The Yankees still live in the past even when focused on the future

Frazier. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)
(Justin K. Aller/Getty)

We live in a world in which the corporate culture is, as always, dominated by brands. In terms of sports, the Yankees are arguably the most famous and valuable brand out there, at least on this side of the Atlantic. At this point, the Yankees have built that brand on a tradition of winning and a tradition of, well, tradition itself. In the past few weeks, that idea has manifested itself in a bunch of frustrating ways.

Most recently, there was the manufactured controversy of new acquisition Todd Frazier‘s number of choice. For his entire Major League career–up until this past week, of course–Frazier had worn the number 21. Now he’s wearing number 29. Why? Because of the past. Paul O’Neill’s 21 has gone unworn–save for by Latroy Hawkins and Morgan Ensberg, briefly–thanks to some limbo the Yankees are playing. They won’t retire it, but they won’t issue it. This is beyond silly. I saw a lot of fan reaction in support of Frazier NOT wearing the number because he’s not Paul O’Neill, he’s not “The Warrior” and he hasn’t “earned his pinstripes.” This is hogwash. You now how Todd Frazier earned his stripes? By being traded to the Yankees. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone; he’s done that over his career. If wearing a number makes him more comfortable at the plate, in the field, in the clubhouse, wherever, whenever, then he should be allowed to wear that number. Stop living in the past if you’re not going to retire the number 21.

First, let’s praise Clint Frazier for picking 77 as a great troll move. Yes, he gave the reason that he liked the way 77 balanced Aaron Judge‘s 99 in right, but it’s easy to see that Clint is having a little fun with his number controversy–also fake–from earlier in the year. Second, we got word that when Aaron Hicks returns from the disabled list, he’ll be going down. If this happens, that’s a mistake. Big time. Frazier is clearly one of the three best outfielders on the team, and will likely to continue to be when Hicks comes back; even then, he’s one of the four best and should get every day at bats. Sending him down, even for a brief time, would be ill-advised and really only serve to placate Ellsbury.  Granted Hicks is still a ways away from coming back, but if Frazier is sent down in late August or early September, those are crucial games he’ll be missing with a lesser player getting his at bats. This would betray not only the future in depriving Frazier of developmental at bats, but also the present in that it would actively hurt the Yankees’ chances at the playoffs.

With Starlin Castro now on the DL–again–the Yankees need to think of the future once again: play Tyler Wade every day. He’s up here, he might as well play. Ronald Torreyes is NOT an every day player. Running him out at second will hurt the team in the present. Wade didn’t show too well at the plate in his first cup of coffee, but he deserves to play, since he, unlike Torreyes, has the potential to be a future starter. He should–at the least–play against right handed pitching.

The Yankee organization has done well to market this year around their young stars like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino. They need now to make a full commitment to that future, because those players–as well as Frazier, Wade, and even the regrettably absent Greg Bird–are the brightest parts of the current team and the signs of things to come. Living in the past by deferring to tradition and veterans serves a losing cause.

Two comebacks aren’t enough, Yankees fall 6-5 to Mariners


Source: FanGraphs

Well that was a rough one. The Yankees showed some Fighting Spirit and rallied to tie Saturday night’s game against the Mariners twice — twice! — but ultimately, the bullpen took yet another loss. The final score was 6-5 in ten innings. The bullpen has been pretty great since the All-Star break, but still, bullpen losses stink. It’s Saturday and it’s a West Coast night game, so let’s bullet point this one:

