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Games 13 & 14. Yanks lose Friday, win Saturday on 1-hitter. CC back, but bad Betances news.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

This will be brief, because I was out of town Friday night and all day Saturday.

The Yanks lost Friday night 9-6. J.A. Happ (0-2, 8.76, took the loss Friday) and Chad Green (0-2, 11.81) have been disappointing so far and both didn’t pitch well at all Friday night. They have to improve.

Greg Bird has to also. 6 for 35, 16 whiffs. Only one hit for extra bases.  James Paxton is 1-2, 6.00.

As for Bird, when guys get healthy, then someone has to be sent down, and if your numbers aren’t there, then….

It’s just the nature of the business. If he wants to stay in the majors, he’ll have to pick it up. Voit is only hitting .200, but Voit does lead the Yanks with 13 RBI.

The Yanks are in 2nd in the AL East, but 4 1/2 back of the Rays. It’s early but don’t discount Tampa Bay. Boston, like the Yanks, has been struggling so far. (5-10).  For the Yanks to get better, some players (see above for an example) must play better, as well as others have to get healthy.

The Yanks (6-8) snapped their four-game losing streak on Saturday. CC Sabathia returned from the DL (Stephen Tarpley sent down) and combined with three relievers on a one-hit shutout as the Yanks won 4-0.

Aaron Judge hit his 4th HR of the year in this game.

Tyler Wade squeezed home a run. I love to see that. With all the injuries, the Yanks have to find different ways to win. With Wade’s speed and bunting ability, this is one of them.

I can’t remember the last time the Yanks squeezed a run home.

If short on power because of the injuries, then pitching and defense and speed.

Dellin Betances’ shoulder isn’t better. Bone spur. Cortisone shot. Shut down 6-7 weeks, probably out 3 months.

Saturday’s pitching line:

CC 5 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 3 K
German (W, 3-0, 1.38) 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 4 K.
Britton (H, 3) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K. 4.05
Chapman 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K. 3.00

CC is now 11 strikeouts short of 3000 for his career.



S.T. Games 22 and 23. Yanks hit 3 HR in each game, win both. Hicks to miss Opening Day.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Before we get to Sunday’s games, some news.

Kyle Higashioka sent down to AAA SWB.

Aaron Hicks will miss Opening Day. He got a second cortisone shot for his back.

This means, for a while (a week?) that Greg Bird AND Luke Voit could be on the opening day roster. Stanton would play LF, Gardner CF, Judge RF. Bird or Voit 1B, the other DH.

Rumors are the Yanks have made an offer to Gio Gonzalez, but are probably far apart. Being over the cap already, I can’t see the offer being substantive, and Gio made $12MM last year. My guess is that the Yanks probably offered half of that to cover themselves in case Severino has more issues and cannot come back in May.

Ok, the Yanks won BOTH split squad games today, hitting 3 HR in each game. So they are 13-6-4 for spring training.

Game 22. Yanks beat Phillies, 7-3.

Troy Tulowitzki 2 hits, a 2-run HR.
Greg Bird solo HR.
Gleyber Torres solo HR.
Tyler Wade 2 hits, 2 SB
Matt Lipka 2 for 2, 2 SB

Great outing for James Paxton. Not so for Chad Green.

Paxton 4 1/3, 1 R, 0 H, 2 W, 4 K.
Green (BS)  2/3 IP, 2 R, 2 R, 3 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Betances (W) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Kahnle (H) 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Coulombe 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.
A. Severino 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 2 W, 2 K.

Game 23. Yanks beat Orioles, 5-3.

Jonathan Loaisiga needed a good outing to keep up with Luis Cessa and Domingo German as far as filling in for Luis Severino and CC Sabathia in April. He provided it.

Kyle Holder 2 hits, RBI
Miguel Andujar solo HR.
Luke Voit 2 -run HR (the competition remains good and fierce between him and Bird).
Higashioka 2 hits.
Zack Zehner 2 hits, solo HR.

Loaisiga (W) 3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 W, 0 K.
Hale (H) 3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 W, 1 K.
Hutchison (H) 2 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 1 W, 0 K. Gave up 1 HR
Brothers (S) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K.

