Month: April 2017

4/30/17: Yankees Come Back, but Falter in Extras, Lose 7-4 to O’s

Quick Recap

This was a weird game to say the least. The Yankees had plenty of opportunities to put the game out of reach or win the game, but they just could not cash in. Yankee’ starter Jordan Montgomery pitched okay, especially for not having his best stuff. He went 5 innings gave up 3 runs, walked 4, but had seven strikeouts. The Yankee offense had chances all game to put this game out of reach, but they never could get the big hit. They had 13 hits and 8 walks in 11 innings and left 16 guys on base. That is a little disturbing as it seems like this team is getting too reliant on the home run ball to score, which has led to problems for Yankee teams in the past. Bryan Mitchell got tagged with the loss after a very strange move by Joe Girardi, who took Mitchell out for an inning and put him at first base in favor of Aroldis Chapman, then brought Mitchell back in for the 11th innings in which he gave up 3 runs. Definitely a questionable move, but I could see were Joe was coming from as there were not many options left in the pen. In the end a tough loss for the Yankees as they battled back from down two in the ninth to tie the game on a two run single by Didi Gregorius. Luckily, they get right back at it tomorrow against the struggling Toronto Blue Jays.

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4/29/17: Yankees’ Bats Stay Hot, crush O’s 12-4

Quick Recap

Michael Pineda pitched a quality game today, threw too many pitches, but went 5 and 1/3 innings and gave up 2 unearned runs and struck out 8 batters. Adam Warren then came in and pitched well like he usually does, going 2 and 2/3 innings and giving up no runs. The Yankees, well mainly Brett Gardner, crushed Orioles’ starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who went 3 and 1/3 innings and gave up 7 runs. Gardner looked great today, which is encouraging as he had been slumping, he hit two home runs and had 4 RBIs. If this is a sign of things to come the Yankees would be very happy as only he and Greg Bird are really struggling right now. Didi Gregorius added in two hits and an RBI as well, which is also great to see as it shows he does not have any lingering affects of his shoulder injury. Of course, we can’t forget Aaron Judge who hit another massive home run, which is almost a daily occurrence now. He continues to amaze, I have honestly run out ways to say he is sick, even better he is a great kid, very humble and very team oriented. He honestly looks like the future captain of the New York Yankees, only time will tell. The Yankees have Jordan Montgomery going tomorrow against the O’s Wade Miley at 1pm.

4/29/17: Will the Yankees Have the Best Offense in the League?

After watching these last couple Yankee games, I am starting to wonder if they can have the most potent offense in the league. Now right now they are not leading in any major categories, but they are top five in runs, home runs, and batting average. This is also without Didi Gregorius until yesterday and without Gary Sanchez for the majority of the season. I understand this is a small sample size and guys like Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury are coming down from their scorching starts, but now Matt Holliday is heating up and Aaron Judge is raking. Last week I wrote an article about how I thought Brett Gardner was done, but he has since proved me wrong with two home runs today and much better at-bats of late. It is hard to project what a lot of the guys in the Yankee lineup will do throughout an entire season because the young guns have not had a full season yet. With that being said I do not think they will fall off a cliff, Aaron Judge seems like a very smart guy that will make the necessary adjustments if he falls into a slump and it can be seen that Greg Bird is starting to have better at-bats, breaking out of his slump. Hitters will go through hot and cold streaks throughout the season, but I have a very hard time seeing all of the Yankees falling into a slump at the same time. So, I say the Yankees can and will have the best offense in the league.

Often slumps are contagious and can carry over to other players on the team, but that has not been the case this year. Greg Bird has been in an awful slump and he was expected to be the number three hitter and a major contributor. However, other guys have picked him up, like Chase Headley and Starlin Castro. If you told me Greg Bird was hitting below .150 and only had one home run a month into the season and the Yankees were in first place and in the top five in scoring offense, I’d say you were crazy. Never could any of us have expected what the Yankees have gotten from Aaron Judge, Starlin Castro and Chase Headley thus far. That is what is key to a great offense, when some of your better players are slumping there are guys to step in and pick him up. That is one of the major reasons why I see the Yankees leading the league in scoring, there are just too many quality players on the roster and they will not all slump at the same time. What is also crucial is that it seems like any player on the Yankee’ roster can carry them for a couple of weeks while some guys are not hitting. Aaron Judge will probably go into a slump at some point and I expect Greg Bird or Didi Gregorius to pick him up.

