Sunday, June 25, 2023

Aaron Judge and the Honest Toe...


Aaron Judge (Photo Credit: John Minchillo/AP)

Judge comes clean on the severity of his injury…

I remember when New York Yankees baseball was fun.

On Saturday, Aaron Judge revealed that he had suffered a torn ligament in the ailing toe that had landed him on the Injured List earlier this month after the general belief was strained ligaments. The Yankees once again prove they are not transparent regarding player injuries, and it takes the player to divulge the severity of the injury. We went from wondering if Judge would be out a few days, then to a couple of weeks, and now, if he misses less than a month, it would be a miracle.  I am doubtful we will see the 2022 AL MVP until after the All-Star Break. We will soon be hearing words like ‘Judge is a great Trade Deadline acquisition’.   

Despite the heroics of Billy McKinney in recent games, the Yankees are not the same team without Judge in the lineup. Giancarlo Stanton may be in the lineup, but his bat must be on a European vacation. The loss of Judge would be eased if Stanton was hitting like we know he is capable of, but, unfortunately for us, he is not. The Yankees go into every game hoping they can hold the opponents to three or four runs to give their anemic offense a chance to come through. This Yankees club would not be able to compete in a slugfest. The Los Angeles Angels defeated the Colorado Rockies, 25-1, last night. The Yankees have not scored a combined total of 25 runs since they lost to the New York Mets in the second game of a two-game series nearly two weeks ago. 

After losing a disappointing game to the Texas Rangers on Friday night, the Yankees bounced back with a 1-0 victory yesterday behind a tremendous performance by Luis Severino (finally) and a bullpen that was bent but not broken. The shutout upheld Billy McKinney’s fourth-inning home run as the game-winner.  The Rangers, one of the best offensive clubs in the American League, could have easily taken the game away from the Yankees. Somehow, they failed to get a timely hit when they needed it (credit to Yankees pitching), and the Yankees, needing every win they can get, emerged victorious. 

Billy McKinney (Photo Credit: Robert Sabo/NY Post)

The win allowed the Yankees (42-35) to get back to single digits behind AL East leader Tampa Bay Rays at nine-and-a-half games. The Yankees trail Aaron Hicks and the Baltimore Orioles by five games. The Toronto Blue Jays are nipping at the Yankees’ heels, only a half-game behind the Bombers. Further missteps by the team could leave them fighting the Boston Red Sox for the cellar. 

In June, the Yankees are 8-11. Surprisingly, they have been holding onto third place in the division despite their struggling offense.  The Angels have the same record as the Blue Jays, so they are just behind the Yankees in the AL East Wild Card standings. The Angels lost oft-injured third baseman Anthony Rendon, who was placed on the Injured List a week ago with a left wrist contusion, and, an old friend, Gio Urshela, for the season with a fractured pelvis. The Angels did not sit back and take their chances with rookies or cast-offs for third base. They went out and acquired Eduardo Escobar from the Mets on Friday night, and Mike Moustakas last night (after he had witnessed the 24-run loss to the Angels as a member of the Colorado Rockies). Moustakas may not be the player he once was but credit the Angels for trying. No need to wait for the Trade Deadline. 

The Yankees get absolutely nothing out of Josh Donaldson and their best response is to simply sit him on the bench. I realize we are in the final days of Donaldson’s time as a Yankee. The question is not ‘if’ he will be released but rather ‘when’. It seems like it will happen around the All-Star Break, but how long does GM Brian Cashman go without trying to find players who can help today? If the Yankees are hoping for some sign of the 2015 AL MVP from Donaldson, they will be sadly disappointed. Donaldson is done. Time to let him go home and enjoy his young child.  Given DJ LeMahieu’s decline, the best hope for third base, Oswald Peraza, continues to bide his time in Eastern Pennsylvania. It would be fun to see the Yankees acquire Nolan Arenado from the St Louis Cardinals, but I have given up hope Cashman will make that type of move.  Arenado, 32, is hitting .272/.319/.477 (.796 OPS) with 15 home runs and 50 runs batted in. The Yankees will be in St Louis next weekend. It would be fantastic to see them depart the city with Arenado on the plane. The Yankees will not make the trade, but it is fun to think about. They need a jolt to the lineup and Arenado could provide it. I am ready for anything over Donaldson.

