New York Yankees: Do the Houston Astros pass the Duck Test?

UNCLE BILL ASKS:  DO THE HOUSTON ASTROS PASS THE DUCK TEST? The New York Yankees should be wary of them during 2020.

Surely you have heard of the Duck Test. “If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”  That phase is generally considered to identify something or someone that is defined by their habitual characteristics.  According to the nine-page report issued by Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred the Houston Astros cheated during the 2017 postseason by the use of electronic means in stealing the signs of opposing catchers.  Okay, now we know that, although we expected it long before the report.

There is also a saying that states, “once a cheater always a cheater,” that is at least until your caught.  It would be natural to wonder if you were successful at cheating, would you give it up or work to refine it even more?  Some believe Houston was successful at it and continued it in even more refined ways, right up to and including this past postseason.   However, the MLB took steps before the 2019 season to further prevent electronic sign-stealing from happening by limiting live feeds and preventing the placement of in house cameras from being placed between the foul poles.

It was evident that the Astros were very creative in scheming to steal signs and allowing their hitters to know what pitch was coming from the opposing pitcher.  Due to their creativity, all kinds of things creep into your mind, like why did Jose Altuve, the MVP of the series, scream at fellow players waiting for him at home plate as he rounded third base.  He shouted twice, “don’t rip off my jersey.”  There are three possibilities.  One is his wife wouldn’t like it, two he wanted to save it as a souvenir of his walk-off homer, or three he was hiding something under his jersey.  Unfortunately, now that they have been proven to be cheaters, the later might well have been true.  He could have had some wiring under his jersey that would signal in some way, possibly through vibrations, what pitch was coming.  If you are of the negative mind, you think that Altuve was intimately involved.

That’s the big problem the Houston Astros will be facing for years to come, the Duck test.  In Minutemaid Park and wherever they travel, fans and the opposing team will continually be wondering if they are cheating in some way.   If you are positive of mind, you will believe the steps the MLB has taken will prevent them from doing so and that they have learned their lesson.   One thing is for sure, the 2020 season for the Houston Astros is going to be a challenge in many ways as they try to restore their reputation and avoid the Duck Test.

New York Yankees: Strip The Astros Title

New York Mets trade for Jake Marisknick

This week has been unbelievable for baseball.

The Houston Astros were punished for cheating in the 2017 season, but there may be more. What they have done over the last few seasons has stopped the New York Yankees from advancing to the World Series, and has affected many other teams as well.

To go along with the sign stealing, there are accusations that Astros players may of had buzzers on their chest in some games, including the 2019 ALCS game six. The buzzers would buzz a certain amount of times to notify players the pitch.

Jose Altuve, who hit the walkoff home run off of Aroldis Chapman, may of had a buzzer on him. As he rounded third base headed for home, he pleaded to his teammates to not rip off his jersey. Watch:

Absolutely unbelievable. This can’t happen, and it may of happened a lot. The MLB needs to review the entire case again and repunish.

Some may think that it’s extreme, but here’s what I think should happen:

-Alex Cora, AJ Hinch, and Jeff Luhnow banned from baseball

-Loss of 2020 and 2021 first and second round picks (current punishment)

-$5 million fine (current punishment)

-Jose Altuve stripped of MVP

-Players from team stripped of any offensive awards from 2017-2019

-World Series title stripped

There should just be no 2017 World Series winner. With what they did, it’s just completely unfair for them to keep the ring and all the accolades. Kudos to pitcher Mike Fiers, who brought light to the whole situation and was brave enough to say something.

More needs to be done. Not doing so will hurt baseball.

Should there have been player punishments in the Astros cheating scandal?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve

The other day MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released the punishments that the Houston Astros are receiving due to their cheating scandal during the 2017 season. However, there were no player punishments given. This was because the players had immunity if they agreed to fully cooperate with Major League Baseball’s investigation.

The decision to not punish players was a bad choice by the MLB. The entire roster was apparently aware of what was going on and knew that it was against the rules. It’s simple: you break the rules, you deserve a punishment.

I don’t believe that every player deserved a ban like AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were given, but something like a small fine would have been appropriate. This would have shown the rest of the league that nobody should be trying to gain an unfair advantage and it would have sent a message to the rest of the league. Major League Baseball missed an opportunity to really say that this is wrong and if it happens again, you will be severely punished.

The consequences that the Astros franchise received were appropriate. The talks of vacating the title from the 2017 year and removing Jose Altuve’s MVP award are something that I personally don’t think should happen. I believe that MLB did a fine job choosing what the Astros received and didn’t go overboard. It may not seem like a lot, but two years of lost picks and the maximum fine allowed sends a message to other clubs that this behavior is unacceptable.

New York Yankees Face Elimination On Friday

New York Yankees, Edwin Encarnacion

It always sucks talking about elimination games, but here we go again for the New York Yankees. They played absolutely horrible on Thursday, having just five hits while making four errors in an 8-3 loss to the Houston Astros.

