Category Archives: Scandal

Yankees hire a female hitting coach; Ellsbury departure could be ugly.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From Bryan Hoch at MLB.com:

The Yankees are preparing to make history with the addition of Rachel Balkovec, who will become one of the first female full-time hitting coaches hired by a big league organization, The New York Times reported on Friday evening.

The 32-year-old Balkovec signed her contract on Nov. 8, according to the Times, and is slated to report to the Yankees’ Spring Training complex in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 1. Balkovec is expected to be based in Tampa and will serve as a roving instructor throughout the organization.

Yankees hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson told the Times that the club hired Balkovec based on her qualifications, which include two master’s degrees in the science of human movement and experience at several Minor League clubs.

“It’s an easy answer to why we chose Rachel for this role,” Lawson told the newspaper. “She’s a good hitting coach, and a good coach, period.”

A product of Omaha, Neb., Balkovec earned recognition as a part-time strength and conditioning coach in the Cardinals’ organization in 2012, prompting her appointment as the Minor League strength and conditioning coordinator for the Cardinals from 2014-15. As such, she became the first woman to hold a full-time strength and conditioning position in affiliated baseball.

Since August, Balkovec has been researching eye tracking for hitters and hip movement for pitchers at Driveline Baseball, a data-driven performance training center in Washington state. The Yankees tabbed Driveline’s Sam Briend this past summer to head their organizational pitching blueprint, and Balkovec hopes to apply her expertise to the club’s hitters.


No, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. The Yankees signed Zack Granite to a minor league deal.

At first, when you read it, you thought you saw Zack Greinke, didn’t you? Like many others, you did a double take.

Nope, it is not the top-flight pitcher (who isn’t a free agent anyway), but an OF named Zack Granite, 27, lefty hitter who had 93 MLB at bats with the Twins in 2017. Of his 22 hits (.237), 19 were singles. OPS+ 66. 1 HR, 13 RBI. OF depth. Especially in CF.

Granite is from Staten Island and went to Seton Hall. He hit .290-3-37 at AAA (119 games, Rangers organization) in 2019. 25 SB. So has some speed, no power.


From the NY Post, the Ellsbury departure could get ugly:

On Friday, multiple sources told The Post, right after Ellsbury cleared release waivers, the Yankees sent a letter to the Players Association notifying them of their intention to convert Ellsbury’s contract from guaranteed to non-guaranteed, thereby liberating them from the outfielder’s $21 million salary for 2020 as well as a $5 million buyout of the $21 million team option for 2021. The basis of the effort is the Yankees’ contention Ellsbury, who missed the entire 2018 and 2019 seasons due to multiple injuries, received medical treatment at Progressive Medical Center in Atlanta for multiple years without the Yankees’ authorization. The exact time period is in question, hence the uncertainty about how much, if any, of the $127 million the Yankees already have paid Ellsbury will be in play.

The union, livid with the Yankees’ maneuver, made it clear it would challenge the team on Ellsbury’s behalf and hinted at a willingness to play offense as well as defense.

If Ellsbury, who is represented by agent Scott Boras, files a grievance against the Yankees, an independent arbitrator would resolve the matter unless the two sides can come to a settlement. Baseball’s Basic Agreement mandates a hearing take place within one year of the grievance filing.

The Basic Agreement, most importantly, asserts, on page 59: “Any treatment a Player receives for a Work-Related Injury by a health care provider who is not affiliated with the Club must be authorized by the Club in advance of the treatment in accordance with Regulation 2 of the [Uniform Player Contract].”

That’s the edict the Yankees allege Ellsbury violated. In order to prove that, the Yankees — who didn’t have insurance on Ellsbury’s 2020 contract, after getting reimbursed at a 75-percent rate for the $42 million he earned over the prior two seasons — must display that he received treatment there related to his work, rather than a personal-health issue.

As for the PA’s mention of potential contract violations by the Yankees, the union could investigate whether the team was responsible for a media report implying Ellsbury might have used illegal performance-enhancing drugs at Progressive Medical Center, an insinuation that could be viewed as breaking the rules of the game’s Joint Drug Agreement. Ironically, if baseball did discover Ellsbury used illegal PEDs, his contract would be protected, as per the Basic Agreement, and he’d serve a suspension, during which he wouldn’t get paid.


