The Yankees might already have their future starting shortstop on the roster

gleyber torres, gio urshela, yankees

The New York Yankees are heading into the 2022 off-season with one goal in mind, finding a starting shortstop for the future. While they wait for young prospect Anthony Volpe to reach the major leagues, the Bombers must find a supplement with quality defense to fill a position that Gleyber Torres simply couldn’t hold down.

Torres struggled considerably during his two seasons at SS, earning a .952 fielding percentage this past season over 108 games. Torres picked up 18 errors on the year, falling well below the league average of .974% in the fielding efficiency category. At this time, we can expect Torres to shift over to second base, with DJ LeMahieu potentially filling in at first base depending on what the team does with Anthony Rizzo and Luke Voit.

The infield could realistically endure a few changes this off-season, but one big piece of the puzzle is Gio Urshela.

“I played my entire minor leagues [and major leagues] at third base. Then, moving to shortstop, I kind of liked it,” Urshela said Tuesday, per the NY Post. “I really enjoyed playing shortstop because you get more involved in the game. Every play, you’re going to be involved. Third base, I just wait for the [ball] and that’s it. You don’t move that much. It feels a little bit different, like you get more tired probably after a game [at shortstop].

Urshela stated that he liked playing shortstop after Torres was moved, as he was able to be a more important part of the defense. The 29-year-old infielder posted a .970 fielding percentage and allowed just two errors over 28 games and 200 innings. Urshela clearly offers more sufficient defense compared to Torres, but should the Yankees give him the starting job without considering other options?

There is no question that Gio is an important part of the Yankees’ team, hitting .267 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs this season. He missed a handful of games, which hurt the team defensively at times. The front office could target bigger names like Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, or even Javier Baez.

Depending on how much money management wants to spend on a potential supplement, they could stick with Urshela and reduce the cost exponentially, moving LeMahieu to third base and retaining Rizzo on an extension.

While fans would likely prefer to bring in a big-name free agent, general manager Brian Cashman is running out of opportunities to spend big in free agency, and ownership may not allow him to cross the $210 million luxury tax threshold this off-season.

With more starting pitching needed and a few supplemental options for the back end of the roster, the Yankees need to be extremely careful unless they’re willing to push beyond their comfort zone and spend aimlessly to build a winning team in 2022.

New York Yankees: 7 that should go and who should replace them

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

After an early exit from the postseason yet again, the New York Yankees face a multitude of questions and decisions to be made before the start of the 2022 season. The biggest one is if the Yankees have it in them to create a shakeup that can turn this team into a World Series contender for real. If they can do that, some faces of the Yankees will have to go. So here is my assessment of the situation facing the Yankee organization in no particular order.

Brian Cashman:

Unless Hal Steinbrenner wants to shake up the whole organization, it is doubtful that he will part with Brian Cashman, but in over twenty years of leadership, he has brought the Yankees to only one World Series. For his supporters who want to bring up the early Championships of Joe Torre, those teams were not built by Brian Cashman. Stick Michaels and Joe Torre built those teams.

During his tenure, the San Francisco Giants have won the World Series three times, the Red Sox twice, and even the lowly Kansas City Royals and Washington Nationals have won.  If the Yankees part with Cashman, the name Theo Epstein comes to mind, but I think he wants to own a team, not be general manager of one. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.

Aaron Boone:

Although the front office has shown support of Aaron Boone, I believe he has only a 50/50 chance of remaining the Yankee manager. After four seasons, he doesn’t seem to be the man that can bring this team to a World Series win. He doesn’t seem to be able to motivate players and has made many on-the-spot questionable moves. Should the Yankees decide not to renew his contract at the end of this season, there are a host of replacement possibilities.

With the Yankees’ failed experiment with a manager with no experience, they will not likely do that again in favor of a manager with experience. The first one that comes to mind is the consistently successful win-it-now manager Dusty Baker. It is not likely that Baker will be rehired by the Astros, even though he brought the team to 95 wins.

Others to consider are ex-Red Sox manager John Farrel and Mike Scioscia of the Angels. Many believe that Alex Rodriguez would make an excellent yet controversial manager of the Yankees. The only problem with that is he can make megabucks elsewhere rather than accept a low-paying manager job. Other possibilities are Bruce Bochy and Buck Showalter. The knock against them is that they are not the type of big analytics guys that Cashman will want.

My guess is that the Yankees will not do the right thing and replace this lack of a motivator manager who fails to reward players for excellent play nor hold them responsible for poor play.  He is just not the man for the job.

Gary Sanchez:

Just the fact that the Yankees’ most controversial player comes up at the end of every season as someone the Yankees should replace should be a signal that the guy has got to go. He hasn’t grown as a player or a catcher, and I don’t think you would want him teaching any upcoming Yankee catcher. His lack of defensive abilities and batting average says it’s time for him to go finally.

With the New York Yankees likely to have to put out money for a shortstop and center fielder, they likely will not spend big in favor of keeping Kyle Higashioka as a bridge to prospect, Austin Wells. Higashioka, although not the home runner Sanchez is, is a far superior catcher with better framing and a better contact hitter percentage.

Gleyber Torres:

Gleyber Torres is a failed experiment that has not grown as a Yankee; he has regressed as a failed shortstop and error-ridden second baseman. Probably the fault of the Yankee organization; I don’t see a long-term improvement in Torres, who is no longer the 22 year old with a bright future.

The New York Yankees have a bivy of possibilities to get themselves a new shortstop. Trevor Story has oft been mentioned, but I don’t see him as a good fit for the Yankees. Exciting possibilities for the Yankees that won’t break the bank include Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, and Jose Iglesias, a cheapy.