I hope the Yankees can continue to tread water until Aaron Judge returns. It would be nice if a few of the big-name vets on the active roster would chip in. No offense to the players but highlight reels featuring Jake Bauers and Billy McKinney do not inspire hope for post-season success.   

Rotation Upgrade Nears Return

Carlos Rodón is moving closer to making his debut in Pinstripes. Today, he starts the second of three expected rehab games before he will be activated on the Major League roster. In his first rehab start, Rodón pitched three innings, allowing a hit and a run, while striking out five (including a streak of four-in-a-row). 

Carlos Rodon (Photo Credit: Somerset Patriots)

His start today, for the Somerset Patriots, will be against the Toronto Blue Jays’ Double-A affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

After Domingo German’s implosion the other night, Rodón’s presence is sorely needed in the Yankees’ starting rotation. Hopefully, Luis Severino’s terrific outing yesterday is a sign of things to come, and Sevy and Rodón can help the Yankees build momentum in the season’s second half. It certainly helps that Clarke Schmidt has been pitching much better lately…Jhony Brito too. I am hopeful the positives coming from the rotation will spell the end of German’s time as a Yankee.    


RHP Clayton Beeter, acquired last year in the trade that sent Joey Gallo to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline, has been promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Beeter is 6-3 with a 2.32 ERA and 82 strikeouts in thirteen games started. The 24-year-old is positioning himself to help the Yankees later this season if his upward progression continues. 

I am excited to see what Beeter can do. When he first arrived in the organization, it sounded like his future was as a reliever, but confidence has grown in his ability to start. It would be nice if the Yankees could strike gold with Beeter after giving up so many talented prospects to get Gallo. 

Also promoted to Triple-A was third baseman, Max Burt. The right-handed Burt, 26, is hitting .267/.333/.481 (.814 OPS) with 7 home runs and 23 RBIs in 131 at-bats. There is always room in the organization for hard-working players. I would like to see Burt achieve his dream of reaching the Majors. Not sure if he will get the chance with the Yankees but who knows? Injuries on the big-league club (or the release of a certain aging third baseman) could open a path for Burt. Andres Chapparo should certainly be in that same conversation. It is time for some of the young guys to get opportunities over aging players in rapid decline.   

Aaron Hicks Resurgence

I am happy for Aaron Hicks. He has found a new life in Baltimore and has quickly become a key player for the second-place AL East rival. In 69 ABs for the Yankees, Hicks was .188/.263/.261 (.524 OPS) with one home run and five RBIs.  In 62 ABs for the Orioles, Hicks is .306/.403/.581 (.983 OPS) with four home runs and eleven RBIs. Like Estevan Florial in Triple-A, Hicks is seemingly making highlight plays every day in his new orange/black uniform and beard. 

Aaron Hicks (Photo Credit: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

As someone ready for Hicks to leave, I am not going to reverse course and say the Yankees should have kept him. He did not perform as a Yankee, at least not in recent years, and I am not sure he would have had this type of resurgence if he had stayed in the organization. Sure, consistent playing time makes a difference, and the Yankees were not giving it to him.  I saw former Oriole great Jim Palmer’s observation that Hicks was trying too hard in New York to live up to his contract, and it only made things worse, bringing down the wrath of the fans on him. He said that sometimes it is better to try “easier”.

Good for Hicks.  I remain convinced the Yankees made the right decision to part ways. The weight of the Pinstripes can be heavy and for Hicks, it was too much. 

As always, Go Yankees! 

Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Yankees in the Land of Mediocrity...


Aaron Boone, Anthony Rizzo, and Domingo German (Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/AP)

The team continues to look for a spark…

In a perfect world, the Yankees would be the AL’s elite team, running away from the competition, in preparation for a deep charge into October. All the team’s players would be happy, healthy, and productive. And the Boston Red Sox would be winless. Sadly, we do not live in a perfect world. 

