Category Archives: Managers and Coaches

Rizzo Returns; 40-man roster set; Awards season

Nobody steals the Rizz. Anthony Rizzo, who turned down the Yankees’ qualifying offer to become a free agent, returned to the Yankees, agreeing to a deal that will pay him $34MM over two years. The third year is a team option of another $17MM, with a $6MM buyout, so Rizzo is guaranteed $40MM over the next two years.

The Yankees lost Stephen Ridings to the Mets in waivers. Ridings didn’t pitch in 2022 due to injury. He pitched five innings for the Yanks in 2021.

The Yanks set their 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft. Some youngsters, especially pitchers, were protected. Here it is.

Pitchers:
Abreu
Jhony Brito #24 prospect.
Cole
Jimmy Cordero
Cortes
Effross (will miss all of 2023 season, TJ Surgery)
Deivi Garcia (has pitched poorly in minors last two seasons) #26 prospect
German
Luis Gil (coming off TJ surgery, will miss most of 2023)
Yoendrys Gomez #12 prospect
Holmes
King (saw a video of him throwing. Good sign).
Matt Krook
Loaisiga
Luetge
Marinaccio
Montas
Peralta
Schmidt
Severino
Trivino
Randy Vasquez #16 prospect
Weissert

Catchers
Higashioka
Rortvedt
Trevino

Infielders
Cabrera
Donaldson
Kiner-Falefa
LeMahieu
Peraza
Rizzo
Torres

Outfielders
Bader
Florial
Hicks
Pereira #5 prospect
Stanton

Obviously as the Yanks sign free agents (Judge, hopefully) or make deals some people will drop off and be replaced. Free agents obviously are not listed, like Judge, Benintendi, Taillon, Chad Green, Marwin Gonzalez, Miguel Castro, etc. But some youngsters needed to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. Others, like #28 prospect Brandon Lockridge, were not protected and could be claimed. The Rule 5 draft is December 7.

It is awards season. AL ROY: Julio Rodriguez, Seattle. NL ROY Michael Harris, Atlanta. AL MOY: Terry Francona, Indians. NL MOY: Buck Showalter, Mets. For Buck, it’s his fourth Manager of the Year award, all with four different teams, and in four different DECADES (1994 Yankees, 2004 Rangers, 2014 Orioles and 2022 Mets).

Aaron Boone finished 5th in the voting. Out of 30 votes, he got one second place vote (3 points) and one 3rd place vote (1 point) for a total of 4 points.

The CYAs will be announced tonight and the MVPs tomorrow evening.


Astros win WS

The Houston Astros won the WS by winning game 6, 4-1, over the Philadelphia Phillies last night. Rookie SS Jeremy Pena, who won the ALCS MVP over the Yankees, made it a double by winning the WS MVP as well by hitting .400 (10 for 25). He became the first AL Player to achieve that double.

For Houston manager Dusty Baker, he finally wins a WS as a manager, at the age of 73. Some stats from MLB.com (I won’t list all): Baker won a WS title as a player for the Dodgers in 1981. Now this. 41-year difference. He is the only man to win a postseason MVP award (1977 NLCS MVP) and win a title as manager. He isn’t just the oldest World Series-winning manager, he’s the oldest manager or head coach in MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL history to win a championship, per STATS.

This is mind-blowing:  Just how long has Baker been around? When he made his managerial debut on April 6, 1993 with the Giants, the opposing team’s leadoff hitter was Geronimo Peña, the father of Jeremy Peña, who won ALCS and World Series MVP for the Astros this postseason. That outstanding connection was noted by NBC Sports Chicago’s Chris Kamka. What goes around comes around!

It’s not just about the postseason wait. It’s the regular-season time spent, too. Baker has managed 3,884 regular-season games, 10th-most all-time, which is also the most at the time of a manager’s first title.

The manager with most games managed without winning a title is Gene Mauch. Dusty was getting close to Mauch, just 58 games away. He doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. The manager now that is closest to Mauch? Buck Showalter, who is 653 games short of Mauch. (Just over 4 years).

More from MLB.com:

Among 94 teams that saw their bullpens log 35 or more innings in a single postseason, the Astros accomplished all of this:

• The lowest ERA: 0.83, with just five earned runs over 54 1/3 innings
• The lowest opponents’ batting average: .126
• The lowest opponents’ on-base percentage: .215
• The lowest opponents’ slugging percentage: .208
• The lowest WHIP: 0.75

Houston’s bullpen is also the first to throw at least 40 innings in a single postseason and post a sub-1.00 ERA.

In Game 6, Kyle Schwarber broke a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth with a HR, but after Phillies’ Manager Rob Thomson made a pitching change, Yordan Alvarez hit a 3-run HR (a 450 ft bomb) in the bottom of the sixth. Houston tacked on another run later in the inning and that was all the runs scored in the game.

The Phillies, who were no-hit in Game 4, only managed three hits in this game.