Lastly, stay tuned. The Houston cheating scandal could wind up with one hell of a punishment.

 

Thoughts on Mgr of Year; CYA winners announced, and Houston’s scandal.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Another blog makes a good point. It may be that a Yankees manager may NEVER be selected Mgr. of the Year because of several reasons. One being the expectations that the Yanks are supposed to be good because of who they are and their financial resources. So if they do well, it was because they were EXPECTED to do well. The manager only did what he was expected to do.

But that wasn’t really the case this year. Yes, the Yanks were expected to do well, but with the team they EXPECTED to have, not a team ravaged by injuries. Severino and Stanton missed almost the whole year each.  Betances and Montgomery the same. Didi two and a half months, Andujar all but a handful of games,  Hicks over half the year and so on and so on. Still, the Yanks won 103 games and the AL East. Still, Boone didn’t get MOY despite managing a M*A*S*H* unit to that victory total.


It is looking more and more like Didi won’t be back. We’ll see, but in reading the tea leaves and insider commentary…


This Houston cheating scandal with the cameras, video cheating, etc. has added another s to the Astros name on various sites. You can guess where that s is going…


The CYA was announced. In the NL, Jacob DeGrom repeats as the Cy Young Award winner, getting 29 of the 30 first place votes.

It is amazing the lack of support DeGrom gets. Take a look at the win totals in these past two CYA winning seasons.

2018 10-9, 1.70, led majors in ERA.
2019 11-8, 2.43. Led NL in strikeouts.

21 wins COMBINED. The Mets are wasting his starts.

In the AL, teammates Justin Verlander & Gerrit Cole were neck and neck with Verlander winning his second CYA. He previously won the CYA in 2011 (and MVP that year too). In addition to two CYA, Verlander also has been the runnerup three times.

Verlander got 17 first place votes and 171 points to Cole’s 13 first place votes and 159 points.

Verlander 21-6, 2.58. Led majors in wins, starts and IP. Struck out 300.
Cole 20-5, 2.50. Led AL in ERA. Led majors with 326 strikeouts.

You could have flipped a coin between the two.

As for Cole, it’s expected the free agent won’t sign until the new year.

 

Boone runnerup for Mgr. of Yr.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

In a close vote, Aaron Boone came up second for the Manager of the Year Award.

Both he and Rocco Baldelli of the Twins got 13 first place votes, but Baldelli got 13 2nd place votes to Boone’s 9 and won the points count, 106-96.

In the NL, Mike Shildt of St. Louis won despite getting 10 first place votes to Craig Counsell of Milwaukee’s 13. Shildt got 95 points overall to Counsell’s 88.


Gabe Kapler has landed on his feet. Fired this offseason after two seasons as Phillies’ manager, he was hired as the new Giants manager. Former Yankee coach, and current Houston coach, Joe Espada, was in the running.


Lastly, from MLB.com:

The Astros released a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying they were beginning an investigation, in cooperation with Major League Baseball, after a story in The Athletic (subscription required) accused the club of stealing signs electronically in 2017, the year they won the World Series.

Game 159. Yanks offense nonexistent (only 1 hit) in 4-0 loss.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yankees may have been playing Tampa Bay the last two nights, but their offense wasn’t to be found either night.

Tampa Bay, of course, is still playing for their playoff lives while the Yanks have already clinched the AL East and at least the #2 AL seed.

Right after a 2-1, 12-inning loss on Tuesday night, the Yanks were shutout 4-0 on Wednesday night, and in that shutout they were nearly no-hit. The only hit the Yanks got was a D.J. LeMahieu sixth-inning single.

With the loss, the Yanks’ hopes of having the best record in the AL all but disappeared. At 102-57, they are 2 1/2 games behind Houston with 3 games to play. Houston holds the tiebreaker. In order to gain the #1 seed, the Yanks have to win all three games they have left while Houston has to lose all four they have left.

