Category Archives: MLB Jerseys

Masahiro Tanaka Jersey Yankees

The offseason has barely begun, with the GM meetings taking place next week and a whole bunch of MLB clubs starting their internal hiring processes. Yet in Yankeeland, we’re already thick in the debate about what the team should do this winter, specifically with respect to the two star starting pitchers on the free agent market.

CC Sabathia and Giancarlo Stanton have already voiced their desire for the Yankees to sign Gerrit Cole, or Stephen Strasburg, or both of them. We’ve heard both sides of the debate before, last year around Patrick Corbin, two years ago when Yu Darvish was a free agent, and on and on. The position of the Yankees has been the same; the team hasn’t signed a “real” free agent – a pitcher that wasn’t on the team at the end of the preceding year – since 2014.

And what a signing that was, when the Yankees landed 26-year-old NPB star Masahiro Tanaka. New York inked Tanaka the old fashioned way, by offering a player the most money. It wasn’t a value play, and there wasn’t talk about dollars per WAR. The team just bid the most and got the guy they wanted.

Since then, Tanaka has legitimately been one of the 20 or so best starters in the game:

He has been in the top 20 in fWAR, top 25 in innings pitched over the last five seasons and K-BB%, and of course has the third-best postseason ERA in baseball history. That’s a pretty good resume for a guy who hasn’t quite been anointed an “ace.”

If you’re one of the new kinds of Yankee fans – or Brian Cashman himself – and obsessed with maxing out “value,” the news is even better. Those 18 wins Tanaka has accrued, if you assign a relatively conservative $8 million per win, means he’s been worth about $15 million more than the money he’s been paid. That’s a pretty good return for any club.

There’s a lot of risk in free agent deals – they’re given out to guys that are a little older, probably with a fair amount of mileage on the arm, and often come along with accouterments like no trade clauses that limit the yearned-for “roster flexibility.” And yet sometimes, it just works out. Sometimes, signing the big name to the big contract is the right move.

Tanaka was the right move, he’s been worth $15 million. Max Scherzer was the right move, he’s been worth more than a hundred million dollars to the Nationals. The big free agent signing the Yankees made before Tanaka was CC Sabathia, who also proved his worth. This winter provides another opportunity for the Yankees to sign the big name to the big contract, and once again all signs point to it being the right move.

Gerrit Cole is fresh off a two-season run as dominant as any pitcher of his era. His 2019 was so stellar, if he started every at-bat down 1-0 in the count, he would have finished with the third-highest strikeout rate in baseball. He’ll cost a truck load, but he’s the absolute best in the game right now.

Stephen Strasburg is coming off a dream October, and a 200-inning season that would have had him head and shoulders above any Yankee starter. He’s a post-hype star at this point, and he’s still worth the big deal.

Free agents carry risk, but the right one can be all the difference in October, and come out of the wash being worth more than the deal. Tanaka was one, and he was the last one the Yankees have enjoyed. It’s time for them to make the splash again.

Scott Brosius Jersey Yankees

With Olympic berths hanging in the balance, the final six teams in the WBSC Premier12 are preparing to return to field for the tournament’s Super Round, which begins in Japan on Monday.

Japan, the world’s top-ranked team, enters the second round with a perfect record but isn’t taking anything for granted. The Japanese are focused on winning the title for the first time and gaining momentum for next year’s Tokyo Olympics. Samurai Japan will open its Super Round campaign against Australia at Zozo Marine Stadium at 7 p.m. on Monday.

“It was huge that we won all three of our games in the Taiwan round and it’s put us closer (to the championship). And our players have built confidence and have gotten in better condition,” said manager Atsunori Inaba.

Japan lost to eventual winner South Korea in the semifinals of the inaugural edition of the tournament four years ago and settled for bronze.

“It’ll be the first game in the Super Round,” Inaba said. “We’ll be playing in an open-air stadium and may have some nerves in the first game of the round. But we’re going into the game thinking of this as a fresh start.”

Japan, a two-time World Baseball Classic champion, defeated Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Taiwan in the first round.

Prior to Japan-Australia, Taiwan and Mexico will begin the Super Round at noon at Zozo Marine Stadium.

The tournament format this year has been largely modified from the first edition.

The top two teams from each of the three Opening Round groups in Taiwan, South Korea and Mexico have advanced to the Super Round. In the Super Round, the teams will play opponents who were not in their group during the first round.

The three group winners — Japan, Mexico and South Korea — will start with 1-0 records based on wins over the second place teams in their groups. Which means Taiwan, Australia and the U.S., who all lost to the group winners in the first round, will start out 0-1.

The top two teams in the Super Round will advance to Sunday night’s gold-medal game at Tokyo Dome.

For Monday night’s game, Inaba has designated right-hander Shun Yamaguchi, of the 2019 Central League champion Yomiuri Giants, as his starting pitcher against Australia. The Aussies will send right-hander Dushan Ruzic to the mound as their starter.

