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Who is THAT in the rear view mirror?…

Knocking on the door in September…

I am surprised.  Pleasantly surprised, but what a ride it has been since Alex Rodriguez was released.  All season, I have been pessimistic about the 2016 Yankees.  The inconsistent, uninspired play leading up to the July trading deadline gave me no reason for optimism.  The Yankees had arguably the best bullpen in baseball, but it didn’t matter because the offense couldn’t consistently produce.

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Credit:  Associated Press

The trading deadline found the Yankees to be sellers as they moved Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova for prospects.  The youth movement had begun.  Through those trades, the only notable veteran acquired was reliever Adam Warren.  The subsequent release of Rodriguez allowed the Yankees to bring up catcher Gary Sanchez, first baseman/outfielder Tyler Austin, and outfielder Aaron Judge.  The trade of Nova opened the rotation for Chad Green and Luis Cessa.  Green has subsequently been lost for the season, and starter Nathan Eovaldi is out for 12-18 months due to Tommy John surgery.  Cessa has shown signs of brilliance with his multiple pitches and is a bright spot for the future.  The latest entrant into the starting rotation, Bryan Mitchell, excelled in his first major league appearance this year following his recovery from a spring training injury.

You’d think that losing the top relievers in your bullpen, a starter in the rotation, and your best offensive player without equal or better major league replacements would mean further regression in performance.  Instead, the Yankees have become a more exciting team to watch.  The youthful attitudes of the rookies have energized the team and the city.  Suddenly, the Yankees are mentioned as a play-off contender.  As I type this, they are only one game out for the second wild card slot.

Seriously, I still do not expect this year’s team to be a World Series contender or to have success in the play-offs if they do miraculously nail that last Wild Card.  But who would have thought the Yankees would be in the conversation in mid-September.  The last month has given so much hope for future success.  Sanchez, Austin, and Judge will be so much stronger next spring for this experience, and 2017 will see the potential infusion of the continued youth movement through the possible call-ups of outfielder Clint Frazier, pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Justus Sheffield and others.

Brian McCann has been a solid Yankee, but Gary Sanchez has quickly become one of the league’s best through his combination of professional hitting and highlight reel worthy defense.  Even if Sanchez is slumping with the bat, he has made himself an invaluable piece of the starting lineup with his stellar defensive play.

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Credit:  Wendell Cruz, USA Today Sports

Tyler Austin starting with a bang (home run in his first at-bat) but followed it up with a prolong slump.  But recently, he’s turned it around and hit a home run on his recent birthday and again the other night with a walk-off to beat the Tampa Bay Rays.  He has shown that he knows what he is doing with a bat in his hands, and clearly has a plan with each at-bat.  It is assumed that Greg Bird will become the starting first baseman next year, but Austin is showing that there may be spring training competition for the job.

It’s fun to be excited about the Yankees again.  Win or lose, the latest version of the Pinstripers has shown they are a team to be reckoned with in future years.  This is so much better than being an old team in decay.  While I greatly miss guys like Andrew Miller, the team is better because of those July trades.  The returns may not bear fruit until future seasons, but it opened the door for the organization’s existing top farmhands.

Excellent job by GM Brian Cashman to recapture the mystique and aura for Yankee Stadium.

The Hired Gun…

I have had a week to digest the news that Sam Bradford is the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings.  He may not be the starter in Game 1 (tomorrow against the Tennessee Titans) but there’s no doubt it is only a matter of time.  From afar, I’ve always looked at Bradford with disappointment given his injury history and unfulfilled promise.  But here we are.  I do think the talent and potential still reside with Bradford and the Vikings represent his best supporting cast yet.  He has the ability to show that he was once worthy of being the first overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.

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Credit:  Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images

I feel so much better about the Vikings’ quarterback situation today than I did the days immediately following Teddy Bridgewater’s devastating non-contact knee injury.  The oddsmakers obviously do too as they have restored the Vikings chances this year to the pre-Bridgewater injury level.

I had really felt that this was going to be Bridgewater’s breakout year.  He had a tremendous pre-season, and the Vikings have done a good job in finding talented playmakers on both sides of the ball.

Nothing against veteran QB Shaun HIll, but the thought of Hill as the starting quarterback was disappointing at best.

