New York Yankees News roundup while Aaron Boone recovers

Some New York Yankee fans don’t pay attention to what goes on in spring training and don’t get engaged until the regular season games that count get started. But even those fans must have heard the shocking news the Yankees skipper Aaron Boone required surgery to have a pacemaker installed to keep his heart beating normally. Boone had the surgery late on Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida.

Reports are that the surgery was completed as expected and without complications. Reports were that Boone was resting comfortably. It was said he even chatted with the team from his hospital bed via Zoom. Boone had open heart surgery back in 2009, and because of that, he has been proactive about his health. During the past week, he said he experienced bouts of lightheadedness and shortness of breath. Because of that, he consulted with doctors who determined Boone’s heart was beating too slowly and that a pacemaker would be necessary to correct that.

In most cases, the patient will go home after 24-48 hours of hospitalization. Depending on the type of Pacemaker installed, he could be back to work at the Yankee training complex over the weekend, but it will be more likely at some point next week. Because Boone’s job is not that strenuous, he should be able to resume normal activities as long as he avoids lifting, pushing, and pulling anything heavy. He should be able to resume his normal life totally in 4-6 weeks.

Mike Ford still confident

Mike Ford hit his first extra-base hit Tuesday afternoon against the Baltimore Orioles. He said it felt good, especially after performing poorly in the 2020 campaign. Ford knows he will have to compete for playing time this year as the New York Yankees have picked up two veteran lefties during the offseason. The Yankees acquired Jay Bruce and Derek Dietrich; the catch for Ford is that the two veterans also play at first base, as does Ford.

“I always try to perform, especially when I’ve got a little chip on my shoulder,’’ Ford said Wednesday. “There’s great competition here with a lot of experience. Who knows where the chips are gonna fall?”

Bruce, who had made a running catch in the left-field already this spring, looked sharp at first base in Wednesday’s 4-1, seven-inning win over the Blue Jays. He also added two hits, including a double. Dietrich, who played third base on Wednesday, also hit his first homer of the spring.

Brett Gardner returned to left field

Wednesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the Yankee fans in attendance saw an old friend out in the left-field, Brett Gardner. Gardner, the last holdover from the 2009 World Series, languished most of the offseason as the Yankees handled more important re-signings and acquisitions. The Yankees at the end of the season bought out Gardner’s contract rather than take up his $10 million option.

Finally, just days before the start of spring training, the Yankees and Gardner came to an agreement allowing the fan-favorite to return for yet another year with an option for the 2022 season. Gardner has always said he wants to retire as a Yankee. But last season was an odd one with the coronavirus and no fans in the stands. Gardner said he wants to be able to have his family see him play again. On his first at-bat Wednesday, he walked.

Darren O’Day on Darren O’Day

Darren O’Day threw live batting practice on Tuesday at the Yankees minor league complex, immediately after batters had faced Aroldis Chapman. O’Day acquired during the offseason will give a different look to the bullpen with his side-arm delivery. Chapman throws at 100 mph, O’Day is just at 85 mph, but he counts on deception to get hitters out.

“You can’t really quantify deception, but it’s a valuable tool to have,’’ O’Day said. “To have different looks. Just messing with the hitters’ timing [is important],’’ O’Day said. “The more we can do to disrupt that timing, the more outs we’re going to get.”

The right-hander is ready to contribute in various roles; he said that manager Aaron Boone would use him at any point in the game, much like he said Buck Showalter used him in Baltimore. O’Day pointed to Showalter using his relievers to get “four, five six outs a night.”

“We had a great relationship,’’ O’Day said. “I really enjoyed playing for him, especially the early years in Baltimore when the team was pretty much the doormat of the league for a long time. We kind of brought the nice baseball tradition back there.”

New York Yankees overtake the Jays 4-1

The Yankees were back at Steinbrenner Field yesterday after their win over the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota. The game yesterday was an unusual spring training night game. The first time fans got a look at Corey Kluber in a Yankees uniform, and he didn’t disappoint.

Kluber started for the New York Yankees facing the Toronto Blue Jay’s Simeon Richardson. Corey Kluber was magnificent in his first inning in pinstripes. Kluber retired the first three hitters he faced in order, ending the frame with a pretty strikeout of Rowdy Tellez. In the second inning, Kluber looked really good, folks. He struck out two more Blue Jays to finish off two perfect frames.  This performance is wonderful news for the Yankees.

