That Hal Steinbrenner needs to channel his father’s anger and snap at the team right now.
For last night was embarrassing. An 8-2 loss to (once again, Tampa Bay) that dropped the Yankees to 5-8, the worst record in the league. People (I won’t call them fans) were so disgusted they were throwing stuff onto the field.
The team looked like a mess in just about every way. The offense got only three hits. Their only two runs coming on a 2-run Giancarlo Stanton HR in the seventh inning. They don’t string together hits or have rallies.
Starters, (other than Gerrit Cole) need to go deeper into games. More than 3 or 4 innings. Granted, last night the Yanks used Nick Nelson as an opener and that failed, but …
The defense has been lousy, too. Three errors last night, one really costly on what should have been an inning=ending DP that instead allowed two runs to score.
Besides snapping at the team, Boone needs to look at some of his decisions, too. I don’t like the “opener”, and I also didn’t like Hicks (.167 so far) batting third.
This isn’t to rip the team, although they may deserve it. It is an honest assessment. You can’t be a fan of the Yankees right now and like what you are seeing. So far the Yankees are woefully underperforming. It is early. They are 4 games out. 4 games out is nothing only 13 games into a 162 game season.
But worst record in the league. They face Tyler Glasnow (an ace) today. Atlanta (a good team) comes in next. What you don’t want is 5-8 to become 7-15 or so in a few weeks. You fall 10 games or so under .500? That’s hard to make up.
They need to get some passion. They need to snap out of it and now. They need a wakeup call and maybe Boone, in angrily confronting the team last night, woke some of them up. Let’s hope so.
Did any of you think the Yanks’ would be hitting .222 as a team after 13 games? That they would be next to last in the league in runs scored? Last in slugging average? There is a lot of blame to go around. Did you think that after Cole, the next two best performing players right now would be Michael King and Darren O’Day, with Kyle Higashioka fourth?
Here is something amazing to me. In 13 games, do you know how many sacrifice flies the Yankees have hit? NONE.
I’ll take runs any way I can get them.
Things have to change, and change now.
The Yanks struck out 14 times last night. You can’t win by not putting the ball in play.
Stanton 2-run HR.
Nelson (L, 0-2) 1 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 2 W, 2 K. 10.80 King 3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 W, 4 K. 0.00 1 HBP. Sent to alt. site after game. Cessa 1 IP, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 W, 2 K. 1.17 Luetge 4 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 0 W, 3 K. 6.10
Luetge “took one for the team”. The runs he gave up were on bleeders and bloopers. Seems like everything going wrong.
The Yankees had a very productive day on Friday, coming to terms with all arbitration eligible players, re-signing free agent D.J. LeMahieu, and signing Corey Kluber. But all this will mean some people appear to not be coming back.
Hal Steinbrenner wants to get under the $210MM luxury cap, especially after the Yankees (and all of MLB) took such a financial hit in 2020 due to the 60 game season forced upon it by the pandemic. After yesterday’s dealings, word is they are only $10MM or so away from hitting that cap. Meaning only minor signings, if any, unless they make a trade to free up money and create room.
What this means is that all of the following may be gone: Happ (expected), Paxton (expected), Gardner (not as much so) and Tanaka (not so much so). Happ, 38, was 21-10, 4.13 ERA+ 106 while with the Yankees 2018-2020. He was excellent when coming over from Toronto in 2018, bad in 2019 and good in 2020. But he was ineffective in the playoffs, going 0-3. He also was very critical (as we fans and others were and are) of Aaron Boone’s decision to use Deivi Garcia as an opener in Game 3 of the ALDS then have Happ come in. A move that failed, miserably.
Paxton, 32, has had trouble staying healthy. He was very good in 2019, going 15-6, 3.82 (ERA+ 117) but then needed back surgery. His 2020 was horrible. Five starts, another injury, 1-1, 6.64. In three starts for the Yanks in the 2019 postseason, Paxton was 1-0, 3.46. He made $12.5MM in 2020 and probably doesn’t fit the Yankees budget unless he took a big cut in pay. As we’ve seen, he is also an injury risk, having never qualified for the ERA title (162 IP in a normal season, 60 IP last year).
