Friday, June 17, 2022

The Best Team in Baseball...


Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Yankees Bandwagon is starting to get full…

Let’s party like it is 1998. It is a little early to compare this Yankees team to one of the greatest Yankees teams in the history of baseball but the ride, at least through today, has been one helluva jaunt. It boggles the mind that the Yankees have a ten-game lead in the American League East, a division that is expected to have four playoff participants, and we have not yet reached the All-Star break. The Toronto Blue Jays, the team with the strongest young talent in the division, have the potential to make it a race. I would certainly not discount their ability to go on an extended winning streak, but it sure feels better when your team is up, and not behind, by ten full games.

Admittedly, I was a little concerned when the Yankees began a thirteen-game streak against the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and Houston Astros. But three games in, the Yankees are 3-0 after sweeping the Rays at Yankee Stadium. The naysayers are quick to say the Yankees are only beating the bad teams and it appears the Rays are not as strong as they have been in recent years, but there are no pushovers in the AL East. Even the Baltimore Orioles are a better team than they once were and would have a better record if they resided in another division.

The Yankees face a stronger challenge starting tonight in Toronto. The goal, as always, is to win the series, but as the only team yet to lose twenty games, I am not going to fret if it does not happen. If the Yankees do win the Blue Jays series, it will be a very loud statement that their stranglehold on the AL East will not be relinquished anytime soon.

Last night’s game was beautiful. Surprisingly, a pitcher’s duel after Luis Severino was temporarily placed on the COVID List and the Rays’ scheduled starter, Drew Rasmussen, was placed on the Injured List. Clarke Schmidt was called upon to open the game in place of Sevy, and despite some two-out jams, he emerged unscathed with three scoreless innings, holding the Rays to one hit, and striking out five. Before the game, I thought JP Sears would be a better option, but I did not check when he last pitched and of course Schmidt was already with the team. Wonderful job by Schmidt, and he certainly rewarded Aaron Boone’s faith in him.

Ryan Weber, we hardly knew ye. Called up to replace Sevy on the active roster, Weber replaced Schmidt and although he yielded a fifth inning solo homer to Francisco Mejia, he gave the Yankees some length with 3 2/3 innings pitched, holding the Rays to only the one run. Despite the heroics, Weber’s Yankees career may be over before it really started. He was designated for assignment after the game when Severino tested negative for COVID and was feeling better than he had the night before, causing the Yankees to reinstate him to the active roster. Sevy has been cleared to travel to Toronto with the team. For Weber, there is always the chance he clears waivers and is sent outright to Scranton Wilkes-Barre if he does not elect free agency. But if he does not stay in the organization, the Yankees have a plethora of young arms waiting for their opportunities. So, thank you, Ryan, for the contribution to thrilling 2022 Yankees ride. We will be sure to send you the DVD.

Ryan Weber / Photo Credit: @Yankees

From there, relievers Ron Marinaccio and Michael King held the Rays in check to push the tied ballgame to the bottom of the ninth. With Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, and Giancarlo Stanton scheduled to face Rays reliever Shawn Armstrong, it felt like magic was about to happen. I was a little disappointed when leading AL MVP candidate Aaron Judge flied out to right, but Anthony Rizzo quickly erased the disappointment with a thrilling walk-off home run to right center. Honestly, going into this series, I thought the Yankees would win no more than two of the three games. In years past, it has always seemed like a struggle to beat the Rays, but clearly, this Yankees team is different.












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I am looking forward to watching how the next ninety-nine games play out. May one of the most exciting and thrilling seasons in recent memory continue. Love these Yankees!

Anthony Rizzo / Photo Credit: Bebeto Matthews, AP

Yankees, please keep Aaron Judge happy. Next week, Aaron Judge’s arbitration case is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday. The Yankees offered $17 million while Judge asked for $21 million. Here is hoping the two sides reach a compromise before the hearing. I dislike the nature of arbitration cases that force the MLB teams to find the faults of the players, airing them to the other side, to justify their lower offers. Nothing like sitting in a room for hours being told how much you suck. No question Judge is worth $21 million. Regardless of what happens, the Yankees need to ensure that Judge is taken care of, positively, peacefully…and financially.

Aaron Judge is the face of the New York Yankees, and he should remain a Yankee for life. The last point may not be decided until after the end of the season but if he leaves in free agency, it would be the single biggest loss of a Yankees player, in his prime, that I can remember. There have been players I have been saddened to see leave but nothing of this magnitude. Judge deserves to be paid and he deserves to be the next Captain of the Yankees.

Aaron "MVP" Judge

North of the Border. The Yankees are in Ontario to face their strongest division rival in a three-game set. The pitching matchups are set: Jordan Montgomery versus former Dodgers starter Ross Stripling tonight. Jameson Taillon versus the talented young Alek Manoah (8-1, 1.67 ERA, sixty-eight strikeouts) on Saturday, and Gerrit Cole against Yusei Kikuchi on Sunday. Here is hoping the Yankees starters bring their “A” games like they did in Minnesota. It should be a fun series. As I like to say, to be the best, you must beat the best. The Yankees seem to find new ways to win every night. Let the trend continue.

Lastly, I hate to be critical of the Yankees, but… Aaron Hicks is killing me. Every at-bat is so painful to watch. Even when he does (infrequently) connect, any positive feelings are quickly erased. There is a reason that Aaron Judge has essentially become the team’s starting centerfielder and Hicks needs to be replaced in left. I am ready and hope for his departure next month. I am tired of watching him step to the plate with men on base, only to walk back to the bench with his head down after recording another out. I guess we always need to find “that guy” we can complain about, and Hicks is that guy for me. I am also not looking forward to the return of closer Aroldis Chapman. He was once a great closer, no question, but age regression happens to the best of us. I have genuinely enjoyed the lack of stress in the back end of games with Clay Holmes. No doubt when Aroldis Chapman is standing on the mound in the ninth inning sweating profusely, I will be sweating profusely in my living room. Chapman can still be dominant at times, and I hope the rest has been good for him. Regardless of how Aaron Boone decides to use him, I hope Chapman can excel and play a key role in the team’s success.

As always, Go Yankees!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)