Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Judge Watch Continues...


Aaron Judge, MVP

Aaron Judge taking one pitch at a time...

Patiently waiting for Number 61. The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox for the second night in a row, another one-run decision, 5-4, but sadly, no homers from the Big Guy. I love how Aaron Judge no longer swings at those pitches out of the strike zone, but man, I wish he would connect with one of the few strikes he is thrown to escort it to the outfield bleachers. 

I think Albert Pujols did it right. He immediately followed his 699th home run last evening with the 700th of his illustrious career. His two home runs helped the St Louis Cardinals to take down MLB’s winningest 2022 team, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Albert’s former teammates. No waiting or letting the outside noise get into his head. I am not saying that Judge is letting the noise get to him, but it would be difficult for the normal human being when thousands upon thousands of people in the stands singularly want one thing, and nearly every question from the overwhelming New York media probes the topic. Judge is not a normal human being, and the home run will come, but until then, we wait. 

Aaron Judge / Photo Credit: Adam Hunger, AP

Since Friday’s game was televised by Apple + and not the YES Network, I think it may have been justice the record tying home run did not occur on their watch. If the Yankees had lost, I may have felt differently but fortunately, Jose Trevino’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the eighth helped the Yankees overcome the home runs allowed by Gerrit Cole to win the game. 

This afternoon’s game will be on YES, so Michael Kay will have the opportunity to make the call for Judge’s historic home run if it happens today. Kudos to Kay who apparently had the opportunity to call the Friday night for Apple+ by special arrangement, but he shut down the negotiations because he did not feel it was right for the broadcasters scheduled to call the game. Not trying to be a Michael Kay defender, but I saw so many social media posts this week blasting Kay for “crying” about not getting the Friday night game, yet listening to Kay this week, he never sulked. While he said that he would like to call the home run, he was against denying others the opportunity if YES was not televising the game. Kay handled himself professionally through the week, and hopefully, he will be rewarded today. Sunday night’s game, the series finale with the Red Sox, will be on ESPN so Kay would be limited to a discussion of the game on his KayRod Cast.   

Michael Kay

Aaron Judge, we love you and hope today is your day. Whether it comes today or not, we are thankful, we are grateful you are a New York Yankee. Please never let it end.

The Miguel Andújar Story concludes. Well, at least with the New York Yankees. In a bit of a surprise this week, the Yankees designated Andújar for assignment to make way for reliever Zack Britton. There was some chatter last night that the Yankees are talking with the Kansas City Royals about a potential trade. If it happens, the return will not be much. No trades can be made involving 40-man roster talent, but Andújar was never going to bring that level of return. It will most likely be an obscure Single A player with some potential. With no trade, he will be released.

Miguel Andujar / Photo Credit: Adam Hunger, AP

Regardless, Andújar’s time with the Yankees was over. If he was not DFA’d this week, it would have happened after season’s end. 2018 was a fun year. His forty-seven doubles and twenty-seven home runs would have secured AL Rookie of the Year if not for the supremely talented Shohei Ohtani. He persevered through injury, and was forced to learn the outfield, but always seemingly had a smile on his face. I know frustration led to his trade demand earlier in the season, but he was a good company man for the majority of his time in the Yankees organization. I knew it was time for the parties to separate. I wish Andújar the best. I hope he can reach the potential he once held with his next organization. Thanks, Miggy, and best wishes for a successful continued career in Major League Baseball.

As one who was not immediately in favor of the Harrison Bader trade, I am glad he is a Yankee. The price was high, and the wait was long, but Harrison Bader is the guy you never knew you needed until he was on your team. His energy level alone elevates the Yankees clubhouse. In four games, he has four hits in thirteen at-bats, good for six runs batted in. A stolen base. An extra base hit. But none of these stats tell how invaluable he has been in games. We knew he was a premier defender, yet I think many have been surprised at the strength of his arm.

