Archives for posts with tag: Baltimore Orioles

We are still a little over ten games away from the Sparky Mark (40 games), but this year’s New York Yankees show no signs of slowing down or going away quietly – best exemplified by Sunday night’s 18 inning marathon victory over last year’s World Series champion Cubs. Even the most optimistic fan, which I am often accused of being, didn’t see foresee this squad playing .690 ball and making a legitimate claim at being the best team in baseball. This team is far from perfect and yet is finding ways to excel and make a case for World Series talk this year, not next.

Biggest Surprise: Aaron Judge/The Bench (tie) – Following a brief 2016 campaign that saw this Baby Bomber K in 42 of 84 at-bats, Aaron Judge is attempting to lay claim to both the A.L. Rookie of the Year and MVP – and he may just succeed in both. After a slow start, Judge has left little doubt as to who should be the Yankees starting RF for the near future with 13 HRs (tied for MLB league) and surprisingly good defense. I doubt he will keep this pace up with pitchers either making adjustments or dolling out free passes, but Aaron Judge has shown an early knack for overcoming 1-2 counts and deflecting any praise with Derek Jeter-like humility.

While Judge looks like he can carry the team, both figuratively and literally, he has plenty of help from surprising contributors. Injuries to Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez, allowed both Ronald Torreyes and Austin Romine a chance to step up and produce. Torreyes has hit .311 with a once team-leading 13 RBIs and Romine has a .281 BA to go with stellar game calling to ease along a young staff highlighted by Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery. And with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury needing the occasional spell in the field, Aaron Hicks has finally justified his #1 draft selection by the Minnesota Twins in 2012. Hicks is showing 5-tool ability with a slash-line of .338/.459/.662 to go with 5 SBs. No telling how long this Yankee 4th OF will need a chance to be a #1 somewhere else, for the right compensation.

Biggest Disappointment: Greg Bird – After a monster spring where he looked like the heir apparent to Mark Teixeira, Greg Bird is looking more like the next Nick Johnson. Hitting only .100 through 19 games, Bird is currently on the DL dealing with a bone bruise in his leg. Apparently the injury happened at the end of spring training and its severity is still unknown. What is known is the faith and commitment that Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have in the young Yankee 1B. In the meantime, Chris Carter and Matt Holliday will split time in his absence.

No Surprise: The Bullpen – Sunday night’s 3-run hiccup aside, the Yankees lay claim to the best bullpen in the game, and the sky is still the limit. The new three-headed monster of Tyler Clippard/Dellin Betances/Aroldis Chapman is beastly to say the least. Throw in impressive early work from Jonathan Holder, Chasen Shreve, and the ever-reliable Adam Warren and the Yanks have little to worry about protecting a lead or giving their team a chance at a comeback as demonstrated in the 8-run rally against the Baltimore Orioles on April 28th.

Honorable Mention: Starlin Castro – In his 2nd year in pinstripes, the Yankees 2nd baseman is providing the type of offensive production that is making Yankee fans ponder, “Robinson who?” Surprisingly, Castro is flying under radar with his league leading .355 average along with 6 HRs and is 2nd to Judge in RBIs with 21. Despite a crowded field at 2nd with the aforementioned Cano, as well as Brian Dozier and Jose Altuve, Starlin Castro should garner serious All-Star consideration and I plan to do my part.

 

Depending on your point of view this year’s Yankees are either ahead of schedule or right on time. No longer being billed as a “re-building year” this team is ready to win now and is. Will they continue at this torrid pace? Most likely not. But they have shown they are adaptable to adversity and still have plenty of gems to deal in the farm system for any in-season adjustments (“Paging, Gerritt Cole”). In March, I had this team competing for a Wild Card slot but I see no reason they shouldn’t be jockeying for 1st in the AL East – especially once the Sawx inevitably get going.

Another great season of Yankee baseball lay ahead, along with the promise of a future filled with October baseball.

The 2016 New York Yankees continue to perform just well enough to be considered relevant. Not exactly what fans of the highly priced Bronx Bombers want to hear but we should take what we can get. After taking three straight series from the playoff contending Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, and Kansas City Royals, the Yanks faltered this past weekend in another series against the O’s. The Yankees salvaged the weekend by winning yesterday’s finale 5-2 after being shut out in back-to-back losses to start the weekend. Technically, the Yankees still have enough time and opportunities to get in the game for October but mostly we are watching a team playing for 2017 and beyond.

