New York Yankees: Two AL East foes interested in JA Happ

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

Two AL East foes have shown interest in former New York Yankees pitcher JA Happ — the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Happ, 38, spent the last two and a half seasons with the Yankees. The team acquired him from the Blue Jays prior to the 2018 trade deadline, and unfortunately, never panned out. Although he pitched well in the back half of the 2018 season (a 2.69 ERA in 63.2 innings), his output in the two seasons after wasn’t what was expected of him in his new deal.

Before the 2019 season, the Yankees inked him to a two-year, $17 million deal with a vesting option for 2021. Happ turned in a 4.91 ERA in 2019, seeing his velocity and effectiveness dip. His WHIP stood at 1.295 while allowing nearly nine hits and two home-runs per nine innings.

After a rough start in 2020, Happ finally settled in an had a few really good outings. He finished with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.054 WHIP, ending as one of the Yankees most consistent pitchers.

Unfortunately for Happ, he didn’t meet the requirements for his vesting option. With the pandemic-shortened season, he needed to make ten starts, but fell just short of that number at nine.

That makes him a free-agent this winter, and he’s drawing significant interest despite his age. The Yankees don’t seem interested in Happ, but he could fit well in Boston and Toronto.

Both teams aren’t really postseason-caliber, and could use starting pitching. Happ is familiar with Toronto, being that he’s played there before. Additionally, he’s been really solid at Fenway Park over his career, making Boston a good possibility for him.

There’s a good chance JA Happ will pitch in the AL East in 2021, but it likely won’t be with the Yankees.

 

 

New York Yankees: Brett Gardner hits big home run to kickstart season

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

After an atrocious first week of the season, Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner hit a home run on Friday to get headed on the right track. Entering his final at-bat of the night, he was 0-for-12 but smashed a two-run homer to right for his first hit of the year.

His home run helped the Yankees seal a series opening win against the Boston Red Sox.

With the circumstances of the season and his declining ability, we may not see Brett Gardner as much down the road. Instead, we may see guys like Miguel Andujar or Clint Frazier in left field. Andujar is 1-for-5 in two games while Frazier is currently at the alternate training site.

Gardner has an expiring contract after 2020, but could stay through 2021 on a club option. If he continues to struggle, it’s likely that the Yankees either don’t bring him back or renew a cheaper contract.

If he isn’t back in pinstripes in 2021, Frazier, Andujar, or a free agent could replace him to start in left. Another option would be to start Giancarlo Stanton in left, but his offense production is usually better the less he plays the field.

Guys like Marcell Ozuna, Michael Brantley, and Joc Pederson are all guys who play left field and become free agents following the season. All three guys are solid options, but the team could go in-house to save money.

If either Gardner or Andujar have a big 2020 season, then things could take care of themselves. The home run that Gardner hit on Friday was a big one, and hopefully the team sees more production from him down the road.

New York Mets: Bullpen Struggles, Red Sox Hold Off Mets in 6-5 Loss

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

It is a rare sight when a Jacob deGrom start is not the topic of conversation after the game. Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson‘s rare struggles following him accounted for four Red Sox runs. The New York Mets also had no outs with the bases loaded in the ninth but could not come back in the 6-5 loss.

The usually reliable Lugo replaced deGrom after six innings and allowed a game-tying home run to Christian Vazquez. It was just the beginning of Vazquez terror on the Mets bullpen. In the eighth inning, he extended the Red Sox lead to three with a two-run double against Wilson.

The eighth inning showed the fatigue on Wilson, who made his fourth appearance in six games. He consistently missed up with his fastball and gave up three of everything: walks, hits, and runs. Two of the hits Wilson allowed, fell into the cheap category. Wilson’s control is what got him into trouble and made the cheap hits hurt.

