HOF Rod Carew to get new heart, kidney

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Hall of Famer Rod Carew is facing his toughest battle. A little over a year since a heart attack almost cost him his life, Carew is getting a heart and kidney transplant.

Carew, 71, played for the Twins and Angels from 1967-1985, hitting .328 and accumulating over 3000 hits. While not a home run hitter (92 in his career), I did see him hit one off of Ed Figueroa in 1977. That was a shot, way into the upper deck at the old Yankee Stadium.

Carew won the MVP in 1977, hitting .388 with a career high 14 HR and 100 RBI. He won seven batting titles in his career, including one (1972) in a year in which he didn’t hit a home run.

He was an All-Star in every year he played except for the last one. A ROY, an MVP.

Godspeed to him. For now he faces his greatest challenge.

 

Yanks sign Tejada to minor league deal.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Ruben Tejada had 66 at bats last year between the Cardinals and Giants. For all intensive purposes, the last time we really saw him in the major leagues, he was getting his leg broken on a hard slide by Chase Utley of the Dodgers in the 2015 playoffs while playing SS for the Mets.

The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal today. As far as how much range he may have lost at SS due to the broken leg, we’ll see. Derek Jeter was 38 when he broke his ankle in the 2012 ALCS, but at 38, had already lost range anyway so after a wasted year of 2013, we already knew his range would not be the best during his final season of 2014 when he turned 40.

I expect Tejada, even with a spring training invite, to not make the team in 2017 but to go to SWB as insurance in case something happens to Didi or Castro. His 162 g. average is .252-3-40, OPS+ of 83. Good glove, weak stick.

A move for depth, nothing more.

Tejada has played mostly SS, some 2B and a little 3B in his major league career.

Welcome Back Chapman! Aroldis back for 5 years, $86MM and we get Torres for a loaner!

Yankee Stadium Frieze

How desperate were the Cubs to get a WS win after 108 years? So desperate they gave up someone that is being called the next Derek Jeter (Gleyber Torres, who hit .403 in the AFL at age 19 and was the Arizona Fall  League MVP) for just a few months of Aroldis Chapman.

Chapman is bringing his 104 MPH fastball back to the Yanks, signing a 5 year, $86 MM deal to return to the Bronx.

This will move Dellin Betances back to the 8th inning and set up Tyler Clippard for the 7th. The two setup guys are righty pitchers, so don’t be surprised if the Yanks make a play to bring lefty Boone Logan back (even though I did like the job Tommy Layne did after the Yanks acquired him last year).

Chapman was 3-0, 2.01 in his limited time with the Yanks in 2016, with 20 saves.

Best of all, he doesn’t cost the Yanks a draft pick, and for “loaning” him out to the Cubs for a few months and a WS title, the Yanks get Torres, and reacquire Adam Warren.

Yankees to retire Jeter’s #2 on 50th anniversary of Mantle’s 500th HR.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

On Mother’s Day, May 14, 1967, a Sunday, Mickey Mantle hit his 500th HR off of Baltimore’s Stu Miller at the original Yankee Stadium.

Exactly 50 years later, on another Sunday and Mother’s Day, the new Yankee Stadium across the street will see another historic event: the retirement of #2 for Derek Jeter.

With the retirement, all single digits will be retired, unless someone decides to shine in #0 or #00 or so.

You wonder if #13 (A-Rod) could be next….

Big move by Boston today, trading 4 prospects, Moncada being the top one, to the White Sox for Chris Sale.

A big deal is brewing, as the Cubs are close to trading OF Jorge Soler to KC for reliever Wade Davis. Well, now that Chapman is probably leaving….

Baseball Winter Meetings.

Yankee Stadium Frieze
No more action on the Yankees front since the signing of Matt Holliday.

They are rumored to be in discussions with Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Chapman is said to want a six-year deal, which is probably a bit much for a closer, although the Yanks did give a six-year deal to the Goose (1978-1983).

There also have been rumors of reuniting with Boone Logan for the bullpen, and of maybe going after Luis Valbuena as a utility man.

There are other relievers the Yanks are looking at also.

A couple of teams did make some moves.

Mark Melancon to SF. 4 yrs., $62MM.

Joaquin Benoit to the Phillies on a 1 yr. deal. $7.5MM

Steve Pearce to Toronto.2 yr. $12.5MM

Washington is still a rumor hotbed regarding them getting Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale or both.

 

 

 

Yankees news: Yanks add Holliday, no Hall yet for the Boss.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

There hasn’t been a report for a while because things have been relatively quiet in Yankee land.

With the winter meetings about to start, that may change soon.

The first order of business was that the Yanks signed Matt Holliday to a one-year deal worth #14 MM. Holliday will mostly DH, and will play the occasional 1B to spell Greg Bird and maybe a bit of LF too. He will be 37 next season, and is a .303 career hitter with 295 HR. Last season, in 110 games, he hit .246-20-62 for St. Louis, with an OPS+ of 107. For his career, his OPS+ is 134. A 7x All-Star, Holliday was a close runnerup to Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies for the 2007 NL MVP. Outside of 93 games for the 2009 A’s, he has spent the rest of his career in Colorado and St. Louis. He made it to three World Series, winning it in 2011.

