So the Yankees played their final game before the All-Star Break Sunday in uninspiring fashion dropping a second straight 1 run game to the second place Rays 2-1 at Tropicana Field. A Brett Gardner solo homer was all the Yanks could muster among 5 hits off Charlie Morton (10 K’s in 5.2) and 4 Ray relievers. This came a day after Travis d’Arnaud’s walk-off solo homer off Chad Green stunned New York 4-3. d’Arnaud’s jack came just a half inning after Aaron Hicks clutch 2 out 2 run homer off Ray’s Lefty Colin Poche had tied the score at 3. With these back-to-back wins the Ray’s closed to within 6.5 games (8 in the loss column) of the 1st place Bombers.
The Yanks are 57-31 which gives them the best record in the American League. We all know they’ve been beset by injuries to key guys. This team is fun to watch, extremely likable, and for the most part, plays hard every night. To wrap this first half I’ve decided to hit on some random thoughts about the club via bullet points
- DJ LeMahieu is the MVP of this team, and it’s not even close IMO. DJ leads the AL in hitting at .336. He is hitting an insane .462 with RISP. He has brought an element to this team that was missing last season. He rolls out of bed hitting, he hits good pitching, and he’s insanely clutch. Signing LeMahieu to a 2 year $24 million dollar contract may be one of the best signings of the great Brian Cashman’s career as Yankee GM. DJ is certainly incredibly deserving to be the starting second basemen for the American League on Tuesday.
The July 31st trade deadline is 3 weeks from Wednesday. We’ve all heard the recent quotes from Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner that he will not hesitate to go over the 2nd luxury tax threshold if it means adding pitching to help the team with title # 28. One the one hand this is a positive because Hal (like anyone that follows the Yanks) sees this team is on the cusp of a championship. We all see this team needs pitching. James Paxton is clearly not 100% with his knee injury. JA Happ has been not very good. Masahiro Tanaka is a big game pitcher but has these lulls of stink during the season like his start in London. CC Sabathia is on the final few holes of his potentially hall-of-fame career. Domingo German has an innings limits. That just covers the current starters in the rotation. The bullpen “good arms” Chapman, Britton, Ottavino, and Kahnle have been overused because of the inconsistency, and injuries to the rotation. I already gave you my thoughts on the bottom 3rd of the bullpen in a previous column. (yes I know Chad Green has been better lately since returning from the minors) The Yankees probably need 3 additional arms. Best case scenario 2 starters and a reliever. That is easier said than done of course. Knowledgeable fans and I understand how tough GM Brian Cashman’s job is. Most “Twitter GM’s” don’t understand there are prices other teams pay in trades, and there are Yankee prices. That’s why I laugh when people complain about how come the Yankees didn’t get a guy like Gerritt Cole. It’s pretty simple really. A lot of organizations in baseball simply don’t like to help the Yankees because they are the Yankees. Pirates GM Neal Huntington is one of those people. He liked Houston’s prospects better. He made insane demands of the Yankees, and he was going to make Cashman overpay if he really wanted Cole. Cashman did the practical thing and passed. End of discussion.
The problem with this years pitching trade market is there is no real “ace” type starter available. The Nationals would be in the playoffs if they started today. Therefore Max Scherzer is not getting dealt. Madison Bumgarner may be the best option out there as a guy who has performed on the big stage and excelled. Marcus Stroman is now hurt. My preferred option Carlos Carrasco has just revealed that he has Leukemia. (Thoughts and prayers to him). Do you want Corey Kluber coming off an injury? Can Trevor Bauer handle New York? That doesn’t even factor in that the Indians are playing well, and are in the Wild Card lead. I am going to believe Hal.
My prediction is the Yankees get Bumgarner, an innings eater like the Orioles Andrew Cashner (or Seattle’s Mike Leake), and then a veteran reliever like the Marlin’s Sergio Romo or the White Sox Alex Colome. I understand only Bumgarner moves the slightest of needles. Hypothetically speaking Madbum, Cashner, and Romo move German and let’s say Happ to the pen. That moves Cessa, Hale, and Cortes off the roster. You can then go to a 6 man rotation at certain points or put CC and/or Tanaka on the DL randomly to keep things moving(and guys around without demotions or DFA’s) to get to the September 1 roster expansion where you don’t have to worry about it anymore. I am not counting on Luis Severino, or Dellin Betances coming back at all this season. If they do you can cross that proverbial bridge when you come to it. If the Yankees get anything from those 2 it will be gravy.
I thought about this yesterday watching the game. No matter who our favorite teams are regardless of the sport we always have guys that “bug” us, or that we simply don’t like on the roster of those teams. During the Yankee dynasty era (for those old enough) it was Chuck Knoblauch, the random leftfielder, Jose Contreras. More recently, Ian Kennedy, Javy Vasquez, or Eduardo Nunez, you get the idea. Players that just annoyed the hell out of you. Anyway, that guy right now is Aaron Hick for me. Yes, I know Hicks got a few huge hits this weekend. Break it down. Hicks occasionally dogs it on the bases. He thinks he’s some type of prolific power hitters like Judge or Stanton, and we all know about the minor ailments he always seems to suffer from. Sure he is a great outfielder, and has a decent eye at the plate but what else? As brilliant as I think Brian Cashman is I am not a fan of him giving Hicks a 7 year $70 million extensions during the winter.
Christian and I had a fun interaction yesterday on Twitter. Christian is a big Gary Sanchez guy as you all know from the pod. As I’ve stated in this space previously I am not the president of Sanchez’s fan club(and won’t be as long as he keeps having AB’s like that 9th inning train wreck yesterday). At the same time it is ignorant to not recognize the talent Sanchez has, or the huge improvements he has made on his defense. It’s the same thing I deal with almost daily on Twitter with Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton does not suck. Sanchez does not suck. If you want to have those guys be the guy you “hate” on the Yankees that is your prerogative as a fan. Saying that suck or that guys like Cameron Maybin are better is sheer incompetence.
Today’s terrible tweet which I saw on Friday night goes to Charles H Chapman AKA @FlickMeatwood He tweeted this right around the time Nestor Cortes gave up a 2 run single to Kevin Kiermaier that gave the Rays the lead in the bottom of the 7th 4-3. I quote “If the #Yankees are so insistent on giving this game away, why even waste the energy.” Just forfeit, and give EVERYBODY a night off.” What an embarrassment” I am not sure what the Yankees have to do as an organization to get certain fans to understand that they run their organization exclusively off analytical data. That literally every day the reports tell them who is available for what on that given day. Perhaps a Town Hall or Webinar will convince fans. Couple things you can tell about Charles from this. 1, he likes drummers from legendary rock bands. 2. He does really love the Yankees because he only # them and didn’t @ them with such a hurtful, and critical tweet. 3. He hasn’t been paying attention, and really needs the aforementioned webinar to bring him up to speed on the team. 4. He doesn’t understand that baseball is a 9 inning game, and with the power, the Yankees have a 1 run lead is essentially nothing.
Congrats to Chris of NYYST, and his wife Meaghan who are expecting their 3rd child. All the best you crazy kids owe and you're nuts! Kids are hard! LOL
Keep listening to the pod. Keep those 5-star ratings coming, and enjoy the All-Star Break. I hope to be back in a couple of days if life allows it.