Yankees will reportedly visit Philadelphia next year for first time since 2009 World Series

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

At some point next month MLB will release the 2018 regular season schedule, though bits and pieces are already starting to leak out. The Yankees are due to face the NL East during interleague play next year, and according to Ryan Lawrence, they are tentatively scheduled to visit the Phillies next summer. It’ll be the first time the Yankees visit Citizens Bank Park since the 2009 World Series.

The three-game series in Philadelphia is scheduled for Monday, June 25th, through Wednesday, June 27th. Aside from the 2009 World Series, the Yankees have visited Citizens Bank Park for an interleague series only once. They took two of three from the Phillies back in June 2006. The Yankees starting pitchers that series: Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and Jaret Wright. Prior to that, their last trip to Philly was to Veterans Stadium in 2001.

The Yankees and Phillies have played two series at Yankee Stadium since the 2009 World Series. The Phillies took two of three in June 2010 and again took two of three in June 2015. They also played three regular season games at Yankee Stadium in May 2009. The Phillies won two of three that series too. Eh, whatever. That has no bearing on what happens next year. (Also, kiss the ring.)

With the NL East on tap next year, the Yankees figure to get a firsthand look at Bryce Harper before his impending free agency, possibly even in Yankee Stadium. Harper went deep when the Nationals visited the Bronx back during his MVP season in 2015.

Chances are the Yankees will visit new SunTrust Park in Atlanta next year, a ballpark they helped open with an exhibition game back earlier this spring. Greg Bird hit the first (unofficial) home run at the new building. The Yankees play the Mets during the Subway Series every season, so that’s nothing new. Visiting the Phillies and getting to see Bryce Harper up close don’t happen to often for the Yankees, so that’ll be fun. If nothing else, at least interleague travel will be easy next year.

Tonight’s game rained out, Yankees and Indians will play a straight doubleheader tomorrow

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Tonight’s game with the Indians has been rained out, the Yankees announced. The two teams will play a single admission doubleheader tomorrow beginning at 1:05pm ET. Joe Girardi said Jaime Garcia will start the first game and Jordan Montgomery will come up from Triple-A to start the second game.

The weather forecast in New York is ugly and has been all day. It’s been raining for several hours and it’s supposed to continue raining right until tomorrow morning. Playing tonight was never really an option. The Yankees and Indians do not have any common off-days remaining this season, and since Cleveland will not visit Yankee Stadium again, a doubleheader tomorrow was the only real option.

Needless to say, playing a doubleheader immediately prior to a hugely important four-game series with the Red Sox is less than ideal, but what can you do? Could be worse. The Indians have to play a doubleheader tomorrow and another one Friday. Anyway, here is the ticket information, if you were planning to go tonight or tomorrow. Today’s tickets are not good for the doubleheader.

Because the doubleheader was scheduled less than 48 hours in advance, the Yankees and Indians can add a 26th player for the second game only. I imagine Montgomery will be the 26th man, which means he’ll have to go right back to Triple-A Scranton after the game. And then he’ll be back once rosters expand Friday. Montgomery might not even go back to Scranton. He might stick around New York.

Thanks to the rainout, the Yankees will now start CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino in the four games against the Red Sox. The rainout pushes everyone back a day and conveniently lined up New York’s four best pitchers for the series with Boston. That’s good. I’d rather the Yankees not play the doubleheader and push everyone back by starting Montgomery tomorrow, but that’s not an option. Alas.

Tomorrow’s doubleheader will be the third of the season for the Yankees. They split two games with the Astros on May 14th, and split two games with the Red Sox on July 16th. The Yankees last played three doubleheaders in one season back in 2014 (Cubs, Pirates, Orioles). It’s worth noting the Yankees have a makeup game with the Royals scheduled for September 25th, though that’s one game, not a doubleheader. The two teams gave up an off-day.

Sanchez suspended four games, Romine two games following brawl with Tigers

(Gregory Shamus/Getty)
(Gregory Shamus/Getty)

As expected, MLB has handed down several suspensions and fines following Thursday’s brawl(s) with the Tigers. Here’s a recap of the discipline, as announced by MLB this afternoon:

  • Miguel Cabrera: Seven-game suspension for “inciting the first bench-clearing incident and fighting.”
  • Alex Wilson: Four-game suspension for “intentionally throwing a pitch at Todd Frazier” after warnings had been issued.
  • Gary Sanchez: Four-game suspension for “fighting, including throwing punches.”
  • Austin Romine: Two-game suspension for “fighting, including throwing punches.”
  • Brad Ausmus: One-game suspension for “the intentional actions of Wilson.”

