Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Hey, I want some too!…

Hey Santa, you missed me!…

I write this post knowing full well that it could become obsolete very quickly with the trading deadline less than 24 hours away.

Heading into these last few weeks and days, I’ve felt like the kid at Christmas who has no presents to open.  All of the other kids are getting the big, expensive, and popular gifts.

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I had really hoped the Yankees would somehow be able to pull off a trade for a frontline starter, but that was a pipe dream given the Yankees have repeatedly indicated that the top prospects (Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Jorge Mateo and Greg Bird) are off limits.  But still, these are the mighty Yankees and I was hoping for a miracle.  Now that Cole Hamels resides in Dallas and David Price is headed north of the border, that’s no hope for that true ace.

Earlier today, the Yankees did finally make a deal in acquiring Dustin Ackley of the Seattle Mariners.  It’s kind of funny that Ackley is now a Yankee considering the reason he lost his job (second base) in Seattle was due to former Yankee Robinson Cano.  But Ackley hasn’t played much at second (maybe one game) since Cano arrived in the Great Northwest.  The Yankees are intrigued by his versatility and perhaps he is a poor man’s Martin Prado.  There’s always a chance the Yankees could catch lightening in a bottle if Ackley rediscovers the promise he once held.  He had a high pedigree being the second player chosen in 2009 (after Stephen Strasburg), but he’s never been able to turn the minor league stats into major league success.  I know the Yankees have been interested in Ackley for some time, and he is someone I thought of when Cano did sign in Seattle as a possible replacement.  But today, I am not sure what his acquisition means for the long run but I hope that he finds his niche in New York.  I am hopeful that the New York media does not bring Ackley’s tag from Seattle “Ack Attack” when he hits a home run.

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ESPN.com

It was really tough watching Cole Hamels go to the Texas Rangers.  But I suppose that I should be happy he didn’t end up in Boston.  My preference, if not the Yankees, would have been for Hamels to go to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  A top 3 of Kershaw-Greinke-Hamels would have been very formidable.  I was equally if not more upset that David Price went to the Toronto Blue Jays.  After acquiring shortstop Troy Tulowitzski this week, they pulled off a reasonable trade for perhaps the best pitcher in the American League.  The Yankees may lead the AL East but I am very concerned about their ability to withstand a charge by the Blue Jays.  The Yankees have too many questions in the starting rotation, made worse by today’s announcement that Michael Pineda had been placed on the DL.  I understand the Yankees’ unwillingness to trade their top prospects and trying to re-sign Price in the off-season would have been a $200 million + proposition.  Still, it’ll be disappointing if the Yankees fall just short of making the World Series this year knowing that someone like Hamels, Price or Max Scherzer could have been the difference maker.

There’s still time for the Yankees to acquire a second tier starting pitcher which they desperately need.  I would not mind someone like Mike Leake, James Shields, or Jeff Samardzija.  Any of the three would be an improvement to the rotation.  There have been numerous reports linking San Diego Padres closer Craig Kimbrel to the Yankees.  If they can’t acquire a starter, I am very intrigued by the thought of bringing in a premier closer and shifting Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller to the 7th and 8th innings, respectively.  Shorten the game.  It seems to work very well for the Kansas City Royals.

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ESPN.com

There’s a very real chance the Yankees do nothing after the Ackley acquisition.  It’ll be a disappointment given the competition has been upgraded but the Yankees do have talent on the team as evidenced by their current spot in first place.  They’ve certainly exceeded expectations, and maybe now that’s driving higher, unrealistic expectations, at least in the eyes of the fans.

I still laugh when I think of how George Steinbrenner once said no pitcher is worth a million dollars per year (when he re-signed Ron Guidry for $900,000).

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out…

Speaking of Troy Tulowitzski, I felt really bad about the way he found out he had been traded (when manager Walt Weiss pulled him off the field during a game).  A player of Tulo’s stature deserved much greater respect.  I thought the Colorado Rockies were a better organization than that, but apparently not.

May 1, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) fields a ground ball during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

May 1, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) fields a ground ball during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

iSportsWeb

Well, the next few hours leading up to 4 pm Eastern tomorrow should be eventful…or not.  We’ll see….

—Scott

First Game as a Yank should be in Boston!…

It’s almost Harvest time…

Finally, the Yankees farm system is starting to produce.  For years, there was talk about the lack of quality depth at the upper levels of the system, but the lower level talent has started to rise to the top.  This year has seen quality outfield play from the likes of Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams and Ramon Flores, but the move that excites me the most is the arrival of 2B prospect Rob Refsnyder today in Boston.  I know that Refsnyder is not Robinson Cano and never will be, but he can be a productive second baseman and he’ll certainly be an improvement over Stephen Drew and Jose Pirela.  I am hopeful that Refsnyder grabs the position and doesn’t let go.

