Logistics say that Major League Baseball games being played in Arizona will be difficult to save the 2020 season. In other words this is complicated towards gearing for a June 1 start.
Lets be realistic here. The Coronavirus Pandemic has not reached that Apex. That is a word we have all become accustomed to hearing and opinions vary as to what account is reliable. It’s a day-by-day basis and of course safety is the issue.
You hear the word safe. You hear about keeping distance and staying home as we play baseball and sports to provide that diversion. Major League Baseball , though, with a plan to have all 30 teams play ball in Arizona in reality is a delusion.
As of Tuesday, and after a reported proposal was made Monday, their goal was to find a way to salvage the 2020 season. MLB reportedly is looking at all options with contingency plans, if anything, the idea has fans and the baseball world talking.
They, like me and you, want the season to start. Again, with a national health crisis, and never at this magnitude, we leave decisions to the medical authorities. Until they say otherwise normal business will not proceed.
So with players and personnel, all home and in isolation, where do we go from here? Reportedly, the MLBPA and MLB are in talks. Don’t expect any agreement and anytime soon.
And a prevailing attitude here is this will go nowhere. It is just a buzz to keep fans interested. Major League Baseball, the owners, yes they are losing significant revenue. In the end, they will recover with their losses as owners have that security to do so.
If you ask this observer, after speaking to players and others involved in the game, the logistics are easy to understand and safety is the first issue as to why this proposal is absurd.
Players are getting paid for two months as per agreement. The contracts for the most part are secured, but they are getting hit in the pocket and not getting the full.
Locally, and with New York as the epicenter of this Coronavirus, don’t expect baseball in 2020. Regardless if the numbers go down, Citi Field and Yankee Stadium will remain dark. It is simple to understand that we are at risk even when this crisis abates and with no vaccine in site.
The Mets have scattered to their homes around the country. Their spring training and minor league complexes in Port St. Lucie Florida is closed. Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Dom Smith, Marcus Stroman, they are across the state in Tampa and finding a way to stay in baseball shape.
J.D. Davis, after a light workout Monday, packed the car with his wife and began their cross-country drive home to Elk Grove California. He, like other players, contacted by NYExtra.com had doubts about the MLB concept.
“It would be interesting, don’t know if it’s doable.” Davis said as he continued his journey across Texas.
There are concerns about placing 30 teams in hotels, limited number of venues that are minor league complexes, and summer weather extremes of heat in the desert.
“It’s such a big group to quarantine,” he said.
There is that possible risk of a player or two testing positive for the virtus. In that unlikely event it would be players, families, a member of the coaching staff, umpires, stadium staff, and all under quarantine. If so, the season is halted and it’s a question of why the risk?
“If the rosters expand, too many numbers, too many people,” Davis said. “All I can do is keep my body in shape and be ready if we get the call as if this was the offseason.”
And players would need another two to three weeks of spring training. You have to get them in place with many in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
Though, Davis would not commit to saying yes or no to the MLB plan. He had yet to read any of the proposed formats. Some of the formats to save the season would include no fans, players keeping distance, no use of the dugouts, a robot umpire at home plate, and numerous double-headers of seven inning games.
None of this seems logical, And how would owners divide any revenue? Gate receipts and concessions are a major revenue source. Television networks would fulfil their billion dollar agreements with MLB, but the assumption is this would be at a lower scale.
“ Not logical, not making sense,” said White Sox pitcher Gio Gonzaelz when reached by phone at his home in the Miami area. “The world is out as a whole right now. It’s scary. It’s not fun. They don’t know how far this is going to go. We all love baseball and want to be realistic.”
He added there is also that concern about a quarantine. “What am I going to do with my kids, my family? I’m not a robot, I’m not a lab rat.”
Yes, the logistics of this are a concern. And with minor league systems also dark the need for a roster spot may not be possible in the event a player or two goes down with an injury.
In the end, MLB is looking to provide that diversion. It worked after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. But this is so much different. We are fighting a war that has no remedy at the moment.
As one high ranking scout, also sitting on the sidelines said, “logistically it’s trying to go to the moon in a volkswagon Too many obstacles.”