It is a bit scary that the Vikings go into the regular season carrying only two quarterbacks on the active roster.  QB Taylor Heinicke is still a few weeks from returning due to injury, and practice squad QB Joel Stave has shown that he is not ready for this level.  I really felt that the Vikings should have added a third quarterback with potential.  I thought the Denver Broncos did a good job in adding former Rams quarterback Austin Davis as their third-stringer and thought Minnesota should have added someone like that.

While I expect Shaun Hill to be named the starter for the Titans game, I do anticipate the entry of Bradford into the game at some point.  I am glad that he chose to go with his Rams number of 8 as opposed to the number 7 he wore with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Not that a number really matters in the grand scheme of things, but I know that I still associate #7 with underachievement and poor play thanks to former Viking Christian Ponder.

It’s tough having a new playbook thrown at the quarterback a week before the start of the regular season, but I expect Bradford to progress quickly.  May good health be his…

—Scott

On a clear day, I can see forever…

The future is bright…

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This was a difficult week.  For months if not years, I have wanted Alex Rodriguez to go away.  He may have said and did the right thing after the year-long suspension, but there have been too many indiscretions and lies for me to be willing to move forward with the player.  Yet, for his final game, I was sad.  I was and am ready for the Yankees to turn the page, but for one night, it was good to see A-Rod smash the RBI double and to watch him play third base for one out before walking off the field to the ovation of the fans.

I do not argue that he is among the all-time greats.  But I will always wonder what could have been if not for the lies and PEDs.  I think he would have still been among the greats without illegal performance enhancement.  But we’ll never know.  I don’t think we’ve seen the last of A-Rod on the playing field, but obviously, his career in pinstripes is over.

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Credit:  John Munson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

With A-Rod’s departure, I was very excited to see the arrival of slugging first baseman Tyler Austin and outfielder Aaron Judge.  As Mark Teixeira plays his final games, it is time to look to the future.  I prefer filling the first base vacancy in-house versus trade or free agency.  It was tough to lose top candidate Greg Bird for the season, but Tyler Austin has emerged as a force to be reckoned with.  It should be a great competition next spring between Bird and Austin.  Bird probably still has the leg up but it remains to be seen how he responds as he returns from injury.

The Yankees have been fortunate to have a string of successful first basemen.  From Don Mattingly to Tino Martinez to Jason Giambi to Teixeira, the Yankees have been spoiled even if there have been some down years by the latter two.  But of these great players, only Mattingly was raised through the Yankees farm system.  I remember in the early 80’s when Steve Balboni was the heralded first base prospect, but you kept hearing about this young kid from Evansville, Indiana that could hit.  Greg Bird has received similar accolades for his hitting ability.  I don’t know if Bird can ever be the player that Mattingly was but I am excited that the fight for first base is among two top Yankees prospects.

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Credit:  Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Saturday, August 13th will be remembered as the day Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge arrived at Yankee Stadium.  They became the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bat’s when they hit back to back homers in a win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  The homers were a signal that the future is bright.

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Credit:  John Munson, AP

Gary Sanchez has already positioned himself as the future at catcher.  He continues a long lineage of great catchers (Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson, and Jorge Posada to name a few).  He has yet to prove that he belongs in their company, but he does have the talent and potential to be.  Sanchez’s arrival will almost certainly lead to the departure of Brian McCann.  Even if they have to include cash, I still expect the Yankees to move McCann…either by the end of this month or in the off-season.  Austin Romine has proven that he is a very capable backup catcher for the foreseeable future.

Aaron Judge might not be the Yankees’ top prospect, but his arrival is very exciting.  There has been a vacancy in right field since Carlos Beltran was traded to the Texas Rangers.  There was no doubt that right field would belong to Judge in 2017, even if he did struggle somewhat in AAA last year.  But this year for the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders, Judge has been a man among boys.  He gives the Yankees a legitimate power threat in right, and his mammoth home runs will ensure that he is a fan favorite.  For a team that has been void of true superstars, the Yankees are starting to show the glimmer of possibilities as we move forward.

GM Brian Cashman has already said that we won’t see top prospect OF Clint Frazier, but he’ll make his first appearance in spring training.  He clearly has the potential (and fire) to make Brett Gardner an ex-Yankee.  Sadly, Jacoby Ellsbury is not going anywhere thanks to his excessive contract, but still, an outfield of Judge, Frazier, and Ellsbury is very exciting.