Rob Refsnyder

ESPN.com

The primary knock against Refsnyder is his defense since he is a second baseman converted from the outfield.  All indications are that his defense is much improved this year (despite the errors in spring training).  I remember that Cano was a work in progress for his first few years in the bigs.  I expect more of the same with Refsnyder.  But he has a quality bat and one that’s ready to hit more for average than the present play by Drew.  He also has a little pop.  I don’t ever expect Refsnyder to be the best player on the team like Cano was, but still, I am very excited about the future.

Later this year, we should see both Aaron Judge and Luis Severino in pinstripes.  Those are the next two arrivals that I’ll be anxiously awaiting.  It would be nice for the Yankees to find a way to move Carlos Beltran and his contract, but I think they’re stuck with it for now.  If Judge is almost ready, I’d rather see him in right than Beltran.  If there will ever be a reason to pull CC Sabathia from the starting rotation, Severino will most likely be it.  At some point, the Yankees will need to cut bait.  I know the pitching has been inconsistent but Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Ivan Nova all have much greater upside than Sabathia.  Severino will demand a spot soon so it would appear that Sabathia will finally be the odd man out (barring injury of course).

Bad day for ex-Yank…

Joba Chamberlain’s time in Detroit has expired.  The reliever was released by the Detroit Tigers on Friday after showing a penchant for giving up the long ball.  I was mildly surprised when Chamberlain re-signed with the Tigers through free agency in the fall.  He probably would have benefited from a change in scenery.  I doubt he’ll ever deliver on the promise that he once showed in New York, but I am sure that another team will offer him another chance.  Maybe the Pittsburgh Pirates should take a flyer.  Ex-Yankees seem to thrive there…

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All-Stars…

It seems strange in a year when no Yankees were selected as starters for the AL All-Star Team, but there was an over-abundance of Kansas City Royals.  Still, it was good to see the selections of Dellin Betances and Mark Teixeira.  Then, at the expense of Alex Gordon’s injury, Brett Gardner was selected as a replacement.  So three Yankees will make the All-Star trip although none will be seen until the later innings (if at all).

But hey, three Yanks are better than none…

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No conspiracy against A-Rod…

For the record, I do not feel that Alex Rodriguez was “snubbed”.  There are other DH’s with better numbers.  Sure, Alex has played much better than anticipated and he’s been a model citizen, but his numbers were not substantially or marginally better than other players at the position.  The All-Star team is a numbers game and the players selected were deserving of the honor.  Besides, I’d rather see Alex have a few days off to get a fresh start for the second half.

Trading Deadline nears…

I remember in years past looking anxiously to the trading deadline for the arrival of new star players in the Bronx.  This year, while I recognize that the team needs a few upgrades, I am concerned about the potential prospect losses.  The cost of a Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto seems so incredibly high.  Either would look great in pinstripes, but I’d hate to lose either Judge or Severino.  Greg Bird’s major league readiness seems to be perfectly mapped to the expiration of Mark Teixeira’s contract in 2016 so I don’t want to lose him either.  Gary Sanchez has forever been the future crown prince at catcher.  But of course, there’s always a strong chance that a prospect never becomes a legitimate major leaguer so it’s probably best not to “hug” your prospects.  Change is inevitable and if it means a World Series championship, so be it…

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Is it really the middle of July already?…

—Scott

It’s July and the Yankees are in first place, what could go wrong?…

Happy 4th of July!

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Holding their own…

All things considered, I should be grateful the Yankees hold a slim 1/2 game lead entering play today.  Truth is, every team in the AL East still has a shot, including the Boston Red Sox if they are able to strengthen their pitching rotation.

The Yankees still have too many holes to win in October, but we’ll see what the July trading deadline brings (if anything).  My single biggest fear is the Yankees trading one of their top prospects like Luis Severino or Aaron Judge.  I am not sure that I’d want to part with either, even if the return meant someone like Cole Hamels.  Cole is 31 and at some point in the not-so-distant future, he’s going to look more like CC Sabathia than Clayton Kershaw.

CC So-BAD-thia…

Speaking of CC, his contract is feeling as heavy as A-Rod’s.  At least Alex is providing some return this year, CC has only served to be a momentum killer.  Anytime the Yankees get on a roll, it’s a certainty it will come to a scratching halt with another marginal Sabathia performance.  I keep hearing how he needs to reinvent himself as a pitcher (ala Andy Petite) but so far there have been no signs he’ll be able to make the conversion.  He’s clearly become the #5 guy in the rotation and it’s sad that Adam Warren, who has been effective, is the one to lose his spot.  I know, it’s about the innings, but still.

With news that CC is going to be skipped on his next start to allow him to have additional rest, the sportswriters talked about his snippy responses as a result.  CC should accept that he is no longer the pitcher he once was and should take every opportunity to try to improve himself.  Snippy comments, if true, serve no purpose, and are an indication that CC is still not mentally ready to work on being a new pitcher in the latter stages of his career.