Harrison Bader / Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, New York Post

He has an infectious, winning attitude, and it has not taken long to realize that GM Brian Cashman may have known what he was doing on August 2nd when he dealt Jordan Montgomery to St Louis. I know you can never have too much pitching, but Bader shows you can never have too much quality in center field. Aaron Hicks was instrumental in last night’s victory, but I am excited that the future of Yankees center field resides with Bader. The Yankees should try to move Hicks in the off-season and get out from under as much money remaining on Hicks’ contract as they can. I really hope the Yankees can sign Andrew Benintendi to a new contract so that Hicks will be expendable. Oswaldo Cabrera has earned the right to be the super-sub and has played tremendously in the outfield for a guy who never played there. If he is not tossed out this winter, Estevan Florial can be the fourth outfielder. If not him, there are plenty of guys around the league that would fit the bill. Like Andújar, Hicks’ time with the Yankees has reached its end. It seems a virtual certainty that he will be moved after the season. 

Regardless of what happens this season, Harrison Bader will open as the starting centerfielder for the New York Yankees in 2023. I would say the position is in good hands…and feet. The Yankees need to get the local kid from Bronxville a ring.

Sadly, no DJ LeMahieu anytime soon. It was reported that LeMahieu is a little better with the issue on his right foot between the big and second toes but is not ready for game action. With season’s end rapidly approaching, there will be no time for LeMahieu to ramp up activities. It will be all or nothing when he returns, and it does not sound like he would be effective if he tried to play today. I hope foot heals more quicky in the next couple of weeks than it has the last few weeks. The Yankees need an effective LeMahieu in the lineup for an extended run in October. 

While he does not think it will require surgery, LeMahieu believes it truly will not be healed until he can have offseason rest. So, the question is whether the pain can be reduced to the point it does not impact the quality of an at-bat. Wishing happy healing thoughts for LeMahieu, Matt Carpenter, and Andrew Benintendi.

Lastly, I am tired of Gerrit Cole’s home runs. That’s it. I have nothing else to add to that thought. I wish Cole would get out of his own head, and pitch to the talent that resides in his arm. Just when you think he is pitching great, he serves a gopher ball to wipe out the good. I hope this is not a prelude to October.    

Happy 61st Home Run Day…I hope!

Roger Maris

As always, Go Yankees!


Saturday, September 17, 2022

Hey Bartender, Serve Me Up Another Brew...


Garrett Mitchell & Teammates / Photo Credit: Morry Gash, AP

First beer fared poorly on the arms of Montas and Holmes…

I am not sure who wants a Wild Card spot more…the Milwaukee Brewers or the New York Yankees? The Yankees blew yet another game. Up by five runs early, starter Frankie Montas continued the latest rendition of Sonny Gray in Pinstripes. Then, the Brewers received a ninth inning gift, the unreliable Clay Holmes on the mound. It was all they needed despite two outs to get the walk-off hit (by a rookie no less) to beat the Yankees, 7-6.

Losses like this are agonizing and they reinforce why I do not carry great confidence in the Yankees in the playoffs. A lockdown closer on the roster seems like such a distant memory. It is a sad statement that Wandy Peralta, who can be a Weeble wobbling at times, seems to be the most effective closer. Where For Art Thou, first-half Holmes? A healthy Aroldis Chapman active on the roster for the first time in weeks, and there is absolutely zero confidence to bring him in late. Not by Aaron Boone, or any of us fans. The Yankees have two weeks to figure this out.

I have felt that Luis Severino would be best served out of the bullpen when he returns from the Injured List later this month but with the ineffectiveness of Montas, Sevy is needed in the rotation to give the Yankees any hope. Hoping the time off has rested Sevy’s arm so that he can take the additional innings without blowing out his arm (I get visions of Billy Martin asking too much out of Matt Keough’s arm many years ago when Billy Ball was in play in Oakland). The concern is obviously the limited number of innings Sevy has pitched over the last several years and the heavier workload this season. Win or lose, Sevy inspires confidence on the mound and that is not something I experience with Montas…or Jameson Taillon for that matter. I am not a big fan of Domingo German, but I have infinitely more trust in him over Montas. I hope it changes but it is what it is.

