New York Yankees Recap: Corey Kluber exceeds expectations in Yankees win

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

The Yankees are back in action with their fourth game of spring training on Wednesday night, hosting the Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Before we get to any in-game action or the starting lineups, the big news this evening is manager Aaron Boone’s medical leave of absence as he undergoes surgery to get a pacemaker.

Boone was expected to get the surgery Wednesday evening and return to work in the next few days. General manager Brian Cashman spoke about the concern attached to any heart issues (Boone had open-heart surgery in 2009) but assured Boone would be in a good place after the procedure.

Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza managed the club on Wednesday night and took on Boone’s responsibilities until the skipper returns. It was Corey Kluber’s debut in pinstripes. Also making their first appearance of spring training were Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton. The game against the Toronto Blue Jays was the first night game of spring training, and it was a nice night for baseball in St. Pete. The first pitch temperature was 60 degrees, and the game was played under mostly cloudy skies with a very light breeze at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

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. At the bottom, Aaron Judge almost recorded a homer.  In the second inning, Corey Kluber looked really good, folks. He struck out two more Blue Jays to finish off two perfect frames. Check out this off-speed pitch to strike out Palacios. This performance is wonderful news for the Yankees.

Adam Warren took over for the Yankees in the third. Following Kluber, Warren put down the Jays in one-two-three fashion in his frame. On a side note, in duel 14 run games, the Red Sox put down the  Twins, and the Reds put down the New York Mets. After three innings of play, the Yankee game remained scoreless. A pitcher that almost nobody has ever heard of, Nick Goody took over for Warren at the top of the fourth.  Although he gave up a double, he too had a scoreless inning for the Yankees.

At the top of the fourth, Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch and replaced by Michael Beltre. Aaron Hicks, with his good eye, fought off nine of Alek Manoah’s pitches but eventually struck out. Giancarlo Stanton also struck out. The New York Yankees are looking to Stanton to return to the form he showed in the postseason when he hit six home runs in seven games. 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 first run of the game. 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, Sanchez homered in his game yesterday as well against the Orioles. That was followed by Derek Dietrich’s home driving in two for the Yankees 3-1 lead. Jonathan Loaisiga took over for the Yankees in the sixth. He also pitched a scoreless sixth.  Pitcher Kyle Barraclough closed it out his half of the seventh.

This was the first 9 inning game of spring training. At the bottom of the seventh Robinson Chirinos homer to far left for the Yankee 4-1 lead. As it turned out the Yankees only played the bottom of the seventh and the game was called. Luis Cessa got the win and Nick Allgeyer took the loss, Barraclough got the save for the Yankees.

The New York Yankees play the Philadelphia Phillies tomorrow at 1:05 pm just a hop skip and a jump for the Yankees in Clearwater, Florida.






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 Player Profiles: What can Luke Voit offer the Yankees this season?

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

Luke Voit is a 29-year-old first baseman for the New York Yankees. Luke has had a relatively unremarkable baseball career, but how he got to the Yankees and what he has done while here, is an interesting story.

Luke was born in Wildwood, Missouri, and attended Lafayette High School there. In high school, he played football as a fullback and middle linebacker. He also played baseball where he got a lot of experience. In his first three years, he played first base and third base. Interestingly in his senior year he played catcher. Shoulder injuries while in high school ended any career he may have had in football.

After his senior year at Lafayette, he was selected in the 22nd round of the
2013 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cards. He made his professional debut with the State College Spikes of class A, New York/Penn League. That year he batted .242 with 2 home runs and 16 RBI’s in 46 games played.

Throughout his minor league career, he was always on the edge of being good. In June of 2017, the Cards promoted him to the bigs. In July of 2017, In his very first at-bat, he was plunked in the back. After 114 at-bats he hit his first home run. He ended the season with a batting average of .246 with four home runs and 18 RBI’s, still unremarkable but good enough to be used in a trade by the Cards to get players they needed.

