Archive for the ‘ Yankees ’ Category

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!

American Flag, baseball

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!

Happy-4th-of-July-Wallpaper

—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

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

The Mets must be New York’s team…

We’re mediocre and we like it!…

I fully understand why the Yankees can’t field a starting rotation full of $25 million per year starters.  I recognize that Max Scherzer is most likely cost prohibitive for even the rich Yankees.  But my problem is the off-season of inactivity has me concerned about the prospects for 2015.  I am glad the Yankees signed lefty reliever Andrew Miller and re-signed starting third baseman Chase Headley, but as it stands, the Yankees are not a better team today than the one who finished with 84 wins last season.  Miller’s addition was offset by closer David Robertson’s departure, and Headley is a returnee.

Other guys who helped make a difference last year, like Brandon McCarthy and Francisco Cervelli, are no longer Yankees.  The Yankees were wise not to pay McCarthy $48 million for four years, but he will still be missed.  Cervelli brought lefty specialist Justin Wilson to the team and he’ll help in the bullpen, but it remains to be seen if John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine can match his intensity as Brian McCann’s backup.

It’s difficult watching other teams make bold moves to improve while the Yankees sit idly by.  If the Yankees are not in on Scherzer, then why are they not pursuing guys like Kris Medlen.  Medlen was a very talented pitcher before he got hurt.  There’s risk for the Kansas City Royals in signing Medlen today, however, there’s also very good upside potential.  The Yankees’ preference was to re-sign #5 starter Chris Capuano who failed in Boston and was considering Japan when the Yankees called.

If the Yankees had a strong farm system with the upper levels stacked with major league ready talent it would be one thing, but that’s not the case.  The best talent are years away from helping.

Honestly, if the Yankees are not going to try to win, I’d prefer to see them blow the team up and send the trade-able players away for quality prospects.  A few 95 loss seasons for the chance to return to prominence would be preferable to an annual 85 win team that consistently comes up short in September.

Or better yet, I’d prefer to see the Steinbrenner family sell the team to someone who shares the understanding that George Steinbrenner had about the importance of successful Yankee teams.

The Yankees are not going to win with the current roster.  Paying Alex Rodriguez nearly $30 million per year for the next three years has, so it seems, to have paralyzed the team’s finances.  Mediocrity courtesy of A-Rod.

It’s almost comical when I hear players like Andrew Miller say that he joined the Yankees to win.  With Team Mediocrity, the only winning he’ll see is going to the bank to deposit his paychecks.

Right now, the Yankees fan base seems very lethargic and disappointed.  Maybe that’s just me, but the fan base needs to be energized.  Management needs to do something to show the nation they are committed to being successful in 2015.  We need something to energize us.  I am not sure what it would take, but anything is better than nothing.  Pinning your hopes on the good health of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and others is simply a suicide mission.

There’s still time for the Steinbrenner boys to show Major League Baseball that they are still the Yankees.  But each day of inactivity brings us closer to the inevitable season of disappointment.  It’s funny, the person who may pay the price ultimately is manager Joe Girardi.  If the Yankees continue the downward spiral, someone will have to be held accountable.  Somehow, I don’t think it will be Hal or Hank Steinbrenner.

George, we miss you.

–Scott

What Dreams May Come…

The end of days…

The realist in me understands that these are the end of days for the New York Yankees.  It is merely a time formality for them to be mathematically eliminated.  A recent 5-game skid has almost assured the Baseball Gods and those twin sisters at Yankee Stadium, Mystique and Aura, that there will be no October baseball in the Bronx.  Realistically, I do not  believe the Yankees have a chance to catch the Detroit Tigers or Kansas City Royals as either one of those teams should capture the second Wild Card behind the Los Angeles Angels. 

What does this mean?  Honestly, I think that Brian Cashman’s tenure as GM has reached its conclusion.  While I’ve enjoyed Cashman as GM, I recognize that it is time for change.  Assistant GM Billy Eppler, a finalist for the San Diego Padres GM job that he lost to A.J. Preller, is a top candidate and my personal choice as a successor.  I would prefer Eppler, who knows and understands the inner workings of the Yankees kingdom, as opposed to an outsider that would have a learning curve.  Eppler is respected and he’ll have the support of the Steinbrenners from Day 1 given his history with them. 

