Since I’ve been out on disability for a while, I was able to watch the Boone/Cashman press conference yesterday. Here are a few takes from it. Since everything revolves around Aaron Judge, they would like a deal sooner rather than later. Nothing would be as bad as being scorned and then having no backups to fall back on. Cashman denied any friction with Judge from this spring’s negotiations. Neither thinks a drastic retool is necessary. They think the Yankees would have been far more competitive in the ALCS vs. Houston if LeMahieu, Benintendi and Carpenter were healthy. I can agree there. Judging by their comments about Benintendi’s and Carpenter’s injuries, it appears that they will be reaching out to both of them to see if they can get both back. One thing that concerned me was their defense of Josh Donaldson. Now if anyone were on the trading block, neither Boone nor Cashman would be tipping their hand on that. But to state that Donaldson, 37 next month, underachieved offensively but still has something in the tank goes against everything we saw this year. He looked cooked. But with Donaldson’s contract being horrible, I guess they have to hope. They did think Donaldson deserved to be among the three Gold Glove finalists at 3B, though. SS appears to be a competition next spring training. IKF could still be there but will be pushed by Peraza and possibly Volpe. Oswaldo Cabrera figures in here too. Peraza was described as impressive in his short 18 game stint at the end of the season. Other terms used for him was that he needed to improve and develop last year (done) hence not an earlier callup. Jack Curry, on the YES network, mentioned that IKF was a polarizing figure to the Yankees fanbase much as Sanchez was. Boone and Cashman were defending IKF at the presser, stating that IKF (as a bridge) did everything that was expected from him. They would like Anthony Rizzo back. Rizzo will opt out of his $16MM deal, but the question is will he accept a qualifying offer of $19.65MM or go for more? Or accept more years at less than the qualifying offer? (2 yr/$18MM per). But the Yanks hope to work something out with him. To no surprise, the Yanks WILL pick up Severino’s $15MM team option. One more rotation piece could be in play. It could be retaining Taillon (a free agent) or going elsewhere. After the front three of Cole, Cortes and Severino, there still is Schmidt, Montas and German even if Taillon goes, but you know what they say…. you NEVER have enough pitching. The feeling is that Stanton was playing through something at the end of the year. I feel the same way. His batting average after June 1 was Gallo-like. Cashman’s contract actually expired October 1. He wants to return, and Hal wants him back, so it is like Cashman is working pro bono as of now. But you figure something will be worked out soon there. I wrote down notes haphazardly while the conferences were going on, but there is a quick synopsis for you. UPDATE: One thing I didn’t like: From the NY Post: In other bits of info from Cashman’s press conference, he said he wouldn’t discuss trading players but noted that outfielder would be back and that the team felt he still had something to offer. Really? Ugh. But then, if he is on the market, they don’t want to say anything hurting Hicks’ trade value (which is probably low enough already). Aaron Hicks Other things I came across: A sad state of affairs. Graig Nettles states that the Yanks stopped inviting him to Old-Timer’s games and events some five years ago and he doesn’t know why. It’s a shame. Nettles should have a plaque in Monument Park (#9 is already retired for Roger Maris and I don’t think Nettles deserves that honor, but a plaque? Definitely). Apparently, someone in the front office has it in for Nettles, but who? One tweet on Twitter accuses the Yanks of being more of a corporation than anything else, including a baseball organization. Looking at how they have the YES network, are involved with an Italian soccer team, have the Pinstripe Bowl, were in negotiations to play regular season games in France (and remember they played in England recently, also Japan) I have to wonder if that person is correct, and if so, that could be a scary thing. After all, I remember the CBS years, where the Yanks were not the priority of a corporation, but just part of it. You would like it to be 100% baseball. Does this explain the fan base’s exasperation with the owner and the front office? Or some of the postseason failures of recent times? After all, Hal is more corporate than the old man was as far as divesting his interests (or so it appears). And the last time the Yanks won, or even went to the WS, the old man was still alive (although much diminished in capacity). Hal’s track record does seem more corporate and bottom line than baseball oriented, and is that a problem and a cause of the postseason disappointments? Finally, another Japanese player few have heard of to keep an eye on. Yesterday I mentioned RHP Koudai Senga. Now, Masataka Yoshida. If the Yanks are not able to bring back Benintendi, Yoshida has many of the same skill sets as Benintendi. He is a lefty hitter. He turns 30 next July. He hit .336 with 21 HR and 89 RBI in Japan this season. His power would probably drop in the USA but then again, Benintendi only had five HR this season. Like Benintendi, a contact hitter. Benintendi had 52 walks and 77 strikeouts while hitting .304. Yoshida had 82 walks and only 42 strikeouts. Yoshida has hit .326 in Japan and has 427 walks to 307 strikeouts. He has had four seasons of 20 or more HR (which would be what here? 12-15?). If you take Yoshida’s career stats in Japan and divide by five, his average season in Japan comes out to something like .326-27-95 over 156 games. Taking into account the tougher MLB competition, could he hit .280-15-70 here? Be Benintendi-like for a cheaper price? Be a backup consideration if the Yanks can’t sign Benintendi? Just throwing his name out here because until recently, I hadn’t heard of Yoshida (or Senga) either. But most of us haven’t heard of these Japanese stars who could be MLB-bound. So just passing his name out there and informing you (and me).