The Mets attempted a comeback, down two in the ninth by loading the bases with no one out against Red Sox closer Brandon Workman. A J.D. Davis infield single got the Mets their only run. It was sandwiched between a Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes strikeout, which led to a Robinson Cano soft liner to end the game. The Davis single came on a ball smothered by third baseman Rafael Devers which prevented the ball from heading to left field, allowing the tying run to score.

The Mets offense collected 15 hits on the night, but the Mets were 3-for-14 with RISP and left 11 runners on base. Pete Alonso led the way with four hits, all singles, and a hit by pitch. Cespedes and Brandon Nimmo also homered.

The Mets prized prospect, Andres Gimenez, made his first start at shortstop and excelled going 2-for-3 with a triple. He still looked like a new player at the big leagues after being picked off after his first hit. Once the Red Sox realized he could hit their fastball, they gave him a steady diet of curveballs in his final at-bat.

deGrom Doing His Job

Jacob deGrom was throwing bullets out of the gate, including a 101.1 mph fastball, the fastest of his career. He still did not have his best stuff throughout and only punched out four Red Sox. Despite that, he gave the Mets six strong innings, only allowing two runs on three hits. Out of caution, Rojas removed him after 88 pitches, but expect him to reach 100 in his next start.

The Mets send Steven Matz to the mound against Martin Perez in hopes of taking three out of four from the Red Sox. The first pitch is at 7:07 p.m. ET.

Boston Red Sox fire Alex Cora after admission to electronic sign stealing

Boston Red Sox, Alex Cora

Amid the Manfred report on the cheating of the Houston Astros and subsequent punishments issued by the MLB, the nine-page report showed the involvement of Alex Cora but did not issue any sanctions against him due to the Red Sox investigation was still ongoing.  The report mentioned Cora 11 times, describing him as a critical person in the planning and execution of the cheating scheme. The Red Sox organization last evening fired Alex Cora as the Red Sox Manager.

The Red Sox issued the following statement for owner John Henry:

“Given the findings and the commissioner’s ruling, we collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways,” the team said in a statement attributed to Cora  “We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization,” Cora said in a statement released by the Red Sox. “I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward. “attributed to owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, CEO Sam Kennedy, and Cora.

Alex Cora guided the team to a franchise-record 108 regular-season victories in 2018 and its fourth World Series title in 15 years. The Red Sox beat a pair of 100-win teams in the Yankees and Astros in the AL playoffs, then defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in a five-game World Series to make Cora the first Puerto Rican manager to win a championship and the fifth manager to guide a team to a title in his first season.  That win is now in question as the MLB continues to investigate.    Regardless of the final findings of Commissioner Manfred, Alex Cora is gone as Red Sox Manager.

John Henry also said, “This is a sad day for us,” Henry, Werner, and Kennedy said in a statement. “Alex is a special person and a beloved member of the Red Sox. We are grateful for his impact on our franchise. We will miss his passion, his energy, and his significant contributions to the communities of New England and Puerto Rico.”  The fall out from electric sign-stealing shows the MLB’s commitment to not allowing electronic involvement in sign-stealing and breaking MLB rules.

On Monday, Jim Crane owner of the Houston Astros fired Astros Manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow after Manfreds nine-page report on the Astros sign-stealing accusations.  In the report, Cora was mentioned for his prime involvement in the directing of placing a center field camera that could relate catchers signs to a monitor just outside the Astros dugout;  The present investigation that is ongoing into whether the Red Sox used electronic methods of sign stealing in their win of the 2018 World Series may still have consequences for the Red Sox organization.

New York Yankees: Starting Pitching Fails Again To Open Weekend In Boston

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The starting pitching struggles did not end when the New York Yankees traveled to Boston to start a four game set with the Red Sox. Masahiro Tanaka was shellacked on Thursday, and James Paxton wasn’t much better on Friday.

Thursday

Masahiro Tanaka had no doubt the worst outing of his career on Thursday. He went just 3 and 1/3 innings, giving up 12 runs. Yes, you read that right. I have no idea what Aaron Boone was thinking leaving him in for so long. Tanaka gave up seven first inning runs but Boone kept trying to stretch him longer and longer.

