On this day in New York Yankees history, two players went down the tube

New York Yankees, Larry Rothschild

When someone flops in a New York Yankees, oh mein GOT, (That’s German for OH MY GOD!) it is a spectacular flop. While it may be meant to bring light to the suffering and misfortune of one former Yankee, this decision ultimately lead to the downward spiral of two once-promising careers. Not just as Yankees, but promising careers as major league pitchers that went kersplat.

Ten Years Ago, Phil Hughes Replaced Joba Chamberlain in the Rotation

God do I feel old.

Ten years ago today, while I was halfway through the spring semester of my junior year at college, the Yankees sent Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen in favor of Phil Hughes. Hughes, who was valuable as hell during their run to the championship a year ago, was ELECTRIC out of the pen since 2007. Joba, meanwhile, had one of his most lackluster seasons at that point in 2009, going 9-6 in 31 starts, with an ERA well above 4.

Hughes would have an All-Star season in 2010, going 18-8, with 146 K’s in 176.1 innings pitched, to an ERA of 4.19 (not great, but very few have the ability to maintain excellence throughout the entirety of a season. Look at Severino’s 2017 and 2018). Joba would pitch his final full season before needing Tommy John surgery. After that, he was never the same pitcher. Even with the Tigers, Royals, and Indians

What I firmly believe screwed up Phil Hughes was the Yankees insisting on following “the Joba Rules” to try and preserve Hughes as much as possible. The point remains, you don’t shut down someone with double-digit wins on the season because you’re “worried about his arm” or any poor excuse. Hughes, when it was announced his season would end early in 2010 (his only All-Star season) was never the same again. He was inconsistent at best the remainder of his time in New York.

So, 10 years ago today, the Yankees may have had an unspeakable negative impact on not just one, but two promising major league pitchers.

New York Yankees: COVID-19 Continues to Hinder One Yankee Prospect

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

As we continue into this COVID-19 world, it seems a little disingenuous to talk about the start to the New York Yankees season, when it’s not 100% clear if it will come before or after Memorial Day. But you gotta just look at what’s happening and say “The world is telling you, Cash, you got to make a decision about Clint Frazier.”

The Injuries That Helped Him Now Erased

If everything from MLB is to be believed at this point, there will be a couple of Spring Training games to get the players ready for the (ultimately) truncated 2020 season. We’re still a week away from April, with no real clear sight that the fluid restart to NBA, NHL, MLS, and MLB action is coming soon. So all it means is that Clint Frazier will, once again, start the baseball season in the minors.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OUR FIRESIDE YANKEES YOUTUBE CHANNEL!

Stanton had a minor calf strain. Well, maybe not minor, but the least severe calf strain you could get. He was going to be ready by mid-April at the latest. Judge needs time for his lung and rib to heal. Well… he certainly has that in spades right now. With Gardner, Tauchman, Wade, and Andujar rounding out the depth in the outfield for the 26 man roster, the only question is just how slow it’ll take Judge to even begin working out again in the gym. Once we get that answer, Frazier won’t see the show again barring more injuries to Stanton and Judge. Gardner’s getting older, so he could see some time on the IL this season. But it’ll take 2 injuries to get Frazier some at-bats in the Bronx. And right now, that can’t be expected until June-August.

He’s Running Out of Options

He’s nearing the point where the New York Yankees will no longer be able to just call him up and send him back to the minors at will. He’ll need to be Designated for Assignment, then clear waivers. While his defense is still suspect, an AL team would jump at the chance to claim Frazier. Which makes moving him as the central piece in a trade all the more difficult for Brian Cashman. In the minor’s, he didn’t make the necessary improvements he needed in 2019 to show the big club his fielding blunders in 2019 were just a fluke. He also has some difficulty staying healthy. The time he missed due to concussion will give some teams pause as well when being offered a trade for Frazier.

