Sunday, April 2, 2017

Tanaka Gets Lit Up In Season Opener, Yanks Fall 7-3

  First things first, Happy Opening Day Yankee family! In St. Petersburg this afternoon, the New York Yankees kicked off their 2017 season against the division rival Tampa Bay Rays. On the mound for New York this afternoon was staff ace Masahiro Tanaka, who was 14-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 2016. Tanaka surely could have used some of the 2016 magic, as he was hit hard early and often this afternoon. Tampa's ace Chris Archer (9-19, 4.02 ERA in 2016) was the polar opposite of Tanaka today, pitching deep into the ball game and leading his team to their first victory of 2017.

Tanaka found himself in trouble immediately in the bottom of the first. Corey Dickerson started the frame with a base hit to right, advancing to third on a double by centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier. The next batter Evan Longoria lofted a fly ball into right field that plated Dickerson from third on the sac fly, 1-0 Tampa. Trouble continued as the next batter Brad Miller reached base on a generous infield single, that probably should've been called an error on first baseman Greg Bird. Tanaka went on to load the bases by walking Stephen Souza Jr.. Logan Morrison then put two more runs on the board when he shot a ground ball up the middle of the diamond, extending their lead to 3-0. Tanaka was finally able to get out of it by striking out left fielder Malik Smith to end the frame.

The Yankees were quick to respond, striking for two runs in the top of the second. Starlin Castro got things going with an infield single to second baseman Brad Miller with one out. Chase Headley then lined a single to left, advancing Castro to second. And then the winner of the every day right field spot Aaron Judge came through as he smoked a double into the left field gap, scoring Castro and pulling the Yanks to within two. Ronald Torreyes followed with a ground out to short, scoring Headley from third and shrinking their deficit to just one.

But Tanaka's opening day jitters continued as he served up a two-run shot to Evan Longoria in the bottom of the second, pushing the Rays lead back out to three. The long ball for the Yankee killer Longo was the 33rd of his career against New York.

The Fish kept their foot on the gas pedal as they knocked Tanaka out of the ball game in just the bottom of the third. With one out, Tanaka coughed up a solo shot to Logan Morrison to extend Tampa's lead to 6-2. Tim Beckham doubled down the left-field line, scoring when Malik Smith laid down a perfect bunt that saw Gary Sanchez launch the throw to first base into right field, 7-2. After getting Derek Norris to fly out, Tanaka was pulled for left-hander Tommy Layne who came out to face the left handed Corey Dickerson. After having such a solid spring, Tanaka was miserable in his 2017 debut; departing with a rough final line of 2.2 innings pitched, allowing seven runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out three.

Contrastly, Chris Archer was really good today,  ending his afternoon by getting Gary Sanchez to ground out with the bases-loaded in the seventh. Archer was lifted for Danny Farquhar to begin the eighth, departing with the final line of seven innings pitched, allowing two runs on seven hits with one walk and five punchouts.

One big positive to take away from this afternoon was the performance of the bullpen, especially Adam Warren. With Tanaka having to depart extremely early, a combination of Layne, Warren, Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve kept the Rays off the scoreboard throughout the rest of the game. Most notably, Adam Warren was perfect in his 2.1 innings of work as he retired all seven men he faced while striking out two.

The Bombers definitely didn't go quietly, as they loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth, forcing manager Kevin Cash to call on his closure Alex Colome to close the door. Chris Carter was called on to pinch-hit for shortstop Pete Kazma and promptly hit a sacrifice fly to left that made the score 7-3 Tampa. Gary Sanchez then struck out, ending his day at 0-for-5 while stranding five runners on base. And then Greg Bird ended the game by flying out to center field, preserving the win for Archer and the Rays on opening day.

 The Yankees have the day off tomorrow(even though we're starting the season in a dome and have no need for a scheduled rainout makeup day) and look to get in the win column on Tuesday against these same Rays, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM/EST.