“It’s a good team” said Australia manager David Nilsson, a former Milwaukee Brewer who also played for the Chunichi Dragons, when asked which Japanese players his team would have to worry about. “Tomorrow, we’ll play Team Japan, so with that, there’s no player on their roster we’re putting a lot of attention to, we’re putting equal attention to whoever we’ll play. They have a lot of depth, in starting pitching with a strong bullpen. Their hitters are very effective 1-9. We’re approaching them as a unit, one team.”

After facing Australia, Samurai Japan will take on the United States, Mexico and reigning champion South Korea, respectively, all at the Big Egg.

The Premier12 serves as a qualifying event for next summer’s Tokyo Olympics, in which the sport will make its return for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Games. The highest-placed nations from the Americas and Asia/Oceana (excluding host Japan) will punch their tickets to the 2020 Games.

Defending champion South Korea will square off against the United States, in a rematch of the 2015 final, at 7 p.m. at Tokyo Dome. But manager Kim Kyung-moon insisted that his squad would continue to play with a one-game-at-a-game mind-set and not dwell on trying to repeat.

“We won all our games back home (in the pool stage), but we try to not think of the result as indicative of what we are,” he said. “We think all the teams in the Super Round have the ability to win it all. But the condition of our team is very good and we want to go back to the country with a good result.

“Our goal is to win the championship. But we are not thinking too much about repeating. We just want to do the best we can in every game we play and we believe that will lead to a positive result.”

All six teams practiced in Chiba on Sunday to tune up for the Super Round.

Team USA skipper, and former New York Yankees infielder, Scott Brosius said that “there’s no question” the team “is very motivated to play well” in Japan, referring to its quest to earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympics.

“Our ultimate goal obviously is to qualify for the Olympics,” said Brosius, who won three World Series championships with the Yankees and was named the 1998 World Series MVP. “But in order to do that, we know that we have to beat some very good teams. So we have to turn our full attention to each and every game, treat every game as the most important game.”

Joba Chamberlain Jersey Yankees

CC Sabathia melded sadness with just perfect Thursday night.

His career ended morbidly and ideally, the gunslinger emptying his six-shooter for the last time, going out horribly and just the way you would expect.

“I think it’s just kind of fitting,” said Sabathia a day later, a sling holding his spent and crumbled left arm in place. “I threw until I couldn’t anymore.”

Period. Paragraph.

Sabathia has been seemingly held together by kindergarten paste the past few years, pushing on because of a sense of obligation and his joy in the competition and consequences of standing 60 feet, 6 inches from euphoria or despair. His right knee and left shoulder have been in neck-and-neck competition for which would turn to spaghetti first. The shoulder finally won that macabre race. It popped out of its socket as he retired Aledmys Diaz for the second out of the eighth inning.

In some ways what followed encapsulated not just Sabathia, but why he is among the most revered players in the game. He threw three more pitches to George Springer in so much pain that he could not even look up to see where they were going. Aaron Boone and trainer Steve Donohue went to the mound, the anguish impossible to ignore. Still, Sabathia threw a warm-up pitch, a last gasp hope he could keep pitching.

But after 3,707 ²/₃ innings — regular and postseason combined — there was nothing left to give.

“That’s what I signed up to do,” Sabathia said. “Pitch as long as I could and as hard as I could and take the ball every time out. Yeah, I have no regrets at all.”

Heartbreaking end leaves CC Sabathia in ‘a lot of pain’

This is the code of the traditional No. 1 starter, and Sabathia would not rue all that went with combining overwhelming excellence with relentless durability. He piled 30-plus starts, 200-plus innings, going through lineups more than two times, more than three times. He pitched on three days’ rest with free agency looming in 2008 as a rental player who helped the Brewers get to the playoffs for the first time in a quarter of a century and did it again in the 2009 postseason to help the Yankees open their new stadium with their most recent title.
The Yanks asked him to be the ace. He was. And the biggest reason the Yankees haven’t won again since then is that they never found his heir. Masahiro Tanaka was the closest, but he settled into quality No. 3 starter and playoff stalwart. Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes never grew into it. Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda could not translate talent into persistent excellence. Sonny Gray wilted. Luis Severino was on the brink before a fractured 2019. And the Yanks always found a reason — money, prospects, luxury tax worries — to not land their Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer or Gerrit Cole or Chris Sale.

The Yankees — through general manager Brian Cashman — also asked Sabathia to unify a splintering clubhouse. He was brilliant at it. Because they only play roughly once a week, starters often have a tougher time gaining the collateral to be team leaders. But Sabathia did it effortlessly. Like any business, there are cliques in a major league clubhouse and I have never, in my three-plus decades doing this, seen a player enmesh himself in every group regardless of race, age or position. Sabathia was the human “Cheers” — everyone knew his name and stopped by his locker for laughs or counsel.

