Category Archives: Offseason Moves

ALDS Game 2: Yanks up 2-0 after Didi slams, Tanaka tames Twins, 8-2.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

One thing about the postseason. A player can be struggling at the end of the regular season, then one postseason at bat can make him a hero.

Such is the case with Didi Gregorius in Game 2 of the ALDS. Didi, who was struggling badly at the end of the regular season, and also in Game 1, hit a grand slam that broke Game 2 open, and the Yanks beat the Twins 8-2 to take a two games to none lead into Minnesota on Monday for Game 3 of the best-of-five series.

Masahiro Tanaka continued to be a postseason force, improving his record to 4-2, 1.54 in the postseason. The YES network showed a graph of people with postseason ERAs under Tanaka’s (minimum five starts). That list was headed by Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson and Eddie Plank (although the YES network screwed up. The picture shown was of Lefty Grove, not Eddie Plank). Wild Bill Hallahan was in there too. Koufax, Mathewson and Plank are all hall-of-famers.

The Twins made a curious decision, starting a rookie, Randy Dobnak, making only his SIXTH start in the majors, and who had only 28 1/3 innings of major league experience. This, in Game 2 of the ALDS, in a game you NEED to win to avoid going down 0-2 in a best of five series. Strange decision indeed.

Not only that, the kid got married last Saturday. So his focus lately hasn’t been 100% on baseball.

Tanaka got out of a jam in first, being the back end of a nifty 3-6-1 DP to end the inning. Tanaka helps himself out when he pitches by holding runners on well and also by fielding his position well. Here his fielding helped him out.

The Yanks got to Dobnak early, scoring one run in the first. D.J. LeMahieu led off with a double and Aaron Judge walked. A flyout by Brett Gardner moved D.J. to third. Edwin Encarnacion, looking hot and nothing like a guy just off the IL, singled to make it 1-0 Yanks.

Then came the third inning. The Yankees tied their postseason record by scoring seven runs in the inning.

Judge led off with a single and Gardner walked. Encarnacion singled to load the bases and Giancarlo Stanton hit a SF to make it 2-0. Gleyber Torres singled in a run, 3-0. Gary Sanchez was HBP to reload the bases and then Didi hit his grand slam. 7-0. After Gio Urshela struck out, D.J. walked and Judge singled. Gardner singled to make it 8-0, and the game was basically over.

Tanaka did give up a run in the fourth, and the Twins also got a run off of Jonathan Loaisiga in the ninth.

Judge 2 hits, 2 walks
Encarnacion 2 hits, RBI
Gregorius 2 hits, 4 RBI. Grand slam. (1st by Yankee in postseason since Robbie Cano 2011)
Urshela 2 hits.

 

Tanaka (WINNER) 5 IP,  1 R, 3 H, 1 W, 7 K.  Brilliant.
Kahnle 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K.
Ottavino 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Lyons 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K.
Loaisiga 1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 W, 2 K.

Yankees’ pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts. Meanwhile, besides getting 11 hits, the Yankees drew 8 walks.

 


No offense to other good teams in the AL, like Oakland, Tampa Bay and Cleveland (who didn’t make the playoffs despite winning over 90 games) or the Twins, but for months it has appeared that, unless there is an upset, that the ALCS would be the Yankees vs. the Astros.

That possibility became even more of a certainty Saturday night when Houston beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to go up two games to none in their series. Gerrit Cole struck out 15 in 7 2/3 innings. The only pitchers to strike out more in a postseason game were Bob Gibson and Kevin Brown (yeah, I still wretch when I think of Kevin Brown). Houston pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts and Alex Bregman hit a HR.

Cole is a free agent after the season. The Yanks drafted him in 2008 but he went to college instead. The Yanks tried to trade for him but wouldn’t give up Miguel Andujar in the deal.  So the interest is clearly there. Cole went 20-5, 2.50 with 326 K this season. He led the AL in ERA and the majors in strikeouts. You can guess how much I want Hal Steinbrenner to break open the piggy bank and sign Cole (who, obviously, won’t come cheap) in this upcoming offseason. Not only to help the Yanks but to hurt Houston.

Can you imagine a rotation of Cole, Severino, Tanaka, Paxton and Happ (sorry to the youngsters).

Cole is 29. A three-time All-Star who will get CYA consideration for the third time this offseason (and who may win it, unless he loses to teammate Justin Verlander). His 162 g. average is 17-7, 3.22, ERA+ 127.

Look at that rotation again. You can buy Happ out after 2020 and maybe a youngster like Deivi Garcia is ready in 2021 (and I didn’t even mention Jordan Montgomery).

8 years, $250 million?

It isn’t my money, obviously. But I can dream about spending Hal’s, can’t I?

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Games 1 and 2 times set. More Manager changes and rumors.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The times for ALDS Games 1 and 2 between the Yanks and Twins have been set.