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Getty Images

Every pitcher in the rotation has gone through struggles this year, but for the most part, they’ve rebounded.  Nathan Eovaldi pitches the worst game of the year against his former team, the Miami Marlins, and has been a rock ever since.  Masahiro Tanaka is not pitching like the ace he once was, but he is managing to keep his team in a position to win.  Michael Pineda has been uneven but is still probably the best pitcher on the roster.  Ivan Nova has been a breath of fresh air, but he’s not a top of the rotation pitcher.  With the inconsistency of the entire staff, the Yankees cannot afford Sabathia’s repeated clunkers.  At some point, he needs to make way for Luis Severino.

I realize the Yankees would have to pay most of the salary, but it’s too bad that they can’t find a way to find Sabathia a new home.  I really do not wish to see him to continue to grow old on the Yankees roster.  A change of scenery often works wonders…just ask A.J. Burnett.  Even reliever David Carpenter, who failed in the Bronx, has found new life in Washington.  I am just not convinced that CC will be able to reinvent himself.  I feel that what we have is what we are going to get and it will only get worse from here.  I’d love for him to prove me wrong.

The Redemption Tour continues…

Congratulations to the Yankees for settling the $6 million bonus issue with Alex Rodriguez.  The compromise which results in the Yankees giving $3.5 million to charity.  I know there were financial implications (the Yankees no longer have to pay luxury tax on the $6 million bonus) but I feel that they had taken the right approach.  I have been a very big critic of Alex Rodriguez, although I do admit that he’s been a model citizen this season.  I do not rejoice in his proud moments, like the 3,000th hit, but I’ve stayed away from negative comments too.  After all these years, Alex is finally just letting his performance say his words.  Knowing that it is a “clean” performance, it is the best case scenario.

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USA Today Sports

It’s almost Miller Time!…

While Dellin Betances has done a good job as the Yankees closer, I am looking forward to the return of Andrew Miller and pushing Betances back to his setup role.  The bullpen is at its strongest when those two are on.  It will allow Manager Joe Girardi to have greater flexibility with the other pieces in the pen.  Given the struggles of the starting rotation, a strong bullpen in the second half of the season is a must.  I know, that’s a Captain Obvious statement…

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N.J.com

Jay Buhner, we hardly knew ye…

If the Yankees make any moves, I hope that they do not sacrifice the future for the present.  GM Brian Cashman has shown commitment to his plan to rebuild the farm system, so I do not expect the George Steinbrenner impulsive moves of the 80’s but it’s always hard to see a former Yankees prospect do well in another uniform.  The latest was the successful major league debut by Manny Banuelos for the Atlanta Braves.  Although he was pulled for health reasons and did not get the win, it was still a quality performance.  We had expected to see it in the Bronx until injuries derailed the plan.

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USA Today Sports

Happy Birthday America!

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—Scott

Winning Baseball is, admittedly, more enjoyable…

As I sit and recover from foot surgery yesterday (yes, my leg is elevated), I have finally shaken the pain and can think about the Yankees again…

The MLB Draft…

The MLB Draft lacks the drama and suspense of the NFL Draft, but still, I was disappointed to see Mariano Rivera, Jr go to the Washington Nationals.  To add salt to the wound, the Nats are in the Bronx for a short two game series starting today.  I had really hoped the Yankees would try to draft the legendary closer’s son again this year, but it was not meant to be.  Perhaps it is best for Mariano Jr to go to another team to establish his own identity.  With the Yankees, he would have always had to suffer from the comparisons to his father.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 23:  Iona college pitcher Mariano Rivera Jr. son of former Yankee pitcher Marino Rivera poses for photos around the Iona campus in New Rochelle NY. Thursday, May 22, 2014 (Photo by Anthony Causi)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 23: Iona college pitcher Mariano Rivera Jr. son of former Yankee pitcher Marino Rivera poses for photos around the Iona campus in New Rochelle NY. Thursday, May 22, 2014 (Photo by Anthony Causi)

Anthony Causi, New York Post

I was surprised to see the Yankees go with starting pitcher James Kaprielian of UCLA with their first pick.  But everything I have read points to his readiness sooner rather than later.  He’ll never be a frontline starter but with Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda headlining the staff, they just need solid, dependable starters that can provide innings.

The compensatory pick for the loss of former closer David Robertson in free agency netted an all-glove shortstop in Kyle Holder.  Maybe the bat will develop, maybe not.  As the saying goes, time will tell.  Meanwhile, the Yankees already have the glove, no bat at short in Didi Gregorius although even the glove has been suspect at times.

The way Hal Steinbrenner envisioned it…

The Yankees continue to impress.  I still do not think the team has the horses to make an October run, but stranger things have happened.  The Yankees looked horrific in a few recent series, but they’ve bounced back with solid play.  It’s amazing the difference that a healthy Mark Teixeira makes.  The Yankees still need to figure out a solution for the lack of productivity in the lower half of the batting order.  The Yankees did get two home runs out of Stephen Drew in a recent game, but he has generally been a disappointment with the bat.  A .168 batting average is not going to get it done.  Meanwhile, it is rather ironic that Drew has 5 more home runs than former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.  I doubt that will last as Cano will eventually get it together whereas Drew will not.

