Saturday, July 30, 2022

Frankie Montas or Bust...


Frankie Montas / Photo Credit: Chris Carlson, AP

Prized Target Castillo heads to the Upper Northwest…

Time will tell if Luis Castillo is sleepless in Seattle, but the Mariners added firepower to their playoff chances with the acquisition of the pitcher from the Cincinnati Reds. Most Yankee fans had wanted to see Castillo in Pinstripes, and there were times where we felt it might happen but as it usually goes, we never get the top pitching target. Too many of us have been through the days of Greg Maddux, Cliff Lee, and Gerrit Cole (when he was a Pirate), to name a few.

The fans have immediately turned their attention to Frankie Montas of the Oakland A’s who many have rated as second only to Castillo among available pitchers. That is probably debatable, but there is no doubt Brian Cashman, and his herd of analysts have their sights set on certain pitchers (including names that have not made the headlines). We know they have liked Montas in the past, and there are rumors they tried to acquire him during the Spring. GM Brian Cashman will never make the obvious move. The recent Andrew Benintendi is a rare exception. A player long rumored connected to the Yankees who actually ends up there. More than likely, Cash is working on potential pitchers who might surprise us in addition to rekindling his talks with the A’s Billy Beane. I wanted Castillo but I tried to temper my expectations for this exact scenario. I would be pleased to acquire Montas, Pablo Lopez of the Miami Marlins, or, with trust in the front office, any pitcher they deem to be a solid number two to slot in behind Gerrit Cole.

The Mariners paid a high price for their new ace. Four prospects which included three of their top five according to For the Yankees, that would be sending three of Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, Jasson Dominguez, Austin Wells, and Ken Waldichuk. I recognize that the value of a team’s top five varies from team to team and the Yankees were said to have made an offer to the Red that nearly rivaled the Mariners in quality. It would have been wonderful to get Castillo, but it did not happen, and we move on. One starting pitcher is not going to be the reason the Yankees do not win the World Series. There is something special about the 2022 Yankees (despite the lackluster July results) and if they can get quality reinforcements elsewhere, I like the team’s chances in October.

Like Castillo, the Yankees have been long connected to Montas. By Tuesday, we will either have a new starting pitcher or we will not. It is not the end of the world. I have no desire to see Domingo German pitch again even if he was better last time out. I would rather see JP Sears or Ken Waldichuk given a shot before rolling German out there again. Waldichuk, a 24-year-old lefty, is 6-3 in sixteen starts for the Somerset Patriots and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders this season with combined 2.60 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings pitched. He absolutely dominated Double-A after six games which forced his promotion to Triple-A. Waldichuk is a better pitcher than former Yankees prospect Janson Junk who shut out the Kansas City Royals for six innings earlier this week to win his Major League debut with the Los Angeles (Anaheim) Angels. Waldichuk is nearing his time if he is not traded for Montas or another starter.

Ken Waldichuk / Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for

I remember when fans did not want young prospect Andy Pettitte starting for the Yankees. Everybody must start some time. It is not like you make your Major League debut as a seasoned Major League veteran. Not that I think Waldichuk will be as good as Pettitte, but he deserves a chance to prove who he is or who he can be. I am not trying to go down the path of let’s start Waldichuk over an acquisition of a top starting pitcher, but the point is, have faith in GM Brian Cashman. Regardless of what happens, the Yankees will be okay, and we WILL be playing in October.

Welcome to the Yankees, Andrew Benintendi. I know many fans wanted outfielder Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs. It would have been nice to pair Happ with his former World Series brother Anthony Rizzo, but since he is not a true rental like Benny, the cost would have been higher than the three pitching prospects who went to Kansas City. I like Benny. It is frustrating to watch Yankee fans who are already turning on him after a couple of games. He needs more time to show who he is. I would never hold the Royals series as the standard for whether he can make it in New York. Players are human and there are emotions involved. He is suddenly thrust into playing against the guys he has gone to war with the last couple of years. He flew on the Royals team plane to New York on Wednesday night thinking he would be playing against the Yankees, not for them. There is pressure to perform well. So many variables that create challenges to a hot start. As he settles in, he will perform, this I am certain.

Andrew Benintendi / Photo Credit: Jason Szenes, NY Post

After five years in Boston, Benny was traded to the Royals in February 2021. He has not faced the Red Sox since the trade. The Yankees head to Boston in a couple of weeks so it will be interesting to see what kind of reception he receives from the Red Sox Nation sporting the Yankees’ gray away uniform. Boston manager Alex Cora had interesting words to say when he was asked about Benny the Yank. “Good for him,” Cora responded when asked about the trade. “He worked hard the last two years to make adjustments and get back to the hitter everybody envisioned in the past: .300 hitter who will get on base and is a good base runner. Defensively, he’s been amazing in Kansas City.” The words within the words read like: ‘He sucked in Boston.’ Cora added, “For the person, I’m very happy. For the player, we’ll leave it at that.” I do not know the reasons that led Boston to trade Benintendi. I was surprised at the time for no other reason than Benny had been a thorn when playing against the Yankees. It is obvious that he has worked hard, making the necessary adjustments to become a better player. The recent All-Star selection is confirmation. Benny does not need to hit homers (he only has three this season), although I would expect him to run into more than three with the short porch in right. If he is getting on base and moving runners, all is good. I am glad that the future of the 2022 Yankees left fielder is not an automatic out at the plate like it has been.