SS Gleyber Torres and SS/2B Jorge Mateo are a couple more faces that we’ll see next spring.

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Credit:  Tim Holle, Brevard County Manatees (via NJ.com)

If only Luis Severino, currently 1-7 (with the only win coming in a relief appearance), could deliver upon the promise that he showed last September.  But soon, names like James Kaprelian, Justus Sheffield and Ian Clarkin will be making noise for big league roles.

For a team that was old with a barren farm system just a few years, the future is indeed bright.

I am very excited and anxious to see what the new generation of Yankees can do.  The path to World Championship #28 seems much clearer these days…

—Scott

The Right Decision…

And then there was 24…

It could be the name of a highly successful TV series starring Kiefer Sutherland, it could be former Yankees great Constantino Martinez, or it could be new and future catcher Gary Sanchez.  But today, the meaning is singular.  The Yankees’ roster has essentially been running at 24 for the last few weeks with Alex Rodriguez sitting idle on the bench.  But now, it’s official.

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Credit:  Newsday

The roster action will be delayed but Friday, August 12th represents the final day with A-Rod in pinstripes.  After the game on Friday, Alex will be unconditionally released and will sign an agreement with the Yankees to serve as a special advisor and instructor through December 31, 2017.

Obviously, the roster will stand at 24 only momentarily as the 25th spot will quickly be filled by someone like Aaron Judge or Tyler Austin.  I suspect that it will be the latter as the Yankees will want to test one of the prime candidates to be Mark Teixeira’s replacement next year.  Aaron Judge’s ascent to right field in the Bronx is a clearer path than the one Austin faces given the competition presented by Greg Bird and Rob Refsnyder.

I have not been a supporter of A-Rod and have actively wanted him off the roster for a few years now.  I do recognize that when he came back after serving the year long suspension, he was a model citizen.  He did not exhibit the narcissist behavior that had been such a part of his persona and infamy.  Still, I have been ready to turn the page.

With the ascent of Gary Sanchez to the major leagues and the first few games showing that he is ready, it signaled the turning of the page.  The sell-off at the trading deadline showed that Team Hal was ready to move forward and look to the future.  Sanchez proving that he is ready to be the next great Yankees catcher, it has accelerated the plans to make Brian McCann either a first baseman or the full-time DH.  The transition to the latter would make more sense.  Of course, that would eliminate any chance of A-Rod getting any further at-bats.  I still hold up hope the Yankees will pay some cash to move McCann back to the Atlanta Braves. But it’s actually good that the DH slot has been opened up as it will allow guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to cycle through the slot.

Back to A-Rod, I do think that he should pursue a role in the broadcasting booth in the fall play-offs.  He showed that he had great value last year, and I do think he has a bright future in his post-playing career.  The way he enjoys working with young players also shows that coaching is a strong possibility even if A-Rod says otherwise.  Regardless, A-Rod has no shortage of future possibilities.  I am thankful for his contributions to the New York Yankees, but I am glad this day has arrived.  I will look forward to the August 12th game and will watch it with great interest.  I will enjoy each A-Rod at-bat, and I will appreciate his final farewell.

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Credit:  Corey Sipkin, New York Daily News

So long, A-Rod…

—Scott

Sold to the Lady in the Second Row…

Going, going, gone!…

My wish was answered.  I had been a huge proponent of being a seller at the trading deadline, and in the end, Team Hal saw the view of the world the same as I.  Without any doubt, it was an incredibly painful experience.  I loved having the three-headed beast in the back end of the bullpen, and Andrew Miller was easily my favorite Yankee.  But as I played over and over in my head, having the greatest bullpen in the history of baseball means nothing if you don’t have a supporting cast.

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Credit:  Thomas A. Ferrara, Newsday

I thought that GM Brian Cashman did very well with his trades.  It instantly catapulted the Yankees to the upper echelon of premier farm systems when it wasn’t that long ago we were closer to the bottom.  The end of the latest Yankees dynasty came because the team didn’t pay proper attention to the farm system until it was too late.  Now, as the cream of the crop make their way to Yankee Stadium, the team will be in a much better position to add additional pieces to improve the talent and quality of the major league roster.  The bullpen may be more suspect, but the supporting cast will be much, much stronger, and in the end, it will bring more wins.