Also making their first appearance of spring training were Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton. After four innings, the game remained scoreless, with Luis Cessa on the mound for the fifth. Josh Palacios doubled off Cessa, but Warmoth struck out; Valero singled, scoring Palacios for the game’s first run. Blue Jays 1 Yankees 0.

At the bottom of the frame, Gary Sanchez again showed off his power, homering and tieing up the game at 1-1. That was followed by Derek Dietrich’s home run driving in two for the Yankees 3-1 lead. It looked as if it would be the first 9 inning game of spring training when the Yankees took the field in the bottom of the seventh, but as it turned out the Jays manager just wanted to get more work for his pitchers. It wasn’t a good decision. The game ended at the end of the seventh, but not before Robinson Chirinos homered to far left for the Yankee 4-1 lead.

 

New York Yankees: The Yankee bench will take on a more important role: Part 1

New York Yankees, Domingo German

We all know that the New York Yankees have gone through a couple of years of far too many injuries affecting regular players playing time. Although the health situation going into spring training, which starts in just a few days if much rosier than last year, it is not reasonable to assume it will remain that way. The simple fact is that injuries are a permanent part of the game that can’t be avoided team-wide.

These injuries lead to the use of backup pitchers and backup players that sit on the bench or have to be called up from the minor league to be used short term or even long term. We all know that, but this season even without any long-term injuries, the backup players will take on an even more important role that could be the difference in success or the season’s failure. The New York Yankees may be in a better place than some teams because of their depth in the pen and on the bench.

The big problem for manager Aaron Boone this season will be dealing with using players efficiently but at the same time saving them for a postseason run. That is something that is always dealt with, but this season is unique. Pitchers and the lineup will play 162 games after only playing 60 games last season. No matter how much a player works out in the offseason or pushes himself in spring training, moving to play nearly three times as many games this season will be a strain on all involved.

So today, we look at the Yankee depth. As it appears now, ace Gerrit Cole will lead off the rotation, followed by Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, and a fifth starter yet to be determined. The Yankees have several arms they could use, including Deivi Garcia, who made his Major League debut last season, Jonathan Loaisiga, Clarke Schmidt, Michael King, and of course Domingo German, who was 18-4 in a shortened 2019 season. So the backups are pretty good, but the same may not true of the bullpen.

The Yankees this year are minus Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Jonathan Holder, and Ben Heller. They did make a smart move hiring Darren O’Day, one of the best relievers out there. He had a tiny ERA of just 1.10 last season. The Yankees have also brought back a few former Yankees to shore up the middle innings. Adam Warren and Nestor Cortes Jr. are back with the team, but the Yankees still need at least another quality arm out of the pen.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Nathan Solomon reports, the New York Yankees are in “serious talks” with LHP Justin Wilson. The 33-year-old is one of the few relief arms still available on the market and one of the most desired ones. Wilson spent the past two seasons with the New York Mets and had a one-year stint with the Yankees in 2015. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 5th round of the 2008 MLB draft and debuted with the team in 2012.

Part 2 of this article will speak to the bench players and minor leaguers that will back up the regular lineup.

Yankees News: Relief pitcher signing, another designated for assignment

New York Yankees, Darren O'Day

The New York Yankees are preparing for spring training to start in less than seven days, and with the expectation that GM Brian Cashman will make a few additional moves before the start, several moves have been made official.

Last week, starting pitcher Corey Kluber was officially signed on a one-year, $11 million deal, and on Wednesday, the team announced that Darren O’Day has signed his contract and will be ready for the start of the 2021 season.

As per the Yankees:

The New York Yankees announced today that they have signed RHP Darren O’Day to a one-year contract extending through the 2021 season with a player option for 2022. If the player option is declined, there is a club option for 2022.

To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP Ben Heller was designated for assignment.

O’Day has spent time with the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, and Atlanta Braves over the course of his career. Last season in Atlanta, he pitched 16.1 innings, earning a 1.10 ERA with 12.12 strikeouts per nine. He also accumulated a 2.76 FIP and 22 strikeouts. The last time he had a sample size of over 60 innings was back in 2017, so the Yankees should be cautiously optimistic with how frequently they utilize him.

To make room for O’Day, the Yankees traded Adam Ottavino to the Boston Red Sox, clearing about $7 million to fit him under the $210M luxury tax threshold. Cashman has been extremely careful in pushing the team’s financial limits this off-season, given his acquisitions.