Notes from Boone/Cashman press conference




Since I’ve been out on disability for a while, I was able to watch the Boone/Cashman press conference yesterday. Here are a few takes from it.

Since everything revolves around Aaron Judge, they would like a deal sooner rather than later. Nothing would be as bad as being scorned and then having no backups to fall back on. Cashman denied any friction with Judge from this spring’s negotiations.

Neither thinks a drastic retool is necessary. They think the Yankees would have been far more competitive in the ALCS vs. Houston if LeMahieu, Benintendi and Carpenter were healthy. I can agree there. Judging by their comments about Benintendi’s and Carpenter’s injuries, it appears that they will be reaching out to both of them to see if they can get both back.

One thing that concerned me was their defense of Josh Donaldson. Now if anyone were on the trading block, neither Boone nor Cashman would be tipping their hand on that. But to state that Donaldson, 37 next month, underachieved offensively but still has something in the tank goes against everything we saw this year. He looked cooked. But with Donaldson’s contract being horrible, I guess they have to hope. They did think Donaldson deserved to be among the three Gold Glove finalists at 3B, though.

SS appears to be a competition next spring training. IKF could still be there but will be pushed by Peraza and possibly Volpe. Oswaldo Cabrera figures in here too. Peraza was described as impressive in his short 18 game stint at the end of the season. Other terms used for him was that he needed to improve and develop last year (done) hence not an earlier callup. Jack Curry, on the YES network, mentioned that IKF was a polarizing figure to the Yankees fanbase much as Sanchez was. Boone and Cashman were defending IKF at the presser, stating that IKF (as a bridge) did everything that was expected from him.

They would like Anthony Rizzo back. Rizzo will opt out of his $16MM deal, but the question is will he accept a qualifying offer of $19.65MM or go for more? Or accept more years at less than the qualifying offer? (2 yr/$18MM per). But the Yanks hope to work something out with him.

To no surprise, the Yanks WILL pick up Severino’s $15MM team option. One more rotation piece could be in play. It could be retaining Taillon (a free agent) or going elsewhere. After the front three of Cole, Cortes and Severino, there still is Schmidt, Montas and German even if Taillon goes, but you know what they say…. you NEVER have enough pitching.

The feeling is that Stanton was playing through something at the end of the year. I feel the same way. His batting average after June 1 was Gallo-like.

Cashman’s contract actually expired October 1. He wants to return, and Hal wants him back, so it is like Cashman is working pro bono as of now. But you figure something will be worked out soon there.

I wrote down notes haphazardly while the conferences were going on, but there is a quick synopsis for you.

UPDATE: One thing I didn’t like: From the NY Post: In other bits of info from Cashman’s press conference, he said he wouldn’t discuss trading players but noted that outfielder Aaron Hicks would be back and that the team felt he still had something to offer. Really? Ugh. But then, if he is on the market, they don’t want to say anything hurting Hicks’ trade value (which is probably low enough already).

Other things I came across:

A sad state of affairs. Graig Nettles states that the Yanks stopped inviting him to Old-Timer’s games and events some five years ago and he doesn’t know why. It’s a shame. Nettles should have a plaque in Monument Park (#9 is already retired for Roger Maris and I don’t think Nettles deserves that honor, but a plaque? Definitely). Apparently, someone in the front office has it in for Nettles, but who?

One tweet on Twitter accuses the Yanks of being more of a corporation than anything else, including a baseball organization. Looking at how they have the YES network, are involved with an Italian soccer team, have the Pinstripe Bowl, were in negotiations to play regular season games in France (and remember they played in England recently, also Japan) I have to wonder if that person is correct, and if so, that could be a scary thing. After all, I remember the CBS years, where the Yanks were not the priority of a corporation, but just part of it. You would like it to be 100% baseball. Does this explain the fan base’s exasperation with the owner and the front office? Or some of the postseason failures of recent times? After all, Hal is more corporate than the old man was as far as divesting his interests (or so it appears). And the last time the Yanks won, or even went to the WS, the old man was still alive (although much diminished in capacity). Hal’s track record does seem more corporate and bottom line than baseball oriented, and is that a problem and a cause of the postseason disappointments?

Finally, another Japanese player few have heard of to keep an eye on. Yesterday I mentioned RHP Koudai Senga.

Now, Masataka Yoshida. If the Yanks are not able to bring back Benintendi, Yoshida has many of the same skill sets as Benintendi. He is a lefty hitter. He turns 30 next July. He hit .336 with 21 HR and 89 RBI in Japan this season. His power would probably drop in the USA but then again, Benintendi only had five HR this season. Like Benintendi, a contact hitter. Benintendi had 52 walks and 77 strikeouts while hitting .304. Yoshida had 82 walks and only 42 strikeouts. Yoshida has hit .326 in Japan and has 427 walks to 307 strikeouts. He has had four seasons of 20 or more HR (which would be what here? 12-15?). If you take Yoshida’s career stats in Japan and divide by five, his average season in Japan comes out to something like .326-27-95 over 156 games. Taking into account the tougher MLB competition, could he hit .280-15-70 here? Be Benintendi-like for a cheaper price? Be a backup consideration if the Yanks can’t sign Benintendi? Just throwing his name out here because until recently, I hadn’t heard of Yoshida (or Senga) either. But most of us haven’t heard of these Japanese stars who could be MLB-bound. So just passing his name out there and informing you (and me).