The future started this week with the call-up of top catching prospect Gary Sanchez.  It’s only been a few games but it feels like the changing of the guard.  I have to believe that it is virtual certainty the Yankees will try to move Brian McCann at the end of the season if not sooner.  Backup catcher Austin Romine holds better long-term value than McCann so I think the Yankees should throw in cash to entice the Atlanta Braves to take their former All-Star catcher.

The next call up should be outfielder Aaron Judge, although I really want to see what first baseman Tyler Austin can do in September.

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Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRider’s Tyler Austin before a game against the Charlotte Knights at PNC Field in Moosic, Pa. on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. Photo by Martin Griff

Credit:  Martin Griff

The DL is going to miss Mark Teixeira…

Today, Mark Teixeira announced he is retiring at the end of the year.  This was the right move.  With his injury history in recent years, no team was going to pay him to be their starting first baseman next year.  There was no real chance that the Yankees would re-sign him.  It is time.  Teixeira now gets the opportunity to walk away as a Yankee.

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Credit:  Brad Rempel, USA Today Sports

I did not realize that Teixeira had hit nearly half of his career home runs as a Yankee.  It’s been eight years and is the longest time Tex has spent with any team including his original team, the Texas Rangers.

I saw a stat today that said the Yankees have only had four first basemen since 1983.  Don Mattingly, Tino Martinez, Jason Giambi, and Teixeira.  Unfortunately, that’s probably the order in which I liked them the best too.  Does this mean I will like the next first baseman even less?  Possibly, but the next first baseman should be the first homegrown Yankee since Mattingly.  The aforementioned Tyler Austin and the injured Greg Bird will enter spring training next year as the favorites for the position, along with Rob Refsnyder.  I like Bird, but I am very intrigued by Austin.  He responded very well to the position change to first this year and re-established himself as one of the top prospects in the organization.

I will be happy with either Austin or Bird, but I do hope that one of them takes the position by stranglehold and that it’s not just a process of elimination.  No offense to Refsnyder but he just doesn’t have the power to intrigue me as the regular first baseman.

Tex has had a great career.  I don’t know if it will lead to the Hall of Fame but he’s certainly put up numbers to be proud of.  He is one of the primary reasons the Yankees won the 2009 World Series.  Although I never fully embraced Teixeira, he was an excellent defensive first baseman and when healthy, one of the best power hitters in the game.  Sadly, the latter was an infrequent occurrence.

Still, I wish Tex nothing but the best as he moves on to his second career.

I hope it’s not Miller Time…

I am writing this post as the Yankees play the Cleveland Indians.  This is a very tough series to watch knowing that Cleveland has the premier closer on their roster.  Hopefully he doesn’t factor into tonight’s game.  But when he does appear, I hope he receives a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd.

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Credit:  Jason Miller, Getty Images

Is it 2017 yet?…

—Scott

Can I have the cake and eat it too?…

What if the Yankees had traded Mariano Rivera in a deadline deal?…

It’s tough.  I’ve been preaching the Yankees need to sell and I still believe it.  Yet, it was very hard to watch Aroldis Chapman and his 105 mph fastball move to Chicago.  I know, it was the right thing to do.  The Yankees got a player (SS Gleyber Torres) that knocked #1 prospect SS Jorge Mateo off his perch.  They also got promising talent with two other minor leaguers, and the bonus included former Yankee Adam Warren, the perfect spot starter/long reliever.  He should slot nicely into the 7th inning role departed by Dellin Betances when he was promoted to the 8th inning with the trade.

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Credit:  Barton Silverman/New York Times

Andrew Miller is my favorite Yankee.  Going back, my favorite Yankees have been long-term affairs.  I became a Yankees fan in 1974 when P Jim “Catfish” Hunter signed with the Yankees as a free agent.  But it didn’t take long for me to jump to C Thurman Munson as my favorite.  There was a short stint with P Rich “Goose” Gossage, but then 1B Don Mattingly became my favorite.  When Mattingly retired, Mariano Rivera, then an 8th inning set up reliever for closer John Wetteland became my favorite Yankee.  So, from 1983 to 2013, there were two players that were my favorite.  When Andrew Miller joined the Yankees, he became my favorite due to his unselfish, total team approach.  He’s been great at whatever role he’s held with the Yankees and has never complained.  He is now the closer again with Chapman joining the Cubbies.  Yet, with several days to the trade deadline, Miller could still soon be an ex-Yankee.

