New York Yankees: Mike Ford finally gets a role in the 2021 season

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

New York Yankee player Mike Ford after not making the starting day roster, finally has a role to fill, and it’s an important one. Over the weekend, first baseman Jay Bruce decided to hang up his cleats and retire from baseball, creating a void at first base until the rehabbing Luke Voit rejoins the team in a month. Yesterday I wrote about who would replace Bruce. Today it is apparent that it will be Mike Ford as the Yankees have announced his call up from Scranton.

Ford didn’t make opening day due to a slow start in spring training, but in the past has provided quite a bit of spark for the Yankees, both with home runs and timely hitting. The lineup for today’s Atlanta Braves meeting has not been released as of this writing, so it’s hard to tell if he will replace temporary first baseman DJ LeMahieu at first or if he will sit in the dugout to be used when needed.

Here’s a bit about Ford: Robert and Barbara Ford are parents of 28-year-old Mike Ford. Ford was born and grew up in the Belle Mead area of New Jersey. When he was 12 and 13, he was part of Montgomery’s Babe Ruth League teams that went to the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth World Series. He attended Montgomery High School as a freshman before transferring to the Hun School of Princeton.  The Hun School is a private boarding school. He played baseball during college at Princeton University, where he played as a first baseman and a pitcher. In 2013 he received the distinction of being named both Player and Pitcher of the year at Princeton. He hit .320 and pitched 6-0 that year.

Ford spent seven years in the minor leagues between the Yankees and Mariners. For the Yankees, he played in the minors for Staten Island Yankees, The Trenton Thunder, The River Dogs, Tampa, and the Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders. In  2012 Ford went undrafted and signed with the Yankees as an undrafted free agent. He spent that whole year with the Staten Island Yankees. In 2014 while with the River Dogs, Ford hit four home runs in one game. He was later promoted to Tampa, where he was named an All-Star for the Florida State League. In the winter of 2017, he was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Seattle Mariners, but in March of 2018, he was returned to the New York Yankees.

At the start of 2019,  Ford was invited to spring training as a non-roster player. He was eventually assigned to the Rail Riders but got his big break when he was called up to the majors when Greg Bird was injured. He made his major league debut in April and got his first hit on April 21. He hit his first home run on April 23rd. He had traveled back and forth from Scranton to the Stadium several times during that year, but near the end of the season, he remained at the stadium batting .200 with five home runs in 85 at-bats. In a blowout by the Indians, Ford was sent out to pitch due to his pitching experience at Princeton. He gave up two home runs but pitched three innings, including a 1-2-3 ninth inning; the experience somewhat amused him. With Bird and Voit both out due to injuries, Ford alternated with DJ LeMahieu at first base.

In an interview by the New York Post’s  Steve Serby Ford was asked how he would sum up his journey to the big leagues.  Ford replied:

“It was a long, long journey. A tough one, too. It’s something I would never give back. Definitely hard work, determination, and just kind of the will of not quitting. … There were definitely times where I was very close [to quitting]. I had very good people around me that supported me and kind of kept me in line.”

He was also asked what drives him today?

“Living up to the player that I know I can be. I think [that’s] what a lot of guys strive for. It took me a long time to get here, but keeping the faith and getting here and being a confident hitter and being confident in what I do, I just want to prove that I can be that player that I know I can be.”

By the end of the season, Ford had become a fan favorite and was making a name for himself in the front office.  He ended the season playing in fifty games with 143 plate appearances.  He hit to a batting average of .259 with 12 home runs; that’s one home run in every four games.

On September 1, 2019, against the Oakland Athletics, it was the ninth inning in a game tied at 4.  The Yankees came all the way back to tie the game.  Mike Ford stepped to the plate and, on a 3 and 2 count, hit the first walk-off home run of his career, giving the Yankees the win.

During the shortened 2020 season, Ford appeared in less than half the New York Yankee games with 10 hits, two of them home runs but suffered with a .135 batting average. His 2021 spring training was a bit better; in 11 games, he had one homer and a batting average of .259. Ford tends to get energized at Yankee Stadium, and hopefully, he will provide a spark that gets the Yankees on track.