Posted in Managers and Coaches, Media, Mike's Musings, Offseason Moves, Players, The Front Office, The Owner
Tagged Benintendi, Boone, Cabrera, Cashman, Donaldson, Hicks, Judge, Kiner-Falefa, Nettles, Peraza, Rizzo, Severino, Stanton, Steinbrenner, Volpe, Yoshida
The Yankees played 11 games vs. Houston this year. They won two, both in walk off fashion, and none in Houston. It was apparent Houston had the Yanks’ number. They Yanks hardly led at all in all 11 games. That carried over to the ALCS, in which the Astros swept the Yanks out of, winning Game 4 6-5. I didn’t think the Yanks would beat Houston, although I was hoping. You have to separate your head from your heart. You think with your brain, not with your heart. But I didn’t think they would get swept. Ouch. And what REALLY hurts? Of that 2-9 record (including the ALCS) this year, 4 of the losses were by 1 run, and another 3 by 2 runs. As if losing itself didn’t hurt, that was just twisting the knife. It marked the fifth straight time the Yanks lost in the ALCS since last going to (and winning) the WS in 2009 (2010, 2012, 2017, 2019, 2022). The last three ALCS losses were all to the Astros. There needs to be change, from the top down, within the Yankees’ organization. Otherwise, it’ll be the same old same old next year too. They have to break this pattern in order to advance further. Many are calling for Derek Jeter to be the new GM and Don Mattingly to be his manager. Although I love both Yankees legends, and that would be the popular move, let’s step back and take a look at that. First off, with Jeter as CEO and Mattingly manager of the Marlins, the Marlins didn’t exactly do well, did they? Granted they didn’t have the talent or financial resources the Yankees do, but you didn’t even see year to year gradual improvement, did you? Here are the win totals, not counting 2020 (the 60 game Covid season) under Mattingly. 79-77-63-57-67-69. I would be more interested if they were on a gradual uphill climb, like 60-65-73-77-85 something like that. You didn’t see that. When Donnie managed the talented and much more financially stable Dodgers, he was ok (82-86-92-94-92), but he couldn’t get them in to the WS. His overall winning percentage, Dodgers and Marlins, is under .500. And as for Jeter, do you really think he would take a position (GM) in which he could be fired? Jeter doesn’t want to work for a boss, he wants to BE the boss. CEO or owner. If he was going to come back to the Yankees, it would be as an adviser, not GM. Much like Reggie Jackson was. Oh yeah, guess who Reggie is advising now. Ugh. The Astros. The Astros are now unbeaten (7-0) in the postseason. They will face the Phillies in the WS. The Phils got lucky and hot. As the #6 seed in the NL, they never would have made the playoffs before this year. But with MLB changing the playoff structure, they snuck in and got hot at the right time. Dave Dombrowski, the Phillies’ President of Baseball Operations, is going to the HOF one day. This is the fourth team he has run that is going to the WS. Their manager, Rob Thomson, hitting coach Kevin Long and reliever David Robertson were all part of the last Yankees team to win a WS back in 2009. The game started out good for the Yanks. They scored twice in the bottom of the first. Harrison Bader singled, and with one out, Anthony Rizzo was HBP. Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres followed with singles and the Yanks were up 2-0. In the bottom of the second, the Yanks made it 3-0. Isiah Kiner-Falefa (IF) led off with a double, and two outs later, Aaron Judge walked. A double by Rizzo plated IKF. But Nestor Cortes, who pitched two scoreless innings, was pitching through a groin injury that caught up to him in the third inning. Two walks and a 3-run HR to start the inning, and Cortes was removed. Wandy Peralta relieved Cortes, and Houston got another run off him. 4-3. The Yanks tied it in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Bader singled, and with two out, moved to second on a passed ball. Rizzo singled to tie the game at four. Bader, who had an incredible postseason, hit his FIFTH HR of the postseason to put the Yanks up 5-4 in the sixth. But with one out in the seventh, it came undone. Jose Altuve got an infield hit, just beating Yankees’ pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga to first on a bang-bang play. Then came a ball that should have been a DP, but the exchange, Torres to IKF, went awry and everyone was safe. The error was charged to Torres, but I think IKF should have at least caught the ball for a force. Whatever, both at fault. Two consecutive singles, off Loaisiga and then Clay Holmes, followed to tie the game and then to give Houston the lead, which they held on to. The Yanks hit .182 vs. Cleveland in the ALDS. They hit .162 in the ALCS vs. Houston. .173 for the postseason. Aaron Judge, the face of the Yanks, will get criticized (5 for 36, 2 HR, 15 K) but it wasn’t only him (And Judge, although he won’t admit it, was probably gassed from carrying the team the last two months and from the HR chase to 62). Some other numbers: Jose Trevino was 1 for 22 in the postseason. 6 K. Kyle Higashioka 0 for 6, 5 K. So, neither catcher did anything. Oswaldo Cabrera 2 for 28, with 12 K. Benintendi missed. Tough postseason for the rookie. Stanton 6 for 36, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 9 K. Torres 6 for 34, 10 K. Josh Donaldson 5 for 29, 16 K. No LeMahieu. Matt Carpenter 1 for 12, 9 K. The only bright spots: Bader,10 for 30 with 5 HR. Rizzo 8 for 29, 2 HR. Kiner-Falefa was 5 for 18, but the shaky fielding… Game 4 recap: Bader 3 hits, solo HR Rizzo 2 hits, 2 RBI Torres 2 hits, RBI but critical error Cortes 2+ IP, 3 R, 2 H, 3 W, 2 K. Gave up 1 HR. Peralta 2 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 W, 1 K. Loaisiga (LOSS) 2 1/3 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 W, 1 K. Holmes 2 2/3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 W, 2 K. Waiting for changes. Hoping they are MASSIVE Changes, from the top down.