A majority of his moves have been centered around cost-efficient deals, as Kluber is the most expensive of the bunch. Jameson Taillon will only count $2.3 million in 2021, an exceptional contract for a player of his magnitude.

In the process of signing Darren to the active roster, the Yankees designated Ben Heller for assignment. Cutting Heller means that only Clint Frazier remains with the Yankees from the 2016 trade deadline deal that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland.

In 2020, Heller pitched only 6.0 innings, recording a 3.00 ERA. He has only pitched 31.1 innings over the course of four years in pinstripes, so moving on was a justifiable move.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: O’Day in Heller out, Brett Gardner and more

New York Yankees, Darren O'Day

Darren O’Day takes Ben Heller’s place on the Yorty man roster

The New York Yankees made it official yesterday when they sent Ben Heller to assignment to make room for the new Yankees reliever Darren O’Day on the 40 man roster. When the Yankees finally found out that they could re-sign DJ LeMahieul for $15 million annually, that result gave them the money to spend. The Yankees went out and signed Corey Kluber, a two-time Cy Young award winner, and traded four prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates for starter Jameson Taillon.

The Yankees still had positions to fill in the bullpen. The Yankees managed to pull off a surprising trade with the Boston Red Sox by sending declining Adam Ottavino to the sox, which will absorb nearly all of his $9 million owed by the Yankees in the last year of his contract. The Yankees gave up almost nothing and cleared that money off their 2021 payroll. The Yankees went out and signed one of the best relievers in baseball last year in Darren O’Day. O’Day in 2020 was 4-1 with a tiny ERA of 1.10. The Yankees also lost Tommy Kahnle to the Dodgers, a position they are yet to fill.

Yesterday the Yankees officially added O’Day to the 40 man roster by setting up reliever Ben Heller for assignment. If you remember, Heller was tendered instead of Jonathan Holder, who was a workhorse out of the pen for the Yankees. Holder has since signed with the Chicago Cubs.

Brett Gardner, Yankees have the money

After the signing of reliever Darren O’Day, the New York Yankees have approximately $9 million that they could spend and still stay under the $210 million left to spend to improve the Yankees in the 2021 season. One they could spend on is re-signing the Yankees veteran of over 12 seasons, Brett Gardner. Gardner, a centerfielder, has served the Yankees in the centerfield admirably and is a Yankee favorite.

Gardner, like many players, had an offseason last year. But in 2019, he had a career-high 28 home runs. Today, the centerfielder is one of the most durable players in the outfield, even at age 37. When player, after the player went on the IL Gardner, he was there to replace them. Even in his 2020 season, Gardner has shown that he has lost nothing defensively or running the bases. Gardner has always said that he wants to stay with the Yankees and retire as a Yankee. He would like one last chance to have his family watch him play as a bomber. The Yankees do have the money to make that happen.

Aaron Boone to mask it up in 2021

During the 2020 shortened, Yankee manager Aaron Boone wore a gaiter mask, one of cloth that could be pulled up over the nose. With the new safety protocol put in place yesterday, Boone must wear a  more traditional mask. A gaiter is a scarf-like cloth worn around the neck and can be pulled up over the mouth and nose. That type of mask is outlawed under the new protocol.

The team will also play differently in spring training. The units located on the west coast of Florida will only play teams located there, and the west coast teams will play only teams on that coast. That means teams will be playing more games with fewer units. For the Yankees, it means they will only be playing exhibition games between them and the Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are all located from St. Petersburg south to Fort Myers, as noted by MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.

Can the Yankees survive with only one lefty bat?

As it stands now, the New York Yankees have only one lefty bat, and that is the switch hitter Aaron Hicks. Last year they had hicks and real lefty bat in Brett Gardner, who the Yankees would not take up his 2021 option. The basic answer to can the Yankees survive with only one lefty bat, is yes they can. They won over 100 games two seasons from 2018 with just two lefties in the lineup. Last year in a shortened 60 game season, got to the postseason.

That being said, if the Yankees manage to win a World Series in the next year or so with their current core, they will be making franchise history in doing so without a viable lefty star. The 1996 World Champions featured Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, and even Wade Boggs; the remainder of the dynasty leaned heavily on the first two men. The Yankees can do it, but a true lefty bat sure would help the Yankees.

