Late June, Last of Teen Losses…
Next loss is almost Legal Drinking Age…
Sadly, there was no ‘rally in their bones’ last night as the Yankees fell to the Houston Astros, 3–1. The loss dropped the Yankees to 52–19, still the best record in Major League Baseball. Every other team in the AL East won yesterday but the Yankees lead over the second-place Toronto Blue Jays is eleven ½ games so there is room in the waistband. I certainly did not expect the Yankees to sweep the Astros this series, as much as I would have liked them to. The Astros are clearly the best team in the American League that the Yankees will face this year. Depending upon how the final standings align, Yankees-Astros could be a preview of the American League Championship Series in October. So, reaping the soul of the Astros in October is far more important than a four-game set in late June.
I am hoping for at least a split of the four-game series although three of four would be quite beautiful. Gerrit Cole and Nasty Nestor Cortes Jr provide reason for optimism. Well, that is true of any of the Yankee starters this year, but now, the ageless dick, Justin Verlander, is out of the series having pitched last night.
Keeping Aaron Judge a happy man is a good thing. I was glad the Yankees and Judge were able to avert yesterday’s arbitration hearing. While it was thought the hearing was originally scheduled for Wednesday and subsequently pushed to Friday, Mike Axisa wrote in his blog yesterday that the hearing was always scheduled for Friday. Regardless, I was fearful of the negative feelings that can be generated from an arbitration hearing when the team’s primary goal is to prove why the player is not good enough for their salary demand. I think Judge is such a professional, he would not have let it alter his strong emotional attachment to the 2022 Yankees, but it is better that we never find out how the bond would have been tested.
The Judge camp had asked for $21 million, while the Yankees countered with $17 million. Initially, there were reports yesterday morning that Judge had rejected the Yankees’ meet-in-the-middle counteroffer of $19 million. The tragic part of this is Judge is worth every penny of the $21 million he is asking for, but that is not how this game is played. Fortunately, it was not long before word came that Judge had accepted the Yankees’ revised offer, $19 million plus $250,000 for AL MVP and $250,000 for World Series MVP (both incentives strongly possible if Judge keeps playing at his current level). The best $19.5 million the Yankees will spend this year.
It was not fun reading Buster Olney’s words yesterday predicting that Aaron Judge will not be a Yankee in 2023. Under the premise of ‘all it takes is one inspired owner,’ he thinks the Yankees will be outbid in their clinical approach when Judge reaches free agency after the season. No doubt, if the Yankees let Judge walk, it will be one of the greatest travesties of the organization in my life as a Yankee fan. It was difficult to see Robinson Cano leave, and while I am not trying to discredit Cano, his loss was not a blip on the radar compared to how wrong it would be for Judge to pull on another jersey. I am hopeful that resigning Judge is as important to Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner as it was to snag Gerrit Cole a couple of years ago.
Sign Judge to a huge deal that makes sense for both sides and make him the next Captain of the New York Yankees. I hope this is the prime objective once we reach the off-season.
The disappointment of Reggie Jackson. I do not know the circumstances that caused Reggie Jackson to leave his role as a consultant for the Yankees to join the Houston Astros organization a few years ago (not sure that I really care), but it sucked to see Jackson show up at Yankee Stadium wearing an Astros cap this week. Compare Jackson to Yankees Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. When Jeter was CEO of the Miami Marlins, you did not see him show up at Yankee Stadium wearing a Marlins cap when his Marlins visited the Bronx. Jeter is respectful of his Yankees legacy, whereas Jackson proves once again, it is all about him. It always was, why should he change who he is now. Good riddance.
Welcome back, Albert Abreu. Abreu, along with minor league LHP Robby Ahlstrom, helped to bring popular Yankees catcher Jose Trevino from the Texas Rangers to New York this past Spring. Abreu’s time in Texas was short. He was designated for assignment at the end of May and traded to the Kansas City Royals on June 3rd for a minor league prospect. Abreu’s control problems led to a very brief stay in the Royals organization. He was designated for assignment a few weeks later and claimed on waivers by the Yankees on June 21st.
I always liked Abreu and there was a time he was one of my favorite prospects. The Yankees had originally acquired him in the November 2016 deal that sent catcher Brian McCann to the Houston Cheaters. Now 26 years old, Abreu is no longer a prospect. I think if the Yankees thought they could fix his control challenges, it would have happened already. I view Abreu as a placeholder. His time on the 40-man roster, unless he suddenly becomes a revered part of the bullpen (unlikely), will be almost as short as his Royals career. When it comes time to add Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Loaisiga, Domingo German, and later, Zack Britton, there will be no room for Abreu.
Many fans were upset when Clarke Schmidt was demoted to Triple A to make room for Abreu on the active roster. I am not sure that I ever saw the two moves related to one another other than Schmidt’s temporary trip to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is an opportunity to get him more work and more specifically, starting work. The pitching staff knows Abreu and he afforded the Yankees an opportunity to help strengthen Schmidt for the long haul of the season. The Yankees’ starting rotation has been wonderful this season, but injuries are part of the game. Schmidt and JP Sears represent the rotation depth. I like the job Sears did earlier this season, but between the two men, I would rather have Schmidt in the rotation if something were to happen to one of the fabulous five currently in the Yankees rotation.
So, fans should not fret about Schmidt. He will be back, and he will play a part in the road to the World Series. His trip to Eastern Pennsylvania will only make him stronger. I am all for it. When champagne is dripping on the clubhouse floor, Schmidt will be getting alcohol stains on his jersey while Abreu will be home watching the World Series on television. For the record, I would love to see Abreu succeed, suddenly overcoming his flaws, but I am not optimistic.
To make room for Abreu, the Yankees traded reliever David McKay back to the Tampa Bay Rays. Watch McKay go from nothing special to a trusted high leverage reliever. That is how it usually works for the Rays. Seriously, it was no loss. The same as it will be when Abreu’s jersey is taken from him by Yankees clubhouse personnel. Life in baseball. It is necessary to have some Gypsy blood, knowing that travel is not limited to games but to different teams when you are not quite as talented as a guy like Aaron Judge.
As always, Go Yankees!