Yankees

Split Decision

Considering how the series started, escaping Boston with a split of the series seems a victory. Granted, expectations are low, before yesterday/today the Yankees had gone over a month since they last won consecutive games.

To me the biggest takeaway from this series is the quality of the starting pitching. Montgomery bended, but did not break. Severino was great. Ditto that for Sabathia and Tanaka. If they can collectively keep doing that, the Yankees will be a force in the second half, no matter who the fifth starter is.

And while Tanaka lost tonight, you can’t emphasize enough how big that start was. 7-2/3rd innings was exactly what a depleted bullpen needed. With tomorrow’s starter still TBD! the Yankees are going to need a full bullpen, and they should have close to that when they land in Minnesota.

2-2 coming out of Boston and seven games left on the road trip. This week will determine a lot.

Ugh

That’s all I have to say about that.

Pineda’s Done

Michael Pineda has a partial UCL tear and is headed to the DL. The recommendation is Tommy John surgery, but considering he is a free agent after this year, I imagine he will seek out a second or third opinion to try and avoid that. Either way, this almost certainly marks the end of his Yankee career. He wil, finish it with a record of 31-31 and an ERA of 4.16. He was brilliant at times and terrible at others. Considring what happened to Jesus Montero after he left NY, the Yankees won the trade, but it doesn’t really feel like it.

In the long run, this injury could actually help the Yankees. I don’t think there was any way they would have brought Pineda back next year, so now they get a jump on filling his spot in the 2018 rotation. For now, Brian Mitchell is getting the ball, but I suspect the Yankees will promote Chance Adams in the near future.
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The Yankees also announced that Greg Bird has two options. First is another cortisone shot, the second is surgery. If he has surgery, it is a 6 to 8 week recovery, so he could be back theoretically in September. The Yankees will bring Garret Cooper up to play first this weekend. Stay tuned.
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The Yankees are saying they will be “careful buyers” at the trade deadline, but I think this road trip will actually be the deciding factor. Eleven games in ten days with a cross-country trip included. This could go really badly and if they limo back home off of a 4-7 or 3-8 trip, o would expect that they quickly become “careful sellers”.
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Give the Red Isc credit for owning up to a huge mistake today. They DFA’ed Pablo Sandoval, meaning they are going to pay him about $50-million for nothing over the next few years. I suspect the Yankees will reach a similar point with Jacoby Ellsbury in the future, and I hope they have the guts to do the same thing.

We Have A Trade

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have traded Tyler Webb to the Brewers and according to Jon Herman the player they are getting in return is Garrett Cooper.

Cooper is a 26-year old righty who has hit .305 in his Minor league career with plenty of power. He is tearing up AAA this year at .366/.428/.652 but those numbers need to be viewed carefully because of his age, the fact that the PCL is an offense-heavy league, and that he plays his home games in Colorado.

And here’s the catch, Cooper is primarily a first baseman, so this doesn’t bode well for Greg Bird. The Yankees wouldn’t make a trade for a firstbaseman at the expense of a bullpen piece at this point unless they thought Bird was going to be hurt for the year. Bird went to the doctor Monday, but the Yankees have not announced anything about the visit. This makes me think the visit didn’t go well.

On the plus side. Cooper has shown a lot in the minors, so he deserved a shot in the bigs. The Brewers have Thames and Aguilar, so they weren’t going to give him one. The Yankees clearly needed help at first and got it. Cooper should help, but despite the gaudy stats, he won’t help as much as a healthy Bird could have.

Who Ordered The Code Red?

If there is anyone among the New York baseball writers who could speak to the ghost of George Steinbrenner, Bill Madden would be the guy. He always had a close relationship with the boss and his piece this morning really makes you wonder if he can communicate beyond the grave. Consider this section about Greg Bird.

Much as the Torres and Fowler injuries were downright heartbreaking, the Bird mystery ankle bruise has become merely annoying. Despite numerous tests that have turned up nothing, Bird continues to insist the ankle is still sore — too sore to allow him to play. The Yankee brass has become exasperated with Bird, who’s never been able to stay healthy, and it has gotten to the point where if he doesn’t get back on the field after the All-Star break, they are prepared to move him over the winter.