Despite a .174 week, Gary Sanchez continues to impress and intimidate with 11 HRs and a .355 average to start his career. He will not qualify for this year’s AL Rookie of the Year but is definitely making a case for serious consideration next season. Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro have cooled off after their early August starts but are still a formidable DP combo in the AL. Speaking of cooling off, Aaron Judge has turned ice cold after his great start. He is only hitting .177 and looks a bit lost at plate with 32Ks in 62 ABs. Perhaps it’s a good thing the Yankees aren’t playing for October as it will give the young slugger some time to develop. On the bright side, he is not the defensive liability that Carlos Beltran was in RF. And somehow Chase Headley is stepping up his game with a .368 week, though Joe Girardi would still be smart to get regular at-bats for Ronald Torreyes.

Pitching was dealt a considerable blow with the loss of Chad Green for this season, and most likely next season. Not sure what the plan is with the Yankees already short on starting arms after losing Nathan Eovaldi earlier this season. Perhaps we will see more “bullpen games” like in yesterday’s win. Luis Severino is slated to return to the rotation at some point and yet as been his most effective in relief as highlighted by yesterday’s two scoreless frames. With September call-ups in hand, Girardi should take this opportunity to use as many arms as possible to get through games and see who shows potential for future use. And C.C. Sabathia continues to battle and eat up some innings but at this point his days in NY are numbered and his huge salary coming off the books next season should be more than enough to lure a decent free agent signing.

The Yankees have 27 games left, and 24 are against AL East opponents. Unless the Yanks go on historic run, I do not see October baseball. The Yanks are on pace for 83-85 wins which may seem to be a major disappointment but I see as a serious reclamation considering they started the season at 8-16. There’s a month of baseball left in the Bronx and I for one am excited to see what lays ahead this season and next.

It’s nice when things start falling into place. It’s been almost a month since a trade deadline that saw the Yankees uncharacteristically trading off their established stars for farm talent and the Yankees are actually fighting their way back into relevance and possibly the AL East. Of course, it helps to have a rookie Phenom like Gary Sanchez carrying the team with his historic start. The Yankees have an AL East best record of 15-9 in the month of August and are definitely giving Yankee fans reason for hope here in 2016….not to mention 2017 and beyond.

In his first 21 games in pinstripes, Gary Sanchez, aka The Sanchize, is living up to and exceeding expectations. Sanchez is off to a juggernaut rookie campaign with a slashline of .400/.467/.900 highlighted by 11 HRs and 23 RBIs. He is quickly galvanizing the joy of Yankee fans and garnering respect from the league as well as demonstrated by his pair of intentional BBs in the Seattle series. It’s still too soon to tell if this just a small sample size but it’s hard to not be excited by such an impressive debut. And while he may see the majority of starts behind the plate this season, the Yankees would be smart to give the lion’s share of DH at-bats to Brian McCann, who is still on pace for another 20 HR season.

While Gary Sanchez is the current straw stirring the drink, at least offensively, there are plenty of other Yanks who have contributed to this August run that most recently has produced 64 runs in the last 10 games. Starlin Castro is on another hot streak with 3 HRs over this past .444 week. Didi Gregorius is only hitting .258 over August but has 6 HRs in the month. The Yankee middle infield of Castro/Gregorius has combined for a very impressive 35 HRs this year. Ronald Torreyes is campaigning for regular playing time with his .414 August. And even Aaron Hicks is starting to silence the boos at New Yankee Stadium with 4 HRs in 71 August at-bats while hitting .310.

Yankee starting pitching is finally being anchored by Masahiro Tanaka’s ace-like August. Tanaka holds a 2.91 ERA in the month to go with 34Ks and a single BB. Luis Cessa has won back-to-back starts with a 1.50 ERA to go with 10Ks/2 BBs. And despite not being able to qualify for the win in yesterday’s dominance of the Orioles, Chad Green has made great strides in the last few weeks. Green has a 2.51 ERA in his last 28.2 innings, which includes an 11K, 6-inning, no-run gem against the mighty Blue Jays.

