New York Yankees: Aaron Boone suggests Miguel Andujar may be pressing

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

The New York Yankees had to option third baseman / left fielder Miguel Andujar to their alternate training site before Thursday’s loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. They are about to enter a rough stretch of too many games in just a few days, so they opted to option the 2018 Rookie of the Year runner up, right-hander Nick Nelson (who had been burned on Wednesday with a long outing) and Thairo Estrada. They called up Nick Tropeano to help on the mound.

But in reality, Andujar’s demotion wasn’t so surprising if you consider that he was 1-for-14 with only one walk in the season, failing to get in a groove at the plate while playing sparingly in third base and left field.

The decision, as New York Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone told NJ.com, was “very tough. Unfortunately, I’ve had to have a few of those conversations with really good players that are big-league players … that are good big-league players. It’s a little bit the result of having a deep and talented roster. But that doesn’t make it any less easy when you’re telling a major leaguer that you have to option them.”

The Yankees depth forced their hand

The Yankees had Gio Urshela at third and Tyler Wade to back him up. At the same time, the outfield is also covered, with Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, Aaron Hicks and Wade all capable of manning left field. Simply put, if Andujar wasn’t producing at the plate, his odds of being on the roster were slim given that it was shrunk from 30 to 28 players.

“We just felt like we needed coverage from a pitching standpoint,” Boone said.

Boone suggested that Andujar was pressing a little bit, knowing he had to produce in the precious few opportunities he received.

“I think with Miggy, it’s just a difficult role for him to be in,” Boone said. “I think he’s handled it great. His work has not changed. His attitude has not changed. But being in that role, I do feel like when he does get his opportunities, there’s that you want that result so bad that you probably press and get after it almost a little too much.”

In 2018, Andujar batted .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBI in 149 games as the Yankees’ starting third baseman.

New York Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery claims Phillies cheated during series

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

The New York Yankees split a four-game series against Philadelphia Phillies this week, falling in the final game Thursday evening 5-4. With Aaron Boone sitting Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu, he decided to insert them into the lineup with the team’s final at-bats of the game. While Judge struck out, LeMahieu managed to get on base with two strikes on the board and representing the final out. Mike Tauchman, who was up next, singled to right field, giving the Yankees a glimmer of hope in what was a lost game earlier on. Luke Voit, one of the Yankees’ top sluggers, nearly missed a three-run homer to take the lead.

However, it wasn’t written in the stars. Starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery was tapped for the fourth game of the series. He was batted around a bit in his second start of the season. He lasted just four innings, allowing six hits, five earned runs, and striking out just two batters. His 95 total pitch count was a bit much for just four innings of starting play. The Yankees quickly had to move on to David Hale and Jonathan Holder to finish off the game.

Montgomery made a few interesting claims following the game, specifically regarding the Phillies taking a shady competitive advantage.

New York Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery claimed the Phillies were using their announcers to gain a competitive advantage:

“I heard yesterday that their announcers were being really loud mid-pitch during JA and other guys’ pitches and not doing the same for their team. It’s kinda messed up that they’re out there, but it is what it is.”

Whether you categorize this as cheating or not, Montgomery felt the need to say something after the game. Clearly, it was affecting his ebb and flow while pitching, and apparently a similar circumstance occurred with JA Happ. It is possible this could have affected his consistency, but the Yankees’ offense simply wasn’t able to produce much anyway.

You could make the argument that the batters would be distracted by this too. It is certainly up for debate.

Leave a comment below detailing what you think of this situation:

New York Yankees Analysis: What’s wrong with the Yankees starting pitching? find out here

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

The New York Yankees during the offseason signed pitching ace Gerrit Cole for the largest pitching contract ever.  That investment has paid off so far in this short 2020 baseball season, with Cole winning all three of his starts.  But, outside of Cole, the New York Yankees starting pitching as best could be called lacking, and at the worst, miserable.  The only reason that the Yankees are 9-3 is because of the powerful bats in the lineup that hit two home runs per game.