If the Yanks make it to the WS, at present they are 1/2 game BEHIND the Dodgers. The Yanks do hold the tiebreaker. So these two losses to the Rays do hurt.

It’s official. Domingo German (because of the domestic abuse incident being investigated) is out for the whole postseason as well.

In the home run race, with the Yanks hitting no homeruns last night and the Twins hitting two, the two teams are tied at 299 but the Twins have four games left, the Yankees three.

It is all but certain that the Yanks will play the Twins in the ALDS, with the Yanks holding the home field edge. Games 1 and 2 would be at Yankee Stadium Oct. 4 and 5, Game 5 in Minnesota Oct. 7, Game 4 if necessary Oct. 8 in Minnesota and Game 5 if necessary back in the Bronx on Oct. 10.

As for the game, Jonathan Loaisiga showed why he exasperates you. Great stuff but inconsistent. 2 strikeouts in the first inning, but he also have up 2 runs, inc. a HR to the first batter. 2020 will be a huge year for him. He needs to harness his great stuff and show consistency.

J.A. Happ came out of the bullpen and pitched well. If this was an audition for the postseason, where Happ and CC had to show they could perform well coming out of the bullpen, then both passed the audition.

As mentioned, the offense only had one hit. Aaron Judge was 0 for 3, 3 strikeouts with a walk. Giancarlo Stanton was 0 for 4 with 4 strikeouts.   Kyle Higashioka was 0 for 2 with 2 strikeouts. The Yanks struck out 16x. Even the pinch-hitters struck out their only time up.

Loaisiga (L, 2-2, 4.70) 1 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 0 W, 2 K. Gave up 1 HR.
Happ 5 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 1 W, 6 K.  4.91
Kahnle 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 0 K.  3.43
Gearrin 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.  4.22
Tarpley 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.  7.23
Cessa 0 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 W, 0 K.  3.73  Faced one batter, threw one pitch, a HR.
Chapman 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K.  2.25   Needed the work.

The Yanks are off Thursday. They finish with the Rangers with three games in Texas this weekend and these are the final three games in that ballpark. The Rangers move into a new ballpark next year. Hopefully the Yanks get back on the winning side to carry momentum into the playoffs.

Game 154. Yanks hit 4 HR, clinch AL East title with 9-1 win. Shocking News about German is not good.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Masahiro Tanaka was spot on, and the Yankees hit 4 HR to beat the Angels 9-1 to clinch the AL East title Thursday night.

It’s their 100th win of the season, and manager Aaron Boone is the first manager ever to win 100 in each of his first two managerial seasons.

D.J. LeMahieu got things going with a 3-run HR (25) in the second inning.

Tanaka only mistake was in giving up a gopher ball in the top of the fourth that cut the lead to 3-1.

Brett Gardner hit a solo HR in the bottom of the fourth (26) to make it 4-1 Yankees.

In the bottom of the sixth, Didi Gregorius singled and stole second. Gio Urshela walked. A groundout moved both runners up and Gardner then doubled in two runs to make it 6-1.

In the bottom of the eighth, with two out, Cameron Maybin homered (9) to make it 7-1, and after Gardner walked, Clint Frazier hit a 2-run HR (12) to make it 9-1, which turned out to be the final score.

The Yanks are 1/2 game behind Houston for best record in baseball (Astros have tiebreaker) and lead the NL best Dodgers by 1 1/2 games.

LeMahieu 3-run HR (25) .329
Gregorius 2 hits
Maybin solo HR (9)
Gardner 2 hits, solo HR (26), 3 RBI
Frazier 2-run HR (12)

Tanaka (W 11-8, 4.47) 7 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 0 W, 6 K. Gave up 1 HR.
Gearrin 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.  4.10
Chapman 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 2 K.   2.28

Tanaka was moved to tonight with Happ going tomorrow. Just a note: This moves sets up Tanaka to start Game 1 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium on regular rest.

Domingo German was put on administrative leave due to a domestic violence incident which is being investigated by the Commissioner’s office. Michael King was added to take his place on the roster.

