres

Canó will always be an ultimate ‘what if’ player for me. What if he had stayed with the Yankees and not traveled down the PED highway. What if he had kept up his numbers and performance through natural means. There is no doubt, in my mind, we would be talking about making room for him in Monument Park and pulling #24 out of circulation. I wish him the best in sunny San Diego as he attempts what might be his last opportunity in Major League Baseball.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The King of the World...


Josh Donaldson, Anthony Rizzo and Michael King / Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, New York Post

Now pitching, Number 34, Michael King…

It is easy to point to Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo as Team MVPs after twenty-five games. Yet, the Yankees would not be 18-7 and sitting atop the AL East without the huge contributions of Michael McRae King.

Michael King / Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta, USA TODAY Sports

The case can be made that he has been the Yankees’ most valuable pitcher (starter or reliever). As confidence in closer Aroldis Chapman has started to decline in recent seasons, King’s ability to go multiple innings with his vast array of pitches, shutting down powerful bats, has been tremendous. King, who turns twenty-seven later this month, has been dominant (ya think?). In 17 2/3 innings, he has struck out 39.7% of the batters he has faced, while walking only 4.8%. He is 2-0, with one save, and 0.51 ERA. His fWAR of 1.2 (according to FanGraphs) is the highest among relievers and tied for third among all pitchers with Arizona Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly. They trail only Toronto’s Kevin Gausman (1.9) and San Francisco’s Carlos Rodon (1.3).

Armed with four pitches (four-seam and two-seam fastballs, slider and change-up), King keeps batters flustered as they fail repeatedly. There has been much talk about his mastery of the breaking ball thanks to last year’s tutelage by former Yank Corey Kluber. It is unfair to give full credit to Kluber. I am sure that the Klubot has offered plenty of advice to other pitchers over the years, but credit to the student for taking the feedback and implementing the necessary changes to make the pitch above average in his arsenal which obviously enhances his other pitches.

I remember when Chad Green was a starter, and I felt that he would be more effective as a reliever. It played out to perfection as Green was an elite reliever for a few years although he has slipped in recent seasons. King is the reliever that I would love to see become a starter. Maybe not this year. I loved the 2009 dominance of Phil Hughes as a reliever until he later moved back into the starting rotation in subsequent seasons. King is the 2022 version of the elite reliever for a championship team. Hopefully, if any of the starters miss time, the first call for replacement will be Clarke Schmidt and not King. But for next year and beyond, Michael King should be in the starting rotation with his deadly weaponry.

King was primarily a starter in the minor leagues with fifty-nine starts in eighty games pitched. If Jameson Taillon is not re-signed this coming off-season (he should be), King needs to be the arm that is slotted as his replacement. I love Nasty Nestor Cortes, Jr, but I would prefer him as the long reliever and spot starter with King in the rotation. Not this year…I would not want to disrupt a good thing…but as a future thought.

King was born in Rochester, New York on May 25, 1995. He went to high school in Rhode Island and pitched collegiately for Boston College. He was taken in the 12th round (353rd selection) of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Miami Marlins. The Yankees acquired King from the Marlins after the 2017 season, along with international bonus money, for starting pitcher Caleb Smith and first baseman/outfielder Garrett Cooper. I have been down on GM Brian Cashman in recent years, but this rates as one of his best trades, regardless of the spotty success Smith and Cooper have had at the Major League level. It is why I do not blink an eye if Cashman trades a veteran for a young prospect (like he did this past Spring when first baseman Luke Voit, a man without a position, was shipped to San Diego for pitcher Justin Lange or when he sent 4A outfielder Jake Cave to Minnesota a few years ago for RHP Luis Gil). Give these types of moves the necessary time to marinate.

King’s mission is simple. Help bring a World Championship back to the Bronx. There is no doubt he is doing his part. It is up to the other twenty-three men on the roster (purposely excluding Judge and Rizzo for their stellar play) to match King’s level of play.