“Everyone understands how authentic it is and genuine,” Aaron Boone said of Sabathia. “He’s the best. I mean, he’s how you would draw it up from a teammate standpoint, from a competitor standpoint.”

Joe Girardi chokes up in emotional tribute to CC Sabathia
The leadership bonded him to teammates and the fortitude raised the admiration. Sabathia, at the end, was putting 2 ¹/₂ hours in just to get his body functional enough to pitch. Which is why in the clubhouse — after Sabathia left the mound to a standing ovation from not just the crowd and the Yankees, but the Astros, too — Zack Britton was all but in tears discussing a player he “idolized” for how Sabathia went about his business.

“I couldn’t imagine the pain he has endured to try to help us win a World Series,” Britton said.

Sabathia said the pain was worth it. The sport has pushed away from many of the nostalgic ideals of machismo with the logic of being honest about injury and giving in to load management. But the true ace can’t do the job without pain. It is the exchange for the high of being The Man, of embracing the competition and all that comes with it. It is why Boone could say, “In a weird way, [it was] kind of a perfect way to go out. He’s been the ultimate teammate, competitor, gamer, left everything on the field, left everything he had on the mound.”

At a press conference before Game 5, Sabathia summed up: “I always felt like being the pitcher of the game, stopped and started on me. And I kind of felt like I was in control all the time and that was just the best part about it is 50,000 people in The Bronx and [expletive] don’t start until I’m ready, so that was the best part.”

With that, Sabathia concluded the press conference, the gunslinger at the end walking toward the sunset.

Whitey Ford Jersey Yankees

Dave Acolia celebrated his 100th birthday on Oct. 27, 2019 and registers as a lifetime New York Yankees fan.

In 1903, the Baltimore Orioles moved to New York and became known as the New York Highlanders and then a decade became the storied Yankees franchise. Now, consider this — Acolia birthed six years after that and has enjoyed such Yankees stars as Babe Ruth, Whitey Ford, Tony Lazzeri, Phil Rizzuto, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Lou Gehrig, Mariano Rivera, Joe DiMaggio, Thurman Munson, Red Ruffing, Willie Randolph, Derek Jeter, Roger Maris, Don Mattingly and hundreds of other Bronx Bombers, plus, 27 World Series championships.

Acolia has lived in Trenton his entire life. He married for 56 years with the late Mariantonio Acolia. Acolia has one son, Dave Acolia, a daughter-in-law, Sylvana Acolia and a granddog Beagle named, Buddy.

Dave Acolia worked 41 years for Kramer Trenton Co. on Olden Ave. which specialized in refrigeration. A cool life note involved his work history. Acolia missed one day of work for an entire career. “To take my mother to gain her citizenship,” his son, Dave, said proudly.

Joe Torre Jersey Yankees

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Aaron Boone finished as a close runner-up, again.

Boone, the Yankees’ second-year manager, placed a tight second behind Twins rookie skipper Rocco Baldelli in the race for American League Manager of the Year, the Baseball Writers Association announced on Tuesday.

With 30 voters, two representing the markets from each of the 15 AL cities, Boone and Baldelli each received 13 first-place votes. However, Baldelli notched 13 second-place votes to Boone’s nine. Boone got four third-place votes to Baldelli’s two, and in the 5-3-1 scoring system, that gave Baldelli the 106-96 edge in points.

Baldelli guided his Twins to a 23-game improvement, from 78-84 to 101-51, giving the team its first AL Central title since 2010. The Twins proceeded to get swept by the Yankees in the AL Division Series. Ballots are turned in prior to the start of the postseason.

In Boone’s second year managing the Yankees, the team overcame a record-setting flurry of injuries — they set a known mark with 2,433 injured-list days, as per Major League Baseball — to go 103-59. The Yankees advanced to the AL Championship Series before falling in six games to the Astros for the right to represent the AL in the World Series.

Boone drew praise for his unshakeable nature, except when it came to defending his players against inexperienced umpires. In one such rant, July 18 at Yankee Stadium during a game against the Rays, Boone called his hitters “savages in the (bleeping) box,” getting ejected and subsequently suspended, earning the players’ wrestling belt as the star of the contest and launching a new marketing campaign for the club.

The last Yankees manager to win this honor was Joe Torre in 1998, when his Yankees set a major-league record with 114 regular-season wins.

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash placed third with 33 points. In his fifth year running the Rays, Cash led the low-payroll entity to a 96-66 mark which landed them the second AL wild card, the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2013. Tampa Bay defeated Oakland in the wild-card game and extended the Astros to the maximum five games in the AL Division Series before getting eliminated.

Others receiving votes were the A’s Bob Melvin (19 points), the Astros’ A.J. Hinch (10) and the Indians’ Terry Francona (1).

Bill Dickey Jersey Yankees

WASHINGTON — Once again Saturday night, it was the veteran presence of Robinson Chirinos behind the plate, and his reassuring right hand on the shoulder of Jose Urquidy, that got another Astros pitcher through another successful outing.