Aaron Hicks:

I said in an article yesterday I have no clue why the Yankees gave him a big-time contract extension. He is in the mold of Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird. I think Yankee fans will agree that Jacoby Ellsbury was Brian Cashman’s worst acquisition, but my friends, here’s one for you, Ellsbury played in 27 more games with the Yankees in his four years than Hicks has in his six years. So for anyone that believes that Hicks will stay healthy and be dependable in the center, it’s a pipe dream; the Yankees should buy him out and rid themselves of him.

There are many options for the Yankees for the offseason, including players with options such as the more significant money Jackie Bradley Junior or Kevin Pillar. Both are excellent defenders and can offer more at the plate than Hicks.

Luke Voit:

If the New York Yankees choose to resign Anthony Rizzo as their first baseman, the sad fact is the Yankees have no use for Luke Voit. Voit like Hicks can’t stay healthy. He played in only 68 games this season, primarily due to a multitude of injuries. He has lost his power and runs the bases like the tractor pull at your local county fair. The Yankees have a glut as DH, so he has no use there either.

Likely, Voit will not be in pinstripes again next year, and there is no reason to replace him, assuming they re-sign Rizzo.

Brett Gardner:

I hate to even breach this subject because I love Brett Gardner and all he has done for the Yankees in his 14 years tenure with the Yankees, but he will turn 39 next year, and his time with the Yankees should be over. The fact is that he is no longer the player he once was. He is still an excellent defender, but his arm is not what it once was; he can’t steal bases and is a liability at the plate. This year he was supposed to be a bench player but ended up playing more than anyone expected. He did rise to the occasion during the last quarter of the season, but not well enough to warrant another year. Then, he can retire as a proud Yankee.

Not included in this article is hitting coach Marcus Thames who’s time with the Yankees should also be over. Please read my article on Thames here.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Yankees Analysis: One problem to fix and one to get rid of

The New York Yankees are licking their wounds after another early exit from the postseason. Even the most ardent Yankee fans looking deep into their souls knew that this team, with the way it played all season, didn’t deserve to be in the postseason as much as they wanted them to. The Yankee organization has many problems to address and decisions to be made. Here are two areas that they must examine.

Yankees need to rid themselves of Marcus Thames

It’s time for the Yankees to part ways with hitting coach Marcus Thames and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pelilttere. After losing in the postseason again, it’s effortless to start the blame game this time of year, but these two guys who coach the hitters have to go. They have not done their job. If one or two hitters weren’t hitting, you could blame those hitters, but when the problem is team-wide, you have to look to the coaching staff.

If there was one glaring deficiency with this team all season long, the Yankees did not consistently hit the ball, going through prolonged droughts that resulted in far too many games that the Yankees only scored three runs or less. At the end of the season, that stat stretched to 67 games with many when the Yankees only scored one or two runs. But, again, we are not talking about a low talent team; these are quality players that are not performing.

I can’t speak to the details of what’s wrong in the hitting department because I am not privy to what goes on in the coach’s room, but there is certainly something wrong. It could be that the coaches can’t motivate the players, or it could be the hit for the fence’s mentality. You can indeed win games with home runs, but you will win many more if there are men on base.

These coaches can’t seem to get hitters to hit for contact; the home runs would follow if they could do that. Again, if it was one or two players, you can blame the players, but you can’t blame all the players and not hold the coaches responsible. Even hitting stars Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton had doughts in their hitting between long balls. DJ LeMahieu, who led all of baseball in 2020, dropped 100 batting points this season, and the coaching staff in 162 games couldn’t resolve that problem. Gleyber Torres, who hit 38 homers in 2019, could only muster up 12 long balls in two years. The coaching staff has not been able to solve his lack of power.

All season long, Yankee fans kept saying what’s wrong that this powerful lineup can’t hit the ball. Even manager Aaron Boone couldn’t come up with any answers, constantly saying we have to get better. You also have to consider that neither of these coaches have particularly distinguished hitting careers in their own right. This writer doesn’t have the answers, but a shakeup of the coaching staff seems in order.

The Yankees significant defensive deficiencies

The principal defensive deficiencies actually are only one. The New York Yankees, compared to other teams, are center-soft. Center soft means they don’t have star players playing up the middle; they have no shortstop, an error-ridden second baseman, and no dependable center fielder. Compare that to the rest of the AL East. You have stars like Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, and Kevin Kiermaier for the Rays. The Red Sox have Xander Bogaerts, Christian Arroyo, and Kiki Hernandez. The Blue Jays have Bo Bichette, Marcus Seimen, and George Springer.

This discrepancy is not only in the AL East either; every other strong contender has star players up the middle, but not the Yankees that keep moving players unfamiliar with those positions around. The Yankees need to move Gio Urshela back to third base and DJ LeMahieu back to second before they ruin those players as they have done with Gleyber Torres.

Lastly, New York Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner has to open up the funds to get a star center fielder. Although I love veteran Brett Gardner, his time has passed. Although his baserunning and defense are as good as ever, his arm has not been as good, and he is a liability at the plate. And if the Yankees think that Aaron Hicks will ever be a healthy, dependable option in center, they are living a pipedream. I am clueless as to why they ever extended his contract. Hicks stinks of Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Yankee Analysis: Big questions the Yankees must answer by March 31, 2022

The New York Yankee season is over, falling short of another World Series win. The “Boss” George Steinbrenner, if alive, would say it’s another failed season. If you consider not winning the World Series failing, then he is correct. But there is a lot to be said about getting to a wild card berth, win or not. Many other AL teams can’t say that. But the one with the biggest payroll; more is expected of them. The Yankees have not had a losing season since 1992. But the last World Series they won was in 2009.