I’ve said it before to my friends, and I’ll say it to you all today: If the Yankees had faith at all in Frazier’s defensive abilities, they’d have let Gardner walk in the offseason, and wouldn’t be training Andujar to be an outfielder. If 2020 isn’t going to feature Clint Frazier at all on the big club, Cashman needs to get the best offer he can for him, before they lose him to waivers.

New York Islanders: Devon Toews’s Seesaw Sophomore Season will benefit him in the Future

The second season for any National Hockey League player is always a fascinating one, and it was no different for New York  Islanders’ Devon Toews.

Toews, who recorded 28 points in 68 games before the season was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, experienced the highs and lows that come with being a sophomore in the NHL after he came shot out of a cannon in his rookie year in 2018-19.

As this season got underway, Toews had solidified himself in the top-4 on defense for the Isles. It was a result of his strong rookie campaign.

The hype around the 26-year-old had built up for a while before he first joined the Isles in December 2018 after veteran d-man Thomas Hickey suffered a concussion. He quickly showed that hype was real. Toews stuck with the big club the rest of the season and became a regular fixture on the blue line showing off his excellent skating and two-way style.

He also had a coming-out party of sorts in the postseason. Toews was the Isles’ best all-around player when Carolina swept them, and his final stat line in the playoffs read five points in eight games. At that moment, it felt like not only was Toews off to the races, but the Islanders were too.

“I knew he was a good skater and his ability to move the puck and transport it and all that,” head coach Barry Trotz said last season about Toews to reporters.

“Probably the poise; the poise in small areas, where some guys feel crowded if you will. They get the puck, and they whack it. He seems to have the poise in small areas, which is pretty beneficial when you can make those small plays and understand how much pressure is around you. That part is probably what surprised me the most, the poise.”

Toews looked as last season wasn’t a fluke he with how hot on he was in the early going this season. He notched seven points in the first ten games, was averaging 18-21 minutes a night, and his display of swagger and confidence looked to be setting him up for a big season.

After the Isles’ 17-game point streak, his game seemed to tail off a bit. The term “sophomore slump” began to float its way out there, but its hard to say if it was precisely that. Sure the points weren’t coming in droves as they came earlier in the year, and some of his decisions with and without the puck could be questioned, but Toews was still contributing with his solid defensive play and helping quarterback the power play.

Then there came the Washington game just before the All-Star break, which was arguably Toews’s best and worst game of his career.

Toews had tallied three points — a goal and two assists –but it was his infamous mocking of the Caps’ Evgeny Kuznetsov’s bird celebration after he made it a 4-1 game that had a lasting effect. The Isles would surrender five straight goals in the third period and lost 6-4.

Trotz was furious with Toews and called out him out for “poking the bear” and exhibiting his immaturity.

“I didn’t like some of the antics,” he acknowledged after that loss. “It was a little bit immature on our part. Last year, we were dialed in there. This year, we’re not dialed in there in trying to accept what we really are.”

It’s moments such as that one that will be a learning tool for Toews to use, whether this season resumes or as he gets ready for next season. The same too for some of the other times, he prospered and dealt with adversity.

 Toews has proven he’s going to be a quality defenseman for the Islanders for a very long time, and the organization knows it. That’s why g.m. Lou Lamoriello is so adamant that he won’t have a problem signing him or the club’s two other RFAs — Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock — for that matter.

Even at 26, there’s still room for Toews to grow his game both from a maturity standpoint as well as his performance on the ice. And going through an up-and-down season might have been the best thing for him at this stage of his career.

New York Yankees: It’s Opening Day, but where is the crack of the bat?

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

For the New York Yankees fans, today was supposed to be the start of the 2020 baseball season in Baltimore.  The stands are clean, the grass is mowed, and vendors are ready with their hot dogs and chicken wings, but there is one thing missing on this opening day.  The crack of the bat is nowhere to be heard.