I am typing this as Masahiro Tanaka’s second start since returning from the Disabled List begins in a few hours.  It will be interesting to see if he is able to continue the dominance he showed in his first start back.  If the Yankees intend to be successful this year, the story begins and ends with Tanaka.  They need him.  We’ll never get away from the feeling that he is just one pitch away from Tommy John surgery but for now, the hope is for the elbow ligament to hold up to pitch more wins.  With Michael Pineda on a short leash innings-wise, they cannot afford to lose Tanaka.  I am anxious to see what Ivan Nova brings when he returns later this summer, although I remain fearful that we’re still a year away from him being the Nova of old.  How fast can Kaprielian get warmed up?…

James Kaprielian #11 of the UCLA Bruins pitches against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Jackie Robinson Stadium on March 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. UCLA defeated Arizona State 7-3. (Larry Goren/Four Seam Images)

James Kaprielian #11 of the UCLA Bruins pitches against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Jackie Robinson Stadium on March 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. UCLA defeated Arizona State 7-3. (Larry Goren/Four Seam Images)

The Yankees are very fortunate that they play in the AL East with no clear dominant teams.  The trading deadline may shift the balance of power.  I still expect a hard charge by the Boston Red Sox, and I’d be foolish to ever underestimate a Buck Showalter team.  The Blue Jays and Rays both have talent.  The division is still anybody’s for the taking.  If the Yankees choose to just go for rentals, I hope that they do not part with quality talent to do so.  I hate reading about how well former Yankees prospects are doing in other organizations after trades.  Nothing against them personally, but I so want a core group to develop in the Bronx again from the farm system.  It seems like it runs in cycles, and good drafts in recent years should bring the potential for a talent infusion in a few years.

The Closer you get…

For years, Mariano Rivera was my favorite Yankee.  There’s something magical about a great closer.  Years ago, the favorite was Goose Gossage.  While I wouldn’t say that Andrew Miller is my current favorite, I love the back end of the bullpen with the dominant Dellin Betances setting up Miller.  Other guys like Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson have been solid.  It’s nice to have reasonable confidence that the team is going to win if they hold a lead late in a game.  Of course, weaknesses in a starting rotation can place too much stress on a bullpen, but for now, the team was right in paying special attention to build out the pen this past off-season.  In the grand scheme of things, it looks like it was the right decision to let David Robertson walk even if he is considered an elite closer.

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USA Today

Trip down Memory Lane…

On Sunday, I went to Dodger Stadium to see the Dodgers play the St Louis Cardinals.  It was the first time I had seen these two teams play each other since the first MLB game I saw as a kid.  The first game was 5/29/74, and the Dodgers won 5-2 with Tommy John beating Bob Gibson.  The Cardinals took Sunday’s game with a few late runs to win 4-2.  There is always something special about the first time experiencing Major League Baseball in person and I’ll always remember that game in 1974.  Sunday’s game?  Not so much…

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Is it really June already?…

—Scott

The Ups and Downs of a Young Season…

The Tower of Terror, Bronx Revisited…

The beginning of the season was a tease.  Well, late April and early May were a good ride as the Yankees raced to first in the AL East.  However, and inevitably, reality hit as the Yankees have been clobbered by the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers.  They are currently on a 6 game slide and are 1-9 in the last 10 games.  They are surprisingly only 1 1/2 games out at 22-22, however, the gap is much larger than that.  For a few weeks, the Yankees were getting a wonderful mix of pitching and hitting, but the lack of production from the bottom half of the order was eventually going to catch up with the team…and it did.

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Michael Pineda, after his 18 strikeout performance, has looked like CC Sabathia and is not currently giving any illusions of being the staff ace.  Sabathia has looked even worse, almost Ed Whitson-like.  He had a quality start earlier in the year, but the last couple of starts have looked pathetic and he was pulled the earliest since 2009 in his most recent start.  Nathan  Eovaldi, after showing early signs of some promise, looks hittable, as do the other arms in the rotation, Chris Capuano and Adam Warren.

I realize that Ivan Nova will soon be back but it generally takes time for post-TJ surgery pitchers to recapture what they once had (if at all).  Generally, they say, it takes a year after returning so realistically, if Nova plays to the averages, he will not be a reliable starting option until 2016.

I am glad to see youngsters like Slade Heathcott and Jacob Lindgren get their opportunity.  However, it’s time for the Yankees to start thinking about bringing up Rob Refsnyder.  His bat would be an immediate improvement over Stephen Drew.  I know the team feels that Drew will eventually hit, but after a couple of years, how much longer are they going to wait?  I am not convinced his bat will ever come around again.  Heathcott has had a tough road to the major leagues due primarily to injuries, and he was almost lost to the organization this past off-season until they re-signed him.  Carlos Beltran has been nothing short of dead weight, and it would be good to see Heathcott take advantage of his time in New York to keep Beltran on the pine.  I know everyone is keeping right field warm for the eventual arrival of Aaron Judge, but for now, I’d like to see what Heathcott can do.