The Yanks had interest in bringing Carlos Beltran back, but he signed with Houston for 1 year and $16MM. There was also talk of them being interested in lefty pitcher Rich Hill, but the 37 year old Hill signed a 3 year $40 MM deal with the Dodgers.

I don’t know how much interest they had in Yoennis Cespedes, who went back to the Mets for 4 years and $110 MM (too much $$ in my opinion).

Edwin Encarnacion is out there, but the Yanks probably didn’t want to go too many years and too much money with someone entering their mid-30s. Hence a one year deal with Holliday.

With the signing of Holliday, it does not appear as if the Yanks will now bring back free agent Billy Butler.

The Yanks made a couple of moves, the most important being that they basically released Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Lindgren. Both won’t pitch in 2017 due to Tommy John surgery. Lindgren was picked up by the Braves. In two seasons with the Yanks,  Eovaldi was 23-11, 4.45, ERA+94. Lindgren, a top draft pick a few years ago, got in seven games, seven innings, for the 2015 Yankees, going 0-0, 5.14.

Executive John Schuerholz and ex-MLB C0mmissioner Bud Selig were selected to the Hall of Fame by a committee yesterday. Among those not getting in were George Steinbrenner and Lou Piniella (for Lou’s managing).

More when things happen. Meanwhile is PSU alum is happy about the Nittany Lions winning the Big 10 Title and going to the Rose Bowl.

 

Ralph Branca dies at 90.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The scene, on grainy black and white, is still poignant 65 years later. Bobby Thomson hits a 3-run HR to win the pennant for the NY Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 3, 1951. The Giants were 13 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in mid-August. The Giants would go on to lose the World Series to a Yankees team that for that one year, featured Joe DiMaggio AND Mickey Mantle.

65 years later, you still hear Russ Hodges’ call of that home run by heart.

The pitcher who gave up that home run, Ralph Branca, died yesterday at the age of 90. The announcement was made by his son-in-law, ex-major league player and manager, Bobby Valentine.

For 65 years, Branca carried that HR with him. But he carried it with great dignity. Often, he and Thomson would tour or appear together, and they became great friends.

When I think of that, I think of Donnie Moore, who by contrast, never got over the HR he gave up in the 1986 ALCS that helped cost the Angels a WS berth, and who killed his wife and himself three years later.

Branca showed true class, dignity and sportsmanship, even when it came out in 2001 that the Giants were stealing pitches and that Thomson may have known what pitch was coming.

The Polo Grounds was shaped like a bathtub. Short down the lines (way under 300 feet) and deep (over 440) to the power alleys. Thomson’s HR barely cleared the 16′ high wall at the 315 mark. If it were hit in Fenway Park today, it most likely would be a single off the scoreboard, not even a double with the short wall.

Branca was more than that one pitch. He was only 18 when he made his major league debut in 1944—a year where the majors were devastated by players having to be in the service due to WWII; a year when the St. Louis Browns—the BROWNS—won their only pennant.

At the age of 21 in 1947, Branca won 21 games. There was no CYA then, since Cy Young wouldn’t die until 1955. Branca was an All-Star and finished 11th in the MVP voting.

More importantly, he befriended Jackie Robinson, who that year, as he was breaking the color barrier, was being ostracized by many, including his own teammates.

The movie “42”, about that year of Robinson’s life, portrays Branca very well.

Branca started Game 1 of the WS against the Yanks in 1947, pitching four scoreless innings before the Yanks tagged him for 5 runs in the fifth for a 5-3 win. Branca pitched a couple of innings in relief in Game 3, and got the win in Game 6, pitching a couple of innings in relief in the “Al Gionfriddo” game.

A 3x All-Star, Branca finished 21st in the MVP voting in 1948. He started, and lost, Game 3 of the 1949 Series to the Yanks, giving up just 1 run for 8 innings before tiring and giving up 3 in the top of the ninth. The Dodgers scored two in the bottom half of the ninth but lost 4-3.

Branca was 1-2, 6.35 in four WS games.

He pitched for the Dodgers from 1944-1953, then was with the Tigers 1953-1954, Yankees (5 games, 3 starts, 1-0, 2.84) 1954, was out of the majors in 1955—ironically the only year Brooklyn won the WS—and got in one more game, fittingly with the Dodgers, on September 7, 1956.

His MLB career was over before he turned 31.

He then helped with BAT, an assistance program for ex-players.

He went 88-68, 3.79 in his MLB career, ERA+ 105. His average year would have been 25 starts, 18 relief appearances, and 12-9, 3.79.  As a hitter, he hit .142 with 2 HR.

He and Thomson are both gone,as are most of the players from that game (Willie Mays, 85, was the on deck batter when Thomson homered).

That moment, however, will live forever.