I am happy Benny is a Yankee. I wanted him even if Alex Cora did not. I saw the benefit of Ian Happ, but I like the retention of top prospects for a possible acquisition of a top starting pitcher. I was hoping those prospects could be used for Castillo as stated earlier, but there are other options that might not have existed if the Yankees had moved top prospects for Happ. Also, while I do not expect the Yankees to acquire Juan Soto, you can never say never until Ken Rosenthal, Jack Curry or Jeff Passan are reporting that he has been traded elsewhere. My take all along has been get a top starting pitcher and a lesser outfielder (than Soto). We have the outfielder, now we need the pitcher. If we get Soto too, great. I will run out to buy my new Soto Yankees jersey. If we do not, I am sorry, but we move on as we always have.

If Benintendi performs well in Pinstripes, I would like to see the Yankees try to bring him back this off-season when he hits free agency. The Yankees will be focused on re-signing Aaron Judge (as they should, as they must) and there are times it seems like the Yankees can only focus on one thing at a time so time will tell if Benny’s Yankee career can be measured in years or only in months. I wish him well and hope he succeeds as a New York Yankee.

Rotating relief pitchers. Ryan Weber has had an interesting Yankees career. Signed to a minor league contract, added to the Major League roster, designated for assignment, refusal of outright assignment, and re-signed to a new minor league contract. Rinse and repeat. He has now done this about three or four times. Shane Greene just completed his first cycle and is back with the RailRiders, along with Weber, on his second minor league contract. They await the next call, so does former Pittsburgh Pirates/Atlanta Braves reliever Richard Rodriguez.

Richard Rodriguez / Photo Credit:

It will be a surprise if the Yankees do not acquire a strong reliever between now and Tuesday. David Robertson seems to be the reliever most discussed which, of course, means it probably will not happen. It does seem like there is a better chance D-Rob winds up in Queens. Losing Michael King hurt, although I think Clarke Schmidt can step up and has already. Aroldis Chapman is pitching better, and I continue to have faith in an improved Jonathan Loaisiga. The Yankees need to quit rolling at Wandy Peralta at the end of games. It worked out last night but with a six-run lead, it was not exactly a pressurized moment. Wandy is better in the middle innings. Keep him there.

Aaron Judge, MVP. I seriously hope we are not watching the end of Aaron Judge’s Yankee career. It is bittersweet with every home run that this could be it for his time in New York. He is New York. He should be a Yankee for life, and he should be Captain of the New York Yankees. It would be beautiful to see the Yankees re-sign him to a long, mutually beneficial contract, with Hall of Famer and former Captain Derek Jeter performing a ceremony at home plate to anoint Judge as the team’s next Captain.

Aaron Judge w/Meredith Marakovits / Photo Credit:

When Judge hits the free agent market, if the San Francisco Giants were to offer Judge the same dollars and years as the Yankees, would he stay with his loyalty to the team or would he head home to the West Coast to play for the team he cheered as a child. The Yankee players who were fans as children always get attention. It would be tough seeing Giants fans capturing one of their own. I want Judge to stay. It will be devastating to watch him leave. Like anything, we would survive but it would be painful. I think if another team steals Judge away from the Yankees (and there are plenty of crazy owners who could do it), it would make an apparent inability to acquire Juan Soto that much more hurtful. While I get not giving up the players it would take to acquire Soto, the Yankees must keep Judge. Hal, please hear our words and loosen your death grip on your wallet.

Lastly, be kind to Joey Gallo. I am tired of the harsh words about Gallo. Lindsey Adler wrote a beautiful piece about Gallo in The Athletic this week, and I agree with her thoughts. Joey Gallo has worked hard to become a better player, but it has not worked out in New York. The team recognizes it, or they would not have acquired Andrew Benintendi. It is probable when the sun rises on Wednesday morning, Gallo is no longer a Yankee. I liked the guy and I genuinely wanted it to work. It did not work but you can never say it was not for the lack of trying. He wanted to succeed. Gallo is a good man, a great clubhouse influence, and a wonderful teammate. I am convinced he will thrive in a market without the heavy expectations of New York.

Joey Gallo / Photo Credit: @TheAthleticMLB on Twitter

I thank Joey for trying and wish him the best wherever he lands in the coming days.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, July 23, 2022

A King-Sized Loss for Yanks...


Michael King / Photo Credit: AP

Breakout Reliever may be lost for season…

The Yankees held on to beat the suddenly high-flying Baltimore Orioles, but the price was heavy. Yankees extremely dependable setup artist Michael King exited last night’s win in the bottom of the eighth inning due to elbow pain. Preliminary diagnosis is an elbow fracture which would cost King the remainder of his season.

Some fans on social media were immediately blaming the ineffective Aroldis Chapman who had given up a three-run homer in the preceding inning which made it a one-run game. King had entered the game after Anthony Santander’s crushing blow off Chapman and needed just seven pitches to record two outs to get the Yankees out of the inning. Injuries happen and it is unfair to place the blame on Chapman. As bad as Chapman was (and he really was), King’s injury is not his fault. As for Chapman, he seems so lost, and it gives doubt if he can ever be the elite reliever he once was or at least be like he was early this season. With King gone, the Yankees need Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga to step up. They cannot continue to, for the lack of a better word, suck. Wandy Peralta, good in his present role, is not a strong late inning option. Here we are, back to ‘Next Man Up’ after a mostly healthy first half (with no intended disrespect to Chad Green).

In thirty-four games, King’s ERA is 2.29 and he has a strikeout rate of 33.2% (11.65 K/9). His 1.7 fWAR is tied for second best among relievers with New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz, and just 0.1% behind the leader, St Louis Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley. King accumulated the second most innings among relievers with 51.0 innings, 2 1/3 innings behind leader Keegan Akin of Baltimore. King’s production will be missed and will be difficult to replace.

As for the game, the Yankees held on to win 7-6. Aaron Judge added two more home runs to his Major League leading total which now stands at 36. 