Manager Joe Girardi won the 2009 World Series. But after not repeating for the next eight years and amongst complaints about being too strict, the Yankees moved on from Girardi and hired Aaron Boone.  Boone has been mostly successful in bringing the team to 100 wins, 103 wins, 33 wins in a short season, and 92 wins this year. But, regardless of that success, he has never gotten the team beyond late-season failures.

With each passing year, New York Yankee fans, even the most ardent fans, have become less patient waiting for the Yankees to win. Some fans have given up and moved on to other teams and even other sports. This isn’t good for business and baseball, although a game is a business. Principle owner Hal Steinbrenner and company have to figure out how to turn this team around. Yankee stadium never had a sell-out crowd this season. That is lost dollars, lots of them.

After a very inconsistent season that certainly cost them a trip to the World Series, the New York Yankees have many questions that must be answered before they try this all over again. And this year, there are more questions to be addressed than usual. So let’s have at it.

Renew Aaron Boone’s contract?

In 2018 Aaron Boone was hired as the new Yankee manager on a four-year contract that was over last night. So the Yankee organization has to decide whether to renew his contract or move on from the one-time manager.

When Boone was hired, many Yankee fans said, “Aaron who?”. Boone was never a great baseball player and had never managed even a minor league team. Others have learned to dislike him; still, others think he has done a good job. Most managers in baseball were catchers who seemed to have a better understanding of all baseball operations—Boone, who spent most of his career with the Cincinnati Reds primarily as a third baseman.

Boone will receive most of the blame for this poor season, although much of that blame can be placed on the hitters themselves, as Boone can’t hit for the hitters or pitch for the pitchers. Many fans question his decisions and his lack of holding bad players responsible for their play. Boone, with his style, constantly praises the team when they lose. An excellent example of that is his praise of Gerrit Cole after last night’s wild-card loss saying he threw some good pitches.

However, one must be cautious in blaming Boone. Many believe that Boone was hired to be a mouthpiece for Brian Cashman, the Yankee front office, making the significant decisions and Boone following them, only to be allowed to make minor decisions on the field during games. However, even those skeptical of that theory admit that the Yankee office and analytics department have too much influence over how the games are played.

Examine the organizational philosophy?

With so many questions unanswered about why this team can’t win big year after year, is it time to examine how the whole organization is run? Under the present philosophy, whether Boone is brought back or not, they would only hire another yes man that would be subject to the highly analytics-based front office.

All baseball teams receive the same analytics; it differs in how they are communicated and how they are executed. A manager who uses those stats exclusively and ignores what he sees on the field or who is hot and who is not will lose a lot of games. Analytics are a guide, not a user manual.

Should the Yankees hire a Bruce Bochi, Buck Showalter, or the like, it would require an entire shakeup of how the organization runs. Neither of these guys are yes men and would be challenging to work with under the present makeup. But it’s fair to mention that Bochi’s management style has brought the San Francisco Giants to win 107 games this season for the most in baseball and with less talent than the Yankees.

Brian Cashman will have much to do with if the Yankees are willing to examine themselves. Cashman is the driving force for how the Yankees perform. But many times in the past, Cashman has been slow to act. Lingering questions with Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez are examples of that. Last season he failed to act to improve the team. This year got two lefties to balance the lineup that fans have been screaming about for years.

Exceed the luxury tax threshold?

Do the Yankees need to exceed the luxury tax threshold to win finally. No!. Spending a lot of money has not helped them much. Better run and better-managed teams have gone further season after season. The Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays have done it on about 30% of the Yankees payroll.

Extend Aaron Judge’s contract?

This may be the most challenging question to address in this off-season. If the Yankees offer Judge a contract, it will be huge. The question is do the Yankees want to spend that much, and if they do, how badly will it tie their hands on solving the other team’s needs.

Judge turns 30 next year, and based on his injury record, signing a long-term contract with him is risky at best. This season is the first season he has been healthy since 2017. Between 2018 and 2020, he played in only 243 games.  So the question remains how much and for how long. It is doubtful that the Yankees will go more than six years, even though Judge has said he wants to retire a Yankee, according to Bryan Hock.

Aaron Judge’s value is at its highest and could draw the most if the Yankees were willing to trade him. The Yankees could get a quality pitcher, a shortstop, and a few choice prospects for him. However, whether an extension could be agreed upon would most likely be a Derek Jeter-like situation, taking less than he is worth.

How to fix the Yankee outfield?

During this season, the Yankees have had either a drought or glut in the outfield. Aaron Judge is a solid right fielder, and Joey Gallo will be with the team in left field through 2022. However, the Yankees don’t have a true centerfielder with any kind of future. Brett Gardner has been adequate in the position, but it becomes more doubtful that the 38-year-old will return each year. In addition, Aaron Hicks (yes, remember him?) has yet to prove he can stay healthy.

If they fix that, they still have Tyler Wade and Giancarlo Stanton options to add to the mix and give days off.

Obtain a real shortstop?

There is still the ongoing question about Gleybe Torre’s worth to the team. Late this season, the Yankees finally realized they made a mistake trying to make Gleyber Torres a shortstop. Torres is no longer a 22-year-old with a bright future; he has become tarnished goods. He will turn 25 in December and is coming off of two back-to-back poor seasons on defense and offense. The Yankees, to a degree, have overlooked his poor defense because he led the team in 2019 with 38 home runs, but since then, he has only 12 long balls.  What the Yankees should be most concerned about is his lack of growth.