 

New York Post/Charles Wenzelberg

This Yankees team is old and I don’t know what they can do in the short run to turn things around.  In many ways, they should have been sellers at the trading deadline to bring an infusion of youth into the organization.  The Yankees have talent at the lower levels of the minor leagues (man, am I looking forward to the day that OF Aaron Judge takes the field) but the higher level prospects have largely been a disappointment.  While I am hopeful that 2B Rob Refsnyder gets a sniff of Yankee Stadium in September, it is P Manny Banuelos that I am most interested in.  Once touted as the top pitching prospect in the organization, I still think Banuelos can deliver the goods now that he is healthy.  Hopefully, he is able to make a statement in September to convince the team that he is ready for 2015.

 What does it mean? The return of CC Sabathia leaves little to be excited about as he showed nothing to disprove he is aging fast prior to his injury.  Hiroki Kuroda will finally head for the shores of Japan, whether it is to retire or to play one last season in the Japanese leagues.  So, the Yankees will enter 2015 with plenty of questions in the rotation.  Masahiro Tanaka should be the opening day starter, but he’s still just an elbow blowout from Tommy John surgery.  Shane Greene has proven he belongs so I am confident that he’ll be part of the rotation.  Michael Pineda is in the ‘show me’ stage of his career.  It’s time for him to stay healthy and produce.  If he is capable of doing that, he’ll be at the upper echelon of the starting rotation.  If not, he’ll go by the wayside, ala Carl Pavano.  Ivan Nova, I have no clue.

What really makes this down season so bad is that next spring will be met by Alex Rodriguez.  I really hope that the Yankees find a way to sever ties and ensure that A-Rod never wears pinstripes again.

Matt Slocum 

“Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish, and think of me. Make your life spectacular.” – Jack

I know that this is a sports blog but I’d be remiss for not acknowledging the tremendous impact that Robin Williams had on me during the course of my life.  From Mork and Mindy to the many movies that Robin starred in, he made a difference.  His comic genius was unlike any other, and he took to any role and embraced it.  For someone who brought so much joy and happiness into so many lives, it is unfortunate that he was unable to do so for himself.  This has been a tough year with celebrity losses, with actress Lauren Bacall being the latest example, but Robin Williams is a star that will continue to shine brightly.  I hope that he found what he was seeking in his fatal decision, but it’s a given that he’ll never be forgotten.  Thanks Robin, we appreciate you, we love you, and hope that you’re the life of the party at the divine afterlife. 

 

–Scott

 

You win some, you lose some, i.e., 2014 Yankees…

Mediocrity continues…

Realistically, there was no way the Yankees could have been players at the trading deadline.  Despite the usual rumors tying the Yankees to David Price, Tampa Bay was not going to trade their prized pitcher to New York, only to have him haunt them for years.  It was potentially an opportunity for the Rays to strip the Yankees cupboards bare but that would have been foolish on the Yankees’ part.

Ditto for the Boston Red Sox.  If there was the slightest possibility the Rays would have considered moving Price to New York, there was none when it came to Boston.  There is no circumstance that would allow their pride to part with one of their core players to the hated Yankees.  Yes, the Yankees were able to pick up Stephen Drew, but he has not been a vital part of the success of the Red Sox in recent years.

Boston Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew can't make

AP

Interestingly enough, Boston’s trade of Lester to the Oakland A’s increases the possibility that he becomes a Yankee next year in my opinion.  Oakland will not pony up the necessary dollars and I am not sure that Boston would get any hometown discount (if there ever would have been one to begin with).  I am sure that the Los Angeles Dodgers will make a play for Lester and I would not underestimate the Seattle Mariners since Lester is a Northwest native.

If, by chance, Lester does return to Boston in the off-season as a free agent, it would be quite a coup to land Yoenis Cespedes for a two month rental of Lester to the A’s.

Back to the Yankees, there really wasn’t a blockbuster deal in the cards for them.  The pitchers they were linked to (most notably John Danks) all have their own question marks and the Yankees would still have had to overpay.  So, all things considered, losing C/1B prospect Peter O’Brien (in the deal to acquire Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks) was a small price to pay.  The Yankees have no shortage of replacement prospects for O’Brien (he wasn’t going to be a catcher and his departure allowed the Yankees to promote 1B Greg Bird to AA).  Kelly Johnson for Stephen Drew made sense as Johnson wasn’t really being used by the Yankees, and Stephen Drew gets an audition as a potential 2015 replacement for the retiring Derek Jeter even if he’ll be out of position (2B instead of SS) for the next two months.

