Monday, July 31, 2017
One Trade of Gray, One Trade of Garcia
The Yankees had won 6 in a row going into yesterday's series finale with the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. So I shouldn't be upset at the fact that they lost. How they lost is another matter.
Neither starting pitcher, Jordan Montgomery of the Yankees and Scott Faria of the Rays, had anything. Montgomery didn't get out of the 3rd inning, allowing 4 runs. Faria barely made it through the 4th. Luis Cessa pitched 3 1/3rd scoreless innings, Chasen Shreve got 2 outs, and Chad Green pitched 2 1/3rd innings, although he did allow a run in the 8th that may have been a backbreaker.
I can't hold Montgomery responsible, as he was never expected to be a big contributor this season. And I can't hold Green responsible, because he's pitched very well this season, particularly after Yankee starters have had bad starts. That run he allowed raised his ERA to 1.83. Can you imagine how well the Yankees would have done this season if Tyler Clippard had done as well as Chad Green?
The problem yesterday was the bats. Clint Frazier got to 3rd base in the 1st inning, but was stranded. Ronald Torreyes hit a home run in the 2nd, his 3rd dinger of the season, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Aaron Judge drew a walk in the 3rd, but was stranded. Torreyes struck again in the 4th, with a double that brought home a run, closing Tampa's lead to 4-3, and got to 3rd on the throw. But he was stranded.
The Yankees had runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out in the 5th. You gotta get both of those runners home. If you don't get at least 1 home, you don't deserve to win. Judge struck out, Matt Holliday popped up, and Didi Gregorious grounded out.
The Yankees had runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out in the 6th. Surely, 1 of those runners would score? Nope: Brett Gardner grounded into a fielders choice, and Clint Frazier flew out -- to be fair, he was robbed on a very good catch.
The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the 7th, and again in the 8th. Gardner singled with 1 out in the 9th. Frazier (Clint, not Todd) walked. The tying runs were on base. The winning run was at the plate. But Judge popped up, and Holliday grounded out.
Rays 5, Yankees 3. WP: Steve Cishek (2-1). SV: Alex Colome (30). LP: Montgomery (7-6).
The Boston Red Sox also lost, so the Yankees remain half a game ahead of them in the American League Eastern Division, 2 up in the loss column, at the 17-week mark of the 26-week MLB season. The Rays are 3 1/2 back, the Baltimore Orioles 6 1/2, and the Toronto Blue Jays 8. Therefore, the Magic Numbers to eliminate them are 50 for the Jays, 53 for the O's, 54 for the Rays, and 57 for the Sox: Any number of Yankee wins and Red Sox losses the rest of the way, adding up to 57, and the Yankees win the Division.
Now, about the trading deadline, which has now passed. The Yankees made 2 big acquisitions.
* Today, the Yankees got Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics. He is a 27-year-old righthanded starting pitcher from Nashville, 44-35 in a major league career, all with the A's until now, that began in 2013. In 2015, he was an All-Star, and finished 3rd in the AL Cy Young Award voting. He has a fastball that tops out at 95 miles per hour, a cutter at 92, a slider at 88, a changeup at 88, and a curveball at 83. The fact that he can throw 5 different pitches that well is a plus.
He's only 6-5 this season, but his ERA is 3.43, his ERA+ is a fine 123, and his WHIP is a sizzling 1.175. He's not a big strikeout pitcher, but I don't care how the outs come, as long as they come. He doesn't give up many walks or home runs. He's not an ace, but he's efficient. He stabilizes the rotation.
What did we give up? Pitcher James Kaprielian, currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, and was only at Class A Tampa last year; shortstop/outfielder Jorge Mateo, currently at Double-A Trenton; outfielder Dustin Fowler, who is recovering from wrecking his knee in his major league debut a month ago.
* Yesterday, the Yankees got Jaime Garcia from the Minnesota Twins. He hadn't been a Twin for long, as they had just gotten him from the Atlanta Braves. A 31-year-old lefthanded starting pitcher from Reynosa, Mexico, he's 5-7 this season, ERA 4.29, ERA+116, WHIP 1.337. For his career, he's 67-52.
For him, the Yankees gave up Dietrich Enns, who had pitched decently at Triple-A Scranton but wasn't going to receive a callup to the Yankees anytime soon, and at age 26 has yet to make his major league debut; and Zack Littell, who had pitched very well this season, both at Tampa and at Trenton. A September callup for him would have been far from out of the question. Of the 5 players the Yankees gave up for Gray and Garcia, he might be the biggest loss in the long-term.
In other words, for one solid starter and for another guy who could be, the Yankees gave up 5 guys with a grand total of 1 major league game, and none of whom were going to help the Yankees in 2017 anyway. At most, only Littell and (presuming he returned from injury) Fowler stood to help the Yankees even in 2018.
And the "untouchable" prospects Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, for whom general manager Brian Cashman threw away Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, respectively, last July, remain in the Yankee organization.
If Cashman thinks this makes up for those idiotic trades, well, we'll see. The trades look good on August 1. Let's see how good they look on September 1, October 1 (the last day of the regular season), and November 1 (the date on which Game 7 of the World Series would be played, if it gets that far and barring rainouts or other postponements).
This gives the Yankees of (in chronological order, not necessarily in order of talent) Luis Severino (starts tonight in the opener of a home series with the Detroit Tigers), CC Sabathia (starts tomorrow night), Masahiro Tanaka (starts Wednesday afternoon), Jaime Garcia (starts Thursday night in Cleveland against the Indians), Jordan Montgomery (next start, Friday night in Cleveland), and Sonny Gray (whose 1st Yankee start has not yet been decided, his last start was this past Tuesday, and given Tanaka's struggles in day games, maybe Gray will pitch on Wednesday and everyone will be moved back one).
Andrew Marchand of ESPN seems to think the trade for Gray "makes the Yankees the Yankees again."
Or, as Dave Dombrowski, GM of the Red Sox, put it today, "You mean the Golden State Warriors?"
Trips to the Finals 3 straight years, winning 2 of them? Hell yeah, I would take that right now. Especially since it wouldn't be the Red Sox (and, almost certainly not the Mets, either) winning the one in the middle.
Come on you Pinstripes! Time to make our move for Title 28!