Posted in Mike's Musings, Players, Postseason, The Front Office
Tagged Bader, Cabrera, Carpenter, Cortes, Dombrowski, Donaldson, Higashioka, Holmes, Jeter, Judge, Kiner-Falefa, Loaisiga, Mattingly, Peralta, Rizzo, Stanton, Torres, Trevino
Before the ALCS began, a couple of moves. Off the roster are Hicks (injured, done for year), Luetge and Gonzalez. On go Peraza, Montas and Weissert. For those wanting Giancarlo Stanton in the OF and Matt Carpenter DH-ing, they got their wish. But you know the old saying. Be careful what you wish for. Carpenter’s story is a nice one. He fought to come back from a fractured foot. But it is clear he should not be on the roster (although, to be fair, with injuries to Hicks, Benintendi and LeMahieu, who could they put on?). He’s 0 for 6 in the postseason, all strikeouts. He’s 36 years old. He was 0 for 4 last night. All strikeouts. Another 36-year-old, Josh Donaldson, also disappointed, going 0 for 3 last night with a walk in the Yankees’ 4-2 loss to Houston. The few chances the Yanks had came down to Donaldson and/or Carpenter needing to come up with a big hit. They didn’t even put the ball in play. I was not a fan of getting Donaldson, who is 37 soon and who earns almost $22MM a season. I didn’t want to let Gio Urshela, who is six years younger than Donaldson, go. Urshela hit .285-13-64 this year, OPS+ 121. He cost $6.55MM. Donaldson showed serious signs of slippage due to age. He hit .222-15-62, OPS+ 94. Donaldson’s defensive metrics seem to have been much better than Urshela’s, though. You’d have to weigh the cost, and the decline of Donaldson’s offense against the better defense he supposedly provided. But the way Donaldson has declined, you have to worry about 2023 and even 2024. He has a $21.75MM deal for 2023 with up to $550K award bonus available. There is a team option of $16MM for 2024 (I can’t see that being picked up) with a $8MM buyout option that may increase to $12MM based on 2023 awards. So, it looks like the Yanks are stuck with him for 2023 and will have to cough up a lot of money via a buyout to be rid of him in 2024. Terrible contract the Yanks took on. Anyway, it’s apparent that Donaldson should not be hitting fifth. Nor should Carpenter be in the lineup. But what are the solutions? Let me get into the game recap and I will try to find one. The same old, same old. For those sick of losing to Tom Brady (45 years old) year after year and want him to go home to his money and supermodel wife (or ex-wife? Marital issues), we feel the same about 39-year-old Justin Verlander, who apparently wants to pitch until he is 45. Take your money and go home to your beautiful supermodel wife. We are tired of losing to you. Ugh. 2006, 2011, 2012 (those years with Tigers), 2017, 2019 and maybe 2022? The Yanks have to find a way to beat this guy. He is 5-1, 2.62 vs. the Yanks in the postseason. Just kidding about the go home already regarding Brady and Verlander, but you get the drift. You get tired of losing to them. Although, truth be told, a lot of people have been tired of losing to the Yankees since 1921. Verlander is a future first ballot Hall-of-Famer. The history on pitchers like that is to get them early or you won’t get them at all. That is what happened last night. Top 1st: Donaldson struck out with 2 men on base to end the inning. Bottom 1st: Judge saves two runs with a diving catch. Top 2nd. Bader homers (again!) to put Yanks up 1-0. I would move the red-hot Bader up to first in the lineup and drop Torres to fifth, which enables me to drop Donaldson down. Bottom 2nd. Taillon is one strike away from getting out of the inning when he gives up a game-tying double. Taillon did all we could ask for. 4 1/3 innings, only one run. He struggled but kept the Yanks in the game. Top 3rd. With runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, both Donaldson and Carpenter struck out. This was the ballgame right there. They left Verlander off the hook and he then settled in. A big hit by Donaldson in the first or either Donaldson or Carpenter here and you have Verlander on the ropes. Instead, he became unhittable. The Yanks got only 5 hits in the game and struck out 17 times. Once again this postseason, the runs came on homers and the Yanks did not string hits together. Bottom 4. Stanton makes a great play in LF to rob a batter of a double. Bottom 5. Schmidt in for Taillon after a one-out double. An intentional walk and another walk load the bases, but Schmidt gets a DP to get out of it. BUT … Bottom 6. Schmidt gives up 2 HR and Houston goes up 3-1. Bottom 7. Frankie Montas comes in. Montas?! Ugh. And he gives up a HR. 4-1, Houston. Anthony Rizzo homered for the Yanks in the top of the 8th to make it 4-2 but that was it. Jose Trevino looks like he ran out of gas around Labor Day. Great first half, but he hit .177 in September/October and is now 1 for 15 in the postseason. Most losses to the Astros are just like this. Pitching OK but not good enough. Bats silent. We have seen this in the 2015 wild card game (a 3-0 loss), the 2017 ALCS (losses of 2-1, 2-1 and 4-0) and the 2019 ALCS (3-2 in 11 innings, 4-1). Between losing to Verlander and losing to Houston in a close game, same old script. Severino starts for the Yanks tonight in Game 2. It’s time to flip the script. Rizzo solo HR Stanton 2 hits Bader solo HR. Taillon 4 1/3 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 3 W, 0 K. Schmidt (LOSS) 1 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 2 W, 0 K. Gave up 2 HR. Trivino 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K. Montas 1 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K. Gave up 1 HR. Castro 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K. One last thing. Some players have physical gifts, but you question their mental acumen. Those Yankees’ teams of the late 1990’s had players who were not only gifted physically, but also mentally. Pettitte, Jeter, Rivera, O’Neill, Tino, etc. You usually didn’t see them do anything mentally wrong or boneheaded. The same can’t be said for some players today. The Yanks need some more players with the mental toughness of those past players. Just saying. San Diego came back from an early 4-0 hole to even up the NLCS at a game apiece with an 8-5 win over the Phillies.