Losing is never fun but losing to the Boston Red Sox hits harder.  The Red Sox may be the AL East’s resident cellar dweller, however, they showed they were nobody’s fool with Friday night’s 15-5 thrashing of our beloved Yankees.  It was one of those games where I felt like joining with the Red Sox fans as they chanted ‘Yankees Suck!’. The sting of the loss lingered more than it should have with the weather-related postponement of Saturday’s game. If there is any consolation, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost last night, 15-to-zero, to their hated rival, the San Francisco Giants. At least the Yankees managed to score a few runs. Hey, misery loves company!

July is less than two weeks away and the Yankees find themselves ten full games behind the Tampa Bay Rays. The Baltimore Orioles are four games up on the Yankees, and the Red Sox only trail the Yankees by four games. The Yankees (39-31) are as close to the division floor as they are to second place. I know the 1978 Yankees overcame a mid-July fourteen-game deficit to force a one-game playoff for the division championship en route to the World Series crown, yet this team does not feel like it has that magic. 

The Los Angeles Angels have beaten the Yankees to forty wins. Granted, they have played three more games than the Yankees and have two more losses, but they are only a half-game behind the Yankees in the Wild Card chase. I guess it is Shohei Ohtani’s revenge.

Aaron Judge’s absence has proven how much the team has depended upon him. The other big bats in the lineup have been largely silent, putting added pressure on the pitching staff.  It is tough going into games thinking that the pitchers need to hold the opponents to no more than three or four runs to give the offense a chance. How did we get here? I thought the Yankees were smarter than this. When I say Yankees in this case, I am referring to Brian Cashman, his high-paid consultants, the team of nerds, and the others responsible for the players on the field or rather, should I say, not on the field. 

Brian Cashman (Photo Credit: Dustin Satloss/Getty Images)

Aaron Judge has gone from just needing a few days to rest to possibly returning before the All-Star Break as the best-case scenario. It was reported this week that he received a second platelet-rich plasma injection in his right big toe. The injection was targeted at a different ligament than the first one he received. Fans love to say the Yankees will be a different (better) team when Judge is back, along with Carlos Rodón and Harrison Bader. I am not so sure. It seems like the 2023 Yankees are snake-bit.  Something new continually comes up to derail team momentum.  The Yankees are playing like the average team they are. 

I wish I could look at the Trade Deadline with optimism. I am doubtful the Yankees can add impactful players. They cannot trade the elite prospects without sacrificing the future. It is not prospect-hugging, it is fact.  The Yankees are getting older, and keeping healthy players on the field is continually a problem.

Estevan Florial is tearing up Triple-A with homers seemingly every day without promotion to The Show. He is hitting .311/.403/.646 (1.049 OPS) with 18 home runs, 44 runs batted in, and 13 stolen bases. It seems obvious the Yankees do not believe his Triple-A numbers would translate to Major League success. Maybe the Yankees hope to get some value for him in a July trade, but realistically, it was not that long ago when every team in the Major Leagues had a chance to claim Florial on waivers and passed. Last year’s trade deadline acquisitions (or rather misfires) leave me a little doubtful to believe the Yankees can find gems who push them into second-half success.

St Louis Cardinals outfielder Tyler O'Neill is the most recent rumored trade candidate I have seen. I know there is some comfort in having a player named O’Neill in the Yankee outfield (even if he is not related to The Warrior), but he is another outfielder with durability problems. O’Neill is on the 60-day Injured List (back) and is not expected to return until next month. Even if his back is pain-free, the Yankees do not need another player who loves riding the Injured List. The O’Neill rumors are most likely ones created by Cardinals fans, yet I would not put anything ‘senseless’ past Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman. The Cardinals generally fare well in their trades with the Yankees.

I am hoping for the best but braced for the worst. It is the current state of the New York Yankees.

Harrison Bader’s Return

There was some disappointment among the Yankees fan base when outfielder Harrison Bader was not activated off the Injured List before Friday night’s game against the Red Sox. I get his desire to be 100% before he resumes his role as the team’s starting centerfielder, however, it is frustrating that it is so difficult to keep him on the field. It reinforces the belief the Yankees should find a new centerfielder in the offseason. I like Bader, and when he is healthy, he is a fun player to have on the team.  Unfortunately, those times are too infrequent. He is not worth the money it would take to sign him to a new contract if he cannot stay on the field. 

Bader was one-for-four for the Somerset Patriots on Saturday, with two strikeouts. Well, at least his bat is in line with a few of the hitters on the current active Major League roster.