New York Yankees DFA Ben Heller to make room for Darren O’Day

New York Yankees, Ben Heller

The New York Yankees announced on Wednesday that they have officially signed Darren O’Day to a one-year, $2.45 million deal. O’Day also has a player option for the 2022 season. Both sides verbally agreed to a deal on January 27th, as reported by Lindsey Adler.

O’Day, 38, is known for his sinker and his unique side-arm delivery. A 13-year veteran, O’Day was undrafted out of college and made his MLB debut in 2008 with the Los Angeles Angels. That off-season, the New York Mets selected him in the Rule 5 draft and would pitch just four games in Queens before being placed on waivers. The Texas Rangers picked him up shortly after and he pitched to 1.84 and 2.03 ERAs in his first two seasons in The Lone Star State.

However, his third season with the Rangers saw struggles, and he was once again placed on waivers following the 2011 season. The Baltimore Orioles snagged O’Day and had great success with the organization. Each of his first four seasons in Baltimore saw O’Day with ERAs under 2.30, even adding an all-star selection to his name. O’Day remained an Oriole well into 2018, but a trade deadline deal that season sent him to the Atlanta Braves. O’Day remained with the Braves through the 2020 season.

To make room for O’Day, the Yankees DFA’d reliever Ben Heller. Drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 22nd round of the 2013 MLB draft, Heller was traded to the Yankees in the 2016 blockbuster involving Andrew Miller. In 31 MLB games, Heller has a 2.59 ERA and a 1.340 WHIP.

If Heller clears waivers, the Yankees can re-sign him to a minor-league deal. Otherwise, he’s fully available for any other team to pick him up.

The Yankees 40-man roster currently sits full with O’Day’s signing.

New York Yankees: The Yankees have made over 2 dozen moves to improve the team for 2021

New York Yankees, Darren O'Day

During this offseason, the New York Yankees almost stood still waiting to see if they could re-sign DJ LeMahieu and how much it would cost them to keep him in pinstripes. Since then, there has been a flurry of activity both by signings and trades. Today is a good time to look at how the Yankee front office has improved the team; here are some major acquisitions, although there are other dozen minor league signings.

Adam Warren 12/15:

This is a reunion, Warren has pitched for the New York Yankees before. Last year with the San Diego Padres, he was 4-1 with an ERA of 5.36. He played for New York from 2012. He started one game and gave up 2 runs in 2 innings for a 23.14 ERA. From 2013 to 2016, he was 17-17 with an ERA of 3.23. Again with the Yankees from 2017-18, he was 3-3 with an ERA of 2.53. Now he is back with the Yankees on a minor league deal.

Nestor Cortes Jr. 01/04:

Nestor Cortes Jr. is another returning Yankee. Nestor was 0-1 with an ERA of 15.26 last year with Seattle. With the Yankees in 2019, he 5-1 with an ERA of 5.67 across 33 games.

Jhoulys Chacin 01/06:

Chacin has spent most of his ten-year career with the Colorado Rockies. He has a career record of 78-87 ERA 4.04. Last year with the Milwaukee Brewers, he was 1-0 ERA 7.20.

Greg Allen 01/06:

Greg Allen was an outfielder for the Indians for four years, but they played for the San Diego last year. He throws right but is a switch hitter. Greg Allen is 6′ 0″, 185 pounds. He has been invited to spring training. He was obtained via the trade with the Padres.

Tyler Lyons 01/06:

Lyons spent most of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. He pitched in 2019 for the Yankees, and he was again with the Yankees in 2020. He combined for 12 games with an elevated ERA. He pitched in only one game in 2020 with an ERA of 21.60.

Andrew Valazquez 01/06:

Valazquez is a highly rated prospect that has played three years in the Majors. He started with the Tampa Bay Rays. Last year with the Baltimore Orioles, he had a .159 batting average. He is a good defender.

Jameson Taillon 01/24:

The New York Yankees sent four prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates for starting pitcher Jameson Taillon. The acquisition puts buddies Taillon and Gerrit Cole back together again as they both pitched together with the Pirates. He is returning from his second Tommy John surgery, but if he can return to his 2018 form, the Yankees will have a bonified star.