The Yankees have moved Torres to second, where he has played better but not by much. That pushed a Gold Glove second baseman DJ LeMahieu, into being a utility player. Unfortunately, LeMahieu’s performance has not been as good since the move.  While the Yankees have one of baseball’s top prospects, Anthony Volpe, he probably won’t be big team ready for another year or two. With Torre’s continued poor play, the Yankees should at least inquire about options in free agency this offseason.

What to do with the catcher situation?

Oh boy, this question yet again. Gary Sanchez has been one of the most controversial Yankee players since he became the Yankees lead catcher in 2017. That was a year that was pretty good for the young man. But since then, he has not duplicated that performance and has often been criticized for his performance behind at backstop. He continues to be a less-than-average defender and has had a poor batting average.

Last year, he had a disastrous season, hitting only .147 and losing his starting status in favor of backup catcher Kyle Higashioka, a better defender. Sanchez is still around because when he is hot, he can hit the long ball and has a rocket of an arm preventing many stolen bases. He has hit more this year with an average of .204 but still strikes out too much. With the other questions facing the Yankees, it is doubtful they will move Sanchez.

What to do with the loose ends?

The Yankees have two obvious loose ends. One is whether to renew a contract with first baseman Anthony Rizzo and, if they do, what they will do with Luke Voit. I wouldn’t be surprised if Luke Voit is not with the Yankees next season. He could be used in a trade. With the glut at DH, his use to the club is limited. He also has not been able to stay healthy while with the Yankees.  If the Yankees choose to replace Gleyber Torres at short, he too will become a trading piece.

How to reinforce the pitching staff?

The New York Yankees certainly need to beef up the pitching staff. Jameson Taillon is under contract through 2022 and is arbitration-eligible as of today. Also, as of today, Corey Kluber is a free agent.  That leaves Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery as the Yankees starting rotation. The organization will have to examine what place Luis Severino and Domingo German have going forward and if they need to replace Kluber if he doesn’t sign with the Yankees.

At the beginning of the season, the Yankees had one of the strongest bullpens in baseball. Unfortunately, as the season progressed, they lost much of their strength. Set up man Zack Britton underwent Tommy John surgery to keep him out until at least the end of the 2022 season. Justin Wilson and the Yankee’s best long reliever Luis Cessa went to the Reds in a salary dump. Darren O’Day, the sidearmer, had a shoulder injury followed by a hamstring strain that kept him away from the team for the rest of the season.

In a major disappointment this season for the bullpen, on July 31st Tommy Kahnle revealed that had a partially torn UCL and required Tommy John surgery. The Yankees outrighted him and he choose free agency. Just days afterward he signed a new contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Yankees picked up a few arms at the trade deadline, Andrew Heaney proved useless. These losses and moves left the bullpen short of components and overworked.

Not knowing if Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, or Clarke Schmidt will be ready for the big time in 2022, the Yankees may have to go shopping to bolster the starting rotation and the bullpen. Unfortunately, any moves they make may have to wait until the end of spring training, when they can further evaluate their options.

 

New York Yankees: Takeaways from a terrible day in the Bronx

There really is no other way to put it; the New York Yankees were a mess yesterday in one of the most embarrassing losses of the season at one of the most convenient times. They didn’t pitch well, didn’t hit, and in one of the most visible gaffs, Gleyber Torres only jogged to first base when he should have run for his life. At the end of the day, the Tampa Bay Rays scored 12 runs off the boys from the Bronx that only scored two.

Montgomery gets booed off the field

One of the New York Yankees’ most dependable pitchers this season couldn’t escape the scorn of Yankee fans as he was booed off the field after he gave up seven earned runs. Manager Boone should have been likewise booed for leaving Montgomery on the mound when it was apparent he didn’t have it. He knew the pitches he should throw, but by his own admission after the game, he couldn’t execute them. To add insult to injury, the bullpen wasn’t any better.

Big guys again forgot to load the bullets

Superstars Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton that have won so many games for the Yankees, were missing in action for the second night in a row. The Yankees lost their game on Friday night and again yesterday afternoon. A big part of the reason. The dynamic duo just couldn’t hit the ball. Judge got one hit yesterday, and Stanton got none. The rest of the team accounted for just three more hits compared to the Rays 19 off of Yankee pitching.

Bullpen fails miserably

If Jordan Montgomery’s performance wasn’t bad enough, the bullpen was even worse. The trio of Lucas Luetge, Michael King, and Joely Rodriguez combined for giving up thirteen hits and five more runs. It was the most hits given up by the Yankees all season long. The bullpen is obviously tired from being overused most of the season. Although the Yankees looked for length from Montgomery yesterday, the bullpen had to be used to get the last 21 outs of the game.

Wild card standings

As of this morning, the New York Yankees are still in the wild card game, but with the second loss in a row yesterday, they no longer have the home-field advantage. If the season ended with this writing, the Yankees would have to play the wild card game at Fenway Park. At the start of the week, the Yankees looked to have a lock on home-field advantage, but that is now gone. But it could get even worse.

Should the New York Yankees and the Red Sox lose today, the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. win, there will be a four-way tie causing complete chaos at the end of the season. That is unlikely, but it is possible. The bottom line is that the Yankees are in control and must win today’s game. They have no control of the other scores today. By seven o’clock tonight, the picture will be much more apparent. If playoff games are required on both Monday and Tuesday, the whole postseason schedule will be pushed back.

Should there be a 4-way tie, here’s how it would break down. The clubs involved would receive designations based on winning percentage and assigned A, B, and C. Should clubs have identical winning percentages, then the head-to-head season records would come into play. Club A would host Club B, and Club C would host Club D. The winners of each game would be declared the Wild Card Clubs.

