The Yankees Have A Good Day

Well finally! For most Yankees fans yesterday was a pretty good day. They did two things right that they needed to do in order to stay in the chase. The first one was to win a game. Boston has not been able to pull too far ahead in the division which has helped the Yankees in no small way but only if they were able to win their games. Which they did last night.

Sure yesterday’s game was no different than game one. The Yanks had a pitcher who looked shaky and uncertain on the mound and was likely to blow the game, in fact, his 1st inning was so bad that it really felt like we were going to lose this game right there, but he got out of that horror show giving up only one run… think about that, ONE RUN! He walked three guys, hit Sano, and in between managed to get the outs needed to keep it down to just one run. He really looked like someone who could have given away a mountain of runs, but yet was able to keep it down to just three in the end. It was almost a replay of the 1st game of the series. Suspect and nervous pitching that was just good enough to keep the score to a minimum and keep the Yanks in the game. All it needed was some scoring. Mitchell didn’t get that run support, but this time things were different.

That it was not Cessa who finally lost the plot but Colon was the shock of the evening, and in the fifth inning he gave up the game to the Yankees who finally saw some scoring action, they scored 5 runs in the 5th to add to the one they had put on the boards in the 4th. Shreve had replaced Cessa by then and was given the win. Warren and Betances got their 8th and 10th holds respectively and then the ball was turned over the Chapman. It seems as if the Cuban Missile’s crisis is finally over because his last few outings to the mound have seen him pitch well and not give up any runs, and while he did walk one batter, he didn’t give up any hits and recorded his 10th save of the season.

The second thing that Yankees did was off the field. Cashman who had spoken about his desire to be cautious buyers had gone to the White Sox who are having something of a bargain clear out at the moment and got for themselves three players who could be just the tonic for this Yankee team. It was a trade move that we would have seen Cashman making back in the glory days of the 1990s. He traded Blake Rutherford, Tito Polo, Ian Clarkin, and Tyler Clippard (Yes you read right, TYLER CLIPPARD) and in return, he got David Robertson back, Todd Frazier, and Tommy Kahnle.

Frazier who once took the field as a little league champion with Jeter and who grew up a Yankees fan is a great fit for this team and was the name on the list that excited me the most, even if he goes into free agency at the end of the season. As indeed was Robertson who had been the protege of Mo back in the day and who it is hoped will help stabilise the bullpen which leads the league in blown saves. Kahnle also is a player who has a connection to the Yankees in that he had been drafted by them in 2010, but was then drafted by the Rockies in the 2013 rule 5 draft before being traded to the White Sox in 2015. He looks like a good addition to the pitching staff and his 60 strike outs in 36 innings is definitely something to get excited about.

Even better, in my opinion, is the fact Cashman went out and did this trade now, not waiting until the deadline, but seeing that there was a need for some guys he went out there and got them before the team sunk out of the race.

Yes, yesterday was a good day for the Yankees. They made the right moves on and off the field and while I hope Mitchell and Cessa get to have more chances to pitch in the big leagues this year because that is what will settle their pitching down and help them progress I am delighted with the trade. Also I hope we see more of Cooper because I like the kid and have been impressed with his batting and his work on 1st. Cashman has done some good work the last week and has not given up some of our better-known prospects to do so. I hope this is the mark where we will look back and see the turning point for this season. The Yankees are once again looking like contenders. Let’s hope it will translate well on the field.

The Yanks Fightback in Minnesota Falls Short

The Yanks first game in Minnesota did not quite go to plan. Sure Mitchell looked good enough to get the job done but he was shaky and didn’t really look like a starting pitcher out there. The fact he managed to keep the Twins down to two runs is something that really must be applauded. It was nothing short of heroic given how hittable he looked throughout the game.

Let’s not kid ourselves though. This was not a good game for the Yankees. From that moment in the bottom of the second when the Rosario doubled to deep centre field and batted in Vargas for the first run off Mitchell, the Yankees really seemed to slip out of contention for this game.

But the Yankees are not a team that will give up and to be fair to them they really battled hard to keep in the game and by the time Headley was batted in by Cooper (who really looked good out and seems to be a clever grab by Cashman) in the top of the seventh the Yanks had brought the game within reach. In fact, they had really put the pressure on the Twins in the top of the eighth inning when Judge was intentionally walked. But Holliday and Didi both killed off the momentum of that inning with Holliday grounding out into a double play and Didi doing something really weird and bunting with two out. I mean who does that? And then lays down a really bad bunt that gives neither himself a shot at getting on base, or Frasier who was on third a shot at getting home.

Then Caleb Smith, a rookie the Yankees called up to be in the pen following the marathon in Boston, who looked good for a first start in the Majors during his first two innings, seemed to fall apart in the bottom of the eighth and gave up two runs. Joe explained that he was hoping to pull Smith for the eighth if the Yankees had scored a run to take the lead, but so depleted was the pen after the weekend that he thought he would just ride it out and let Smith pitch the eighth hoping that he would hold the score for the last inning. But it was not to be. Such ideas make sense only if they have the players to put them into action and this game always looked like one the Yankees were going to find difficult to win.