Gardner, 37, seems like the most likely to possibly return, but it would have to be at a big cut in pay. He had power last year, but his batting average was way down. .223-5-15 in 49 games, OPS+ 108. Gardner, if he comes back, would probably have to be reduced to a bench player, what with the emergence of Clint Frazier. Gardner has spent his whole career (2008-2020) with the Yankees, and his 162 game average is .259-14-56 with 28 SB (OPS+ 101; 100 is average). He doesn’t run like he used to, but still is a good defensive player who could spell Frazier in the late innings. But the Yankees already have a younger, and more inexpensive alternative to Gardner in Mike Tauchman. Gardner made $10MM last year, and the Yankees bought out his option at $2.5MM. If he comes back, it probably would have to be for $5MM or less, and that doesn’t then give the Yanks a lot of wiggle room elsewhere. Gardner’s numbers seem average, but he is listed on baseball reference as the 41st best LF of all-time.
Tanaka, 32, now appears gone what with the signing of Corey Kluber, which I will get to soon. Tanaka has been with the Yanks 2014-2020, and while never being a dominant ace, proved himself dependable and reliable. He has gone 78-46, 3.74 (ERA+ 116) as a Yankee after signing a huge contract (and the Yanks posting a huge posting fee for him). His 162 gm. average is 15-9, 3.74. Solid. Not great, but solid. In 10 postseason starts, he went 5-4, 3.33 for the Yankees. He may go home to Japan, but there are also rumors that San Diego may be interested in this 2x All-Star. Tanaka made $23MM last year, would be taking a cut, but he wouldn’t take so much of a cut to get the Yanks under the cap. With the Kluber deal, Tanaka is gone, it appears.
Now to Kluber, who signed a 1 year, $11MM deal with the Yankees yesterday after wowing scouts at a tryout the day before. It helped the Yankees that Kluber had a working relationship already with the Yanks’ pitching coach and strength and conditioning coach. This is a gamble that could pay off big. Kluber will be 35 in April and if he gets back to what he was, sets in nicely at #2 behind Gerrit Cole. Heck he could even be #1 above Cole, believe it or not. From 2013-2018 for Cleveland, Kluber won two Cy Young awards, finished third twice, was a 3x All-Star, and got MVP consideration 3x, finishing 7th for MVP (great for a pitcher) in 2017. From 2013-2018, his average season was 16-8, 2.96, ERA+ 143. But he got injured in 2019, one of the injuries a broken forearm after being hit by a line drive. In seven starts for the Indians in 2019, he was only 2-3, 5.80. He only pitched one inning for Texas in 2020 before getting hurt again. So since 2018, just 2-3, 5.65 in eight starts, 36 2/3 IP. For his career, Kluber’s 162 g. ave. is 16-10, 3.16, ERA+ 135. Obviously the Yankees are hoping he can get back to where he was or close to it. If so, the $11MM for one year is a deal.
So as of now, the rotation looks like Cole, Kluber and Jordan Montgomery as the top 3 starters. Domingo German, who went 18-4, 4.03 in 2019 before being suspended and missing all of the 2019 postseason and all of the 2020 season, could slot in at #4. The #5 could be a battle between youngsters Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Mike King and veteran Jhoulys Chacin. Don’t forget about the 33 year old Chacin, who was signed to a minor league deal and who has a 78-87 record with a 4.04 career ERA (ERA+ 108). Chacin was horrible in 2019-2020 (4-12, 6.06) but was a 15 game winner in 2018.
If Kluber and Chacin can get back to where they were…. but as you know, if is the biggest two letter word in the dictionary.
And don’t forget, Luis Severino, still just 26 next year, should return from his TJ surgery in June or July. A front three then of Cole, Kluber and Severino, with Montgomery and whoever wins the #5 (Garcia, German, Schmidt, King, Chacin) could be decent…. if of course, healthy. (Fingers crossed).
The Yankees also are coming to terms with D.J. LeMahieu on a long-term deal. LeMahieu, a free agent, has been the Yankees best player the past two seasons, and finished in the top four for MVP voting both years. As a Yankee, 2019 and 2020, D.J. has hit .336, leading the majors last year in batting average (.364), and he also led the AL last year in OBP, OPS and OPS+. A 3x All-Star, 3x Gold Glove, and 2x Silver Slugger, LeMahieu, 32, is a .305 career hitter. He’ll slot back in at 2B, but could also play 1B and 3B. Word is he wanted 5 years at around $100MM, the Yanks came back with something like 4 years at $75. In the end a compromise. The Yanks got the lower $$ figure they wanted but LeMahieu got the years he wanted. Six years, $90 MM. The years could hurt later on.
Lastly, the Yankees settled arbitration cases. Here are what players will get in 2021.
Judge $10.175MM Sanchez $6.35MM (I know, .147 and benched in postseason gets you THAT?!) Voit $4.7MM Urshela $4.65MM Torres $4MM Green $2.15MM Montgomery $2.13MM Frazier $2.1MM
Earlier, Luis Cessa got $1MM.