Tanaka also walked three and gave up two home runs. He did strike out four and get seven swings-and-misses.

His ERA for the season is now up to almost five, and he was an all-star just weeks ago. Crazy how things can change.

Friday

James Paxton had a poor outing to follow Tanaka’s on Friday. He gave up seven runs in four innings, but nine of his twelve outs registered came from strikeouts.

Paxton gave up nine hits, and four of which came from the longball. J.D. Martinez had a two run home run, and Mookie Betts took Paxton deep three times, two of which were solo-shots.

Paxton’s ERA is also almost up to five, and the team now is in the bottom half of the MLB in starting pitching.

Brian Cashman needs to make a move to get a starter like Marcus Stroman, or this team won’t be winning their 28th world series here in 2019.

 

New York Yankees: Benefits Of Playing In London This Weekend

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

This weekend, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox will make history when the two teams meet in London, England for a two game set.

Most people instantly think that the trip and the series are an awful idea, but there are some advantages that the Yankees will get from this trip.

Rest

The Yankees will actually have a bit of time off during their trip, and that will help out the players a lot.

The team plays the Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon, then will have Thursday and Friday off, before the two game set on Saturday and Sunday. Monday will be another off day, before heading to the other side of New York for Subway Series action on Tuesday.

The Yankee arms will have some time to rest, before a final six game push to the all-star break.

On the road

The series in London will count as two road games for the Yankees, meaning that they are counted as two Red Sox home games. This will reduce the amount of games the Yankees have to play in Fenway Park by two games, which is one series.

Since it is The Rivalry, it’s important for the Yankees to avoid Fenway Park at all costs.

Growing the game

By going to London, you help grow the game of Baseball. You get more people involved, and hopefully you increase your fan base and international TV ratings will likely increase.

A lot of people will be watching the two games this weekend. Over 120,000 people will be in attendance over the two games, so it’s important that the Yankees put on a show and don’t let the pressure get to them.

Ever See A New York Yankees Game Against The Red Sox?

New York Yankees

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend my first ever New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox game, and boy it was something else.

The environment is just so different against the Red Sox compared to every other team. Everyone is so much louder, and of course it starts with the Bleacher Creatures behind the Yankee bullpen, and roll-call.

I was sitting in the second deck in left field, in the front corner of the deck. Andrew Benintendi was playing left, and fans were all over him. He didn’t hear the end of it, as he got constant heckling until he was moved to center field late in the game.

Throughout the game, basically every time a Yankee pitcher threw a strike or a Yankee batter took a ball, Yankee fans erupted. It doesn’t take much for Yankees fans to be pleased if the team is playing well.

One of the highlights of the game that wasn’t actually in the game was a good ol’ drunk fight between a Sox fan and a Yankees fan. No idea how it escalated, but two fans were going at it in the bleachers, almost right next to me. It happened when Chad Green was working out of a jam in the fifth, and the energy picked up big time in left.

Overall, attending this game was a fantastic experience. Was it cheap? Nope. Was the five hour drive from Ithaca, New York in heavy traffic fun, especially getting back at 4:30 AM? Nope. Was it worth it? Oh yeah, 100%. You aren’t a real Yankee fan if this game isn’t on your bucket list. Let’s go Yankees!

New York Yankees: Domingo German Struggles In Second Straight Start

New York Yankees, Domingo German

For his second straight outing, New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German had a rough go of things on the hill, this time against the Boston Red Sox. On Sunday against the Royals, he went five innings and got a no decision. However, on Saturday, he didn’t even make it through four innings.

All a matter of location

We all know that Domingo German has killer stuff, it’s just a matter on if he can locate it.

On Saturday against the Red Sox, German went 3 and 2/3 innings, giving up three runs off of six hits and two walks, also registering eight strikeouts.

That stat-line just proves that it’s all location. He only got 11 outs on the mound, and eight were via the strikeout.