Frankie "Sonny Gray" Montas / Photo Credit: Morry Gash, AP

With the loss, the Toronto Blue Jays closed the gap in the AL East to five-and-a-half games. While the Yankees (87-57) were stumbling in Brew Town, the Jays (82-63) were beating the Baltimore Orioles, 6-3, at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

It does not get any easier for the Yankees today. Jameson Taillon takes the hill against Brandon Woodruff. Woodruff is 10-4 with 3.39 ERA. His K/9 rate is 10.74 (152 strikeouts in 127 1/3 innings pitched). I know, the Brewers are a good team and there was no way the Yankees were going to sweep this series, particularly on the road. I just hate losses that are wins that get away from us. I hope for better results today. Woodruff has only given up fifteen home runs this year, but everybody has an off day every now and then. Today seems like a good day for him to mix in a disaster. The Yankees can still take two of three, and that would leave me feeling good about the weekend despite the Friday night meltdown.

Oswald Peraza has the best seat in the house to see baseball games. I have no idea why the Yankees refuse to play Peraza in recent days. When Isiah Kiner-Falefa botched the backhanded attempt to scoop the hit by former Ray Willy Adames with runners on the corner, allowing the Brewers to briefly take a one-run lead in the eighth inning, my thought went immediately to Peraza and how he might have performed under similar circumstances. Maybe Aaron Boone has plans to play Peraza today, but it does seem that he will go to great lengths to show he is not going to punish IKF.

Oswald Peraza / Photo Credit: Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

I firmly believe that IKF is not a starter. I like him as the utility guy since he can hit a little, and he plays a decent third base (perhaps better than he does short). Oswaldo Cabrera, who does get regular playing time, was 2-for-2 last night, with three walks. Plus, he spelled Marwin Gonzalez at first base, a position he has never played before. Let the kids play. There is a reason that Peraza is the second-best prospect in the Yankees organization.  Top prospect Anthony Volpe has two home runs and four RBIs in twelve games for the Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders (.280/.357/.460 and .817 OPS), but the Yankees will not call him up this season, so why not give Peraza a better chance? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I firmly believe his floor is IKF’s ceiling. I sound like a broken record when I say it but there a reason the Texas Rangers invested a half-billion dollars in their middle infield to replace IKF. 

The wounded are slowly starting to return. The activation of Aroldis Chapman on Friday was the first of what should be multiple activations over the next week or so. Of course, the question will be at the expense of who? Next up appears to be first baseman Anthony Rizzo who could be activated on Sunday. Harrison Bader, currently on a rehab assignment in Double A, did not play last night, but he was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs on Thursday night for the Somerset Patriots. He will make a couple more rehab starts and could be activated next week to make his long-anticipated Yankees debut. 

Harrison Bader / Photo Credit: Somerset Patriots

Scott Effross, Zack Britton, and Miguel Castro are three relievers who could be close to rejoining the Yankees to help bolster the pen. I probably have the least confidence in Britton. It has been a long, hard road for him. Healthy, he can be effective, but the question is whether there is enough time to get him ready to play a vital role. I am not so sure. Time is certainly not his friend at this juncture. The return of Effross alone will be invaluable.  There is an outside chance that Stephen Ridings could work his way into the bullpen before season’s end, but it would probably take an injury to someone else to make it happen.

DJ LeMahieu is beginning baseball activities again after time off for the inflamed toe so his return could be right around the corner. The Yankees need to make sure he is 100% since his offensive production disappeared with the toe injury. As anxious as I am to get Le Machine back, I want to ensure that we have the best version of him. 