Trevino, LeMahieu Gold Glove winners.

Jose Trevino and D.J. LeMahieu were named winners of the Gold Glove Award for defensive excellence yesterday. For catcher Trevino, it is his first. For LeMahieu, his fourth, but first in a newly created category for utility men.

Nominated for the award but losing out were Yankee P Jameson Taillon, 1B Anthony Rizzo and LF Andrew Benintendi. Why OF Aaron Judge, an excellent defender as well as slugger, wasn’t nominated, escapes me.

Trevino was also up for, but lost out on, the Roberto Clemente Award for community service. That was won by Justin Turner of the Dodgers.

A couple of guys with Yankees’ ties were interviewed for, but didn’t get, managerial positions. One was current Yankees’ bench coach Carlos Mendoza, another was former Yankees coach Joe Espada, and another was former Yankees 2B Miguel Cairo. Cairo took over as interim manager for the White Sox when 76-year-old Tony LaRussa’s health failed him and forced him to retire again. Instead, the White Sox went with Pedro Grifol and the Royals have chosen Matt Quataro. These follow Texas’ choice to bring Bruce Bochy out of retirement.

The Astros got hammered by the Phillies in Game 3 of the WS last night 7-0. The Phils hit five HR, and before one of them, Bryce Harper, who had homered, was giving advice to Alec Bohm, who then homered. Could Harper have seen something that Astro starter Lance McCullers, Jr. was tipping pitches? McCullers denies doing so of course, but you have to wonder.

The Phils took a two-games-to one lead in the Series, and the decisions of both managers regarding their rotations now are a factor. With the rainout, Phillies’ manager Rob Thomson (a former Yankees coach) switched off of Game 3 scheduled starter Noah Syndergaard to Ranger Suarez, keeping Aaron Nola on his regular rest for Game 4. Suarez rewarded the Phils with shutout pitching. Meanwhile, Astros’ manager Dusty Baker kept his rotation the same, starting McCullers, who got rocked, and instead of bringing back Justin Verlander for Game 4, appears to be sticking with Cristian Javier. Javier better come through, because if the Phils win Game 4 to go up three games to one, Philadelphia will REALLY be rocking for Game 5. Of course, Verlander has been surprisingly bad in WS play, going 0-6, 6.07. But you think sooner or later he’d pitch a good one, right? But the choice of whether to switch after the rainout (Thomson did) or not (Baker) could play a huge part as far as the Series is concerned.





Baseball Thoughts.

Game 3 of the WS was postponed last night and will be played tonight, weather permitting. The series is tied at a game apiece.

So, a few thoughts in the meantime.

First off, I won’t post anything regarding free agency until it happens or there is a great certainty that it will happen. Reading all this conjecture about Aaron Judge going to SF, the Dodgers, staying with the Yankees, is all bullshit. When you read predictions about who is going where and for how much each year, what percentage of those predictions is actually accurate? Answer: Not many. So, until something happens, I will do my best not to spread unfounded rumors.

Justin Turner of the Dodgers won the Roberto Clemente Award for community service. The Yankees’ nominee was Jose Trevino.

A couple of managerial decisions have been made, with the biggest surprise probably being Bruce Bochy (3 WS rings, future HOF) coming out of retirement to manage Texas.

The Yanks will be keeping Aaron Boone as manager, and most likely Brain Cashman as GM as well. I think the retention of Cashman (and by retaining him, he’d retain Boone) is tied into the Judge situation. You don’t want a novice GM trying to work out the details of trying to re-sign Judge, whose contract could be not only very expensive, but also very involved and intricate.

Reports are that Boone & Cashman will return.

Remember in the Godfather series that Tom, the character played by Robert Duvall, was an adopted son who was the Corleone family’s consigliore? As long as he didn’t go against the family (like Fredo) … he was in.

It seems like Brian Cashman is the Steinbrenner family’s “Tom”. Despite a long track record of playoff appearances but no WS appearances (can’t take the next step), it appears as if Cashman will be back. As for Aaron Boone, Hal Steinbrenner has indicated he will be returning also. Boone just finished the first year of a three-year extension.

We will see what kind of changes happen this offseason. What kind of changes there are start with whether Aaron Judge will be back or not.

