Saturday, July 16, 2022

Fasten Your Seatbelts for Turbulent Weather...


Ex-Yankee-to-be Joey Gallo / Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post

High-flying Yankees run into first extended slump of the season…

It was inevitable the Yankees would hit a rough patch over the course of the long season. The frustration is it happening when the Yankees are playing several series against the hated Boston Red Sox. Since they won the first two games of the four-game set in Boston last weekend, they dropped the subsequent two games, then lost two of three to the Cincinnati Reds at home, and blew a winnable game last night at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox. For a team that has found so many ways to win games this season, they are briefly finding new ways to lose.

Wild Pitch Lover Xander Bogaerts / Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images

The Yankees still have the best record in MLB; however, the gap is closing. The Yankees are 62-28, twelve games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the tough AL East. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros have picked up a couple games on the Yankees over the last ten games. They are 58-31 and lead their division by ten games. Based on ease of schedule, it seems more probable the Astros will finish with the best record in the AL and home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs. Seattle, at 49-42, is the only AL West team with a winning record. Meanwhile, in the AL East, every team is .500 or better.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who were previously in their own little mini funk, have won three consecutive games and nine of ten. They are 59-30 and certainly in range to overtake the Yankees for best record in Major League Baseball if the Yankees cannot snap out of this run of subpar play.

If GM Brian Cashman has any thoughts of standing pat at the Trading Deadline, he should think otherwise. Given his aggressiveness at the trading deadline last year when the Yankees were battling to get an opportunity to play a one-and-done Wild Card berth, you would think his aggressiveness would be on steroids this year with so much more at stake. It was exciting to watch Luis Castillo pitch at Yankee Stadium this week and think of what could be. I keep trying to temper my expectations to avoid disappointment. The fear is somebody will overpay. If Cashman can get Castillo at his price, it would be a beautiful thing, but the odds are against us. The Dodgers loom as a threat, particularly with a farm system ripe with attractive prospects. Tony Gonsolin, the Cat Man, has been a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers, but Walker Buehler is on the shelf, and the great Clayton Kershaw is a year older with a history of injuries in recent years. I fully expect the Dodgers to go hard after starting pitching over the next several weeks. For Castillo, if his hair is so valued to him, the Dodgers are more attractive if he wants his hair and a championship too.

Yankee-to-be? Luis Castillo / Photo Credit: Getty Images

It is a given that we are witnessing the final days of Joey Gallo’s pinstriped career. The boos last night typify the words you hear from fans, but even the professionals who follow the Yankees are voicing change. The sad part is the Yankees will not recoup what they lost in trading for Gallo last year, but at this point, that is a secondary concern. The Yankees need an outfielder who can make contact and help set the table for Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, and others. I keep saying that I like Joey Gallo, I do, but enough is enough, I would like him on another team. I am not in favor of simply designating him for assignment and subsequent release. There is value in the player, and I would like to see the Yankees recapture something for him, even if a lower-level prospect with promise.

Fans were laughing when Isiah Kiner-Falefa started off the season strong, and the big three free agents from last off-season started slowly. But it was only a matter of time until the proven superstars would surpass IKF. It seems like every time IKF makes an error, there is a highlight reel of Oswald Peraza going yard for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Peraza is reaching the point of not much more to prove at the Triple A level. It is becoming a matter of either trade him for an elite player like Luis Castillo or call him up to play shortstop. At worst, he will be as good as IKF, with the potential for so much more. I get the roster implications. To promote Peraza, another infielder must go. Matt Carpenter and Marwin Gonzalez are not going anywhere. Carpenter’s rejuvenated bat and Marwin’s versatility are too valuable. The weakest link is Josh Donaldson. DJ LeMahieu can be your everyday third baseman. IKF would move into the utility infielder role, and both Carpenter and Gonzalez can back up first base when necessary. The Yankees are stuck with paying Donaldson, but they should not let that deter them from moving him if necessary. To me, a left side of the infield with LeMahieu and Peraza is better than Donaldson and IKF. The Atlanta Braves are the defending World Series champions and making a strong run at the New York Mets in the NL East. It is due to injuries, yes, but they have a rookie in the outfield making significant contributions to their latest division charge (Michael Harris II), and their young catcher, Willson Contreras’ little bro, William, made the NL All-Star Team. I would not let Peraza’s inexperience prevent me from promoting him to a championship-caliber team. So, Cash, your call, play him or trade him.

Tyler Wade is back. It was funny how excited some fans got when they saw the Yankees had reacquired infielder Tyler Wade. Wade had recently been designated by the Los Angeles Angels, and when he cleared waivers (not claimed by any of the MLB teams), he was sent outright to Triple A. So, for the Yankees, it is just a minor-league depth move. It does not affect the Major League Roster. Injuries could bring him back, but he is not going to replace IKF. My first reaction to the Wade acquisition was ‘why?’ but I get the depth reasons. If Peraza is traded, help is needed at Triple A until Anthony Volpe gets there. If Wade gets the call to come back to the Bronx, it will mean something went horribly wrong (someone got hurt).