Joe Girardi, Rob Thomson, Tommy Kahnle, Brett Gardner, Garrett Cooper, Clint Frazier, and Jose Iglesias all received fines but were not suspended. Cooper and Frazier were fined for entering the field of play while on the disabled list. I’m kinda surprised Dellin Betances escaped without any discipline, even if he didn’t hit James McCann on purpose. Same with Michael Fulmer, who started the whole thing by hitting Sanchez.

I imagine Sanchez and/or Romine are going to appeal their suspension. I mean, they kinda have to, otherwise the Yankees won’t have any catchers tonight. Sanchez will definitely appeal because he (and the Yankees) want to get that suspension knocked down as much as possible. The more Gary is on the field, the better. Every game without him hurts the team’s chances at the postseason.

Kyle Higashioka is currently on the Triple-A Scranton disabled list, so the Yankees don’t have a obvious third catcher to call-up for the time being. They’ll have to add someone (Eddy Rodriguez, most likely) to the 40-man roster. The Yankees do have an open 40-man spot, though that’ll go to Greg Bird when he returns. Also, suspended players can’t be replaced on the roster. Teams have to play short.

All things considered, I think the Yankees got off pretty light here. I thought Sanchez was heading for six or seven games given the sucker punches. Rougned Odor got eight games (reduced to seven on appeal) for punching Jose Bautista when he was squared up. Sanchez threw punches at defenseless Cabrera. Whatever. Forget this pointless nonsense, be happy no one got hurt, and move on.

Update: Not surprisingly, Sanchez and Romine both said they will appeal their suspensions. Ken Rosenthal hears the appeals may not be heard until after rosters expand on September 1st, which would make it a million times easier to deal with losing a catcher(s). Also, Jack Curry hears Sanchez was only suspended four games because Cabrera instigated the brawl. Gary on reacted, basically.

Saturday Links: Judge, Playoffs, Cave, Automatic Strike Zone

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

The Yankees and Red Sox will continue their three-game weekend series later tonight at Fenway Park. That’s a 7pm ET start. Remember when they used to play baseball on Saturday afternoons? That was fun. Anyway, here are some links and notes to check out until first pitch.

Yankees not considering moving Judge to first base

According to David Lennon and Bob Klapisch, the Yankees have not considering moving Aaron Judge to first base to unclog the outfield logjam and potentially address first base long-term. Judge did play first base in high school, you know. He moved to the outfield in college because Fresno State already had a pretty good first baseman. Even if the Yankees were considering moving Judge, they wouldn’t do it midseason. They’d wait until Spring Training.

Two thoughts on this. One, Judge’s right field defense is way too good right now to move him. He’s an asset out there, particularly his throwing. Move him to first base and you’re wasting his arm. And two, I think it’s only a matter of time until Judge winds up at first base permanently. There’s a reason you don’t see many players that size running around the outfield. It’s tough on the knees and tough on the body. That doesn’t mean Judge will have to move to first base next year. But maybe in four or five years? Yeah, it’s possible. Right now though, it is not a consideration for the Yankees, and that is absolutely the right move in my opinion.

Hal says missing postseason would be a “failure”

It seems the Yankees have gone from “World Series or bust” to “transition year” to “postseason or bust” within the last 18 months or so. Earlier this week, Hal Steinbrenner said it would be a “failure” if the Yankees missed the playoffs this year. “If we don’t make the playoffs, it’s a failure … It’s been a tough last two months for the most part. But I think they’re coming out of it … (We’re) going to have a strong last five, six weeks,” said Hal to Anthony Castrovince.

The continued shift in expectations this year has been pretty fascinating. The Yankees sold at the trade deadline last year and, for the most part, I think people considered this a “step back before taking a step forward” year. Break in some young players, deal with the growing pains, then gear up for 2018. Instead, the young players hit the ground running and the Yankees got off to a great start. They’ve been a .500-ish team for three months now though. It went from “rebuilding year” to “let’s shock the world!” to “please just get a wildcard spot.” If the Yankees miss the postseason now, it’ll feel like a disappointment. Five months ago, it was kinda expected.

Four Yankees among most improved prospects

Cave. (AP)
Cave. (AP)

Dan Szymborski used his ZiPS system to find the position player and pitching prospects who have improved their stock the most this season. In a nutshell, he compared each player’s preseason projection to their current projection. He lists 18 prospects total and four are Yankees:

  • RHP Chance Adams: 5.32 ERA preseason to 4.35 ERA now
  • OF Jake Cave: .617 OPS preseason to .709 OPS now
  • 1B Garrett Cooper: .679 OPS preseason to .751 OPS now
  • RHP Domingo German: 5.70 ERA preseason to 4.88 ERA now

SS Gleyber Torres and OF Billy McKinney were among the honorable mentions. The Cave projection is most interesting to me because ZiPS basically says he made the jump from non-prospect to potential fourth outfielder this season. From the write-up:

Of the 1,400 projections for hitters run by ZiPS coming into 2017 (about 1,250 “official” ones and 150 for prospects at very low levels for which I have little confidence), only four players got a larger boost than Cave’s 92-point OPS boost: Ryan Zimmerman, Aaron Judge, Justin Smoak and Zack Cozart.

