Saturday, October 15, 2022

Headed to Cleveland in Search of Wins...


Aaron Boone / Photo Credit: Seth Wenig, AP

Momentum favors the Game 3 Winner…

And then they were tied… So much for home field advantage. The New York Yankees lost ALDS Game 2, disappointingly and with way too many men left on base (eleven), as the Cleveland Guardians tied the series at one game apiece with the 4-2 victory.

Whether you believe bringing Jameson Taillon into the game in the tenth inning was right or wrong, he was not the reason the Yankees lost the game. I really thought the stage was set in the eighth inning when Giancarlo Stanton walked, and the Yankees inserted Tim Locastro to run for Stanton. A stolen base by Locastro, and subsequent walks of Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa sandwiched around a strikeout by Oswaldo Cabrera had the bases loaded with two outs. Kyle Higashioka had the opportunity to be the star of the show (really wanted Spring Training Higgy in that moment), but he lined out to end the threat.

I get the decision to pull Stanton for the speedy Locastro in that situation, but Manager Aaron Boone’s decision to allow Locastro to bat against Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase in the bottom of the tenth, trailing by two runs, was a bonehead move. As much as I have been down on Aaron Hicks, this was the time I would have preferred Hicks to take the swings against Clase. Not one of Boone’s finer moments. It felt like a ‘tossing in the towel’ moment.

Oh well, the Yankees need to regroup quickly for Game 3 in Cleveland later today. The Yankees need to win at least one of the two games in Cleveland to get the series back to Yankee Stadium for a potential Game 5, but I would prefer a sweep in Cleveland to end it there. A sweep by the Yankees, not the Guardians, as if I needed to say that.

Friday was not a good day for any of the favorites. Both NL’s remaining 100+ win teams lost. The defending champions, the Atlanta Braves, were hammered by newly named permanent manager Rob Thomson’s Philadelphia Phillies, 9-1, and the Los Angeles Dodgers (who won 110 games in the regular season) lost a close one to the San Diego Padres, 2-1. Their circumstances are more dire than the Yankees as both of those teams trail their respective series, two games to one. The Phillies and Padres could advance to the NLCS today with victories. For the Dodgers, it would be 110 wins and all they got was this lousy t-shirt.

Hopefully, the Yankees can win today so they do not have their proverbial backs to the wall. Luis Severino is on the mound, but he will face Cleveland’s outstanding young Triston McKenzie. It does not seem like there will be very many runs scored today. If the Yankees can cross the plate more times than the Guardians, all will be good in the Yankees Universe. A loss will most certainly send anxiety through the fanbase.

The booing of Aaron Judge does not help. I realize some fans may be frustrated with Aaron Judge. Seven strikeouts in eight plate appearances can lead to nicknames like Mr. May, but after Judge’s season, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. I would rather take my chances with than without Judge. If anything, Judge needs our support and our belief that he can produce when the stakes are the highest. The boos at Yankee Stadium and the rips on social media serve no purpose. If you want to create an environment where Judge feels he might be better appreciated in other markets and fan bases, keep it up. We need Judge today, tomorrow, and next year.

Aaron Judge / Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

As for Judge’s pending free agency, Jon Heyman of The New York Post polled four agents this week, and they predicted Judge’s next contract will be:

  • $350 million, $400 million maximum.
  • $315 million to $360 million.
  • Eight x $37.5 million for $300 million.
  • $300 million ($277 million with deferrals).

I do think the contract will be north of $300 million but the question will be how high the Yankees will go. I cannot say I am overly confident the Yankees will retain Judge. They need him, he needs the Yankees, and I do believe that his legacy would be the strongest by staying in Pinstripes. Somehow, the thought of Judge playing in San Francisco with games playing when most of the East Coast is headed for bed will leave him as an afterthought in the minds of many. Judge’s value to the Yankees cannot be underestimated. I hope the Yankees ensure he remains a Yankee and he becomes the next Captain. The NFL has the franchise tag they can place on pending free agent superstars. The MLB may not have one, but it is clear Aaron Judge is the franchise player for the current New York Yankees and deserves to be paid like it. I am excited about the Yankees playing October baseball, but it is hard to deny the sickening feeling that these may be Judge’s final days wearing baseball’s greatest uniform.