DJ LeMahieu 01/27:

The Yankee’s priority this offseason was to re-sign DJ LeMahieu, and they put most everything else on hold until they could sign him. They finally agreed to a six-year deal that will keep DJ here until he is 38. The Yankees got him for $15 million a year. He was last year’s batting champ.

Corey Kluber 01/27:

As soon as the Yankees re-signed LeMahieu, they immediately completed a deal that they had been working on with 2 time Cy Young Award winning Corey Kluber. Kluber was hit by a pitch in 2019 that ended his season. He was traded to the Rangers but only pitched one inning in 2020 after injuring his shoulder. The Yankees will have a real deal if he can return to his 2018 form. The Yankees deal was for one year and $11 million.

Darren O’Day 02/01:

The Yankees hired Darren O’Day, one of last year’s best relievers. He went 4-1 with a tiny ERA of 1.10. The addition of O’Day to the bullpen will give the bullpen an entirely different look. He is a submariner, the first the Yankees have had in years. His sidearm delivery will give manager Aaron Boone a lot of flexibility in giving hitters totally different looks.

Asher Wojciechowski 02/02

Acquiring Asher was also a reunion of sorts; it puts him back with his old teammate Zack Britton. They both played for the Baltimore Orioles together. Last year with the Orioles, he was 1-2 with an ERA of 6.81. The deal will pay Wojciechowski a $750,000 salary if he makes it to the big leagues

Kyle Barraclough 02/03:

The Yankees have taken another chance with a pitcher that did not pitch last year. Barraclough pitched in the MLB during the 2019 season, having also played for Washington and Miami. Last year with the Padres, he didn’t make it out of the Padres minor league system. In 2019 he pitched just 33.2 innings and logging a 5.61 ERA.

New York Yankees Player Profiles: Darren O’Day the Yankees great hope for the bullpen

New York Yankees, Darren O'Day

The New York Yankee’s Darren O’Day has had a rebirth in his pitching style and the mound he will be throwing from. O’Day is the Yankee’s latest acquisition by general manager Brian Cashman to improve the Yankees team. O’Day is old by pitching standards; he is 38 years old but that has not affected his performance as one of the best relievers in the game. Darren has had a long-time association with the Yankees facing them for seven seasons with the Baltimore Orioles alongside Zack Britton. The Yankees and O’Day reached an agreement that will pay him $2.5 million on a one year deal with both a team and player option for 2022.

O’Day will bring a whole new look to the Yankee bullpen; he is a right-handed submariner. His sidearm delivery gives a different look that right-hand hitters find difficult to figure out. He is not a power thrower by any means, which is also different from most Yankee relievers. His fastball is only 86 mph, but his command and arsenal of pitches serve him well. He throws a four-seam fastball and sinker and his strikeout pitch, the slider.

O’Day brings a drastically different look to the Yankees bullpen, contrasting particularly with Britton’s sinkerball approach. Hitters will face Chad Green’s fastball, O’Day’s sidearm slider (which resembles an overhand cutter), Britton’s bowling ball, and Chapman’s heater and slider combination. The Yankees like to make opposing hitters dizzy in late innings by making them face relievers with distinct and varied approaches; O’Day brings with him the ultimate tool in changing a hitter’s eye level. O’Day was one of the best relievers in the game last season, going 4-0 with a minuscule 1.10 ERA.

Let’s get to know the New York Yankee’s O’Day. He was born Darren Christopher O’Day on October 22, 1982, in Jacksonville, Florida. He attended Bishop Kenny High School and played baseball there for the Crusaders. After that, he attended the University of Florida in Gainsville, where he played for the Gators from 2003 to 2006. There he won several awards. He graduated with a degree in agriculture and life sciences but was undrafted. He signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2008, and in 30 games, he was 0–1 with a 4.57 ERA in ​43 13 innings.

The New York Mets selected O’Day in the Rule 5 draft during December of 2008. After spring training, he made the roster but was designated for assignment by the Mets two weeks into the season. He was claimed by the Texas Rangers in April of 2009 and made his major league debut on the same day. He was an effective reliever for the Rangers with an ERA of 1.94 in 64 games that year. The following season he pitched in 72 games with an ERA of 2.03. In 2011 he had two injuries that limited him to 16 games but had an ERA of 5.40. He also pitched in eighteen minor league games. He did not pitch in the postseason.

