New York Yankees: 3 major takeaways from the Yankee’s win over the Phillies and today’s preview

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees. traveled to Clearwater, Florida yesterday and put on a show of how the game of baseball should be played. They used a mix of the long ball and small ball over nine innings to display the game elements that win games. Mix that with good pitching, and you will win most games. The Yankees won the game 6-1, and they did it with their “B” lineup.

Gerrit Cole:

Gerrit Cole bounced back from his one inning struggle in his first start of the season. In his first start, he struggled to throw 27 pitches in one inning and giving up a run. A subject at least at the beginning of the season is who is catching Cole. Last season he had a personal catcher in Kyle Higashioka. Manager Aaron Boone said before spring training started that that would not be the case this season. But that conversation is not going to go away. In his first game, Gary Sanchez caught the ace, and as I said, it was obvious with so many pitches that he struggled.

In yesterday’s game, he was caught by Kyle Higashioka, who was his personal catcher during 2020. Last year demonstrated the difference in his ERA when caught by Sanchez vs. Higashioka. 3.91 with Sanchez and 1.10 with Higashioka. Yesterday seemed to demonstrate that same difference. Pitching to Higashioka, he lowered his ERA from 9.00 to 4.50, pitching 3 innings.

Jonathan Loaisiga:

Encouraging news for the New York Yankees arising out of yesterday’s game was that Jonathan Loaisiga was again nearly perfect in his second outing. He pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Gerrit Cole. He pitched four innings of scoreless ball over both of his games while striking out eight opponents while allowing no walks.

This kind of performance from Loaisiga has to be encouraging for the Yankees as they will be missing Zack Britton for at least two or three weeks of the regular season while he recovers from elbow surgery to remove some bone chips from his elbow. Luis Cessa, the Yankee’s main mid-reliever, has struggled so far in spring training. The New York Yankees will need Loaisiga to continue his excellent pitching displays.

Get singles and steal bases:

The New York Yankees proved yesterday that they could win when not using their “A” lineup. The Yankees used a combination of a homer from Aaron Hicks and a lot of small ball to propel them to a win. Five of the six runs they scored in the game were via the small ball. The Yankees used a mix of singles, doubles, and base stealing to overcome the Phillies. The lineup yesterday did not include two power hitters that are Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

Aaron Hicks set the game’s tone, homering in the first inning, but it was the Yankee’s 14 hits in the game that won it for them. Andrew Velazquez, Oswald Peraza, and Chris Gittens shone in the game. It also helped that the Yankees played errorless ball. With the possibility of a Grand Slam from the Phillies, the Yankee’s Matt Vierling robbed the Phillies with a jumping catch at the wall.

Today the New York Yankees will take on the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. The Yankee’s Jameson Taillon will take on the Tiger’s Julio Teheran. This will be Taillon’s second start in three games. So far, he has only given up two hits, one walk, and no earned runs while striking out five opponents across three innings.

 

New York Yankees: Andrew Velazquez determined to make the Yankee roster (Video)

On January 5, 2021, the New York Yankees signed Bronx native Andrew Velazquez to a minor league contract. The Morris Park section of The Bronx young man is determined to make it to Yankee Stadium this season. He recently said: “I’ll bust my ass to get on the Yankee roster.”

Velazquez says he was a Yankee fan ever since he was a baby. He attended Fordham Prep, where he was a star player. He was a seventh-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2012. He committed to Virginia tech but went pro right out of high school. When he was in the minor leagues, he said:

“I always made sure I got to Yankee Stadium for a game,” Velazquez said. “I was a fan since I was a baby and I also used it as motivation. I never really envisioned having the opportunity to play for the Yankees at a young age, but this is part of my journey now.”

The infielder and third baseman made the Major Leagues with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018. In 2020 he got to play in 40 games in the shortened season with the Baltimore Orioles before signing with the New York Yankees during the offseason. Being a Yankees was a childhood dream for the 26-year-old, but he never thought it would come true.

“My trainer lives right next to Yankee Stadium, so I’m picturing myself there when I drive by every day, trying to manifest it and think about what it would be like to play for them there,’’ Valazquez said.