Drew’s arrival (a surprise given that it involved an infrequent trade with Boston) spelled the end of the line for former Baltimore Orioles great Brian Roberts.  Roberts seemed like a good guy but the Yankees needed more at 2B.  Drew, even though he had never played 2B at the major league level, was still an upgrade at a position that has been sorely lacking since the day Robinson Cano signed in Seattle.  I wish that Drew had a stronger bat, but his athleticism seems to play well on defense.

Prado is a great all purpose guy but not exactly what I had envisioned for right field.  Yet, he’s an improvement over the aging Ichiro Suzuki.  I heard the Yankees had tried to acquire Dustin Ackley from the Seattle Mariners before they turned their sights on Prado.  Apparently, Seattle’s request for minor league pitcher Bryan Mitchell was a deal breaker.  That’s too bad because I’ve long thought that Ackley would fit well with the Yankees.  Personally, I would have given up Mitchell to get Ackley.

The Yankees did need help on offense and even if they weren’t flashy moves, the additions of Drew and Prado were upgrades.  But I had really hoped the Yankees would have been able to secure an additional arm for the rotation which didn’t happen.  But I never wanted to see a deal that involved losing top prospects so perhaps it was best that nothing happened.  Clearly, the Yankees are not going to win a World Series this year unless they get ridiculously lucky in the next couple of months.  As it stands, they’d be easily dismissed by either Oakland or Detroit.

It’s possible the Yankees made a waiver deal or two this month, but I seriously doubt there will be any major additions.  Win or lose, this is the 2014 Yankees.

Chasing A-Rod…

It is early in Chase Headley’s Yankee career, however, I really like what I’ve seen so far.  Granted, he doesn’t bring a monster bat, but his defensive plays have been something that has been missing from Yankee Stadium for many years.  There’s no doubt I prefer Headley over Alex Rodriguez and I hope the Yankees decide to bring Headley back next year.

New Yankee Chase Headley belts game-winning single in 14th

Getty Images

Considering that Yangervis Solarte has been hitting with consistency since he arrived in San Diego, the Headley trade is one of those that seems to have worked out well for both teams involved.

Friendships revisited…

With the acquisitions of Drew and Prado, it was interesting how it reunited former teammates.  For Drew, it was a reunion with former Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and lefty specialist Matt Thornton.  He was traded for a close friend, Kelly Johnson, a former teammate when they were both in Arizona.  Ironically, I read that Drew and Johnson were together in Drew’s home when news of the trade broke.  I am sure that probably hasn’t happened too often.

For Prado, he was teammates in Atlanta with catcher Brian McCann and first baseman Mark Teixeira.

AP/John Bazemore

Even Carlos Beltran was able to catch up with old friends, even though they are playing in the opposing dugout with former Cardinals teammates Allen Craig and Joe Kelly.  It wasn’t that long ago Beltran, Craig and Kelly were playing in the World Series, along with now Boston reliever Edward Mujica, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Assimilating with a new team…

When Wednesday’s games were over, I am sure that Stephen Drew’s mind was on the upcoming series against the Yankees.  So, when Thursday’s trade put him in the opposite dugout, I wonder how long it takes to drop the loyalty to the former team.  Not that I would think Drew would do anything to hurt the Yankees’ chances to beat the Red Sox but I wonder if there is a part of you that quietly roots for your former teammates.  When you are used to cheering the home team at Fenway, does that feeling automatically leave because you are suddenly wearing a different uniform?  For Drew, when he played second base for the Yankees on Friday night, he had much deeper and more meaningful relationships with the Red Sox than he did with his own teammates.  He’ll develop those friendships on the team in time, but it just seems to me that it would be very difficult to change loyalties at the drop of a hat.

I watched a little of Jon Lester’s debut with the Oakland A’s on Saturday.  Admittedly, Lester looked a little strange in Oakland’s uniform.  Jeff Samardzija looked more at ease than Lester did during their respective debuts, but it didn’t show up in Lester’s performance as he beat the Kansas City Royals while the Red Sox were losing to the Yankees.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Oakland Athletics

USA Today Sports

David Price’s debut as a Detroit Tiger takes place this week against the Yankees.  As if they didn’t see Price enough while he was with the Rays.  Oh well, to be the best, you have to beat the best or so they say…

–Scott

 

Patchwork Blue…

Who is #26 again?…

Perhaps the Yankees are trying to give as many players as possible the opportunity to play with future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.  Wow, I am starting to need a program roster to keep up with who is playing for the 2014 Yankees.  Chase Headley taking an infield drive and relaying it to Brian McCann at first in defense of Brandon McCarthy on the mound is not exactly a scenario that I had envisioned at the beginning of the year.