The Yankees have plenty of season left and hopefully enough young talent to keep them in the hunt for October. Their current 5 ½ game deficit in the division may seem daunting but they still have time and plenty of opportunities with 28 of their final 34 games against the AL East. They may fall short but Yankee fans are getting a glimpse of the future, and it’s a bright one at that. #TheSanchize.

With the trade deadline just over the horizon, the Yankees are quickly circling the wagons and preparing their plan to sell……cautiously. Meanwhile, the team is playing some of its baseball of the year having won five of their last seven games, which included taking three of four from the AL East contending Baltimore Orioles. Just when you think the Yanks are out, they find a way to get back in.

This week has seen more of the same from the top of the lineup with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury. Gardner in particular has been effective with his team leading .351 OBP and stellar defense, as highlighted in yesterday’s 2-1 loss to the SF Giants. Starlin Castro has emerged this past week hitting .346 along with 7 RBIs. Didi Gregorius is continuing his All-Star worthy season with a .323 July and a rocket of a relay throw to save a run in yesterday’s contest. And Carlos Beltran proves to be the right choice at DH with a .424 week, as he looks more and more attractive to AL contenders in the market.

Masahiro Tanaka looks to be returning to ace-form with back-to-back successful six inning efforts. The same can be said of Ivan Nova, who has only allowed 2 ERs in his last 13 innings of work (both solo HRs). Nathan Eovaldi looked fine in his return to the rotation with only 1ER allowed in 5 1/3 innings against the mighty Orioles. The key being, Eovaldi cannot be seen a third time by any lineup. Michael Pineda continues to be in feast or famine mode with 127 Ks in 106 innings and only a 5.25 ERA to show for it. And C.C. Sabathia may have finally come back to earth, as best symbolized by his tumble on the mound against Baltimore on Thursday. AL hitters may have finally wised up to Sabathia’s adjustments as he has allowed at 4 ERs in each of his last six starts.

The bullpen is still as effective as ever, even with rare missteps from Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in Friday night’s win. And with the Aroldis Chapman talk heating up by the minute, Joe Girardi better quickly decide who he can rely on after the 6th inning be it Anthony Swarzek, Richard Bleier, or Nick Goody, as another arm will be needed to get to No Runs DM.

The Yanks have shown they can hang with the contenders this week. But the clock is ticking on the trade deadline and the season. If they want in, they can’t afford any more missed opportunities.

I did expect this year’s Boston Red Sox to be an improvement on the squads that have finished in last place, three of the last four years. But I didn’t see a complete upgrade coming. The Sawx enter the 2nd half at 49-38, battling the Toronto Blue Jays in the quest to take down the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles. After a shaky June where the team went 10-16, Sawx Nation went into panic mode. Thankfully, the Sawx found a way to prevail and finished the 1st half with a four game win streak. I still think the Sawx are over performing based on their below league average pitching, but with the best offense in baseball, the team may have just enough juice to reach October and make another championship run.

As the Sawx offense goes, so goes the Sawx. This year’s team is on pace for over 900 runs and they show no sign of slowing down. It all starts with the new generation of Killer B’s in Beantown: Betts, Bogaerts, and Bradley, Jr. This trio of young superstars are all showing 5-tool potential and were justly rewarded with starting spots on this year’s AL All Star squad. Both Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Xander Bogaerts flirted with extended hitting streaks earlier this season and Mookie Betts will garner the serious MVP consideration I mentioned at the end of last year. Travis Shaw was the right choice to man 3B over Pablo Sandoval and has responded with a .464 slugging pct. Dustin Pedroia continues to be a staple in the lineup, both at the plate and in the field. And while Hanley Ramirez is not playing like $20 milllion/year free agent the Sawx signed in late 2014, he has taken to 1B, is staying healthy and looks primed to return to 2013 form.

And yet this year seems to be all about “Big Papi” David Ortiz. Not only is he being celebrated for his final season in the bigs but he is being lauded for his MVP-type production at the plate. Big Papi currently leads the team in the triple crown categories (not unlike an aging Carlos Beltran in the Bronx). There has been talk about trying to coax the Sawx DH into another season and yet I have to wonder how much of his production is based on knowing this is the last go-ahead and feeling the need to leave everything on the field. I will miss his competitive spirit but not his production in this rivalry.

