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Why Yankees haven’t picked Luis Severino yet to start Opening Day

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino delivers the ball to the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept.20, 2017, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Newark Star-Ledger
Mar 14

The 2018 Yankees play their first real game in about two weeks and rookie manager Aaron Boone still hasn’t named his Opening Day starter.

We all know who it’s going to be, right?

It has to be right-hander Luis Severino, an AL Cy Young finalist last season, on the mound March 29 when the Yankees are in Toronto to open against the Blue Jays.

Why the delay?

According to Boone, the Yankees have three other worthy candidates – Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray – and he’s weighing different options with pitching coach Larry Rothschild to get the best pitcher-opponent matchups in April.

Jake Arrieta addresses the velocity concerns
NBC Sports Philadelphia
Mar 14

As good as Jake Arrieta will look in red pinstripes, there’s no hiding the fact that he comes with some red flags.

His average fastball velocity dropped from 94.9 mph in his Cy Young season of 2015 to 92.6 mph last season, according to PITCHf/x data.

This has been interpreted in some quarters as the pitcher entering a decline, an idea supported by the Chicago Cubs’ curious lack of aggressiveness in attempting to re-sign him. The Cubs instead signed Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million deal.

Arrieta was asked about both topics upon joining the Phillies on Tuesday.

“I think there was a number of reasons that things didn’t go in a different direction,” he said of the Cubs, the team he helped win the 2016 World Series. “But that wasn’t necessarily the direction that maybe I wanted to go in.”

Arrieta said he would cherish his memories with the Cubs and he welcomed the “opportunity to bring a lot to the table” for his new club.

“My focus is now on the Phillies and I’m committed to winning as a Phillie and using the experiences that I’ve gained to each and every player in this organization’s advantage,” he said.


Aaron Judge pitches Manny Machado on joining the Yankees: ‘He’d look good in pinstripes’

New York Daily News
Mar 14

Manny Machado won’t be a free agent until next offseason, but Aaron Judge is already making his pitch to the All-Star shortstop on why he should join the Yankees.

“Adding him to our lineup that we’ve already got would be something special. I told him he’d look good in pinstripes,” Judge said.

Judge said he made his pitch to Machado before Wednesday’s spring training game.

“He just kind of laughed it off and didn’t really say much,” Judge said.

“We talked a little bit, and I just asked him how his offseason was, how everything was going,” Judge added. “I asked him how he liked short and said you’d look pretty good in pinstripes, too.”

Adding Machado to Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius seems like something a baseball fan could only do in a video game. But it would be costly, given that Machado could command $30 million or more per year in a long-term megadeal on the open market.

Miguel Cabrera giving deposition in paternity case on Tigers’ day off
Michigan Live
Mar 14
The Detroit Tigers don’t play on Wednesday, but Miguel Cabrera was scheduled to spend his off-day giving a videotaped deposition in an ongoing paternity case.

Cabrera’s deposition will take place in an Orlando attorney’s office, not a courtroom, and records indicate that a videographer, stenographer and Spanish interpreter will be present.

Cabrera is being sued by Belkis Mariela Rodriguez, an Orlando woman who claims that Cabrera abruptly cut off financial support for her two children that he fathered. Cabrera has argued that she is seeking exorbitant sums more akin to alimony than child support.

Cabrera is married and has three other children by his wife Rosangel.

A judge ruled last month that Cabrera must pay child support to Rodriguez on a temporary basis until there is a final ruling in the case. Required out-of-court mediation sessions appear to have been fruitless.

Although the case is picking up steam, it seems certain to drag on into the 2018 baseball season.

CC Sabathia is the old man in Yankees’ rotation but a new man on mound
Feb 17

CC Sabathia stood in front of his corner locker, at 37 the elder statesman on a New York Yankees team that will have fewer 30-somethings than it has had in a long time.

As he took questions from the media, Ron Guidry — Mr. Louisiana Lightning himself — interrupted to ask Sabathia about having some jambalaya on Saturday or Sunday.

“Saturday,” Sabathia answered.

“I feel like cooking,” Guidry replied.

The former Cy Young winner and current pitching instructor walked away.

“That’s not vegan, either,” Sabathia joked.