This is the time of the year that we are bombarded with sports; after all, it’s the time for the college basketball sweet 16, March Madness, and the start of the baseball season for fans across the country.  But this is a different time, a time not experienced in our lifetimes.  There is no sports of any kind, no school, no non-essential shopping, and one-third of the county has been ordered to stay at home.

March Madness has taken on a new meaning for most of us, it’s the madness of being paranoid about touching anything outside of the home, the madness of staying at a safe distance from others, the madness of being scared that you will get this scary coronavirus.  Then the second set of madnesses creeps in.  If I do get sick will there be a hospital bed for me if I need one?  Will there be a nurse and doctor to care for me?  All these worries make us realize the missing the crack of the bat from that Aaron Judge home run is insignificant compared to what we face.

After being closed in with family members for a week or two, we are beginning to realize this is not a vacation, it’s a quarantine where we can’t socialize, we can look out the window at the parking lot, trash container or scenic view, but we can’t venture out and get away from 24/7 coronavirus news coverage and updates.  We can’t watch our New York Yankees, and we suffer from cabin fever. We are even forgetting if today is Wednesday or Thursday.

Possibly the biggest concern on our minds is how long this quarantine or self-quarantine will last, another week, two weeks, a month or more?  Maybe we wonder if we will have a job once all this is over.  But low and behold, this will end my friends, maybe later than sooner, but it will end and we will get back to our normal daily lives, maybe not unharmed, or untouched, but we will get through it together.

We are in a war, not against an overseas foe, but a world-wide virus pandemic.  This war like any war brings out the best in Americans.  We step up in so many ways to help our fellow man.  Doctors and nurses come out of retirement to argument existing medical professionals, college students out of school, act as baby sitters for ever tiring health care workers.  Civic organizations step up to feed the young that are missing school lunches.  Many employers step up to pay workers as long as they can while not working, and neighbors help neighbors.

That is the beauty of America when in crisis.  Other than the price gouger, most Americans do the right thing, whether its social distancing or caring for those that need care.  The best way to look at this undeniable crisis is to imagine a rainbow. We are working our way up that rainbow and it will reach it’s worst at the top, but then ultimately we will start to slide down the other side of the rainbow.  At the bottom, this rainbow may not have a pot of gold, but it will be a return to normalcy.

There is no playbook for all of this.  Although many sports, including the Olympics, may be canceled or postponed, baseball due to the length of the season will most likely start in some form or fashion.  It won’t be a 162 game season, but the boys of summer will eventually take to the field and the New York Yankees and other teams will battle it out for a World Series title.  Keep the faith my Yankee friends and take care of each other.

New York Jets: Should the Jets Target Stephen Gostkowski?

New York Jets, Jason Myers

The New York Jets have a gigantic need for a kicker after a tumultuous season where they went through 4 different kickers. A couple of interesting names hit free agency like Greg Zuerlein and Ryan Succop but the newest member, Stephen Gostkowski, is intriguing. The New York Jets could use Stephen Gostkowski, but how much would a marriage between the two look like?

Résumé

Stephen Gostkowski was drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 draft by the New England Patriots and ever since then, he has been one of the elite kickers in the league. Gostkowski is the Patriots all-time leading scorer and he holds the NFL record for consecutive extra points. A 3-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler Gostkowski has been one of the leagues best since entering the league.

Contract

Gostkowski will most likely want to be one of the highest-paid kickers in the league and luckily for him, the Jets have the second-most cap room left in the NFL. Justin Tucker is the highest-paid kicker in the league making an average of 5 million a year, if the Jets want Gostkowski, they’d have to offer something similar. A reasonable deal between the two would be a 9-million-dollar deal stretched over two years with the 5 million guaranteed.

Likelihood

The chances of Gostkowski coming to the Jets are very unlikely considering Gostkowski still has some sort of loyalty towards the Patriots and would probably no come to a division rival out of respect. The Jets have also been penny pinchers this offseason and are not willing to overpay for players no matter how much the team needs them. The Jets have plenty of options to look at this year in the draft with names like Rodrigo Blankenship and Tyler Bass if they choose to go the younger and cheaper route.