When not playing at New York Yankee Stadium, Ford lives near the Rail Riders stadium and is not married, nor is there any news of a steady girlfriend.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Who will replace Jay Bruce?

Over the weekend, the New York Yankees‘ first baseman Jay Bruce announced his retirement to take effect after his final game last night. The still relatively young Bruce (34) was obviously emotional in his statement to the fans and the bullpen with his fellow players. Bruce was not in the lineup last night. He first let manager Aaron Boone know about his plans on Friday but announced his retirement Sunday Morning.

“The reason I ultimately chose to do this is because over 13 years of playing pretty much every single day, I set a standard of what I expected out of myself from a performance standpoint,” Bruce said on Sunday afternoon. “I know there are ups and downs and ebbs and flows throughout a season and throughout a career, but ultimately, I just felt like I couldn’t perform at the level that I expected out of myself.”

The New York Yankees issued this official statement:

“Thank you Jay, for your professionalism and leadership in your short time here. We wish you nothing but the best and congrats on an amazing career.” The tweet was followed by a heart.

The bottom line is that although he did have an amazing 14-year career, he did not play well for the Yankees. In a somewhat unfair move, the Yankees put him in the starting lineup as the Yankees’ first baseman after Luke Voit required knee surgery. Bruce was an outfielder by trade, with some experience at first base. As I said, it did not turn out well and led to his decision to retire.

His retirement leaves the Yankees with a question to solve, who do they put at first base until Voit returns in another month or so. They appear ready to leave DJ LeMahieu in the position now that they have Rougned Odor to cover second base. But the Yankees do have other options.

Mike Ford:

Mike Ford did not have an inspiring spring training, but he hit one home run and batted .259 during 11 games. But at the beginning of the regular season, the Yankees ultimately choose Jay Bruce to man first base. That turned out to be a mistake, so when the Yankees signed Odor, they moved DJ LeMahieu to first. Now that Jay has retired, they still have to find a permanent replacement until Luke Voit returns. Ford is an option; he has had his moments with the Yankees, hitting the longest home run in the past two season and a walk-off win. He also has been a Red Sox killer.

Chris Gittens:

My choice to fill the first base void is Chris Gittens. In spring training, he hit 3 no-doubter home runs and batted .316 in 20 games. That alone should have got him the first base job. In 2019 he drove in 77 runs and got 118 hits with 23 homers batting .281 while with the Trenton Thunder. It seems to me this is a no-brainer that manager Aaron Boone should act upon immediately and allow DJ to go back to second base. Rougned Odor is batting .125. I am sure that Gittens can get better run production than that.

Breaking: New York Yankees’ Jay Bruce has retired from baseball

New York Yankees, Jay Bruce

The New York Yankees hand may have been forced this morning when the Yankee’s first baseman announced his retirement from baseball. The Yankees will now have to decide to keep DJ LeMahieu first or bring up Mike Ford and Chris Gittens.

The retirement of Jay Bruce was first reported by Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports reporter. Bruce was never supposed to make the team, but with the knee surgery of Luke Voit, he was the Yankee’s starting first baseman. This was somewhat unfair for Bruce as he was an outfielder by trade for most of his career with limited experience at first base. For the most part, he failed far too often making plays and had the team-worst batting average.

The Yankees should strongly consider a change in the first base position

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

The New York Yankees’ offense has struggled to begin the season. Name by name, it is one of the best lineups in Major League Baseball, but slow starts by Gleyber Torres, Aaron Hicks, and Giancarlo Stanton, plus the injury to Luke Voit have really affected the offensive output.

One of the most problematic situations is the one at first base. Luke Voit suffered a partially torn meniscus back in March, and was given a May timetable. As a result, Jay Bruce made the Yankees’ roster out of camp even though he hadn’t been having a great performance during Grapefruit League play.

Voit, the Yankees’ regular first baseman when healthy, was recently cleared to resume throwing and could soon take swings off a tee. He is badly missed, and he can’t return soon enough as Bruce has struggled mightily on both sides of the ball.