So The Yankees are threatening to trade Bird if he doesn’t start to play by next week? That’s interesting, almost as interesting as these quotes:

“You really have to wonder what’s with this guy,” a Yankee insider complained to me earlier this week. “You’d think with Judge and Sanchez, the guys he came up through the system with, doing so well up here he’d want to be a part of this. Apparently not.”

That’s classic George reasoning there. The guy is obviously faking the injury and doesn’t want to play hurt, so the Yankees should send him packing.

But assuming Madden can’t communicate with the dead, who would have made these quotes? O can’t prove it, but I would bet a fairly sizable amount that it is Randy Levine.

Levine likes to talk tough and channel George. He was the guy in February who ripped Delin Betances after beating him in arbitration. Does this seem any different?

It’s also stupid and somewhat ironic. It was in 2015 that Mark Teixeira’s broken leg was not diasgnosed by doctors for weeks. In the interim, the Yankees called up Greg Bird and he dazzled them with 11 homers over the final 46 games of the season. He also got one of the three hits the Yankees managed in their Wild Card game loss to Houston. But 2016 was wiped out by shoulder surgery and 2017 has been a disaster. Bird is still just 24 and giving up on him because of injuries at this point is nuts.

Luckily, Hal listens to Cashman on personnel issues and not Levine. Randy would do well to remember that the Boss’ bombastic ways and impetuous decisions didn’t win any titles after an initial flurry of success. It was his suspension in 1990 and the rebuilding of the farm system under Gene Michael that led to the dynasty teams of the 1990’s.

Next Stop: Trade Market

I didn’t think the Yankees really thought of Ji-Man Choi as a legitimate option at first, but he just became the starter. After today’s game, the Yankees DFA’ed Chris Carter for the second time in twelve days and recalled Choi.

I suspect the ball Carter dropped in the seventh inning sealed his fate. It was an easy play to make, a throw from Didi, but Carter couldn’t handle it and it almost cost the Yankees. If you aren’t going to hit, you have to at least add value with your glove, and Carter wasn’t doing that.

In steps Choi who has a reputation as a good fielder and contact hitter without much power. He appeared in 54 games for Anaheim last year and hit .170 with 5 homers, so don’t expect miracles.

The Yankees will see if Choi can contribute, but unless some good news comes about Tyler Austin or Greg Bird, I expect them to scour the trade market.

Eric Hosmer’s chances of ending up in the Bronx just got bigger.

Meet the New Guy at First….

Guess what, Chris Carter is back! How did this happen? Well Tyler Austin was apparently dealing with a hamstring injury when they promoted him and it has turned into a bigger thing. He is going to be out awhile.

Greg Bird isn’t doing so hot, so he is going on the 60-day DL. That sounds worse than it is because he has been on the DL since the start of May, and that means he can be activated whenever he is healthy, or if he is healthy again this year.

That left the Yankees with a couple of choices. They could keep sending Romine out there, but that leaves them exposed at catcher. They could try Refsnyder there, but he isn’t hitting and hasn’t looked great at first. So, Carter gets the call because he is already getting paid, so the Yankees will see if a week off makes a difference.

The interesting thing is the Yankees made another move, sending Andujar down and promoting Dustin Fowler. Andujar had a great debut, you really couldn’t ask for more, but the Yankees wisely want him to get reps at third, and they are not benching Headley.

And that brings us to Fowler, another top prospect who is getting a shot. Fowler is 22, a lefty, and is hitting .293/.329/.542 in AAA. He has 13 steals, so he has speed. He’s spent most of his time in center, but he can play right and left.

His promotion is interesting because they could have recalled Mason Williams with the injury to Austin, but instead they are DFA’ing him to clear a roster spot. Is Fowler being showcased for a possible trade, or are the Yankees looking at him as a possible replacement for Gardner or Ellsbury? Time will tell.

And Another Ones Gone….UPDATED

Matt Holliday is headed to the DL with an ominous sounding “virus” and the Yankees are recalling Miguel Andujar. If you are scoring at home, that is the third regular from the lineup to be lost in the past week, and that trifecta- Holliday, Hicks, and Castro, were the most productive hitters in the lineup after Judge and Sanchez.