On Friday, the Yankees will be facing Astros ace Justin Verlander for the second time this series. They did enough against him in game two where it was tied when he exited, thanks to a two-run shot off the bat of Aaron Judge.

But, Yankees game two starter James Paxton will need to do a whole lot more in game five. He needs to be on and go deep into the game. He can’t have another short exit like in game two.

The Yankees haven’t had much offense since game one, since when Giancarlo Stanton was injured. But now, Stanton is back in the lineup and batting fourth, taking the role of DH from the slumping Edwin Encarnacion.

Since it is an elimination game on Friday, the Yankees need to do everything they can to send it to Houston on Saturday. They may need to stretch guys like Tommy Kahnle and Zack Britton a bit, but they can’t be pitching in the early innings.

The ideal situation in my mind would be to try and get six strong from Paxton, go to Kahnle for the seventh, Britton for the eighth, and Chapman for the ninth. But, if it is too close or Paxton doesn’t last long, they may need to pitch those guys two or even three innings apiece.

If the Yankees extended the series, the Astros would throw a bullpen game on Saturday as would the Yankees. If a game seven occured, Gerrit Cole would pitch against Luis Severino, a game three rematch.

The Yankees have their backs to the wall, but everybody knows that the fourth win in a playoff series is the hardest to get. There have been many 3-1 chokes in all of sports, so anything is possible if the Yankees play like they did in the regular season.


How A Wednesday Rainout Would Help The New York Yankees

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

Though nothing has been announced yet, game four of the ALCS between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros will likely be rained out. If it is rained out, game four would be played on Thursday and game five would be played Friday, eliminating the scheduled off-day. Games six and seven would go on as planned on Saturday and Sunday in Houston.

Both teams are planning to pitch a bullpen game in game four. The only positive thing from Aaron Boone’s awful managing is that everybody but Luis Cessa will be available on Wednesday if they play. Cessa pitched two shutout innings in game three, throwing 35 pitches. They would only go to him in an emergency.

We don’t know the official starter, but it’s safe to say that it would be Chad Green. The Astros also haven’t announced a starter.

What A Wednesday Rainout Does

The forecast shows rain setting in around 2PM in the Bronx and staying there until about midnight. With that, there’s no real way to move the game up or push it back.

Assuming there is a rainout, the ball would go back to Masahiro Tanaka and Zack Greinke on Thursday. It would be so huge having Tanaka pitch a must-win game four. Both guys would be on normal rest.

Then come Friday, James Paxton and Justin Verlander would pitch game five. It would be huge for the Yankees being able to face him at home.

Come game six, both teams would probably do their bullpen game. Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino would be on three days rest, and I can’t see them going in game six. If anything, the Yankees would even go to JA Happ or do some type of piggyback start with him and CC Sabathia.

If a game seven is played, Severino and Cole would pitch that game.

A rainout is likely on Wednesday night, and if it happens, it will help the Yankees a lot.


The New York Yankees Drop An Ugly ALCS Game Three

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees were hoping to face Houston Astros ace Gerrit Cole on a night when he didn’t have his best stuff. The Yankees got their wish, but never capitalized in their 4-1 game three loss. That, plus a few questionable decisions by Aaron Boone led to the loss.

Cole Struggled Early

Luis Severino made a huge mess in the first, but managed to give up just one run. But, the Yankees came out swinging to start the bottom of the inning as DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge opened with back-to-back singles.

Brett Gardner and Edwin Encarnacion were retired, Gleyber Torres walked, then Didi Gregorius grounded out on the first pitch he saw with the bases loaded.

The Yankees also had things going in the second, fourth, and fifth but failed to score each time. Cole got into a groove late, retiring his final seven batters.

He went seven innings, struck out seven, and walked five. Cole usually sits around 12 strikeouts a game, and has never walked that many guys. The Yankees kept getting on base but couldn’t deliver with RISP, something they did well all season.

The Yankees had just five hits and one run. The run came on a solo-shot by Gleyber Torres in the eighth, and opposite field blast.

Luis Severino wasn’t great for the Yankees, but gave up just two runs in 4 and 1/3 innings. He threw nearly 100 pitches and booted an easy grounder that would of gotten him out of a big jam in the second inning.

Boone’s Part

Aaron Boone yet again managed a poor game.

First of all, why on earth is Brett Gardner batting third and Gleyber Torres batting fifth? Gardner is batting .154 this series while Gleyber has been scorching hot all postseason.

He also ate up his high leverage relievers very quickly. Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle threw no more than eight pitches each before being removed, and both were throwing good. After those two guys, he went to Adam Ottavino who yet again made a mess. Two runs would score from his mess.

Another topic of discussion is the effort of Gary Sanchez. There were two consecutive pitches thrown by Zack Britton who came in to bail out Ottavino that were thrown inside and in the dirt, and he made no effort to block the pitches. He was lucky because the first one drilled the umpire and stayed in front, but the second went to the backstop and a run scored.

Sanchez continus to dog it down the line, and in my opinion, Austin Romine should be starting. He hit better later in the season, hustles all the time, and calls great games behind the plate.