The main reason why I say the Yankees can lead the league in scoring is they have so much depth. Injuries can ruin an offense, but not with the Yankees as they lost two of their best players and have not missed a beat. You have to give Brian Cashman some credit for finding guys like Ronald Torreyes and Aaron Hicks and sticking with a guy like Austin Romine. Torreyes filled in for Gregorius at shortstop and hit .308 with 13 RBIs, he actually led the Yankees in RBIs for a couple of weeks. Austin Romine has filled in for Gary Sanchez and has hit .277 and been great defensively. Aaron Hicks has not needed to fill in for any injured players yet, but he is hitting well at .316 with 4 home runs. This is a great sign for this Yankee team as a deep bench is crucial for a good year. If you look back at Yankees’ teams from the past the good ones have had quality bench players. Look at the 2009 team for example, they had players like Ramiro Pena, Jose Molina, Jerry Hairston and Francisco Cervelli on the bench, a mix of younger and older guys that could step in and perform well. That Yankee team won 103 games and led the league in scoring with 915 runs scored. Now I am not saying the 2017 Yankee team will have the same outcome as the 2009 team as I feel that team had better starting pitching. However, the 2017 team has a bit of the same formula, a good bench, a good core of homegrown players and a good mix of veteran free agents. Time will only tell if this Yankee team can get similar output to a team that was led by Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter, but I think they can come close.

4/28/17: Holliday the Hero in Extras, as Yanks Win Slugfest 14-11 Over the O’s

Quick Recap

Wow wow wow! What a game the Yankees were down 9-1 in the sixth inning and it looked like the game was over. Let’s skip the pitching side as there was not much of that in this game as you can see by the score. But, man was there offense the Bronx Bombers earned their name tonight as they clubbed five home runs. They got two bombs from Aaron Judge, a grand slam from Jacoby Ellsbury, a clutch game tying two run shot in the ninth from Starling Castro and the game winner in the tenth from Matt Holliday. The Yankee offense looked unstoppable, Judge is a star, the guy is unbelievable already and is just scratching the surface. This was also the first game of the season for Didi Gregorius who went 2 for 5 with an RBI. It is very exciting to see the Yankees scoring like this as I think this is what will carry them throughout the season as I expect the pitching staff to come back to earth. However, right now the Yankees are firing on all cylinders and are exciting to watch.

4/27/17: Tanaka Outduels Sale, Yankees Win 3-0

Quick Recap

I will keep this brief as I imagine most of like me are watching the NFL Draft right now. But, on to the Yankees game, this was a pitchers duel in every facet of the name. Sale went 8+ innings giving up only two runs and Tanaka pitched a complete game shutout. This was an exciting game because Tanaka is starting to get hot and that leads to a dangerous Yankee team. Matt Holliday also had a big night getting two hits and driving in two runs, which is great to see as he has really been struggling recently. The Yankee offense has been good of late and that is without a guy like Holliday hitting, so if he gets going the offense gets that much more dangerous. Not to mention Didi Gregorius could be back this weekend and Gary Sanchez is only a week or so away as well. The Yankees continue to surprise me on this young season, it remains to be seen if they can keep this great play going for a full season.

4/26/17: Yankees Start Rivalry off Right, Beat Red Sox 3-1

Quick Recap

After two days off, one because of rain, the Yankees were back in action Wednesday night against the rival Boston Red Sox. Luis Severino carried the Yankees, pitching seven very strong innings.  He did not give up any runs and struck out six batters. He is finally starting to look like the top prospect he once was and that is a great sign for this Yankee team. The Yankees need all the help they can get from the starting five they have now because they do not have a lot of depth in the minors. If he keeps pitching like this he could supplant Masahiro Tanaka as the Yankees’ ace. Dellin Betances pitched a 123 eighth inning and Aroldis Chapman made it interesting in the ninth giving up one run, but ultimately got out of it. The Yankee offense was once again carried by Aaron Judge, who continues to rake, he hit a two run home run to the opposite field in the 2nd inning. Greg Bird added on with an RBI single in the sixth inning, which he desperately needed as he has been in a dreadful slump. The Yankees have Masahiro Tanaka going tomorrow night against the Red Sox’ Chris Sale.