But organizational changes? The way of thinking? Structure and organization? Things not reliant on whether a player stays or leaves? That doesn’t seem to be changing, and that is a problem. After an embarrassing sweep by Houston, in which the Yanks didn’t look competitive (and they didn’t look competitive all year vs Houston), you keep things the same? Ugh. You can look at other years in which the Yanks were swept. Some that come to mind are 1922, 1963, 1976, 2012 and how they looked outclassed in each one. In some (1922, 1976) the Yanks rebounded to win the WS the next year. In others, it was a sign of an aging, deteriorating team (1963, 2012) that soon wouldn’t make the postseason at all.

The Yanks have to look at which way they are going. Two Yankees’ legends, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, differed in their opinions. Rivera thought Boone should be let go. Jeter was happy Boone was returning. Of course, maybe Derek was just being nice. But then, Jeter never fired a manager, retaining Donnie Baseball during his whole tenure as Marlins’ CEO.

It has been written that if Boone were let go, other teams would jump at him. True. He has led all five of his teams to the postseason. But it seems that he is only the third best manager in his own division, maybe even worse than that. The postseason is a different breed than the regular season, and Boone’s postseason decisions have been questionable.

The Yanks started 2022 61-23. They finished 38-40, then were 3-6 in the postseason. So, after 61-23, including the postseason, they went 41-46. Under .500. Not for a month. But for 87 games. That is not a blip on the radar. That is the sign of a deeper problem.

Which makes people wary about the retention of Cashman and Boone. The gap between the Yanks and Houston has widened, but it appears that cosmetic, and not major (of course, if Judge departs, that would be major change) changes would occur because of retention. It also appears that Hal doesn’t want to take any risks necessary to make the Yanks better. We’ve known that he is more of a bottom-line kind of guy. Does he have the gravitas to go outside the box?

We are spoiled as Yankees fans, I admit that. Other teams would be happy with making the postseason some 90% of the time over the last twenty years with a WS title. Maybe Hal is content with just having a good team. We want titles.

But as mentioned on Michael Kay’s show, the Dodgers spend a lot but since 1988 have ONE title, and that was in the Covid-shortened 60-game season of 2020. 111 wins this year meant nothing to them. The postseason has become a crapshoot tournament, watered down by MLB.

One thing the Yanks can do is to cut BACK on the analytics. Paralysis by analysis, as was also said on Michael Kay’s show. Some is good, but is there too much? Based on some decisions made, yes. Go by what you see. Go by your experience and your gut. You are overanalyzing.

But this retention reeks of same old, same old. And we know what Einstein said about doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

One last note: A couple players declared free agency, but these were the AAAA types at SWB like Ron Guzman, Josh Bard, Tyler Wade and Jacob Barnes.

UPDATE: and whoever it was that came up with the bright idea of showing 2004 Red Sox clips to “motivate” the Yanks into coming back from an 0-3 hole needs to be fired. Members of that 2004 team were disgusted and sickened (like Jeter).

ALCS Game 3. Offensively challenged Yanks on the brink after 5-0 loss.

The fat lady isn’t singing, but she is warming up after a 5-0 loss to Houston yesterday put the Yanks down 3 games to none in the ALCS.

In all of MLB history, only one team has come back from an 0-3 deficit. As Yankees fans are too painfully aware, that was Boston against the Yanks in 2004.

I am one of many criticizing some of Aaron Boone’s moves. Twitter is full of them, and when Yankees’ broadcaster Michael Kay is LIVID at Boone’s moves …. well, Houston, we have a problem.

Yet ANOTHER lineup change for the Yankees before the game. Doesn’t it always seem, after five years, that Aaron Boone never can find the right formula and STICK WITH IT? It’s obvious that Matt Carpenter isn’t right (although he finally got a hit in the ninth inning), but Boone batted him FIFTH? (And remember last year in Boston, Boone batted Gallo cleanup!) Instead of sticking with Peraza’s glove at SS, he went back to Stanton in LF (LF in Yankee Stadium is no picnic) and put Cabrera at SS. The constant lineup changes appear to be clueless panic moves now, making it seem like Boone is grasping at straws.

Fans are now demanding a change. I hear it talking to them, feel it myself, and read it online. And some of it is from the broadcasters on your OWN NETWORK. The same old, same old. And just changing what seems to be a push-button manager taking orders from the front office, GM, analytics people won’t work if all you are going to do is to hire another push-button manager to take and make the wrong decisions from an inept front office. There needs to be a change from the top down. That would not only include Boone, but Cashman (been there some 25 years), Levine and maybe even Hal himself (that won’t happen, but Hal, can you show a little fire? Are you still alive?).

Otherwise, next year will be like all the others. The same old, same old. The Yanks are hitting .156 this postseason. They survived hitting .182 vs Cleveland. They are hitting .128 vs. Houston. The Yankees have had six or less hits in a game now for TEN STRAIGHT POSTSEASON GAMES. Think about that. They have hit .159 in that span. Their modus operandi for hitting isn’t working in the postseason.