The biggest problem the Yankees are experiencing, so far, this season with the rotation is J.A. Happ and James Paxton, both having pitched terribly in both of their starts.  Before you say wait, it’s early in the season, this is a 60 game season and the Yankees can’t wait very long for these pitchers to kick in.

In all four of these pitcher’s starts the New York Yankees have only gotten eleven innings of starting pitching from them, putting additional stress and dependency on the Yankee bullpen.  Happ struggled Wednesday against the Phillies and was taken out of the game after three innings. He’d issued six walks in a four-run effort, requiring 66 pitches to get those nine outs. This is the second outing that he hasn’t gone past the third inning.

“I thought I made some pitches and kind of didn’t get the benefit of the doubt, then wasn’t able to get back in the zone with some other ones,” Happ said after the 11-7 loss in the first game of the doubleheader. “But six walks, obviously, that was the story.”

Paxton has not looked like himself during his two outings. He said at the end of the training camp that he was working on mechanical adjustments, but his velocity has sat around 92 mph (about 4 mph less than he averaged in 2019). His swing-and-miss rate hovered at about 30 percent last year but has been at 22.6 percent in his four innings this season.  The difference in a fastball that barrels in at 96 mph and one that lobs in there at 92 mph is huge.

Paxton in the offseason had back surgery, which he says he has completely recovered from, and that he has no injury issues.  If that’s the case why the drop off in velocity, that is so dramatic from last year.  Manager Aaron Boone has had this to say about Paxton:

“I feel like he’s healthy,” Boone said. “We do feel like physically he’s sound with all the behind-the-scenes tests we do as far as measuring strength and output. It’s very similar to what it’s been his entire career. He feels good.”

The predictions on Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery are still undetermined.  Tanaka after having a delayed start due to getting hit in the head, last Saturday allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and one walk over 2.2 innings during last Saturday’s 5-2 win over Boston. He struck out three and did not factor into the decision.  Tonight he will have his second start of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Jordan Montgomery in his first start of the season on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, although shaky, he went 5.2 innings in the Yankee win over the Red Sox.  His ERA in the game was a tiny 1.59. Fast forward to his second start of the season last night against the Phillies, Monty gave up three runs in the first inning in the Yankee loss.  He gave up another two runs in the fourth inning for an ERA of 11.25.

Again, the Yankee’s biggest problem is Happ and Paxton, with no answers seemingly forthcoming.  Both of these pitchers if right can be dominant. Maybe the answer to Happ and Paxton will come in the name of Michael King and Clarke Schmidt, both of which have been highly praised in both spring training and summer camp.  It all depends on how long manager Boone wants to keep putting Happ and Paxton out there.  There are less than two months remaining in this short season.  The Yankees cannot afford to lose games. Another loss by either of these pitchers could cause them to be knocked into the bullpen, or even sent to the alternate site in Scranton.

Meanwhile, the bright pitching spot, other than Cole, has been the excellent pitching of the bullpen.  Although most everyone in the bullpens has pitched excellently.  There are two standouts, those being Chad Green and the other Zack Britton.  Green in relief has pitched in five games for eight innings, all scoreless while striking out 11 for a 1-0 record.  Britton in Chapman’s absence has saved all five of his opportunities.

The New York Yankees if wanting to get to the postseason and beyond must solve the Happ Paxton problem, either by having Matt Blake resolve their issues or by replacing them.

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

New York Yankees Previews: Yankees fly to a four game match up with the Tampa Bay Rays

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees, now the third-best team in baseball have flown to Tampa, Florida to meet up with the Tampa Bay Rays for a four-game set, which includes a Saturday doubleheader.

The Yankees started out the season hot, winning a series against the World Champion Washington Nationals, then sweeping the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox.  However, for the first time in the season, the Yankees hit a wall losing two games against the Philadelphia Phillies for a split of that series.