Posted in Mike's Musings, Players, Postseason
Tagged Bader, Carpenter, Castro, Donaldson, Gonzalez, Hicks, Judge, Luetge, Montas, Peraza, Rizzo, Schmidt, Severino, Stanton, Taillon, Trevino, Trivino, Weissert
For the fifth time since they last went to the World Series in 2009 (2010, 2012, 2017, 2019 and now 2022), the Yankees are in the ALCS. For the third time in six years, their opponent will be the Houston Astros (the Yanks lost to Texas in 2010 and lost to Detroit in 2012. 2012 was when Jeter broke his ankle).
Of course, Yankees fans are hoping for a different outcome this time around. There won’t be any rest after beating Cleveland 5-1 in Game 5 of the ALDS yesterday. Game 1 of the ALCS is in Houston tonight. Not only that, but the only off-day in the ALCS is between Game 2 and 3. There isn’t one between Game 5 and 6 (if it gets that far). We’ll get into that in a bit. The Yankees are 28-2 in games in which both Aaron Judge and Gaincarlo Stanton homer. That includes yesterday’s game. The Yanks jumped out right away to a 3-0 lead, putting the pressure on the Guardians right away and getting the crowd right into the game. Gleyber Torres led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, and after Judge struck out, Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch. Stanton then hit a 3-run HR. Judge homered in the second to make it 4-0. Say what you will, since Judge was 4 for 20 in the series with 2 HR and a ton of strikeouts, but he has homered in four separate do-or-die postseason games. Nasty Nestor Cortes was fabulous on 3 days’ rest. He went five innings, giving up only one run, and Cleveland should not have received that. I don’t know what it was in this series with Cleveland hitting balls into short LF that the LF, 3B or SS couldn’t catch. With one out and a man on first in the top of the third, Steven Kwan (yes, him again) hit a ball to short LF that Oswaldo Cabrera, Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks all converged on, with Cabrera calling for it. Cabrera collided with Hicks and the ball fell in for a single. Hicks had to be removed from the game with an injury that ends his season. We will have to see who replaces him on the postseason roster. Candidates are Oswald Peraza (since the Yanks benched SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa for Games 4 and 5), D.J. LeMahieu and Andrew Benintendi. Another candidate for the ALCS roster is Ron Marinaccio, who declared his sore shin ok to go. Anyway, a walk loaded the bases after Kwan’s single, and a SF cut the Yanks’ lead to 4-1 before Cortes got out of the inning. The Yanks scored the final run of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Torres walked and stole second. Judge struck out, but Rizzo singled to make it 5-1. Judge 2 hits, solo HR. Stanton 3-run HR. Cortes (WIN) 5 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 W, 2 K. Loaisiga 2 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 0 W, 2 K. Holmes 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K. Peralta 1 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 W, 1 K. Pitched in all five ALDS games. The LCS will have a pitching problem for the Yanks. Down 2 games to 1 in the ALDS, the Yanks had to use their two best pitchers, Cole and Cortes, in Games 4 and 5 in order to advance, so Cole and Cortes won’t be available until Games 3 and 4. Jameson Taillon starts Game 1 tonight. He and Luis Severino are going to have to step up big-time. Here is how I see the rotation for the ALCS shaking out. Game 1, Oct. 19 (tonight) Taillon (hasn’t pitched much recently) Game 2 Oct 20 Severino OCT 21 OFF DAY Game 3 Oct 22 Cole (five days rest) Game 4 Oct 23 Cortes Game 5 Oct 24 if necessary Taillon Game 6 Oct 25 if necessary Severino Game 7 Oct 26 if necessary, Cole on three days’ rest. Could Cortes give an inning or two on 2-days rest? For the first time in MLB history, an LDS and LCS game were played on the same day. Shortly after the Yanks and Cleveland wrapped up an LDS, the Phillies and Padres opened the NLCS with the Phillies winning Game 1 2-0 behind HR by Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber. There were only four hits in the game. 3 by the Phillies and only one by the Padres.
Posted in Mike's Musings, Players, Postseason
Tagged Benintendi, Cortes, Hicks, Holmes, Judge, LeMahieu, Loaisiga, Marinaccio, Peralta, Peraza, Severino, Stanton, Taillon
The Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to a 9 year, $324MM deal for this reason. To be their ace. To be the guy who wins two games in a best-of-five postseason series. To be the guy winning a do-or-die game for them. It didn’t work out that way last year, when Cole lost the one-game wild card game in Boston. Last night was a different story. Cole pitched seven gutsy innings in a 4-2 Yankees win to tie the series up and send it back to the Bronx for a deciding Game 5 tonight. He had also won Game 1 of this series. Manager Aaron Boone made a lineup change before the game, moving Oswaldo Cabrera to SS and benching Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Aaron Hicks went to LF. You wonder if maybe Oswald Peraza should have been placed on the postseason roster. If the Yanks win tonight to face Houston in the ALCS, maybe that is something they should consider—putting Peraza on for the ALCS. It’s amazing some things you see on social media. Like people wanting Giancarlo Stanton in LF so that Matt Carpenter could DH. Stanton missed time a couple of months ago with an Achilles issue. There is no way you put him out there with what could still be an Achilles issue. What if he tried to catch a ball, needed that extra burst of speed and tore that Achilles? The Yanks jumped on Cleveland right away, a big plus in a do or die game. Gleyber Torres singled leading off the game and stole second while Aaron Judge struck out. Anthony Rizzo singled Torres home. 1-0. In the top of the second, Josh Donaldson singled and one out later, Harrison Bader hit a two-run HR to put the Yankees up 3-0. It was Bader’s third HR of the series. Cleveland nicked Cole in the bottom of the third for a run, but a baserunning blunder led to the third out and kept them from a bigger inning. Josh Naylor hit a HR for Cleveland in the fourth to cut the Yankees’ lead to 3-2 and in circling the bases, did an infantile “rock the baby” hot-dogging move. Ridiculous. The Yanks got an insurance run in the top of the sixth. Judge led off with an infield single, and Rizzo doubled him to third. Stanton hit a SF to bring