The Sawx pitching has seen better days, which is surprising considering the Powerball-sized contract that lured David Price to Fenway. The former Cy Young award winner, who has succeeded in Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Toronto may need more time to adjust to his new surroundings based on his 1st half 4.34 ERA. I doubt his ills will last for long, I only hope Sawx fans have the patience. On the bright side, Rick Porcello seems to have found his footing in his 2nd year in Boston and Steven Wright is the surprise ace of the staff with his Knuckleball infused 2.78 ERA. The question is who will or can step up next? Clay Buchholz? Joe Kelly? Eduardo Rodriguez? The signing of Drew Pomeranz maybe an answer but not THE answer. Despite 1st half success in San Diego, Pomeranz has shown Buchholz-like inconsistency in his brief career and may need a handful of starts to re-adjust to the AL.

As for the bullpen, the loss of Craig Kimbrel may be hastened by the recent signing of Brad Zigler. But the recent DL stint of Junichi Tazawa may be more troubling considering the pressure added to an already struggling, and aging, Koji Uehara. The Sawx will definitely be in the market for bullpen help at the deadline. I only pray that help doesn’t come from the Bronx……unless Dave Dombrowski wants to continue his history of emptying the farm system cupboards.

The Sawx have started the 2nd half right with back-to-back wins over the Yanks. Tonight I will live blog my first game of the season in the hopes that Yanks can salvage something from this series. Feel free to join in my baseball watching….and imminent pain.

After taking two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays last weekend, the Yanks looked primed to start June off with some swagger. Sadly, the Bronx Bombers started this week by getting embarrassingly swept by the Toronto Blue Jays, while being outscored 15-3. Things looked a tad more promising when they used their Thursday off-day to beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 in a make-up game from April. And they have split the last two games with the upstart Baltimore Orioles, with the offense scoring 14 runs in the two contests. The Yanks are searching for consistency the same way Sarah Palin is searching for relevance.

The Yankee offense is still sputtering towards the bottom of the league standings, currently ranking 26th. And yet, there are positives to be found. A healthy Jacoby Ellsbury hit .320 in May and leads the team with 12 SBs, including his 2nd steal of home this season in last night’s win at Camden Yards. Brett Gardner’s .225 average may not garner him a 2nd consecutive All-Star selection but at least he’s still getting on base at a team-leading .351 clip. Starlin Castro continues to be hot and cold (.385 so far in June) but with a .254 average is eons beyond last year’s 2B manned by Stephen Drew, who seemed to be allergic to pinstripes. May has also been kind to Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius who hit .298 and .287 respectively. The team’s best hitter continues to be Carlos Beltran who is off to a .318 start in June and the less said about his defense the better. And even A-Roid is showing infinitesimal strides with a .300 start to June. I’m guessing Joe Girardi will continue to find excuses to bench A-Roid in favor of the more DH-suited Beltran if necessary.

Brian McCann has cooled off considerably after his surprising .262 April. Despite his recent struggles he still hit 4 HRs in May and is still on pace for another 20 HR season, which is all the Yanks need from their backstop. And the recent DL addition of Mark Teixeira may be a mercy killing. Tex was hoping to finagle his final contracted year in pinstripes into another 2-3 year stay in the Bronx but has just been hobbled by more of the same injuries that has made his stay in NY continually frustrating. At .180 and only 3 HRs maybe it’s time for a change right now. The Yanks called by Chris Parmelee as a stop-gap measure and yet the answer may be Rob Refsnyder. The highly-touted Yankee prospect has seen time at 2B, 3B, RF, and now 1B. It may be a small sample size but hitting .294 while slugging.529 in six games is a huge upgrade.

The Yankee starting pitching continues to be an effective patchwork job with Masahiro Tanaka leading the way with a 2.78 ERA and the rejuvenated C.C. Sabathia not far behind at 2.86. Nathan Eovaldi continues to have issues with lineups the 3rd time around, as shown in Friday night’s loss. Ivan Nova has shown a little wear allowing 9 ERs in his last two six inning outings. But the bright spot may be Michael Pineda who finally showed a spark by holding a formidable Detroit Tiger lineup to only one run over 5 1/3 innings. Not exactly a quality start but baby steps.

