Saturday, August 1, 2020

Loss of Great Arm & Better Personality...

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac, via Newsday

Kahnle succumbs to Tommy John surgery…

The Yankees are off to a tremendous start, 5-1 entering play today which includes last night’s win over the hated Boston Red Sox, yet today feels like a loss. I am not talking about the potential outcome of today’s game with Boston, but rather the somber news that reliever Tommy “Tightpants” Kahnle is lost for the year (and next) with the announcement he needs Tommy John surgery. 

The Yankees have a great bullpen, even without Kahnle, so they’ll move on and find other replacement parts but Kahnle will be missed. Not only is he a quality reliever for Manager Aaron Boone, but he has an infectious personality that helps to keep the team loose. I guess after his surgery, he’ll be able to be around the team but it’s not quite the same as being in uniform and going to war with the boys.  

As Kahnle enters his final arbitration-eligible year next season, there’s a real chance he has thrown his last pitch for the Yankees. I say that given the Yankees’ recent history of non-tendering guys headed for surgery or letting them walk, the most notable in recent years being former Yanks Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda. It’s an unfortunate situation for both Kahnle and the Yankees. I’ve enjoyed his time with the organization and have been a big fan since his time in the minors for the team prior to being plucked away in the 2013 Rule 5 Draft by the Colorado Rockies. He is the last piece of the trade that sent Yankees outfield prospect Blake Rutherford, among a few others, to the Chicago White Sox in July 2017. The other two players acquired in that trade have obviously moved on (Todd Frazier, currently with the Texas Rangers, and David Robertson, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery himself, with the Philadelphia Phillies) but despite losing Rutherford, I still felt good about the trade with Kahnle in the family. 

Photo Credit: The Canadian Press

I hope the surgery goes well and Tommy is able to rehab himself back to elite status. I hope it is with the Yankees but if not, I’ll wish the Eagles fan well wherever the road ahead may take him…unless he decides to take I-95 north.  

With the trade deadline looming around the corner (at the end of the month…yes, we’re now in August, my friends), it will be interesting to see if the Yankees pursue bullpen upgrades to help the now healthy Aroldis Chapman, closer stand-in Zack Britton, the ever reliable Chad Greene and the ultra-talented Adam Ottavino. Perhaps some of the younger arms on the roster are capable of stepping up to fill Kahnle’s shoes but I suspect the Yankees will double-down with additional help to be acquired soon. It will never happen but I always hold out hope in the back of my mind that the Yankees can find a way to bring Josh Hader to New York. I know, it’s kind of like hoping that I’ll win the Power Ball lottery. I get it but would love to see another power arm in the pen. 

I remain skeptical we’ll be able to pull off the shortened MLB season this year. The St Louis Cardinals are the latest team to be decimated by positive tests for the coronavirus which has affected their players and coaches. The Miami Marlins haven’t played since last weekend and now the Cardinals, with their game called off today, face a similar week ahead with no games until they can recapture their health. At some point, it seems like the Commissioner has to step in and say ‘enough is enough’. With reports Rob Manfred told MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark the leagues may need to shut it down due to the coronavirus, it seems we’re headed in that direction. I love baseball being back, and I don’t want to see it go away again, but if this continues to get worse, it is not worth risking the health and potentially lives of people involved with the game. I wish the players and the teams were more diligent to protect their health. It’s more than just “wear your damn mask” and social distancing. I am sure the case studies involving the Marlins and Cardinals have certainly opened some eyes. Hopefully the implementation of more stringent measures will help protect other teams from suffering similar fates.

As for the Yankees, they have played as well as you could have expected or imagined. I was worried before the beginning of the 60-game season the team would get off to a slow start (which seems to happen more often than not with the Pinstripers), but thankfully, this Yankees team appears to be on a mission. They know they are good and are capable of beating anyone, anywhere. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge have been the beasts we expect them to be. I kind of wish Gary Sanchez would join the hit parade but he’ll get there. He’s not going to get “fat and lazy” screams from me. I know when this season is done (if we can make it to the World Series), Gary and his bat will be humming. I was worried the other day when Gleyber Torres was pulled from the game in Baltimore after getting hit by a pitch, but so grateful the tests were negative and that he was back on the field last night for the Yankee Stadium home opener. He is so vital to the success of the Yankees.

I am excited to see Masahiro Tanaka this evening. Armed with a protective insert in his hat, I am hopeful that he shows no residual effect of the very scary incident last month when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton. I want the Yankees to win tonight’s game, obviously, but more than anything, I want to see Masa do well. He’ll have my support regardless of the outcome but a strong performance would certainly help him and provide confidence going forward. The starting rotation is better with him than not.  

Speaking of important starters, a hat tip to Jordan Montgomery. I’ve been very impressed with him this year (summer training and his season debut last night). I am glad he’s healthy and ready to help.  I never thought I’d feel much better about Gumby than I do currently with James Paxton as I didn’t feel the pitchers were on the same level but here we are.  Hopefully the Big Maple is able to turn it around like he did last year to become a force by the time the season is over. If everyone is firing on all cylinders behind Gerrit Cole, there is literally nothing this Yankees team cannot accomplish on their march to take away the World Series championship from the Washington Nationals.

I like the story about what led Suzyn Waldman to sing the National Anthem last night. Apparently, during an interview at spring training in 2012 when the Yankees were playing Pittsburgh in Florida, Waldman told young Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole that he’d make a great Yankee one day. He responded that if he did, she’d have to sing the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium. Suzyn made no promises or guarantees but fast-forward 8 years later, Cole is a Yankee and Suzyn was singing the National Anthem with her usual display of grace and talent for Friday night’s home opener. It was a great moment and Suzyn clearly belted one out of the park.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The trend continues…another former Yankee becomes a Marlin. Team Derek Jeter acquired another former Yank when they picked up Baltimore Orioles reliever Richard Bleier today. Bleier, a 33-year-old lefty, gives the M’s a healthy player which they desperately need. Last year was a disappointing one for Bleier but overall he proved to be an effective reliever for the O’s after they acquired him from the Yankees a few years ago. I wish Bleier well in Miami and hope that he is able to contribute effectively for Manager Don Mattingly and the Marlins.  

It’s kind of disgusting to think as I type this post, the Houston Astros are or will soon be a couple of blocks away to play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Yuck, the stench in the air. I am anxious for their series with the Angels to end tomorrow so that they can get the hell out of Orange County. I just wish Mike Trout and company would be a little more effective than they were last night when they dropped a 9-6 decision to the Cheaters.  Today’s a new day and an opportunity for the Halos to pin an L on MLB’s biggest losers.

As always, Go Yankees!