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
The New York Extra’s on going photo review
A new series of photographs by the staff of the New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
By Lenn Robbins
The troubling part of great expectations is the slow dissent into the possibility of greater disappointment.
Friday was another day of disappointment for the Yankees with news that Aaron Judge has a stress fracture of the first right rib. Manager Aaron Boone told reporters in Tampa that surgery is not off the table.
Let’s consider where the Yankees were in mid-December and where they are now:
They had just signed Gerrit Cole away from the Houston Astros, giving them an ace of aces, a Game 1 starter, a losing skid ender, a pitcher who possesses a $324 million arm and a master brain. The one glaring hole in their championship plan had been filled in extraordinary fashion.
Meanwhile, their top contender in the AL, those same Astros, were exposed as low life cheaters. Although no players were penalized, the pressure Houston will face every day of the season could break them by the All-Star break.
The Boston Red Sox came to the realization that any franchise that tries to go dollar for dollar with the Yankees does so at its own financial peril. They traded Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers.
It was as if the highway to the World Series contained one Heavyweight Occupation Lane for the Yankees and the rest of the AL can get jammed up on the rest of the road. (The Dodgers their owns lane in the National League).
Now suddenly the Yankee’s express lane is starting to look like the Cross Bronx Expressway with a pothole here a stalled car there and an 18-wheeler belching more smoke than a coal plant.
James Paxton needed back surgery. Luis Severino underwent Tommy John surgery. Giancarlo Stanton got injured – again. This time a calf muscle.
Now Judge might have to have surgery and lose that rib. He’s on the brink of going from Aaron to Adam in what could turn out to be a disappointing season of biblical proportions for Judge and the Yankees.
Opening Day is three weeks away. Is Disappointment Day that far behind?
Gleyber Torres hit his first home run of the spring Saturday afternoon. The Yankees expect a lot of those long balls to be hit as Opening Day awaits in three weeks.
The home run went to the opposite field in right for three runs. Yes, a spring game and the pitchers at this juncture are still ahead of the hitters but this one was impressive.
And with the Yankees, expected to hit their share of home runs, perhaps without Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the Opening Day lineup, the bat of Gleyber Torres will be significant.
“I don’t think about hits or home runs just winning the World Series,” said the 23-year old shortstop before heading to Tampa last month.
Though entering his third season, Torres has shown the home run ball has become a part of his routine. a natural swing, and it has quickly gained the attention of opposing managers and pitchers.
Simple, when Gleyber Torres comes to the plate the home run ball or hit is expected. He does admit, and says numerous times, “I am still learning and trying to get better.”
And it seems that getting better has come easy. Torres, already a two-time American League All-Star, is one of those Yankees’ “Baby Bombers’ ‘ that grew up fast. Basically, he is expected to produce at the plate and has become a difficult out.
“I want to be better every year,” he said. “Stay healthy is my first thing. Just be focused for the season and do my job to help.”
Last year: 38 home runs, 90 RBI, .871 OPS. It’s simple, Gleyber Torres is not an easy out. The Yankees are in good hands from the right hand side in a lineup that has few left hand bats.
There has never been any doubts about Torres. He was acquired by the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs along with right-handed pitcher Adam Warren, outfielder Billy McKinney, and outfielder Rashad Crawford in exchange for Aroldis Chapman on July 25, 2016.
The trade, of course, all to the advantage of the Yankees. Chapman, re-acquired, is their outstanding closer. Torres, their future star up the middle in the infield.
And this upcoming season, Torres, goes back to his natural position at shortstop with the departure of Didi Gregorius to the Phillies. Second base, he handled, and for the most part there was that adjustment.
But being back at short in the Bronx, put it this way, that is a homecoming.
He said, “I’m excited. I’m really comfortable at second base. I learned a lot about that position but I’m back at my position. I feel more comfortable. I don’t feel pressure in anything. I just want to play my game and try to win games.”
His presence in the Yankees clubhouse has grown. Torres, sits by himself, and it has been that way from the beginning. And, he is not one to shy away from asking questions to some of the veterans that include longtime Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner.
Last season, the two could be seen chatting on the field. In the home clubhouse in the Bronx, Torres, a native of Caracas Venezuela, will chat with Gary Sanchez, and with the many Latino talent that comprise the Yankees roster.