S.T. Games 15 and 16. A tie and a win.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yankees had a split squad today, so first, the away squad, who tied, 2-2, with the Tigers today.

Since on the road, mostly the prospects and minor leaguers.

Brandon Wagner solo HR.

Miguel Andujar 2 hits.

Cortes 2 1/3 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K. Gave up HR (Miguel Cabera).
Coulombe 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 3 K
Adams 2 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 0 W, 2 K.
Coshow 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Farquahar (H) 2/3 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 3 W, 0 K.
Hale (BS) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H. 1 W, 2 K.
Brothers 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 1 K.

Despite the nice story Farquahar presents (the brain aneurysm last season), it is best he start in the minors before a possible call up.

The home game saw a 6-5 win (record 8-6-2).

Gardner 2 hits.

Zack Zehner GW 2-run HR.

Clint Frazier hit, RBI.

Gio Urshela solo HR.

Happ 4 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 0 W, 6 K. Gave up 2 HR. Ok this spring, not great yet. Looking for better. 1 WP.

Ottavino 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 3 K. Awesome.
Chapman (H) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 w, 1 K.
Betances (BS) 1/3 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 1 W, 0 K.
Holder 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 0 K. 1 HBP.
Kahnle (W) 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 W, 1 K.

With the tie and win, the Yanks’ S.T. record is 8-6-2.

Yanks bringing back CC, 1 yr, $8MM

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yanks are bringing back CC for what could be his final yr. at 1 yr., $8MM. It’s a $2MM cut from last year.

CC, like Gardner, is coming back at a reduced rate. That, I am ok with.

Truthfully, I wouldn’t have brought either back. Decisions are made with the brain, not with the heart.

Gardner, 35, hit .260 from the beginning of the season until July 9. About .206 thereafter. If back, he needs LESS playing time (platoon with Clint Frazier, if healthy?). Plus, Gardner has a track record of fading after the all-star break.

CC will be 39 next July. If back, it has to be as the #5 starter. Nothing more than that. I need starters that can give me more than 5 innings. Someone can go into the seventh. CC does not do that anymore. He is pulled before he faces a lineup the third time around, meaning he places further stress on the bullpen.

I don’t want age. Yes, experience helps, but once 35, productivity diminishes.

At least they both took pay cuts.

Yes, they are both big clubhouse presences.

But you have to perform between the lines.

You make decisions with the brain, not with the heart.


Yankees news: Didi to miss at least half of 2019. All coaches look to return. What off-season moves will be made?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

After a few days of mourning and reflection, some Yankees news. It’s best to categorize things since there is a lot of news (and opinion from me) .

Managers and coaches. All are expected to return. I do know some people a little peeved at Boone and/or Rothschild. But no changes are expected to be made, with all of the staff coming back. One suggestion I would have had: Bring back Tony Pena to work exclusively with Gary Sanchez. Sanchez clearly took a step backwards this year without former good defensive catchers ex-manager Joe Girardi and ex-coach Tony Pena there to guide him. I’d bring back Pena. But improving Sanchez—on both sides of the ball—-is a priority.

Speaking of defense, it’s not only Sanchez, but the infield corners need work. Voit did a great job, but defensively, he reminds me a bit of a second version of Jason Giambi. We know that Andujar is a work in progress. But what about SS now that Didi Gregorius is expected to miss at least half of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow? Who will replace Didi? Move Gleyber Torres over and re-sign Walker to play 2B? Keep Torres at 2B and re-sign Hechevarria for SS? Ronald Torreyes (who I don’t think of as an everyday player)? Or go full out for Manny Machado for SS until Didi is ready, then move Manny to 3B and figure out what to do with Andujar at that point (move to LF, move to 1B, trade for a need (pitching?) at the deadline)? The OF defense was fine, but LF is a “?” for next year and we’ll get to that.

Catching. See above with Sanchez. They need to improve on catching depth. Keeping Erik Kratz (38 but now in the NLCS with Milwaukee) could have helped. But Kyle Higashioka as #3 has not proven he can hit. There isn’t much below Higashioka, and the new recent kids that were drafted 1 and 2 in the draft are years away. A little more and better catching depth behind Romine and Higashioka would be welcome. Also, Sanchez has to be what he should be. 2018 was disastrous for him.