2017 NL Central Predictions

As we are just hours away from first pitch of Opening Day for our New York Yankees, we've reached the penultimate piece of the six-part predictions series: the National League Central. In 2016, the Chicago Cubs absolutely ran away with the division in route to breaking a 108 year curse, bringing home a world championship in what turned out to be one of the most exciting World Series in my lifetime. This season, there doesn't seem to be any reason to think that 2017 will go any differently. Normally, it's not smart to EVER count out the St. Louis Cardinals and their ability to overcome adversity and make their way into the playoff picture. But, is there any team really capable of getting in Chicago's way? All aboard. 

5. Milwaukee Brewers 
When you think of the best teams in major league baseball, this is not one of the teams that would make your list. The Milwaukee Brewers are comprised of a roster that has a few blossoming pieces but is mostly full of youth and inexperience. One bright spot is the second baseman Jonathan Villar, who really came into his own atop the Brewers batting order where he lead baseball with 62 stolen bases a season ago. Villar was moved from short to second because of Orlando Arcia, one of the afore mentioned rising stars coming up to take over shortstop.  Another player worth mentioning on the infield at first is Korean Baseball League import Eric Thames. Thames was known in the KBL for his tape measure homeruns, which were convincing enough for Milwaukee to let the NL homerun champ from a season ago, Chris Carter, hit the free-agent market. In the outfield, Keon Broxton is quickly making a name for himself in centerfield, both with his exceptional defense and his quick bat. Not a fan of the guy, but left fielder Ryan Braun is still the focal point of the Brewers offense. On the mound, Matt Garza, Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson hold the top three spots in the rotation. The final two spots will be filled by two of several rookies competing for jobs, headed by Junior Guerra. Gone are the days of Francisco Rodriguez or even John Axford, as their bullpen is far and away their biggest weakness and will most definitely be a bullpen by committee. Expect 2017 to be a continuance of the rebuild process in Milwaukee 

4. Cincinnati Reds 
The Reds started to rebuild a little over a year ago when they traded Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox, and are continuing that rebuild process into this season. After shipping Aroldis Chapman to the Bronx, Jay Bruce to the Mets and fan favorite Brandon Phillips to the Braves this winter, the Reds are left with a lot of money and even more question marks on their roster. Cincinnati still has a handful of key veterans in this lineup to aid with the youth movement: including Joey Votto, Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall, Zack Cozart, Devan Mesoraco and newly acquired Scooter Gennett. Gennett was brought on to fill second base while their two high-ceiling prospects Dilson Herrera and Arismendy Alcantara get acclimated to life in the show. Similar to Ginnett, they also signed Scott Feldman in the off-season to go along with Homer Bailey to help with the development of Brandon Finnigan, Anthony DeSclefani and Razel Iglesias; all of which had moments of real promise in 2016. As is the case in Milwaukee, Cincinnati has no real potential in the bullpen of which to speak. And just like the Brewers, the Reds have no real shot of finishing anywhere other then at the bottom of the division this season.  

3. Pittsburgh Pirates 
After losing the Wild Card game in two of the last three years, the Pittsburgh Pirates are 
 still trying to figure out how to take it to the next level. Their offense shouldn't be a problem, as they have productivity all throughout their lineup. Gregory Polanco and Jon Jaso have plenty of ability to get on base and set the table for the middle of the order. Last season; in the middle of the order, Starlin Marte seems to be getting better every year and Andrew McCutchen surely hopes to rebound from an atrocious 2016 campaign. If Jung-Ho Kang is ever allowed to return stateside after a DUI incident has kept him overseas, his 25+ homerun a year power would certainly help. Josh Harrison, David Freese and Francisco Cervelli round out what should be a pretty potent lineup. While not as strong as the lineup, the rotation also has some decent potential. Staff ace Gerritt Cole has electric stuff and just needs to hone in his control to be considered amongst the elite. Similarly, Pittsburgh is expecting big things out of their promising young right-hander Jameson Taillon. Former Yankee Ivan Nova, Juan Nicasio and Drew Hutchison round out the rest of the rotation. But, outside of Tony Watson, the bullpen is a work in progress and is one of the main reasons that Pittsburgh will be on the outside looking in come October. 