ZiPS still isn’t convinced Cave will be more than a fourth outfielder, but it’s damn hard to add 100 points of OPS to a projection in four months.

Huh. Cave will be a minor league free agent this offseason and I think it’s likely the Yankees will add him to the 40-man roster and make sure he doesn’t get away. He is going to be 25 in December, so he’s not super young, but hit .343/.387/.610 (176 wRC+) with 13 homers in 54 Triple-A games while playing center field, and you’re going to make yourself worth keeping around.

Electronic strike zone not on the horizon

No surprise here, but commissioner Rob Manfred told Anthony Castrovince the league is not close to implementing an electronic strike zone. The technology isn’t there yet, and even once it is available, Manfred is leery of moving away from human umpires. Balls and strikes are everything to umpires. I suspect they’ll fight an electronic strike zone tooth and nail when the time comes.

Personally, I don’t have much interest in an electronic strike zone. Yes, I would like the umpires to be better behind the plate, but I feel like an electronic zone would take more away from the game than it would provide. Consistency is boring. Also, I get the sense that shifting to an electronic strike zone would have some unintended consequences. We could see some pretty drastic shifts in pitcher (and therefore hitter) performance with an unambiguous zone.

Jeter becomes a dad

And finally, Derek Jeter is now officially a father. Derek and Hannah welcomed their daughter, Bella Raine Jeter, into the world on Thursday, it was announced on The Players’ Tribune (of course). Congrats to them. Not a bad gene pool to come from, huh?

Saturday Links: Jeter, Postseason Schedule, Players Weekend

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

The Yankees and Red Sox continue their three-game weekend series with the middle game later today. It’s a 4pm ET start. Here are some links and notes to check out until game time.

Jeter agrees to purchase the Marlins (again)

A few weeks after his agreement to purchase the Marlins with Jeb Bush fell through, Derek Jeter has another deal in place to buy the team, reports Barry Jackson. Jeter teamed up with rich dude Bruce Sherman and several other minority investors (including Michael Jordan) to buy the team. The sale price is $1.2 billion — that’s the second most ever paid for an MLB franchise, behind the $2 billion the Dodgers sold for a few years back — and Jeter is kicking in $25M.

Jackson says Sherman will be the “control person” while Jeter will run the business and baseball sides of the organization, so he’s going to have a lot of responsibility. The sale is not yet final — two other potential Marlins sales have already fallen through this year, so this isn’t a formality — but Jeter and Sherman do have all the money in place and everything else is order. Now MLB needs to give their approval and the other 29 owners have to vote. That’s going to happen at the quarterly owners meetings in October, apparently.

2017 postseason schedule announced

It’s getting to be that time of year. Earlier this week MLB announced the 2017 postseason schedule, and since the Yankees are in the race this year, this information is pretty damn relevant. Much better than being on the outside looking in like three of the last four years. Here is the full postseason schedule and here are the dates potentially relevant to the Yankees:

  • AL Wild Card Game: Tuesday, October 3rd
  • ALDS (both of ’em): Thursday, October 5th through Wednesday, October 11th
  • ALCS: Friday, October 13th through Saturday, October 21st
  • World Series: Tuesday, October 24th through Wednesday, November 1st

The regular season ends Sunday, October 1st, so there’s only one off-day between the end of the regular season and the AL Wild Card Game this year. That could cause some headaches for teams trying to line up their ace for that winner-take-all game. The NL has two off-days between the end of the regular season and the Wild Card Game this year.

Also, homefield advantage in the World Series is no longer decided by the All-Star Game. That’s good. I hated that. (Even though the AL won this year.) Now homefield advantage will go to the pennant-winner with the best regular season record. That’s how it should be, I think.