the run in. Jameson Taillon will start for the Yanks tonight. Nestor Cortes could come out of the bullpen to face a tough lefty or give an inning or two. Rizzo 2 hits, RBI Bader 2-run HR. Cole (WIN) 7 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 1 W, 8 K. Gave up 1 HR. Holmes (H) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 2 K. Peralta (S) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K. A couple notes. Just my opinions. Some people would like Yankees legend Don Mattingly to replace Aaron Boone as manager. If the Yanks were going to make a move, my choice would be John Flaherty. Here is why. Flaherty, by covering the Yankees on the YES network, sees them every day. He is well acquainted with the current team already. He is a former catcher, so he has experience in handling a pitching staff. I wish the Yanks had David Cone as the pitching coach and Paul O’Neill as hitting coach instead of being in the broadcast booth. Sometimes it seems as if their TV ratings are more important than having the right coaches. (No offense to who they do have). But why that expertise in the booth and not on the field or in the dugout? Anyway, no way would Cone or O’Neill give up their nice cushy job right now. But it would be nice if they were coaches, wouldn’t it? I don’t like the new playoff format. I think it has watered down the playoffs and made the work of a 162-game season less relevant. The bye hurt the teams that did well over 162 games when it was meant to help them. Baseball is a DAILY sport. Yes, I feel that the best record in the league should be rewarded. But here is how I would do it. Scrap the current format. What I propose won’t happen because it will eliminate a round and therefore cost the owners money. But … First round. The three division winners and the second-place team with the best record as the wild card. Four teams, not six. Now keep that division series best-of-five. But the wild card team gets NO HOME GAMES. To reward the best team in the league over 162 games, they get all the games at home. The wild card gets punished for not winning their division. The other series between the other two division winners stays at the 2-2-1 format, with the better record getting the home field advantage. The LCS stays as it is. 2-3-2. Better record gets home field advantage. Same for the World Series. Just a thought.
Posted in Managers and Coaches, Mike's Musings, Players, Postseason
Tagged Bader, Boone, Cabrera, Cole, Cone, Cortes, Flaherty, Hicks, Holmes, Kiner-Falefa, Mattingly, O'Neill, Peralta, Peraza, Rizzo, Stanton, Taillon
I have a couple of different theories to go over, but bear with me, read, and see if you agree, while we go over yesterday’s 4-2, 10-inning Yankees loss to Cleveland in Game 2 of the ALDS. The series is now tied at a game apiece. The first is that baseball messed up. The byes were supposed to HELP the teams with the best records in the league. Only, except for Houston (up 2-0 on Seattle), they seen to have hurt. The defending WS Champ Braves are down 2-1 to the Phillies. The 111-win Dodgers are down 2-1 to the Padres. The Yanks are even against Cleveland. Baseball isn’t a two or three times a week sport like hockey or basketball are. It isn’t a once-a-week sport like football. It’s a DAILY sport, with occasional off days for travel. Playing 19 games in 21 days is normal. As a result, you develop a rhythm, a flow. The byes, with teams getting a few days off to see who they face, seem to have hurt, not help teams. They are out of that flow, that rhythm. The Dodgers are 0 for 20 or something like that w/RISP in their series. Aaron Judge (who I’ll discuss a bit more on later) is 0 for 8 with 7 strikeouts. It’s one thing to keep having batting practice to try to stay sharp, another to actually face live pitching. Relievers, used to pitching a few times a week, now are rusty after that bye. Nothing replaces game action. You can try to simulate it, but there is no replacement. As a result, these higher seeded teams are having trouble. Just my observation. Judge was booed after a strikeout. Some gratitude for a 62-homer season. These fans DO realize that Judge is a free agent after the season, don’t they? That if the Yanks lose two in a row to Cleveland that yesterday COULD be the last time you see Judge in pinstripes? Ridiculous. Besides the layoff, could the HR pressure have messed Judge up? After all, Roger Maris went 2 for 19 in the 1961 WS. Granted, one hit was a 9th-inning HR that won Game 3, but you get the point. And of course, Maris from 1962-1966 was booed for his achievement. Don’t repeat that, Yankees fans. Cleveland, and their future HOF manager, Terry Francona, must know something about Judge. Judge was 1 for 20 with 16 strikeouts against Cleveland in the 2017 ALDS–after a 52 HR season that year. But hey, you never know. Judge could snap out of it by going 5 for 7 in the next two games with a couple of walks and 2 or 3 HR. The Yanks got two runs in the first inning yesterday, but nothing thereafter. Giancarlo Stanton (who has had great postseasons) hit a 2-run HR. The HR came after what Stanton, and everyone else, thought was ball four. It was a terrible call by the ump, but Stanton hit the next pitch out. The home plate ump was terrible yesterday. Some elements of luck didn’t go the Yanks’ way. In the third, with two out and men on second and third, Josh Donaldson hit a liner that Guardians’ LF Steven Kwan made a shoestring catch on. Josh just missed driving in a run or two. In the eighth, with two out and the bases loaded, a liner by Kyle Higashioka went right to the third baseman. You hit it hard. You (usually) can’t direct. Sometimes you don’t hit it hard, but you get lucky. That is what happened for Cleveland. We’ll get to that. Nestor Cortes gave up a run in the fourth after starting the inning with two outs. It could have been worse, but with the bases loaded, Cortes made a sensational stop of a comebacker to get the final out. Cortes gave up a game-tying HR to Amed Rosario in the fifth. Manager Aaron Boone brought in Jameson Taillon for the tenth. I would have brought in Clarke Schmidt instead. Starters aren’t used to coming out of the bullpen, unless it’s say, Randy Johnson coming out of the bullpen to face the Yankees (1995 and 2001). My recollections of starters being used in relief in playoff games are that the starter fails. I am thinking Jack McDowell for the Yankees in 1995, and the Royals’ Dennis Leonard against the Yankees in 1977. Taillon ran into tough luck. A blooper