Hopefully the Yankees do not lose Jose Trevino. He left Friday night’s game after taking a foul ball on his right knee. It is unclear if the right knee contusion will cause him to miss significant time. I am sure Ben Rortvedt is keeping his phone close while he waits in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Hopefully Trevi is doing better today and only misses a game or two. Barring any roster moves, Kyle Higashioka should be the starting catcher today, backed by IKF. Hey that’s a great reason to start Peraza at shortstop today. IKF is needed for catching duties!

The magic number is… It is hard for me to even look at magic numbers when there is still doubt about the division race. It sucks in a season that started so tremendously for the Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros have already secured playoff spots while the Yankees continue to fight for one. The Yankees have eighteen games left. The magic number to win the AL East is 13 while a Wild Card berth is 8.  No doubt the Blue Jays are salivating at the thought of hosting the Yankees for three games at Rogers Centre on September 26th through 28th. I guess we do not have to worry about whether Andrew Benintendi has been vaccinated.

Ex-Yankee to make Major League debut. I realize that Adam Ottavino did not work out for the Yankees, but the decision to trade him to the Boston Red Sox never made sense to me, particularly since the Yankees had to ship pitching prospect Frank German in the deal to get the Sox to pay the money left on Ottavino’s contract. While Otto pitches in Queens now, Frank German is set to make his Major League debut for the Red Sox. He was promoted today at the expense of backup catcher Kevin Plawecki who was designated for assignment. I liked German and I was disappointed when I heard his name included in the Ottavino trade.  German should thrive in the Boston bullpen. He will be able to share Yankees stories with Garrett Whitlock, Kaleb Ort, and Nathan Eovaldi. 

Frank German / Photo Credit: Katie Morrison, MassLive

Congratulations and good luck to Frank…except for four games next week. 

As always, Go Yankees!

Monday, September 12, 2022

2 Outta 3 Ain't Bad...


Gleyber Torres / Photo Credit: Noah K Murray, AP

Yankees finally push Rays back in AL East Race…

The Pesky Rays had refused to go away…until they did. After Friday night’s 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees’ lead in the division had fallen to just 3 ½ games and more importantly, just two games in the loss column. If the Yankees were not sweating, I certainly was. Although the Yankees would have remained the division leaders if they had been swept, being tied in the loss column…obviously…would not have been good. Then, much to my delight, the Yankees brought out the lumber for Saturday and Sunday. 

Featuring a new look lineup in a season of constant lineup changes by Manager Aaron Boone, Aaron Judge and Stanton were perched atop the batting order on Saturday and Sunday. Love it or hate it, you cannot argue with the results. Despite no Judge home runs, the Yankees powered their way to twenty runs in the two games, taking the weekend contests, 10-3 and 10-4. On Sunday, after Gleyber Torres had hit his second home run in the second inning, I saw a tweet that said Gleyber was on pace for nine home runs in the game. Too funny. It would prove to be his last home run of the game, but like Saturday, the Yankees had plenty of other runs (and homers) to decisively win both games. 

The biggest takeaway for me was the return of Giancarlo Stanton’s bat. Missing since he had returned from the Injured List, there is no question Stanton, when healthy and hitting, offers tremendous protection for Aaron Judge.  With many of the lineups over the last month, it was Judge on an island. Fortunately, as guys are getting healthy, the Yankees have a chance to build some momentum after enduring such an awful August. 

Owaldo Cabrera (what can’t he do?) smacked his first Major League home run yesterday, a shot to right center off Rays starter and loser Luis Patiño.

Scoring runs in the first inning was huge in both weekend games. Six on Saturday and three on Sunday helped the Yankees to big leads that they used to coast to victory. Lately, it had seemed like the Yankees were always down 0-2 or 0-3 before fans had even gotten to their seats. Much better when the Yankees break out first. 

The Yankees lead in the AL East has been extended to 5 ½ games with 21 games left to play. The Rays, four behind in the loss column, have 24 games remaining and a more difficult schedule. The Toronto Blue Jays are six games back, five in the loss column. The Rays and Jays still have time, but fortunately, the clock is ticking in the Yankees’ favor. 