And for the second night in a row, it was Chirinos’ bat that provided a critical charge to the Astros’ offense, enabling Houston to deadlock the World Series at two games each and to ensure a return Tuesday to Houston for Game 6.

The hand on the shoulder during mound conversations is a Chirinos trademark, be it offered to a veteran like Justin Verlander or a rookie like Urquidy that requires counsel.

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Homers by a catcher in back-to-back World Series games, however, are another matter.

Chirinos is the first to do so since Ted Simmons of the Brewers in 1982; it previously was accomplished by Gene Tenace of the A’s in 1972 and Hall of Famers Roy Campanella of the Dodgers in 1955, Bill Dickey of the Yankees in 1939 and Mickey Cochrane of the A’s in 1930.

“I’ve been working so hard in the cage to be consistent and to be sure I put a good swing on the ball,” he said. “(Friday) night, I was swinging at strikes and staying in the middle of the plate and going to the middle of the field, and did it again tonight.”

The homer, he said, came on a mistake by lefthander Patrick Corbin, who was trying to go down and away and let a pitch leak over the middle of the plate.

“I’m proud to help my team win,” he said. “You can hit homers, and if you don’t win, it doesn’t mean anything.”

Granted, his two-run shot in the fourth was something of a get-even moment. After the Astros scored twice in the first inning, Carlos Correa walked as the fifth consecutive Astros player to reach base with one out, and Chirinos grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.

Chirinos delivered, however, on his next opportunity. After Correa again walked to lead off the fourth, Chirinos took a 1-0 changeup from Corbin and drove it 404 feet to left field to double up the Astros’ lead.

Friday night, he clanked one off the left field foul pole for the final run in Houston’s 4-1 win, its first of the World Series. He previously homered for the Astros’ only run in a 4-1 loss to the Rays in Game 4 of the American League Division Series.

Chirinos added a ninth-inning double, giving him back-to-back multi-hit games, but was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a Jake Marisnick base hit.

He said he tweaked an ankle during the at-bat, which prompted a visit from manager A.J. Hinch and the athletic training staff, but was able to complete the at-bat.

Behind the plate, he got Urquidy through five scoreless innings in his eighth major league start. The rookie held the Nationals to two hits with four strikeouts.

“Chirinos has been incredibly important to me, and he’s helped me out so much behind the plate,” Urquidy said. “He’s someone that I trust 100 percent with every pitch, and he’s been an incredible help to me and to all the pitchers.”

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The hand on the shoulder, righthander Roberto Osuna said, can mean everything to a pitcher facing a tough situation.

“It means that he’s with you,” he said. “There are tough situations in the game where you need that kind of support, and that is what he gives you. He gives you confidence and strength.”

Chirinos signed with the Astros during the offseason to replace the veteran presence offered by Brian McCann, a stalwart for the World Series champions in 2017 who opted to return to the Atlanta Braves for his final major league season.

“He’s gotten so much better since he’s been here, with pitch framing and pitch spots,” said reliever Brad Peacock. “He’s here to worry about everybody else (and) helps us out big time.”

He’ll be on the bench for Sunday’s Game 5, since Martin Maldonado has been Gerrit Cole’s regular catcher since he rejoined the Astros at the trade deadline, but almost certainly will return for Game 6 with Verlander getting the start.

Before he came to Houston, Chirinos played a decade in the minors before his major league debut in 2011. He said the long slog helps him appreciate moments such as Saturday’s performance.

“You have a guy in the World Series like (Urquidy) in his first year in the big leagues and me playing my 19th season,” he said. “Everything I went through made me the player I am now. I thank God, because it made me grow, those years in the minor leagues, and made me a better teammate and person.”

Bernie Williams Jersey Yankees

In the last decade, the Yankees did not have an AL MVP. They didn’t have a Cy Young winner. They earned one Rookie of the Year, one Comeback Player of the Year and two Relievers of the Year.

For the team that produced the most regular season wins in the 2010s, that’s surprising. The Bombers still had an impressive collection of talent that rivals previous decades of the organization.

We decided to put together the Yankees’ best team of the last decade in two parts. First, in this edition, we’ve assembled a 25-man roster of the best players the team had in the 2010s, taking into account the whole of their accomplishments. In Part II, we’ll take a look at the individual seasons that stood out and merited inclusion here.

Let’s get to positions.

Starting Lineup
Catcher: Gary Sánchez

The Yankees have had good production from catcher in the 2010s, but it has come from a variety of players. Jorge Posada, Russell Martin, Chris Stewart, Brian McCann and Sánchez have all held down the job, with a healthy dose of Francisco Cervelli in-between. On the whole, pinstriped backstops have a 98 wRC+ and 40.8 fWAR, good for third and fourth-best in all of baseball in the span.

Of the aforementioned catchers, Sánchez has been the best of them this decade (2000s Jorge Posada would be a different question). In 3 1/2 full seasons, he’s bashed 105 home runs, more than any catcher in baseball since 2016. It’s four more than Yasmani Grandal, and 29 more than the next hitter. For his defensive warts, the Kraken is still a tremendous force.

