Saturday, April 22, 2023

Reminder: Please Bring Your Bats...


Aaron Judge (Photo Credit: Robert Sabo/NY Post)

Yankees fall to Blue Jays as offense goes silent…

Inevitably, the New York Yankees will lose their first regular season series. I only hope it is not against the Toronto Blue Jays. The team I perceive as the greatest threat in the American League East to derail the Yankees’ drive to repeat as division champions were in the Bronx on Friday night, and sadly, thanks to an off night by the team’s bats, the Blue Jays took the first game, 6-1. 

The odds were seemingly against the Yankees when the controversial Domingo German took the mound. Starting the first game of a season series with a bitter rival with German is not exactly leading with your best foot forward. German had the Yankees in a hole they were never able to escape when he gave up a first-inning, two-run bomb to fan-not-so-favorite Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. 

Domingo German (Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin/NY Post)

Aside from Oswaldo Cabrera’s solo shot to the right field porch in the second inning that made it a one-run game, the Yankees were unable to record any extra-base hits, settling for four singles to go with the ‘Where’s Oswaldo?’ home run. Several inning-ending double plays removed any potential for rallies, including the game-ending DP by Gleyber Torres. 

Glad to see Oswaldo go yard, but I thought the Yankees would do better against Toronto’s Yusei Kikuchi. Oh well, on to the next game. The Yankees seemingly like to lose the opening game of a series before rising to the challenge.

With the loss, the Yankees and Blue Jays (both 12-8) are tied for third place in the AL East. They trail the Tampa Bay Rays by five games and are a half-game behind the Baltimore Orioles. It is still way too early to draw any conclusions about the division race, but it is always preferable to have more wins than your opponents at any given time.  The dreadful Boston Red Sox are only a game and a half behind the Yankees. 

The Yankees feature their best in today’s game at 1:05 pm ET when Gerrit Cole (4-0, 0.95 ERA) takes the hill. He will be opposed by Toronto’s Alek Manoah (1-1, 6.98 ERA) who has not gotten off to a strong start.  Of course, it probably means Manoah throws a no-hitter and Cole loses his first game of the year despite giving up only one run. Hopefully, Coles continues to shove like he has all season, and the Yankees bring their bats to play.  Inflating Manoah’s bloated ERA would be a wonderful way to spend the day.

Credit: @Yankees, via Twitter

Josh Donaldson Delayed

The Yankees had expected to activate Josh Donaldson this week, however, he suffered a setback when the tightness in his right hamstring resumed. He was diagnosed with a Grade 1-plus strain and is going to miss the next couple of weeks. Oswald Peraza probably would have been sent down if Donaldson had been activated this week, so Donaldson’s re-injury buys young Peraza more time to show his skills at the Major League level.

Oswald Peraza (Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer/AP)

If there was a current player I would love to see “Wally Pipped”, it would be Donaldson. I am ready to move on from the expensive, aging vet even if his glove continues to play at an elite level. He is no longer a feared hitter, and he is not going to miraculously find rejuvenation. The Yankees had Oswald Peraza at third base on Friday night. Despite his 0-for-3 performance, it would be tremendous for him to have more opportunities to play third.  Peraza has a far greater upside than Donaldson, at this stage of Donaldson’s career. Donaldson was once an elite performer and League MVP, but he is not that guy anymore. It is time to move on. If the Arizona Diamondbacks can swallow the remainder of Madison Bumgarner’s contract, the Yankees can easily do the same with Donaldson’s contract. 

Peraza has nothing left to prove in the Minor Leagues and should be on the big-league roster for the duration of the season. It would be fantastic if he could have a breakout game that propels him as a force in the lineup and makes it impossible for the Yankees to demote him. His energy and defensive prowess are already on display. A few dramatic home runs or timely run-scoring hits and we are off to the races. 

A Roll of the Dice

The Yankees have signed former Angels, Diamondbacks, and Rangers outfielder Kole Calhoun to a minor league contract. Calhoun, 35, was once a solid contributor for the Angels, but, like Donaldson, his best days are behind him. 