Aaron Judge / Photo Credit: AP

The unlikely homer was a solo shot to center in the top of the seventh inning by ‘typically an out’ Joey Gallo. The insurance run put the Yankees up, 7-3, and proved to be the difference-maker. Congrats to Gallo, but nothing has changed, his days in Pinstripes are numbered. Hopefully, the homer reminded a few teams that he might prosper away from New York.

The three Yankee pitchers that gave up runs in the game are three of the most troubling on the pitching staff. Not specifically isolated to last night’s game…just the continuation of ongoing ineffectiveness. Jameson Taillon started but was pulled in the third inning, with the bases loaded, after sixty-seven pitches. He allowed two runs and for a pitcher known for his control, he walked three batters. Jonathan Loaisiga was touched for a run for his one inning of work in the sixth, and of course, there was the continued struggles of Aroldis Chapman. He was only able to record one out in the seventh, giving up a single and a walk before Santander’s blast. He also had two wild pitches among the twenty throws. It is challenging to trust any of these guys. We desperately need 2021 Jonathan Loaisiga. He is probably the one I feel can and will get better. Chapman appears to be a lost cause, and Taillon continues his inconsistency. The Yankees needed a top starter without any consideration for Taillon, but he makes you wonder if they need two new starters. I would like to see Clarke Schmidt get his chance so if the Yankees are successful in acquiring either Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas, Schmidt can be the other guy unless you feel he is the first man up to help replace King. The next ten days should prove to be interesting. The talk had been centered on a starter and an outfielder, but suddenly the bullpen is an urgent need. Ian Happ and David Robertson would be a good start.

Ron Marinaccio is expected back this weekend so pardon the pun; he will be welcome relief.

Where’s Tom Brady when you need him? It was funny to see the Boston Red Sox pummeled by the Toronto Blue Jays in convincing fashion, a 28-5 rout at Fenway Park in front of the RSN faithful. They needed a few touchdowns to catch up. It is unfortunate for them that Tom Brady moved to Tampa. The first Jays run made no sense. Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi scooped an infield hit and went directly to first base, ignoring the runner on third base, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr, with only one out. Vlad Jr scored easily but would have been out if Eovaldi had thrown to the plate. It kind of set the tone for the rest of the game, which saw another Sox outfielder, Jarren Duran, lose sight of a fly ball which led to an inside-the-park grand slam. The memes of Duran and Alex Verdugo will be around for a while.

Jarren Duran / Source: Twitter

I was really hoping the Jays would score thirty runs. It was the worst Red Sox defeat since they lost to the Cleveland Indians, 27-3, in 1923. Former Yankee pitchers allowed seventeen of the twenty-eight runs. Eovaldi gave up nine runs in 2 2/3 innings, and former Yankees prospect Kaleb Ort gave up eight runs in just 2/3rds of an inning. Makes me wonder why the Yankees could not score a run when they had the bases loaded in two successive late innings during that Friday night loss to the Red Sox a week ago.

As fun as it was to see the Red Sox tarred and feathered, there is an uneasy feeling watching the Jays as juggernauts. Hopefully, this is just an aberration and not a continued trend in the second half.

The Red Sox are 48-46, 16 ½ games behind the Yankees.

The ESPN documentary, “The Captain,” has been quite enjoyable. Two episodes in, I have enjoyed the interviews and videos, and the chance to see Derek Jeter as we never saw him before. The images and audio only reinforce how great he was on and off the field. I liked his quote which I will paraphrase…I remember what you said, I remember when you said it, and I remember what you were wearing when you said it. It is unfortunate that he had a contentious relationship with the Yankees’ Front Office at times. This is probably what Aaron Judge is feeling today. I guess that is why the second episode was entitled, “Loyalty one way is stupidity.”

We all knew that Derek’s focus was winning championships. Maybe I underestimated how strong his preference was toward winning over personal statistics. You always think, sure, everyone wants to win, and some say it more than others. But Derek lived it, breathed it, and played like it. Impressive then, but even more so today when you reflect on it. Growing up, I remember thinking how tremendous it must have been to see Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio play. We were gifted to see Derek Jeter play.

Congratulations to Giancarlo Stanton, All-Star MVP. It was terrific to see Giancarlo Stanton win the MVP Award for this year’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles. I recognize that a case can made that either Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins or Toronto’s Alek Manoah were equally deserving of winning the award, but it was fun to see Stanton recognized on his home turf in Los Angeles. He grew up in the area, and his success brought recognition to his nearby high school, Notre Dame High School, in Sherman Oaks. As important as it was for Dodgers great Clayton Kershaw to start the game, LA-native Stanton winning MVP was on the same level.

The only negative? I felt sorry for the baseball that Giancarlo crushed. R.I.P.

Giancarlo Stanton, MVP

Trade rumors picking up. I think Juan Soto, 23, is a generational talent. He would be a tremendous Yankee. It is not often you can acquire an elite player at such an early age, with his best years yet to come. Yet, I have mixed feelings. The cost for Soto will be high, both in terms of players, prospects, and capital (if you intend to re-sign him). The player and prospects it would take would seemingly take the Yankees out of the market for a top starting pitcher.

Home Run Derby Champion Juan Soto / Photo Credit: Getty Images

So, what is better? Juan Soto to join elite outfielders Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, or potentially an elite starter to pair with Gerrit Cole with presumably enough to grab an outfield upgrade over Joey Gallo? I must side with the latter as much as I would love all. In the playoffs, great pitching beats great hitting. Luis Severino has pitched more than he has in the last few years and is presently on the Injured List, and I am a little concerned that the league is catching up to Nasty Nestor Cortes. Throw in Taillon’s struggles, and there is an urgent need for a top starter. Meanwhile, getting a lesser outfielder (whether it is Ian Happ, Andrew Benintendi, or David Peralta) improves the lineup. If Brian Cashman somehow manages to capture Soto and a top starter, God Bless him. I just do not see how he can do it. But then again, that is why they pay him to make those decisions and not me.