First Base: Mark Teixeira

Teixeira’s best season in pinstripes was his debut in 2009, when he produced 5.3 WAR, finished second in MVP voting and won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. His 2010s, particularly after 2011, were injury-filled as his steady switch-hitting bat was taken out of the lineup far too often.

For the first half of the decade, the Yankees went as Teixeira went. He was still productive from 2010-12, producing 11.3 bWAR and winning two Gold Gloves. When a wrist injury derailed both his 2013 and ’14 seasons, the Yankees’ offense lacked the necessary juice to reach the postseason. Then, when Tex regained All-Star form in 2015, he became the driving force to an unlikely wild card bid.

Second Base: Robinson Canó

Starlin Castro proved a fine stopgap and Gleyber Torres is going to man the middle of the Yankees’ infield for at least the next five years at least. However, Canó was the best Yankees second baseman in recent memory and his breakout season coincided with the turn of the decade.

From 2010 to 2013, Canó batted .312/.373/.533 (142 wRC+) and finished no worse than sixth in MVP voting every season while playing no fewer than 159 games. He slugged 117 homers and 176 doubles in that span and made up for his lack of walks (#KabakHat) by putting the ball in play with his line-drive swing. While Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter defined the 2009 World Series run on offense, Canó was the catalyst for the last gasps of that title window.

Shortstop: Didi Gregorius

This is the first one with two legitimate candidates, though Gregorius ultimately runs away with the honor. Jeter held down shortstop longer than he likely should have, yet he made four All-Star teams, somehow won a Gold Glove and was 2012 hit king, all 2010 or later.

Gregorius, meanwhile, had to come from underneath Jeter’s shadow, but he learned to excel in the Bronx and became a fan favorite in his own right. His defense kept him steady, yet it was his shockingly powerful bat that won the Bronx faithful over. He now owns the record for most home runs in a season by a Yankee shortstop (Gleyber nearly qualified to break it in 2019) and has more than a few memorable playoff homers to his ledger.

Hot Corner! (Tom Hagerty Photography/Creative Commons)
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez

By the end of the decade, A-Rod was in the broadcast booth. Before that, he was a DH. Before that, he was suspended for a year. And before that, injuries and age had sapped his production and turned him from MVP to mere All-Star.

Still, Rodriguez had back-to-back-to-back 4.0 WAR seasons from 2010-12 and launched 113 homers, including two 30-dinger years. I’m including his bounceback at DH under here, even though his 2015-16 seasons included all of 18 innings at the hot corner.

A-Rod had an eclectic group of successors. They include Chase Headley, the brief rise of Yangervis Solarte, Todd Frazier’s three months and Miguel Andújar, as well as the out-of-nowhere Gio Urshela in 2019. The last two are contenders for best season at third in NY this decade, but they don’t have the longevity of Rodriguez.

Left Field: Brett Gardner

The de facto Yankees captain of the last five years, Gardner is the longest-tenured Yankee for a reason. He started in center field for brief, non-congruous periods, but he became a Gold Glover in left field. It’s insane to think back to 2009 Gardner, who hit only three dongs, and then realize he hit 121 dingers over the following decade.

In addition to that, Gardner led the Bombers with 228 stolen bases in the 2010s and was successful on 80.5 percent of his steals. He’s not quite the spritely slap hitter of yesteryear, but he’s adjusted to the game and stayed in pinstripes all the while.

Center Field: Curtis Granderson

Aaron Hicks has an argument after usurping Jacoby Ellsbury in 2017 and playing well in center for the last three years. However, this is Granderson’s job, even with a move to left field by the end of his time in the Bronx.

Granderson hit 84 homers between the 2011 and ’12 seasons, leading baseball in runs scored and RBI in 2011. His weak arm made him a liability at times in the outfield, but he was a wrecking ball at the plate. His 2011 season, which was his second in New York, was a career year and the best from a Yankee center fielder since prime Bernie Williams.

Right Field: Aaron Judge

Judge transformed the Yankees in 2017. When he became an MVP-type player, the Bombers became contenders with him as their leader. If he were a one-hit (or 52-homer) wonder after 2017, dayenu. Yet he’s improved in some ways, becoming a more selective hitter and having his overall numbers only hampered by injury.

Nick Swisher deserves mention here as an All-Star and fan favorite in his own right. Funny enough, the compensation pick for letting Swisher go was the one the Yankees used to pick Judge. It all comes full circle.

Designated Hitter: Giancarlo Stanton

With A-Rod at third base, there’s no clear cut DH like a David Ortiz or Hideki Matsui to put here. Posada, Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Marcus Thames and Matt Holliday each had one good year with a host of a DH ABs, but Stanton gets the crown both with how he carried the team to the postseason in 2018 and how he stuck around for a second year.