Biggest Offensive Play of the Game

Now I could easily go with Aaron Judge’s 7th home run of the year that ultimately proved to be the difference in the game, but at this point that is almost expected of Judge. I am going to go with Greg Bird’s RBI single in the sixth inning as Greg Bird is one of the major keys for a Yankee playoff run. Bird had been struggling coming into that at-bat, batting an even .100 and having already struck out twice in the game.  so, this has to be a major confidence boost for him. It was not just a bloop single either it was a bullet of the green monster in left field. Bird walked his next at-bat so we can all only hope this is the moment he breaks out of this early season slump and starts playing up to his potential. If this is the moment then the Yankees offense gets that much deeper and that much scarier.

Biggest Out of the Game

This one was pretty easy as there were not a lot of big outs to choose from throughout this game. It was the last out of the game, Aroldis Chapman was pitching to Red Sox’ third baseman Josh Rutledge with runners on first and third. Chapman was laboring throughout his outing as his velocity was down and he had no command of any of his pitches. I was watching and it just looked like the Yankees were going to give this one away as they have done in the past at Fenway. However, Chapman was able to reach back for something extra on the last pitch and after a long battle at the plate he got Rutledge to strikeout on a 98 mph fastball away. Chapman stranded the tying run on first base and was able to put the Yankees’ 12th win on the board. In particular this out was huge as it gives the Yankees a major confidence boost moving forward because they were able to start the season series against the Red Sox with a win. Many people expect the Red Sox to win the AL East this year, but I think the Yankees may be able to give them a run for their money and this was a great start to that goal.

Questionable Move of the Game

Not much to question in this game as Girardi did not need to give anyone rest after two off days and went with his normal formula when there is a save situation in the eighth inning. Severino definitely looked done after seven innings and 100 pitches so it was a good move to bring in Betances in the eighth then Chapman in the ninth. The only move I saw as a little weird was batting Chase Headley second and Jacoby Ellsbury in the clean up spot. Girardi has batted Ellsbury fourth quite a few times this year, but it is usually when other guys are resting. This also leads me to the point that right now the Yankees do not really have a true cleanup hitter. I think Aaron Judge should be the guy, but I also understand not trying to put too much pressure on the powerful rookie. We will have to see what Girardi does with the lineup when Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez come back from injury, until then I have a hard time criticizing any lineup moves, besides resting people.

4/25/17: New York Giants Draft Preview

In case you have not heard the 2017 NFL Draft starts this Thursday in Philadelphia.  The draft runs three days with round 1 on Thursday night, rounds 2 and 3 Friday night and rounds 4-7 Saturday afternoon.  The New York Giants have the 23rd pick in the first round and will have a variety of quality players to choose from as this draft is very deep at a lot of different positions.  In this piece I will go through some of the position groups I think the Giants will target throughout the draft and tell you who they should select in the first round.

The most glaring hole on the Giants roster is on the offensive line as most of us Giants fans know.  However, this draft class is very weak in offensive lineman and most likely the Giants will have to settle for more of a developmental type player and not one that can start right away.  The Giants could go offensive line in the first round, but I think it would be a mistake as I do not feel there will be any starting caliber offensive lineman available when the Giants pick.  I do predict that a couple will go before the Giants pick, which I think is way to early for any of the lineman in this class, but it just makes the decision easier for the Giants to pass on the offensive line in the first round.  I also, unlike many Giants fans, still believe in Ereck Flowers, the Giants first round pick from 2015.  He is now entering his third season in the NFL and is still only 23 years old, so we have not seen him play to his full potential yet.  I think this year is a huge year for the massive offensive tackle as I feel this year will really tell if he has the capability to start at left tackle in the NFL.  I believe he will step up and accept the challenge and reward the Giants for sticking with him and I have a feeling the Giants sort of feel this way as well.  I say look for the Giants to draft an offensive tackle on day two or day three of the draft to give Flowers some competition, but not take his job.  However, I believe the offensive tackle they select should have a great opportunity to win the starting right tackle job that no one on the Giants’ roster currently has a hold on.

Another glaring hole on the roster is at the defensive tackle position alongside Damon Harrison.  Johnathan Hankins vacated that spot last year, but he has since left for Indianapolis.  The Giants will particularly look for a defensive tackle that can rush the passer and do not be surprised if they select one in the second round.  The Giants have had great success drafting defensive tackles in the second round as recently the selected Hankins there in 2013 and Linval Joseph there in 2010.  A name to watch out for is Chris Wormley a defensive lineman out of Michigan as he has been linked to the Giants throughout the draft process.  He is a little bit less of a nose tackle and more of a guy that can rush the passer, he projects to be a day two selection so do not be surprised if the Giants call his name in the second round.