The Yanks got 3 hits last night, two in the bottom of the ninth. Feeble. Some things you can’t control, like injuries to LeMahieu and Benintendi. But you don’t see any adjustments in batter’s approaches.

Meanwhile, and getting back to front office decisions, in the NLCS, the Phillies are up 3 games to one on the Padres. The Phils are pounding the baseball. Have you noticed something there? Kevin Long is the Phillies’ hitting coach. Does that name sound familiar? He was the Yankees’ hitting coach from 2007 to 2014. The last time the Yanks won a WS, in 2009, Long was the hitting coach. The Phils’ manager is Rob Thomson, who took over for Joe Girardi and who has done a masterful job. When the Yanks let Girardi go, they got rid of his coaches too. Hmmm. Maybe they are getting rid of the wrong people. Maybe they should start AT THE TOP.

Looking at the postseason here, and my grades from a few weeks ago, I had mentioned that the final grade for the front office and manager was still to be determined, based on a few things. I originally gave a C, with it being an F if they didn’t re-sign Judge. Forget that now. It’s an F, no matter what.

In the second inning, with two out, a flyball was called for by Harrison Bader and Aaron Judge. Replays showed Bader clearly calling for it, and the CF has the right of way. But neither heard the other and Bader dropped it after shying away from the 6’7″ Judge at the last moment. Who wants Judge running into you? Starter Gerrit Cole then gave up a 2-run HR that hit the top of the RF wall and bounced over. The way the Yanks have been hitting, 2-0 felt like 20-0.

In the sixth, Cole loaded the bases with no one out. Boone went to Lou Trivino. All three inherited runners scored. 5-0. Game over. For all intents and purposes, season over.

Boone has managed five seasons, one of which was the 60-game Covid season of 2020. He’s had years of 103, 100 and 99 wins. But it still seems like he is overwhelmed by the postseason, getting outmanaged by Kevin Cash, Alex Cora, and now Dusty Baker.

3 hits. 11 strikeouts (making it 41 for the 3 games so far in the ALCS). If there are more lineup changes, I don’t think I want to know. One thing I do see. Without D.J. or Benintendi, the Yanks don’t have a true leadoff hitter. You wonder if even those two are true leadoff hitters.

Cole (LOSS) 5+ IP, 5 R, 3 ER, 5 H, 2 W, 7 K. Gave up 1 HR. 1 HBP
Trivino 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K.
German 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 2 W, 1 K.

Einstein’s theory of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Meanwhile, losses to Houston (I hate the Astros) in 2015, 2017, 2019 and it appears, 2022. If things don’t change, the same or worse will occur in 2023.

CHANGE. Not cosmetic change, but MAJOR CHANGE.

ALCS Game 2. One bad pitch, couple of feet cost Yanks in 3-2 loss.

One bad pitch and a couple of feet cost the Yanks in a 3-2 loss to Houston last night. The Yanks are now down 0-2 in the best-of-7 ALCS.

There are certain things you can blame a manager for, and certain things you can’t. In some games, Aaron Boone’s bullpen management has been questionable, as have his lineups.

You can’t blame him for anything last night, though. Last night was just some bad luck. He also can’t swing the bat for some guys who aren’t putting the ball in play. 17 strikeouts in Game 1, 13 more in Game 2. Even some much needed and correct lineup changes didn’t work. The Yankees have played 16 postseason games against Houston, starting in 2015. They have scored 47 runs. Do the math. That is a little less than 3 runs per game. It seems like the Yanks keep losing to Houston 2-0, 4-0, 3-2, 4-2, 4-1, etc.

Harrison Bader, with his 4 postseason HR was moved to leadoff. He got a hit, drew a walk. Jose Trevino, 1 for 15, was benched for Kyle Higashioka. But Higashioka went 0 for 3 with 3 strikeouts. What can you do when NEITHER catcher hits?

Rookie Oswald Peraza started at SS. Peraza played a great defensive game, making a couple great plays, just missing out on a few more, and teaming up with Gleyber Torres for a remarkable DP. It already looks like Peraza will be next year’s starting SS. He looks that smooth. As long as he hits. At the plate last night, Peraza was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, however. With Peraza, it will be interesting to see what the Yanks do with Anthony Volpe. With Josh Donaldson turning 37 and showing signs of age, does someone like Volpe or Oswaldo Cabrera move to 3B? Of course, you have D.J. for 3B but I’m thinking long-term.

Boone can’t do anything about the injuries. It is very apparent that the losses of D.J. LeMahieu and Andrew Benintendi have hurt the Yanks considerably. Both are contact hitters. Neither strikeout much. 30 strikeouts in two games. Ugh. Put the ball in play. You never know. It might fall in (See Cleveland last series) or someone could make an error—-which is how the Yanks scored their two runs last night.

Who would have thought in a postseason game that the Yanks would be forced to start two rookies?