into LF that Oswaldo Cabrera just missed making a sliding catch on went for a double, but Josh Donaldson’s throw to second was bad and Jose Ramirez wound up at third. With a man on third and no one out, the infield came in. A blooper over the drawn-in infield scored Ramirez. Harrison Bader appeared to misplay a hard-hit ball and a double scored an insurance run. Maybe Bader doesn’t catch it anyway, but … I didn’t understand why, with a man on and down to their final out, that Boone let Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit in the bottom of the tenth. Granted IKF had two hits in the game. Granted also that Marwin Gonzalez had a bad year, hitting just .185, but Gonzalez is a switch-hitter and could have taken aim at the short porch to tie the game. IKF is a right-handed hitter. Also, Gonzalez had 6 HR in 184 at bats. IKF had 4 HR in 483 at bats, and until mid-August didn’t have any HR. Why not roll the dice there, Boone? Anyway, there is a short recap of the game, but a lot of observations. Maybe I am accurate in my observations, maybe not. But the Yanks now need Severino and Cole to step up with masterful outings. Also, for Judge to be JUDGE. One final observation. This is not a knock on rookie Oswaldo Cabrera, who has struggled at the plate in these first two games. But Andrew Benintendi this year vs. Cleveland hit .441 (15 for 34) with a HR and 8 RBI. He is missed. The Yanks struck out 15x yesterday. Torres 2 hits. Stanton 2-ruun HR. Kiner-Falefa 2 hits. Cortes 5 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 3 W, 23 K. Gave up 1 HR. Trivino 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 2 K. Loaisiga 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K. Peralta 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K. Holmes 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 1 K. Taillon (LOSS) 0 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 0 W, 0 K. Schmidt 1 IP, 0R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Posted in Managers and Coaches, Mike's Musings, Players, Postseason
Tagged Benintendi, Boone, Cabrera, Cortes, Holmes, Judge, Kiner-Falefa, Loaisiga, Maris, Peralta, Schmidt, Stanton, Taillon, Torres, Trivino
Eerie. As Yankees’ announcer Michael Kay stated, when the game started, the Yankees’ record matched the number on the back of Aaron Judge’s jersey and the number of HR he had. 99-61. When the game ended, it also matched up. 99 and 62. The 3-2 loss to Texas in the second and night game of a day/night doubleheader was the only damper in a day that saw Judge break the AL and Yankees’ single-season HR record (and to many, me included, set the CLEAN MLB record) and also see Gerrit Cole set a new Yankees’ single-season strikeout record. Both players did it in the same inning, the first. With the division and postseason seeding already wrapped up and known, it may be one of the very few times the result of the game didn’t matter as much as the individual accomplishments, although it would have been nice to top the achievements off with a win. Judge still has an outside chance to win the Triple Crown, but it is a slim one. From MLB.com: Here is a non-exhaustive list of examples of potential outcomes that would result in Judge winning the first Triple Crown in baseball since 2012 and the 13th in AL/NL history: Judge goes 4-for-4 (.315331), (Luis) Arraez (of Twins) goes 1-for-4 (.314545) Judge goes 4-for-4 (.315331), Arraez goes 0-for-4 (.312747) Judge goes 3-for-4 (.313589), Arraez goes 0-for-4 (.312747) Judge goes 3-for-3 (.314136), Arraez goes 0-for-4 (.312747) As you can see, it’s certainly not impossible for Judge to end up on top, but it won’t come easy. Now a couple of questions come into play here. One, will Judge play at all today? After what has been an exhaustive couple of weeks after having hit #60 on September 20, will manager Aaron Boone give Judge today off? Judge appears ready to play judging (pun not intended) from his postgame remarks last night, but if he gets the day off, who is to begrudge him that after all the pressure of the last two weeks? The other consideration is that the Twins probably won’t give Arraez four at bats today, in order to protect his average. Who knows if Arraez even plays today? Given those scenarios, I don’t expect Judge to win the Triple Crown, but what a season. Somewhere, 61 years later in the great beyond, Phil Rizzuto probably screamed “Holy Cow, he did it!” Judge’s HR came on the third (3, Babe Ruth’s number) pitch of the game off of Jesus Tinoco. #99 passed #9 (Roger Maris) to become the all-time AL and Yankees’ single-season HR king. In the bottom of the first, Cole gave up a single and SB, then got a strikeout. That K, #249 of the season, broke Ron Guidry’s mark of 248 set in Guidry’s remarkable 25-3, 1.74 1978 season. Maybe the achievement affected Cole a little, maybe not, but the next batter after that K singled, and Texas had tied the game at one each. Catcher Jose Trevino saved Cole from more damage by throwing the runner out at second attempting a steal. Then after a triple, Trevino picked THAT runner off of third. In the top of the fifth, Giancarlo Stanton homered (31) to put the Yanks up 2-1. But in the bottom of the fifth, Yankees’ 3B Josh Donaldson made an error, and after a strikeout, Cole gave up a 2-run HR to Leody Taveras that put Texas up 3-2, and that turned out to be the final score. Funny but the runner on base (via Donaldson’s error) when Taveras hit the HR was a guy by the same of Sam Huff. When Maris hit his 61st HR in 1961, the NY Giants had an All-Pro linebacker by the same of Sam Huff. What goes around comes around. Today is the last day of the regular season. After today, the Yankees open their postseason with Game 1 of the ALDS on October 11 at Yankee Stadium vs. Tampa Bay or Cleveland. All the seedings are set. The best of 3 wild card has all three games at the field of the higher seed. AL : Tampa Bay (6) vs. Cleveland (3), winner plays Yankees (2) in ALDS Seattle (5) vs. Toronto (4), winner plays Houston (1) in ALDS NL: Philadelphia (6) vs. St. Louis (3), winner plays Atlanta (2) in NLDS San Diego (5) vs. NY Mets (4), winner plays LA Dodgers (1) in NLDS Judge solo HR (62) NEW AL AND YANKEES SINGLE SEASON RECORD Stanton solo HR (31) LeMahieu 2 hits Cole (L, 13-8) 6 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 H, 0 W, 9 K. 3.50 257 K IS NEW YANKEES SINGLE SEASON RECORD Schmidt 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K. 3.12
Posted in Awards, Ex-Players, Managers and Coaches, Media, Players, Postseason, Regular Season