The Yankees have gotten very little production out of Bruce

Bruce is, before the weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays, batting .118, a product of four hits in 34 at bats. Known for his power more than anything else, he only has one home run so far and is sporting the lowest ISO of his career.

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone has already had to play DJ LeMahieu at first. But as the team looks for a more stable solution, they can rely on Mike Ford and Chris Gittens, both talented offensive players who could theoretically contribute more than Bruce at this point.

“The first three or four games, there were a lot of really good at-bats, important at-bats,” Boone said of Bruce. “I think it was just a few games where he wasn’t getting real good swings off, not making great contact. Hopefully a couple days down refresh him a little bit and get him going.”

With the Yankees expecting Voit back by May, there are still lots of games to be played until that point. Should they keep giving a competitive advantage by playing Bruce over Ford or Gittens?

Yankees: Jay Bruce to “stay away” from the team as Bombers make roster decision

New York Yankees, Jay Bruce

The New York Yankees need to decide between four players and hand them two roster spots, as catcher Kyle Higashioka and reserve outfielder Brett Gardner are all but assured to make the team. That means Jay Bruce, Tyler Wade, Derek Dietrich, and Mike Tauchman are vying for those two remaining places.

Bruce’s minor league contract has an opt-out clause that states he will need to be added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster in the next day or he will be free to sign with any other team.

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone said Bruce, who can earn $1.5 million if he is indeed added to the roster, would “stay away” from the team’s complex until a resolution is reached.

Bruce started the spring hot, going 4-for-6, but has cooled off some result-wise. Boone, however, has noticed some good batted balls and at-bats from the veteran outfielder, who has 318 career home runs.

The Yankees are close to making a decision

“Those conversations are happening,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told MLB.com. “Trying to get different points of view and everyone able to weigh in on different things before we make the final decision.”

Bruce is slashing .194/.242/.419 with two home runs in 13 games this spring. Perhaps more importantly, Boone has shown the ability to cover both corner outfield spots and also first base.

“I don’t want to say I’m pleasantly surprised because I know he’s done that before and has kind of looked the part, but he certainly looked the part to me over there,” Boone said. “He’s shown, I think, everything we could have hoped for when we brought him in.”

Even though Bruce could be a very good addition to the bench given his left-handed power stroke and how it would play in Yankee Stadium, Tauchman is seen as the favorite to hold down one of the two roster spots because his defensive excellence and modest offensive upside.

Yankees: Two lowkey players who have made a significant impact this spring

New York Yankees, Jay Bruce

The New York Yankees have had a successful spring, despite falling to the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 on Saturday evening. Their offense has gone quiet the past few games, but their pitching remains a strength. Against Baltimore, Michael King last 4.0 innings, recording six strikeouts and giving up one run. He currently has a 3.46 ERA this spring, but with a majority of the backups featuring against the Orioles, they only managed to record three hits and one run.

With player cuts already underway, the Yankees elected to part ways with first baseman Mike Ford, which could indicate a low-key player making the roster and potentially having an impact on the 2021 season.

Here are two New York Yankees who can make the active roster:

Lucas Luetge:

Lucas Luetge has been phenomenal this spring, pitching 6.1 innings and earning a 0.00 ERA with 13 strikeouts and just for hits allowed. At 34 years old, Lucas hasn’t played in the MLB since 2015 with the Seattle Mariners. Having bounced around the minor-league system, he’s experiencing a rejuvenation, and the Yankees could benefit tremendously, especially with star relief arm Zack Britton for the next few weeks.

Jay Bruce:

One of the reasons the Yankees likely reassigned Ford is due to the emergence of Jay Bruce. The former first-round pick back in 2005 is known for his slugging ability, having hit double-digit homers in 11 of 13 total seasons. Last year with the Philadelphia Phillies, Bruce had six HRs and 14 RBIs in 32 games. While 2020 was a down campaign, he most recently hit double digits in 2019 with 26.