Anyway, two things about roster construction for the playoffs. Here is where the Yanks could be held at fault a little. Once again, nothing you can do about injuries. Besides D.J. and Benintendi, the losses of bullpen stalwarts King, Green, Marinaccio and Effross hurt as well (we won’t discuss malcontent Chapman). But you have to go with and put HEALTHY people on the roster. It’s apparent Matt Carpenter isn’t ready. Cheers to him for trying. But he had no minor league rehab games to help him work his way back. He is 0 for 7 in the postseason and all 7 at bats are strikeouts. It is apparent he should not be on the team. But if not him, who? D.J. is hurt (and there was thought about having him on the roster. I think the results would be the same as with Carpenter. The rust and injury would limit him the same way and hurt the team the same way Carpenter is hurting them now). Benintendi is hurt. Hicks, who didn’t contribute much anyway, is hurt. You could have kept Gonzalez on the team for this round, but he wasn’t doing much even though healthy.

Secondly, and here is where the Yanks are at fault a little, although bullpen injuries have played a part as far as this year goes. Don’t force guys into situations they are not comfortable with. Bullpen guys are bullpen guys. Starters are starters. Putting a starter in the bullpen for the playoffs usually backfires. There are exceptions, but too often I see it backfire. Montas HR in Game 1. Schmidt, not a closer but a spot starter/middle relief guy, closing. J.A. Happ coming out of the bullpen to blow games in 2019 and 2020 (remember the Deivi Garcia as opener game?). Jack McDowell coming out of the bullpen in 1995. Heck, Jeff Weaver in 2003. Learn from history. Don’t repeat the same mistakes. Taking your #5 starter (granted, McDowell was higher than #5) and throwing him into the bullpen for the postseason usually backfires.

To the game. How many times this season have we seen the Yankees’ pitchers give up runs when they are ONE STRIKE away from getting out of an inning? Two out, two strikes and Boom. Gives up runs. In the bottom of the third, that is what happened to Luis Severino. I am a little concerned about Severino in the postseason, because in 11 postseason games, Sevy is 1-4, 5.15. Great stuff, but his postseason numbers aren’t too good. He was good last night except for that one pitch, which was with two outs and two strikes and hit for a 3-run HR.

The Yanks came back with two runs in the top of the fourth, helped by an error. Aaron Judge singled, and a double error (fielding and throwing) on a ball hit back to Astro’s pitcher Framber Valdez put runners on second and third with no one out. Anthony Rizzo moved the runners up, scoring Judge with a groundout. An infield single by Torres scored Stanton.

In the top of the eighth, the Yanks came oh-so-close. Harrison Bader walked with one out. Judge hit a ball deep to right field that was caught at the top of the fence. Three feet or so higher and it would have been a two-run HR that would have given the Yanks a 4-3 lead and possibly a victory. Yankee Stadium is the only park in which it WOULD have been a HR. Houston rarely plays with the roof open. It was open and there was a significant wind that may have held the ball up. The Yanks got unlucky.

Only 4 hits. 13 strikeouts. Put the ball in play.

Severino (LOSS) 5 1/3 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 1 W, 6 K. 1 HBP. Gave up 1 HR.
Loaisiga 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 W, 0 K.
Peralta 2/3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 W, 0 K.

Gold Glove nominations came out yesterday, with three nominations for each position plus one for utility players. Five Yankees got nominations: Taillon, Trevino, Rizzo, Benintendi (KC/NYY) and LeMahieu. Lemahieu’s was for the utility category. Two that should have gotten nominations but didn’t were Donaldson and Judge.

ALDS Game 4. Yanks stay alive behind Gutsy Gerrit, Bader Blast. 4-2.

The Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to a 9 year, $324MM deal for this reason. To be their ace. To be the guy who wins two games in a best-of-five postseason series. To be the guy winning a do-or-die game for them.

It didn’t work out that way last year, when Cole lost the one-game wild card game in Boston.

Last night was a different story. Cole pitched seven gutsy innings in a 4-2 Yankees win to tie the series up and send it back to the Bronx for a deciding Game 5 tonight. He had also won Game 1 of this series.

Manager Aaron Boone made a lineup change before the game, moving Oswaldo Cabrera to SS and benching Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Aaron Hicks went to LF. You wonder if maybe Oswald Peraza should have been placed on the postseason roster. If the Yanks win tonight to face Houston in the ALCS, maybe that is something they should consider—putting Peraza on for the ALCS.

It’s amazing some things you see on social media. Like people wanting Giancarlo Stanton in LF so that Matt Carpenter could DH. Stanton missed time a couple of months ago with an Achilles issue. There is no way you put him out there with what could still be an Achilles issue. What if he tried to catch a ball, needed that extra burst of speed and tore that Achilles?

The Yanks jumped on Cleveland right away, a big plus in a do or die game. Gleyber Torres singled leading off the game and stole second while Aaron Judge struck out. Anthony Rizzo singled Torres home. 1-0.