Tagged Boone, Cole, Guidry, Judge, Kay, LeMahieu, Maris, Schmidt, Stanton, Trevino, Triple Crown
There should be no doubt that Luis Severino is the Yankees #3 starter come playoff time. Severino was marvelous last evening, pitching 7 no-hit innings as the Yankees (98-61) defeated Texas, 3-1. It was Severino’s third start since coming off the IL. As a result, his pitch count was limited to 90 (he threw 94) and therefore was pulled for safety reasons. Also, Miguel Castro was activated (Chi Chi Gonzalez DFA’d) and the Yankees do need to see if Castro should be on the postseason roster or not. Aaron Judge was 1 for 4 with an infield single. He has 2 days and 3 games left to see if he can hit #62 to set a new AL and Yankees record. You now wonder if he will do it. He has just 1 HR since September 20. His batting average is at .311, 4 points back. I doubt that he will make it up to win the Triple Crown. The Yanks have a day-night doubleheader today. If Judge doesn’t get a HR in the opener, does he play in the night game? I’m sure if he DOES HR in the opener, he will be given the night game off. Maybe even tomorrow too. The Yanks scored in the fifth inning on a leadoff single by Oswald Peraza followed by a force out by Aaron Hicks. Isiah Kiner-Falefa walked, and Kyle Higashioka singled in Hicks. The Yanks hit into six DP in the game. In the top of the eighth, Marwin Gonzalez led off the inning with a 400 ft. HR (6), before Judge struck out. Giancarlo Stanton followed with a 457 ft. HR (30) to make it 3-0. Castro came in for the eighth and got an out before losing the no-hitter and then the shutout. Stanton solo HR (30) good to see. Hopefully coming out of slump. Peraza 2 hits. .333 in limited time. Be interesting to see if on postseason roster. Higashioka 2 hits, RBI. Heating up after a bad season. Gonzalez solo HR (6) Severino (W, 7-3) 7 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 7 K. 3.18 Castro (H, 9) 1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 W, 1 K. 4.18 Just off IL. First game since mid-July. Effross (S, 4) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K. 2.54 (Cubs/NYY ERA)
Nestor Cortes’ last regular season start could not have gone much better. The best Yankees’ starter this season (sorry, Gerrit Cole) pitched 7 1/3 one-hit, shutout baseball as the Yankees defeated Baltimore 8-0 Saturday afternoon. Cortes was dominating, striking out 12. Cortes ends his season 12-4, with a superb 2.44 ERA. Aaron Judge went 0 for 2, with 2 walks and a HBP as we still wait and see if he can get #62 to set a new AL and Yankees record. He has a couple of things working against him. For one, the weather forecast is not good for Sunday. Should the Yankees be rained out on Sunday, the game, meaningless in the standings, would not be made up. So, Judge has one less game in order to hit #62. The Yankees next four games are on the road in Texas. One game Monday, a doubleheader Tuesday and the regular season finale on Wednesday. There may be a window to play today, but the game may be delayed for a very long time until that window arrives. There appears to be only a one-hour rainless window around 2 pm today, and a window from about 7 to 10 pm. That’s it, and with the Yankees needing to travel to Texas, it does not look good for a game today. Do they really sit in a clubhouse (and make the fans wait) six hours to start the game at 7 PM when they have to travel to Texas for a game tomorrow? For a game that means nothing in the standings, but only for one player. I don’t think so. Also, you can’t hit a HR if every pitch is 2 inches off the ground and 4 inches outside. Since hitting #60, Judge is 7 for 27, with that 61st HR, but SEVENTEEN walks and the HBP. Yesterday, as mentioned above, Judge was 0 for 2, both strikeouts, with a HBP and 2 walks. His batting average is at .313, two points below Luis Arraez of the Twins .315 as Judge also attempts to win the Triple Crown. It appears to be a two-man race for the batting title. Xander Bogaerts of Boston has dropped to .305. The Yanks got on the board quickly yesterday scoring 3 runs in the first inning. Judge was HBP but forced out at second by Anthony Rizzo. Gleyber Torres doubled in Rizzo and went to third on the throw home. Josh Donaldson hit a SF to make it 2-0, then Giancarlo Stanton smashed a 447-ft. HR (29) to make it 3-0. For the badly slumping Stanton, who was hitting .156 since June 1, he needed that badly. Kyle Higashioka homered for the Yanks in the bottom of the second (9) to make it 4-0. In the seventh, Judge walked to lead off the inning, with the pitcher, who appeared to be avoiding Judge, drawing a great deal of derision. The Yanks made him pay for that. Rizzo singled Judge to second. Torres singled in a run to make it 5-0, both runners moving up on the throw. Donaldson singled in both runners to make it 7-0, and he moved up on the throw. Two outs later, Harrison Bader doubled to close out the scoring at 8-0. Rizzo 2 hits Torres 2 hits, 2 RBI Donaldson 2 for 2, walk, 2 RBI. Stanton 2 hits, RBI. Solo HR (29) Bader 2 hits, RBI Higashioka 3 hits, RBI. Solo HR (9) Cortes (W, 12-4) 7 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 W, 12 K. 2.44 Barnes 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 W, 2 K. 5.64 (Det/NYY) Before the game Jacob Barnes up from SWB. Zack Britton to IL. If there is a game today, Chi Chi Gonzalez is supposed to start. No word as far as a corresponding move to get Gonzalez on the roster. Luis Severino is to go on Monday. Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon will go in Tuesday’s doubleheader, and Domingo German closes out the regular season on Wednesday. The Yanks would then be off for six days, with Game 1 of the ALDS being at Yankee Stadium on October 11. Opponent to be determined. Game 2 would be after another off day on October 13. Then another off day. Game 3, October 15. Games 4 and 5 October 16 and 17 if necessary. The Yankees would only need 3 starters for this series. Most likely Cole, Cortes and Severino. With the off days, the Game 1 starter could come back for Game 4, and the Game 2 starter for Game 5, but the Game 2 starter would be doing so on 3 days’ rest. Severino would probably go Game 3. But who goes in Game 1 and who in Game 2 between Cole and Cortes? I think Cole would be better on his regular rest, so he lines up for 1 and 4. I think Cortes can adapt better to go on three days’ rest, so I’d have him Game 2. Taillon and German for middle relief if needed.