Bruce has had some health complications in the past but has proven he can be a consistent threat, hitting .261 this spring, including two home runs and three RBIs. If he continues to show adequacy at the plate, he could be a first-choice reserve option in the outfield, and the Yankees always prefer sluggers over contacted hitters.

Yankees could leave Mike Tauchman behind with surprise player surging

Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees have a lively position battle unfolding in the outfield, with a surprise player climbing the depth chart as spring training continues. Heading into the 2021 season, the expectation was that Mike Tauchman would be a lock to make the roster, but he has struggled this spring, just as he did in 2020 when he finished with a .242 average and 23.4% strikeout rate.

Ultimately, Tauchman is a solid defensive player that is extremely inconsistent on offense, and the Yankees might be looking to add a slugger in case Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton are forced to miss any time.

Mike spoke to reporters after Sunday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. He finished with one hit over three at-bats and was thrown out attempting to steal a base. His demise this spring opens up the door for Jay Bruce, a slugger who has exceeded expectations this spring.

“A really good way to make myself crazy is worry about that,” Tauchman said after a tough outing on Sunday. “There’s certain things that I’m trying to get done in spring training. It didn’t go well today, I got thrown out, but going first to third, going gap to gap for balls, being aggressive with leadoffs, trying to see a lot of pitches, stuff like that. That’s infinitely more important to me than worrying about some competition or whatever.”

What does Jay Bruce offer the Yankees?

Bruce offers the Yankees an entirely different makeup compared to Tauchman. Last season, he hit just .198 but is historically a double-digit home run hitter every year. In 2019, he slammed 26 homers and collected 59 RBIs. He strikes out a very similar amount to Tauchman, but that extra slugging ability gives him a push, especially since the Yankees view the long ball as a run producer.

There is a possibility that the Yankees roll into the season with Tauchman and Bruce on the roster, but with the retention of Brett Gardner, that reality seems a bit more unlikely. Bruce is currently hitting .333 this spring with two homers and three RBIs. Luckily for Tauchman, Bruce struck out twice over three at-bats against Toronto, giving him a bit more time to make up lost ground.

New York Yankees: Lucas Luetge’s big chance, Tauchman out of options, and more

Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees

New York Yankees assistant GM Mike Fishman pursued Lucas Luetge each of the past two years and signed him to a minor league deal this offseason, he said, “A lot of people are talking about him [in camp]. He is opening eyes with how he is performing — and the quality of the stuff, too. He has swing-and-miss pitches.” Luetge has been trying to get from the minors to the majors for the last six years. He did it for just one game back in 2015. He pitched 2 1/2 innings of shutout ball. But his return to the majors has been elusive.

For the Yankees, Luetge has faced 11 hitters in three spring games and struck out eight. On Sunday against Philadelphia, he wiped out the 1-2-3 of the order — Andrew McCutchen, Didi Gregorius, and Bryce Harper. The Yankees are impressed, but will he make the 26 man roster? After June 1st, he can get out of the Yankee deal.

He started his pitching career with the Seattle Mariners and was with them for four years, but he was given assignment after his major league start. Since then, he has been in the minors for the Brewers, Angels, Reds, Orioles, Diamondbacks, Athletics, and now at age 34, later this month, he may have his best chance of a Major League spot. However, he will have to fight for that chance with other lefties.

What lies ahead for Mike Tauchman?

This spring is either do or die for Mike Tauchman; if he doesn’t make the 26 man roster out of spring camp, he is a goner; no options remain. Or he could be traded before the deadline. The 30 year-old outfielder, who broke out in the second half of 2019 but struggled in 2020, is on the 26-man roster bubble and has no minor league options remaining. The problem for the New York Yankees is that Jay Bruce, Derek Dierich and Tauchman are all competing for the same last bench spot.