Some later position groups to watch for the Giants potentially picking are quarterback, running back and cornerback.  Eli Manning is 36 years, but still has three years remaining on his deal.  There have been some rumors that the Giants may look for Manning’s successor in this draft, but I do not think they should invest early in a quarterback as this class is fairly weak.  If the Giants select a quarterback look for one late in the draft rounds 5-7 as they have a capable back up in Geno Smith already.  If the Giants are going to find Eli’s successor I would see them doing it in the first or second round and when they pick I just do not see the right prospect being there.  Running back is another interesting case as it has been known for a while the Giants are looking for a power back.  They have been linked to Lagarrett Blount recently, but I see the Giants selecting one in the later rounds in the draft like they did with Paul Perkins last year. This will allow the Giants to get a fresh, young back at a very cheap price.  I think the golden spot for this is the fourth round or fifth round, there still should be some very capable power backs available at this time.  Lastly corner back is an interesting group as you see the Giants already have three starting caliber corners in Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple.  However, I feel you can never have enough corners, it just seems like the most injured position group around the league.  I do not feel the Giants need to find a starter, but certainly some one with some talent, maybe look for a height, weight, speed guy that can tackle.  This will give the Giants someone that can contribute on special teams and step in and be serviceable if someone goes down.

Now onto the two position groups I think the Giants should look in the first round.  It is two groups that the Giants often avoid early, tight end and linebacker.  We’ll start with the tight end group there are two players I think should definitely be selected in the first round in O.J Howard from Alabama and David Njoku from Miami.  They are both athletic freaks that can catch the ball well and can compete as blockers.  Evan Engram from Ole Miss is also a fringe first round player in my book.  If Howard falls to the Giants I say run up to the draft podium and draft him as he is one of the top ten players in this draft and come from a strong program in Alabama.  However, I expect him to be gone when the Giants pick, Njoku and Engram are much more realistic options and will most likely be available when the Giants pick.

Linebacker is probably the Giants biggest need not on the offensive line.  This year they will most likely start Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson and Devon Kennard all of whom are slightly injury prone and all of whom are free agents after this year.  The only one I feel comfortable saying has a starting job is Kennard who has been a solid player for a couple of years and is in the final year of his rookie contract so he will be extra motivated for that payday.  Other than that though Robinson and Casillas are really nothing special and will probably both be gone next year.  This leads me to say that the Giants should be looking linebacker in the first round and the two names I am looking at are Jarrad Davis out of Florida and Zach Cunningham from Vanderbilt.  The Giants are picking in the sweet spot for those two prospects and both could be available when they pick.  I know a lot of people out there have Davis rated a little higher, but he has had some injury concerns over the last few years and has missed some time.  Cunningham on the other hand has no injury issues that are known and can be a leader of a defense.

Taking all this into consideration I think if the Giants are on the clock and they have Njoku, Davis and Cunningham all still available they should do something they never do and trade down.  I want them to select Cunningham but feel this spot may be a little too rich for him especially if Davis is still on the board.  A team that is looking for a quarterback and wants to get in front of the Houston Texans who pick two spots behind the Giants are likely candidates.  Ideally, the Kansas City Chiefs or perhaps even the New Orleans Saints.  If the Giants can trade down with one of these teams Cunningham should still be on the board and the Giants should select him.  I do not want to see them drop out of the first round as then they lose that useful fifth year option, but dropping 4 to eight spots and picking up a third or fourth rounder seems ideal to me.  If they cannot trade down then I still take Cunningham because I do not think he makes it to them in the second round and he has similar talent to others in this area of the draft.

I chose to go against Njoku because the Giants have got a lot of tight ends already, they have newly signed Rhett Ellison, a talented player in Will Tye who has flashed some potential and Jerell Adams who was a sixth round pick last year.  I feel the Giants are comfortable with this group and see a lot of potential in Adams, which will stray them away from the tight end position in the first round.  However, I would not rule tight end out later in the draft as it is a very deep tight end class.  So, all that being said this is how I see the Giants draft breaking down by position group.

1st Round: Linebacker

2nd Round: Defensive Tackle

3rd Round: Tight End

4th Round: Offensive Tackle

5th Round: Running Back

6th Round: Quarterback

7th Round: Cornerback