Hal, pay the man.

Better news on the injured front. It is premature to think about the ALCS since the Yankees need to win the ALDS first, but it was promising to hear Aaron Boone say Andrew Benintendi, Frankie Montas and Ron Marinaccio will be working out in Tampa under live game conditions to prepare their potential readiness for the next round.

A healthy, producing Benintendi may have been the difference-maker in yesterday’s game. Watching Matt Carpenter strike out in his pinch-hit appearance yesterday shows that return does not always result in immediate success, but I am hopeful Benny can help next round if the Yankees make it. I know Oswaldo Cabrera has done a superb job, but I would rather see the Yankees re-sign Benintendi to play left field next season and use Cabrera in the super-utility role. But I digress, I think Benny can help this year if he is given the opportunity.

Andrew Benintendi / Photo Credit: Sarah Stier, Getty Images

I am indifferent about Montas. He will not start, and I am not certain how effective he can be as a reliever. He seems like a ‘better luck next year’ candidate.

The Yankees need a healthy Marinaccio. Using starters in unfamiliar relief roles underscores the current state of the Yankees pen. Getting back one of their best relievers would be huge for the Yankees in the next round…if they make it.

Hall of Fame Closer passes away. I was saddened to hear the news of Bruce Sutter’s passing yesterday, While Sutter, 69, is probably best remembered for helping the St Louis Cardinals win the World Series forty years ago, I will always think of him as a Chicago Cub. Growing up in the Midwest in the 70’s meant watching a lot of Cubs games on TV, and Sutter stood out with his split-fingered fastballs.

Bruce Sutter

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred issued the following statement: “I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Bruce Sutter, whose career was an incredible baseball success story. Bruce ascended from being a nondrafted free agent to the heights of baseball by pioneering the split-fingered fastball. The pitch not only led him to the Major Leagues, but also made him a Cy Young Award winner with the Cubs and a World Series champion with the 1982 Cardinals. …Bruce will be remembered as one of the best pitchers in the histories of two of our most historic franchises. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my condolences to Bruce’s family, his friends and his fans in Chicago, St. Louis, and Atlanta and throughout our game.”

Sutter always makes me think of the late Bobby Murcer since both were my favorite Cubs on those late 1970s teams. Not sure why I was never a Cubs or Cardinals fan, but the pull of the Yankee Pinstripes was too strong. Nevertheless, Sutter’s loss hurts. May he rest in peace.

The end of Aroldis Chapman’s Yankees career. Good riddance. I cannot say that I have ever seen a player bail on his teammates like Chapman did when he missed a mandatory workout prior to the start of the ALDS and the announcement of the team’s roster for the series. I was ready for the Yankees to designate Chapman for assignment in September as I had lost any trust or confidence in him despite some sporadic success. However, his behavior prior to the ALDS was inexcusable and unacceptable. Just when you thought Chapman could not set the bar lower, he does.

Aroldis Chapman

The Yankees took a chance on Chapman when other teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, would not. Despite their efforts, Chapman bailed on the Yankees because his feelings were hurt over the possibility of being left off the ALDS roster. In a way, I am glad Chapman made the decision easy for the Yankees. While there is a chance that he could be activated for the ALCS…if they make it…I hope not. I am done with Chapman and look forward to the end of his Yankees contract soon.

Scott Effross, we hardly knew ye. Unlike Chapman, I was saddened to learn Scott Effross would not make the ALDS roster but was stunned by the further news he needs Tommy John surgery. A torn ulnar collateral ligament most likely means that we will not see Effross on the mound again until 2024. He is under Yankees control until 2028 so it is not like we will never see him in Pinstripes again, but this is a sad way to lose Effross for the near future. Here is hoping for a quick and successful return to good health for Effross and his arm.

Scott Effross

I wonder if this means the end for Chad Green. He is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the year. The Yankees historically do not wait around for Tommy John recipients on expiring contracts. Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda stand out as recent examples. Someone will sign Green to a two-year minor league contract to allow time for recovery. Maybe it is the Yankees, maybe it is not. The Yankees cannot tie up multiple 40-man roster spots for guys out for extended periods.

As always, Go Yankees!


“We play today, we win today, das it…”

--Former Yankees second baseman Mariano Duncan