Infield. Improve the defense, as mentioned above. I’d keep Torres at 2B and not mess with him by moving him around. As for 1B, is Voit the real deal or a mirage? Boone states that Voit has a leg up, deservedly, on Bird for 1B for 2019. The Yanks would benefit more if Bird realized his potential since it would balance the lineup better. Losing Didi’s lefty bat would hurt, even if they do sign Machado. After all, Sanchez, Voit, Torres, Machado, Andujar, Judge, Stanton …. all righty bats. Hicks is a switch-hitter. Where is the lefty bats for Yankee Stadium? But performance matters, and Voit clearly outperformed Bird in 2019. But is he for real? If not, could Bird rebound or is he trade bait? Could Andujar handle 1B or LF if Didi returns (and Didi is a free agent after 2019) and Machado (if the Yanks sign him) moves to 3B from SS when Didi comes back? With Didi out, what the Yanks do here is a major question mark, at least until Machado is signed by someone. As for infield depth, it will be interesting to see if Hechevarria and/or Walker are re-signed. And you still have Torreyes. I am not sold on Tyler Wade because he hasn’t yet shown he can hit MLB pitching.

Outfield and DH. Set except at one position. Stanton, Judge and Hicks are set. The question mark is LF. It is very doubtful the Yanks would sign Bryce Harper, even if Harper would balance out the lineup better than Machado. Do the Yanks bring back Brett Gardner? They can exercise his $12.5MM option or buy him out at $2MM. Do they buy him out and re-sign him for less than $12.5MM? How is the health of Clint Frazier? Here is a position where it will be interesting to see what the Yanks do. They like McCutchen, but he is a free agent, and will he be affordable? If they bring McCutchen back, no need for Gardner. If not, does Gardner come back but platoon with Frazier? And the albatross, Jacoby Ellsbury, is still there. What to do with him? Frankly, and I hate to disappoint Yankees’ fans (for I like Gardner, too). I’d buy Gardner out and let him walk. He is 35 and coming off a .236 season. His OPS+ was just 86. If you do bring him back, it’s as a fourth OF. But you are stuck with Ellsbury unless the Yanks could dump his salary. I’d like to bring McCutchen back as the starting LF (lineup balance once again a problem, though), and have Ellsbury and Frazier in reserve. Frazier because of his youth (still only 24), Ellsbury for no other reason than you are probably stuck with him. To bring back and make room for Gardner, the Yanks must somehow dump Ellsbury.

Starting Pitching. You can’t have a postseason where your starters go five innings or less. You need a stud like a Sale, Verlander, Cole, etc., that will go at least six and hopefully seven innings. So far, Luis Severino has not stepped up in the postseason. J.A. Happ is a free agent and I would try to re-sign him, but at 36, to no more than a 2-year deal. The Yanks are also expected to get Patrick Corbin who is a free agent. Corbin, a lefty, was 11-7, 3.15, with 246 strikeouts for Arizona this year and is a 2x All-Star. He’s from NY state and he and his family grew up as Yankees’ fans. If you can get BOTH Happ and Corbin, then I let CC go. CC turns 39 next July, and really doesn’t give you length out of a starter anymore. You can’t have starters that just give you 4-5 innings, no matter how good your bullpen is. You need some length out of your starters. Besides, how much confidence do you have in CC’s health (his knee was just operated on again and cleaned out again)? You need to turn to youth and get younger and Gardner and CC are hitting the ages where performance is only going to decline and health becomes an issue. So if you have Severino-Tanaka-Happ-Corbin that is a solid four and you can open #5 up to who wins the job, Sheffield, Adams, Loaisiga, German, etc. Break in a youngster. I’m not sold on Cessa. And this Michael King may be a real dark horse. But breaking in one of those youngsters would be easier if both Happ AND Corbin are signed. (or sign Corbin, let Happ go and make a blockbuster trade for a stud pitcher? And no, even if Kershaw opts out, I don’t see the Yanks going after Kershaw. He is great, but his injury problems and postseason failures do concern me). I don’t expect Lynn back and recent reports are that the Yanks are going to work hard to move Sonny Gray. Jordan Montgomery could return late next season.