Time to go start watching the transactions wire…

As always, Go Yankees!


Saturday, July 16, 2022

Fasten Your Seatbelts for Turbulent Weather...


Ex-Yankee-to-be Joey Gallo / Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post

High-flying Yankees run into first extended slump of the season…

It was inevitable the Yankees would hit a rough patch over the course of the long season. The frustration is it happening when the Yankees are playing several series against the hated Boston Red Sox. Since they won the first two games of the four-game set in Boston last weekend, they dropped the subsequent two games, then lost two of three to the Cincinnati Reds at home, and blew a winnable game last night at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox. For a team that has found so many ways to win games this season, they are briefly finding new ways to lose.

Wild Pitch Lover Xander Bogaerts / Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images

The Yankees still have the best record in MLB; however, the gap is closing. The Yankees are 62-28, twelve games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the tough AL East. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros have picked up a couple games on the Yankees over the last ten games. They are 58-31 and lead their division by ten games. Based on ease of schedule, it seems more probable the Astros will finish with the best record in the AL and home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs. Seattle, at 49-42, is the only AL West team with a winning record. Meanwhile, in the AL East, every team is .500 or better.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who were previously in their own little mini funk, have won three consecutive games and nine of ten. They are 59-30 and certainly in range to overtake the Yankees for best record in Major League Baseball if the Yankees cannot snap out of this run of subpar play.

If GM Brian Cashman has any thoughts of standing pat at the Trading Deadline, he should think otherwise. Given his aggressiveness at the trading deadline last year when the Yankees were battling to get an opportunity to play a one-and-done Wild Card berth, you would think his aggressiveness would be on steroids this year with so much more at stake. It was exciting to watch Luis Castillo pitch at Yankee Stadium this week and think of what could be. I keep trying to temper my expectations to avoid disappointment. The fear is somebody will overpay. If Cashman can get Castillo at his price, it would be a beautiful thing, but the odds are against us. The Dodgers loom as a threat, particularly with a farm system ripe with attractive prospects. Tony Gonsolin, the Cat Man, has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers, but Walker Buehler is on the shelf, and the great Clayton Kershaw is a year older with a history of injuries in recent years. I fully expect the Dodgers to go hard after starting pitching over the next several weeks. For Castillo, if his hair is so valued to him, the Dodgers are more attractive if he wants his hair and a championship too.

Yankee-to-be? Luis Castillo / Photo Credit: Getty Images

It is a given that we are witnessing the final days of Joey Gallo’s pinstriped career. The boos last night typify the words you hear from fans, but even the professionals who follow the Yankees are voicing change. The sad part is the Yankees will not recoup what they lost in trading for Gallo last year, but at this point, that is a secondary concern. The Yankees need an outfielder who can make contact and help set the table for Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, and others. I keep saying that I like Joey Gallo, I do, but enough is enough, I would like him on another team. I am not in favor of simply designating him for assignment and subsequent release. There is value in the player, and I would like to see the Yankees recapture something for him, even if a lower-level prospect with promise.

Fans were laughing when Isiah Kiner-Falefa started off the season strong, and the big three free agents from last off-season started slowly. But it was only a matter of time until the proven superstars would surpass IKF. It seems like every time IKF makes an error, there is a highlight reel of Oswald Peraza going yard for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Peraza is reaching the point of not much more to prove at the Triple A level. It is becoming a matter of either trade him for an elite player like Luis Castillo or call him up to play shortstop. At worst, he will be as good as IKF, with the potential for so much more. I get the roster implications. To promote Peraza, another infielder must go. Matt Carpenter and Marwin Gonzalez are not going anywhere. Carpenter’s rejuvenated bat and Marwin’s versatility are too valuable. The weakest link is Josh Donaldson. DJ LeMahieu can be your everyday third baseman. IKF would move into the utility infielder role, and both Carpenter and Gonzalez can back up first base when necessary. The Yankees are stuck with paying Donaldson, but they should not let that deter them from moving him if necessary. To me, a left side of the infield with LeMahieu and Peraza is better than Donaldson and IKF. The Atlanta Braves are the defending World Series champions and making a strong run at the New York Mets in the NL East. It is due to injuries, yes, but they have a rookie in the outfield making significant contributions to their latest division charge (Michael Harris II), and their young catcher, Willson Contreras’ little bro, William, made the NL All-Star Team. I would not let Peraza’s inexperience prevent me from promoting him to a championship-caliber team. So, Cash, your call, play him or trade him.

Tyler Wade is back. It was funny how excited some fans got when they saw the Yankees had reacquired infielder Tyler Wade. Wade had recently been designated by the Los Angeles Angels, and when he cleared waivers (not claimed by any of the MLB teams), he was sent outright to Triple A. So, for the Yankees, it is just a minor-league depth move. It does not affect the Major League Roster. Injuries could bring him back, but he is not going to replace IKF. My first reaction to the Wade acquisition was ‘why?’ but I get the depth reasons. If Peraza is traded, help is needed at Triple A until Anthony Volpe gets there. If Wade gets the call to come back to the Bronx, it will mean something went horribly wrong (someone got hurt).

Shohei Ohtani & Ladies Man Tyler Wade / Photo Credit: USA Today

The truth is Wade is not better than any of the players on the current active roster. Nice problem to have. Here come the ‘Wade is better than Gallo’ comments. An apple to an orange comparison. I would not want Wade as my every day left fielder. Gallo, despite his offensive struggles, is fine defensively. You can make an argument that Miguel Andújar is better than Gallo and we see what that has gotten him. An extended stay in eastern Pennsylvania. But let’s not pick on Gallo. These are his final days. Welcome back to the organization, Tyler. Trying to recruit Aaron Judge to join the Orange County Losers next season did not quite work out for ya. Karma is a bitch.