Stanton will likely be one of the few players on this list that could repeat at his position in the 2020s, alongside Judge and Sanchez. Ideally, he’d play enough left field to earn recognition there, but his injury history makes that a debatable assumption.

If you’re putting these nine players into a lineup, weighing the player they were this decade, it’d go something like this:

Brett Gardner
Aaron Judge
Robinson Canó
Giancarlo Stanton
Curtis Granderson
Alex Rodriguez
Mark Teixeira
Gary Sánchez
Didi Gregorius
The Bench
Embed from Getty Images

Actual bench players: Cervelli, Andruw Jones, Chris Young, Ronald Torreyes

Next best to form bench: Martin, Gleyber, Swisher, Hicks or Jeter

You can go at building the bench in two ways: You can either use the actual bench players from the previous 10 years, or you can take the next best players that missed the list and try to back up each position. I give you both.

In the first one, Cervelli is listed as the starter in 2010 on Baseball Reference, but he was the primary backup for a few seasons. Jones and Young each had a great season as a platoon bat, while Torreyes was a steady utility man, never hitting all that well, but doing just enough to stay rostered.

In the second scenario, Martin or McCann could get the spot while Swisher is an easy choice as an outfielder and backup first baseman. Torres can backup the middle infield and third base in a pinch, which leaves it down to Hicks or Jeter. Either will do, I’ll take Hicks for an actual bench spot.

Embed from Getty Images

Rotation
CC Sabathia
Hiroki Kuroda
Masahiro Tanaka
Luis Severino
Andy Pettitte
You can quibble with the order of the rotation as long as you put Sabathia at the top. There isn’t much you need to say about him. He was the heart and soul of the Yankees for 11 years and both served as an ace and a steady back-end starter.

Kuroda is one of the most underappreciated Yankees of the 21st century. He was only in the Bronx for three years, yet he outpaced his four seasons in Los Angeles in that time. It’s a shame he only got to pitch on one playoff team in New York.

Tanaka and Severino have been the Opening Day starters since Sabathia ceded the role in recent seasons and they’re both worthy of the honor. Tanaka looked like an ace before his Tommy John scare and has been a steadying presence with a knack for the big game since. Severino, meanwhile, is closer to actual ace-hood when healthy and his stretch from the start of 2017 to mid-2018 is about as good as any Yankee pitcher in the last couple decades.

The last spot was tough, choosing between Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Michael Pineda and Pettitte. The Bombers haven’t had tremendous starting pitching depth this decade and it shows in this. Pettitte got the spot because he was truly excellent, albeit in just 121 innings, in 2010, and was solid again in his final two seasons after his first retirement. An added bonus is how he helped Sabathia turn into a crafty lefty in his own mold.

Bullpen

Closer: Mariano Rivera
Middle Relief: Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Andrew Miller, Chad Green
Long Man: Adam Warren

There’s a legitimate case for Chapman or Robertson as the closer, but how could you not go with Rivera? He was still at the top of his game in 2010 and was excellent still over his final two full seasons. Over 193 2/3 innings after turning 40 just before the 2010 season, he had a 1.95 ERA (216 ERA+) with 167 strikeouts to 30 walks and a 0.929 WHIP.

The middle relief is a murderer’s row of potential or actual closers. Betances was the best reliever in baseball from 2014 to 2018. Chapman probably has the title since Rivera retired. Robertson and Miller were lights out and helped lead superbullpens that made the post-Mo years tolerable. Green, meanwhile, is a multi-inning stud and his 2017 season is up there with 1996 Mo and 2014 Betances for best New York reliever seasons of the last 30 years.

I figured, if we’re putting together an actual roster, we might as well put in a long man, a role that Warren fit like a glove. He was a great swingman in the Bronx and even did OK as a middle reliever. If you’re going with the next best reliever of the decade, Tommy Kahnle or Rafael Soriano are each worthy of inclusion.

Randy Johnson Jersey Yankees

New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia gave a shout out to his Bay Area roots when he posted a farewell message on Twitter on Monday.

The Vallejo native has retired after a 19-year major league career that might eventually land him in the Hall of Fame.

Thank you, Baseball. pic.twitter.com/o4lGeQi3uJ

— CC Sabathia (@CC_Sabathia) October 21, 2019

Sabathia tweeted: “It all started in Vallejo, CA in my grandma’s backyard throwing grapefruits at a folding chair. I could have never imagined how much this game has meant to me since.

“Through the ups and downs, baseball has always been my home. From Cleveland, to Milwaukee, New York, and everywhere in between, I’m so thankful to have experienced this journey with every teammate past and present. All I ever wanted was to be a great teammate and win. I’m so proud of this year’s team, we fought til the end. Love you guys! I’m going to miss going out there on the mound and competing, but it’s time to say farewell. Thank you, Baseball.”

Sabathia, 39, had announced before the season that this would be his last. His final appearance came last week in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros, but it was not the finale anyone wanted to see.