Game 1 on Friday will be at 7 PM, game on MLB network.

Game 2 on Saturday at 5 PM, FS1.

Meanwhile, another manager bit the dust as the Angels fired Brad Ausmus after just one year. Joe Maddon, who just left the Cubs, could wind up there.

The Mets and Phillies also potentially could be canning their managers soon.

Besides ex-Yankee manager Joe Girardi, lots of other candidates with ties to the Yankees now or in the past are also rumored for various managing jobs. These include Buck Showalter, Raul Ibanez, Carlos Beltran, Dodgers’ bench coach Bob Geren, current Yankees’ bench coach Josh Bard, Eric Chavez, Dale Sveum and Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens.

Game 141. Judge and Torres HRs carry Yanks, 4-1. Magic #12.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres homered, and the Yanks used an “opener” and six pitchers to defeat Texas 4-1 Wednesday night.

With the win, the Yankees (92-49) have a 10 game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL East. The magic # for clinching the division outright (no tiebreakers) is 12. They have a two-game lead over Houston for the best record in the AL (Houston owns tiebreaker) and a 1/2 game lead over the Dodgers for the best record in baseball (Yankees own tiebreaker).

Judge got the scoring started with a 2-run HR (20) in the third inning.

Torres hit a solo HR (34) in the fourth to make it 3-0, Yankees.

In the sixth, Mike Tauchman walked and scored on a double by Austin Romine. 4-0.

Texas got a HR on a Rougned Odor HR in the ninth to spoil the shutout.

Judge 2-run HR (20)
Torres solo HR (34)
Romine 2 hits, RBI.

Green 2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 W, 4 K.  4.84
Cessa (W, 2-1, 3.82) 3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 W, 3 K.
Ottavino (H, 28) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.  1.66
Kahnle 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 3 K.  3.11
Britton 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 W, 0 K.   2.11
Gearrin 1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 W, 2 K.  Gave up 1 HR.  4.18

Green’s overall ERA isn’t impressive, but he had that terrible start to the season and was sent to AAA with an ERA of 16.43. Since coming back, his ERA is 3.06. Now THAT is impressive.

There is a report that the Yanks almost made a deal at the trade deadline for Ken Giles of Toronto. It would have required three unnamed prospects.

Thinking how much I would like the Yanks to break the bank for Gerrit Cole and have a rotation next year of Cole, Severino, Paxton, Tanaka and Happ. That is, if Happ can’t be dealt.

In AAA, you could have Montgomery (if Happ isn’t dealt), Loaisiga, Deivi Garcia and Michael King (granted all are healthy). That’s an impressive AAA rotation of guys “on the ready.”

From MLBTR.com:

The Yankees have signed left-handed reliever Danny Coulombe to a minor league contract for a second time, Conor Foley of the Scranton Times-Tribune reports (via Twitter). New York brought Coulombe into the fold on a minor league pact last winter but gave him his release from the organization on July 1. Coulombe signed with the Brewers a couple of weeks later but opted out of that deal late last month and is now returning to the Yanks.

also from MLBTR/com:

The Yankees have released veteran right-hander David Hernandez, per an announcement from their Triple-A affiliate in Scranton (h/t: Conor Foley of the Scranton Times-Tribune, on Twitter).

The 34-year-old Hernandez had signed with New York on a minor league pact back on Aug. 15 after a disastrous season with the Reds, but he didn’t fare much better in his brief time with his new organization

 

One notable passing: Clint Conatser, a backup OF for the Boston Braves of 1948 and 1949, died at the age of 98. He played in the 1948 WS for the Braves. Since the Braves last played in Boston in 1952, I wonder how many Boston Braves players are still alive?

Also, I wonder how far back you can go to still find a living WS participant. I think the answer could be Dr. Bobby Brown, who is still alive at 94 and who played in the 1947 WS for the Yankees.

Game 76. Yanks tie a team record in winning 8th in a row, 7-5.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yanks may be heading to England soon to face the Red Sox, but Britton wasn’t “great” as the Yanks held off Houston last night for a 7-5 win. He made us squirm a bit.

With the win, the Yankees (49-27) won their eighth game in a row, and the lead in the AL East is now 5 1/2 over Tampa Bay and 8 over Boston.

By hitting two homers, the Yanks tied their team record, set in 1941, of homering in 25 consecutive games. They may have difficulty breaking it today. The starting pitcher for Houston will be Justin Verlander.

Today is Old-Timer’s Day. Mariano Rivera will be honored, a month before his HOF induction. He’ll be making his first Old-Timer’s Day appearance, and apparently will pitch. Even though Rivera will be 50 in November, ex-teammate Paul O’Neill says “I wouldn’t want to face him.”

Now to the highlights/recap of the Yankees’ win.

Giancarlo Stanton drive in four runs. Masahiro Tanaka was sharp.