Speaking of Miguel Andújar, it raised eyebrows when he was pulled from the RailRiders lineup yesterday. Turns out it was only a stiff neck, but everybody on social media seems to go on high trade alert when a player is removed from the starting lineup. The RailRiders, as it turns out, did not need Andújar. They cruised to a 9-0 win over the Louisville Bats behind a strong rehab performance by Domingo Germán. He went six innings, surrendering only three hits and one walk in the shutout win. 50 of 65 pitches were thrown for strikes, and according to Connor Foley, his fastball was 92-93 mph. I may not personally care for Germán, but the truth is he will be in the Yankees bullpen soon. With Luis Severino on the Injured List, he may see an occasional start.

Back to Andújar, he is like Peraza but for varied reasons. Play him or trade him. I get why you do not cut Joey Gallo now, but if the Yankees are unable to move him by the trading deadline, it would be time to cut bait. There is no reason that Andújar should not be on a Major League roster come August 2nd. He may not be the defensive outfielder that Gallo is, but at least he would give you at-bats to cheer for rather than the current automatic outs we routinely see from left field (or right) when Gallo is starting. I am hoping for better than Andújar but either way, he needs to be playing in the Major Leagues, here or elsewhere.

Miguel Andújar & Aaron Boone

The Yankees have enjoyed good health this season, and it has been a strong reason for their great start. But alas, all good things must end. Luis Severino’s placement on the Injured List felt inevitable. Given how few innings he pitched from 2019 to 2021, it seemed like this year’s load would be too much. When he was removed from a game with shoulder tightness this week, there was cause for concern. Fortunately, it turned out to be minor (a low grade lat strain which requires two-to-three-week recovery). To look at this positively, rest for Severino is a blessing. The Yankees need him in October so he should be managed with care. It also reinforces why the Yankees need to grab another frontline starter.

Luis Severino & Teammates / Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Miguel Castro also appears to be headed to the Injured List. He had an MRI on his right shoulder yesterday, and it is likely he will be placed on the IL this weekend. It could be the door opening for Domingo Germán. I keep forgetting the RailRiders have Shane Greene. It is possible the former Detroit Tigers closer could make his return to the Yankees roster over Germán if the Yankees can open a roster spot. Hard to believe that Greene is 33 years old. He was a young Yankees pitcher involved in the 2014 three-way trade with the Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks that brought Didi Gregorius to the Bronx.

Josh Donaldson has a split nail on his right index finger. I am not a doctor, but I think he will survive.

Lastly, I am glad to see the return of Old Timer’s Day to Yankee Stadium even if the white-haired legends and former Yankees will not play a game. I have always enjoyed the legendary roll call more than the actual game itself. I probably have not enjoyed the games since Bobby Murcer passed. I loved listening to him when he was mic’d up for the YES Network while playing in the outfield. July 12th was the fourteenth anniversary of Murcer’s death. Hard to believe he has been gone that long. His last Old Timer’s Day was 2007. I am happy to see his widow, Kay, has been invited to this year’s festivities.

The late Great Bobby Murcer / Photo Credit: KEIVOM/NY Daily News

The current scheduled list of attendees (subject to change) features: Jesse Barfield, Ron Blomberg, Aaron Boone, Homer Bush, Rick Cerone, Chris Chambliss, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Brian Doyle, John Flaherty, Joan Ford (wife of Whitey Ford), Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Jill Martin (wife of Billy Martin), Tino Martinez, Hensley Meulens, Gene Monahan, Diana Munson (wife of Thurman Munson), Kay Murcer (wife of Bobby Murcer), Jeff Nelson, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Mariano Rivera, Mickey Rivers, Luis Sojo, Shane Spencer, Roy White and Bernie Williams.

It will be fantastic to see all these people at Yankee Stadium (even if Boone and Meulens must be there anyway). No doubt Mariano Rivera should close the ceremonies.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Matty Moustache Goes Yard...


Matt Carpenter

Former Card rejuvenated in New York…

Matt Carpenter, thought to be on the fast track to retirement in his final years with the St Louis Cardinals, has been a brilliant discovery by GM Brian Cashman and his horde of analytical gurus. “Carpenstache,” as Daniel Burch of The Greedy Pinstripes likes to call him, has hit more home runs for the Yankees in 2022 than he did the past two seasons combined for the Cardinals.

In his final season with St Louis, his batting line was a dreadful .169/.305/.275, with .269 wOBA and 70 wRC+. His fWAR was -0.3. He appeared in 130 games, limited to only 249 plate appearances. His Cardinals career ended last November when the team declined his option, making Carpenter a free agent. Reading some comments made by Cardinal fans at the time of his departure, these words seemed to sum up the thoughts of many: “It is pathetic that he didn’t retire after last season and offered to work with younger players for the ridiculous money he was paid. Can’t imagine anyone picking him up for 2022.”

Well, a team did pick him up. The Texas Rangers signed Carpenter, now 36 years old, to a minor league contract on March 20th. He did not make the Rangers’ Opening Day lineup and was languishing in Triple-A Round Rock, Texas when the Rangers released him on May 19th. A week later, the Yankees surprisingly signed him to a Major League contract, and we know the rest of the story.