Pitching in relief at Yankee Stadium, he suffered a partial dislocation of his left shoulder. He had to leave the game, but walked to the dugout for the final time to a standing ovation.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters that he and Sabathia, “kind of laughed about it a little bit, like kind of in a weird way, kind of a perfect way to go out. He’s been the ultimate teammate, competitor, gamer. Left everything on the field, left everything he had on the mound.”

Sabathia was inundated with texts and notes from former teammates, opponents and fans after his final appearance.

“Makes you super emotional,” Sabathia told reporters. “So many texts, tweets, so many things.”

Sabathia was a three-sport star at Vallejo High, but baseball ultimately won out over football and basketball. He was the 20th overall pick in the 1998 draft by the Cleveland Indians and three years later, at the age of 20, he made his big league debut.

Sabathia was a six-time All-Star, won the 2007 Cy Young Award with the Indians and two years later won a World Series ring with the Yankees. He finished his career with a 251-161 with a 3.74 ERA and 3,093 strikeouts. He ended this season as the active Major League leader in career career wins (and losses), innings pitched and strikeouts. He was fourth among active pitchers in WAR.

He was one of only three left-handers in MLB history with 3,000 strikeouts, this season joining Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton.

Jorge Posada Jersey Yankees

The last World Series game the Yankees played was in November of 2009. Derek Jeter had three hits at the new Stadium, on the night when the Yankees brought all their winning over to the north side of 161st St. Andy Pettitte was the starter and the great Mariano Rivera was the closer and Jorge Posada was behind the plate. The Yankees won their 27th Series that night against the Phillies. Once again the Series was theirs. And ours in New York City. The Yankees have been waiting for No. 28 ever since.

They had a chance to bring the Series back to the Bronx and back to the city this weekend in Houston, if they could have become the first Yankee team in over 50 years to come from three games to one down and win at this time of year. Then the new Yankee closer, Aroldis Chapman, gave up one of the most famous October home runs any Yankee pitcher has ever given up, to Jose Altuve, one of the littlest big men in baseball history.

Brett Gardner turned and watched a season end in the Yankee outfield the way Yogi once turned and watched Bill Mazeroski’s home run go over the left field wall in Forbes Field a million years ago. The Astros did to Aaron Boone’s Yankees what Boone once did to the Red Sox, on the other side of 161st St., in the bottom of the 11th, Game 7 of the ALCS, 2003.

And now the World Series belongs to somebody else. Again. It belongs to Houston for the second time in three years and to Washington, D.C., which hasn’t had one since the first year FDR was president. To Yankees fans, it is starting to feel as if it has been that long for them.

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For three straight years, these Yankees have played exceptional baseball. If you count the playoffs, they have won a total of 308 baseball games in this span. They just produced one of the most satisfying – and admirable –seasons in Yankee history, winning 103 regular season games after they put 30 players on the injured list. Now they lose two crushing extra-inning games to the Astros. Carlos Correa hits an 11th inning home run in Game 2. Altuve walks off with their season, after midnight in New York on Sunday morning. Once again, a very good Yankee team was not good enough.

They thought they had enough bullpen and enough stick – enough to put a $300 million sticker named Giancarlo Stanton on the bench Saturday night – to get back to the Series. In the end, the most important guy in their bullpen walked George Springer with two outs and then watched Altuve lose one. Two years ago, they came to Minute Maid Park ahead of the Astros three games to two, not behind. They were that close to their first Series in since ’09. Then they scored one run in the last two games that year.

Not as good as the Astros then. Not as good as the Astros now.

Even at the end, in what was called a bullpen game in Game 6, the Astros bullpen was better. Final score says so. They bring the Series back to Houston this week. The Yankees go home. And 10 years since the last Series starts to feel like 100 to Yankees fans. As much of a show as they have been, and they were as much a regular-season show as they’ve been in 20 years, the Yankees have now played two World Series since 2000. They have played one in the last 16 years. This continues to be the longest stretch they have gone without playing a World Series since the 15 years between ’81 and the appearance of Torre’s Yankees in 1996.

This loss to the Astros does not diminish the season they gave their fans. The Yankees won 100 regular season games in 2018. The Red Sox were better, winning 108. This year the Astros won 107 to the Yankees’ 103. Now the Astros get them again in the postseason. This is what it used to feel like for the old Knicks when they were going up against Michael Jordan. But these are the Yankees. And the Yankees, in the words of Reggie Jackson, have “expectations,” no matter how long it’s been since they last won it all, with old Yankee champs like Jeter and Jorge and Andy and Mo.

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Now they start all over, after this kind of ending. They have to wonder what they can do, if anything, with Stanton, whom they never needed, certainly not with an A-Rod-like contract that feels as long as the current Word Series draught. They have to be prepared to throw Stanton-like money at Gerrit Cole, who just dominated them in an ALCS the way Justin Verlander did two years ago. Over the last three years, the reality is that the Astros got Verlander and Cole and the Yankees did not. It really does seem as if the Yankees haven’t had a starting pitcher overpower somebody the way Cole overpowered them last week since Roger Clemens struck out 15 Mariners in October of 2000.