Shohei Ohtani & Ladies Man Tyler Wade / Photo Credit: USA Today

The truth is Wade is not better than any of the players on the current active roster. Nice problem to have. Here come the ‘Wade is better than Gallo’ comments. An apple to an orange comparison. I would not want Wade as my every day left fielder. Gallo, despite his offensive struggles, is fine defensively. You can make an argument that Miguel Andújar is better than Gallo and we see what that has gotten him. An extended stay in eastern Pennsylvania. But let’s not pick on Gallo. These are his final days. Welcome back to the organization, Tyler. Trying to recruit Aaron Judge to join the Orange County Losers next season did not quite work out for ya. Karma is a bitch.

Speaking of Miguel Andújar, it raised eyebrows when he was pulled from the RailRiders lineup yesterday. Turns out it was only a stiff neck, but everybody on social media seems to go on high trade alert when a player is removed from the starting lineup. The RailRiders, as it turns out, did not need Andújar. They cruised to a 9-0 win over the Louisville Bats behind a strong rehab performance by Domingo Germán. He went six innings, surrendering only three hits and one walk in the shutout win. 50 of 65 pitches were thrown for strikes, and according to Connor Foley, his fastball was 92-93 mph. I may not personally care for Germán, but the truth is he will be in the Yankees bullpen soon. With Luis Severino on the Injured List, he may see an occasional start.

Back to Andújar, he is like Peraza but for varied reasons. Play him or trade him. I get why you do not cut Joey Gallo now, but if the Yankees are unable to move him by the trading deadline, it would be time to cut bait. There is no reason that Andújar should not be on a Major League roster come August 2nd. He may not be the defensive outfielder that Gallo is, but at least he would give you at-bats to cheer for rather than the current automatic outs we routinely see from left field (or right) when Gallo is starting. I am hoping for better than Andújar but either way, he needs to be playing in the Major Leagues, here or elsewhere.

Miguel Andújar & Aaron Boone

The Yankees have enjoyed good health this season, and it has been a strong reason for their great start. But alas, all good things must end. Luis Severino’s placement on the Injured List felt inevitable. Given how few innings he pitched from 2019 to 2021, it seemed like this year’s load would be too much. When he was removed from a game with shoulder tightness this week, there was cause for concern. Fortunately, it turned out to be minor (a low grade lat strain which requires two-to-three-week recovery). To look at this positively, rest for Severino is a blessing. The Yankees need him in October so he should be managed with care. It also reinforces why the Yankees need to grab another frontline starter.

Luis Severino & Teammates / Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Miguel Castro also appears to be headed to the Injured List. He had an MRI on his right shoulder yesterday, and it is likely he will be placed on the IL this weekend. It could be the door opening for Domingo Germán. I keep forgetting the RailRiders have Shane Greene. It is possible the former Detroit Tigers closer could make his return to the Yankees roster over Germán if the Yankees can open a roster spot. Hard to believe that Greene is 33 years old. He was a young Yankees pitcher involved in the 2014 three-way trade with the Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks that brought Didi Gregorius to the Bronx.

Josh Donaldson has a split nail on his right index finger. I am not a doctor, but I think he will survive.

Lastly, I am glad to see the return of Old Timer’s Day to Yankee Stadium even if the white-haired legends and former Yankees will not play a game. I have always enjoyed the legendary roll call more than the actual game itself. I probably have not enjoyed the games since Bobby Murcer passed. I loved listening to him when he was mic’d up for the YES Network while playing in the outfield. July 12th was the fourteenth anniversary of Murcer’s death. Hard to believe he has been gone that long. His last Old Timer’s Day was 2007. I am happy to see his widow, Kay, has been invited to this year’s festivities.

The late Great Bobby Murcer / Photo Credit: KEIVOM/NY Daily News

The current scheduled list of attendees (subject to change) features: Jesse Barfield, Ron Blomberg, Aaron Boone, Homer Bush, Rick Cerone, Chris Chambliss, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Brian Doyle, John Flaherty, Joan Ford (wife of Whitey Ford), Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Jill Martin (wife of Billy Martin), Tino Martinez, Hensley Meulens, Gene Monahan, Diana Munson (wife of Thurman Munson), Kay Murcer (wife of Bobby Murcer), Jeff Nelson, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Mariano Rivera, Mickey Rivers, Luis Sojo, Shane Spencer, Roy White and Bernie Williams.

It will be fantastic to see all these people at Yankee Stadium (even if Boone and Meulens must be there anyway). No doubt Mariano Rivera should close the ceremonies.

As always, Go Yankees!

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