MLB releases Players Weekend jerseys

A few weeks ago MLB announced that, later this month, the first (annual?) Players Weekend will be held from August 25th to the 27th. The Yankees will be home playing the Mariners that weekend. Teams will wear unique uniforms (hats, jerseys, socks, etc.) and the players will be allowed to wear nicknames on the backs of their jerseys. It’s pretty awesome. Here are the Yankees:

yankees-jerseys

This is so great. All-Starlin! A-A-Ron! Head and Toe! Aaron Judge told Erik Boland he was originally planning to put “AJ” or “Judge” on his jersey, but Todd Frazier talked him into All Rise, so here we are. Love Judge, but he could use a little more personality. Maybe pimp a homer every once in a while. (Looking at you too, Brett Gardner. “Gardner” on the jersey? Really?)

Anyway, as someone who may or may not have already purchased KRAKEN 24 and SIR DIDI 18 shirts, I love this whole Players Weekend idea. It’s fun. Baseball’s supposed to be fun. I couldn’t be any more tired of hearing about tradition and the way things have always been. Give me Players Weekend, The Judge’s Chambers, Clint Frazier‘s bright red hair, finger points into the dugout, give me all of it.

Yankees have not pursued Granderson

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees have not pursued Curtis Granderson this month. He cleared trade waivers last week. The Yankees did try to acquire Jay Bruce from the Mets a few days ago, though that didn’t work out because the Mets wanted full salary relief. Granderson, like Bruce, is a left-handed power hitter, but he can only play the outfield. Bruce has some first base experience.

Granderson, 36, is in the final season of his four-year, $60M contract. He’s making $15M this year and it stands to reason the Mets will look to unload his salary at some point. Granderson is hitting .221/.327/.452 (105 wRC+) with 16 home runs overall this season, but since May 1st, he’s put up a .261/.384/.548 (143 wRC+) batting line with 15 of those 16 homers. The Yankees have an opening at designated hitter and could really use another lefty power bat, which Granderson would provide. Doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen though.

Saturday Links: Payroll, Bird, New CBA Details, YES Network

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees and Indians will continue their four-game series with the third game later today, though not until 7pm ET. Man do I hate Saturday night games. I might have mentioned that a few times over the years. Anyway, here’s some news and notes to check out.

Payroll is frozen for 2017

According to Bob Klapisch, Hal Steinbrenner has told Brian Cashman payroll will remain frozen for the remainder of the season. The Yankees took on quite a bit of salary at the trade deadline in David Robertson, Todd Frazier, and Sonny Gray, though they got the Twins to eat the remainder of Jaime Garcia‘s contract. Apparently that’s it though. No more payroll can be added this season.

Two things about this. One, if payroll is indeed frozen, the Yankees aren’t going to get the bat(s) they pretty clearly need. Well, no, that’s not necessarily true. It just means they’d have to give up better prospects to get the other team to pay the remainder of the player’s salary. And two, man I hate hearing payroll is frozen. I mean, it’s Hal’s team and he can do whatever he wants, but the division is so winnable and the Yankees have played one postseason game since 2012, and they won’t take on more money if necessary? Blah.

Bird still the long-term first baseman

Not surprisingly, Cashman confirmed to Joel Sherman that Greg Bird remains the club’s first baseman of the future, even after his ankle surgery and what is essentially another lost season. That’s why they didn’t look for long-term first base help at the deadline like they did rotation and bullpen help. They sought out rentals only and, obviously, came up empty.

Bird, who will turn 25 in November, has resumed hitting following surgery and it’s possible he will rejoin the Yankees later this month. I never really expected the Yankees to pivot away from Bird as their first baseman going forward. They clearly love him, and they’re going young wherever possible, so it makes sense to try him again. Clearly though, the Yankees will need some sort of first base protection. Basically what Chris Carter couldn’t provide this year

New CBA includes draft penalties for payroll

MLB and the MLBPA finally completed the Collective Bargaining Agreement and got everything in writing last month, and according to J.J. Cooper, there’s a provision that levies draft pick penalties based on team payroll. Simply put, spend more than $237M on player payroll, and your top draft pick gets pushed back ten spots. From Cooper:

But the penalties really kick in for a team that spends more than $237 million in 2018. Not only will the franchise be hit with a 42.5 percent or 45 percent surcharge tax on top of the competitive balance tax, but the team will also see its first draft pick dropped 10 spots. That pick is protected, but that protection is relatively meaningless, as the penalty is applied to the team’s second draft pick only if it’s one of the top six picks in the draft. It would be hard to envision a team finishing with a top-six pick (meaning it had one of the six worst records in baseball) with a $237-plus million payroll.

These penalties are on top of the luxury tax penalties. So if your payroll exceeds $237M, you have to pay the luxury tax and your top draft pick gets moved back. Now a $237M payroll is substantial — the Yankees have only topped that twice ($237.1M in 2013 and $243.8M in 2016) — though salaries and revenues around baseball are only going up. It wouldn’t take much for many teams to get to $237M within the next two or three years. This new CBA is pretty terrible for the players. There are so may mechanisms in place designed to suppress salaries.