We should be under no illusion that Matt Carpenter is an everyday player. At this stage of his career, he is not. Give him three games a week, and he can show the player he used to be. As the Toby Keith song goes, “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” It is hard to believe, even now, that Carpenter’s production is sustainable. In twenty-four games (70 plate appearances), Carpenter has nine home runs and has driven in twenty runs. His batting line is .305/.406/.814, with .499 wOBA and 236 wRC+. His fWAR is +1.3. We should enjoy the ride. For Carpenter, it is no doubt his ride into the sunset. We hope he takes a Yankees World Series championship with him.

Carpenter was born in Galveston, Texas, and attended Elkins High School in Missouri City, Texas where his father, Rick, was a baseball coach. His high school teammates included former Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman James Loney. Interesting that Carpenter’s path, in college, crossed with former Minnesota Twins star Torii Hunter. Hunter is known to have had a huge influence on Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks during their time together in Minnesota. During his junior year at Texas Christian University, Carpenter was rehabbing in Prosper, Texas where his father was then coaching and met Hunter who had recently moved to Prosper. They met through Torii’s son who was playing high school ball for Rick Carpenter. Hunter invited Carpenter to train with him and even covered his gym membership to make it happen. It was a turning point in Carpenter’s baseball career that led to a College World Series appearance, and he was chosen in the 13th round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Cardinals.

I am glad Carpenter is a Yankee. However, it should not stop the Yankees from getting reinforcements at the trading deadline. It has been a terrific Cinderella story for Matty Moustache, but the slipper could fall off if he is exposed with too much play. Pick his spots and let him hit. The magic of the 2022 season continues.

It seems highly probable the Yankees will have a new outfielder over the next three weeks. I routinely say it, but I like Joey Gallo. He has a fun personality, and he meshes well with his Yankees teammates. I do not get the demands by fans for his release. While he has not hit in New York, he has value. The Yankees are 61-23 and hold a 15 ½ game lead…that is FIFTEEN AND A HALF games…over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays, last year’s AL East champions. There is no urgency to dismiss Gallo. 

Joey Gallo / Photo Credit: Adam Hunger, AP

I recognize these are his final days. Even if he somehow manages to survive the trading deadline, there is no way the Yankees re-sign him in the off-season. While I like Gallo, I know his spot is the one that must be upgraded. Even if he went on a home run binge over the next week or two, it would not change my mind. I do not feel his bat will play in October when he is facing elite starting pitchers and that is what really matters. So, trade Gallo for what you can get, and seek help elsewhere.

It seems most fans prefer Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs. The cost will be high since he is under control through next season. There is no doubt he would look good at Yankee Stadium. He is only twenty-seven, still improving, and can bat from both sides of the plate. I like Happ. My only concern is the potential cost. If the Yankees included Everson Pereira in a trade for Happ, it would give the Cubs two top Yankees outfield prospects in the past year. The other is Kevin Alcantara who was part of the trade last July that brought first baseman Anthony Rizzo to New York. The Yankees will lose quality prospects in the next few weeks if they intend to strengthen areas of need. Honestly, if it does not involve Anthony Volpe or Jasson Dominguez, no prospect should be off the table depending upon the return. You do not give up an Oswald Peraza for some aging outfielder who might help. For Happ? A difficult decision but one you must consider. I personally see Peraza as the Yankees starting shortstop by September but if he must go, make sure the return is worth it. Championships are forever.

I continue to like Kansas City’s Andrew Benintendi. He may not be the hitter that Happ is, but he will be cheaper since he is an impending free agent. He is an upgrade over Joey Gallo. He showed so much promise with Boston when he first came up (hitting 20 home runs and 90 RBIs in 2017). He was a pesky hitter, and I would like to see what hitting coach Dillon Lawson and his team could do to bring out the best of Benintendi. It seems like if he does not come to New York, he will go to Toronto. I guess we will find out in a few weeks.

David Peralta’s name has been mentioned, but it is hard for me to get excited about the Arizona Diamondback outfielder. I know, he is left-handed, but he is also 34. The age alone is not reason to pass on him and maybe he can help, but I prefer either Happ or Benintendi.

Aaron Judge’s recent soreness that caused him to miss a couple of games makes you think center field should be a priority over left field so that Judge can return to right. Everyone would LOVE Brian Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I try to temper any excitement for him because the Pirates, if they move him, will ask for a King’s Ransom…as they should. Reynolds is under team control through the 2025 season and would be a long-term solution for center field. I would be tremendously excited if the Yankees acquired Reynolds, and seriously, no prospect can be off the table for those trade discussions. The realist in me recognizes that Reynolds to the Yankees is a pipedream, but the fan in me salivates over the possibility.

We shall soon see. August 2nd is approaching rapidly.

How do you spell relief? For the Yankees, the names of Jonathan Loaisiga, Domingo German, Zack Britton, and Richard Rodriguez seem to be the reinforcements looming on the horizon. It seems less likely the Yankees will pursue outside help. Given their ability to uncover Clay Holmes, there is part of me that wants them to capture the next Clay Holmes.

Richard Rodriguez

Unfortunately, there are only so many spots on a 40-man roster. Counts fingers, yes, forty spots. If the Yankees can upgrade the outfield and bring in a potential starter to help reinforce the rotation, I think the Yankees can maintain a dominant bullpen with the guys they have. It is easy to say the Yankees have Clarke Schmidt and JP Sears as rotation support, but the recent wobbles of Nasty Nestor Cortes, Jr and Jameson Taillon show more might be needed. Luis Severino has been a stud, but he has not pitched much the last few years. At some point, it might make more sense to move him back into the bullpen for the rest of the year depending upon where he is with his season total innings-pitched count.

Luis Castillo always seems to be the pitcher most routinely connected to the Yankees. I am fearful of the cost, especially if the Yankees pay high for an outfielder. I keep hearing that the Reds want Anthony Volpe and that is not a trade I would make. There are other pitchers who might help as much as Castillo could, so I trust Team Cashman to find the right arm.