New York Yankees center fielder Slade Heathcott runs to the dugout during the seventh inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

New York Yankees center fielder Slade Heathcott runs to the dugout during the seventh inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

If hitting coach Jeff Pentland is not able to turn around Didi Gregorius, I wonder if he’ll be a one and done.  Actually, that could go for both of them…

I knew this was going to be a challenging year for the Yankees.  I do not expect this team to be in it come October.  But it was fun watching the team have some early success.  Obviously, I wish that reality could have been a bit more gradual.  The Texas Rangers were having a sluggish start to the season, but the Yankees were just what they needed to get their bats going.

With the Kansas City Royals on tap for the Yankees, it certainly is not going to get any easier.

Bern Baby Bern…

I am glad the team was able to finally recognize the accomplishments of former outfield great Bernie Williams.

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Al Bello/Getty Images

Another number is out of circulation, but Bernie deserved the recognition and the opportunity to have ‘his’ day.  It was also good to see the other Yankees greats from the 90’s dynasty team in Paul O’Neill, Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and others.

If Bernie had left the Yankees to sign a free agent deal with the Boston Red Sox (which almost happened), I do wonder if yesterday would have happened.  But it didn’t, so we’ll never know.  I am glad that Bernie opted to return to the Yankees and cement his place in franchise history.

I didn’t think that we’d see Derek Jeter back at Yankee Stadium so soon but Bernie Williams Day ensured that he couldn’t stay away too long.

Congratulations #51.  I am looking forward to seeing the number during my next trip to Monument Park.

Memorial Day…

Thank you to all who have served in the United States Armed Forces, and a heavy heart and deep debt of gratitude to those who gave their lives so we could continue to be free.  We stand stronger because of your efforts.

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—Scott

Moving on despite dead weight (Sabathia and Beltran)…

So far, so good…

The season started slowly, but the Yankees have played themselves back into relevance.  I still find it difficult to believe that this team will be play-off caliber with the current roster makeup, but they are showing that Joe Girardi continues to be one of the better managers in the game.

Leading the charge is the starting rotation.  Masahiro Tanaka started the season with a shaky start, but he’s rebounded with several very strong ace-like performances which have eased some doubts about his elbow.  Michael Pineda has been the pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting from the Seattle Mariners a few years ago.  Nathan Eovaldi is a work in progress but clearly a much better pitcher than what he showed in Miami last year.  Adam Warren is just a place card until Ivan Nova returns, but he’s held his own.  My concern is CC Sabathia who got blasted by the New York Mets yesterday.  Sabathia is now 0-4 and the Yankees are stuck with him win or lose.  It’s amazing to think where the Yankees could be if Sabathia could only carry his weight.  I know, it’s still early in the season but my single biggest worry is not Tanaka’s elbow, it’s the state of Sabathia.  When Nova does return, there may be an argument that Sabathia should be the one to lose his spot in the rotation.

The bullpen has been outstanding.  They are still subordinate to the Kansas City Royals, but they’ve proven to be a premier group thus far.  The closer by committee has worked out in Andrew Miller’s favor even if he doesn’t have the ‘closer’ tag.  As Dellin Betances gets stronger after his struggles in spring training, the best use appears to have him set up Miller.  This could change as the summer moves along, but for now, Miller has instilled confidence when he enters the 9th inning.  I’ll admit that I keep an eye on what David Robertson is doing for the White Sox, but so far, the Yankees pen is as good without Robertson as they were with him.  The rest of the bullpen has been solid.  It was sad when earlier in the season Chasen Shreve pitched so well in an extra innings game against the Boston Red Sox that it earned him a trip to the minors to bring a fresh arm to New York.  Fortunately, he’s back and helping to prove, along with David Carpenter, that it was a good decision to cut ties to former top prospect Manual Banuelos during the off-season.

The Yankee hitters have been hitting which is a nice thing.  For years, it was comical how Mark Teixeira was the ‘Iceman Cometh’ during April.  This year, after a few down years due to injury, he has been anything but cold.  Let’s hope that he can sustain this level of production as the team clearly needs it.  Didi Gregorius is struggling, but Stephen Drew is showing the power of spring training.  After a few seasons of sitting out spring, he had the benefit of a full camp and it shows.  Chase Headley is giving the team what I expected, and I think we’re seeing an improved Brian McCann.  Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner form a strong left-center combination, but the team’s weakness is clearly the right side of the outfield.  Carlos Beltran has been such a huge disappointment that I think the team might be better off with addition by subtraction.  That’s a lot of money to throw away, but the Yankees are getting nothing on their investment.  I suppose the contract is insured, and they are hopeful that he gives reason to collect on a claim.  At this point, I am hopeful that Beltran does not return in 2017.  Chris Young has been solid as the right field fill-in, but it’s only a matter of time until the job belongs to Aaron Judge.