In July of 2018, the Cards traded Luke Voit to the New York Yankees along with bonus pool money so they could get pitcher Chasen Shrive and Giovanny Gallegos. The Yanks assigned him to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yanks swiftly promoted him to the majors, in part to play first, in the absence of Greg Bird, but after batting .188 in five games they demoted him back to Scranton. After playing better in the minors and with the injury to Didi Gregorius he was again called up to the Stadium. This time something happened, he seemed to embrace the limelight and energy of New York.

Playing for Greg Bird, he soon had hit ten home runs, and after hitting .458, he was named MLB player of the week on October 1st. He ended the season hitting .333 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI’s in just 39 games. In the 2018 Wild Card game, he hit a two-run triple to help the Yankees win 7-2. That triple seemed to have given Luke a place as a Yankee favorite.

During spring training last year, he with Bird back playing, was in a competition for playing first base when the season started. Since then with Bird back on the IL, and his play at 1st, and better hitting than Bird, it was almost solidified that he will be our 1st baseman. On April 29, 2019, he
was named AL Player of the Week hitting .433 with 13 hits, 4 home runs, and 10 RBI’s in the previous week. It appeared that found his place with the Yankees and the Yankee fans.

However, Voit didn’t escape the injury plague that hit the team in 2019. An abdominal injury right around the London series sidelined him, and continued to be problematic upon Voit’s return, and eventually required surgery once the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs. Voit was dreadful after getting hurt, but I think his performance pre-injury gets overlooked easily. Voit in 2019 was out for two stints. That injury caused him to play in only 118 games.

Before his season was derailed he led the New York Yankees, he led the team in home runs and was having a better season than Miguel Torres or DJ LeMahieu. At the plate, he seldom wasted an at-bat. He doesn’t swing at bad pitches and only had one pop up in the first half of the season.

Luke Voit should be the 1st base starter for the Yankees. Voit is just too good as a hitter to be relegated to being a part-time player.  Even in a short season, Mike Ford will be used at first to rest Voit. If Voit can remain healthy, which there is no reason to assume otherwise, and can start off 2020 as he did in 2019, he could equal all of last year in just 60 games.  You have to remember he was so bad in the second half that it dragged down his 2019 stats.

Giving the chance Voit has the potential of being an elite player for the New York Yankees despite his only adequate defense at first base.  Look for Voit to try and impress the Yankees and get as many at-bats as possible.

During the offseason along with staying in shape, Voit wrote a children’s book. “Luke’s Baseball Story.” It’s a book about his baseball life as a child and today.  Luke said the original intent was to take the book and read it to kids’ classes in the Bronx.  That plan fell through when the coronavirus pandemic made that impossible.  He remembered when he met a famous athlete as a kid, he was overwhelmed and wanted the kids to experience that, as he taught them about hard work to made their dreams come true.

Luke Voit, during August of last year, married his longtime sweetheart  Victoria Rigman.  They both attended the same school; Lafayette High School. Interestingly, Luke was on the baseball team, and Tori was a cheerleader for the school team. Luke has a younger brother John, who played defensive tackle with the Army Black Knights football team. Luke works out regularly and continues to challenge himself to be the best he can be.

New York Yankees News: Zack Britton talks about a season without fans

New York Yankees, Zack Britton

The New York Yankees relief pitcher Zack Britton is talking about what it’s like to play in a stadium with no fans. He knows what it’s like to play in that atmosphere; he pitched in a game when he was with the Baltimore Orioles with no fans in the stands.  On April 29, 2015, the Orioles played the Chicago White Sox. It was a game that made history because it was the very first game in MLB history to be played with no fans in the stands.

In April of that year, there was civil unrest that caused protesters to fill the streets, and there were fears about public safety in the city due to the controversy caused by the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody. Oriole Stadium at Camden Yards was closed to Oriole fans.

“When I played in the no-fan game in Baltimore and it was something that I remember directly saying, ‘I hope I never have to do this again,’ ”

Zack Britton spoke those words in a Zoom call from New York’s Yankee Stadium yesterday. Britton was working out at the Stadium and going through coronavirus testing just one day before the start of summer camp 2.0. He spoke about talking to other Yankee players about playing in that empty stadium and what it felt like. He added that it would be a topic of conversation in the days to come as well.  He also mentioned that the team that can adjust best to this new environment might be the team that is most successful during the coronavirus pandemic tainted season.