The veteran left-hander is in the twilight of his career, entering his 18th season in the big leagues and 10th with the Yankees. Only Brett Gardner has been with the club longer, and only Adrian Beltre, Bartolo Colon and Jason Grilli played last year and began their major league careers before Sabathia. It’s hard to believe it was back in 2001 when a young Sabathia and Colon headlined the Cleveland Indians’ rotation.

A few years ago, Sabathia’s career appeared in jeopardy: He made just eight starts in 2014 because of a knee injury and then went 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 2015. After that season, he underwent treatment for alcohol abuse, later writing on The Players’ Tribune website, “Nothing scared me more than saying these three words: ‘I need help.'”

He has remade himself the past two seasons, adapting to his decreasing velocity by throwing fewer fastballs and more of everything else. In 2009, his first year with the Yankees, he threw his fastball 59 percent of the time and it averaged 93.9 mph. That was back at the beginning of the big spike in pitcher velocity, and Sabathia was still among the hardest-throwing starters in the league.

Mets’ Wright: ‘I don’t know’ if I can play in 2018
New York Daily News
Feb 17

It sounds as if David Wright finally has come to the realization — and to grips with — the likelihood that the end is near.

Wright spoke for the first time this spring at Mets camp on Saturday, and while he admirably refuses to give up on his multi-year quest to make it back to the field following multiple surgeries, the hobbled captain fully understands why the organization signed Todd Frazier as a more permanent replacement at third base this offseason.

He also understands why the Mets simply and clearly could not wait for him any longer.

“I’m going to give it my best shot, certainly. I probably have a lot of the same questions that you’re asking me, and a lot of people are asking of me. Because I just don’t know,” Wright said when asked in the home dugout at First Data Field how realistic he believes a return this season would be for him. “It’s certainly been an uphill climb for me, so I guess to honestly answer your question, I don’t know. I’m not sure what the expectation is.

“I’d love to play again, but my body’s got to hold up and it’s gonna have to cooperate with me a little bit.”

Wright’s body has gone through more pain and trouble in the past few seasons than any pro athlete should have to endure, from the spinal stenosis that first was diagnosed in 2015 to the neck, back and shoulder surgeries the seven-time All-Star third baseman has undergone over the past two lost years of his career.

Report: Mets would ‘love’ to start Tim Tebow in Double-A this season
Larry Brown Sports
Feb 16

Most people laughed when Tim Tebow announced that he is trying his hand at professional baseball, but the former NFL quarterback will once again be playing in the minor leagues with the New York Mets this season. In fact, the team is hoping he does enough in spring training to get him one step closer to the majors.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports is reporting that the Mets would “love” to send Tebow to Double-A Birmingham to start the year if he has a good showing in spring training. Tebow bounced around in Class-A last year, hitting .226 with eight homers and 52 RBI in 126 games in his first full minor league season.

Top Yankees Prospect Shot in Hip During Attempted Robbery in Venezuela
12 Up
Feb 16

New York Yankees ​manager Aaron Boone had some troubling news when he addressed the media on Friday.

He announced that one of their top infield prospects, Thairo Estrada, was shot in the right hip in his native Venezuela during a robbery attempt last month.

Shelby Miller Wins Arbitration Hearing Against Diamondbacks
MLB Trade Rumors
Feb 1

Right-hander Shelby Miller has won his arbitration hearing against the D-backs, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (via Twitter). The Roc Nation Sports client will earn $4.9MM in 2018 as opposed to the $4.7MM figure that was submitted by the team. His $4.9MM payday lines up with his projected arbitration salary from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.

Miller, of course, underwent Tommy John surgery early in the season, thus making it somewhat of a surprise to see him earn a modest raise.

Scott Boras continues to hold up the MLB free-agent market, but will he blink first?

New York Daily News
Feb 1

Is this the year Scott Boras fails to pull a rabbit out of a hat? Or three or four rabbits, to be precise?

Yes, January has come and gone and, remarkably, baseball’s big free-agent freeze hasn’t even begun to melt. Spring training begins in less than two weeks and you can still field something of an All-Star team out of the dozens of players looking for a job.