During 2019 with the Rays, he got to play three games at Yankee Stadium; he said he had so many ticket requests from family and friends that he ended up playing those games for free. He said his favorite player with the New York Yankees was Derek Jeter, but not for the reasons you may think.

“It was by chance,” Velazquez said. “I wore No. 2 in tee-ball and I was watching a Yankee game with my Dad and saw someone wearing that number, so I decided he’d be my favorite player.”

As he approached his teen years, he saw more and more games at Yankee Stadium. When he was ten, his family had his birthday party there. Recently he was asked why he chose to play with the Yankees.

“It seemed like the right fit,” Velazquez said. “One thing that steered me to them was what happened with [Gio] Urshela. Every player is different, but he was kind of in the same position as me before he got there. He’d been designated for assignment and got an opportunity with the Yankees. I don’t know if they changed his swing, but you could see how he took off after he got there.”

Andrew Velazquez is a talented young player. He’s an outstanding defender, but he will have to improve his hitting if he hopes to get to play in the majors with the Yankees. Last year for the Rays, he hit only .159 for Baltimore. If the Yankees coaching can get him back to how he hit for the Tampa Bay Rays (.300) in 2018, he just might have a chance to play for the Yankees at some point during the 2021 season.

 

 

In the photo accompanying this article Andrew Velazquez is the player that is standing in the Rays bullpen.

New York Yankees: Yankees sign Velazquez, teams calling on Higashioka, and more

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

The New York Yankees have added infield depth by signing Andrew Velazquez to a Minor League deal. Velazquez is a Bronx, New York native that attended Fordham Prep. High School.  The MLB Network’s John Heyman reported the news. It’s not the infield signing that the Yankee fans were hoping for, but they are still negotiating a deal with DJ LeMahieu.

The Velazquez deal was a bit surprising because the Yankees have made it a priority to sign DJ LeMahieu and have pretty much put everything else on hold until they know the outcome of that signing. It is projected that the Yankees may have to pay DJ as much as $25 million to stay in pinstripes. With that in mind, that leaves only $5 to $10 million for the Yankees to spend on all their other needs, if they are to stay below that $210 million luxury tax threshold.

Velazquez spent the 2020 season with the Baltimore Orioles. He appeared in 40 games last season. General manager Brian Cashman must see something in the 26 year old as he hit only .159 with the Orioles. His batting average over four years is just .156 for the Rays, Indians, and Baltimore.  If called up he would give manager Boone a lefty option in the lineup, as he is a switch hitter.  It’s hard to measure his value as between the three teams, he has played in only 68 games as shortstop, second baseman and playing in the outfield.

Teams trying to pry Kyle Higashioka away from the Yankees

Brian Cashman while talking on Wednesday about the Yankee catching situation, he indicated that he has received several calls about if Kyle Higashioka would be available this offseason. Cashman put an immediate damper on those requests, saying that Higashioka is going nowhere.

Last season “Higgy” commanded a more important role with the New York Yankees. He become ace Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher and later in the season and postseason caught in as many games as Gary Sanchez, Sanchez only caught in two of the post season games.

Cashman also addressed the Sanchez situation, saying that Sanchez will be the starting catcher for the Yankees next season. The team gave him a tendered contract for about $5 million for the year. But Cashman did say that Kyle will be competing for starts as well.

Cashman looks to improve the bullpen

In a conversation yesterday, New York Yankee general manager Brian Cashman stated that he is looking to improve the bullpen, after losing Tommy Kahnle to Tommy John surgery. He will miss the entire 2021 season during rehab.  Cash made the comment while talking about the signing of Andrew Velazquez an infielder.

Cashman has made some moves already by signing Matt Bowman, Nestor Cortes Jr., and Adam Warren to beef up the bullpen. Bowman was signed to a Minor League contract.

Negro Leagues advanced to Major League status

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the Negro Leagues have been promoted to Major League status. Manfred described the move as “correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history.”

MLB Communications
@MLB_PR

Commissioner Manfred announced today that

is officially elevating the Negro Leagues to “Major League” status. Culminating the centennial celebration of the founding of the Negro Leagues, MLB is proud to highlight the contributions of the pioneers who played from 1920-1948.

The move puts Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Turkey Stearnes, Oscar Charleston, Jackie Robinson, and about 3,400 other Negro players in the same league as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and other great baseball players.