Tonight at 6:40 pm eastern they will play a game at Tropicana Field in Tampa against the Rays who are presently third in the East with a 5-7 record.  The Yankees are 9-3.  In the first game of the set, they will face Black Snell.  You may remember him from his many complaints about playing in a coronavirus season, saying it just wasn’t worth it. Yet, here he is facing the Yankees tonight.

Snell the once-powerful ace of the Rays, in 2018 he had a 21-5 dominant season.  However, last year he went 6-8 with an inflated 4.29 ERA.  This is Snell’s third start of the season.  In his second start, he gave up three runs in three innings.  So far he is 0-0 with an ERA of 5.40. Although Snell is a premium pitcher he has never had a handle on the Yankees.  His record against the Yankees in 16 starts in his career, is 3-6 with an ERA of 4.41. Snell will have to pitch carefully to Mike Tauchman and DJ LeMahieu, who both have his number.

The Yankees will put out Masahiro Tanaka against Snell.  Tanaka two weeks into summer camp got hit in the head by a comebacker from fellow teammate Giancarlo Stanton.  He was put under concession protocol, delaying his first start.  Tanaka allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and one walk over 2.2 innings during last Saturday’s 5-2 win over Boston. He struck out three and did not factor into the decision.

Tanaka is still building strength, having pitched 51 pitches in his first outing.  The Yankees hope he can go 65-70 pitches tonight, and allow the Yankees to bounce back from their loss last night against the Phillies.  None of the Rays have hit well off Tanaka at any point in his career. Tanaka has pitched complete-game shutouts of the Rays in 2018 and 2019. Last year Tanaka was 3-1 against the Rays. It is unknown if the “Tank” will continue to wear the protective shield he wore in his hat last Saturday.

New York Yankee ace Gerrit Cole will start the first game of a day-night doubleheader at Tropicana Field on Saturday. The second game may be a bullpen game, with James Paxton taking the ball for the Yankees on Sunday.

New York Yankees: Good news and bad news following loss to Phillies

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

The New York Yankees fell to the Philadelphia Phillies in the final game of a four-game series on Thursday evening. With the final score of 5–4, the Yankees split the series, winning two games.

With the third loss of the season, the Yankees currently sit at 9-3. That is still a stellar start to the 2020 campaign, and the Yankees head to Tampa to face off against the Rays over the weekend.

Let’s take a look at the good and bad news following a loss for the New York Yankees:

GOOD NEWS:

The good news is more individual-based, as left fielder Brett Gardner had another solid game, raising his batting average to .231. His two hits and one run on the day helped the Yankees stay in the game, but Gary Sanchez was the big winner.

Despite striking out twice, he recorded his first homer of the season and hopefully will break out of his cold streak at the plate. He currently hosts a .097 average and a .226 slugging percentage. Another solid performance was from relief pitcher David Hale. He pitched 2.1 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out three batters. He currently hosts a 1.59 ERA on the season. He also recorded an impressive pick off at first base on the Phillies’ fastest base runner.

BAD NEWS:

The bad news revolves around the starting pitching predominately. Starter Jordan Montgomery was batted around, throwing four innings and 95 pitches. He allowed six hits, five earned runs, and one homer, finishing with a 5.59 ERA.

The Yankees’ starting pitching has been problematic aside from Gerrit Cole. James Paxton has struggled, with his velocity down 4-5 MPH, and J.A. Happ has been disastrous. Losing Domingo German and Luis Severino for the season has hurt the rotation, and the Yankees desperately need some of their more high-profile arms to return to form.

DJ LeMahieu supplement Tyler Wade struck out twice over three at-bats. Luke Voit was also unable to get on base, striking out once over three at-bats.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees lose the final game in Philly, some take-a-ways

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

Last night in Philadelphia the New York Yankees put out their “B” team to try and take the four-game series from Joe Girardi’s Phillies, but it was not to be had.  The game was basically over in the first inning when Yankee starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery made one mistake to J T Realmuto that allowed a three-run home run just into the first few rows on the left-field stands.