The Baltimore Orioles claimed O’Day off waivers on November 2, 2011. O’Day settled into the 8th inning setup pitcher role later in the 2012 season, often leaving the game in a manageable state for closer Jim Johnson. O’Day posted a 7–1 record with a 2.28 ERA by the end of the 2012 season. In 2013 he continued to pitch well for the Orioles, going 5–3 as their 8th inning setup man while posting a 2.18 ERA in 68 games. He collected two saves and pitched 62.0 innings while striking out 59 batters and holding opponents to a .210 batting average.

O’Day had a career year in 2014, as he pitched 68​23 innings in 68 games and collected a 5–2 record with four saves. He posted a 1.70 ERA along with a 0.89 WHIP. He also struck out 73 batters and held opponents to a career-best .174 batting average. In 2015, O’Day was selected as an All-Star. He finished his career year with a 1.52 ERA in 68 appearances, totaling 65​13 innings. He compiled a 6–2 record and set a career-high with six saves. He also set a career-high with 82 strikeouts.

O’Day had a poor 2016 but rebounded from the season, registering a healthy season in which he appeared in 64 games. He also had an ERA of 3.43 in ​60 13 innings in 2017. O’Day appeared in 20 games for the O’s in  2018 before, undergoing season-ending surgery on his left hamstring and being traded to the Atlanta Braves. O’Day opened the 2019 season on the IL with a right forearm injury; he was activated to the major league roster on September 5. In 2019 he was 0–0 with a 1.69 ERA in 5.1 innings over 8 games. On November 8, 2019, he re-signed with the Braves on a one-year, $2.5 million contract, with a club option for a second year. He finished the 2020 season 4-0 with an ERA of 1.10. The Braves declined his option, and the New York Yankees signed him on January 27, 2021. The contract for the Yankees was for one year and $2.5 million. Being one of the best pitchers in 2020, the New York Yankees hope to replicate that season this year. If not Zack Britton he is the perfect setup man for Aroldis Chapman and is a compilable replacement for Tommy Kahnle.

Although O’Day sounds like a traditional Irish name, O’Day is actually Polish; his original name was Odachowski and was changed to O’Day by his older brother when he was married. O’Day is married to Elizabeth Prann, an anchor for CNN Headline News. The pair have a six-year-old daughter named Claire. The family will be taking up residency in the New York suburbs.

 

New York Yankees Analysis: What does Kluber, Taillon, and O’Day bring to the Yankees? (videos)

Jameson Taillon, New York Yankees

Corey Kluber:

The New York Yankees signed Corey Kluber to a one year $11 million contract. Kluber could be as good a pitcher as Gerrit Cole if he can return to form. In 2018 he had 20 wins for the Indians. He is a two-time Cy Young Award winner that has 18 wins in both 2016 and 2017. If you can believe that Yankee slugger can have another 2017 season, you can also believe the same with Kluber.

New York Yankee fans will be delighted to watch Corey pitch. One of the reasons he is so successful is that he is a five-pitch pitcher that can complete games. Kluber throws five pitches: a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a cutter, a breaking ball, and a change. His strikeout pitch is his dominant two-seam sinker. He has been a workhorse and will be unfazed by playing in New York as he is stoic on the mound and doesn’t lose his cool. By all accounts, he is also a nice guy and a good teammate.

Kluber’s award-winning pitching style includes five pitches, one of the keys to his pitching success. He most recently relied mostly on his two-seam fastball that he throws at 92 mph and throws as a sinker. He also relies on his 84 mph slider. He mixes in the changeup, cutter, and his  92 mph four-seam fastball. Kluber is not just a power thrower; he is a pitchers pitcher who has good command and limits home runs.

Kluber’s nickname is “Klubot.”

 

Jameson Taillon:

Jameson Taillon is another pitcher that didn’t pitch last year. His 2019 campaign was cut short when he needed Tommy John surgery. He rehabbed over the offseason and during the 2020 season. Completely recovered, he will be ready to pitch on day one of the 2021 season.

From 2013 to 2019, he threw 7,285 pitches, all of them occurring in the MLB Regular Season. In 2019, he relied primarily on his Slider (89mph), Fourseam Fastball (95mph), and Sinker (95mph); he also mixes in and curveball and changeup. Taillon is a totally different pitcher than Kluber, which is good if one follows the other. Taillon gets a lot of ground balls. His fastball is straight as an arrow and is his strikeout pitch.