2. St. Louis Cardinals 
After watching Jayson Heyward sign with the rival Cubs last offseason, the Cardinals returned the favor  by signing Chicago's former centerfielder Dexter Fowler. Fowler will be at the top of a lineup that, even missing Matt Holiday, has some real talent. For starters, third baseman Matt Carpenter is an MVP waiting to happen. Matt Adams and Jhonny Peralta are the resident sluggers of the middle of the order. And Stephen Piscotty, Kolton Wong and Randal Grichuk are three guys ready to make some hay in St. Louis's lineup. Every team wishes they could have a player like Yadier Molina to lead their team and guide their rotation the way the lifelong Cardinal always has done. Speaking of the pitching staff, Adam Wainwright is the seasoned staff ace but Carlos Martinez has the best stuff on the team and should take over the top spot in the very near future. Rotation spots 3-5 will be filled by some combination of Mike Leake, Michael Wacca, Marco Gonzalez and John Grant.  In the bullpen, the Cards added Brett Cecil as the left-handed compliment to Jonathan Broxton as the bridge to their outstanding closer Trevor Rosenthal. Strong lineup, good rotation and a good bullpen will lead to St. Louis staying in the hunt all season long. 

1. Chicago Cubs 
 There isn't much more to be said about the 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs that hasn't already been said. Offensively, they are absolutely loaded at every single position. Wilson Contreras  was called up last year and was immediately impactful, both behind the dish and at the plate. Addison Russell is a top five two-way shortstop, Anthony Rizzo might be the best first baseman in baseball and Kris Bryant won the MVP last year. When super utilityman Ben Zobrist needs a day off at second, the  unbelievable Javy Baez is there to take over. The outfield has World Series stud Kyle Schwarber, gold glover Jayson Heyward and even acquired Jon Jay to man centerfield. As for their pitching staff, 2015 Cy Young Award winner Jake Arieta is the staff ace, followed by Jon Lester and John Lackey. Kyle Hendricks may have the best stuff on the staff and you won't see him until game three or game four. The last spot is set to be taken by free-agent acquisition Brett Anderson.  And he wasn't the only addition this off-season, as Chicago signed former Red Sox closer Koji Uehara and traded The slugging outfield rising star Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals for closer Wade Davis. Like I said, talent at absolutely every position. Not only are they going to win the division, but it wouldn't surprise me to see this club as the last team standing for the second straight year.

Let me have it. 

It’s time for Yankees Baseball…

Daniel Burch has posted the official TGP Predictions for the 2017 season with the World Series prediction scheduled for later today but that isn’t going to stop me from posting my “unofficial” predictions.


Wild Card:
Seattle Mariners over Toronto Blue Jays

Cleveland Indians over Seattle Mariners
Houston Astros over Boston Red Sox

Houston Astros over Cleveland Indians


Wild Card:
San Francisco Giants over New York Mets

Chicago Cubs over San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers over Washington Nationals

Los Angeles Dodgers over Chicago Cubs


Los Angeles Dodgers over Houston Astros

I’d love to go with the homer pick and insert the Yankees but I think we’re still a year away.  So, unlike the official TGP picks, I had to leave the Pinstripers off my forecast.  But could the Yankees snag a Wild Card spot?  Sure, anything’s possible if the Baby Bombers continue to play at Gary Sanchez-level and a few of the veterans provide significant contributions.  Pitching, pitching, pitching…how will the guys behind Masahiro Tanaka perform?  That’s really the answer that will shape the 2017 season.