Montgomery got into trouble right away in the first inning. Hoskins and Harper got on base and then Realmuto took a hanging curveball into the stands for the early 3-0 lead. The Phillies would never relinquish that lead.  In the top of the second inning  with Gardner and Urshela on base, Gary Sanchez struck out.  The hot Mike Tauchman stepped to the plate and hit a long single driving both Gardner and Urshela, making it Phillies 3 and the Yankees 2.

Moving on to the bottom of the 3 inning with Montgomery still on the mound he allowed one on, walked Harper, and Phil Gosselin doubled off Monty, driving in two, for the Phillies 5-2 lead, leading to the end of Montgomery’s night.  The score stayed that way until the seventh when the New York Yankees staged a failed comeback.

At the top of the Yankees seventh, Gio Urshela doubled off Phillies reliever Nick Pivetta.  Gary Sanchez who has been miserable behind the plate, with a .80 batting average came to the plate.  Sanchez got his first homer of the year, driving in Urshela for the two-run shot. Phillies 5, Yankees 4, and that’s how the game would end up, with the Yankees just falling short.

The “B” team tried but just couldn’t make it without DJ LeMahieu who always gets on base and the toured Aaron Judge and his home run power. It is somewhat of a mystery when with the series on the line, manager Aaron Boone chose this lineup. Late in the eighth inning Boone did bring in Judge but he struck out. In the ninth Boone brought in LeMahieu who singled, but Luke Voit flew out ending the game.  The reinforcements were brought in but it was too late for the Yankees as they split the series with the Phillies.

There were not many significant takeaways from the game, but the Yankees have to be thrilled with the continuing hot hitting by Gio Urshela and Mike Tauchman.  Brett Gardner also got two hits on the night and Giancarlo Stanton continues his plate discipline, getting a hit in the game.  With Gary Sanchez’s home run, they hope his hitting will now kick in. In relief of Montgomery, David Hale and Jonathan Holder pitched four scoreless innings as the bullpen continues to do their job. Sanchez’s home continues a streak of 24 home runs for the Yankees on the season. That’s an average of two home runs per game.

The New York Yankees, after the game, took their first air flight of the season, for a four-game matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.  Masahiro Tanaka will take the mound for the New York Yankees tonight, and Gerrit Cole will pitch the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Saturday.

 

 

 

New York Yankees Tribute: During the CBS era, the face of the Yankees, Horace Clark dies at 81

The New York Yankees Horace Clark has passed away on Wednesday, August 5th at the age of 81.  Clark was no Yankee legend, but he was the glue that held the Yankee team together during a time that that the CBS ownership let the team and the Stadium go into disrepair.

Perverse as it may be, his durability and visibility made Horace the undeserving scapegoat for the Roman Empire-like dry rot of the Yankees after 1964.  Nevertheless, Horace gave it 100 percent when on the field and was a pesky hitter. He had good speed on the bases and was a good defender at second base.

Horace Clark was born in the Virgin Islands on the Island of St. Croix, he was one of only fourteen baseball players from the islands. He was born on June 2, 1939, to parents Dennis and Vivian.  Dennis was a cricketer.  At the age of thirteen, young Horace started playing baseball in high school.  There were no little leagues in the islands. “As kids, we formed teams and played wherever we could, usually on Saturdays. If the older players were using the ballpark, we were relegated to a small area by the ocean,” Clark recalled.

Most of the players were right-handed, and playing by the ocean they were always losing balls in the ocean, so they all learned to hit left-handed. Horace joined the Braves, a local team in the St. Croix Baseball League, which was made up mainly of teenagers with some adults. He played there for five years, also representing Christiansted High School in inter-island school meets against St. Thomas.

He turned pro at the age of 17. Yankees scout José “Pepe” Seda, who contributed to the Puerto Rican Winter League on many levels, signed him that January of 1957 to the New York Yankees.  Horace worked his way through the minors where he showed off his most valuable attribute, speed on the bases, and 27 stolen bases in 1958.