Brian Cashman has his work cut out to ensure that the team continues to play competitive ball.  I didn’t like the recent news reports that the Yankees were interested in the Atlanta Braves top second base prospect.  Not that I wouldn’t want the guy, but the publicized reports probably effectively killed any chance the Yankees could acquire the player.  Or if they could, it probably drove up the price.  I am sure that Brian Cashman and company are trying to uncover every rock to see if there are any gems that can be found.  At some point, they’ll have to think about Plan B for replacing Derek Jeter if Gregorius does not work out.

Not Greene with Envy…

Speaking of Gregorius, the pitcher the Yankees traded for him (Shane Greene) zoomed out to a 3-0 record at the start of the season causing many to say the Yankees have been fleeced by Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski once again.  Then, Greene promptly bombed on his next start which has caused a momentary pause in those trade criticisms.  I never expected Greene to be the next Max Scherzer but I did think he was a decent starting pitcher.  I was surprised when I first heard about the trade and probably would have preferred to have seen another pitcher depart (well, not Luis Severino).  But the Yankees had to do something about short and sometimes you have to pay a high price for high reward.  I can’t find fault in the decision to trade Greene and hope that he continues to pitch well in Detroit regardless of how it turns out with Gregorius.

C’mon, just one Championship in my lifetime!…

This is a big week for football since the NFL Draft starts Thursday.  As a Minnesota Vikings fan, the draft holds the key to the team’s budding success.  My preference is a star wide receiver.  I would prefer to see the team try to move up from #11 to capture Amari Cooper or Davante Parker.  As Teddy Bridgewater’s high school and college receivers, respectively, I like their history and relationship with the young Vikings QB.  It’s too bad that the team has to consider using its top pick for a WR (or Tackle) after spending high picks for Cordarrelle Patterson and Matt Kalil in recent years.

This could be the week that sees the departure of RB Adrian Peterson from Minnesota.  Somehow, I keep expecting the Dallas Cowboys to be involved although you keep hearing about interest from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  I would only be in favor of the trade if the Vikings can get reasonable return.  It’s tough to define what is reasonable for a 30 year old running back who hasn’t played for a year.  But as long as the return brings a solid contributor or two to the team’s success, it will be a good move.  I think there’s too much bad blood at this point and football is about team chemistry.

I guess it’s almost time for May flowers even if we didn’t get any April rain (well, in California anyway)…

—Scott

Well, that didn’t turn out as planned…

Be careful what you ask for…

In my last post, I stated my preference for Masahiro Tanaka to be named the Opening Day starter.  This, of course, was before Joe Girardi announced that Tanaka, in fact, would be the starter.  So of course, Tanaka promptly bombed as the Yankees were throttled by the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-1.

The start didn’t change my opinion that Tanaka was the best choice.  Michael Pineda is the next best starter on the staff, but he didn’t deserve the nod over Tanaka.  CC Sabathia may have been the sentimental choice if for no other reason than the consecutive years he has been the starter.  But his performance last season (injuries combined with the continued gradual decline) didn’t warrant the start either.  Nathan Eovaldi wasn’t going to get it, and neither was Adam Warren.  The right choice was made by Girardi even if the results indicated otherwise.

My concern, more than anything, is the health of Tanaka’s arm.  Yes, it was only one start and one start does not a season make.  But going to last year after he returned from the DL, the results of not been great.  If Tanaka has to learn to be a different pitcher at age 26 to lessen the strain on the elbow ligament, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be successful.  A solid outing would certainly help allay some of the concerns, but inevitably, I do feel this road leads to Tommy John surgery.  The sad part is that if he undergoes the surgery at any point this season, we most likely would not see him again until 2017, with 2018 being the target for a full return to health.

It’s too bad the Yankees do not have the quality starters to go six deep.  I’d rather lessen the load on Tanaka by spreading the distance between his starts.

Tanaka’s health certainly increases the spotlight on Adam Warren, as he’ll need to be the man to bridge the gap.  Today he is covering for Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova, but later in the summer, it could very well be for Tanaka.

Larry Rothschild is certainly earning his paycheck.  Earlier in the year, I didn’t think we’d see Luis Severino in the major leagues this year.  Now, it appears to be only a matter of time.

Another prospect lost…

It is hard not to get excited about certain prospects, and that certainly held true for catcher Austin Romine who was once billed as one of the organization’s best catching prospects along with since traded Jesus Montero.  Romine has the bloodline (his father Kevin played for the Boston Red Sox among other teams and his brother Andrew plays for the Detroit Tigers).  I was hopeful that Romine would use spring training to show the team that he belongs in New York.  It didn’t happen with a sub .200 batting average.  Perhaps the odds were against him since he was out of options and John Ryan Murphy, his competition for the back-up catching spot, is the better hitter.  Still, it was sad when the team announced just before the start of the season that it had designated Romine for assignment.  Maybe there’s a chance that he stays in the organization, but it seems inevitable that a trade is the more probable outcome as there isn’t much of a chance Romine could slide through waivers (teams need catching help too much, just ask Boston).  Romine has been an outstanding team guy and he’ll serve some organization well when/if he finally gets his chance at the Show.