Other than the spring of 1995, when baseball was coming back from its infamous strike that shut down offseason business as well, we’ve never seen anything like this, with so many high-profile players still available.

And the frustration is becoming more evident, with Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen recently going so far as to say the players might have to strike again at some point if this is the way it’s going to be, with owners running their own squeeze play.

Of course, you can make the case that this is really more about a new era of analytically-driven GM simply recognizing the perils of long-term contracts and trying to drive down prices by waiting out the players.

Can’t ignore the tanking issue, either, as several teams apparently have no interest in spending as they follow the formula the Cubs and Astros used to build championship teams.

And then there is the Boras factor. Baseball’s most notorious agent is calling the shots for some of the still-available star-level free agents this winter, including J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta, and Greg Holland.

Talking to scouts and executives on Wednesday, I heard Boras’ name a lot, as some are convinced his refusal to bend on his demands has created a stalemate for his top-of-the-market guys that has a trickle-down effect on other free agents.

“This is his M.O., waiting until he gets his price,” said a team executive, “and usually he finds a taker, but he’s never had this many guys unsigned so late. I’ve been wrong before predicting that he wouldn’t get the contract he wanted, but this time I really think he’s going to have to make concessions on some of his guys.”

The same executive made the point that Boras has often managed to swing deals late in the offseason by going directly to ownership, particularly with the Tigers and the Nationals. But Detroit owner Mike Ilitch died last year at age 87, and in Washington Ted Lerner reportedly has no intention of adding any more big salaries.

Yankees ticket sales through the roof after acquiring Giancarlo Stanton

Jan 31

As the New York Yankees head into the 2018 season, it’s safe to say that business is booming. Solid proof of that comes from their ticket sales. With reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton now on board, sales are significantly up from a season ago.

Certainly, much of that can be attributed to landing Stanton from the Miami Marlins. Stanton is not only the reigning National League MVP, but also hit 59 home runs a season ago. Players like that have always drawn fans to the stadium.

So, Stanton is a big factor. He may even be the biggest factor. But he’s certainly not the only one.

Stanton’s new best friend, Aaron Judge, deserves a lot of credit. At this time last year, little was expected of Judge. It’s hard to imagine that anyone was buying tickets to see him, since it was far from a certainty that he’d even make the team. That’s changed. Now, people are buying his jersey in massive numbers and Judge is arguably MLB’s most marketable player.

All 30 ballparks will have expanded safety netting for 2018
Jan 31

With the quarterly MLB owners meetings entering their second day, the reality that all 30 ballparks in the league will have expanded safety netting by Opening Day is now a reality.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays have announced that safety netting at Chase Field and Tropicana will be expanded past the far ends of the dugouts for the 2018 season. The teams have worked through the off-season on the design to minimize the visual aspects while maximizing safety. The two were the last to have announced and in doing so, league-wide additional safety measures for foul balls and broken bats have been made.

“We have long prided ourselves on providing the most fan-friendly environment in all of sports and at the top of those priorities is safety,” said D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall. “Thousands of the best seats in the ballpark behind home plate have always been behind a protective net with no impact to the fan experience and we expect that those who will now have a similar view will find that the same holds true for them.”

“The Tampa Bay Rays are committed to providing a safe and secure environment for each person who enters Tropicana Field and Charlotte Sports Park,” the club said in a statement. “We will be expanding the protective netting this season to the outside edge of the dugouts in both ballparks. All affected Season Ticket Holders will be contacted in the coming weeks with more information.”

As part of expanding the netting, the Diamondbacks look to ensure a way that a similar amount of baseballs that would have previously been souvenirs for fans in the stands, either through foul balls or those tossed by the players, will be distributed during the game.

Uncertainty clouds Wright’s comeback hopes
Jan 20

The reality is that David Wright does not know if he will ever be a productive Major League Baseball player again. He does not know when, or if, he will next see the field. He does not know what his future holds, if there is even any future left for him as the Mets’ third baseman.

“It really hurts to say this, but I obviously can’t be relied on to go out there and do what I’ve done throughout my career,” Wright said Friday, before hosting his annual Vegas Night to benefit the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Virginia. “That is a tough thing to say.”

