Saturday, October 8, 2022

Aaron Judge, MVP...


Aaron Judge / Photo Credit: LM Otero, AP

Judge homers his way to the record books…

It has been a few days, but I would like to express my gratitude that Aaron Judge was able to hit his 62nd home run in the regular season’s final series in Texas. Admittedly, I had begun to have thoughts Judge would conclude the 2022 season in a tie with Roger Maris for the American League and Yankees franchise home run record. It has been an incredible season for Judge, and the ultimate ‘betting on yourself’ event we have witnessed in Sports in recent memory.

There is sadness Judge will be free to sign with any team in a few weeks. Like Derek Jeter, Judge’s best legacy is to remain in Pinstripes as the team’s next Captain. The thought of him in Boston, Queens or San Francisco is horrific. Hopefully, the Yankees can reach an agreement on a contract with Judge shortly after the season and bring back the team’s best player for the 2023 season and beyond.

I do not understand those who bash Judge and try to belittle his accomplishments by trying to empathize that his home run total fell short of the MLB mark by eleven home runs. I personally never took the approach that Judge’s total represented MLB’s best. I recognize Barry Bonds as the MLB single season record holder with 73 home runs. Or that Mark McGwire held the mark before him, and Sammy Sosa had a few dinger seasons in the sixties. The difference and great distinction about Judge’s accomplishments is that he did it cleanly, without the assistance of performance-enhancing drugs. The home runs by Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa will always be tainted by their involvement with steroids. I would have liked to have seen what Bonds could have accomplished without the drug-induced assistance. In his younger days, I always marveled at his tremendous hand/eye coordination, and I believe he would have/could have been great without the PEDs. Sadly, we will never know. Nevertheless, Bonds holds the MLB record so we can only look suspiciously at his numbers.

Setting everything aside, celebrate Aaron Judge for having one of the most historic seasons in Yankees history. To walk among Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Roger Maris, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and others is truly special and assures Judge will always be remembered for his Pinstriped accomplishments regardless of what the future may hold.

For everyone who believes that Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels should be the AL MVP, there is no denying he is a special talent. His elite performance as both a pitcher and hitter is unlike anything we have ever seen. But despite his greatness, the Angels finished third place in the AL West, thirty-three games behind the division champion Houston Astros. They were thirteen games behind the last Wild Card team, the Tampa Bay Rays. Judge’s performance lifted his team to the AL East championship, and a bye for the first round of the playoffs. It was an incredible year for Judge who was the most valuable in leading his team. Maybe they should create a new award for two-way guys like Ohtani to recognize his greatness, but this season belongs to Aaron Judge.

Cheers to the apparent 2022 AL Most Valuable Player!

Aaron Judge and wife, Samantha Bracksieck / Photo Credit: Getty/Gotham

The Yankees will soon announce (or set) the 2022 ALDS roster. I have never really found the need to predict a roster. Those decisions will be made by Yankees leadership, and they have far greater insight than any of us. Therefore, I will roll out the projected roster presented by Yankees beat writer Kristie Ackert in this morning’s New York Daily News (for no other reason than it is a reasonable representation of what to expect).


Jose Trevino, Kyle Higashioka

No surprises here.


Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson, DJ LeMahieu, Oswald Peraza

LeMahieu scares me. If his toe is still bothering him, he is a liability on the roster. Hopefully, he is better even if he was uninspiring during his late season return. I would be happy to see the young Peraza make the roster. We know IKF’s yips can be damaging at times, and there are situations I would feel much better with the steady glove of Peraza at short. Assuming he is not traded in the offseason, Peraza will fill a much larger role for the Yankees next season, and the experience he is gaining this October is invaluable.


Aaron Judge, Harrison Bader, Oswaldo Cabrera, Tim Locastro

It is funny how a player who was in the minor leagues (and more notably “not” an outfielder) when the season began is now a huge part of the outfield crew. Testament to the athleticism, energy, and commitment to excellence demonstrated by Cabrera who has made himself indispensable to this team. He has been a revelation and has forced the Yankees to make room for him on the big-league roster for the years to come. The surprise here is clearly the omission of the much-maligned Aaron Hicks. The Yankees need speed which makes Locastro the better option, and of course with Bader and Cabrera, there is no longer a starting role for Hicks. I hope the Yankees have the same vision as Kristie with the outfield.


Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Carpenter

I am happy to see the return of Matty Mustache, but the challenge will be to find playing time for both him and Stanton in the same lineup. Stanton was starting to heat up as the regular season winded down, and he is capable to carrying the team to greater heights so he must play. Carpenter’s continued recovery from the fractured foot makes him an unlikely prospect for the outfield. So, it seems he will be the pinch hitter extraordinaire. Maybe he can have one (or more) of those Kirk Gibson-like moments.


Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino, James Taillon

Although Cole goes into the ALDS as the likely Game 1 starter, there is no question (in my mind) that Nestor Cortes, Jr is the best starter on the staff. Those are words I never thought I would type. Yet here we are. On the bright side, if Cole falters in Game 1 like Max Scherzer of the Mets did last night, Cortes is ready to pick him up in Game 2. Funny that I have greater trust and confidence in the Game 2 and 3 starters (Cortes and Luis Severino). Maybe Cole can finally have his Yankees signature moment to propel himself to October success. I hope so. Masahiro Tanaka always seemed to elevate his play when the stakes were higher. For the record, I wanted the Yankees to trade for Frankie Montas at the trading deadline after they lost out on Luis Castillo over someone like Jose Quintana, however, watching Quintana shove yesterday showed that, at least for this season, Quintana would have been the better (and cheaper) option. As the saying goes, Hindsight is 20/20.


Domingo German, Clarke Schmidt, Lou Trivino, Scott Effross, Jonathan Loaisiga, Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, Lucas Luetge

I support a decision to exclude Aroldis Chapman. He was my favorite DFA candidate toward the end of the regular season. He has served his time in Pinstripes and the end is near. There is no way the Yankees re-sign him when he hits free agency in a few weeks. It was a rapid fall from one of the best closers in the game to an in-game liability. There is no trust with Chapman, and his presence on the roster would only reinforce the possibility of a meltdown like one experienced by Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley in yesterday’s loss to the Phillies when he gave up four runs to blow a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning. I wish I had greater confidence in Holmes, but I do not. I miss first-half Holmes. The Guardians showed the value of a lockdown closer yesterday with Emmanuel Clase saving the impressive performance by Shane Bieber to beat the Rays by one run. There is not one pitcher in the Yankees bullpen that one can say is “lockdown.” There is potential with a couple of them, but there is also the potential for disaster. I hope the pen does not become the team’s Achilles Heel in the days ahead.


Aaron Boone

Dammit! Okay, I am just kidding on this last one. Boonie has a chance to change perceptions in the coming days…or not. His moves will be openly criticized by the fan base. If he is right, he will be legend. If he is wrong, he will hear boos that have not been heard since Joey Gallo. With the Yankees fan base, there is nothing in between. Total success or into the depths of hell with defeat. No pressure, Boonie. There may be days I have felt the Yankees would be better under the leadership of a different manager, but not right here, right now. Boone has the respect of his clubhouse, and he has a chance to lead his team beyond the ALDS. He needs our support. We can reevaluate after the season.

Aarons Boone and Judge / Photo Credit: Jason Getz, USA TODAY Sports

I am hopeful that Andrew Benintendi will be ready for the ALCS if the Yankees make it, but first things first. The Guardians can book their travel for New York if they beat the Rays today. Triston McKenzie gets the call for the Guardians and will be opposed by Tyler Glasnow. It should be another great pitching performance by both sides like yesterday’s 2-1 game. Whether it is the Guardians or Rays, the Yankees will have a challenge in the ALDS. Can they succeed? They have the talent, and I am certainly hopeful, but the games must be played on the field so time will tell. For now, we wait.

Tired of Wading. Tyler Wade left the Yankees organization again but this time without a whimper. He did not make any appearances on the active big-league roster for his second go-around in the organization. I believe he may have traveled with the team once as an emergency player but was never activated. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders announced Thursday that Wade elected free agency.

I bet he watched Oswaldo Cabrera thrive in the Bronx and wondered what could have been for him if he had been able to succeed with his limited opportunities. Oh well, I wish him the best for his next destination and hope it proves more fruitful for him than his time this season with his hometown Angels and the reunion with the Yankees’ farm system.

Tyler Wade / Photo Credit: Christopher Dolan, The Citizen's Voice

As always, Go Yankees!