Right now Jay Bruce seems to have the edge in making the 26 man roster. He has two home runs and is batting .455. Tauchman is doing himself no favors, he is batting just .167 after a poor season last year. The present bench in the 26 man roster includes a guaranteed set for Kyle HIgashioka, Brett Gardner, Miguel Andujar, and that one vacant seat. It is assumed that Mike Ford and Tyler Wade will start in the minors. Bruce could drop out of the equation if he opts out of his contract on March 25th. If the Yankees are not going to keep T-Man in the majors they will have to trade him before the season starts or the will get nothing for him and he will be gone forever.

Domingo German pitches tonight

The New York Yankees will face the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight at the Yankee home. The Yankees have announced that Domingo German will be starting the game, with a lineup headed by DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, and Brett Gardner leading off in the first inning. German will be facing the Pirates pitcher Tyler Anderson.

In his outing last week, German was near perfect, pitching two innings while allowing only 1 single and no walks. He struck out 4 hitters; that’s 18 per nine innings.Tonight he will likely be extended to three innings of work. The game tonight is at 6:35 pm and will be televised on the YES Network.

 

 

New York Yankees: Jay Bruce continues to make a strong case for a roster spot with another home run

New York Yankees, Jay Bruce

Jay Bruce has been one of the biggest surprises for the New York Yankees this Spring Training, starting 4-for-8 with a home run and a 1.500 OPS through a week of games. The three-time all-star is looking for a roster spot after a disappointing two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.

In Tuesday’s game against Detroit Tigers, Bruce boosted his chances for a roster spot even more. The lefty took a 1-0 fastball opposite field, clearing the fence for a line-drive two-run home run.

Bruce has been in a position battle with Mike Tauchman for the final outfield position, and right now, he’s winning. Aaron Boone said that Clint Frazier is a lock for the roster, along with the obvious four: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Hicks. The final spot will likely come down to either Bruce or Tauchman.

Tauchman hasn’t looked bad this spring, but Bruce has looked far better. In 10 at-bats as of early Tuesday, Tauchman has two hits, including a home run. He’s flexed his speed and his defense, something that Bruce doesn’t have much of. However, Bruce’s lefty power currently seems to have him in a position to make the roster over Tauchman.

If he were to make the roster, Bruce wouldn’t be a starter to begin the season. Boone said at the beginning of Spring Training that left field would be Frazier’s to lose, as he’s performed well there over the last few seasons. Frazier has improved defense and a powerful bat, putting him in a position to get the most playing time in his career in 2021.

However, if Frazier struggles, expect Bruce to come in and get playing time. With the short porch at Yankee Stadium, Bruce could have a really good season in New York, assuming he makes the roster.

New York Yankees: Three power-hitters in contention for roster spots after week one of Spring Training

New York Yankees, Derek Dietrich

A week of Spring Training games is already in the books, and we’ve seen lots of positives so far for the New York Yankees. Gary Sanchez has gotten off to a strong start, Aaron Judge is hitting the ball well, and DJ LeMahieu can’t get out. Another positive we’ve seen is some depth guys performing well to start Spring Training. Here are three power hitters who are in contention for roster spots after week one.

Jay Bruce

Jay Bruce has made a big splash so far in Spring Training. He’s gotten hits in four of his six at-bats and he slugged a home run in yesterday’s contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bruce is a lefty, something the Yankees don’t have many of, so he could be in contention for a bench spot on the Yankees’ roster. His defense is subpar, but his offensive potential makes up for it.

Derek Dietrich

Derek Dietrich has made seven plate appearance this spring and has taken advantage of it. He’s 1-of-5 with a two-run home run, a walk, and an HBP. Similar to Bruce, Dietrich lacks a solid defensive game and isn’t the fastest, but his lefty power could make a serious impact off the bench. To make the roster, Dietrich will have to beat out the defensively orientated Tyler Wade.

Mike Tauchman

Mike Tauchman has gotten off to a decent start this spring. He’s 2-for-10 so far with a home run and a stolen base. Tauchman is a lot more well-rounded than Bruce and Dietrich, but his offense is probably the worse of the three. Being that Tauchman is also a lefty, it could be him against Bruce for the final outfield spot. Regardless, Tauchman’s name is for sure in the mix this season.