Remember, these are raises. Leaving little wiggle room, what with the D.J. and Kluber signings for much else. Which is why I wrote about the likelihood of many departures.
The Yanks signed two relievers to minor league deals, and one name is very familiar to Yankees fans.
It’s Adam Warren, 33, RHP, who pitched for the Yanks 2012-2015, briefly with the Cubs in 2016, back with the Yanks 2016-2018, Seattle 2018 and San Diego 2019. He didn’t pitch in 2020.
Warren is 30-24 in his career with six saves and an ERA of 3.53 (ERA+ 117). He has done much better as a Yankee (20-20, 3.18) than with any of his other teams (Cubs 3-2, 5.91; Seattle 3-1, 3.74 and San Diego 4-1, 5.34).
The other signing was of Matt Bowman, RHP, 29. Bowman was with the Cardinals 2016-2018 and the Reds 2019. He is 7-13, 4.02 in his MLB career with two saves. ERA+ 105.
The Yankees picked up Zack Britton’s option, keeping him in pinstripes through 2022. Had it been declined, Britton would have become a free agent immediately.
They declined options on Brett Gardner and J.A. Happ. Gardner is due a $2.5MM buyout, and could come back at a reduced price but with Clint Frazier appearing ready, that is uncertain. Gardner’s age (37) works against him.
Happ did not pitch very well in 2019, started 2020 poorly, rebounded, but then had a poor postseason. Not only does Happ’s age (38) work against him, but also performance. Not only that, but his relationship with management has deteriorated badly.
It’s hard enough to do a report card on a 60 game season. Harder still to predict the offseason and what the Yankees might do. I mean, when teams don’t get income from fans in the stands, concessions, parking, etc., who knows what money a team has or doesn’t have to spend this offseason?
And who knows what 2021 brings? Will Covid be gone? Will we have another shortened season without fans?
But here goes …. The best I can.
Sanchez F. How could you not give him this grade? .147?! Right now, the Yankees’ biggest issue/headache. 23 hits of which 10 were HR. It’s amazing how far he dropped. From All-Star (34 HR last year) to this. .186 two years ago. .147 in 2020. He dropped so much so that he lost his job to Higashioka in the postseason. Yes, Realmuto is a free agent, but how much $ for Realmuto? And what do you do with Sanchez? The Yanks did draft, in the first and second rounds, a few catchers in the past few years but their development has been slowed by no minor leagues this year. And they were many years away to start out with. Trade Sanchez, make him backup? He is a big headache right now.
Higashioka B. Did Ok. But can he become a regular? He isn’t known for his bat, despite that 3 HR game he had. But he was so much better than Sanchez indicating how far Sanchez dropped off. Seems to call a game better than Sanchez. Good defense.
Kratz A. Didn’t play much but performed well when he did. Helped in the development of Deivi Garcia. I can see Kratz being a coach or manager in the future. Maybe even make him (40) one next year?
Here is where there is a possible problem. Offensively, the Yanks are set with Voit, LeMahieu, Torres and Urshela. But….
LeMahieu is a free agent. The Yanks need to bring him back.
Torres had an off year and hasn’t convinced anyone he can handle SS.
Both Mark Teixeira and Joel Sherman (among others) have advocated the Yankees trade MLB HR leader Luke Voit to get more pitching…. And to bring back Didi Gregorius for SS, with Torres moving back to 2B and LeMahieu at 1B. That would improve the infield defense, and also help balance out the predominantly righty hitting Yankees lineup. But it is hard to trade a guy who led the majors in HR. Not to mention, Voit is a popular Yankee.
Voit A. Led team in HR and RBI. Trading him would hurt. Suffered foot injury at the end of the year. Not speedy on bases, defense so-so. But that bat…
LeMahieu A. Best player on team again. Versatile. 1st player in modern era (since 1920) to win batting titles in both leagues. .364. Yanks need more contact hitters like him, less all or nothing guys. Put the ball in play.
Torres C. Disappointing year. Only .243 with 3 HR. Stepped up in playoffs, where he has done well. Hopefully the real Gleyber comes back in 2021.
Urshela A. Clutch hits, proving 2019 wasn’t a fluke. Great glove. Has made Miguel Andujar an afterthought. I think the Yanks should see what they can get for Andujar, because he is blocked everywhere. 3B by Urshela. 1B by Voit, LeMahieu and/or Ford, OF by Frazier, Judge, Tauchman, Gardner or whoever is out there.
Wade C. His versatility and speed are plusses. But when will he (.170) ever hit?