Kole Calhoun (Photo Credit: Alex Gallardo/AP)

Last year for Texas, he hit .196/.257/.330 (67 OPS+) with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs in 125 games. He was a free agent after a failed attempt to make the Seattle Mariners’ roster in Spring Training.

I am not expecting anything from this signing. I doubt he will make it to the Bronx. He seems more like a depth signing for Triple-A who will eventually seek an opt-out. I guess everyone thinks they can be the next Matt Carpenter. To their credit, they would not be professional baseball players without that mindset but there is no magic here.  I wish Calhoun the best but honestly hope the Yankees never need him. 

Rehab Assignments

The Yankees sent two notable players on rehab assignments on Friday.

Harrison Bader was assigned to the Somerset Patriots (Double-A) and is expected to be activated early next month. Bader is much needed, and it will be tremendous for the team to get Aaron Judge back in right field where he belongs. Hopefully, Bader can pick up where he left off last October. His dynamic personality, mixed with the energy and enthusiasm of the team’s younger players, brings a breath of fresh air to the Yankees. Being a gifted ballplayer certainly helps. 

The Invisible Man, a/k/a Ben Rortvedt, was assigned to the Tampa Tarpons (Single-A). Rortvedt will eventually head for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and take his place as the next man up should anything happen to either Jose Trevino or Kyle Higashioka. Hard to believe but we may see Rortvedt play in Yankee Stadium this season. It will be nice to have actual proof he plays instead of photos standing outside of batting cages. 

Don Mattingly the Blue Jay

It is hard to see Don Mattingly wearing enemy colors. He was my favorite player throughout his Yankees career, and I respectfully followed his managerial career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins.  Seeing him at Yankee Stadium with a bitter rival is understandably more difficult to accept.

I wish the Yankees had done more to bring him back into the organization. I would have moved Carlos Mendoza to a different coaching position and made Donnie Baseball the bench coach for Manager Aaron Boone. However, I realize there may be some animosity between Mattingly and the Front Office which worked against Mattingly and the belief that he does not embrace analytics. I think the latter point is overrated. Any coach who is not buying into today’s analytics is not long for this profession. I think Mattingly understands it, and the coaches who can balance old-school baseball with analytic insight are the best for the game. 

I hope Mattingly can find his way back to the Yankees one day. Maybe it will not happen until General Manager Brian Cashman decides to hang up his saddle. Regardless, Mattingly will always be a Yankee, and I hope he comes home before he decides to shutter his baseball career. 

Miguel Ramirez, Chef Extraordinaire

The Los Angeles Times had a great article this week about Yankee Stadium clubhouse food for visiting teams. The Los Angeles Angels were in town to face the Yankees, and the players were raving about the food offerings in the clubhouse. 

Miguel Ramirez (Photo Credit: LA Times, courtesy of the New York Yankees)

Miguel Ramirez has been a clubhouse chef for the Yankees since 2011, and the 44-year-old Dominican brings Latino food to the forefront. In the article, Angels infielder Luis Rengifo is quoted saying, “They just have a lot. They have Dominican food, like rice and beans, Conc√≥n (the crust of crispy rice formed at the bottom of the pot).” About Ramirez, Rengifo went on to say, “The guy who makes it is amazing.”

Ramirez drew praise from former Yankees infielder Gio Urshela and Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Cora referred to him as the best in the business. 

Ramirez takes requests from visiting teams and specializes in multiple types of food beyond his Dominican roots such as Italian, Japanese, and Mexican cuisines. Before he started working for the Yankees, Ramirez was a chef in Mariano Rivera’s former steakhouse, Mo’s New York Grill. 

It was fun to read about a hero of Yankee Stadium in an opposing city’s newspaper. I did not know about Miguel Ramirez, but the recognition from visiting teams is beautiful and I am glad The Los Angeles Times brought light to his accomplishments.

As always, Go Yankees!

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