Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gardy Ups His Trade Value As Yankees Beat Royals

The more things change, the more they stay the same. A change of venue for the Royals' Jason Vargas led to the same results. Though he did pitch better, the Yankees didn't lose his number, and they beat him and Kansas City 4-2. 

One of the reasons for the victory? Brett Gardner. Nine home runs already! Gardner is definitely the team's MVP for the month of May. What a turnaround to his season. Now he has trade value. But, should the Yankees trade him?

With the glut of talented outfielders in the farm system, it would make sense on that level. However, Gardner seems beloved in the Yankees clubhouse. He's one of the team leaders. He's helped keep the team at or near the top of the AL East standings. Why upset the apple cart?

The only way it gets upset is if there are catastrophic blows to the starting rotation. However, the catastrophe would have to include face plants by kids like Jordan Montgomery, who will get the ball tonight, and Chance Adams, who is expected to make his MLB debut at some point this season. The kids will get their chances first, then the front office will look outside the organization.

Will Masahiro Tanaka be one of the reasons they look outside? No one knows what's wrong with the guy. If you want my unsubstantiated opinion, he hurt himself doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing, something forbidden by his contract. I don't believe all that talk about Asian honor. I think Tanaka is smart enough to admit when he's injured. He did that just before his UCL tear was found. Why wouldn't he do it now? He feels guilty about something.

The Yankees get another try at Danny Duffy tonight. Hopefully it'll go better this time.

The Judge's Chambers
At first I thought the Yankees were taking things way too far by giving Aaron Judge his own special cheering section in right-field. After all, he's only played about two months (not counting last season)--albeit, a great two months. However, after I thought about it, I realized they must have done it because they know Judge won't let something like this go to his head. He's a team player all the way.

It seems you get chosen to sit in Judge's chambers, by how you're dressed and so forth. Sounds like a lot of fun. All rise, and applaud the Yankees PR Department for their great idea!

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Win On A Big Day For Home-Grown Yankees

After dropping the first two games in Tampa Bay this weekend, the Yankees were in danger of being swept for the first time this season. Thanks to a two-run home-run by home-grown veteran Brett Gardner, and despite striking out 12 times against Rays ace Chris Archer, the Yankees came away with a 3-2 win, keeping the brooms at bay.

Of course, a big reason the Yankees avoided the loss column yesterday was home-grown rookie Aaron Judge's sparkling defensive play, leading to a comic (for the Yankees) and, rather embarrassing (for the Rays) double play:

Offensively, Judge was fitted with a Golden Sombrero, striking out four times. After the game, he downplayed the catch, saying he couldn't do anything on offense so he did it on defense. He also said he just did what he is paid to do in RF.  What a nice, humble kid!

Back home tonight for a four-game series against the Royals. Show them whose castle they're in, guys!

On The Move
After yesterday's game, word came down that the team's (virtually home-grown) top prospect, Gleyber Torres, has been promoted to AAA. Torres has played only about 30 games in AA but, apparently, the Yankees have seen all they need to see from him down there.

I believe he played his last AA game at 3B, which brings to mind the man playing that position for the Major League club. Is Chase Headley starting to sweat now? I would if I were him!

Friday, May 19, 2017

After A KC Series, Memories Of An Old Yankees-Royals Rivalry

The Red Sox were the Yankees greatest rival in the late 70's, some forty years ago, correct? You have the one game playoff in 1978 between the two teams that resulted in a Yankees win at Fenway, October 2, 1978 that sent the Yankees on their way to a second consecutive championship. No other team comes close for the Yankees than the Red Sox, right?

I give you the Kansas City Royals of 1976-1980. George Brett was as despised in the Bronx as Carl Yastrzemski or Jim Rice. In that five year span, the Royals were the Yankees' opponent in four league championship series, with the Yankees winning the first three of those series before getting swept in 1980. And if you were around in 1980, that loss really hurt. You probably despised the Royals much more than any other team when that series ended, Red Sox included.

So, on Thursday night in Kansas City, the Yankees were going for the sweep of a three game series. The Royals have recently become relevant again, taking the Giants to the final out of Game Seven of the 2014 World Series, before returning the championship in 2015 to Kansas City, for the first time in 30 years, beating that other New York team, the Metropolitans.  For that recent period, the Royals were the team from the American League everybody envied, and the Yankees always want to be that team.

So the Yankees of yesteryear (40 years or so ago) and the Yankees of recent vintage all have stories of this Midwestern franchise that always battled the Yankees tooth and nail to the finish. And, all of a sudden, the Royals haven't looked too good this year while the Yankees have flourished. And if you want older history, the Royals were born in 1969, but the prior Kansas City team, the Athletics, now residing in Oakland, were the supplier of talent for the Yankees through much of the 1950s. Roger Maris, Clete Boyer and Ralph Terry were all Kansas City Athletics before coming to New York. Terry was sent to Kansas City from the Yankees but returned to the Bronx when the Yankees needed him.

That's how it worked back then between the two teams. In 1950, the Yankees signed a player from another Kansas City team, the Monarchs, named Elston Howard, who arrived in the Bronx in 1955. And when Kansas City was a minor league city, the Yankees were the parent club for many years.

There is a lot of history with the Royals and the city of Kansas City, even  before the Royals came into the league. And this week the Yankees won two of the three games, losing Thursday night, 5-1, but avoiding getting shut out for the first time in the 2017 season with a ninth inning run. Jordan Montgomery pitched five rough innings and the Yankees managed just seven hits. The Yankees remain in first place in the AL East as the road trip continues this weekend.
The Yankees return to Tampa Bay tonight to play another series. The two teams met in St Petersburg for the season opening series with the Rays taking two of three games. Masahiro Tanaka will pitch against the Rays, who knocked him out in his opening day start, and Tanaka was equally as bad in his last start against Houston at the Stadium. Getting Tanaka back on track, even close to what he was in Boston a few weeks ago, may be what keeps the Yankees in the race this year. So every start these days is a crucial start for Tanaka.

More KC Memories 
Happy (recent) Birthday to two Yankees whose numbers have been retired: the late Billy Martin (Number 1) on May 16 and seventy one year old Reggie Jackson (Number 44) on May 18. There are lots of memories of these two, not all of them great. You probably remember these men didn't always get along.

How about another Kansas City memory? Remember when Billy benched Reggie for a game five, winner take all game in Kansas City in 1977?  Billy put his job on the line. Some have speculated Billy didn't care and that he found a way to stick it to Reggie one more time. But Billy had a point: Reggie didn't hit Royals starter, lefty Paul Splittorff very well. So he inserted right handed hitting (and better defender) Paul Blair in Reggie's place. You might remember, the Yankees trailed 3-1 in the 8th inning when Reggie brought home the Yankees second run of the night with a pinch hit single. Then Blair got the 3 run 9th inning started with a lead-off single. Billy was hailed as a genius and a man with guts following that game, won by the Yanks 5-3. But it was Reggie who had much to do with bringing home the Yankees first championship in fifteen years. The Yankees don't win without Reggie.

The following season, Bob Lemon took over for Billy in July and the Yankees rallied for Lemon to win another championship. Billy left us Christmas Day back in 1989 and there are lots of memories of Billy. Reggie still makes appearances around the Yankees and has mentored several young players.

Reggie and Billy were always at odds, or so it seemed, with one notable exception. Together Billy and Reggie shared a moment of Yankees glory in 1977.