Ford F. After a promising 2019, only hit .135 in 2020. His lefty bat could help balance the lineup, but where could he play? Blocked by Voit or LeMahieu. Stanton stuck as full-time DH limits versatility. Bench player.
Estrada F. Took a step backwards, when it appeared he could pass Wade on the depth chart. .167.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Yanks do with LeMahieu (free agent) and Voit. The Yankees defense was their worst in many, many years. And with Didi out there as a free agent….
Frazier B. The Yankees have to decide what to do with him. I think it’s time to give him the LF job and see if he can run with it.
Gardner C. The .223 was disappointing. Still good defensively, and the Yanks may want to keep him as Frazier’s defensive caddy and for his clubhouse presence. But at 37, Gardner should not be an everyday player anymore. Start Frazier, sub Gardy in for defense if necessary. But if you don’t want to bring Gardy back, you still have
Tauchman D. Good defensively, can also be Frazier’s defensive caddy. But took step backward. Where did his power go? Zero HR. The Yanks need his lefty bat to show/produce pop, especially if giving Frazier or Hicks or even Judge a day off, and to balance out the lineup. Led team in steals with six.
Judge B. Started the season hot, then got hurt. Needs to stay healthy.
Stanton. B Strictly a DH now. Showed in postseason what he can do if healthy. Needs to stay healthy. But him at full time DH limits Yankees elsewhere. And his salary (and Cole’s, Chapman’s) limits flexibility too.
Hicks B. Lousy average.225 offset by him leading team in walks. Good D.
Cole A Ace of staff. Prone to the HR ball. But 7-3, 2.84 all you asked for.
Tanaka B. Lousy postseason but 3.56 decent regular season. A free agent. Yankees should bring him back at reduced price. Not an ace or #2 anymore, but a good #3 or 4.
Happ. B. Lousy start. Lousy finish. Good in between. But a free agent, 37, and Yankees should not bring him back. Had issues with management.
Montgomery D. 5.11 ERA coming back from TJ surgery. Hopefully better next year with more time from the surgery. Nice start when Yankees needed in postseason
German X. Will he be back next year? That is a question mark. If so, how will he be after layoff? If Yanks can get the 18-4, 4.03 from 2019, or close to it, it would be a big help. Even something halfway decent until…
Severino. A ? for next year. Should be back around July but after so much time off, can he come back as a #2. Yanks may need to make a deal (Andujar, Voit) or sign a free agent like Trevor Bauer (who likes one year deals).
Garcia B. 3-2, 4.98 doesn’t look great, but kid is just 21. Hope he blossoms. Shows poise. A wild card for 2021.
Paxton F. Back surgery, then 6.64 ERA and forearm strain at the end of the year. I don’t bring him back (free agent). Why bring back someone as a free agent who is always hurt and has a forearm strain (which could be precursor to TJ problems?) It’d be like buying a car you know or suspect is a lemon.
Britton A. Filled in as closer when Chapman out with Covid. Did great job. 1.89 ERA
Chapman B. Decent in regular season but spit the bit in playoffs, giving up season-ending HR for second year in row. Have to wonder if he has what it takes for postseason. Also gave up big postseason HR in 2016 for Cubs. But Yanks stuck with certain contracts (Cole, Chapman, Stanton).
Ottavino F. 5.89 ERA. Stunk in 2019 postseason. Bad 2020. Yanks had no faith in him this postseason. Need to unload him. Loss of Kahnle hurt. And Kahnle out all 2021 probably.
Loaisiga B. Seems capable of so much more. A tease. Disappointed in postseason.
Nelson C. Kid shows some promise. Maybe replacement for Ottavino?
King F. Missing that year of AAA hurt. 7.76 ERA. Hope learns from experience.
Yajure A. Impressed in short stint. Just 22. Yanks should consider him as Kahnle’s sub in 2021.
Schmidt F. Like King, could have used AAA time. See what he can do in 2021.
Yanks need to look at their pitching. Some kids look like they can really help in 2021 (Garcia and Yajure), others seem to need more minor league time that they couldn’t get (COVID) in 2020.
But they need a solid #2 behind Cole. Paxton didn’t provide that in 2020. Tanaka is more a #3 or #4 now. Happ’s inconsistency hurt. Severino would have been #2 but for TJ surgery and he isn’t back until July or so next year and how good will he be? Hence a trade for a #2 or to sign Bauer.
Bauer does have issues. He’s not the most likable guy, and you do wonder how his personality would play out. He was 5-4, 1.73 (led NL) for the Reds this year. There are rumors that he and Cole (college teammates) don’t get along.