A-Rod…

I am still not an A-Rod fan but I have to admit that he carried himself well in spring training and has done everything the team has asked.  If the Yankees suddenly found a way to rid themselves of A-Rod, I’d be all in favor.  But since that’s not going to happen, I’ll have to give A-Rod credit for not rocking the boat.

I still can’t bring myself to cheer for A-Rod but he’s effectively shut me up from booing for now.

*    *     *

I am glad that the baseball season is back but it would have been more exciting to open the season with a victory.  It was tougher to see the loss combined with a convincing Red Sox win on Opening Day.  Red Sox always gloat in victory so Opening Day was no exception.

I do feel more confident with Michael Pineda on the mound Wednesday, however, the team offense needs to step up their game.

Let’s Go, Yankees!

–Scott

Your Opening Day Starter is…

Sorry CC, not this time…

The baseball season will soon be upon us.  The Yankees have yet to name their Opening Day starter, but I know who it should NOT be.  CC Sabathia.  I recognize that CC is viewed by others on the team as the leader of the pitching staff, but I have always believed that the Opening Day starter should be the guy who performed the best during the preceding year.  For me, there’s no question that the Opening Day starter should be Masahiro Tanaka.  He is also now the #1 starter on this staff.

I know that CC has held the role for a number of years, but it is time to pass the gauntlet.  There are still many questions if CC will ever be the pitcher he once was.  Tanaka should be the Opening Day starter for years to come if he keeps up his performance…and of course if the elbow ligament does not go out.

CC did nothing for the Yankees last year and he was the featured performer on the Disabled List for most of the year.  The Opening Day assignment should not be recognition for the sum total of years pitched, it should be about who is the best guy on the staff.  Right now, that guy is Tanaka.

Source:  Bleeding Yankee Blue blog

Conflicting objectives…

Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner talks about how the Yankees must win, but conversely, reaffirms that the Yankees want to get under the luxury tax threshold in two years.  The only way this is possible is through the attrition of expiring contracts, and replacement by young, cost-controlled players.  I am still not convinced the Yankees have the prospects at the upper level capable of placing the team at the footsteps of the World Series.  Sure, guys like Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, and Greg Bird have looked great this spring, but it will take more than that.  It’s sad that the Yankees have to pay $30 million per year to a guy who is slated for part-time DH and some back up third base.

I understand the need to control costs but there are other teams that have better farm systems and the willingness to pay for higher level talent, such as the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.  I don’t think the Yankees will be able to close the gap by focusing solely on the reduction of total salaries.

I understand the Yankees do not have to spend $250 million in salaries to win.  The bad contracts on the team were necessary at the time they were signed.  It’s unfortunate the players were unable to sustain their level of play that justified the contracts, but that’s the risk of long-term deals.  Refusing to commit to future long term deals will only cause free agents to look elsewhere.

An argument can be made that if the Yankees really want to commit to youth, they need to get really bad to have a few years of high draft picks.  But that’s at odds with the Yankees ‘win-now’ mantra.

Admittedly, it feels like the Yankees are a long way from the opportunity to win their 28th World Championship.  I guess as a Minnesota Vikings fan, I should be used to years of no championships.  Maybe the Yankees struck gold with their low key off-season acquisitions (Nathan Eovaldi, Didi Gregorius et al).  But I still do not think the current roster construction is sufficient to overcome the better teams in the American League.

Backup catcher…

With spring training rapidly coming to a conclusion, the inevitable decision regarding Austin Romine will be made (since he is out of options).  Will he remain on the team with John Ryan Murphy headed to Scranton/Wilkes Barre or will he be headed elsewhere in a trade?  For years, he was labeled as the organization’s top catching prospect along with Jesus Montero.  Montero is now in Seattle and has already been sent down for minor league re-assignment.  There’s no way the Yankees can slip Romine through waivers without losing him, so D-Day will soon be upon us.  This is tough.  I like Romine and I’d like to see him stay in the organization, but conversely, I like Murphy.  Murphy probably brings more with the bat.  This is a tough call for the Yankees.  I honestly cannot say which path I would like to see the team pursue.  In the end, I am sure that GM Brian Cashman will make the right call.

Presswire

#5 Starter…

My vote to replace the injured Chris Capuano is Adam Warren.  Nothing against Esmil Rogers, but I have more confidence in Warren.  I haven’t heard any updates regarding Ivan Nova but I am assuming that he’s still on target for a late May/early June return.  Not sure what we’ll get from Nova in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, but he’ll be a noticeable upgrade over whomever is filling the #5 spot.

Elsa/Getty Images North America

End of Winter…

Yesterday signaled the passage of Winter and the arrival of Spring.  Last year, living in Maryland, the end of Winter meant far more than it did this year living in Southern California.  But it does place us much closer to Opening Day and that’s a great thing.