Now lets take a look at a few different at-bats. To lead off the top of the fourth inning, German was facing Xander Bogaerts and threw a change-up to him on a 1-1 count. Because change-ups are basically slower fastballs that break a bit, you want to keep the ball low in the zone. German didn’t, and instead left it middle of the zone and the result was a shot to left field.

Now, a little earlier in the game, Brock Holt singled on an 0-1 fastball right down the middle. The ball was intended to be down and in, and it just didn’t go as in as it was supposed to.

And, something German had trouble with was pitching to the bottom of the order. Both Holt and Sandy Leon got two hits off of German, and both batters were hitting under .200 entering the game.

We all know that Domingo German can be a lights out pitcher, he just needs to locate the ball better to have some more of the success he was having early in the season.

 

New York Yankees Begin Crucial Weekend Series Against Red Sox

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

The most famous rivalry in baseball has a bit more importance this weekend.

The New York Yankees are red hot, while the Red Sox are starting to win enough games to get back in contention. Dependent on weather the Red Sox win on Wednesday against the Indians or not, the Yankees will be either 6.5 or 7.5 games ahead of them.

The Red Sox however are still not the closest team to the Yankees. If Tampa beats the Blue Jays on Wednesday, they will be just a game behind the Yankees.

The Yankees are 2-0 in the season series, and wins this weekend will mean more than just bragging rights in the rivalry. A sweep could put the Yankees up to 11 games ahead of the Red Sox, and it would be the largest division lead over them in years.

Tampa has a series with the best team in baseball, the Minnesota Twins this weekend. The Yankees could even grow their lead on them, too.

Who gets the ball?

Thursday’s and Sunday’s pitchers are set in stone for the Yankees. JA Happ will pitch Thursday against Chris Sale, and CC Sabathia will be activated from the IL and will pitch Sunday against David Price.

Eduardo Rodriguez will pitch Friday and Rick Porcello will pitch Saturday for the Red Sox. For the Yankees, Domingo German will pitch one day, while the other day will be a bullpen game.

If Happ can give the Yankees distance on Thursday, the bullpen game will be on Friday. In the case that he can’t, then the bullpen game would be on Saturday and German would throw on Friday. If German pitches on Saturday, he will be going on an extra day of rest. That would be the A plan for the Yankees.

On the other side of the plate, Gary Sanchez should be rested and ready to catch all four games this weekend. He sat Thursday to rest and give Austin Romine a few at-bats.

And, the high leverage bullpen guys should be well rested for Thursday. Adam Ottavino pitched one inning on Wednesday, and Jonathan Holder pitched two.

The Yankees will look to have a big weekend to extend their division lead, as well as bragging rights in the greatest rivalry in sports.

New York Yankees: Rival Red Sox Heating Up

We knew that it wouldn’t last for long.

As hot as the New York Yankees have been of late, the Red Sox are just as hot. They are 16-6 over their last 22 and are just three games out of first in the AL East.

Guys like Mookie Betts have finally kicked it into gear, now batting .289 after spending most of April around .200. But, who would’ve thought that Eduardo Rodriguez would be their best starter at 4-2. They still have Nathan Eovaldi and David Price on the IL which hurts them, but Rick Porcello and Chris Sale are finally starting to look like themselves.

The Red Sox’s hot streak has included a three game sweep of the Athletics and the Mariners, along with three of four from the White Sox and two of three from the Orioles.

What does this mean for the Yankees?

All this means for the Yankees is that they need to keep winning. The last thing they need right now would be a let-up with Boston on their tails.

Monday night began the first of seven games in eleven days against the Orioles, and they need to win all of them. In between the two Orioles series is another series with Tampa Bay. If all goes well, the Yankees should be leading the AL East in a matter of days.

They can’t worry about what the Red Sox are doing. The next time the Yankees should worry about what Boston is doing is from May 30th to June 2nd, the next time the two teams square off.