Tonight’s game sees Cessa go up against Colon in what will be an interesting match up and for most fans it is always great to see a guy like Bartolo Colon playing even still in his 40s, the last remaining player from the Expos still out there doing his thing. But the Twins are tipped to win this with a win probability at 52%. Judge is set to rest this one out which will be good, but the Yankees have got to bat well and get some runs on the board and Cessa who has not looked sharp will need them to do that because the pressure is on his shoulders to do well and if he can keep the runs down low and even half as good a job as Bryan Mitchell did yesterday he will have done well. It looks like a bit of a slog for the Yankees to win this one without the bats doing the job. I hope they can wake them up tonight.

Yanks & Boston Split First Post ASG Break Series

The Yankees went to Boston after the All Star Game break looking to send out a clear signal that they were not finished for the season. They had fallen off a lot from where they were in June but a disaster of a trip to the West Coast saw their form and subsequently their stock collapse a great deal.

This has been put down in some part to the injuries to crucial players at the wrong time as well as the loss in form of some of the pitchers most notably the back end of the bullpen which was impacted sufficiently by the injury to Chapman and Warren that only now can we see signs that perhaps the corner has been turned and the pen is starting to look a bit more like itself, although it may take some time for the mystique and aura to return.

The return of big hitters to the game like Holliday and Castro has given the team a bit more stability while the struggle to find a defensive fielder at first base has continued to be a drag for the team. Bird looks some time off from returning after the diagnosis of bone spurs in his leg has heaped dirt on the front office rat who took to complaining about his commitment anonymously in the press. Settling once and for all the question raised by said rat, of whether Bird really wanted to play ball or not.

 

This series was crucial for the Yankees to show the rest of the Majors that they were still a force to be reckoned with in the story of this season. How this worked out sent in my opinion a very positive message to the fans and other teams alike. Because think about this. They played against a rampant Boston team who is leading the division in Fenway and yet they did not lose the series. In fact, the Yanks could take more out of that result than the Red Sox could. The series hinged on three unfortunate events which went against the Yankees, and yet even still they could not be beaten.

The three unfortunate events of course that cost the Yankees two games in the set were the awful inning’s work of Aroldis Chapman in game one which saw him basically walk the Sox home for the win the 9th. The second was in game 4 when Tanka made just two bad pitches out of his 112 pitches, the first was sent out of the park by Mookie Betts for two and the second was to Pedroia who batted in Mookie Betts to set Boston with 3 runs. The third bad break for the Yanks in this series was also in game 4 when Aaron Judge clobbered the ball for what looked like a sure homer, only for Jackie Bradley Jnr’s amazing play that poached the run and left the Yanks with too much to do and saw them fall to their first shutout of the season. But besides this, the Yanks played great ball and the hiccups which had dogged the team of late were gone.

The rotation looked good. The bullpen got over the first game blip, and the Yanks seemed to get the scores on the board in all but one game. So yeah, I am positive about things going ahead. Fangraphs have the Yanks at a 49.6% probability of making the playoffs which is higher than they rate the Rays chances of getting into the post season. That the Yankees could not be beaten by the Red Sox, who only managed to win their games on the basis of a lucky break gives me more faith that the Yankees are not done.

Up next the Yankees travel to Minnesota to face the Twins. Fangraphs are projecting a close one here with the Twins having a 51% win probability to the Yankees 49%. So this should be another crucial and telling series. Brian Mitchell gets the nod to start game one of the set. So far his numbers are okay but not altogether great coming out of the bullpen. Cessa and Montgomery are the other starters for the series. Cessa is set to face the Ageless One Bartolo Colon. That is one game I am looking forward to seeing in this series but to be honest I am really looking forward to seeing if the Yankees can continue to improve as they move on.

Spring Break: 2017

There are many signs that the Yankees have turned the corner as far as their offensive malaise goes. For one thing, they are showing a lot more power at the plate over the past three seasons. They are hitting well and are converting the men on bases into runs batted in. I really like the arrival of Holiday. He really has shown what makes him a good hitter and gets the bat on the ball well and while he is not a power hitter in the home run sense of a power hitter. But boy has he brought some pop to the lineup that was missing. I also like the arrival of Chris Carter too.

So too has Greg Bird and Sanchez. The pitchers have also been great so far, really offering something for the fans to feel good about. The feel good factor that rejuvenated the Yankees season after “the kids” were brought up to the Bronx has continued to lift the spirits of the team and the fans. Sure the spring games are never really anything to go by but from the point of view as to what the players are doing independent of the wins, there is definitely something for us fans to get excited about this season. That is something that the Yankees have not really given their fans of late. Come what may, whether it is a rebuilding season or not, it sure looks like it will be fun to watch the Yankees this season. I have to take it all back, Brian Cashman has certainly shown us, critics, of his just how little we knew and how much he knew. I take it all back Brian.