Harrison Bader

Bader is expected to be at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday when the Yankees open a three-game set with the Seattle Mariners. Hopefully, he stays healthy and can help the Yankees find wins. 

Well Wishes to Tanner Houck

We wish an expedient and full recovery for Boston Red Sox starter Tanner Houck who suffered a facial fracture when he was hit with a line drive off Kyle Higashioka’s bat in Friday night’s game. He was able to walk off the field, and he never lost consciousness. He is resting at home and will have follow-up evaluations this week to determine the next steps.

Tanner Houck (Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/AP)

You never want to see anyone get hurt. A hard-hit ball to the face is one of the worst things imaginable on the playing field, and it certainly could have been far more devastating than it was.

I am glad Tanner is doing better, and I hope he is back soon. 

And Finally

The Yankees and Red Sox play a doubleheader today at Fenway Park in Boston. Clarke Schmidt and Luis Severino are the scheduled starters for the Yankees. A sweep would go a long way toward erasing the memory of the Friday night disaster.  Josh Donaldson, please feel free to hit a meaningful home run for a change.

As always, Go Yankees! 

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Life Without Aaron Judge...


Aaron Judge (Photo Credit: Ashley Landis/AP)

Wanted: Miracle Toe Healer…

Life without Aaron Judge is not fun. Worse yet, it sucks. 

I know he is only away for a few weeks while his toe recovers from the dramatic play he made at Dodger Stadium earlier this month, but it is painful to watch the Yankees play without him. Without Judge in the lineup, the other weaknesses are magnified. It is frustrating that there is no timetable for Judge’s return.  I know the Yankees are conservative when it comes to injuries, and they do not want to set a date for return, only to face further delays, but I wish they were more transparent. Judge’s absence shows how devastating losing him in free agency would have been. Hopefully, the toe will improve with each passing day, and Aaron Judge will be roaming right field soon. 

I am not trying to play ‘I told you so’ but at the beginning of Spring Training, I felt Anthony Volpe should have returned to Triple-A for more seasoning and the Yankees starting shortstop should be Oswald Peraza. I held that opinion through most of Spring Training but finally acquiesced to support the decision to promote Volpe, pushing Peraza back to Triple-A when it appeared the Yankees were headed in that direction anyway. In retrospect, the Yankees should not have been seduced by Volpe’s strong Spring performance. We have seen too many players over the years enjoying stellar play in March, only to struggle once the gates of the regular season have opened. The ‘Greg Bird’ Syndrome. Most recently (before Volpe), it was Kyle Higashioka. 

I like Volpe, and I am excited for his long-term future with the Yankees, but maybe it is time for him to go to Triple-A to work on the finer aspects of his game now that he has had a taste of Major League life. He has a better understanding of what it takes to succeed at the game’s highest level, and it should provide a better blueprint for him to prepare to become a productive everyday starter in the Bronx.

Anthony Volpe (Photo Credit: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Through sixty-six games, Volpe is batting .187/.261/.347 (.608 OPS). He has 9 home runs and 26 RBIs. He is 14-for-14 in stolen bases but he only has one in the last 24 games.  While you cannot compare Triple-A pitching to the Major Leagues, Oswald Peraza is batting .311/.383/.597 (.980 OPS) in twenty-eight games. He has 10 home runs and 21 RBIs, plus 7 stolen bases.  Peraza has cooled off lately after his blazing month of May, and he did not appear in either game of yesterday’s doubleheader between the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and the Norfolk Tides. I have not seen the reason for Peraza’s absence (he played Friday night), but if healthy, I would flip Volpe for Peraza. There is no denying Volpe has the higher ceiling, but Volpe would benefit from some further work in Triple-A while Peraza has nothing left to prove there.

I want Volpe to succeed, and he can be a disruptive force on the basepaths come October. A little time away to better his game is not an unreasonable request. Give Peraza a chance and be a stronger team later in the year when both players are on the Major League roster.   