In honor of Opening Day, I thought I’d take a look at the birthplaces of the 2017 New York Yankees, including the coaching staff, the General Manager, and the Managing General Partner/Co-Chairman.  With so many international players in the game today, I am surprised that the high percentage of the team was born in the United States.  Makes sense, but I was still surprised.  The Dominican Republic is the only other country that boasts multiple players on the roster.  Dellin Betances and Brian Cashman are the only native-born New Yorkers.


Tyler Austin (DL), Conyers, Georgia
Dellin Betances, New York, New York
Greg Bird, Aurora, Colorado
Chris Carter, Redwood City, California
Tyler Clippard, Lexington, Kentucky
Jacoby Ellsbury, Madras, Oregon
Brett Gardner, Holly Hill, South Carolina
Chase Headley, Fountain, Colorado
Aaron Hicks , San Pedro, California
Jonathan Holder, Gulfport, Mississippi
Matt Holliday, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Aaron Judge, Linden, California
Pete Kozma, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tommy Layne, St Louis, Missouri
Bryan Mitchell, Reidsville, North Carolina
Austin Romine, Lake Forest, California
CC Sabathia, Vallejo, California
Chasen Shreve, Las Vegas, Nevada
Adam Warren, Birmingham, Alabama
Joe Girardi (Manager), Peoria, Illinois
Alan Cockrell (Hitting Coach), Kansas City, Kansas
Marcus Thames (Asst Hitting Coach), Louisville, Mississippi
Larry Rothschild (Pitching Coach), Chicago, Illinois
Mike Harkey (Bullpen Coach), San Diego, California
Brian Cashman (General Manager), Rockville Centre, New York
Hal Steinbrenner (Managing GP), Culver, Indiana


Starlin Castro, Monte Cristi, DR
Michael Pineda, Yaguate, DR
Gary Sanchez, Santo Domino, DR
Luis Severino, Sabana de la Mar, DR
Tony Pena (1st Base Coach), Monte Cristi, DR


Aroldis Chapman, Holguin, Cuba


Didi Gregorius (DL), Amsterdam, Netherlands


Masahiro Tanaka, Itami, Japan


Ronald Torreyes, Libertado de Barinas, Venezuela


Joe Espada (3rd Base Coach), Santurce, San Juan, PR


Rob Thomson (Bench Coach), Sarnia, Ontario

It seems like pitchers and catchers were just reporting to Tampa for training camp and here we are at Opening Day.  In mere hours, Brett Gardner will step into the batter’s box to face Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer to signal the start of the 2017 season for the New York Yankees.  Game 1 of 162.  It’s an exciting time and we are ready for the next chapter with Baseball’s most storied franchise.  There will be happiness and there will be sadness, but overall, it’s an exciting step forward toward an eventual twenty-eighth World Championship within the next few years.

Let’s do this…

This Day in New York Yankees History 4/2: Todd Zeile & His Yankees Home Run

On this day in 2003 Todd Zeile hit a home run in his first at bat as a Yankee becoming the only major leaguer to hit a home run for ten different teams passing Tommy Davis and his nine clubs. Zeile's list of teams he has homered with includes the Yankees, Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies, Orioles, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers, Mets, and Rockies.

Also on this day in 2001 on Opening Day Roger Clemens became the all-time American League strikeout leader moving ahead of Walter Johnson when Roger struck out the Kansas City Royals Joe Randa for his 3,509th K of his career. Roger was now in seventh place in Major League history in strikeouts.

Also on this day in 1996 Derek Jeter hit a home run off Dennis Martinez in a Yankees 7-1 victory over the Indians. The 22 year old infielder became the first rookie Yankee shortstop to start the season since 1962 when Tom Tresh filled in for Tony Kubek. Joe Torre also won his first game as the Yankees manager on this day, the first of 1,173 victories in his 12 season tenure.

Finally on this day in 1972 New York Mets manager Gil Hodges suffers a fatal heart attack and dies after a round of gold in West Palm Beach. The Mets would name Yogi Berra as the manager to run the team after the strike ends.