Despite the tightening atop the division, the Boston Red Sox have a stranglehold on the AL East cellar. Even with their huge win over the Baltimore Orioles yesterday, they are four-and-a-half games behind the O’s and 16 full games behind the Yankees. The Yankees have six games remaining against the Red Sox, including two in Boston tomorrow and Wednesday. I expect the Red Sox to play hard (I would not want anything else), but it is fun to see them when they are down. The only downside is the Yankees do not get to beat the Red Sox to advance in the playoffs since Boston is out of it.

Are the Yankees finally starting to get healthy? Four rehabbing Yankees made appearances in yesterday’s game between the Somerset Patriots, Anthony Volpe’s old team, and the Hartford Yard Goats. The Yard Goats won the game, 8-7, but Harrison Bader made his Yankees organization debut by getting a hit in three at-bats, a run-scoring single. Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, and Miguel Castro each pitched an inning of hitless/scoreless relief. Chappy walked a batter and struck out three, while Britton struck out two.

After the disastrous game by Aaron Hicks on Friday night and his subsequent benching for the weekend games, Bader is sorely needed. Stanton showed that simply be activated off the IL is not enough, it takes time to get the timing back. So, the sooner the guys can get back, the better since October is right around the corner and the guys need reps to get playoff ready. 

Harrison Bader / Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post

There is also good news with DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo. LeMahieu could be back in ten days when the next homestand starts on September 22nd. The toe inflammation has finally improved so hopefully he can be the Hit Machine of old when he returns. Rizzo was a welcome sight in the Yankees dugout for the weekend games. Marwin Gonzalez has become the starting first baseman by default, and as in the words of former Yankees manager Joe Girardi, “it’s not what you want.” Rizzo will begin ramping up his baseball activities so he could return when LeMahieu does if not a few days earlier. Both men will be welcome additions to the lineup, helping reform the early season Yankees who found a way to win nearly every night. 

Luis Severino is scheduled to make a rehab start on Thursday and possibly rejoin the Yankees next week. Frankie Montas was supposed to be the second starter behind Gerrit Cole but with his struggles since joining the Yankees, a healthy Severino slots in nicely if he can get stretched out in time. 

Derek Jeter’s triumphant return to Yankee Stadium. Although the Yankees were unable to win Friday night, it was a winning performance during the pre-game Hall of Fame ceremony for Yankees Legend Derek Sanderson Jeter. Derek’s wife and daughters, and his parents were in attendance, along with former Yankees Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez, CC Sabathia and Joe Torre. 

Derek Jeter / Photo Credit: Adam Hunger, AP

It was tough the years Jeter was away in Miami with the Marlins, and I was glad to see him embrace his Yankees legacy during his speech. Not sure what his comment about looking forward to seeing a lot more Yankee fans here in the near future means, but I like the thought of Jeter hanging out at Yankee Stadium more often. It would be even better if the Steinbrenner family brought him into a role with the organization. As someone who thinks it may be time to shutter the Brian Cashman era if the Yankees do not win this year (the boos at the mention of his name on Friday night show I am not alone with that thought), I am intrigued with the idea of Derek Jeter as the team’s general manager. Who knows if he would be willing to settle for GM after holding the Presidency with the Marlins. He might have loftier aspirations. Retire Randy Levine and make Jeter the President of the Yankees? Works for me. Then, dump Aaron Boone (again, if the Yankees fail to win this year), and replace him with Jorge Posada. 

I do not know what the future holds with Jeter and the Yankees but suffice it to say I am happy when they are together.

Never forget September 11th. Although you can say who could ever forget, there are Yankee fans in their early twenties with no firsthand recollection of that very difficult and tragic day. Wearing FDNY hats on Sunday, the Yankees gave tribute to the first responders, the many people who died that day, and the friends and families who suffered great losses. The sacrifices they gave will always be remembered and hopefully never forgotten by future generations after we are long gone.

As always, Go Yankees!