With the trade, the Yankees have team control of him until the end of the 2022 season, when he will become a free agent. Taillon reinvented himself as a pitcher after his second Tommy John surgery. He now uses his legs more, which takes the string off his elbow. If Taillon can return to his former form, he could be a number two starter; it all depends on how Cole and Kluber pitch.

By bringing Taillon on board, the Yankees are reuniting him with Gerrit Cole. He and Cole are great friends. They played in the minors together and with the Pittsburgh Pirates during 2018 and 2018, so he will feel right at home. Taillon’s name is pronounced “Tie-own.”

Darren O’Day:

The addition of Darren O’Day to the New York Yankee’s bullpen give the bullpen an all-new look. The Yankees can now bring in a submariner in relief. A submarine pitch is when the ball is released, often just above the ground but not underhanded, with the torso bent at a right angle, causing the hips to pivot. His submarine pitch is not extreme and is almost like a sidearm. The pitch confuses many hitters as they don’t see that type of pitch frequently.

This past week O’Day signed a one-year contract with the Yankees for $2.5 million. The contract also has a team/player option for 2022. O’Day last year in 19 games was 4-0 with a minuscule ERA of just 1.10, better than any Yankee reliever last season. O’Day pitches well against right-handed batters, which makes him a somewhat natural replacement for Ottavino. He throws almost comically soft by today’s standards; his fastball has sat around 86 miles per hour over his last few seasons. He doesn’t give up home runs, and when hitters hit him, it’s for soft contact, usually resulting in ground balls.

O’Day gives Yankee manager Aaron Boone great versatility with the bullpen. If he has to use multiple relievers in a game, he can drag Green Green out of the pen to throw his fastball, O’Day’s sidearm slider (which resembles an overhand cutter), Britton’s bowling ball, and Chapman’s heater and slider combination. The Yankees like to make opposing hitters dizzy in late innings by making them face relievers with distinct and varied approaches; O’Day brings the ultimate tool to change the hitter’s eye line.

O’Day sounds like a good ole Irish name, but actually, he is of Polish ancestry. His original family name was Odachowski.

New York Yankees: Cashman has a lot to say about the coming season

New York Yankees, Darren O'Day

The New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman took to Zoom yesterday to talk about the rotation, the team, and his hopes to win a World Series. After a very quiet offseason, the Yankees came alive in the past two weeks. The first thing they did was complete the negotiations for the long-awaited resigning of second baseman DJ LeMahieu last year’s batting champ. Once they got that done and knew how much money they had to spend, they immediately signed two-time Cy Young Award-winning Corey Kluber.

In more recent moves, they made a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates giving up four low-level prospects for starting pitcher Jameson Taillon. Then they, in a surprising move, managed to trade diminished reliever Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox in basically a salary dump, making room for more improvements in the team. Just two days ago, they signed quality reliever Darren O’Day a feared sidearm pitcher to bolster the bullpen. According to several sources, the New York Yankees still have about $7 million left to spend while remaining under the Steinbrenner mandated luxury tax threshold.

In a Zoom call on Friday, general manager Brian Cashman had a lot to say about pretty much nothing but indicated that he was pretty happy with what the club had now and could win with:

“The roster’s not complete, ever,’’ Cashman said on a Zoom call Friday. “But at the same time, we’re ready to go with what we have.”

After the season ended, the Yankee pitching staff was pretty much dismantled. Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ became free agents when the Yankees did not offer any of them qualifying offers. Tanaka has since signed a contract with the Eagles of the Nippon Pro League in Japan. Paxton is still a free agent, but Happ has signed with the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees also lost a key cog in the bullpen when Tommy Kahnle refused assignment and then signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cashman said of the team as it is now set up:

“I think if you’re evaluating it, I’ve got quality at all positions,’’ Cashman said. “I’ve got depth in the starting rotation with the additions of Taillon and Kluber that’s pushed everybody, in theory, back.”

Cashman also talked about the return of pitchers Domingo German and Luis Severino. Throughout the offseason, both manager Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman have referred to Severino’s return to the team in June or July. For the first time yesterday, Cashman said of his return as being late in the summer. To me, late in the summer would mean not before August. Why the change in timing is unknown, or it could just be an off the cuff remark. When pressed on the matter of the budget limitations, Cashman had this to say:

“I’m not going to speak about budget or limitations or what our lack of limitations might be,’’ Cashman said. “I’m not here to say that I’m under a mandate we have to be under a tax threshold. … But I do know this: the Steinbrenner family has always been supportive. We tried to reconfigure the game plan appropriately and come up with a roster that’s maybe a little bit stronger, maybe a little bit more resilient,’’ Cashman said. “But that doesn’t mean that’s what going to play out.”