The past three seasons have been a nightmare of surgeries and setbacks for Wright, a seven-time All-Star whose career arc turned abruptly downward after doctors diagnosed him with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column, in 2015. The following year, Wright underwent neck surgery.

Entering 2017 optimistic about his health, Wright wound up electing for two more operations: one to repair the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, then another to remove bone spurs, a ligament and a herniated disk from his lower back. He did not appear in a single game.

“The surgeries are obviously serious stuff, but it just kind of plays with your mind mentally, where you don’t know how your body’s going to hold up,” Wright said. “You don’t know how you’re going to feel a month from now. You don’t know how you’re going to feel a couple weeks from now. You’re hoping that it continues to get better, but you just don’t know.

“Everything is a concern for me. I haven’t progressed to the point where I’ll know how it feels to throw a baseball until we get closer to spring. I certainly don’t know how the back is going to hold up.”

The Mets still owe Wright $47 million over the next three seasons, though they have recouped tens of millions already through an insurance policy on his contract. Asdrubal Cabrera, not Wright, is currently slated to start at third base for the Mets this season.

When pressed for details about his next steps, Wright demurs. In the months after undergoing his latest back surgery in October, Wright met biweekly with Dr. Robert Watkins, the Los Angeles specialist who has overseen his rehab since 2015. Wright more recently went for a checkup with Mets team physician Dr. David Altchek, the details of which he was unwilling to discuss. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson promised to provide an update in late January.

Since last spring, Wright has shied away from interviews, seeking privacy at Citi Field when media members are present. He prefers not to discuss his health because he does not have concrete answers. He also mourns for a career that has seen him appear in just 75 games the past three seasons, the most recent of those occurring 20 months ago.

Red Sox legends Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz want pitch clock before baseball gets boring
WEEI Boston
Jan 20

Pedro Martinez was known for working quickly. David Ortiz took his time in the box.

Both are now on the same page: baseball needs a pitch clock.

The revelation hit Ortiz during his first year of retirement, when he became a baseball viewer instead of player. And even he can admit that the game moves too slowly.

“The game is turning a little boring because of the time,” he told reporters at the team’s winter weekend at Foxwoods. “Now that I’m on this side watching the game, I know. When you’re watching a three- or four-hour game, it gets a little complicated. I think MLB needs to do whatever it takes to keep up with the pace of the game.”

Martinez thinks a quicker pace makes for better play.

“If it were for someone like me, I would love the clock,” he said. “I would love to have to work quick because I was ready and I was trying to work that way. Somehow, when I had my stuff, it was easier for me to attack you early, 1-2-3, and see what you were thinking or not allow you to think too much. For pitchers, they don’t know it really, but it’s a huge advantage to go out there quickly and execute your pitches. But you also have to take command of your rhythm and the things you do, because if not, things can go south relatively quick.”

Ortiz railed against rules changes designed to keep hitters in the box when he played, though he doesn’t quite remember it that way.

Roy Halladay Autopsy Reveals He Had Traces of Morphine in System at Time of Crash
Jan 19

TMZ Sports has obtained Roy Halladay’s autopsy report — in which the coroner lists the cause of death as blunt trauma and drowning … but points out the MLB star had morphine in his system.

The 40-year-old died in a single passenger plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico back in November. As we previously reported, Halladay was flying in an erratic pattern shortly before the crash.

The toxicology results show Halladay had zolpidem (the generic name for Ambien), as well as morphine in his system at the time of the crash. The tests also came back positive for amphetamines.

One source familiar with the autopsy tells us the results are consistent with someone who uses Rx medication.

Yu Darvish to Yankees on team-friendly contract?
Newark Star-Ledger
Jan 19

The longer Yu Darvish sits out on the free-agent market, the more some will clamor for the Yankees to blow past the luxury-tax threshold and sign the strikeout artist.

While that’s not likely to happen anytime soon, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman could try to find a creative way to sign Darvish and stay under the tax for the 2018 season.

The easiest path: Swapping Jacoby Ellsbury for salary relief. But with a glut of better outfielders still waiting for a good offer in free agency, it’s almost impossible to imagine a team taking on Ellsbury for nothing. If the Yankees found a way to move the 34-year-old, another bad contract could come back.