Update: In the race for the new team HR record, the Twins 293, Yanks 292. The Twins have played in one less game than the Yanks, and the AL Central teams they play to end the season with are weak (KC 98 losses as of now and Detroit with 107), so the Yanks are the underdogs here. It appears that the Twins will beat out the Yanks, esp. since the Yanks do have two games left with 90-win Tampa Bay.

 

Game 127. A’s beat Yanks, 6-2.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yanks struck early, but the A’s struck right back as Domingo German had trouble closing out the first and second innings in the Yanks’ (83-44) 6-2 loss in Oakland to the A’s Monday night.

Gary Sanchez homered in the top of the first (28) to give the Yanks a quick 1-0 lead.

But in the bottom of the first, with one out and two out, German gave up a HR to Matt Olson, then gave up another to Mark Canha. The back-to-back HR made it 3-1 A’s.

With two out in the second, a single and double made it 4-1 Oakland. It stayed that way until the sixth.

The A’s got two more in the sixth. A single, double, strikeout, and single plated two runs and drove German from the game.

Aaron Judge homered (13) in the eighth for the game’s final run. 6-2 A’s.

Judge’s blast (467 ft.) was the first homer he pulled to left all year.

The Yanks’ magic # to clinch the division outright (I ain’t getting into tiebreakers) still dropped to 26 because the Rays lost.

Judge HR (13)
Sanchez HR (28)
Urshela 2 hits .338
Gregorius 2 hits
Tauchman 2 hits.

German (L, 16-3, 4.15) 5 1/3 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, 8 H, 2 W, 7 K. Gave up 2 HR.
Loaisiga 2 2/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 W, 2 K.   5.12

The Yanks signed Trevor Rosenthal to a minor league contract. This, along with the Ryan Dull, Tyler Lyons and David Hernandez signings of late, is probably just “taking a flyer”. Rosenthal was St. Louis’ closer, saving 45 games in 2014 and was an All-Star in 2015 when he saved 48, finishing 17th in MVP voting in the process. But he missed all of 2018 with TJ surgery and this year, in 22 games (12 Washington, 10 Detroit) has been brutal. 0-1, 13.50. For his career, Rosenthal is 11-25, 3.46 (ERA+ 114) with 121 saves.

One-time Yankee relief pitcher Octavio Dotel (14 games in 2006), along with 2B Luis Castillo, were implicated in a drug trafficking ring yesterday. Dotel pitched for 13 different teams from 1999-2013 and Castillo was a 2B for 3 teams 1996-2010, including the 2003 Marlins team that beat the Yanks in the WS.

 

 

Game 116. Yanks’ winning streak ends in 8-2 loss.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Before the game, the Yanks made a minor league deal (those are still allowed after the deadline) getting Joe Mantiply from the Reds for cash considerations. Mantiply, 28, LHP, pitched in five games for the Tigers in 2016, going 0-0, 16.88. He actually was in the Yanks’ minor league system in 2017, going 6-5, 2.83 for SWB (6 starts, 29 relief appearances). He was 1-0, 4.15 for the Reds’ AA/AAA teams in 19 relief appearances this year. He’ll be going to AAA.

Good news on Luis Severino. He threw off a mound and felt great. It looks like the Yanks could get him back in September. But would it be for only two or three outings before the postseason? Would that be enough? More on that later after this game report. (Also, in a separate minor league report, good news on Jonathan Loaisiga Friday night).

On Firday, Yanks’ GM Brian Cashman had a scare, being mistaken for a car thief. He was stopped—at gunpoint—by as many as nine officers in CT.

Per ESPN:

Cashman, 52, said in an interview with the New York Post that his white Jeep Wrangler had been stolen and returned to him but that the New York City police had not cleared the vehicle from its stolen-car database.

Luckily, things didn’t escalate or get mistaken into anything tragic.

Now for the game. Good point made by John Flaherty on YES about holding umpires accountable. Players have to face the media after a bad performance and answer questions, not so umpires. Players get suspended and/or fined, umpires should too. Because the umpiring last night was bad.