“I think the team that can self-motivate the best is going to be the team that comes out on top. I honestly do believe that it might not be the most talented team this year. I think it will be the guys who come to the ballpark and not be relying on the adrenaline that the atmosphere would give you but be able to self-motivate and accomplish what they want to accomplish. I truly believe it is going to be that team that wins it.’’

He continued to speak about how the New York Yankees could be that team with its mix of young, dynamic players and veterans that have played in all circumstances. But he also said that its difficult to predict how players will play in a stadium that is more like a funeral home.

“That’s a tough question. I do believe we have the guys who can do it. We have guys who have played at a top level for a long time,’’ said Britton, who fits in that group. “The more I have been around those types of players the more I realize those are the guys who can self-motivate, guys that can maintain a performance level throughout the course of a season at a high level. I am hopeful our team is that team that can do it. I will have a better feeling for that once we get into that environment but my gut reaction is that we are going to be fine.’’

Britton has chosen to leave his family at home in back in Austin, Texas as a safety measure, saying that if things improve later in the season he may bring them to New York.

The New York Yankees have a big plus going for them this year that just might make a big difference.  That plus is Gerrit Cole that became the Yankees pitching ace when he signed a $324 million contract to play for the Yankees for the next nine years.  Cole is a veteran that can lead the team out of the coronavirus funk.  Cole, with his enthusiasm, will automatically become a team leader just as CC Sabathia was.

There is no question that it will be a challenge playing without the motivation of fans cheering in the stands, but if any team can do it, the Yankees can. All of the Yankees players are motivated to getting to that 28th World Championship.

New York Yankees: Gerrit Cole is still a possibility

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

The New York Yankees are still in the run for top free agent Gerrit Cole this offseason. General manager Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner have already said that they are carefully and seriously checking out all options, especially the big names.

“I think Cole will probably end up on one of the coasts,” MLB Network insider Jon Heyman said. Besides the New York Yankees, the Anaheim Angels are also a possibility to land Cole.

Cole finished his career-high year with a 20-5 record and held the lowest ERA in the American League at 2.50. He also held the most strikeouts in all of Major League Baseball at an astounding 326 over 212.1 innings pitched.

Cole is from Newport Beach, California, and it’s possible that he could want to pitch near home. In my opinion, it’s most likely going to be decided on who’s willing to pay the most. He’s coming off one of the best pitching years in MLB history and is looking for a contract around $280 million all the way up to possibly $300 million.

“The Yankees believe that he’s probably going to go to the Angels, but either of them would not shock me,” said Heyman.

One thing that I could see the Yankees hesitate with on Cole is the fact that they are depending on Deivi Garcia to be a star in the next few years. They could believe that he’s going to turn into a premier pitcher and to go over Cole isn’t a priority. However, it’s a win-now mentality with the Yankees and they still need to go after one of the big pitching free agents.

New York Yankees: Is Aaron Judge Back?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

New York Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge caught fire this West Coast trip where he’s had three “Judgeian blasts” – something fans haven’t seen in a long while. Prior to this home run streak, the last time the Judge had pulled a home run was in last year’s Wild Card game against the Oakland Athletics.

These last three home runs have been BOMBS too. All over 400 feet, the home run against the Athletics was 467 feet that were hit at 116mph.

Earlier this season, it seemed that he was only able to take pitches the other way and was having trouble turning on the ball with power. I credit this to his oblique injury, which is stressed during his swing. Also, his wrist injury from last season took from him as well. Judge uses “tilt” with the bat as a timing mechanism. So, when his wrist was hurt, that threw off everything he knew about his swing.

To see where Judge was with his injuries, take a look at this video. It outlines everything he’s been through and where he is now.

To see Judge swinging the bat like everyone knows he can is very refreshing. Heading into the postseason, the New York Yankees will need 2017 postseason Judge, who was an unstoppable force at the plate.

This West Coast series is important for the Yankees because they know what it’ll show heading into the playoffs. He said this heading into the nine-game set, “We know what kind of teams we’re facing. Going up against Oakland and Dodgers and Seattle, three good ball clubs, and that Dodgers series could be a postseason matchup right there.”