Also, the Yankees need to make a decision on Giancarlo Stanton. He says that he is healthy enough to DH, so DH HIM! Edwin Encarnacion has one hit since game two of the ALDS, and needs to sit. If Stanton isn’t healthy enough to play, they need to drop him from the roster. Mike Tauchman is healthy and ready to go if need be, and I’m sure that he would love to be on the roster, as would Clint Frazier.

The Yankees struggled all night in game three, and along with some poor decisions from Aaron Boone, the Yankees now trail in the ALCS 2-1. The team is hoping for a rainout on Wednesday to push game four to Thursday where Masahiro Tanaka could start the game. And as we know, playoff Tanaka is on a whole nother level.

This team needs to figure something out or they won’t be playing come next Tuesday.

New York Yankees: The ALCS Shifts To New York, But Weather May Affect The Series

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees and the Houston Astros have split the first two games in Houston, and now the series comes to New York playing as a five game series.

The Yankees will host the next three games before going back to Houston for the final two if necessary.

Luis Severino will get the ball in game three against Gerrit Cole. Cole has been dominant in two postseason starts, but has yet to pitch on the road.

Giancarlo Stanton remains questionable for the game, injuring his quad in game one. Dependent on if he plays or not, Aaron Hicks might get a start for the Yankees.

Game four will be a bullpen game for both teams, but the weather does not look promising on Wednesday. If the game on Wednesday does not happen, the remainder of the ALCS takes place without an off-day. Game four would be on Thursday, game five on Friday. Saturday and Sunday for games six and seven would still go on as planned in Houston. They can’t push the entire series back a day because game seven would be scheduled the day before game one of the World Series.

If Wednesday is rained out, Zack Greinke would be in line for game four as Justin Verlander would be for game five. That would put Gerrit Cole for game six, and a bullpen game in game seven unless you go with Greinke on short rest. But, even with a rainout, the Astros may still do a bullpen on Thursday and the Yankees may too.

If the Yankees don’t do a bullpen game for game four, it would jump back to Masahiro Tanaka. But, they would only do that if Wednesday is rained out.

The ALCS has made its way to New York, but Wednesday has a threat to be rained out, and that would dramatically affect the series.

New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton Out Of ALCS Lineup With Injury

New York Yankees, Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

The New York Yankees can’t stop biting the injury bug.

Yet again, Giancarlo Stanton is down with another injury. He has a quad strain, but the team hopes that it is pretty minor. He injured it running to first in the second inning of game one.

The Yankees are optimistic that he will be able to return sometime this series, and are not planning to take him off of the roster. If he is removed from the roster, he becomes ineligible for the World Series.

“We’re hoping the off day helps and it declares itself more” said Yankees skipper Aaron Boone about Stanton. The team will make a decision about his roster status back in New York.

Cameron Maybin will be getting the start in Stanton’s place for game two against Justin Verlander and the Astros. He will be playing left and batting eighth. Gardner remains in center as Aaron Hicks will be on the bench again for game two.

The injury makes Boone and Brian Cashman look like geniuses for having five outfielders on the roster rather than four outfielders and six infielders.

But for the meantime, Stanton will still be available off the bench as a pinch hitter. With a big at-bat late in the game, you would think that the team would go with Stanton over Maybin.

Maybin for Stanton is the only change in the lineup from Saturday to Sunday. The Yankees will be looking to take a 2-0 lead before the teams even play a game in New York. James Paxton gets the ball against Verlander. Let’s go Yankees!


New York Yankees ALCS Roster: Hicks And CC On

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks hits a home-run against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The New York Yankees have released their roster for the 2019 ALCS against the Houston Astros, and it has a few changes compared to the ALDS roster.

The team has added CC Sabathia and Aaron Hicks to the roster. CC missed the ALDS due to a little shoulder soreness, but has continued to stay fresh.

Hicks has been out since August 3rd with a right flexor strain. He bat .235 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs in 221 at-bats, good for a 1.3 WAR. He was on the 60-day IL, and the team DFA’d David Hale to make room for him.

Adding two guys to the ALCS roster comes at a cost. The team took infielders Tyler Wade and Luke Voit off of the active roster. Voit really struggled down the stretch, but Wade played really well as a September call up.

If it was up to me (which it’s obviously not), I would of put CC on in place of Luis Cessa, and keep Hicks off. That way, they could use Wade as a fifth outfielder if needed. The Yankees rolled with just four official outfielders in the ALDS (Gardner, Stanton, Judge, Maybin) and they should of done the same in the ALCS.

Wade has a lot of defensive versatility, is very fast, and his offense has came a long way this season. Instead of keeping an extra pitcher, they should of put Wade on the roster.

Now that CC is on the roster, the Yankees will likely have another high-leverage weapon. CC looked really good in his lone relief appearance this year, and could be a middle innings guy to bridge it to somebody like Ottavino or Kahnle.

Game one begins at 8PM ET with Masahiro Tanaka on the hill. Let’s go Yankees!