Other players I am concerned about are DJ LeMahieu and Kyle Higashioka. The Yankees need LeMahieu to be the hitter he was before last year’s injury. LeMahieu will be 35 next month and admittedly, I am concerned he may never be the player he once was. For a while, I have wanted LeMahieu to take Josh Donaldson’s place as the starting third baseman. However, while I do not feel JD’s recent home runs scream ‘he’s back!’, LeMahieu’s struggles have lessened my desire to move on from Donaldson. I am about ready to rename LeMahieu “Oh Fer Three”. 

DJ LeMahieu (Photo Credit: Noah K Murray/AP)

Good pitching helped the Yankees on Saturday, but it is a tough ask for the pitching staff to consistently hold the other team to no more than one or two runs to compensate for an anemic offense. I am convinced this will be Higgy’s final year in Pinstripes, and I would not be disappointed if his time was up sooner than later. Ben Rortvedt was acquired to play catcher for the Yankees (not the RailRiders) and although the plan was derailed by injuries, I feel he can be an effective partner to support starter Jose Trevino. 

It will be tough for the Yankees to make trades in July. You cannot strip the farm system of multiple talented prospects every year without damaging the future. Last year’s trades seem like such a waste. The loss of many well-regarded prospects for multiple players who failed to make a difference for the Yankees. With the struggles of some of those prospects elsewhere, you can say the Yankees made the right calls. Yet, inevitably, there will be lost prospects who come back to haunt the Yankees. 

Despite the nice moments from Jake Bauers, Willie Calhoun and Billy McKinney, the Yankees still need a strong left fielder. I am not convinced the current lot is the answer. Bauers taking away a Rafael Devers home run on Saturday was a terrific highlight, but the Yankees can do better. Isiah Kiner-Falefa has performed better than expected as Harrison Bader’s replacement in center field, but the preference would be for him to remain in a utility role when Bader returns. For as much as fans have wanted the Yankees to promote Estevan Florial, the truth is the Yankees must make room for Bader and Aaron Judge when they are healthy, and at least one of Bauers, Calhoun, and McKinney will be sacrificed.  If the Yankees need a 40-man roster spot. Who loses? McKinney seems like the most expendable if Bader is healthy. If McKinney’s promotion had been Florial, it is likely Flo would be facing a second trip to the waiver wire with the Yankees losing him this time after his strong recent performance in Triple-A.   

It is a tough job for GM Brian Cashman and his team of nerds. They must reinforce the team with seemingly limited resources. The Yankees’ top five prospects according to are three outfielders, a catcher, and a shortstop. I do not see the Yankees trading Jasson Dominguez or Spencer Jones. Everson Pereira is a talented future star, but he might be the most expendable of the group.  Austin Wells wants to stay at Catcher, but we have all heard the stories he will eventually need to change positions. With the profile of his bat, the Yankees will find room. I would be shocked if they traded him. Trey Sweeney, the shortstop, has always seemed like the future third baseman to me.  I do not want to lose any of the top five prospects.  Not so much prospect-hugging as it is concerned about the competitiveness of the team in future years. I know, win the World Series this year, and worry about next year…well…next year. 

The core belief is the twenty-six men who will take the field today at Yankee Stadium to play the series finale against the Boston Red Sox are average at best. This is not a championship squad. Sure, they will get better when Judge, Bader, and Carlos Rodón return. Maybe they can make a difference. Maybe they cannot. One thing is certain, they cannot do it alone. Better performances from Luis Severino, Giancarlo Stanton, and DJ LeMahieu, among others, are necessary for the team to accomplish its goals. Hoping for elite July reinforcements is akin to holding the winning ticket in Powerball. In other words, do not get your hopes up.

The Yankees need a left fielder and a starting pitcher. Bullpen help is always a plus. I am hopeful yet pessimistic that the Yankees can get the pieces they need. I will say it now that I do not believe the Yankees will acquire a player who moves the needle. I sincerely hope they prove me wrong. 

Mike Harkey, Pitching Coach

Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey, a former Major League pitching coach, was forced into duty yesterday as the fill-in for pitching coach Matt Blake.

It was a good opportunity for Harkey who led a successful mound visit with reliever Wandy Peralta late in yesterday’s 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox that helped ice the game. Harkey always reminds me of Joe Girardi for no reason other than he is the last holdover from Girardi’s coaching staff. 

Blake and his family are dealing with the loss of his mother-in-law. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. 

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Aaron Judge Breaks Dodger Stadium...