Tim Locastro has been a blessing. When the Yankees acquired Locastro on July 1st last summer from the Arizona Diamondbacks, the reason was simple. Speed. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL less than three weeks later and his 2021 season was ended. He was waived on November 5th and claimed by the Boston Red Sox. Fortunately, he was non-tendered by the Red Sox after Thanksgiving, and he signed with the Yankees as a free agent in March after the lockout had ended.

Locastro beat out Ender Inciarte to make the team out of Spring Training and has been an invaluable weapon in reserve. As they say, speed plays. I must admit that I had my doubts. The anterior cruciate ligament injury is serious, and I had concerns it would rob Locastro of his elite speed. Thankfully, Locastro has not slowed down and he is helping to have influence for this year’s club when his name is called upon.

Blue Jays C Tyler Heineman and Tim Locastro (scoring) / Photo Credit: Christopher Katsarov, The Canadien Press via AP

Brian Cashman is smarter than us. Okay, to be fair, I probably have not changed my opinion that it is time for change in the Yankees organization. We cannot change the owner, but general managers have shelf life and Cashman has had a good run. His last championship was in 2009 and he has had his share of clunker moves. The Yankees have made significant strides by upgrading coaching throughout the organization (albeit maybe not at the managerial level). At some point, the Steinbrenner Family faces the decision of whether they can improve the general manager’s seat. With his contract expiring at season’s end, the time could be near. Of course, a World Series championship this Fall would bring the inevitable extension. But I digress. On to the point…

Brian Cashman makes his decisions with the longer-term in view. This past off-season saw the Yankees pass on the elite shortstops, the team’s most pressing need. We now know how well Isiah Kiner-Falefa has fit into the Yankees lineup and has proven to be a better fit than any of the big three elite free agents. I wanted Carlos Correa and yet he has gotten off to a slower start than IKF. He suffered a hand injury earlier this week that was first thought to be broken but has received better news within the past day. Once Correa was off the board, I wanted DJ LeMahieu’s former Colorado teammate, Trevor Story. I was disappointed when he signed with Boston. In retrospect, Story has been a big reason the Red Sox (10-17) currently languish in last place in the AL East, BEHIND the annual cellar-dwelling Baltimore Orioles.

Trevor Story / Photo Credit: Barry Chin, Boston Globe Staff

Story is batting .212/.292/.294 with .270 wOBA and 73 wRC+. He does not have any home runs and only ten RBIs. The other night, when he struck out four times, he immediately secluded himself in the batting cage with a couple of teammates to avoid the press. He stayed in the batting cage until after the clubhouse closed to the media. Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe said it best. “Trevor Story not making himself available to media after 4-Ks and getting booed at Fenway is a bad sign. Fans want new players to succeed. But ducking questions never cuts it here. He’s a veteran. He knows the drill. That’s a ducking move. He can take a few questions, then go off and hit all night.”

Story’s behavior would not play in New York either. Credit to guys like Giancarlo Stanton, who have taken more than their fair share of heat over the years, they are always ready and available to field questions after games. I am sure Story’s bat will come around but suffice it to say that I am glad Brian Cashman was right and I was wrong. Credit where credit is due.

Brian Cashman / Photo Credit: Adam Hunger, Getty Images

No Yankees baseball for the third day in a row. Today’s game, like yesterday, has been postponed due to rain. Friday’s game against the Texas Rangers was rescheduled for tomorrow with a single-admission double-header. Today’s game against the old buddies of Joey Gallo, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino has been moved to Monday with 1:05 pm Eastern start time. Hopefully, the time off will not slow down the Yankees. I never get too excited about winning streaks because the Yankees have a habit of following up with a losing streak. Maybe the added rest days will help re-energize the team for another extended winning streak. The downside of the days off is that Aroldis Chapman is going to be horrendous in his next appearance since he never does well with too much time off.

Soggy Yankee Stadium / Photo Credit: AP

Here's hoping for better New York weather tomorrow…

As always, Go Yankees!