Whatever is going on with Holliday, it is good the Yankees are taking this step. He originally had what was termed an “allergic reaction” in Oakland, but has told Joe Girardi he feels like all of his energy is gone. That’s scary stuff, and i hope the doctors in NY can find a quick and easy remedy for whatever it is.

Andujar is probably going to be primarily a DH for now. He would not have gotten the call except for the fact that he is right-handed and on the 40-man roster. He hit well at AA, and in his seven games at AAA, but he wasn’t expected in the Bronx this early. The scouting reports like his bat, but worry about his defense at third. If Rob Refsnyder was doing more with the bat, this move wouldn’t have been made. This will be a good chance for the Yankees to take a look at how he handles the majors, but I wouldn’t expect them to send Chase Headley packing anytime soon.

One other note, as I speculated the other day, Chris Carter passed through waivers and is headed to Scranton. If Tyler Austin falters and Greg Bird can’t make it back to the field, I could see the Yankees turning back to Carter.

UPDATE-5pm
Pretty wild lineup tonight:
Gardner cf
Judge rf
Sanchez c
Gregorius ss
Headley 3b
Romine 1b
Andujar dh
Wade lf
Torreyes 2b

The Closer Fallacy

The Yankees lost a gut-punch game last night and while Delin Betances meltdown takes some heat off of Girardi this morning, it shouldn’t. Joe made the classic mistake modern managers do today, he treated the 9th inning as the most important. Let’s dig in.

This game was an old school pitchers duel with Luis Severino and a Jose Quintana dominating. The White Sox took a 1-0 lead into the 8th, but the Yankees broke through for three runs and took a 3-1 lead. With Severino at 105 pitches, Girardi didn’t want to push him and turned to the bullpen.

That’s understandable, but the first mistake he made was not putting Betances in at that point. Now Joe is going to say that Chapman was unavailable and he wanted Betances to pitch the 9th. The problem with that logic is you don’t know what the score will be in the 9th, nor do you know how many pitches Betances will need to pitch the 8th. Maybe he sets the side down in 8 pitches and you feel good about brining him out for the 9th. Maybe the Yankees tack on a bunch of runs in the 9th and blow the game open. You can’t predict that, but you know that with a two-run lead in the 8th, you are in a critical spot.

And Girardi turned to Domingo German, a guy with just over 60 innings of experience above A-ball. Let me emphasize that, A-ball. Not surprisingly, German walked the two batters he faced. Now Girardi makes his second mistake, going to Clippard over Betances. Clearly, Girardi didn’t want to use Clippard, or he would have started the inning with him over the inexperienced rookie, but then he turns to him when there are two guys on and no one out? Clippard promptly threw a wild pitch and then walked the bases loaded. And Girardi makes mistake number three, leaving him in.

And amazingly, this one paid off, but it really shouldn’t have. Clippard got two guys out, then walked in a run to make it 3-2. Then, on a full count, he got a strike out to let the Yankees escape the 8th. It was ugly, and it probably should have ended with him imploding, but it didn’t.

Ironically, that was Betances’ job as he didn’t have it and lost the game in the bottom of the 9th. Some will say that his meltdown is proof that Girardi did the right thing. But it isn’t. The Yankees had three choices for the 8th, the rookie, the guy who has been hit all over the park recently, and Betances. You have to pick Betances, hope he gets you to the 9th, and go from there. Managers used to know that.

Clean it Up

I will always love the Yankees on the field, but off the field their behavior can drive me bonkers. I hate the fact that they built a stadium financed with tax-free bonds when New York City has so many things much more deserving of financing. And I don’t like this report from today’s New York Times on their “community” charity, which doesn’t look good at all.

Now the article doesn’t directly implicate the Yankees, but the Yankees need to think about the fact that their name is on the masthead and they could have tremendous influence over the charity. The ballclub does a lot of great things, HOPE Week being one of the best. But, that doesn’t excuse this. I hope the team will stand up, correct the problem, and make sure the money in the charity only goes to things in the neighboring communities.