  • Tanaka’s Bad Inning: Epitome of a One Bad Inning start for Masahiro Tanaka. He allowed four runs on four hits (including two homers) and a hit batsmen in the third inning, and no runs on two hits totals in his other five innings. The solo homers sucked. The bigger problem was four straight batters reaching with two outs to plate two additional runs. Blah. Tanaka retired the last ten batters he faced. His line: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. I don’t know either.
  • The First Comeback: After the Mariners took a 4-1 in the third inning, the Yankees chipped away. A Garrett Cooper triple and a Ronald Torreyes sac fly made it 4-2 in the fifth, an Aaron Judge solo homer made it 4-3 in the sixth, and a Matt Holliday sac fly tied it up 4-4 in the eighth. That eighth inning rally was set up by a Brett Gardner infield single and a Clint Frazier double. Holliday has really struggled lately. The two-strike sac fly was much appreciated.
  • The Second Comeback: Immediately after the Yankees tied the game in the top of the eighth, Robinson Cano took David Robertson deep in the bottom half. First pitch of the inning too. Wasn’t even a bad pitch. Down and away heater, and Cano hit it out the other way. Great hitter does great hitter things. Sucks. Anyway, in the ninth, Didi Gregorius drew a leadoff walk and Torreyes came through with the game-tying two-out single after pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury moved up on a wild pitch. Can’t say I saw that coming.
  • The Walk-Off Loss: Not really much to say about the game-losing rally. Adam Warren just didn’t have it. Ben Gamel smoked a leadoff double, Cano was intentionally walked, then Nelson Cruz yanked a ball to left for a walk-off single. What can you do? First earned run allowed by Warren since May 23rd. If Cruz had any decency, he would have hit a walk-off three-run home run so the Yankees could have avoided another one-run loss. They’re now 9-19 in one-run games, which means little but annoys lots.
  • Leftovers: Every starter had a hit except Todd Frazier, who did drive in New York’s first run with a double play. He is 1-for-13 with the Yankees so far … the other Frazier had a single and a double, both crushed off the wall. He was thrown out at second trying to stretch the single into a double … Tommy Kahnle struck out three and hit a batter in his scoreless inning. He’s faced ten batters as a Yankee: six strikeouts, two fly outs, one ground out, one hit batsman.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. The Yankees wrap up this four-game series with the Mariners — as well as this eleven games in ten days road trip — Sunday afternoon. That’s a 4pm ET start. Luis Cessa and Yovani Gallardo are the scheduled starters. Not-so-bold prediction: runs will be scored. (Update: Caleb Smith, not Cessa, will start Sunday. The Yankees announced the late change following the game.)

Minor League Update: I have neither the time nor the energy for a full DotF tonight. Sorry. Here are the box scores and here’s the short version: OF Jake Cave had three hits, RHP Bryan Mitchell allowed three runs in 6.1 innings, CF Jorge Mateo drew a walk, CF Estevan Florial had two singles and a double, SS Wilkerman Garcia had two singles, DH Steven Sensley hit a solo homer, and 3B Andres Chaparro hit two homers.

Game 96: Make it Three in a Row

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The Yankees have won the last two games in convincing fashion, with strong performances from the starting pitching, the bullpen, and the lineup (for the most part, at least). A win tonight would give them their first three-game winning streak since they won six in a row from June 7 through 12, and their first series victory since that same stretch (they swept the Orioles). They’ll look to do so with a reasonable approximation of their ‘A’ lineup, and the maddeningly inconsistent Masahiro Tanaka on the mound.

I say “reasonable approximation,” because Starlin Castro is back on the disabled list, meaning we’ll be treated to more Ronald Torreyes. Tyler Wade has been recalled to take his spot on the roster for the time being.

If you care about such things, it might be worth noting that Tanaka has dominated the Mariners in five starts, pitching to the following line – 37 IP, 26 H, 4 BB, 38 H, 1.95 ERA. Here’s the lineup that he’ll face tonight; the Yankees will counter with this:

  1. Brett Gardner, CF
  2. Clint Frazier, LF
  3. Aaron Judge, RF
  4. Matt Holliday, DH
  5. Gary Sanchez, C
  6. Didi Gregorius, SS
  7. Todd Frazier, 3B
  8. Garrett Cooper, 1B
  9. Ronald Torreyes, 2B

Tonight’s game is slated to start at 9:10 PM EST, and it’ll be broadcast on YES.

Trade Deadline Rumors: Darvish, Gray, First Base, Betances

Darvish. (Tom Pennington/Getty)
Darvish. (Tom Pennington/Getty)

The July 31st non-waiver trade deadline is only nine days away now, and already the Yankees have made their most significant midseason trade in several years. Since … the Bobby Abreu deal? Nothing else comes to mind. Anyway, here are the latest rumors and rumblings.

Rangers gauging interest in Darvish

According to Jeff Passan, the Rangers have started reaching out to teams to gauge interest in staff ace Yu Darvish. Texas is slipping in the standings and out of the postseason race, so with Darvish set to become a free agent after the season, it only makes sense to see what teams will offer. Jerry Crasnick says the Rangers plan to wait as long as possible before making a trade. They want to see whether they can climb back into the race first.