Nothing against either Headley or McCarthy as both have performed well during their very short Yankee careers, but there have certainly been a number of roster changes this year.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the complete overhaul of a starting pitching rotation as we have gone from CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka, and Michael Pineda to Kuroda, McCarthy, David Phelps, Shane Greene, and Chris Capuano.  Of course, that’s today.  There could be a current non-Yankee in the rotation by next weekend.  McCarthy has performed much better than I had anticipated.  I know that he’s healthier than he was earlier in the year with the Arizona Diamondbacks as he is further removed from prior surgery, and as they’ve said, he was showing marked improvement prior to the trade.  He is not that removed from being one of the Oakland A’s top starting pitchers.  While I do not expect his return to that level, it is nice to know the team has a chance every time he takes the mound.

Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of their baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, June 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) Photo: Eric Risberg, Associated Press

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

I like the job Shane Greene has done but of course it comes with the typical rookie pains.  Admittedly, I was not aware of Greene prior to his call up from the minors.  I try to keep up with the top prospects, but he flew under the radar…at least for me.  I guess it is a good thing that I am not the general manager.

I am not too crazy about the addition of Chris Capuano.  He is just a middle of the road, average pitcher who is susceptible to very bad innings.  He is 8 years removed from winning 18 games in Milwaukee, and he had a disastrous June for his home state Red Sox.

No complaints about David Phelps but he is not going to make me forget Tanaka anytime soon.

It is ironic the Yankees finally acquired Headley.  The Yankees and Headley have been tied together in trade rumors for over two years.  In the end, the cost was not that great.  I think Yangervis Solarte and Rafael de Paula will do well in San Diego, but Headley gives the Yankees a much needed and consistent bat at third.  I am anxious to see how he performs at Yankee Stadium after leaving the spacious Petco Park.  The early returns are good, but it remains to be seen if he can be the Chase Headley of 2012 or if the 2013 version is more indicative of future results.  No matter how this plays out, I would prefer the Yankees to re-sign Headley in the off-season to man third over the impending 2015 return of Alex Rodriguez (I really hope that we’ve seen the last of the latter in pinstripes).

It will be interesting to see what moves GM Brian Cashman is able to make during the upcoming week.  I would like to see a pitcher who can push Capuano into the bullpen and another bat, preferably an outfielder.  I know that he’s had a sluggish start to the season and there’s no way the Cleveland Indians are going to trade him, but a Nick Swisher-type who can play OF or first base would be ideal given the fragile state of Mark Teixeira’s health.   While Francisco Cervelli has thrived with increased playing time, I am not exactly enamored with Brian McCann at first base.

Thanks but no thanks…

I was a little disturbed when I saw the post earlier in the week that the Yankees were talking to the San Diego Padres about starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, and the names being mentioned were prospects 3B Eric Jagielo and P Ian Clarkin, both former first round picks.  While I am not opposed to Kennedy’s (I was actually glad to see him go when he left), I do not feel the Yankees should give up top talent for him.  I still think Kennedy is a hothead and he may be Ed Whitson revisited (guys who just can’t handle the bright lights of Broadway).  I have been intrigued with Jagielo as the future Yankees third baseman, so I hope the Yankees do not thwart that plan.

Mark LoMoglio/Tampa Yankees (via MiLB.com)

I think money owed, overall health, and a no-trade list will prevent us from ever seeing Cliff Lee in pinstripes.  I recognize the no-trade list can be overcome with money but even the Yankees would be foolish to throw that kind of money at a pitcher who has become a frequent visitor to the DL.

I don’t think the Yankees have the talent to swing a deal for a top shelf starting pitcher, but on the other hand, I’d hate to see them give up what they do have for an aging pitcher with questions.

I do recognize that the moves Cashman makes in the next few days will define this season as the Yankees currently only trail the front-running Baltimore Orioles by three games.   I have stress at work, but it’s probably nothing compared to the chess moves that Cashman is facing.

Today is my birthday and all I want is a Yankees win.  So, c’mon…um…uh…you there in #26!