International play coming in 2018

As part of the new CBA, MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to move 13 series to foreign countries from 2018-21, reports Bill Shaikin. Commissioner Rob Manfred has made it no secret he wants to grow the game globally and this is one way to do it. Here, via Shaikin, are the international play details:

  • 2018: Opening series in Asia, April series in Mexico, May series in Puerto Rico.
  • 2019: Opening series in Asia, April and May series in Mexico, June series in the United Kingdom.
  • 2020: Opening series in Asia, April series in Mexico, May series in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, June series in the United Kingdom.
  • 2021: April and May series in Mexico.

The Yankees, as the most popular team in baseball and one of the most recognizable brands in the world, will inevitably be sucked into a few of these series. That’s not per Shaikin’s report. That’s just me saying. When you’re playing games overseas and trying to increase interest in baseball, you send the Yankees because people are going to pay attention. I foresee a trip to Asia and Mexico in the team’s future.

YES ratings up considerably in first half

Not surprisingly, the young and exciting (and contending!) Yankees have led to a substantial increase in YES Network ratings. Ratings were up 57% in the first half this season, including a 73% increase in the ages 18-49 demographic. YES has already had 18 games this year with a higher rating than the best game last year — Monday night’s game against the Tigers was the network’s highest rated game since Derek Jeter‘s final game at Yankee Stadium in 2014 — and ratings overall are the best in five years. Build a team with good young players, and people watch. Ratings are up now. Soon attendance will shoot up as well.

Saturday Links: Judge, Home Run Derby, Players Weekend

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

This nightmare of a West Coast trip continues this afternoon with the third of four games against the Athletics. I look forward to seeing what creative way the bullpen lets a late lead slip away in this one. Anyway, here are some random bits of news and notes to check out while you wait for the game.

Judge not yet invited to Home Run Derby

In about three weeks, MLB will officially announce this year’s Home Run Derby contestants. Aaron Judge, who leads MLB with 23 homers, has not yet received an invite, he recently told Brendan Kuty. “I haven’t even thought about it. I’ll wait to the day (I’m invited), I guess,” he said. Here’s what Joe Girardi told George King about Judge and the Home Run Derby:

“From watching BP, I have a better idea. Some guys don’t have the power to all fields like Aaron Judge has,’’ Girardi said before the Yankees’ 3-2 loss to the Angels in 11 innings on Tuesday night. “When you watch his BP, there are a lot of homers going to right and lot of homers going to center. Sometimes you worry about them doing something they don’t do during the course of a game. To me it would just be a normal BP.’’

As I said a few weeks ago, I am 100% on board with Judge participating in the Home Run Derby, and it would be a great thing for MLB and the Yankees. People can’t take their eyes off this guy. He’s someone you want front and center in one of the game’s biggest events. I couldn’t be any less worried about some sort of Home Run Derby hangover effect either. You see how this guy makes adjustments? Put Judge in the Home Run Derby.

MLB will have a “Players Weekend” in August

According to Jeff Passan, MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to hold a “Players Weekend” from August 25th to 27th in which uniform rules will be relaxed. Players will be allowed to put nicknames on the back of their jerseys, wear bright cleats, and put a personalized patch on their jersey. The jerseys will be sold afterwards with proceeds going to the league’s Youth Development Foundation.

Gimmicky? Sure. Harmless? Yep. Will the Yankees allow players to put a nickname on their back of their jersey? I mean, this was negotiated by MLB and MLBPA. I don’t think teams will be able to refuse it. Imagine Michael Pineda on the mound with a BIG MIKE jersey, or Gary Sanchez with KRAKEN. We might see it! Could be cool. The Yankees will be home to play Robinson Cano and the Mariners that weekend, by the way.

Judge has top selling MLB jersey

Speaking of jerseys, Judge now has the No. 1 selling jersey in baseball, according to Josh Kosman. A few weeks ago MLB announced Kris Bryant had the top selling jersey — followed by a whole lot of Cubs — with Judge nowhere to be found in the top 20. (Sanchez was ninth overall and the best selling AL player.) Judge has since smashed a bunch of dingers and jumped to the top of the jersey sales rankings. Pretty awesome.

Also, Kosman says the Yankees will soon start selling souvenir white wigs with Judge’s name at Yankee Stadium. Between that and The Judge’s Chambers out in right field, the team is marketing the hell out of him. As they should! Judge is everything you could want in a franchise player, right? He’s great on the field and humble off it. He represents the Yankees and MLB well. They should be slapping this guy on every billboard possible.