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Credit:  Elsa/Getty Images

There was a report today that the Washington Nationals might be willing to part with pitcher Lucas Giolito for Miller.  A subsequent report indicated the Yankees would not take Giolito for Miller.  Realistically and considering he is my favorite Yankee, that’s a trade that I would do with no questions asked.  I think Giolito has a very promising future.  There are no guarantees for anyone unless your name is Mike Trout or Bryce Harper.  Pitchers are very fickle.  The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best pitcher in baseball with Clayton Kershaw yet he is on the DL and there’s no word when he’ll be returning.  The Yankees need a New York Mets-like starting rotation and I feel that Giolito could be a cornerstone.  I would hate to lose Miller, and I would be very sad to see him go even if Giolito is the compensation.  Yet, I feel the Yankees would be better off long-term with a potential ace in the rotation and Dellin Betances as the closer.

The Yankees have played better of late but realistically this is not a World Series team.  The Yankees really need to make decisions now to influence the 2017 roster.  That means they need to move guys like Ivan Nova and Carlos Beltran.  Get prospects rather than see the players depart at the end of the year.  I am prepared to cut bait with Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia.  I’d try to move C Brian McCann and 3B Chase Headley.  I’d also check to see if there was any value for LF Brett Gardner.  I wouldn’t trade P Masahiro Tanaka but I’d seriously have to consider moving Michael Pineda and/or Nathan Eovaldi in the right deal.

The influx of additional young talent could allow the Yankees to make a deal for a guy like P Chris Sale or another impact player.

Owner Hal Steinbrenner and President Randy Levine still believe in the 2016 Yankees but they are definitely in the minority.  The Yankees, behind GM Brian Cashman, need to be forward-thinking.  The next couple of days will be crucial to the future of the franchise.

As painful as it is, please sell…

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—Scott

Seriously, a BJ Upton walk-off homer?…

Glass is half empty…

When the Yankees split the recent series with the Texas Rangers by taking back-to-back walk-off wins, there was talk if those games were the momentum changers that the Yankees needed to propel them upward in the standings.  Off to San Diego to play the lowly Padres, and the Yankees have only continued their disappointing and at times frustrating play.

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When you can say that Ivan Nova held the opponent to one run with seven strikeouts, it should be a sign of optimism.  But in the standings, it was just another loss as the Padres’ Drew Pomeranz threw a superior game.  Is Pomeranz really that good or is it just the miserable Yankee bats?  Probably somewhere in between.

Every fan has known for several years that the Yankees need another top starter to go with Masahiro Tanaka.  There was hope and optimism that Michael Pineda and/or Luis Severino would step up but it hasn’t happened and there was always the potential for this to be the case.  Neither is a surefire option.  I still think the Yankees should have gone after Max Scherzer a couple of seasons ago, but it wasn’t meant to be.

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Credit:  Geoff Burke, USA Today Sports

Regardless of what happens in the coming days, I think it is time to move pending free agent Carlos Beltran.  Yes, he’s been the best offensive force on the team, but face it, the Yankees aren’t going to win the World Series this year.  Beltran will walk at the end of the year as the Yankees have no desire to re-sign the player.  They may as well sell at this point to get something of value in return.  The day for Aaron Judge’s arrival is drawing closer.  Even if Judge isn’t ready, there are guys like Jake Cave who deserve an opportunity.  The Yankees should commit to youth for the good of the organization going forward.

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Credit:  Corey Sipkin, New York Daily News

I would also sell high on CC Sabathia.  The guy was untradeable in the not so distant past.  Now, the Yankees could actually get something in return even if they have to pay some of the salary.  A great Yankee but it’s time to move on.  I’d rather begin to develop guys like Chad Green and Luis Cessa as long time parts for the starting rotation.

I’d sign Cuban free agent third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and unload Chase Headley.

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Credit:  Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

There’s no doubt I’d walk away from Alex Rodriguez, and take the remaining dollars as a loss on the contract as the cost of doing business.  I would also move on from Mark Teixeira despite no readily apparent back up in place.  These guys have been huge drains on the team’s offense, and perhaps they’d flourish elsewhere with the change of scenery but I don’t see either player powering the team to its 28th World Championship.