 

–Scott

To pay or not to pay…

The high “Price” of success…

The majority of the Yankees starting rotation is gone, with Hiroki Kuroda as the last man standing.  Honestly, I keep expecting reports that Kuroda has been lost for the year and perhaps his career as this is most likely his final year in Major League Baseball. 

I am not ready to declare Brandon McCarthy as a top of the rotation starter after Brian McCann’s comments to the same effect following McCarthy’s debut win as Yankee yesterday but will acknowledge that he is at the top of the rotation with this Yankees staff.  That’s why it is amazing the Yankees are two games over .500 at this point in the season.  It is certainly a testament to Joe Girardi’s managerial ability.  But as it stands, it is not sustainable and by Brian Cashman’s own admission, the team needs starting pitching.

McCarthy feeling like himself while wife tweets support

 Bill Kostroun/New York Post

I have such mixed feelings on this subject because I do not believe there is a move that can be made that would propel this Yankee team to the World Series.  Well, there’s moves that could be made to give the Yankees “something” for “nothing”, but of course that’s not going to happen.  I am watching the increasingly glowing reports about minor league pitcher Luis Severino, and there is part of me that wonders how much is legitimate and how much is the Yankees PR machine.  He is a quality talent, don’t get me wrong, but of course, the Yankees will ‘enhance’ the images of its young future stars given the lack of quality major league ready talent at the upper levels of the farm system.

But with that being said, I don’t want to see Severino, or Peter O’Brien or Gary Sanchez or Rob Refsnyder or any other quality prospect headed to another team for an aging overpaid player that has seen his best years and is a short term option since it still will not mean a World Series and the Yankees will regret having those players in future years.  David Price is one of the few quality exceptions that I’d make, but despite the talk, there’s no way the Tampa Bay Rays trade with the Yankees.  From Tampa’s perspective, I’d only do it if I knew that I could clean out New York’s quality prospects and damage the organization for years to come.

Even if the Yankees bring in pitching upgrades for the starting rotation, you still can’t win games if you do not score runs. 

Open audition for Closer’s role?…

With impending free agency for Mariano Rivera successor David Robertson and the lack of any discussions, I wonder if the team is evaluating whether Robertson or the breakout performer Dellin Betances is better suited for the role long term.  Robertson has done a great job but Betances is younger (albeit by a few years) and he casts a far more imposing presence on the mound by virtue of his height and size (6’8”, 260 lbs) compared to the smaller, more slender Robertson (5’11”, 195).   

Dellin Betances earlier this month.

 Barton Silverman/The New York Times

There’s also the cost factor as Betances will be the cheaper option and the Yankees will need those dollars to upgrade other areas of the team for its 2015 rebuild. 

Robertson has done much better than I thought he did.  There have been a couple of hiccups but even the great Rivera had a few of those.  It’s part of the life of a closer.  But he’s been more successful than not and consistency in the role is the key.  I’d like to see Robertson stay as the knockout punch of Betances-Robertson is a good one.  But of course, I liked the knockout punch of Mariano Rivera-John Wetteland in 1996 but the decision to let Wetteland walk turned out alright. 

This will be an interesting off-season for the Yankees with so many decisions to make.  I am still not convinced that Brian Cashman will be the GM beyond this year.  The only certainty I can project is that Joe Girardi will be back.  Well, that and Derek Jeter is headed to the Hall of Fame.  But beyond that, I am sure there will be a series of moves again this off-season as the team tries to recapture its glory.  The 2014 Yankees are certainly not one that you would stand pat for. 

Farewell to a Champion…

Okay, this is not baseball related, but I was saddened to see the news of the passing of actor James Garner.  As a child, I used to regularly watch The Rockford Files and would catch old episodes of Maverick on syndication.  Garner had such a great sense of “coolness” that he brought to the roles of Jim Rockford and Bret Maverick, and his happy-go-lucky attitude was always so refreshing.  This has been a difficult year in terms of the losses we’ve seen.  Celebrity deaths have been almost a frequent as pitchers requiring Tommy John surgery.  A sad day but Garner made a difference with his life and that’s something all of us aspire to do…

 

–Scott

 

Where do we go from here?…

Glass is starting to look half empty…

I remember back at the start of the year when there was about one dominant cycle through the starting rotation of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka.  At the time, I was very optimistic about the team’s chances, particularly if the new acquisitions like Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran hit like they always had.  But fast forward to July, the team is playing .500 baseball and as Michael Kay said on a recent YES network broadcast, Hiroki Kuroda is “the last man standing”.  One moment, Masahiro Tanaka was the pride of the Yankees…most wins for an AL starter, an All-Star selection, league leader in ERA, front-runner for Rookie of the Year, but then the next moment, after a couple of non-quality starts, it’s learned that he has a slight tear an elbow ligament that will sideline him for six weeks.  While it is encouraging that surgery is not recommended at this time, the threat of potential Tommy John surgery is real if the rehab is not successful.