Posted in In-Season Moves, Players, Regular Season
Tagged Bader, Barnes, Britton, Cole, Cortes, Donaldson, German, Gonzalez, Higashioka, Judge, Rizzo, Severino, Stanton, Taillon, Torres
Aaron Judge will have to wait for HR #62, going 1 for 2 with a pair of walks in the Yankees’ (96-60) 2-1 loss to Baltimore Friday night. Judge is at .314, about 7/10th of a point behind Minnesota’s Luis Arraez (.315) as Judge also goes for a Triple Crown. A couple of mistakes, lack of control, no run support and a lot of rust hurt the Yanks in the loss. In the first inning, Baltimore scored on a walk, a SB, a throwing error on Jose Trevino on the SB that allowed Cedric Mullins of Baltimore to go to third, and an RBI single. I thought Gleyber Torres should have caught or at least knocked down Trevino’s throw, but it is what it is. The Yanks only got four hits in the game, struck out 13x, and their only run came on a HR by Oswaldo Cabrera (5) in the bottom of the fifth. No way does Cabrera not make the postseason roster. Even if D.J. LeMahieu, Andrew Benintendi or Matt Carpenter do get over their injuries and make it. As for someone else, I’ll get to that in a bit. Domingo German was the tough luck loser in this game, having pitched well, but getting no run support save for Cabrera’s HR. In the top of the sixth, German walked the first two hitters before getting a groundout that moved the runners up. He was then relieved by Zack Britton. Britton is just coming off of TJ surgery and it is said that control is the last thing to return. Britton walked a batter before throwing a WP that enabled the deciding run in the game to score. He was then removed with a tired arm. Nice try in coming back and hoping to make the postseason roster. It is obvious that Britton isn’t ready yet. It will be interesting to see if Matt Carpenter, now taking batting practice, can get a couple of games in before the postseason, and if he can make the postseason roster, because if Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t Giancarlo Stanton, and making over $30MM a year, then based on performance alone, Stanton should NOT be on the postseason roster. Stanton is hitting .140 since coming off the IL, and .156 since June 1. If the Yanks had guts (and it would be a highly controversial move), if Carpenter is ok, they put Carpenter on the postseason roster and DH him and leave Stanton off of it. It won’t happen, though. But the Yanks are racing against the clock to get Stanton straightened out. I fear Stanton will kill the Yanks in the playoffs. He’s been THAT awful. Gallo-like awful. If Stanton is on the postseason roster, as expected, then PLEASE Aaron Boone, drop him in the lineup. To Seventh. Maybe even Eighth like Joe Torre did with A-Rod in 2006. You can’t just keep putting him 4 or 5. But then, Boone had Gallo hitting cleanup in last year’s wildcard game loss at Boston. Sigh. Don’t make the same mistake, Boonie. LeMahieu came off the IL for the game. Locastro taken off the roster. LeMahieu went 0 for 3 and we will see if D.J. is good enough to be on the postseason roster or not. Soon, we see about Benintendi, too. Feelings be damned. If someone isn’t ready or deserves to be on the postseason roster, then leave him off. You can’t mess around come playoff time. Today’s game may be delayed or postponed. The weather forecast calls for rain in NYC. Cabrera 2 hits, solo HR (5) German (L, 2-4) 5 1/3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 3 W, 6 K. 3.31 Tough loss. Britton 0 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 0 K. 1 WP. 13.50 Rusty. Not ready. Go home and heal up more. Marinaccio 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 2 W, 3 K. 2.09 Chapman 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 0 K. 4.11 Effross 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 W, 2 K. 2.59 (Cubs/NYY) Boone also revealed postgame that right-handed reliever Clay Holmes received a cortisone injection for inflammation in his right rotator cuff and likely won’t pitch again until the American League Division Series starts Oct. 11. We will have to see how he is. Meanwhile, Wandy Peralta should be off the IL by then, and Miguel Castro and Albert Abreu have finished rehab. The Yanks will have a LOT of interesting decisions to make regarding the postseason roster.
Posted in In-Season Moves, Managers and Coaches, Mike's Musings, Players, Postseason, Regular Season
Tagged Abreu, Benintendi, Boone, Britton, Cabrera, Carpenter, Castro, Chapman, Effross, German, Holmes, Judge, LeMahieu, Locastro, Marinaccio, Peralta, Stanton