The budding Yankees All-Star Tree. After Aaron Judge captured the most ballot votes which ensured his placement as a starter in the 2022 All-Star Game, he was joined by newly selected outfield starter Giancarlo Stanton who beat out Toronto’s George Springer. Congratulations to Giancarlo! He gets a hometown trip to Los Angeles and will play in front of family and friends at Dodger Stadium later this month. 

All-Star Giancarlo Stanton

They will be joined in the AL Outfield by Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels (queue the Angels jokes).

The Yankees will get more All-Stars when the pitchers are announced. If Clay Holmes does not get selected, it will be the biggest snub I have seen in my years of following Major League Baseball. He is the most dominant reliever in MLB today. I felt stronger about Nasty Nestor’s selection a few weeks ago so if he does not make it, I will understand. Gerrit Cole should get a chance to visit his sunny Southern California home turf. Michael King is another worthy candidate, but setup men generally do not get the love.

Lastly, a hat tip to Yankees manager Aaron Boone. After last season, so many Yankee fans were ready for a managerial switch and there was sadness in the Yankees Universe when the Yankees signed Boone to a new contract. I was critical of Boone and thought the Yankees could do better. Yet here we are on July 9th, 2022. The Yankees have won sixty-one of their first eight-four games. When does Boonie get credit for the team’s success? I know, he does not hit, he does not field, he does not pitch. Yet, his steady influence and support of his players has been invaluable this season. He has made the right calls. He continues to get better as a manager every year. He is the right man at the right time.

Manager of the Year Aaron Boone / Photo Credit: Mitchell Layton, Getty Images

I was listening to Bret Boone’s podcast this week. His guest was his youngest brother Matt. At the end of the conversation, Bret asked Matt a few rapid-fire questions. One was who he thought was the most intelligent among the three Boone brothers. Without hesitation and despite being on Bret’s show, Matt immediately responded with “Aaron!”

I was wrong about Boone last season. I am glad he is manager of the New York Yankees. I supported his choice when he was hired and despite the bumpy road at times, he has persevered to become a true leader of men. I am sure he still has plenty of critics. No one can ever agree it seems. But for me, I am happy, and I love every minute of the 2022 New York Yankees and its contributors.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Let the Wins Continue...


Houston’s tough, but Yankees march on…

I really wanted a victory in Houston, Texas on Thursday night. The Yankees’ 2-1 loss to the Astros ultimately means nothing other than a rare loss for the Yankees. Yet, a win would have left better feelings, for Yankees fans, until the two teams renew their rivalry in an isolated doubleheader in Houston on Thursday, July 21st, the first day back from the All-Star break.

The Yankees need to figure out the Astros. The two teams are evenly matched talent-wise, but the Yankees must match Houston’s confidence in winning the games. The Astros play like they know they are going to win the games from the first pitch. It does not mean the Yankees do not have the same mentality, but they do not outwardly show the same confidence. Winning a couple of games in few weeks at Minute Maid Park would give a huge boost to the team’s confidence and better prepare the Yankees for the destined collision with the Astros in the playoffs.

Thanks to last night’s rainout in Cleveland, Ohio, we had to sit on the Astros loss an extra night. Today is a good day to erase the negative feelings and start a new winning streak. A day/night doubleheader features Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes Jr. The Guardians trail the Minnesota Twins by only a game and a half in the AL Central, winning three of five games against the Twins this week. The five wins included two walk-offs against the beleaguered Twins bullpen, so the Guardians enter the Yankees series with some momentum.

Earlier today, the Guardians called up LHP Kirk McCarty as their 27th man for the doubleheader and he will get the start against Gerrit Cole. RHP Aaron Civale (2-4, 7.20 ERA) gets the nod for the nightcap tangle with Nasty Nestor. While it looks like advantage Yankees, they still must play these games. Hoping that Nestor’s recent bumpy stretch has subsided, and Cole gets some run (hit) support.

Gerrit Cole / Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin, NY Post

Every day that does not feature Joey Gallo in the lineup is a good day. There was a time when I thought Joey Gallo was the better option to retain over Aaron Hicks, but the tide has turned. Like many (most?) Yankee fans, I am done with Gallo. It sucks because I like the guy and he has a terrific personality that fits well in the Yankees clubhouse, but the at-bats have become too painful and too predictable. For a team with World Series ambitions, there cannot be an automatic out in the batting order. Hits and runs will get harder in October when the Yankees are facing the opponent’s best pitchers. Giving away at-bats is unacceptable.

Future ex-Yankee Joey Gallo / Photo Credit: AP

This is where I disagree with many Yankee fans. I routinely see fans post that Gallo should simply be cut. I get the calls for the talent in Triple A (namely Estevan Florial and Miguel Andujar), but this is a business and there is value for a player like Gallo whether you believe it or not. He has proven unsuccessful on the BIG stage but that does not mean he cannot prosper under a smaller microscope like he did in Texas. I bet Gallo could go somewhere like Pittsburgh and resume his barrage of bombs. The Yankees will not recapture the level of talent they gave up acquiring Gallo (Trevor Hauver, Ezequiel Duran, Glenn Otto, and Josh Smith…the Yankees also received Joely Rodriguez who was flipped for Miguel Castro earlier this year), but they can get something. Yankees fill-in starter JP Sears was once part of the return for an insignificant reliever, Nick Rumbelow. Gallo can fetch some lottery chips for the future and the receiving team could get an extraordinarily strong return on their investment. Sonny Gray is a recent example of a player who can thrive away from the bright lights of New York, but he is hardly the first or the last player.