If Brett Gardner got caught in one of the moves to unload one or more of the above players, then so be it.

The Yankees need to develop a stronger base foundation so that they can enhance the team in the off-season through other trades or possible free agent signings.  I know that the free agent market doesn’t appear to be very attractive this year, but the Yankees need to do something to remove the “past-their-prime” players.

As for youth, I was hoping for more from Aaron Hicks.  I really thought that he might flourish in the Bronx and give the Yankees stronger reason to move Brett Gardner.  But he hasn’t hit either.  Maybe the Yankees should consider adding former Twins outfielder Torii Hunter as a roving instructor.  Hicks blossomed last year under his tutelage.  I still think that Hicks can succeed, but it is rapidly becoming apparent it won’t be this year.

It was frustrating in the off-season to watch the Yankees be so inactive in improving the roster.  We’re now seeing the uneven play of the team as a result.  I think the fans knew that was the more likely outcome than management did.  It doesn’t mean the fans are more educated, but clearly this was a roster full of holes that needed everything to go right.

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Today, Chad Green is the starting pitcher as the Yankees try to salvage at least one game from the San Diego Padres and avoid a sweep.  Hopefully it is the sign of the future, and the first step toward “roster improvement”.

Yankees, just win…

—Scott

.500 R Us…

Win some, lose some…

The Yankees continue to lose but win just enough to make you think that IF everything could fall into place, they might have a shot for a wild card berth.  This is actually frustrating because the Yankees do not have the horses to succeed in October outside of a legendary back end of the bullpen.

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Credit:  Brad Penner, USA Today Sports

There have been a few surprises like the improved pitching of CC Sabathia, but the inconsistency of the starting rotation as a whole and the lack of a true superstar in the heart of the order can only mean the Yankees will be picking in the mid-first round again next June in the amateur draft.

I’ve been pleased with the recent play of Didi Gregorius but he’s still just a place card until top prospect Jorge Mateo is ready for the big leagues.  In looking at the Yankees infield, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Starlin Castro still starting at his position three years from now.  Mark Teixeira will be a memory from days past, Brian McCann will probably be the team’s primary DH, and Chase Headley will be making his second go-around in San Diego or some other obscure baseball community.

I have mixed feelings about a July sell-off.  The Yankees can certainly get value for guys like Aroldis Chapman and/or Andrew Miller but a stellar bullpen is hard to find these days and is a must to succeed in the play-offs.  If the Yankees are indeed out of it, I wouldn’t mind seeing Carlos Beltran moved for prospects or almost anyone else on the team except for Dellin Betances, Miller and Chapman.  I guess if the Yankees are offered a player like the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber, then you do have to consider moving even Run BMC but I hope it doesn’t come to that.  Since Mariano Rivera retired, Andrew Miller has been my favorite Yankee.  Before Rivera was my favorite, it was Don Mattingly.  I am used to players with very long tenures in New York.  The difference with Miller is that he was not home-grown.  He made his name before coming to New York.

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(070711 Boston, MA) Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Andrew Miller pitches in the first inning of a MLB game against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park Thursday, July 7, 2011. Staff Photo by Matt Stone

If the Yankees decide they can re-sign Chapman, then maybe moving Miller is the right thing.  But if Chapman isn’t traded and is allowed to walk at the end of the year, the Yankees need Miller as their closer.  I prefer to see Betances stay in a setup role.  I hope he doesn’t become the closer by default.

Trading Chapman or Miller is easy, GM Brian Cashman would really make a name for himself (above and beyond his current reputation) if he was able to unload some dead wood.  Yes, I am talking about Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira but there’s obviously others.

Life in the AL East…

I am surprised that the Baltimore Orioles are starting to run away with the division.  Honestly, I thought it would be a slugfest between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox.  After a strong start, Boston has been very sluggish of late as they’ve fallen off the pace with the O’s.  David Price has looked nothing like the ace pitcher he is paid to be.  This really shows what a crap shoot free agent signings can be, particularly with pitchers.  Maybe Hal Steinbrenner is on to something by not signing any top shelf free agents in the recent past.