Note: Today’s New York Yankee game will be the season’s finale against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankees Stadium at 3:05 pm EDT. As of late last night, Jameson Taillon will be taking the mound for the Yankees against the Rays Michael Wacha. With such a critical game at stake, if the Yankees don’t win today, the big question will be why manager Boone didn’t use his best pitcher to avoid a playoff. But it won’t be surprising as Boone has worried about the future over winning today’s game all season long.

New York Yankee Recap: Tampa Bay Rays crushed the Yankees in embarrassing loss

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

The New York Yankees entered today’s matinee hoping for a win to secure home-field advantage in the wild card game. The Yankees lost a squeaker last night in the ninth inning when the Rays outscored them 3-2 in a hard-fought match. Today the Yankees sent Jordan Montgomery to the mound to face a Ray’s newbie in 22-year-old Shane Baz. Baz was called up on September 20th and had won both of his games. The Yankees were totally embarrassed by the Rays in a 12-2 loss when anything that could go wrong for the Yankees, did go wrong.

At the top of the first inning, “Monty” faced Randy Arozarena, who walked. Wander Franco singled to left, moving Arozarena to second. Nelson Cruz popped out to a rushing Aaron Judge. Yandy Diaz flew out to a diving Joey Gallo. Brandon Lowe homered into the short porch for a three-run long ball. Mike Zunino struck out to end the half. At the bottom, Gleyber Torres led off for the Yankees against the 22-year-old Shane Baz in his 3rd major league game and struck out on eleven pitches. Anthony Rizzo had a solo blast to right to shorten the Rays lead. Aaron Judge walked. Giancarlo Stanton popped out to short. Joey Gallo struck out to end the inning. Tampa 3 New York 1.

The second inning was led off by Manuel Margot, who ground out to Gallo in left. Austin Meadows followed with another flyout to Gallo. Francisco Mejia playing first base for the first time today walked. Arozarena struck out. Gio Urshela led off the bottom of the second by grounding out to short. Brett Gardner tapped out slowly to second. Gary Sanchez struck out to end the inning. Rays 3 Yankees 1.

Wander Franco led off the third inning by singled in front of Joey Gallo in left. Cruz went down swinging on a Montgomery curveball. Diaz walked. Lowe that homered in the first inning, homered again to extend the Rays lead to five. Zunino homered to left. Margot doubled. The impatient Yankee boo birds came out in full force, loudly booing Montgomery.  Meadows flew out to Gardner, and that was the day as Montgomery was booed off the field. Mejia faced the new Yankee pitcher Lucas Luetge and struck out to finally end the half.

At the bottom, Andrew Velazquez, being called up last night, went down looking. Torres ground out to short. Rizzo walked. Judge faced the new Rays pitcher J.P. Feyereisen and gave it a ride, but Arozarena jumped and prevented it from leaving the park. Tampa Bay Rays 7 New York Yankees 1.

Randy Arozarena doubled to lead off the fourth. Franco lined out. Cruz singled. Diaz hit into a double play to end the half. At the bottom, Stanton struck out swinging. Gallo singled to left. Urshela got a long one that rattled around the right-field corner as Ushela tripled and Gallo scored. Gardner popped out to the infield. Sanchez popped out to third. Rays 7 Yankees 2.

Brandon Lowe, who had homered twice, faced Luetge and went down on strikes. Zunino struck out looking. Margot flew out to a running Gardner in center to end the half. At the bottom, Andrew Velaquez led off by giving one a ride that was caught at the wall by Margot. Torres went down swinging. Rizzo singled beyond first. Judge ground out to third. Rays 7 Yankees 2.

The sixth inning was led off by Austin Meadows, who struck out swinging. Mejia flew out to Gardner. Arozarena singled up the middle and stole second. He then stole third. Franco singled driving in Arozarena. Nelson Cruz faced the new Yankee pitcher Michael King and, with one on and two outs, reached on a booted ball by Torres, with Franco advancing to second. Diaz struck out swinging, but the Rays picked up another run. At the bottom, Stanton struck out swinging. Gallo ground out to first. Urshela struck out on a foul tip. Rays 8 Yankees 2

Brandon Lowe led off the seventh inning with his third home run of the game. Zunino singled. Margot singled. Meadows faced the new Yankee pitcher Joely Rodriguez with two on and no outs and got a three-run homer to the right-field stands. Mejia singled. Arozarena singled. Franco hit into a double play. Cruz, with a runner on third and two outs, struck out to end the half. At the bottom, Gardner flew out to center. Sanchez walked. Velazquez foul tipped. Torres missed a single when the ball got away by only jogging to first. Rays 12 Yankees 2.

Diaz led off the eighth inning lined out to Gardner. Lowe, who had three home runs in the game, ground out. Zunino picked up a third hit on a slow roller to third. Margot ground out to end the half. Anthony Rizzo led off the bottom by flying out to the warning track in right-center. Judge singled to center. Stanton struck out. Gallo struck out. Rays 12 Yankees 2.

Austin Meadows led off the ninth inning by striking out. Mejia singled. Arozarena hit into a double play to end the half. With last licks on the line for the New York Yankees, Gio Urshela came to bat and ground out to second. Brett Gardner hustled and reached on a passed ball. Gary Sanchez ground into a double play to end a very embarrassing game. The final score was the Tampa Bay Rays 12 and the New York Yankees 2. The winning pitcher was Luis Patino, and the loser was Jordan Montgomery.

 

 

New York Yankees: Yankees strengthen hold on the wild card with win over the Jays (video)

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

With new urgency, last night, the New York Yankees entered the last game of the Toronto Blue Jays series at Roger’s Center in Toronto with a need to win the rubber game of the series. The Yankees won the first game  7-2 but lost the second game in a 6-5 squeaker. The must-win would allow the Yankees to keep the wild card home field advantage even if the Red Sox won their game with the Orioles. Which they didn’t; they lost to the Baltimore Orioles, including the series.