The bullpen continues to be Joe Girardi’s most prized possession even if it’s showing signs of vulnerability. The Unholy Trinity (like it?) of Dellin Betances-Andrew Miller-Aroldis Chapman has yet to implode but hasn’t been as intimidating as it seems. Betances in particular has been the weak link in the chain allowing 4 ERs in his last three innings of work. And Chapman made Thurdsay’s win against the Tigers more interesting than it needed to be. Thankfully, he was rescued by a highlight-worthy double play courtesy of Sir Didi and Super Starlin.

Here in June the Yanks stand at 26-29 and 4th place in the AL East. If the Yanks are going to make a move it’s now or not. At some point I do feel the Sawx and O’s will fall back to earth as teams cannot rely on offense alone. I do hope the addition and Refsnyder and potential revival of Pineda will be enough.

Yes, I expected the Boston Red Sox to improve on last year. How could they not? But I did not expect such an explosive start out of the gate. Here in mid-May, the Boston Red Sox have announced, with authority, their intention to win the AL East. As we speak they sit one game out of 1st place from the truly surprising Baltimore Orioles. Not sure how long this ride will last, but don’t be surprised if the Sawx can ride this early wave into October.

The Sawx are riding high for one reason: the best offense in the game. Scoring a lot runs will cure a lot of ills and this year’s BoSox are looking a lot like last year’s Yanks: best offense, average pitching. Just about everyone is contributing, including new Yankee-killer, Jackie Bradley, Jr. After a slow first few weeks, JBJ is hitting .336 for season, helped in no small part by his .474 clip against the Yanks in six meetings. The only reason he is not leading the team in hitting is because Xander Bogaerts is off to a slightly hotter start at .340. Mookie Betts continues to develop his 5-tool potential in RF with 7 SBs to go with his 6 HRs. Travis Shaw has paid off John Farrell’s faith as the new starting 3B by slugging .567. Hanley Ramirez isn’t slugging like the Hanley of old but has embraced his new job at 1B and showing some surprising aptitude. Dustin Pedroia is healthy and back to All-Star form. And 40-year-old David Ortiz is hitting like, well, 39-year-old David Ortiz. With a robust .695 slugging pct. and team-leading 33 RBIs, the fans of Boston may want a say in Big Papi’s impending retirement.

On the pitching side, the biggest surprise is that $217 million acquisition David Price is not the ace. After a few good early showings, Price has been touched up repeatedly with his ERA sitting at 6.00. The Yanks have played their part with back-to-back 6 run outputs against the former Cy Young winner. Fortunately, 4 year/$82.5 million Rick Porcello is finally pitching like the stud the Sawx acquired from the Detroit Tigers last season. Porcello is off to a 6-1 start with a 3.11 ERA and earning every penny of the extension that many questioned last year. Also in the running for staff ace is Steven Wright (not to be confused with the Boston-area deadpan comic). Despite a 3-3 record (indicative of a lack of the run support) the 31-year-old knuckleballer has a starting rotation best ERA of 2.36. Sawx fans may be seeing a second-coming of Fenway perennial Tim Wakefield. And on the downside are the continuing struggles of Clay Buchholz. Currently pitching to an ERA north of 6.00, Buchholz can’t seem to return his 2013 form, or at very least, last year’s 3.26 ERA form. I wonder at what point John Farrell decides to send him to the bullpen, especially with the imminent return of Eduardo Rodriguez.

As for the bullpen, the Sawx have found their own formula. Their three headed beast consists of Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and Craig Kimbrel. Despite a few early hiccups from Kimbrel, things seem to be back on track. The bullpen is rounded out by Matt Barnes, Tommy Layne, and Robbie Ross, Jr. who are all pitching sub 3.50 ERA baseball.

Overall, the Sawx are looking good. Of course scoring lots of runs makes you look good, in much the same way that Mickey Rooney once remarked, “Money makes you handsomer.” The Sawx, aside from a few starting pitching issues, seem to be in mid-season form. Not sure how much longer the Orioles can keep up their charade. The Sawx, to me, are the real deal. And the Yankees will have their hands full all year long. Let the trash talk commence.