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Speaking of Boston, I think they’d be wise to fire manager John Farrell and replace him with last year’s interim manager Torey Lovullo.  Lovullo did a great job last year getting the most out of his players after he replaced the sidelined Farrell.  The 2016 Red Sox seem to be missing something, and it might be having Lovullo as its manager.  But then again, if Farrell causes the Red Sox to miss the play-offs, all is good and they should keep him as manager…

With the Yankees right now, it feels like we’re sitting around waiting for Bryce Harper’s free agent year…

Washington Nationals Photo Day

VIERA, FL – FEBRUARY 23: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals poses for a portrait during photo day at Space Coast Stadium on February 23, 2014 in Viera, Florida. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Credit:  Rob Carr, Getty Images

Half the year is gone…where did it go?  Welcome to July and the baseball trading deadline…

—Scott

Didn’t the season just start?…

Winter is coming…

“It’s frustrating and hard to watch”.  

Those are not my words, but the words voiced by Yankees GM Brian Cashman in an interview with The New York Post.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this is a very underwhelming Yankees squad. Outside of a phenomenal backend of the bullpen, there’s not much else to be excited about.  The Yankees had improved their play during Alex Rodriguez’s recent stint on the DL but since his return, the Yankees have returned to their losing ways.

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Credit:  Associated Press

Is A-Rod done?  It’s very possible that he is not an everyday player at this stage of his career, even if he is strictly a DH.  Carlos Beltran improved his hitting when he had control of the DH slot which further supports that it is unwise to play A-Rod exclusively at the batting only position.    A lethargic A-Rod bat is a disease with the anemic bats in the lineup.  By comparison, David Ortiz is showing that he is still a killer bat in his final year.  A-Rod will not have the same happy ending at this rate.

In another illustration of disappointment, Mark Teixeira exited tonight’s game against the Baltimore Orioles in the third inning.  The early report is pain in the knee (although I think he’s more of a pain in my @$$).  He’s headed for a MRI so it’s too early to tell if this is a short absence or another stint on the DL for the future ex-Yankee.  With no true first baseman on the roster to support Teixeira, Rob Refsnyder was forced into action as the replacement.  I wonder if this will mean the call up of either Nick Swisher or Chris Parmalee.  Sentimentally, I like the thought of Swisher, but realistically, Parmalee might be the better option.

It’s disappointing to watch the team underperform offensively and struggle with the rotation.  It almost certainly means the Yankees will be sellers at the trade deadline which means it is very possible that the Yankee careers of Aroldis Chapman and/or Andrew Miller could be coming to an end.  This would have been such a great bullpen to pair with a championship caliber starting rotation, but it has not been meant to be…at least not to this point.

This Yankees roster is so restricted by the plethora of bad contracts.  It has resulted in a poorly designed lineup and the weaknesses are routinely exposed on a nightly basis.

It will be interesting to see if Manager Joe Girardi and/or GM Cashman can survive this train wreck.  I don’t think Girardi is to blame but it may be time for new blood in the GM seat.  I know that he has been committed to the youth movement, but so far, there have not been too many success stories from the younger in-house talent.  If I was part of the Steinbrenner family, I’d probably be looking to someone like Alex Anthopoulos, assuming the Yankees could pry him from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.

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Credit:  Ron Cervenka

I wish I knew what could be done to reverse the fortunes of the 2016 Yankees but I think there are too many problems to overcome.  Sure, a nice little winning streak can mask those deficiencies for the short-term but the team just doesn’t have the sustainability for success over the duration of what’s left of the season.

This is a disappointing season, no doubt.

Shark-infested waters…

As I write this, my favorite hockey team, the San Jose Sharks, are playing in the NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals.  They are down 2 games to none, but the series resumes Saturday in San Jose.  I am still optimistic the team can rebound to make this a competitive series.  It’s been great to watch the Sharks reach the first finals in franchise history.  For the guys who have been longtime Sharks like Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, it is especially satisfying.  Hopefully, the return home means there are still some Sharks games to be won.

san-jose-shark-head.jpg

Credit:  dirtydangle.com

Go Sharks!