Masahiro Tanaka Masahiro Tanaka joins teammates to listen as Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees speaks at a media availability after announcing that the 2014 season will be his last before retiring at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 19, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.

Mike Carlson/Getty Images North America

With Kuroda standing as the lone original starter, the rest of the spots are starting to feel like last year’s attempts to fill first base with journeymen to replace Mark Teixeira.  Of the replacement starters, David Phelps has had the most consistency.  Others like Chase Whitley may have had greater success at times but they’ve also had the more horrific starts.  The pressure the patchwork rotation has placed on the bullpen has been immense.

The trade for Arizona Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy, on the fast track for 20 losses, doesn’t improve the starting rotation but he does give them much needed innings.  The only spots in the rotation right now that provide any source of confidence are Kuroda and Phelps.  Shane Greene is the latest minor league hopeful.  Maybe he will prosper at the major league level, maybe he won’t.  It’s a tough situation when there are so many holes in the rotation.  The latest acquisition, Jeff Francis from the Oakland A’s, has not been a quality starter since his days in Colorado many years ago.  Francis appears earmarked for long relief so it is still anybody’s guess who fills the fifth spot in the rotation.  Today is Saturday and I do not know who will start for the Yankees on Sunday.  Perhaps Chase Whitley gets plugged in or they recall Bruce Billings, but neither option is overly appealing on a day, the last day before the All-Star break, that should have featured Tanaka.

I would have liked to have seen the Yankees acquire Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs before the Oakland A’s did but it’s obvious the Yankees do not have the upper level prospect and major league ready talent to make that type of deal.

I have mixed feelings about whether the Yankees should be buyers or sellers at the trading deadline.  If I felt they had a great chance for October success, then I’d be all in for sacrificing some promising talent for a run.  But I am not sure there is a move that can be made which would propel the Yankees past the Toronto Blue Jays and/or Baltimore Orioles.  Perhaps it would be better for the team to sell and pick up some younger talent for a recharge next year.

There are not any available starters in the Yankees’ price range (in terms of trade-able talent, not dollars) which make sense.  I keep hearing Cliff Lee’s name mentioned but the stars have never aligned to bring him to New York in the past and he openly spurned the Yankees when he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.  Even if he did finally come to New York, he would not be a long-term solution.  Ian Kennedy, a former Yankee, is another name bounced around but his stuff just isn’t tailored for Yankee Stadium.  A return of A.J. Burnett?  No, thank you.

The cost of a lackluster season…

I am starting to get the sense that this will be Brian Cashman’s last year as general manager.  Maybe it is time for a change.  I’ve been watching the San Diego situation with interest as I am hopeful that Billy Eppler does not become the Padres’ new general manager.  For in-house talent to replace Cashman, Eppler is at the top of the list.  I would prefer replacing Cashman with someone who knows the inner workings of the Yankees organization and not someone from the outside who would have to go through a transition period.

AP

The All-Star break comes at a good time.  The.500 Yankees need some time to reassess where they are and regroup.  It also wouldn’t hurt to capture some good luck before they embark on the second half of the season.

The prodigal son returns home…

I am not a Cleveland Cavaliers or Miami Heat fan, but I have to say that I was pleased with LeBron James’ decision to return to his home.  The way that he rejected Cleveland with “The Decision” in 2010 to sign with the Heat was awful and he deserved the backlash that came with it.  But he has shown that he’s a better man today with his words for why he wants to return to his Northern Ohio roots.  Of today’s NBA superstars, LeBron has always been one of my favorites and I wish him the best in bringing a championship to the City by the Lake.  The Cavs should be a fun team to watch next season, particularly if they can acquire Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves.  Kyrie Irving must think that he won the jackpot with his new contract and the addition of the best player in the NBA.

Now that LeBron has decided where he’ll play next season, Carmelo Anthony should follow suit fairly soon.  Still hoping for a return to the New York Knicks…

–Scott

 

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