New York Yankees receive good injury news across the board – Hicks, Judge, Stanton, Paxton

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees have struggled with injuries this offseason; there’s no question about it. However, most of their injured players are recovering nicely, notably James Paxton, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks.

Hicks is a different case, though, as he played out the postseason in 2019 despite needing Tommy John surgery. The incredible amount of pain-tolerance and motivation Hicks contained last season is courageous.

Manager Aaron Boone provided injury updates on several players this week:

Hicks has officially started his comeback trail program — throwing down in Arizona at his house. Paxton is in Wisconsin with his family, continuing to progress through his throwing program. The lefty starter will inevitably return far sooner than Hicks, who is projected to miss the first half of the 2020 campaign.

Judge, who suffered a stress fracture in a rib last September supposedly, has seen minor improvements in recent days. He is finally resting and taking stress off the injury after scans unveiled a collapsed lung that has since healed. How he didn’t notice this is beyond me.

Stanton, the other Yankees’ slugger, is just about fully healed from a grade 1 calf strain. Despite all of the positive news, the team has not set a date for return, and the MLB is pondering the future season ahead. Will they extend it beyond October or cut games from the regular season? I would imagine the former option makes more sense, but the cold weather can play a detrimental factor for teams on the East Coast.

Boone stated regarding the future season:

“I’m still kind of optimistic [and] hoping for the best that we can get in as many games as possible,’’ Boone said during a conference call Wednesday.

“Obviously, the schedule is gonna be altered to some degree. But this is something that’s bigger,’’ Boone said. “We’re not gonna be able to have our way or our number or the perfect outcome. Our job when we come back, ultimately, is gonna be bigger than the game and all of us, as well.”

For the average fan, getting baseball back is the goal; however, there are more dire situations unfolding across the planet that require far more awareness and concern.

CitiField Will be Eerily Silent on This Opening Day

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

When we saw that the 2020 MLB season was set to open on March 26, we all said the same thing. A bit early , no? But none of us are saying that now. We all wish there was baseball  – or any other semblance of normal American life – happening today.

The Coronavirus had derailed every aspect of our existence at the very least. At the most it is taking lives and altering and shattering many others and it is far from over. In fact, we still might be weeks before the virus peaks here in New York City.

There is very little to take our minds off the virus and it’s devastating effect on the health of our citizens and the destruction of daily life. All of our normal distractions are gone. Survival is the only goal right now. How do we get through this is the main question on everyone’s mind.

New York is a resilient town and we will figure it out. There will be pain and suffering unfortunately. That cannot be avoided. In the interim, everyone is being asked to do their part. So far, we are.

Today I would have been out at CitiField with my brother. Instead, I am home tending to my wife and her mother who are both battling the virus. So far they are managing but it has been a slow process. My brother is also fighting Coronavirus. He is holed up in his Manhattan apartment for the next two weeks so that he doesn’t infect others.

To distract myself, I went out for walk this morning doing my part to distance myself from anyone who tried to come close to me. I am thinking about all of the opening days I have been to in my lifetime. The first one was in 1968 at Shea Stadium. It was the first of many. My father used to pull us out of school to go to the game. Most years it was too cold for Baseball but who cared? The crowds always showed up with newfound exuberance and hope. It was always a glorious day regardless of the weather.

This year, it will be high 50s and sunny and the ballpark will be empty. We all understand why but they doesn’t mean I still won’t sad.

“Thursday, they would have greeted close to 20,000 cars as they arrived at Citi Field,” writes The Post’s Mike Vaccaro. “They are as much a part of the neighborhood as McFadden’s bar, as the elevated subway tracks, the World’s Fair globe a few blocks away. Thursday is also supposed to be sunny all day, not a cloud to be found in the forecast with a high of 58 degrees….Thursday would have been a perfect day. Thursday was supposed to be Opening Day.”