The Yankees are said to be in the market for a starter and Darvish would be, by frickin’ far, the best available pitcher should the Rangers decide to actually trade him. The rental part is the problem. There’s no doubt Darvish would make the Yankees (or any other team) better. I don’t think the Yankees are willing to trade their top prospects — it’ll no doubt take at least one great prospect to nab Darvish — for a rental. The Yankees want to improve their postseason chances this season. The long-term plan still dominates their activity though.

A’s have named their price for Gray

The Athletics have told the Yankees their price for right-hander Sonny Gray, reports Jon Heyman. There’s no word on what that price is, but they’ve named it. The two sides are not close to a deal. Not coincidentally, Matt Kardos says the A’s had director of player personnel Billy Owens scouting Double-A Trenton on Thursday night. Jorge Mateo was in the lineup that night and Domingo Acevedo was on the mound. Hmmm.

“We’re going to stay engaged (with the A’s),” said Brian Cashman to Ethan Sears. Darvish is a better pitcher than Gray on a per-inning basis, though Darvish being a rental and Gray being under team control through 2019 is a huge difference. I think the Yankees would be more willing to trade prospects for the guy they can keep another two seasons, and I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all. That said, I don’t expect the Yankees to budge on their plan to keep their best close-to-MLB prospects. If a Gray deal gets done, it’ll be without those guys.

Yankees still open to adding a first baseman

Although Todd Frazier is now a Yankees, they remain open to adding a first baseman, reports Mark Feinsand. They are content to move forward with a Chase Headley/Garrett Cooper platoon at first base (that is one hell of a sentence), though if an opportunity to acquire an upgrade presents itself, they’ll pounce. Rentals Yonder Alonso and Lucas Duda are the big first base names out there.

Basically no team in baseball needs a first baseman right now, so the Yankees are in position to sit back, wait for the prices to drop as the deadline approaches, then make a move if something makes sense. More than anything, this is a pretty good indication the Yankees have reached their limit with Headley, who can still get on base a bit, but otherwise doesn’t offer enough offensively. He might end up spending the final year of his contract elsewhere next season, even if the Yankees have to pay a chunk of his salary.

(Mark Brown/Getty)
(Mark Brown/Getty)

Cashman says Betances is staying put

Even before the Yankees acquired David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, there was speculation the club could move Dellin Betances at the trade deadline similar to the Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman trades. Then once Robertson and Kahnle were brought on board, the speculation only increased. Now the Yankees have replacement setup men. Cashman shot all that down though. Here’s what he told MLB Network Radio this week (audio link):

“I have no intention of moving Dellin Betances. He’s a four-time All-Star and he’s a homegrown local guy. He’s as much a part of the solution of where we’re going. I’ve heard the rumblings and speculation out there. I don’t like to really address speculation, but I can tell you that Dellin Betances is not going anywhere.”

Never say never, right? Cashman says he has no intention of moving Betances … until someone puts a juicy offer in front of him. He’ll listen to trade offers for Betances the same way he listens to trade offers for everyone. I truly believe the goal behind the Robertson and Kahnle trade was adding them to Betances in the bullpen, not using them to replace Betances. They want a monster bullpen and, on paper, they have it.

Yankees were in the mix for Garcia

Before the whole non-trade saga with the Twins, the Yankees were pursuing Braves left-hander Jaime Garcia, reports Heyman. No idea if they’re still pursuing him. Here’s my Scouting The Market post. Garcia is boring and unspectacular, though he’s better than Bryan Mitchell and Luis Cessa, and the Yankees presumably could acquire him on the cheap. His injury history and the fact he’s a rental drives the price down.

Right now, my hunch is the Yankees are not going to make a significant trade for a starting pitcher like Gray. I think they’ll target rentals for the time being, just to get them through the season. They’re going to look for 2014 Brandon McCarthy in 2017, basically. That would be the optimal outcome. I can’t imagine the Yankees are done. You don’t go out and make that trade with the White Sox, then call it a day. The need in the rotation is too great to not get something done.