In the top of the second, Josh Donaldson singled and one out later, Harrison Bader hit a two-run HR to put the Yankees up 3-0. It was Bader’s third HR of the series.

Cleveland nicked Cole in the bottom of the third for a run, but a baserunning blunder led to the third out and kept them from a bigger inning.

Josh Naylor hit a HR for Cleveland in the fourth to cut the Yankees’ lead to 3-2 and in circling the bases, did an infantile “rock the baby” hot-dogging move. Ridiculous.

The Yanks got an insurance run in the top of the sixth. Judge led off with an infield single, and Rizzo doubled him to third. Stanton hit a SF to bring the run in.

Jameson Taillon will start for the Yanks tonight. Nestor Cortes could come out of the bullpen to face a tough lefty or give an inning or two.

Rizzo 2 hits, RBI
Bader 2-run HR.

Cole (WIN) 7 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 1 W, 8 K. Gave up 1 HR.
Holmes (H) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 2 K.
Peralta (S) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.

A couple notes. Just my opinions. Some people would like Yankees legend Don Mattingly to replace Aaron Boone as manager. If the Yanks were going to make a move, my choice would be John Flaherty. Here is why. Flaherty, by covering the Yankees on the YES network, sees them every day. He is well acquainted with the current team already. He is a former catcher, so he has experience in handling a pitching staff.

I wish the Yanks had David Cone as the pitching coach and Paul O’Neill as hitting coach instead of being in the broadcast booth. Sometimes it seems as if their TV ratings are more important than having the right coaches. (No offense to who they do have). But why that expertise in the booth and not on the field or in the dugout? Anyway, no way would Cone or O’Neill give up their nice cushy job right now. But it would be nice if they were coaches, wouldn’t it?

I don’t like the new playoff format. I think it has watered down the playoffs and made the work of a 162-game season less relevant. The bye hurt the teams that did well over 162 games when it was meant to help them. Baseball is a DAILY sport. Yes, I feel that the best record in the league should be rewarded. But here is how I would do it.

Scrap the current format. What I propose won’t happen because it will eliminate a round and therefore cost the owners money. But …

First round. The three division winners and the second-place team with the best record as the wild card. Four teams, not six. Now keep that division series best-of-five. But the wild card team gets NO HOME GAMES. To reward the best team in the league over 162 games, they get all the games at home. The wild card gets punished for not winning their division. The other series between the other two division winners stays at the 2-2-1 format, with the better record getting the home field advantage.

The LCS stays as it is. 2-3-2. Better record gets home field advantage. Same for the World Series.

Just a thought.

ALDS Game 3. Yanks blow 9th inning lead, lose 6-5.

The Yankees took a 2-run lead into the ninth inning last night. In 167 previous instances in postseason play, the Yankees had never blown that lead. Meanwhile Cleveland was 0 for 41 when trailing by two or more entering the ninth in their postseason history.

Unfortunately for the Yankees last night, there is a first time for everything. The Yankees blew a 5-3 lead, giving up three runs in the bottom of the ninth, and lost 6-5. They were ONE STRIKE away from winning the game. They are down two games to one in the series and must win tonight to stay alive. Gerrit Cole will start for the Yankees. The odds aren’t good for the Yanks. The winner of Game 3 in a series that was tied at one each has won the series 72% of the time. The Yanks did beat the odds in 1977.

If Cleveland is to slay the dragon, so to speak, they aren’t doing it by chopping its head off. They are doing it with pinpricks. Little bleeders and dinkers that find a hole. Cue Roberta Flack. They are killing you softly.

The Yanks roster usage and bullpen usage is coming into question. Here is a link

https://www.mlb.com/news/yankees-lose-alds-game-3-2022

taking you to that. Clay Holmes wasn’t used, much to the surprise of Holmes and teammate Luis Severino. Holmes said he was available. Manager Aaron Boone said he didn’t want to use Holmes back-to-back games because of soreness. Fine good that does you, to have relievers compromised come playoff time. Of course, the Yankees are already shorthanded in the bullpen with King, Green, Marinaccio, Abreu, Britton, Montas (even though he’s a starter), and Effross all down. That lack of bullpen depth is hurting them right now. A 10-inning loss followed by blowing a 2-run ninth inning lead.

With Holmes down, the way Boone handled the bullpen the rest of the game comes into question. See the article. It’s not just Bryan Hoch of mlb asking the questions about Trivino or Loaisiga’s usage. The YES postgame broadcasting team, like Michael Kay and John Flaherty (and, should Boone need to be replaced, Flaherty would be my choice to replace him) asked the same questions.

The article I referenced above also alludes to some communication problems it seems the Yankees have in the clubhouse. If so, there is a major problem with the front office or manager, or BOTH.