Boone and Cashman C. I like both, but that Game 2 ALDS using Garcia as opener sinks them here. I didn’t like it when it happened and will rue it forever. I can’t fault Cashman for not making a deal at the trade deadline. With expanded playoffs and shortened season, more teams were in the hunt. Plus, he did have guys about to come off the DL. And there weren’t many deals to be had. Cashman will really make his mark this offseason. Here’s where we see what he does. But that Game 2 switcheroo from Garcia to Happ. Ugh.
Coaching C. They got a new pitching coach. Not too impressed with him, yet. I wish they would have given that job to David Cone (I am pretty sure Cone wouldn’t have pulled that Game 2 crap). Apparently hitting coach Marcus Thames is being looked at for a managerial position, but Thames couldn’t fix Sanchez or Torres this season. The failure to fix Sanchez looms large here. And the new catching coach didn’t help out Sanchez much either.
Ok, got this done. I’ve been busy and whipped this off quickly. If I forgot something, sorry. Add on. Maybe I forgot a point here or there.
Jordan Montgomery pitched a great game after having had a couple of clunkers lately, and the Yankees’ bullpen completed the job in a 2-1 win in 10 innings over Baltimore on Saturday afternoon.
The win was the Yankees’ (25-21) fourth straight.
The Yanks scored right away in the bottom of the first when D.J. LeMahieu doubled, Luke Voit flied to right, moving D.J. to third, Aaron HIcks walked, and Clint Frazier hit a SF.
We’ll read more about Voit getting the job done again in a couple more paragraphs.
The Yanks would have a couple scoring opportunites in the game, especially when in different innings, Frazier (third inning) and Brett Gardner (eighth) got two-out triples, but they were left stranded.
The O’s tied the game in the sixth due to the Yankees’ fielding miscues. A single, an error by Gardner, then, after an out, and with the Yankees playing the infield in, a pop single that second baseman Thairo Estrada went back for but had glance off his glove. If Estrada was at normal depth he would have had it, but that’s baseball.
In the bottom of the tenth, D.J. LeMahieu started the inning at second base, what with these 2020 extra inning rules. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and Voit did his job, winning the game with a sac fly.
The Yanks got only five hits and made three errors, but still won the game.
Montgomery 5 2/3 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 W, 9 K. 4.76 Green 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K. 3.98 Britton 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 0 K. 2.40 Chapman 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K. 5.14 Holder (W, 3-0, 2.12) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K
Mark Newman, long time front office exec for the Yankees, died at the age of 71.
Let’s face it. It’s been hard and depressing to watch, read or write about.
From 16-6 to 21-21. Five losses in a row. Seven in the last eight games. 15 losses in the last 20 games. All in a 60 game season.
The Yanks haven’t had a losing season since 1992. There are only 18 games left. What are the odds of that streak ending?
The Yankees are clinging to the eighth and final playoff seed by 1/2 a game over…. Baltimore. Unfathomable. Even if they hold on, guess who the Yanks would play in the first round? Tampa Bay, against whom they went 2-8 this season.
And if not for the expanded CCP playoffs of this year, fuhgeddaboutit.
GM Brian Cashman had a pregame meeting with the team, but the Yanks still went out and lost to Toronto, 2-1.
J.A. Happ did his job, making just one mistake in giving up a 2-run HR. I question pitch selection again here. Gameday suggests five straight fastballs with the fifth one being the HR. Mix it up a little? The same with the game before where Chad Green threw nine or ten straight fastballs. It makes me scratch my head.
The YES network, on the postgame show, is criticizing players for mental mistakes. Maybe some of it is pressing, like swinging at the first pitch after the pitcher has thrown X many balls in a row.
That two-run HR given up by Happ came in the second inning and was all the Blue Jays needed. The Yanks only got five hits in the game, two by Miguel Andujar.
With two out in the first inning, the Yanks loaded the bases on three straight walks but Mike Tauchman flied out.
They had first and second, one out in the second and didn’t score. Second and third with two out, same inning.
Two on, two out in the fourth, couldn’t score. The chances were there.
The only run came in the fifth. Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks singled, Clint Frazier walked. Bases loaded, no out. No advance on a flyout by Gleyber Torres. Mike Tauchman hit a SF. But only one run out of it.
The Yanks were 0 for 7 w/RISP and left 10 on.
Andujar 2 hits
Happ (L, 1-2; 4.31) 6 1/3 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 2 W, 10 K. Gave up 1 HR. King 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K. 6.14 Britton 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K. 2.77
Happ is pitching much better after a terrible start to the season. But is it too late?
Gene Budig, the last AL president before the NL and AL offices were consolidated under the Commissioner in the late 1990’s, has passed away, age 81.