Monday, September 5, 2022

Play Today, Win Today...


Aaron Judge & Oswaldo Cabrera / Photo Credit: Getty Images

Time to start a winning streak…

The Yankees’ Great Collapse of 2022 continues. It is hard not to look at the New York Yankees with a ‘glass is half empty’ lens.  Since the Trading Deadline (August 2nd), the Yankees are 10-20. A five-game winning streak in late August that included a two-game sweep of the New York Mets and the first two games of the series in Oakland, things had started to look better. It was a façade. The Yankees proceeded to lose the last two games of the four-game set with the A’s, then dropped three of four in Anaheim, and barely avoided being swept in Tampa this weekend. 

The Yankees return home today to play Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela and the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees have handled the Twins with ease for years but if there was ever a year for the Twins to get revenge, this is it. Minnesota has had their own struggles, but the Yankees would be foolish to underestimate the Twins given the state of their current play. The Twins are 68-64, which is good for a first-place tie in the AL Central with the Cleveland Guardians. The Twins and the Guardians are currently five games out of the Wild Card chase, so the pressure is on the Twins to win the division if they have October aspirations. In other words, I fully expect the Twins to be ready to play. Former Yank Mike Ford was slugging like Babe Ruth when the Yankees were in Anaheim (okay, not really, but it seemed like it). No doubt former Yanks Sanchez and Urshela would love to do the same. 

Gary Sanchez & Gio Urshela

The Yankees desperately needed a win yesterday to keep the Rays from pulling within two games in the loss column. They may have won the game, 2-1, after thwarting a Rays rally in the bottom of the ninth, but the Yankees got away with one when Clay Holmes’ 3-2 pitch to Yandy Diaz, slightly below the zone was a called third strike with the excellent glove work by Jose Trevino who brought his glove up quickly on the reception. If it had been called a ball which is what it really was, the Rays would have had the bases loaded against a reliever they clearly had on the ropes. The stage was nearly set for a Rays walk-off which would have been agonizing. 

Regardless of how the Yankees (80-54) got the win on Sunday, they stand five games up on the Rays (74-58) entering play today (four games in the loss column). The Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles are six and eight-and-a-half games back, respectively. The Orioles trailing by only single digits. I type those words in disbelief, yet sadly they are true. The Orioles are a success story, and I am not excited they stand in the Yankees’ path the last week of the regular season when the teams play at Yankee Stadium for three games starting Friday, September 30th. The Yankees’ last homestand of the year (they head to Arlington, Texas for the final regular season series), could have playoff implications for both teams. The Boston Red Sox seemingly have a stranglehold on the AL East Cellar as they have a five-game lead on the O’s for worst record in the division, and Baltimore seems content to let Boston reign as the bilge water of the division. 

The Rays get the Red Sox at home for three games starting today before they head to New York to play the Yankees again. It is imperative the Yankees hold ground against the Rays to protect the five-game lead heading into play on Friday. It sucks the Rays get the soft Red Sox, but their schedule gets noticeably tougher as the month progresses. They have nine games against the Blue Jays (those teams could cancel themselves out in division play), six against the AL’s winningest team, the Houston Astros, and three against the AL Central co-leader Cleveland Guardians. By the time they get through those challenging teams, a three-game pillow at Fenway Park awaits them to end the season. Hoping the season does not come down to which team, Yankees, or Rays, does better in their final regular season series.

Hopefully the Yankees can play winning baseball again this month. Last month was hard. The injuries have not helped, and they lost another valuable player in Andrew Benintendi whose injured wrist has landed him on the 10-day Injured List. Hoping Matt Carpenter and Harrison Bader are back soon to help the lineup. The Yankees must figure out the bullpen. Clay Holmes’ near meltdown yesterday is a reminder that his struggles have not gone away. I look forward with cautious optimism. I know the team, despite its challenges, can win. Unless they get some guys back, I cannot say I am so optimistic about October, but we will cross that bridge when it comes. The focus today should rightfully be on securing the AL East championship and gaining a first-round bye. The dog days of summer are over so no more time for lackluster play. Yankees, you got this!