In five seasons as Yankees manager, Boone has had two seasons of 100 or more wins and another of 99. Of course, one season was the 60-game Covid shortened season. Success there. But you now have to wonder if he is a “push-button” manager, who can take a team to the playoffs, but can’t go further because he gets outmanaged by a Kevin Cash, Alex Cora or Terry Francona come playoff time. Just my opinion, but I think it is a fair question, and has Brian Cashman run his course?

Put it this way. When your own broadcasting team second guesses you…

The game didn’t start out well. Luis Severino struggled in the first and second innings, giving up a run in both innings and the Yanks were down 2-0 after two innings. They were lucky it wasn’t worse. A couple balls looked like they would leave the yard, but Aaron Judge caught them on the warning track.

In the top of the third, Oswaldo Cabrera doubled, and Aaron Judge later hit a 2-run HR to tie the game. Judge was 0 for 9 with 8 strikeouts before finally coming through.

In the fifth, Harrison Bader singled and one out later, Cabrera homered to put the Yanks up 4-2.

Cleveland got a run in the sixth, all after Severino got the first two outs. Isiah Kiner Falefa’s defense has been shaky this series and I would not be surprised if Oswald Peraza is the Yanks’ starting SS next year. One play to start the rally was ruled a hit, but you wonder if Peraza would have made the play. Heck, you could make a good case that Peraza should be on THIS postseason roster. It could have been worse. A line drive caught by Gleyber Torres was the third out. That would have tied the game. Instead, the Yanks still led 4-3.

Bader, impressive in his short time with the Yanks so far after the trade, homered in the seventh to make it 5-3 Yanks. The Yanks’ runs were on the HR. They only got five hits all game to Cleveland’s 15. Cleveland strung hits. The Yankees did not.

Then to the ninth. Boone wanted to stretch out Wandy Peralta, who had pitched well, and have him close it out. A one-out blooper to left for a double. Just like in Game 2, Cabrera could not get to it. On the postgame show, Paul O’Neill, the Yankees legend, stated that Cabrera is a good fielder, but the converted infielder is great laterally but still has to learn more coming in or out. My question is, with Tim Locastro being a more experienced outfielder, and with more speed than that of Cabrera, should Boone have replaced Cabrera with Locastro for defensive purposes late in Game 2 and Game 3? Could Locastro have made those plays? And what is Aaron Hicks doing on the roster for if you aren’t going to use him for defensive purposes there? Or Marwin Gonzalez? You have to use the WHOLE roster come playoff time, not just have guys on there to fill out the roster. Hicks and Gonzalez are two guys I don’t expect to be on the team in 2023. If your confidence in them is that low where you can’t use an experienced outfielder for a rookie with 9 games of LF experience under his belt (he had 27 in RF), then why are you carrying them?

Steven Kwan, who had three hits in this game and who is killing the Yanks in this series, served a ball to left to move the runner, Myles Straw, to third, and I do mean served. Looked like a tennis backhand. In came Clarke Schmidt, not Holmes. A single to score the runner and make it 5-4. Then, another blooper. Had the infield not been in a shift, it would have been an easy popup to SS. Instead, bases loaded. Schmidt got a strikeout for the second out, then got two strikes on Oscar Gonzalez. But on a 1-2 pitch, Gonzalez singled up the middle for two runs and the ballgame. 6-5, Cleveland.

Judge 2-run HR
Bader 2 hits, solo HR. I’d consider leading him off. He’s hot, has speed …
Cabrera 2 hits, 2-run HR.

The Yanks in three games, are hitting .172. Of the 11 runs they have scored, 10 are by the HR. Trevino’s SF in Game 1 is the only run not via HR. They have to start stringing hits together.

Severino 5 2/3 IP, 3 R, 8 H, 0 W, 6 K. Settled in after rocky start.
Trivino (H) 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 0 K. Could have been stretched out more?
Loaisiga (H) 2/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K. See Trivino.
Peralta (H) 1 2/3 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 0 W, 2 K. Two bleeping bleeding bloopers.
Schmidt (LOSS, BLOWN SAVE) 1/3 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 0 W, 1 K.

Concerning: Severino: 10 postseason games, ERA 5.17. He needs to be dominating. He hasn’t done so.

If the Yanks advance, they will face their nemesis, Houston, in the ALCS. Houston swept Seattle by winning Game 3, 1-0, in 18 innings.

A shocker in the NL. #5 and #6 will meet each other (Padres vs Phillies) for the NL pennant. Gone are 111-win LA, 101-win Atlanta, 101-win Mets. Even the 92-win Cardinals. Instead, it is an 89-win vs an 87-win matchup.

UPDATE: One more thing. Aroldis Chapman gave up HR that sent the Yanks home in 2019 and 2020. This year, his own selfishness may doom the Yanks. It is becoming apparent that losing his closer spot affected him, and that the possibility of being left off the playoff roster made him mope so that he missed a mandatory workout. So that selfishness may wind up costing the Yanks again. He is a free agent. Good riddance. May he never wear a Yankees uniform again, not even to an Old-Timer’s game.