The Yankees relied on Corey Kluber to get the win over the likely Cy Young award winner Robbie Ray. Kluber managed to keep the Yankees in the game at the night’s end as the Jay’s best pitcher Ray failed miserably. Five Yankee homers powered the way to a 6-2 win in the game, giving them even more cushion in the wild card race.

Corey Kluber got the job done

The still building up after coming off the IL, and after not pitching for three months, the New York Yankees sent righty Corey Kluber to the mound to at least keep the Yankees in the game against arguably the best AL pitcher Robbie Ray.  Even though Corey Kluber wasn’t at his best, he kept the Yankees in the game; he limited the Jays to just two runs against the energetic young Jays team. He pitched into the fifth inning, giving up seven hits and the two runs.

When Kluber was taken out of the game after 4.2 innings of work, Michael King entered. King finished off the fifth and pitched the sixth, giving up just one hit. Luis Severino, who has been lights out since his return from Tommy John surgery, pitched a hitless seventh. Chad Green, who has been returning to form lately, struck out three in the eighth. Chapman came in for the ninth in a non save situation and allowed one hit while striking out two and securing the 6-2 lead for the Yankees.

Bronx Bombers power their way to another win

The Toronto Blue Jays sent their best pitcher, the likely 2021 Cy Young award-winner, to shut down the Yankees and give them the series win. But the Bronx Bombers were not going to take any of that silliness; they pummeled the lefty with five home runs in the game. All the Yankee runs were via the home run, including the one other hit in the game.

It started in the first inning after DJ LeMahieu struck out and Anthony Rizzo ground out into the shift. Then, Aaron Judge came to the plate and hit a monster 455′ homer into the Roger’s Center left-field stands. He wouldn’t be denied as he hit his second home run in the sixth inning back to back after Anthony Rizzo hit the 250th homer of his career. Then, Gleyber Torres hit his own home run driving Robbie Ray out of the game. Finally, Brett Gardner tacked on an insurance homer in the top of the ninth inning for a 6-2 win that the Jays couldn’t recover from.

Questions with DJ Lemahieu

The New York Yankees are not done with injuries this year. Shortly before last night’s game, it was announced that the first baseman and DH Luke Voit was put on the 10 day IL with a knee injury. After a strikeout Wednesday night, Voit was seen limping off the field. Possibly of even greater consequence Tyler Wade entered the game to take DJ LeMahieu’s last two at-bats. LeMahieu has been suffering from hip and groin problems. The Yankees, in their usual vagueness, wouldn’t comment on how serious it is, other than he would work through it. Being taken out early last night questions that.

Yankees wild card standing

The New York Yankees strengthened their grip on a wild card berth by holding on to the home-field advantage. The Red Sox, who are behind the Yankees, lost their game against the Baltimore Orioles. Next in line was the Seattle Mariners, who were idle yesterday. The situation caused the Mariners and the Red Sox to have identical records two games out. With the loss last night, the Toronto Blue Jays are one game out for a wild card appearance with only three games left in the season.

In other standings, Dusty Bakers’ Houston Astros clinched the AL West for the fourth time in five years and will face the Chicago White Sox. When the Yankees win the wild card game, they will face the Tampa Bay Rays. The winners of those series will play each other in the AL Championship to determine who goes on to play in the World Series.

Notes: I can’t finish this article without giving a shout-out to Bo Bichette who played his heart out in this series. The little guy did everything he could to make the Blue Jays victorious. He had seven hits including two home runs in the series while striking out only twice.

Tonight at 7:05 pm EDT, the New York Yankees start out their final series of the season at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Nasty Nestor Cortes Jr. will be on the mound for the Yankees. The game will be televised on the YES Network, Bally Sports Sun, and on MLBN out of market.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankee homers win a hard fought game against the Blue Jays

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

With new urgency, tonight, the New York Yankees entered the last game of the Toronto Blue Jays series at Roger’s Center in Toronto with a need to win the rubber game of the series. The Yankees won the first game  7-2 but lost the second game in a 6-5 squeaker. The must-win would allow the Yankees to keep the wild card home field advantage even if the Red Sox win their game with the Orioles. The Yankees relied on Corey Kluber to get the win over the likely Cy Young award winner Robbie Ray. At the end of the night, the Yankee homers powered the way to a 6-2 win in the game.

DJ LeMahieu led off the first inning against Ray and went down on strikes. Anthony Rizzo ground out into the shift. Then, Aaron Judge had a monster home run 455′ into the Roger’s restaurant. Giancarlo Stanton walked. Gleyber Torres flew out to the warning track in  center as the Yankees got on the board first. At the bottom, George Springer led off and singled to no man’s land in center. Marcus Semien hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Vlad Guerrero ground out to short. New York Yankees 1 Blue Jays 0.

Gary Sanchez led off the second by walking. Brett Gardner ground out to second. Gio Urshela was called out on strikes. Kyle Higashioka flew out to the warning track in right. At the bottom, the bothersome Bo Bichette that homered twice last night singled up the middle. Bichette stole second. Teoscar Hernandez flew out to Stanton in left field. Corey Dickerson hit a long one for a double scoring Bichette to tie the game at one. Alejandro Kirk ground out to third. Santiago Espinal flew out to a diving Judge in right, but the Jays tied the game. New York Yankees 1 Toronto Blue Jays 1.