Aaron Judge (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

The Captain makes Game-Saving Catch…

Aaron Judge is known for his monstrous home runs, and he added another one to his collection on Saturday evening, but his stellar defensive play was front and center in the eighth inning when he made a running catch into the right-field bullpen door. The hit by the Dodgers’ JD Martinez looked like it had extra bases on it, with a runner, Max Muncy, at first base. The Yankees were nursing a two-run lead and momentum had appeared to shift to the Dodgers after Gerrit Cole had prematurely exited the game. Yet, Aaron Judge had other ideas, and he caught the Martinez hard-hit fly as he pummeled into the bullpen door, causing it to fly open. Thankfully, Judge was not hurt in the play. 

In a twist of irony, despite the catch, and the immediate relay of the ball back to the infield, Muncy was awarded second base when the umpires ruled that Judge had left the field of play. The Dodgers need to build a stronger, safer wall.  Judge should not have been penalized for making a tremendous catch when a feeble door lost its encounter with the 6’7”, 282-lb superstar. Fortunately, Muncy was stranded, and the shift in momentum stalled for the Dodgers.   

Most importantly, aside from Judge avoiding injury, the Yankees prevailed, 6-3, to even the three-game series at one game apiece.  After Judge’s heroic play, the two earlier home runs by Jake Bauers seemed like an afterthought. 

Jake Bauers (Photo Credit: Ashley Landis/AP)

Judge added a home run of his own (19 home runs for the season), a solo shot in the sixth inning. Owaldo Cabrera recalled earlier in the day after the brief demotion to Triple-A when Greg Allen was placed on the Injured List, also homered in the ninth inning which gave the Yankees an important insurance run. Cabrera was not in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre long enough to “find” himself so I will just go with the thought that he shook the hand of the red-hot Oswald Peraza and channeled some of Peraza’s magic to himself.  Unfortunately, Greg Allen is hurt (hip flexor injury), but I am hopeful Cabrera can rebound from the struggles that had sent him back to the Minors.  The home run is a start.

There was a concern when Manager Aaron Boone pulled Gerrit Cole after six innings and only eighty pitches. The Yankees were up, 5-1, clearly in control when he departed. Wandy Peralta replaced Cole at the top of the seventh inning and was unable to record an out. A single, a triple that scored a run, and a walk ended his brief appearance. Michael King gave up a single, which scored another run charged against Peralta.  Fortunately, King settled down and held the Dodgers in check for the next two innings. After a dropped third strike, a throwing error by catcher Jose Trevino allowed Max Muncy to reach first base to start the bottom of the eighth inning. After being awarded second base because Judge punished the bullpen door and his large foot that stepped off the field of play. Muncy made it as far as third, but King struck out Miguel Vargas to end the threat.

Despite an annoying walk by Mookie Betts, Clay Holmes pitched a scoreless ninth inning to put the game in the win column for the Yankees. Cole’s early departure was blamed on leg cramps which is certainly better news than a potential injury. The Yankees cannot afford to lose Cole (7-0) at the top of the rotation, particularly after Luis Severino’s pathetic performance on Friday night. Peralta’s performance, like Sevy’s, was disturbing. Maybe he had flashbacks from his days as a San Francisco Giant while pitching in Dodger Stadium. Hopefully, reliability and consistency are Peralta’s friends next time out.   

Two home runs by Jake Bauers on Saturday after two home runs by Josh Donaldson on Friday night. I wonder who will hit two home runs for the Yankees today.  Assuming he is back in the lineup, I will go with the sentimental choice, Giancarlo Stanton, a native Angelino. But realistically, let Anthony Rizzo be that guy. 

The Yankees (35-25) are six games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East and only two games away from the Baltimore Orioles.  The Rays split a doubleheader with the Boston Red Sox yesterday. I find myself pulling for the Red Sox to win today, which is always odd. The Yankees will see the Red Sox next weekend.  As thrilling as it is to see the Yankees-Dodgers rivalry renewed, there is still no greater rivalry than Yankees-Red Sox even if the Red Sox are not the team they once were.