And now in his third year, he is no longer known as a “Baby Bomber.” It’s the long home run balls he has hit out of the yard that have made him a promising part of this Yankees future.
That first spring home run is expected to be one of many more in 2020. His debut in 2018, and Torres became the second player in Yankees history to record at least two multi-home run games before turning 22 years old, joining Joe DiMaggio who had three in 1936.
Then he said, with his ability to speak English well, “ I just go with the pitch. I am never thinking home run ball.”
Last year, there were five multi -home run games, seventh of his young career. He does have power, also, to all fields.
“ Definitely a big part of our going forward this year,” said manager Aaron Boone who has never had doubts. So Opening Day. at shortstop, Gleyber Torres will be slotted in the lineup.
Multi-home run games in Baltimore? That has become his favorite ballpark, 19 dingers out of Camden Yards last season. And a home run hitting ballpark in the Bronx can also add to his numbers this season.
But it’s not about the numbers. For Gleyber Torres, and the Yankees, It’s all about that one goal and winning the World Series.
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
Tampa- Clint Frazier is vying for an outfield spot on the Yankees roster and came to camp with that one goal to head north in four weeks. And if he is a part of the Opening Day roster there is every intention of Frazier getting playing time.
Time may be running out for the 25-year old, though relatively young, he has never shown the potential. Rumors of off-season trade talks the past two years and, Frazier is still wearing pinstripes.
A fifth round selection in the 2013 MLB draft, Frazier, highly touted, has never lived up to potential for any number of reasons.
He has the ability and there has never been a doubt about the production. Frazier is a run producer, has power, and speed. The flaw has been lapses at times in the outfield. He has always attributed that to mental mistakes.
But with an influx of outfielders on the Yankees 40-man roster, there is no room for mental mistakes.
And there was a concussion that limited his playing time last year. Clint Frazier, as baseball people will tell you, is a ballplayer. The Yankees have to make a decision about that roster spot.
The Grade-A calf strain injury to Giancarlo Stanton, that could open up the door for a roster spot. Chances are, Stanton, does not rejoin the Yankees anytime soon, four weeks or more, and that rules out Opening Day for the often injured Yankees high priced slugger.
In late September, as the Yankees prepared their roster for the postseason, the name of Clint Frazier was not there. Because the Yankees have had that influx in the outfield it has been difficult to show that ability.
And with another season approaching the name of Clint Frazier will come up. Do the Yankees pull the plug with a trade if there is no opportunity in the Bronx?
Frazier needs that opportunity to play everyday. The Yankees, his home grown team, may not be the answer.
“He’s had some bumps along the way, but I’ve never questioned how hard he’s worked at things,” said manager Aaaron Boone. “I will say there has been a real level of focus and enthusiasm. Early on, he’s getting good results out of it.”
Thursday afternoon, Frazier, in his first at bat hit a home run. That paved the way for the Yankees in their 7-1 spring game win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The home run showed his power. So does the bat speed that was never an issue. It impressed his manager.
Of course with more playing time this spring, Stanton out of the outfield equation, Aaron Hicks recovery from Tommy John surgery, more power from the right side will make the answer easier for Aaron Boone.
However, consistency has to be the key. Frazier has never denied that was the issue. He wants to play, stay healthy, and be consistent.
“I still have to finish the camp healthy,” Frazier said. “I still have to go out there and perform and ultimately show them I might be able to play the position the way they want me to if called upon.”
He will get his looks. Again playing time and consistency will be the key. Most likely, a roster spot at this point does favor Mike Tauchman. He was the surprise addition last season that came through with a record number of Yankees injuries.
Miguel Andujar is also getting some looks in left field after missing all last year with surgery to his right shoulder.
ON THE MOUND: It’s no secret that J.A. Haap is now a key component to the Yankees pitching rotation with the season ending loss of Luis Severino and minus James Paxton, and Domingo German.
Severino had successful Tommy John surgery in New York Thursday morning and will miss this season and most of next.
Haap will follow Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka in the rotation.
Thursday, Haap, pitched three innings. One run, two hits, two strikeouts. 11 batters. Rookie Michael King, the Yankees top right-handed prospect would follow and tossed two innings of scoreless ball on two hits.