There is no question that the front office had made substantial changes/upgrades in last year’s team when they lost in the ALCS to the better Tampa Bay Rays with one-fourth of the payroll. When asked about the delay in the signings, Cashman had this to say:

“I don’t know if it matters the time frame it takes,’’ Cashman said. “I was very public about what our intent was. When a player becomes a free agent, you have no idea how that’s going to play out. If DJ wanted it to be over in two weeks, he should have just said yes to my first offer.” he also offered on if he is now satisfied with the team ““I can’t tell you I’m satisfied because satisfaction only comes with success,’’ Cashman said. “Every move we make is intended to get us closer to accomplishing a world championship title again. We just won’t find out until later if the decisions we make now, which are intended to have that occur, [are] going to play that way.”

Brian Cashman has always been creative in putting teams together that he hoped can win another World Series for a team that has won 27 World Champions and more championships than any sports franchise in the world, And this year is no different. Well, maybe a bit different as he is relying on returning pitchers that, in some cases, have not pitched in a year and a half. But with the spring training just over two weeks away, the Yankees, who still have a bit of money left and many prospects that can be traded, may still work to improve the team.

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Brian Cashman may not be done, and Joc Pederson signs with the Cubs

The New York Yankee’s general manager Brian Cashman must be happy with the successes he has had in the last week or so. First, he was able to sign DJ LeMahieu to a six-year contract for far less annually than industry sources said it would take. He followed that up by signing two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to an $11 million one year deal. A few days later, he managed to orchestrate a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates to bring starter Jameson Taillon to the Yankees for a mere four low-level prospects.

It had recently come out that Cashman, before the Kluber deal, was in talks with the Pirates to bring both Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon to the Bronx. For some unknown reason, that didn’t work out, and Musgrove went to the San Diego Padres for four prospects. Those players were Hudson Head, Omar Cruz, David Bednar, and Drake Fellows. It soon came out that it was a three-team trade.

While the Padres sent southpaw Joey Lucchesi to the New York Mets, the Mets would be sending catching prospect Endy Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since taking over as general manager of the Pirates, Ben Cherington’s best trade is so far. When the dust settled, Cashman signed Kluber and continued to negotiate to get Taillon, which he successfully did.

If you believe that Cashman is done improving the team, you are likely wrong. According to who you want to believe the New York Yankees still have between $6.5 and $8.5 million left in the budget without going over owner Hall Steinbrenner’s mandate that Cash stays below the $210 million luxury tax threshold. Add to that, he has a bevy of high A and low A prospects that are log jamming the minor league system. Many forget that there was a re-alignment of the minor league system this offseason causing the closing down of the Staten Island Yankees and the Pulaski Yankees. The Yankees have to mesh all those players into existing minor league teams.

The Yankees have a considerable amount of shortstops and centerfielders in the system that could very well be used as trade bait to get an additional starter, bullpen help, or more outfield depth. So with prospect aplenty and money left to spend, expect more Yankee acquisitions before spring training that is just over two weeks away.

The New York Yankees still have to decide if they will bring centerfielder and fan-favorite Brett Gardner back for a twelve year with the Yankees. With the most recent addition of Darren O’Day, they could still use another arm in the bullpen. They traded Adam Ottavino in a payroll dump and let Tommy Kahnle walk to the Los Angeles Dodgers when he would accept the Scranton team assignment, making him a free agent. Presently they have a strong late-inning staff of Chad Green, Darren O’Day, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman. Where they are lacking is early and long relief relievers.

If they don’t sign Brett Gardner, they have to decide with reliever Brad Hand out of the picture after signing with the Washington Nationals and Joc Pederson singing with the Chicago Cubs if they still want an outfielder. Also, the Yankees have to address a situation that has received little press. The Yankees cannot go into the regular season with only two catchers. Last year the Yankees had backup catcher Erik Kratz who has since retired. Should either Gary Sanchez or Kyler Higashioka become injured, there would be no backup catcher. Only time will tell what Cashman will do with his remaining assets, but we are likely to know sooner than later.