No question Opening Day came early this year but considering where we are now, it can’t come soon enough. But first things first. Let’s defeat this scourge of a virus. They’ll be plenty of time for baseball when it’s over.

New York Yankee News: Health dept., Minor Leaguers, Mariano Rivera, and more!

Is the new medical staff as inept as the old?

The New York Yankees medical staff missed the boat last season when Aaron Judge diving for a catch in the outfield popped a rib.  Judge told the medical staff that he heard a crack and a pop when he hit the ground.  The Yankee medical staff rested him for a day, clearly not doing the tests needed.  Judge was in touch with the Yankees during the offseason, and they were aware that he was suffering some type of problem with his shoulder.   When he reported to spring training, he was still suffering the soreness.  Yet the response was to rest him.  If this staff doesn’t do needed tests first instead of last, we may expect more prolonged injuries again this season.

The status of Minor League COVID-19 patients

At about the same time that MLB canceled the remainder of the spring training season, a minor leaguer in the separate training complex in Tampa just a short distance from George M. Steinbrenner Field testest positive for coronavirus.  A couple of days after that, another tested positive.  Both only had mild symptoms.  The first, Denny Larrrondo, according to Aaron Boone, was released from quarantine yesterday, and the second who was never named will be in the coming days.

Will a Yankee World Series win be legitimate?

When the New York Yankees season finally starts, and if they win the World Series, will they be stripped of bragging rights?  Former Yankee Hall of Fame reliever Mariano Rivera chimed in on the subject recently on the Michael Kay show.  Rivera intimated that if the season is too short, it will have an asterisk attached to it and not be considered with the same bragging rights if the season was whole.

“Anything can happen in 60 games. I don’t think it’s enough. People don’t play on all cylinders, the whole teams are different. I don’t know. It’s a great question, because I don’t know what’s going to happen if the season is starting in June or July, I don’t think you can play a 60-game season and you call yourself a champion,” Mariano Rivera said.”

What’s new on the Yankee health front?

New York Yankee Manager Aaron Boone has said that Giancarlo Stanton (calf strain) is recovered and ready to go it the season started today.  Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery) is now throwing and will be prepared according to when the season begins.  James Paxton (back surgery) is another player that the loss to the team will be lessened by the season pushback.  He is recovering as expected.  Aaron Judge, who was initially supposed to be ready, now may not be ready even if the season starts in May or June while healing fro a rib fracture.  The Yankees have been unusually silent on Gary Sanchez’s back soreness.

Yankee neighbors will be playing catch together:

During the offseason, the New York Yankees acquired pitching ace Gerrit Cole for the largest contract in MLB history for a pitcher.  Cole, while settling in for his nine-year contract, purchased a beautiful home in Greenwich, CT, that’s just over the New York state line and near manager Aaron Boone’s home.  Over the weekend, Cole and his wife Amy made Instagram fame by releasing a video of them playing catch at their home.  Manager Aaron Boone said that he and Gerrit cole have shared a game of catch at Cole’s home and may again while they wait for the start of the season.

This day in Yankee history:

In 1951, during a spring exhibition game against the University of Southern California at Bovard Field, Mickey Mantle, batting left-handed, hits a home run off Tom Lovrich, which is estimated to travel 650 feet. The 19-year-old rookie’s performance, which includes a single, triple, and another homer, is one of the highlights of the Yankees’ first-ever West Coast trip.

On this day in 1957, Yankee manager Casey Stengel is arrested and released after posting a $50 bail.  He allegedly kicked a member of the media during a spring training game in St Petersburg, Florida.

 

New York Giants: Can Darius Slayton be a WR1 for the Giants?

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants could elect to invest in a wide receiver in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, however, they have plenty of talent at the position they should be confident in.

Second-year player Darius Slayton is one of the pass-catchers who I believe can develop into a WR1 for the Giants, who are looking to make up the lost production ever since Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns.