Jonathan Loaisiga, 31.2 innings pitched, 4.55 ERA last year, stands the best chance of making the rotation as a possible fifth starter with a void in the Yankees rotation.
Deivi Garcia, the Yankees other top prospect will also get a look and will start Friday against the Braves.
“That’s one of my favorite things about this camp,” said Boone about the young pitching. “The amount of talented young pitchers we have that are starting to knock in that door a little bit.”
Thursday, 25-year old Loaisiga, allowed no hits, and struck out four of six. He has also pitched one hit of hitless ball in the first week of spring play.
Though, early, Loaisiga is making an impression. Boone said the right-hander is in the plan but would not commit on a rotation spot. Again, pitching is a commodity and the Yankees are aware you never have enough.
You get the impression, Loaisiga will have a role. “It could be some different roles,” Boone said.
Haap, more importantly, has to play a role and the Yankees decision to not trade him this off-season has turned out to be the proper move.
Comment: Ring786@aol.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
By Lenn Robbins
For one night, call him the One and Done Kid.
Gerrit Cole, the Yankees $324 million professor of pitching, has a plan for everything. Or he’s working on it.
According to numerous reports out of Tampa, when Cole isn’t plying his trade, he’s talking about it, or studying it, or thinking it. Monday night was Cole’s turn to pitch in pinstripes for the first time.
He executed his plan almost perfectly: One inning pitched. No questions left.
Cole threw 20 pitches, 14 of them fastballs. He hit 98. He threw 12 strikes.
“Yeah, that’s kind of why I try to keep it to one inning,” Cole told reporters when asked if his fastball is usually strong early in spring training.
“Some guys go two innings early. I like to take it one at a time for the first two or three until you build up that tolerance to up and down. Then you can extend the pitch count in certain situations here and there. For the first time go pitch for the one inning and do your best with whatever you got that day.’’
Cole struck out two and walked one.
Go ahead Yankees fans. Even with the injuries to James Paxton and Luis Severino, start dreaming.
By Lenn Robbins
Derek Jeter used to joke that there were ghosts in the old Yankee Stadium. Those apparitions apparently have found their way across the street. Only now they haunt the home team.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone revealed Thursday that pitcher Luis Severino has been shut down due to right forearm soreness and a loose body in his elbow. Severino of course, missed almost all of last season with rotator cuff inflammation and a lat strain.
Any pitcher that has had a loose body in his or her throwing elbow knows this can become problematic at any time.
This alarming development comes almost two weeks to the day that the Yankees announced James Paxton would miss three to four months after undergoing a microscopic lumbar discectomy to remove a cyst.
Any pitcher that has had back pain knows this can become problematic at any time.
And let’s not forget that Domingo German, who exploded on the scene last season, is suspended until June 5th for domestic violence offenses.
As we know, any man that has been found to be a domestic violence offender is capable – some would say prone – to committing such heinous acts again.
We are still more than a month away from opening day and the Yankees are already down two-fifths of their starting rotation (Severino and Paxton) and a valuable swing arm in German.
Never has spending $342 million on a free agent pitcher, Gerrit Cole, seemed like such a valuable signing. Paxton’s injury is more straightforward in terms of recovery than Severino but back injuries are always disconcerting. Severino, 26, is compiling a thick medical file.
Boone said Severino’s latest injury activated after last start of the 2019 season, which was Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. General manager Brian Cashman said that Severino twice flew from his home in the Dominican Republic to New York to undergo two MRI exams and one CT scan. None of tests revealed any sign of serious injury.
Severino received anti-inflammatories upon arriving at spring training. He began by throwing only fastballs and sliders, but when he started to integrate his changeup, the pain returned.
“It’s Sevy, and there’s this discomfort that’s been off and on that’s continued,” Boone told reporters at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “That’s certainly concerning. We’ll just have to see how this continues to declare itself.”
The Yankees set an MLB record last season by having 30 players make a combined 39 trips to the injured list. They overhauled the training staff after the season in the hopes of keeping players on the field.
It’s early but the Yankees seem to have picked up where they left off. And that’s downright scary.