Bullpen. Pretty solid here, with Betances, Chapman, Green and Holder set. Robertson and Britton are free agents and the Yanks must bring back one (if not both) of them. Cole and Kahnle are probably expendable and it will be interesting to see what the Yanks do with Kahnle. Do they drop someone like a Cessa or German into middle relief? What about Montgomery when he comes back from TJ surgery? May want to bring him back slowly.  Boone does have to learn to get guys up earlier though. One fault I saw with Boone this year was that you could see a pitcher in trouble, and you looked to the bullpen and no one was warming up. By the time someone was warm and in the game it was too late. You want depth out of your starters, but you can’t roll the dice and push them when they are clearly out of gas, either. Keep an eye out for Tarpley as a lefty out of the bullpen next year, especially if the Yanks do not retain Britton.

Anyway, you know moves are coming. Some will be HUGE and we’ll see what happens.

Ex-Yankee manager Joe Girardi has apparently talked to the Reds and Rangers about a managerial job with one of them. Ex-Yank Eric Chavez is a consideration for the Angels’ job and ex-Yankee Hensley Meulens (SF bench coach) for the Twins’ job. Ex-Yankee Coach Joe Espada may be getting a look, too. He’s currently bench coach for the Astros.

Yanks and Mets rained out. Next 40 games crucial for Yanks to catch up.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yankees/Mets game was rained out tonight. ESPN was talking about the fact that both teams have a mutual off day on July 30.

Update: The game has been scheduled for an Aug. 13 makeup date. 

Maybe the Yanks caught a break, and if the game is made up that day, they miss facing DeGrom.

I took a look at the schedule. Including what would have been tonight’s game, the next 40 games, which take us right up until Labor Day, are mostly against sub-.500 teams. In those 40, the only games against teams above .500 are say, six against Tampa Bay, who went into today 50-49, and four against Boston.

Based on the quality of the teams in those 40 games, I am hoping the Yanks go 28-12 in those 40 games. Hopefully better.

28-12 would take the Yanks to 91-46 with 25 games to go. 28-12 should (we hope) cut a few games off of Boston’s now five-game lead.

The schedule is favorable until Labor Day. The Yanks MUST take advantage of it.

Game 89. Yanks salvage split, 10-2.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

With the Red Sox winning their seventh in a row, it was imperative for the Yanks to win the second game of today’s DH to remain, at 59-30, 2 1/2 back of Boston in the AL East race. They did so with a 10-2 win.

If I would have asked you this morning who you had greater confidence in, CC or Cessa, what would your answer have been? For it was Cessa, not CC, who came up big.

In this game, a single by Gardner and one-out double by Didi brought home a run in the first.

In the fourth, Walker got a bunt hit with two out and Gardner HR (7) to make it 3-0.

To the fifth. Double by Stanton, WP, and Single by Bird. 4-0.

8th inning. With two out, double by Clint Frazier, who was having a rough day, and 2-run HR by Romine (5) make it 6-0. Walker and Gardner double to make it 7-0. A WP and 2 walks load the bases. An error makes it 8-0.

Baltimore got a 2-run HR in the eighth, 8-2.

In the ninth, Andujar doubles. Frazier walks. Romine doubles in Andujar, Frazier nailed at home. With two out, Gardner singles in Romine. 10-2.

Gardner 4 hits, scored 3, HR, drove in 3
Judge 2 hits, RBI
Didi 2 hits, RBI
Stanton 2 hits
Romine 2 hits, HR, 3 RBI
Neil Walker 2 hits.

Cessa (W, 1-1, 3.00) 6 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 3 W, 4 K. Not high on Cessa, but great today!
Gallegos (S,1) 3 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 2 W, 0 K. Gave up 1 HR.  4.50

Update: With Stanton on the road all week, and Benintendi and Boston at home, I have a feeling about that “last man” vote, and that feeling isn’t good for Stanton.