Brett Gardner got tossed from the game by the home plate umpire who A) didn’t give a warning first, and B) wasn’t even looking in the dugout to see who was getting on him, thus ejecting the wrong person. How do you eject someone without seeing and making sure you are ejecting the right individual? Gardner says he didn’t say anything or do anything to get ejected, and when he came out to vociferously argue, was lied to by that home plate umpire. As a result, Aaron Judge, who was supposed to get the night off, had to play. Of course, after the game there is no media questioning the umpire. HE isn’t held accountable. If Gardner faces a fine or ejection, that would make this even more of a travesty. MLB needs to hold more bad umpires (like Angel Hernandez, even though this time it wasn’t him) accountable by fining or suspending them. They probably won’t though. It’s  a joke how they let some really bad umpiring slide. This wasn’t all. There was a really bad call later in the game.

As far as strike zones, MLB has to tell the umpires off on that. You can’t have “your” strike zone and call it the same way on a 6’7″ player like Aaron Judge the same way you do on a 5’9″ player. How many times do we see strikes called on Judge that are below his knees because he is 6’7″? But the umps don’t adjust to his height as they should. Ridiculous.

Umpires need to face the same criticism and meet the same standards and receive the same penalties as the players. Start cracking down on bad umpiring, MLB.

As for the game, well, those bad decisions didn’t cost the Yanks the game, bad pitching by J.A. Happ did. Unfortunately, Happ, who was so good for the Yanks after the Yanks traded for him last year (until Game 1 of the ALDS), has turned into this season’s “Sonny Gray”. What is worrisome is that he has a contract for next year for another $17MM and a vesting option for 2021 for another $17MM that kicks in with 27 starts or 165 IP in 2020. If Happ, who turns 37 in mid-October, is falling off the cliff per se, then the Yanks have a problem. I don’t know if he has a no-trade clause. But right now, would you trust him on the postseason roster? I wouldn’t. Would you look into dealing him after the season (and probably having to eat a lot of his contract)? I would.

Happ only gave up four hits in 5 IP, but three were HR as he was plagued by the gopher ball again. Those resulted in six runs. We can only hope for improvement, but it looks like a lost season for him. We’ll see if it is the start of the end for his career as well.

He has to improve, that is for sure.

Things got off to a bad start when Happ gave up a 2-run HR in the first and a solo HR in the second. Yanks down 3-0 after two innings, already.

In the top of the fourth, immediately after the fiasco with the umpire that got Gardner ejected, Mike Tauchman homered (12) to cut it to 3-1. Boy, is Tauchman hot.

But Happ gave up a 3-run HR in the bottom of the fourth that made it 6-1 and basically ended the Yanks’ (76-40) chances for a win in this one. Oh well, you can’t win them all and the loss snapped a nine-game winning streak.

Tampa Bay won, so the Yanks’ lead in the AL East was cut to 9 1/2.

Mike Ford homered (3) in the seventh to make it 6-2, but Tommy Kahnle gave up a 2-run HR in the eighth. Final score 8-2 Toronto.

LeMahieu 2 hits,  .340
Maybin 0 for 4, Golden Sombrero 4 strikeouts, should have had a hit. Bad call.
Tauchman 2 hits, solo HR (12)  .301
Ford solo HR (3)

Happ (L, 9-7, 5.48) 5 IP, 6 R, 4 H, 3 W, 4 K.  Gave up 3 HR.
Cortes, Jr.  2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 2 K.  4.18
Kahnle 1 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 1 W, 1 K.  3.04   Gave up 1 HR.

You wonder how much of an “opener” the Yanks could use in the postseason. Could Severino AND Loiasiga be used in such a fashion because of just coming off the IL in September? Could German be (because of an innings limit) used as the guy AFTER the “opener” ? There will be very interesting decisions made in a month because, even with the great record the Yanks have right now, you can’t be comfortable with what you are getting from the starters right now, especially Tanaka, Happ and even CC.

Especially if they are going up against Greinke, Verlander and Cole.

Over the next few weeks, here’s hoping the rotation can step it up and alleviate my concerns.