During 1965, he made his major league debut, he broke in with the Yankees that May as a utility infielder. In 1966 after Bobby Richardson’s retirement, Horace would become the everyday second baseman, a position he held until 1974.  He was a solid player with the Yankees. In his ten years with the Yankees, he hit .257 with 27 home runs and 300 runs batted in.  When George Steinbrenner bought the team, he cleaned the house and traded Horace to the San Diego Padres.

In a period that the team was so bad, Clark was a favorite of the Yankee faithful.  In the past twenty-four hours, condolences and remembrances have been coming in from all over the baseball world.  New York Post Columnist Mike Vaccaro wrote: RIP Horace Clark, who unwittingly lent his name to an era of #Yankees futility but never let a terrible case of bad timing alter the fact that he loved his life, and cherished his memories.  Dom Amore of the Courant wrote: RIP Horace Clark. I’m of a certain age and remember his era well. An interesting and fun player to watch.

His buddy and fellow New York Yankees teammate Ron Blomberg (Boomer) wrote: Rest in peace my friend and teammate Horace Clark. Always a fighter, always a gamer, always ready to take one for the team. As calm and cool as they went. What a great teammate and a great person. I hadn’t seen him in a few years and was hoping to see him again. Sadly (that’s) not going to happen. Condolences to his family.

During last night’s game on the YES Network, they had a remembrance of fond memories of Horace Clark.

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

New York Yankees’ J.A. Happ talks about struggles with command: ‘It’s not characteristic of me’

The New York Yankees split Wednesday’s doubleheader with the Philadelphia Phillies. They took the second game, but the first one represented another nightmare start for veteran southpaw J.A. Happ, who is currently sporting a 10.29 ERA and a 11.13 FIP, with a ghastly 3.86 K/9 and 10.29 BB/9 in seven innings of work.

The sample size is terribly small, but the truth is Happ hasn’t looked good this year and didn’t last season, either (4.91 ERA and an even worse 5.22 FIP in 161.1 frames.) The primary issue on Wednesday wasn’t his stuff, but instead, his lack of command. New York Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone explained it to MLB.com.

“It seems like [Happ] had a hard time getting the ball to the arm side,” Boone said. “I thought his mix of pitches and stuff looked crisp enough. … I thought the slider and changeup were all right. … It looked like he had a hard time getting to the arm side with command. He was probably nibbling a couple of times. … Obviously, that was the difference.”

The Yankees’ offense provided a big three-run cushion for Happ to work with, but that was quickly erased by the third inning. At that moment, the Phillies scored four runs fueled mainly by a two-run homer from Bryce Harper to start a rally.

The Yankees’ lefty had a problem with walks

After that big hit, Happ handed out walks to three of the next four batters, which forced in a run. It is fair to say that yesterday wasn’t precisely Happ’s day. He will need to perform, as the Yankees have Deivi Garcia, Mike King and Clarke Schmidt waiting in the wings.

“I have to make [the Phillies] put the ball in play. I felt like when I was doing that, things were going good,” Happ said. “The contact wasn’t too hard. I have to force the issue better than I did today. … It’s not characteristic of me with the walks. It’s getting back to staying aggressive. I thought I was very close a lot of the time. But I wasn’t able to get back into the count. Little things happen. I just hurt myself today.”

“I was trying to get some breaking balls in there early and not finishing them. I think it’s just cleaning that up. That would be my plan,” Happ said.

Will the Yankees give him the opportunity to work through his struggles?

New York Yankees: Is it Clarke Schmidt time in the Bronx?

New York Yankees, Clarke Schmidt

The New York Yankees have one of the best rotations in baseball even though James Paxton isn’t at his best, Luis Severino is injured, and Domingo German is suspended. However, the desire to be even better should always exist. And the presence of J.A. Happ in the rotation is the perfect example of that.