Slayton’s inception into the NFL was rocky coming out of Auburn. He started rookie camp dropping everything in sight, instantly starting off on a bad note with the coaching staff. However, he picked up his performance and went on to establish himself as one of the best rookie pass-catchers in the league, as a fifth-round pick.

NFL.com initially graded him as a good backup or chance to become a starter, noting his speed and potential to dominate the route tree. His biggest knock was his inability to create separation in man coverage, but he showed that he can make plays against NFL-level corners and produce on offense.

The question now is:

Can the New York Giants find a WR1 in Darius Slayont?

Let’s start off with a simple play that generalizes Slayton’s ability as a wideout.

Slayton runs this slot vertical route perfectly, beating both the cornerback and deep safety with his blazing speed. This is why the Giants drafted Slayton in the first place — note Daniel Jones’ absolute dime of a throw.

In this clip, Slayton runs a comeback route in the middle of the field after directing Sterling Shepard at the line of scrimmage. This is a route Slayton rarely experienced at Auburn, so we can already see his development in the firs quarter of the season.

Next up is a quality deep IN route that finds Slayton with ample space on the sideline to make the grab. Just from the three clips mentioned, we can see that Slayton pieces together an extremely diverse route tree combination in week three of the regular season. We can already justify that his potential is far greater than previously anticipated, based on his progress from vertical and bubble screens.

I anticipate the Giants continuing to test and challenging him in the passing game in 2020. Having pieced together 740 yards and eight scores last year, he has the capabilities to become a WR1, however his floor so far is a quality WR2.

New York Yankees news: Aaron Boone and Gerrit Cole have a play-date, injury updates and more

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

Dealing with injuries has been the bane of the New York Yankees‘ existence the past few seasons, and that reality hasn’t dissipated in recent weeks, as multiple top-line starters have gone down with injuries.

Lately, the Yankees have worked out informally in Tampa, with about 8-10 players sticking around to remain in baseball shape. However, that hasn’t stopped the others from maintaining their physique. Closer Aroldis Chapman has been working out in his Florida home, practicing his pitching in the street to compensate for a lack of live-action.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Aroldis Chapman 🇨🇺 (@_thecubanmissile54) on

As for injured players, they have been progressing through their recovery programs. Giancarlo Stanton, who went down with a grade 1 calf strain several weeks ago, could have played in Spring Training if the MLB hadn’t shut down operations two weeks ago.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone mentioned that he was in contact with GM Brian Cashman on the state of Florida and if they were planning to approve a shelter-in-place policy.

How is Aaron Judge fairing?

Judge remains in “the headling phase,” according to Boone. Judge suffered a cracked rib on his right side last September diving for a ball and only recently discovered the ailment a few weeks ago. They also diagnosed a collapsed lung that had healed itself over the months of discomfort.

Boone and Gerrit Cole have a play-date:

Cole recently purchased a home near Boone, and the two were planning to have a catch in Cole’s backyard. This so-called “catch” occurred on Wednesday.

Boone spoke with YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits on Monday, mentioned the newfound proximity to Cole.

Gerrit Cole lives really close to me now, where they moved. So I went over there and threw with him the other day. And then just keeping in contact. (hitting coach Marcus Thames) was in, and (head trainer) Tim Lentych came to the complex where guys trickle in a little bit. I know there was some guys trickling in (Monday) morning. Now that the weekend’s done, I was going to reach out to a bunch of guys, probably just through text or some phone calls. Just touch base, see how everyone’s doing. Just kind of where you can keep tabs on guys, checking in with coaches like (pitching coach) Matt Blake and (bullpen coach) Mike Harkey are doing a lot to keep track on what the pitchers are doing, keep logging that kind of stuff down and trying to keep in touch with them and what’s exactly going on. Just trying to respect people’s space and family and understanding what a difficult time it is, but also trying as best we can to keep those lines of communication going.