The third inning was led off by LeMahieu, who popped out to shallow center. Rizzo launched one to right for a fly-out. Judge flew out to right-center for three flyouts for Robbie Ray. At the bottom of the inning, Randel Grichuk flew out for the first out. Springer popped out to Torres. Semien singled on a soft line drive. Guerrero struck out on an excellent curveball from Kluber. Game tied at 1.

Giancarlo Stanton led off the fourth inning by grounding out to third Torres ground out up the middle. Sanchez went down swinging. At the bottom, the dangerous Bo Bichette led off by popping out to Urshela. Hernandez went down on strikes. Dickerson got a single on a hit cut-off by Judge. Dickerson stole second. Kirk walked. Espinal with two outs and two on ground out to short to end the inning and leave two on base. The game tied at 1 in the fourth.

The fifth inning was led off by Brett Gardner, who flew out to second. Urshela flew out to right-center. Higahioka struck out to end the half scoreless for the New York Yankees. At the bottom, Randal Grichuk led off by striking out. Springer ground to short for a single. Semiem struck out. Dickerson doubled driving in Springer for a Blue Jays run. Corey Kluber left the game in the fifth, giving up two earned runs, walking one, and striking out 2. Micheal King replaced him to finish out the fifth. Toronto Blue Jays 2 New York Yankees 1.

The sixth inning was huge for the New York Yankees. The inning produced four runs for the Yankees. First, Anthony Rizzo hit the 250th homer of his career. Then, Aaron Judge got his second homer of the game. Then, Gleybor Torres homered. Those homers led to the end of the night for Jay’s pitcher Robbie Ray. Luis Severino pitched a scoreless bottom of the inning. New York Yankees 5 the Toronto Blue Jays 2.

The seventh inning was scoreless for both teams. Anthoney Rizzo led off the eighth inning and struck out swinging. Judge walked. Stanton struck out. Gleyber Torres flew out to center to end the half. At the bottom Bichette against Chad Green singled. Hernandez stuck out swinging. Dickerson struck out swinging. Kirk also struck out with one-on and two outs, giving Green three strikeouts in the inning. New York Yankees 5 Blue Jays 2.

Gary Sanchez led off the ninth inning against Julian Merryweather by striking out looking. Brett Gardner homed for the New York Yankees’ fifth homer of the night. Gio Urshela singled up the middle. Higashioka, with one run in and one on with one out, struck out for the second out of the inning. Tyler Wade struck out to end the half. At the bottom, with last licks on the line for the Toronto Blue Jays Santiago Espinal against closer, Aroldis Chapman singled beyond short. Breyvic Valera pinch-hitting for Randal Crichuk with one on and no outs went down looking on a 99 mph fastball. George Springer, with one out, struck out for Chapman’s 1,000th strikeout. Marcus Semien, with two outs, ground out to Tyler Wade for the final out for the Blue Jays.

The New York Yankees won the rubber game and the series from the Blue Jays, keeping their number one berth in the wild card. The final score was the New York Yankees 6 and the Toronto Blue Jays 2. The winning pitcher was Michael King, and the loser was Robbie Ray.

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees Analysis: Has the Yankee organization ruined Gleyber Torres?

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Before the 2020 season, the New York Yankees didn’t want to pay Didi Gregorius for his services as a shortstop and let him go to Joe Girardi’s Philadelphia Phillies. Instead, they chose to move the second baseman Gleyber Torres to be the team’s new shortstop. Ever since then, the bright young star once heralded as the Yankee’s new superstar has struggled both in his offense and defense. It should have lit up caution signs in the front office, but they didn’t see them or failed to act on them.

This has caused immense pressure on the young man. The question that should be asked is how much blame for his poor play should fall at his feet, and how responsible the New York Yankees have been for his poor play. When he was moved back to second base, his natural position, the Yankees have in their own way admitted that the entire experiment had been a failure. Has that failure ruined him, or will a full season at second bring him back to the player he was in 2018 and 2019 when he had 62 home runs?

Unfortunately, the problem for the Yankees has become much more complicated with the long-term contract they offered Gold Glover DJ LeMahieu. With moving Torres back to second, the Yankees are experimenting with LeMahieu at third and taking excellent third baseman Gio Urshela to fill the shortstop position. Unfortunately, neither LeMahieu nor Urshela is tearing up in the hitting department. So are they repeating the mistake they made with Torres?

To fully understand the Torres problem, you must know what has got him to where he is now. Gleyber Torres was born amongst the political strife, unrest, and violence of Caracas, Venezuela, in a middle-class family headed by Eusebio Torres and his mother, Ibelise. He is 24 years old. Gleyber started playing baseball at the age of four. He started in his early years as an outfielder, but shortstop was more suited to his game. His love of the game was propelled by watching games on TV.

He played both basketball and baseball in high school, but his father got him to concentrate on just baseball. Many thought he had the capabilities of becoming a professional. At age 14, he enrolled in an academy with strong connections to baseball scouts. Shortly after that, he was sought out by the Chicago Cubs, and he signed a contract with them.

In 2013 at the age of just sixteen, he signed a $1.7 million contract with the Cubs as an international free agent. He played in the minors for the Cubs organization; He made his pro debut in 2014 with the Arizona Cubs. In fifty games, he hit an average of .297. In 2015 he played for two minor league teams. In 126 games between the two clubs, he hit .287 with three home runs. In 2016 the Cubs traded Torres with Adam Warren and two other players to the Yankees for a desperately needed Aroldis Chapman. Torres played in the minors but missed most of the 2017 season for an injury that required Tommy John surgery, but still recorded a .287 season with seven home runs.