—Scott

Time to starting thinking about football?…

Are we in or are we out?…

It’s not been a fun start to the 2016 season for the Yankees.  While they are playing better (currently in the midst of a three game win streak), the hole may simply be too large to overcome.  It’s not like the Yankees have a roster filled with Clayton Kershaw and Bryce Harper types.  At the moment, the Yankees are in the AL East Cellar, 6 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles, and 4 games back in the Wild Card standings.  This is not insurmountable, especially since it is not yet June.  But still, the Yankees will need to make decisions over the course of the next 45 days to buy or sell.

difficult-decision

If they sell, I have finally wrapped my head around a potential trade of star reliever Andrew Miller.  But if they decide to trade Miller, it is my hope the Yankees will do what it takes to lock up Aroldis Chapman on a new deal rather than letting him walk at the end of the year for draft pick compensation.  Maybe it’s Chapman that should be dealt.  This is tough.  I am a big fan of Miller’s but he is older and Chapman has been electrifying in his short tenure with the Yanks.

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FOX Sports

Miller is probably at his peak for trade value.  He just turned 31 years old, but he is at the top of his game.  He can make a difference in the 9th inning for a contender that lacks a frontline closer.  Maybe package both Brian McCann and Miller together in a deal with the Texas Rangers.  Even the Chicago Cubs, as great as they’ve been, would be better with Miller as their closer.

Miller is probably my favorite Yankee right now.  For so many years, my favorite player was Mariano Rivera.  Prior to that, it was Don Mattingly.  So, it would be painful to see Miller go but if it successfully infused new, young talent into organization, I would be in favor of it.

I wish Mark Teixeira the best in his career going forward, but I am ready for his Yankees career to end.  I really hope the Yankees do not try to re-sign him to a new deal after the year is over.  Unfortunately, given his injury history and very slow start to the year (again), the Yankees can’t really get value in a trade.  Not sure how Greg Bird will perform, but it would probably be beneficial for the Yankees to look for a backup first baseman next year that could spell Bird if he struggles upon his return.  I don’t really care to see Teixeira in that role.

Another Yankee that needs to go is Chase Headley.  Yet, he is another player with limited trade value.  Ronald Torreyes, a player that was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers, released, signed by the Chicago White Sox, released, and re-signed by the Yankees in this past off-season has been more exciting despite his small stature.  I am still hopeful that Rob Refsnyder will get a chance at some point, but he’s been on the major league roster for a few days now and hasn’t played.  Those ugly games at the end of spring training where Refsnyder was hit by grounders still reverberate in my memory (and apparently in the minds of the Yankees brain trust).

I am fine with Didi Gregorius for now, but I recognize that he is just keeping the seat warm until top prospect Jorge Mateo is ready.

Jorge Mateo

Chris O’Meara/AP Photo

Starlin Castro has been a good pickup.  I am glad that the team no longer has the revolving door at the position like they’ve had since Robinson Cano left.

In the outfield, it’s clear that Carlos Beltran is making his final lap as a Yankee.  His seat on the roster will be taken by Aaron Judge next year.  Jacoby Ellsbury is a Yankee for the foreseeable future, like it or not.  Brett Gardner would be the one guy in the outfield that I’d try to trade, to free up a full-time spot for Aaron Hicks.  Like Miller, he is another player that is now on the wrong side of 30.

The Yankees may not have the talent to bring in a frontline player or top prospect, but they could package the right deal to bring in players with good potential.  I always think along the lines of a Paul O’Neill.  Those kind of deals don’t happen very often but it is possible.

So far, this is a disappointing year.  I felt like the Yankees could have done more to strengthen their roster in the off-season but I understand the need to reduce payroll and to hang on to the upper level prospects.  The Yankees do need to clear the path for Gary Sanchez while retaining Austin Romine so that’s why I would be in favor of moving Brian McCann by the trading deadline.

These are the days that will define Brian Cashman’s GM story with the Yankees…

Brian-Cashman-540x361

—Scott

Victory defined…

Thanks to a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles last night, the Yankees finally get back into the win column.  Of course, it’s been so long, I had forgotten what “win” means.  So, I looked it up in the dictionary:

win

win/
verb
  1. 1.
    be successful or victorious in (a contest or conflict).
    “the Mets have won four games in a row”
    synonyms: take, be the victor in, be the winner of, come first in, take first prize in, triumph in, be successful in More

 

The definition references the Mets, so I guess this is just another loss…

Bummer.

–Scott