The Yanks didn’t get anything going until the fifth. Despite the final score, for half of the game this was a pitcher’s duel.

In the fifth, with one out, Aaron Hicks walked. Gio Urshela got the first Yankees’ hit of the game by slicing one into the porch. HR #6 for Urshela made it 2-0 Yankees.

Tanaka gave it back in the top of the sixth by giving up a 2-run HR. Watching on TV, the pitch actually looked like a good one. Reddick just went down and got it.

The Yanks went up 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth. D.J. LeMahieu and Aaron Judge led off the inning with walks and Luke Voit blooped a single that loaded up the bases. Stanton singled in two runs.

But in the seventh, Jonathan Holder gave up a 3-run HR and Houston took a 5-4 lead. I’m not sold on Holder, who may be the weak link in the Yankees’ bullpen right now. As one friend of mine has mentioned, he does well in games where the lead is safe, but in tight games…. now I don’t know how much that’s the case, but he didn’t do his job last night, and except for a great (and controversial) play by Aaron Hicks (the Yanks’ D was tight last night. Voit made a couple great plays, too, and Judge threw out a baserunner) another run would have scored. (UPDATE: Stanton made a fine defensive play, too).

The Yanks do have someone at SWB, J.P. Feyereisen, and I wonder why he hasn’t received a MLB shot yet. He has pitched decently in relief for them last year and this. Stephen Tarpley (see minor league report) is there too in case Holder doesn’t straighten out.

Speaking of straightening out, Chad Green has done well since that bad stint at the beginning of the year that required Green to be sent down for a while.

So maybe Holder (5.55 ERA) needs the same.

We only wonder when Betances is coming back.

But as far as coming back, the Yankees did, getting three in the bottom of the seventh of this see-saw battle to retake the lead at 7-5, and eventually make Holder the winning pitcher.

With one out, Austin Romine, probably the weakest hitter on the team among the regular position players (I am not counting the callups from SWB like a Tauchman or Wade), homered (2) to tie the game.

LeMahieu then singled and advanced on a WP. Judge reached on catcher’s interference. Voit grounded out, moving up the runners. Houston elected not to walk Stanton to load the bases to set up a force at any base for the final out of the inning, but to pitch to him. Stanton got another 2-run single, and the Yanks were up 7-5.

Adam Ottavino got out of a two-out, two-on jam in the eighth.

In the ninth, Zack Britton walked the bases loaded (the last one intentionally to set up a force at any base) before getting the final out of the ballgame.

Stanton 2 hits, 4 RBI (having missed almost the whole season so far, his first 4 RBI of 2019).
Urshela 2-run HR (6)
Romine solo HR (2)

Tanaka 6 IP, 2 R, 8 H, 1 W, 1 K. Gave up 1 HR.  3.21
Holder (W, 5-2; BS, 2; 5.55) 1 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 0 W, 0 K. Gave up 1 HR.
Ottavino (H, 17) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 2 W, 2 K.  1.57
Britton (S, 3) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 3 W, 0 K.  2.51

Five walks in those last two innings. Oh, my heart.

The Yanks still haven’t replaced injured Cameron Maybin on the roster. They won last night with 24 players.

Random thoughts:

Could Sanchez hit 50 this season? A catcher hitting 50?

Also, I saw a report on Justus Sheffield. The former Yanks’ top pitching prospect, traded this past offseason for James Paxton, is struggling so badly that he was DEMOTED from AAA back down to AA. Sheffield only got into one game in the majors for Seattle, giving up 2 runs in 3 IP. At AAA, he was 2-6 with a 6.87 ERA, causing his demotion back to AA.

 

 

 

Extensions galore.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

You wonder what future free agent classes will look like.

Maybe not that hot.

Recently we’ve seen extensions given out to Severino, Hicks, Trout, Verlander, Sale, DeGrom, Snell, Nola, Goldschmidt, ….

More probably to come, but like I said, you wonder how poor future free agent classes will look like.

Recent passings:

Randy Jackson, 2x All Star 3B for the Cubs in the mid=1950s. A .261 hitter, OPS+ 94, he hit 21 HR for the 1955 Cubs (19 in 1953 and also in 1954) and was an All-Star in 1954 and 1955. Cubs 1950-1955, Dodgers 1956-1958, Indians 1958-1959, back with the Cubs 1959. Played in the 1956 WS with the Dodgers. He was 93.

Chuck Harmon, a utility player for the Reds (1954-1956), Cardinals (1956-1957) and Phillies 1957. Hit .238 in 289 games, OPS+ 62.

 

Tarpley wins Dawson Award. 4 sent down.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Stephen Tarpley was named the 2019 winner of the James P. Dawson Award, presented to the best rookie in camp.

3 more cuts: Estevan Florial (who, with his fractured wrist, is on the DL anyway), David Hale and Nestor Cortes.