Torres made his major league debut on April 22, 2018, against the Blue Jays but went hitless. The next day he got his first hit off the Twins. Then, on May 4th, he recorded his first home run. The youngest Yankee to do so since 1969. In 2018 after batting .297 with fifteen home runs, he was selected to the All-Star team. He was named AL player of the week twice. For his sophomore season, on April 4, 2019, Gleyber Torres became the fourth-youngest Yankee with four hits and three extra-base hits in a game since Joe DiMaggio did it in 1936.

On June 29, 2019, he hit the 39th home run of his short career. Then, on August 2nd, he hit his second Grand Slam. To end his 2019 campaign, he batted .278 and led the New York Yankees with 38 home runs with 90 runs batted in. In his three years in the majors, he has been a New York Yankees All-Star twice and has received an MVP nomination. He finished the 2018-19 campaign with 62 home runs for his three-year career and 167 RBIs.

Torres played well in the 2020 spring training and the later summer camp. The New York Yankees had great hope for their young, new shortstop would repeat his excellent performance. The Yankees hoped for the best as he tried to follow in Yankee all-time star Derek Jeter’s footsteps and  Didi Gregorius, who is now a Philadelphia Philly.

Fast forward to the coronavirus shortened baseball season. All the 2019 magic disappeared from that new guy at short? Well, it appears there certainly have been some struggles that he has suffered, from both behind the plate and at his new position. Before Torres went on the IL with both calf and hamstring strains, he led the league in errors at short and was hitting just .231 with only one home run and a measly six RBIs.

On August 21, 2020, Torres went on the 10 day IL. Upon his return, he had three at-bats and managed a double in a game. At the time, they hoped that was a good sign for the remaining weeks of the season, but it was not to be. Torres ended the 2020 season hitting just 3 home runs with an average batting average of .243.

2021 has not been better for the young man constantly under the pressure of not holding down his position as he should. You can only imagine the damage to the psyche when one is constantly being criticized for his play. It makes you work too hard to be good, and the result has not improved under pressure. The Yankees finally decided to move him back to second base. He immediately made two bad errors and a couple of bonehead plays. Now in his old position for a time, he seems to be settling in; he has even shown some power at the plate.

One must keep in mind that the 24-year-old is still very young and has plenty of time to improve. One or two seasons does not make a career. This season has given his detractors even more ammunition that he will never make stardom. The question now is can he return to the player he was? Whether winning in the postseason or not, the New York Yankees will have many questions to answer in the offseason.

This offseason, there will be a slew of shortstops on the market. Some of those include the expensive Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, and Carlos Correa to a cheapy Jose Iglesias. When considering these names, don’t forget the Yankees farm system and Andrew Velazquez and Anthony Volpe. Should the Yankees decide not to bring Anthony Rizzo back, that could put DJ back at first and Gio back at third while keeping Torres at second and looking for a new shortstop. Questions abound.

 

 

New York Yankees 9/25: 3 Major takeaways from win over the Red Sox

New York Yankees, Nestor Cortes Jr.

Last night the New York Yankees entered one of their most critical series of the season to hold on to a wild-card berth in the postseason. The New York Yankees opened a three-game series with their traditional age-long rivals Boston Red Sox, at Fenway Park in Boston. The Yankees put ace Gerrit Cole on the mound to face one of the Red Sox’s most successful pitchers Nathan Eovaldi in that effort. The effort came up big as the Yankees beat the Red Sox 8-3.

Gerrit Cole gets the job done

New York Yankee ace Gerrit Cole took the mound at Fenway Park last night against one of the best Red Sox pitchers, Nathan Eovaldi, with the hope of bouncing back from one of his worst losses of the season. He did that, although certainly not with dominance. Instead, he had a lot of run support right off the bat with the help of Eovaldi, who just didn’t have it.

Cole went six innings giving up three earned runs and walking 3 for an ERA in the neighborhood of 4.50, not anything to brag about. What should be somewhat disturbing to the Yankees is that Cole had his best months during April and May. During June and July, he was just okay. Unfortunately, September hasn’t been as good pitching really well in only two of five games started. Going into a possible postseason, the Yankees and fans can only hope he can rise to the occasion and has not tired.

It takes a team to support a pitcher

Last night a phenomenon took place that has been absent in so many games this season. The pitchers and players acted like a complete team, with everyone doing their job. And that became evident very early in the game. The Yankees in so many games have relied on late rallies to win nail-biting games. Last night the Yankees made a quick statement by scoring 3 runs in the first inning.

What was so impressive was the Yankees got those three runs with energetic, aggressive play and not via the home run. It’s called small ball. The Yankees did get their homers in the game. The increasingly hot Giancarlo Stanton got a two-run shot in the third inning, and Gleyber Torres got his in the seventh inning. Those runs counted for 3 of the Yankees 8 runs. These rest were achieved by old fashion good baseball. Each Yankee got at least one hit, with Stanton and Torres leading the attack with three apiece.

The Yankees inch closer to the postseason

With the win last night and the Toronto Blue Jays loss, the Yankees inched closer to a sure berth in the wild-card round. With the win over the Rangers in the last game of that series and the win last night, the Yankees are now in sole possession of the second wild-card berth. Also, with the win, the Red Sox are just one game up on them for home-field advantage. If the Yankees can sweep the Red Sox on their own turf, they will have that number one spot and home-field advantage, going into a three-game series with the Blue Jays that are lagging by 2 games with only 8 games remaining in the regular season.

Notes: Game number two of the Red Sox series will be today at 4:10 pm at Fenway Park. Nestor Cortes Jr. will be on the mound for the Yankees and Nick Pivetta for the Red Sox. The game will be televised on the YES Network, NESN, and MLBN out of market. Join me today in the Facebook Yankees group “Yankee fans R US!!” and chat about the game in our live game thread. So Check-in early and hit join!