The Injuries

The Yankees received a shot in the arm when Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, and Tommy Kahnle were activated this week, but they lost two more players to the Injured List yesterday. As referenced above, Greg Allen was placed on the Injured List after suffering a hip flexor injury in Friday night’s game. Allen’s ill-timed injury was a flashback to last year when the Yankees lost Andrew Benintendi just when it seemed he was making a difference with his outfield role, only to be lost.  Allen filled in admirably for the injured Harrison Bader and had been a threat on the basepaths.  As great as Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been with the roles he has been asked to play, Allen is a better centerfielder.  Hopefully, Bader will be back soon.  The Yankees travel to St Louis at the end of the month, and he should be motivated to play in front of his former fans. 

The other player added to the Injured List was reliever Ryan Weber. Weber has quietly excelled in his lower-leverage bullpen role. After being taken out of Friday night’s game with an elbow/forearm issue, he has been placed on the IL and will not pitch for the next couple of weeks. Best case, he is back after some rest. Worst case, he is gone for the season with Tommy John surgery looming on the horizon.  Here is hoping for the former.  Nick Ramirez was recalled taking Weber’s spot on the active roster. 

He may be a starting pitcher for a rival, but I am saddened to see Chris Sale is dealing with shoulder inflammation. When healthy, Sale has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. Unfortunately for him, good health has not been kind to him in recent years. I always operate under the assumption that to be the best, you must beat the best, so I prefer Sale on the pitching mound and not in a medical unit.  It will be a week before Sale gets a diagnosis. For his sake, I hope it is best case scenario.  Former Yank Corey Kluber was activated from the paternity list to take Sale’s place on the roster, and he will presumably slide back into the rotation after a recent performance-related demotion to the bullpen. 

Former Yanks

Former Yankees were in the news the week.

The biggest was the decision by Aaron Hicks to stay in the American League East.  He signed with the Baltimore Orioles after they lost their elite centerfielder, Cedric Mullins, to injury. Hicks was 2-for-2 in his Orioles debut (before departing with muscle cramps) and he made a highlight reel catch for the O’s last night. I wish Hicks the best. I am glad he is no longer a Yankee, but if he can find success at Camden Yards, good for him. There is a bit of irony in failing with the third-place team in the AL East, only to find a new home higher in the standings.  

Aaron Hicks (Photo Credit: AP)

Former Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez signed with the San Diego Padres following his release by the cross-town Mets.  El Gary should have a better opportunity with the Padres given they have less healthy and available (and less talented) catching than the Mets.  I did find it odd that Gary chose to wear 99 on his Padres jersey. He had worn 33 with the Mets.  It is kind of funny that two former Yankees who wore 24 in Pinstripes (Sanchez and Matt Carpenter) are forced to wear different numbers because another former Yank (Rougned Odor) is wearing the number.  If memory serves correctly, Odor was 12 in New York. Carpenter is wearing 14 for the Padres. 

Gary Sanchez (Photo Credit: El Nacional)

Former Yankees reliever Lucas Luetge was designated for assignment by the Atlanta Braves, and he remains in limbo pending his release or trade.  I am not seeking a reunion. His numbers in Atlanta do not inspire confidence he can be the pitcher of old. Instead, he is just an old pitcher.  I had just seen that one of the minor leaguers acquired in the Luetge trade, second baseman Caleb Durbin, all 5’6” of him, had earned a promotion to Double-A. Durbin leads the Yankees organization in stolen bases and plays with Dustin Pedroia-like intensity. I am not expecting him to reach the Majors, but crazier things have happened.

I was quietly hoping Luke Voit’s time in Milwaukee would prove fruitful. Beer City seemed like the ideal place for the husky Midwestern first baseman with the football mentality. However, his time ended when the Brewers released him this week after he had been designated for assignment. It has been a tough road for Voit since the Yankees traded him to San Diego. Hopefully, he can find success at his next stop. Like Luetge, I have no desire to see Voit’s return to Pinstripes. I liked him as a Yankee, but I did not like his glove at first base and the team has too many designated hitters as it is. If he can no longer hit, where is his value?  A strong presence in the clubhouse? As great a guy as he may be, better fits, guys who can bring value on the field, can be found elsewhere.

The weather in Los Angeles is supposed to be beautiful today. Mid-seventies, lots of sun. It seems like a tremendous day for a Yankees victory. 

As always, Go Yankees!