Andrew Benintendi has been shelved. It was not a good sign when there was a ‘pop’ heard from Benny’s wrist during an at-bat against the Rays. Even though the early test results were negative, the sound alone was cause for concern. Turns out it was an indicator of greater problems as Benny was diagnosed with a broken hook of the hamate bone.

He will undergo surgery and we await his timeline. There is still hope he could be back for the playoffs, but time will tell. It is not like he can roll out of bed one morning and start hitting .300 again. Who knows how much time he will have to get ready…if he is ready at all. With typical rehab entailing three to four weeks of immobilization, there will not be much time to get back into baseball shape. Look at Giancarlo Stanton, he left his bat at the All-Star Game, and it has not rejoined him on the active roster yet. 

Although his Yankees career started slowly, Benny was rounding into form as a much-needed consistent source of hits. Since he was acquired from the Kansas City Royals on July 27th for minor league pitchers Chandler Champlain, T.J. Sikkema and Beck Way, Benny has hit .254/.331/.404 with .734 OPS. He was four of five in stolen base attempts, and had hit two home runs, nine doubles, and a triple while walking thirteen times in 33 games. Can Aaron Hicks match that production? Not sure I would hold my breath on that one.   

I like Benintendi and what he brings to the team’s offense. I just wish the other guys not named Aaron Judge were hitting better. Hoping for a swift recovery and Benny’s return as a source for extra base hits.  The offseason free agent focus will be Judge, however, I hope the Yankees do not lose sight of Benintendi and bring him back for next year. Or trade for Ian Happ, that would work too. 

Anthony Rizzo’s back! I wish that meant he was back in the lineup but unfortunately it is the continued back problems that have caused Rizzo to miss extended time. After receiving an epidural for his back pain, there is hope he will be ready to play in a couple of days. He is needed now more than ever. With the injuries, Rizzo plays such a huge role in the lineup and the diversity of his left-handed bat in a predominantly right-handed batting order, worsened by the loss of Benintendi, is essential.

Anthony Rizzo / Photo Credit: AP

I have mixed feelings about bringing Rizzo back next year. I love the guy for how he plays and the leadership he brings to a clubhouse, but chronic back trouble is not a favorable sign. It will continue to be an issue for him moving forward, and that alone would give me pause to spend millions of dollars to keep him in Pinstripes. It really sucks to say that, but I am trying to be a realist. Austin Wells is frequently mentioned as a player who will eventually switch from catcher to first base, but he is still a few seasons away. There are no immediate or obvious first base solutions for next season beyond Rizzo.  I am sure this will be a topic of discussion for the team’s offseason rebuild strategy.

As for Rizzo’s epidural, let's hope he gives birth to an AL East championship.

The Roger Maris Watch. The historic season for Aaron Judge continues. His 53rd home run yesterday in the first inning of the Yankees’ 2-1 win was accomplished in the Yankees’ 134th game. Roger Maris, the American League record holder with 61*, did not hit his 53rd until his 135th game. So, Judge remains slightly ahead of the pace. I feel bad for Maris. The conditions he played under while in pursuit of Babe Ruth’s record must have been unbearable. I have heard the stories of the stress he endured while chasing a legend. The hate he received, the hair loss, etc. Judge, for the most part, does not get the same level of scrutiny since the fans…and more importantly, the media…are cheering for his success.

Aaron Judge / Photo Credit: @Yankees, via Twitter

I am glad it is a Yankee assaulting the AL home run record. Records are made to be broken, and even if the Maris record falls, his name and image have received tremendous attention this season. His 1961 season will not be forgotten regardless of what Aaron Judge does. I would love to see Judge hit 61 home runs in 154 games to eliminate the asterisk, but regardless, Judge has earned the right to stand next to the legends.

As always, Go Yankees!