Ryan Howard Gunning For MLB Comeback
Jan 10

One of baseball’s most dangerous power hitters ain’t done swinging for the fences just yet … ’cause 38-year-old Ryan Howard tells TMZ Sports he’s gunning to return to the MLB this season!!

We spoke with the 2006 National League MVP about his future in baseball … and the 3-time All-Star makes it very clear he’s not ready to walk away just yet.

Should Yankees deal young arms for Orioles’ Manny Machado?
Newark Star-Ledger
Jan 9

Manny Machado to the Yankees rumors are still out there.

As the days until spring training tick away, Machado is still a member of the Baltimore Orioles and the Yankees are still in need of a third baseman.

Despite the obvious impediments (cost, AL East rivalry, Machado’s contract set to expire at the end of 2018, Orioles owner Peter Angelos) to a deal, the teams are reportedly still in contact about a possible blockbuster.

Gerrit Cole to Yankees seems ‘inevitable’ despite Astros’ interest in Pirates pitcher
New York Daily News
Jan 9

All indications are the Yankees seem to be willing to wait out the Pirates on trade discussions to acquire Gerrit Cole at their price, and an informal poll I took of scouts and executives on Monday found that most believe patience will pay off for Brian Cashman.

“I think it’s inevitable they’ll get together on a deal,” a rival exec told me Monday. “The Yankees have the pieces and Pittsburgh needs to tear it down. They’ll find common ground.”

Common ground became a common theme on Monday, as five of the six people I polled offered a similar opinion, that Cole will be a Yankee before the start of spring training.

But they also admitted the news of the day, that the Astros were also talking to the Pirates about Cole, could change those opinions.

“They’re one of the few organizations that have the depth, at the big-league and minor-league level, to match what the Yankees can offer,” an AL scout said. “But (GM Jeff) Luhnow has shown he doesn’t want to give up top prospects if he can help it, so I’d still favor the Yankees.”

That may be true, but the Astros’ interest in Cole, first reported by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, certainly could add urgency to the Yankees’ pursuit of the Pirates’ righthander.

On Monday there was no indication, however, that anything had changed on the Yankees’ end.

Meanwhile, the belief among baseball people is that Cashman will only make the trade on his terms, which likely means Clint Frazier and one of his pitching prospects, like Chance Adams.

To this point there is belief the Pirates want three top prospects, which is more than Cashman is willing to trade for two years of control for Cole, who can be a free agent after the 2019 season.

It’s worth remembering the Yankees gave up three top prospects last July in the trade with the A’s for Sonny Gray, a righthander comparable to Cole, but a rival exec explained why Cashman would view this one differently.

First, he noted that two of the three prospects, James Kaprielian and Dustin Fowler, were injured at the time and looking at long rehabs — Kaprielian after Tommy John surgery and Fowler after knee surgery (Jorge Mateo was the third player in the trade).

Report: Justin Morneau set to retire, rejoin Twins as special assistant

Twin Cities
Jan 9

Justin Morneau could soon be coming home.

One of five Twins to win the American League MVP, the popular former first baseman reportedly plans to retire after 14 seasons in the major leagues to become a special assistant in the Twins front office. Hall of Fame baseball writer Bob Elliott, now of Canadian Baseball Network, reported the news via Twitter on Monday night.

An announcement could come later this week.

Morneau, 36, spent his first 11 seasons with the Twins, including an MVP tour de force in 2006. He was bidding for another MVP award in 2010 when he suffered the first of multiple concussions that plagued him over a two-year period.

Morneau, who represented Team Canada in all four World Baseball Classics to date, also won a batting crown with the Colorado Rockies in 2014, when he hit .319. That July saw Morneau return to Target Field for the Home Run Derby, where he was cheered loudly by the appreciative Twin Cities crowd.

Six years earlier at Yankee Stadium, Morneau outlasted Josh Hamilton to win the Home Run Derby in the final year at the House That Ruth Built. A four-time all-star, Morneau won the Silver Slugger award twice and was named Twins’ Bob Allison Leadership Award winner on three occasions.

With his six-year, $70 million contract set to expire after the 2013 season, Morneau was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility.

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