–Scott

Out from the Cole…

Let someone else try…

While I greatly respect Boston Globe columnist Nick Cafardo, his column today that implies the Yankees have come the closest in making a bid for Philadelphia Phillies starter Cole Hamels just doesn’t make sense to me.  While I agree that Hamels is a top shelf starter, I find it very hard to believe that the team would be willing to part with top prospects and major league talent to acquire Hamels.  This past winter, they could have acquired Max Scherzer for nothing more than money and a draft pick.

If the team is serious about its bid to get younger, acquiring the 31 year old Hamels is not the answer.  You’d only acquire Hamels if you legitimately felt you had a shot for the World Series.  The Yankees are not at the doorstep for the Fall Classic and they wouldn’t be even if they acquired Hamels.

I know there is great risk with any prospect and of course the path to the major leagues is littered by sure fire prospects who never made it.  In the past, Yankee fans have been teased with the hype associated with players like Jesus Montero and Manny Banuelos.  Montero is in Seattle and while he may still be the player people thought he would be, he hasn’t done it yet and despite his injury history, Michael Pineda is a better player at this point in their respective careers.  Manny Banuelos is in Atlanta and he brought a couple of arms for the bullpen.  Perhaps guys like Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and Aaron Judge are over-hyped because they are Yankees, but still, I would hate to see them leave and prosper in Philly.  I am sure that I felt the same way about Montero and Banuelos at some point, but I do believe the Yankees have made a concerted effort to improve their drafts in recent years.

At a time when there is competitive balance in the MLB thanks to profit sharing and luxury taxes paid by the richer teams and primarily the Yankees, the Yankees have the financial strength to employ the best scouts to uncover the diamonds in the rough.  If over a century of Yankees baseball has proven anything, the Yankees know how to adapt and they’ll continue to do so.  But the key is getting younger and getting more cost controlled players.  That’s why a move for Cole Hamels just does not make sense.

I would love to see Hamels in the Yankees starting rotation.  But I simply do not want to part with the farm system to do it.  Whoever acquires Hamels is going to overpay.  Let some other team overpay, even if it is the Boston Red Sox.

–Scott

For a few dollars more…

Like many Yankees fans, I found myself very disappointed that the Yankees lost Cuban free agent infielder Yoan Moncada to the Boston Red Sox.  After an off-season of inactivity, it felt like the Yankees would make the winning push to bring Moncada to the Bronx.  Then, to come up short to the Red Sox, feels so wrong.  The money the Yankees were offering Moncada was huge ($25 million with the potential to go to $27.5 million), particularly considering the 100% tax associated with the bid had it won.  Boston was all-in with over $31 million, and we are left to wonder why the Yankees couldn’t push a little bit harder.

I know, a 19 year old who has not proven himself and is at least two years from the major leagues.  Still, under best case scenario, he would have been THE replacement for Robinson Cano.  Perhaps the Yankees feel that they are in good hands with Rob Refsnyder at second and potentially Eric Jagielo in a few years at third.  If Moncada puts up Hall of Fame numbers in Boston, this one will be forever a hard one to take.  I felt that he was a blue chip, can’t miss prospect and he certainly would have zoomed to the top of the Yankees prospect list had he signed.

Conversely, if he flops, this will sting in Beantown and Hal Steinbrenner will look like a genius.  But somehow, I suspect that Moncada will be alright and Hal’s frugal mind will leave the Yankees as the bridesmaids.  It’s hard to think of a guy who is spending nearly $235 million to field a team this year as a frugal mind but he is unquestionably more bottom line oriented than his father was.

If the Yankees fail to advance to the play-offs for the third year in a row, it is going to place great pressure on Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman.  But it’s the owner’s decision to go young and cut costs so time will tell if the manager and GM are the casualties.  I am not looking for Girardi to leave.  If he does get the ax, there’s not really anyone out there that I think could do a better job (who is not already employed).

This is a tough year.  We have to have faith that the young moves for guys like Didi Gregorius and Nathan Eovaldi will pay off.  Can they bridge the gap to when the farm system is ready and capable of producing major league talent?

If Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and, egads, Alex Rodriguez can’t turn  back the clock, it’s going to be a long year in the Bronx and the future, without Moncada, is still a bit unclear.

I am not sure what I would do if I was the owner of the Yankees.  It is so important to get a collection of cost controlled players to supplement the larger contracts.  Everyone on the 25 man roster can’t be a mega-millionaire.  Something has to give.  But with the younger players, after years of picking lower in the draft or not having any top draft picks, the Yankees have to figure out a way to be creative.  The loopholes that they’ve exploited for a century have closed and they need to find new ways to exert their financial strength.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a long time before a World Series championship returns to its rightful home.

My guess for a World Series champion in 2015 is the easy pick…the Washington Nationals.  On paper, they have it top to bottom.  But inevitably, it will be some surprise team that no one saw coming.  But sadly, the Yankees will most likely be home for the holidays by October.

As usual, I hope they prove me wrong…

–Scott

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