Cutting Gallo makes no sense to me despite my desire to see him on the bench. I look at these days as his final days in pinstripes. The end is coming soon, and hopefully GM Brian Cashman can get player(s) that will help in a few years. The Yankees are 56-21 and have a 12-game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East and have the AL’s best record by 6 ½ games. There is no urgency to drop Gallo. Better to hold onto him slightly longer and try to get something for him. I wish Gallo no ill will and I hope he does find success at his next destination, but he is welcome to continue whiffing at pitches when he plays the Yankees.

Aroldis Chapman is back and not the Yankees Closer. A couple of weeks ago, Manager Aaron Boone seemed to imply Chapman would be restored as the team’s closer or at the very least share the role with super Closer Clay Holmes, but when Chapman was activated yesterday, Boone stated that Holmes would remain the Closer. This is welcome news. I expect Chapman to be better than he was in late May and hopefully he has improved his mechanics while he has been away.

Former Closer Aroldis Chapman / Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images

Holmes has been such welcome relief (pun intended) in closing games for the Yankees. Nobody’s perfect, but Holmes has been tremendous. I bet the Los Angeles Dodgers would love to have a Clay Holmes closing games for them. Many (all?) teams would. Seemingly, Chapman is done as a Yankee when his contract expires at the end of the season. It appears improbable they will re-sign him. He has been a great closer for the Yankees, with a fan base that was heavily spoiled by the legendary, unanimous Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera. But it is time for the changing of the guard. So, I am glad the decision to deploy Chapman in the best situations over the end of games has been made. Choose your spots. I will miss Chappy’s stare at the end of games, but I am sure there will be a few of those mixed in along the way. I can see Chapman being more effective under the new plan while representing insurance if, heaven forbid, something where to happen to Holmes. With his declining velocity, I hope Chapman figures it out and thrives in his new role. There is no reason he cannot be part of a World Series celebration.

I thought Ryan Weber, called up when the Yankees returned JP Sears to the minors, would be the casualty for Chapman’s activation, but he lives to see another day. Miguel Castro was placed on parental leave which has bought Weber a little more time.

Congratulations to Aaron Judge! As the top vote-getter in Phase 1 of this year’s All-Star Voting, Judge gets an automatic start in the Midsummer Classic, which will be held on July 19th at Dodger Stadium. Judge, with 3,762,498 votes, surpassed the second highest vote-getter, Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr, by 259,310 votes.

Future Mega-Millionaire Aaron Judge

Hal Steinbrenner must be feeling the continued squeeze on his wallet.  While I think Judge should remain a Yankee for life, I am, admittedly, concerned that an impulsive owner will throw excessive sums of money at the California native and impending free agent. As much as I am looking forward to October, I am not ready for the days following the World Series. It will not be fun when Judge is visiting other teams and getting their sales pitches. Hopefully, the road leads back to Yankee Stadium. For now, we can enjoy the terrific season Judge is enjoying and we will watch his heroics in Chavez Ravine in a couple of weeks. A Judge-led World Series championship would be the ultimate prize.

Jose Trevino and Giancarlo Stanton are All-Star Ballot finalists, and they will enter Phase 2 of the voting process. I am so excited for Trevino. Starting the year, he was a backup catcher for the Texas Rangers, a team that gave him a vote of (no) confidence by acquiring starting catcher Mitch Garver from the Minnesota Twins. Ben Rohrvedt’s injury gave him an opportunity in New York, and he has thrived with his new team. With superior framing skills and the occasional damage with the bat, he has been the perfect antidote for the team that once featured Gary Sanchez as its starting catcher. Not trying to diss on Sanchez because I thought he did work hard (and wanted him to succeed as a Yankee), but Trevino is a much better fit for the team.

Once the All-Star pitching selections have been made, there should be a large Yankees group making the trip to sunny Southern CA. No doubt Orange County, CA native Gerrit Cole will be making the trip home, accompanied by his Closer, Clayton Walter Holmes. I could be mistaken but I have heard that guys named Clayton tend to do well at Dodger Stadium.

Shortstop of the Present? While I think Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been fine as the stopgap shortstop for the Yankees, the approaching second half of the season brings us closer to Peraza-Time. I would love to see what Peraza could do with some regular playing time at the big-league level. At worst, he would be IKF, but it is the upside that is tantalizing for me. He can improve the team and he is nearly ready to try.

Oswald Peraza / Photo Credit: Mike Carlson, MLB Photos via Getty Images

Shout-out to Brad Johnson 2 of MLB Trade Rumors for this piece yesterday:

Oswald Peraza, 22, SS, NYY (AAA)

249 PA, 9 HR, 16 SB, .240/.309/.404

There’s a certain tyranny to developmental expectations these days. Peraza razed High-A in 2021 then performed well-enough in Double-A to earn a brief call-up to Triple-A. The Yankees returned him to Triple-A at the start of this season, but it might have been more appropriate to continue his development in Double-A. His plate approach could use refinement. He appears to have the raw tools and judgment to be disciplined but instead errs on the side of aggression. His swing is balanced and covers the zone well, especially low-to-high. I perceive some potential for big league pitchers to successfully nibble the outer edge against him, but that’s just me editorializing. I haven’t seen that mentioned in any scouting reports.

Peraza has a high-floor approach as a defensively capable shortstop with sufficient contact skills to keep his head above water. He’s also on the 40-man roster and might be the only plausible option to fill in if Gleyber Torres or Isiah Kiner-Falefa ever need an extended absence.

If there are flaws that big league pitchers can expose, I am confident Peraza will learn to adjust. He is a talented player who could call ‘Yankees shortstop’ his job for an extended run. I am ready for the Peraza experiment…along with an outfield replacement for Joey Gallo.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend...

As always, Go Yankees!