UPDATE:OF Mike Tauchman, for whom the Yanks traded Philip Diehl to Colorado for, has made the 25 man Opening Day Roster. Tyler Wade has been sent down.

S.T. Game 29. Yanks lose, Gio rusty. Roster set? Trade made.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

You may be working out on the side, but until you get that game experience ….

Newly signed Gio Gonzalez showed his rust as the Yanks lost to Toronto Saturday afternoon, 7-3.

The loss puts the Yanks S.T. record at 16-9-4.

Gleyber Torres had a 3-run HR for the Yanks in the first inning.

Masahiro Tanaka only worked two innings in preparing for his Opening Day start this coming Thursday and looked sharp. We can only hope he’s like this on Thursday. Two scoreless innings.

Besides Gonzalez’ rust, Aroldis Chapman had a rough outing. His velo is down and I am a bit concerned about him.

Tanaka 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 3 K.
Chapman (H) 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 W, 1 K.
Green (H) 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 2 K.
Holder (H) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Gonzalez (BS, L) 2 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 H, 2 W, 0 K. Gave up 1 HR.
Kriske 1 1/3 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 2 W, 2 K
Bristo 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.

I had to look up who Kriske was. Never heard of him. Brooks Kriske, 25, RHP, 2-2, 1.09 at short season Staten Island last year. 33 K in 24 2/3 IP. 2 games for Low A Charleston. 0-0, 4.50 in four innings. Far down on the “totem pole”. But had to see who was this guy? Was with Staten Island a bit in 2016, missed all of 2017. My guess is Charleston (low A) bound.

The Yanks basically set the 25 man opening roster today, but there could be a minor move yet.

C Sanchez and Romine
IF Bird (could still make a move here to put him on DL if elbow (HBP recently) problem lingers. If he is on DL, Wade AND Tauchman could make team? See below), Voit, Torres, LeMahieu, Andujar, Tulowitzki
UT Wade? See below.
OF Gardner, Judge, Stanton (Tauchman? See below).

The ? is Wade. I mentioned in my this blog earlier today that the Yanks could pick up an OF via someone getting cut by another team or by trade. I nailed that one. Just a few hours after I wrote that, the Yankees made a deal today for an OF.

The Yanks sent LHP Phillip Diehl to Colorado for OF Mike Tauchman. I was concerned about Wade’s lack of OF experience and the Yanks apparently are too.

So that final spot could come down to Wade or Tauchman.

UPDATE: Bird makes team, is OK. Wade sent down. Tauchman is backup OF.

First off, Diehl. 24. LHP. Goes to Colorado. Last year 2-3, 2.51 between High A Tampa and AA Trenton. Probably going back to AA. Boone was impressed with him in S.T.

Wade, mostly an IF (2B/SS/3B) has been used in the OF to increase his versatility, but is not a true OF. In 124 MLB at bats for the Yanks in 2017 and 2018, has hit only .161-1-7, 42 strikeouts, OPS+ 25. In 176 AAA games, .282-11-58 with 37 SB. He hasn’t taken that to the majors yet, and the 24 year old lefty hitter, although possessing great speed, hasn’t had a lot of OF experience.

Hence the trade for Tauchman. That last spot on the team for now (position player) is between Wade and Tauchman (unless Bird has to go on the DL, then both may make the team). Tauchman, a lefty bat, is 28, and is only 9 for 59 in his MLB career (.153-0-2, OPS+ 20). Like Wade, he needs his skills to translate from AAA to a major league level. While Wade has the speed, Tauchman could show the power, and is a true OF, which Wade isn’t. In 112 games at AA in 2018, Tauchman hit .323-20-81 with 12 SB. In 2017 at AAA, Tauchman hit .331-16-80 in 110 games with 16 SB.

Unlike Wade, Tauchman has a lot of experience in all three OF positions.

Whether it is Wade or Tauchman, expect neither to be there long. He’ll be gone once Hicks is ready.

As for what happens if or when Ellsbury is ready? We won’t go there.

The 13 ptichers are:

Tanaka
Paxton
Happ
Cessa (starter? Middle relief?)
CC (to start year w/suspension, then go on DL)
Chapman
Tarpley (I told you not to overlook him…. made team)
Britton
Green
Ottavino
Holder
German (starter? relief?)
Kahnle

When CC goes on the DL, Loaisiga, who was sent down, will replace him temporarily.

As for room for Gio (rusty today, see above) or Severino when ready, who knows. Same with Betances, and same with Montgomery this summer.

But you can never have enough pitching.

As I said in my prior post, sometimes you have to make tough decisions, and sometimes due to poor performance and/or injury, they are made for you.

Some decisions you just have to wait on. Cross that bridge when we get to it.

But also, don’t be surprised if, until Seve and CC are ready, Boone goes with an “opener” in a couple of games.