Randy Levine Has Got To Go

The run into the season has only just gotten into gear, and already the Yankees are on a collision course with their fans. The reason?

Randy Levine, the president of the Yankees since 2000 has made no secret of the contempt he has for Betances during the arbitration process which has just finished. Not only did he devalue the impact that one of the finest players in the game the last three seasons has had, and his subsequent net worth in offering far less than the relief pitcher was asking for, he also made a point of taunting and dismissing just how good he was, even going so far to blame him for the Yanks failure to make a significant run into the play-offs.

Now it is one thing to try and get the services of a player for less than the player wants, that is the business aspect of the game. The player thinks he is worth more, the team while maybe agreeing that he is worth a lot of money, tries all the same, to pay him less. That is just business. But Levine showed that he was not just being a business man. He made it personal, and it stands to reason that such is his contempt for the players that he has no shame in slamming players in public. It is obvious that this clown does not like the sport, know anything about the sport, nor does he care about the team. He is only in it for the job and the paycheque.

He forgets that the game, the team, and even the players will live longer in the minds and collective storytelling than some pathetic little wraith that hides away in a cave or office only showing up when there is a world series to be played in. When he is fired from the team he will be forgotten.

And if we are looking to blame anyone for the way the Yanks have sucked these past twenty years we only have to look at Levine and those like him. He took over as team president in 2000, and since then he won only two world series titles with a team that had been the best for years. If he could not win a world series with the team he took over in 2000 then he would never have won, that the only team he had a hand in running completely was the 2009 Yankees and has failed to put together a winning team that had not existed as champions previously is a damning indictment that he has no place in this team, and yes it is true that the GM would and should carry most of the blame for this, his role in running the Yankees into mediocrity, married with the disdain he has for the players and fans by carrying on the way he has done, especially with the Betances affair, makes it clear for all to see. He has got to go. He is a failure.

I know the Yankees don’t seem to respect their fans, at least those who run the team don’t respect us, the forget that a lot of the revenue they get is from us and without us they would not exist, but they do not respect us or our opinions. The players do. That is why we will always go with the players in times like these. But if the Yanks want to do something that shows they care about the fans, then they should get rid of Levine. His act is low rent, and more suitable for the Cardinals, or maybe even the White Sox.

To Dellin I can only say one thing. We the fans are with you. We do not hold the same low regard for you that Levine has shown he has. We think you are the best relief pitcher in the game and deserve more than what you have been given in payment, and in treatment by the Yankees. We beg you not to play for them, but to play for us. Don’t pitch with less intensity, or bide your time until you leave the Yanks, but play for us and stick with us. You will live long in the hearts of the Yankees fans longer than Levine will. He will be forgotten the minute he finishes loading his cardboard box and shuffles out of the office into ignominy. You will be in Monument Park the year after you retire… we will see to it.

An Open Letter To David Ortiz

Dear David Ortiz,

I have seen your letter in which you have addressed the Yankees fans, of which I am one. I felt that I had to reply to you to express my appreciation for you. Over the years you and the Red Sox have battled hard with my beloved Yankees. Sometimes we came out on top, and other times you did. That is the way it goes with such contests.

We have mocked you, goaded you, booed you. But all the while I have appreciated you for the warrior that you are, and for the way you have added to the great rivalry which is so well known that even fans like I who live in the UK have gotten caught up with it and revelled in the clashes.

While I cannot speak for all Yankees fans, I wanted to express right now, as your last season has come to its end, that I really appreciated you as a rival. I do not hate you, but applaud you, admire you, wish you were on my team. In short, thank you. Thank you for so many memories, and for being the best of bad guys, the best of enemies. To say that I love you might seem like a strange thing to say to a guy who played for the enemy and who I never met, but it is not strange. I mean it. Thank you, Big Papi. I wish you all the best in this new chapter of your life and will always be glad to say that I saw you play.

Sincerely

V.S. Coster

In Memory of Jose Fernandez

The ironical title of the post on MLB.com about Jose Fernandez’s last start was “Jose saves his best for not likely last start.” It sadly turned out to be his last start, after he was killed in a boating accident on Miami Beach Sunday.

It will be one of those reminders to all of us who love baseball just what a loss his death is to the sport. He was a phenomenal pitcher whose career was getting back on track after losing a season to Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow, and this death just reminds us of the sad truth that we read in Ecclesiastes 9:11 ” I have seen something further under the sun, that the swift do not always win the race, nor do the mighty win the battle, nor do the wise always have the food, nor do the intelligent always have the riches, nor do those with knowledge always have success, because time and unexpected events overtake them all.” His death is just one such unexpted event in which senselessly a bright, warm, and exciting young life is taken. We can strive to find some meaning in his death but that would be pointless.

We can however, always celebrate the joy and delight he had in playing this wonderful game which was so evident in this the last baseball game he pitched in. What a more fitting memorial could a player have.

My thoughts are with his family, his friends, and his teammates.