Should the Yankees look for avenues to make the rotation even stronger? Well, they should. Now, the other question would be: is one of the avenues to improve the group already in the organization? Well, they might as well try to find out.

Clarke Schmidt, the New York Yankees’ first-round selection in 2017, is a talented prospect who not only impressed last season in the minor leagues (3.84 ERA in 63.1 Double-A innings and 2.37 ERA in 19.0 Triple-A frames, always with more than 9.00 K/9) but also raised many eyebrows in spring training and summer camp.

Should the Yankees boot Happ from the rotation?

Happ, meanwhile, was plain bad last season (4.91 ERA and an even worse 5.22 FIP in 161.1 frames) and started off 2020 with the wrong foot (10.29 ERA, 11.13 FIP, 3.86 K/9 and 10.29 BB/9 in seven innings.)

Happ was very good for an extended period of time, including some starts with the 2018 Yankees and the entire month of September in 2019. But at nearly 38 years old, there are a lot of miles in his left arm and he looks terrible. It may be time to move on for the Bombers, and in Clarke Schmidt, they have an exciting prospect who has a great chance of performing better.

Even if the Yankees decide to stick with Happ, another path to the rotation could open up for Schmidt. Paxton, who has showed diminished velocity in his first two starts, doesn’t look healthy. It wouldn’t shock anyone if he hits the injured list soon and the team calls up Schmidt.

Only time will tell, but Schmidt’s debut looks closer each day. But look at this stuff and tell me it wouldn’t be better than Happ.

New York Yankees: Important take-a-ways from yesterday’s doubleheader

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

The New York Yankees came away last night with a spit of their doubleheader with the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Phillies won the first game 11-7 and the Yankees took the second game 3-1.  There are some important take-a-ways from the games.

First and foremost two Yankees pitchers failed miserably.  J.A. Happ looked just as bad in his second start of the season as he did in Baltimore.  Last night he gave up four runs while walking six Phillies in just three innings.  The Yankees have to find a way to get Happ on track, he is too important in the rotation that is already missing Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery) and Domingo German (suspension).  At this point, one has to wonder how many more times in this short season manager Aaron Boone will put Happ out there when other quality hands are available such as Clarke Schmidt and Micheal King.

Also in the first game reliever, Nick Nelson allowed his own damage by giving up six runs in 1.2 innings.  After the game, he was optioned to Scranton Wilkes/Barre along with Thairo Estrada.  In a  surprise move, the also optioned outfielder Miguel Andujar to the alternate site.  Andujar really hasn’t found his place with the team this season.  The 2018 hitting star also hasn’t found his place behind the plate either.  So far in the season, he is batting only .071.

Catcher Gary Sanchez also seems to be lost behind the plate as well, his powerful bat is missing and he is hitting .074. In 27 plate appearances, he has only two hits with 16 strikeouts.  Right now it seems like backup catcher Kyle Higasioka might be the better option at the backstop.

Chad Green continues to show why he is an elite reliever for the New York Yankees.  Last night he pitched 2.1 scoreless innings while striking out two.  So far this season he has pitched eight innings for the Yankees against the Nationals, Orioles, Red Sox, and the Phillies, pitching in all of those games with an ERA of 0.00.

So far the storyline of the season is slugger Aaron Judge who has a batting average of .310.  He looks like he could eclipse his 2017 performance when he game in second in the MPV voting.  So far he has hit seven home runs in his last eight games, one of them yesterday in the game one loss. His base discipline is better, striking out only 13 times.  In a normal season, his homers would equate to 21 homers in his first 33 games, that’s a rate better than 2017 when he hit 52 long balls.

The last take-a-way from the games is that the New York Yankees bullpen continues to shine in many ways.  The Yankees have won both of the bullpen games, one against the World Champion Nationals and one last night against the Phillies.  Last night five relievers went seven innings giving up just one run.  Another highlight is that Zack Britton, filling in for Aroldis Chapman has saved all five of his games including game two last night.  Britton’s ability to close is one of the reasons Brian Cashman went after him.