Judge’s monster homer leads Yanks to 5-1 win over Mariners

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the Yankees have won two straight games and are 5-4 since the All-Star break. Crazy, I know. They might actually win a series this weekend. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. The Yankees took the second game of this four-game set against the Mariners on Friday night by the score of 5-1. Monster home runs and dynamite relief pitching. My kinda ballgame. West Coast night games get bullet points recaps, so let’s get to it:

  • Vintage Sabathia: Vintage start for CC Sabathia. He labored a bit early, everyone freaked out about his pitch count, and yet there he was on the mound in the sixth inning, with only one run on the board. And that run scored because Chase Headley is a third baseman playing first. He ranged too far to his right on a ground ball and missed the bag when he rushed to get back. That would have been the final out of the first inning. Instead, the runner was safe and a run scored. Womp womp. Sabathia allowed the one run on four hits and three walks in five innings plus one batter. He struck out five. A workmanlike effort.
  • Loud Contact: The first two innings did not go to well against rookie righty Andrew Moore. The Yankees got to him in the third when back-to-back doubles by Headley and Clint Frazier — Frazier flicked his wrists and smashed the ball off the center field wall — tied the game 1-1. Later in the inning Aaron Judge added a long sacrifice fly to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. They broke it open in the fifth inning. Single by Brett Gardner, single by Gary Sanchez, three-run home run by Judge. He almost hit it out of Safeco Field. The video is above. The guy in the last row of the upper deck caught it. Insane. Feels like an eternity since Judge last that. That mammoth homer gave the Yankees a 5-1 lead.
  • Bullpen On Parade: With the four-run lead, Joe Girardi went to his top relievers. Tommy Kahnle (one strikeout) in the sixth, David Robertson (three strikeouts) in the seventh, and Dellin Betances (two strikeouts) in the eighth. Adam Warren threw the ninth with the four-run lead. Aroldis Chapman has pitched five times in the last eight days, so yeah. Betances allowed a double just inside the bag and an opposite field single, but otherwise the bullpen shut things right down. Glad to have Robertson back. Some guys just look right in a Yankees uniform.
  • Leftovers: Nice little game for Clint Frazier, who doubled off the wall and made a great diving catch in left field. He also hit two other balls on the screws for outs. If they send Clint back to Triple-A when Aaron Hicks gets healthy, we riot … three hits for Didi Gregorius and two for Headley. The only starter without a hit was Todd Frazier … only three strikeouts for the offense, their second lowest total of the season. They struck out once in a game against the Rays in April (Jordan Montgomery‘s debut).

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. This series continues Saturday night — that’s a 9pm ET start — with Masahiro Tanaka and lefty Ariel Miranda on the mound. The first series win in more than a month is within reach.


Source: FanGraphs

DotF: Robinson hits two homers in Staten Island’s win

Here are the day’s notes:

  • Two roster clearing moves, per Matt Kardos: RHP Branden Pinder has been released and RHP Dillon McNamara has been traded to the Giants for … something. Not sure what. Probably cash. Pinder had allowed just one run (unearned) in 11.2 innings back from Tommy John surgery.
  • 3B Miguel Andujar is away from Triple-A Scranton because he’s about to become a dad. He’s currently in New York with his girlfriend, who will soon give birth, reports D.J. Eberle. Congrats to them.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Charlotte, walk-off style)

  • 3B Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB
  • CF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
  • DH Mike Ford: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K — walk-off single
  • RF Billy McKinney: 0-3, 2 K
  • LF Mason Williams: 0-3 — threw a runner out at second
  • RHP Chance Adams: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 12/1 GB/FB — 64 of 95 pitches were strikes (67%) … only his second career start with zero strikeouts, and the first only last an inning due to rain … the ground balls are really good though

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Game 95: CC’s Birthday

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

The Yankees opened this four-game series with the Mariners with a nice win last night. Luis Severino outpitched Felix Hernandez and the offense put just enough runs on the board. The Yankees are 4-4 so far on this eleven-game road trip, so they still need two more wins to clinch a winning trip. That would also clinch their first series win in more than a month. Remember series wins?

Anyway, CC Sabathia will be on the mound tonight, and today is his 37th birthday. Happy birthday, big guy. It really snuck up, huh? Seems like just yesterday the Yankees were trying to sign 28-year-old Sabathia as a free agent. Sabathia pitched very well last time out and he’s been pretty darn good all season. I’m so glad he’s reinvented himself late in his career. Those three bad years from 2013-15 were no fun. Here is the Mariners’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. 1B Chase Headley
  9. LF Clint Frazier
    LHP CC Sabathia

It is cool and cloudy again in Seattle tonight. I’m not sure whether the Safeco Field roof is open. Tonight’s game will begin at 10:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.