In the end, the Yankees didn’t lose to the Astros because of starting pitching. They lost because they didn’t hit enough in the clutch — until LeMahieu — in this postseason the way they didn’t last year against the Red Sox. And in Games 6 and 7 the year before that.

“The ultimate pain,” Boone said when it was over.

One World Series for the Yankees since he inflicted that kind of pain on the Red Sox once. Ten years and counting since the last Series. Feels like a hundred to Yankee fans. They used to make everybody else wait ‘till next year. Now they do.

Wade Boggs Jersey Yankees

On Saturday night Jose Altuve smashed a ball into the left field seats of Houston’s Minute Maid Park to send the Astros to the World Series and the Yankees to the sidelines. Altuve had barely rounded the bases when Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge bitterly declared that his team’s season had been a failure.

Judge is still a relatively young ballplayer, but he sounded like a pinstripe lifer.

The Yankees had won 103 regular-season games, crushed the Twins in the Division Series and finally came within two wins of reaching the World Series. In Yankeespeak that’s called failure. In Yankeespeak there are no silver or bronze medals. When the season ends there is one World Champion and 29 losers. If the New York Yankees are among the 29, somebody didn’t do his job.

Ahem. And who might that be?

Perhaps the buck stops at the top. Hal Steinbrenner became the head Yankee 10 years ago when he took over for his deceased father, George. The Yankees have reached the postseason seven times in those 10 years but have fallen short of the ultimate goal every time. In fact, they haven’t even reached the World Series on Hal’s watch.

George Steinbrenner was a bully, a meddler and frequently a narcissist — all words that don’t seem to apply to his son. But he won seven world championships. His strategy wasn’t complicated. He waved his super-sized checkbook and the talent came running.

Catfish Hunter… Reggie Jackson… Dave Winfield… Wade Boggs…Goose Gossage…Rickey Henderson… Alex Rodriguez… Lee Smith…Mike Mussina.

What George wanted, George got.

To be fair, the rules are different today. The luxury tax was only a minor annoyance to George Steinbrenner, who grumbled about it but never seemed to allow it to interfere with business. Today’s luxury tax rules have more teeth, and even the Yankees can’t simply throw money around indiscriminately. Last year it didn’t make sense for them to be heavyweights in the free agent market and they weren’t. This year is likely to be a different story.

The Yankees have a crying need for better starting pitching and it just so happens that this year’s free agent market will be flooded with high quality starting pitchers.

Gerrit Cole, the Astro who shut the Yankees out over seven innings in Game Three of the ALCS, will head the list. He was one of only two major league pitchers to win 20 games last year. Hyun-Jin Ryu, who posted a 14-5 record and a 2.32 earned run average for the Dodgers, will also be on the market. Stephen Strasburg, who was 18-6 with the Nationals, has an opt-out clause in his contract and might join them.

They were probably three of the top five starting pitchers in baseball last year.

In the George Steinbrenner era the Yankees might have tried to sign all three of them. Hal Steinbrenner certainly won’t go that far, but he needs to make sure he gets one.

***
Baseball in our nation’s capital used to be a joke, literally. It went like this.

Washington, first in war, first in peace and last in the American League.

The Washington Senators were charter members of the American League when it was formed in 1901 and they spent 60 years there before becoming the Minnesota Twins. They were replaced by an expansion franchise, also called the Washington Senators, that spent 11 years in the capital before becoming the Texas Rangers.

Both of those teams had dismal records.

In 60 years the original Washington Senators won three American League pennants and one World Series. They finished last or next to last 23 times.

The second team of that name had only one winning season (1969) and even then finished 23 games out of first place.

The team fled the capital following the 1971 season and Washington was a baseball ghost town until 2005 when the Montreal Expos, desperately looking to relocate, settled on Washington when no one else seemed to want the team. They decided against calling the team the Senators and instead chose the name Nationals, a name used to by two 19th Century clubs, neither of which survived.

At first, this team was also a loser but it was different. Its management worked at turning things around and succeeded. This year the Nationals enjoyed their eighth straight winning season, which is the longest run of success ever achieved by a Washington-based team.

Still, until this year, they never reached the World Series. Baseball is our national pastime but there hasn’t been a World Series game played in our national capital since 1933—the year Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated.

Friday night that drought will come to an end.

***
During Game One of the World Series George Springer of the Astros became the latest batter to stand at home plate celebrating what he thought was a homer, only to see the ball bounce off the wall and remain in play. Springer got a double on the play, but had he hustled he might have made it a triple and been able to tie the score on Jose Altuve’s fly ball.

Afterwards Springer explained that he didn’t want to run hard and risk passing the base runner.

Uh, George, that runner was on second base.

A FEW STATISTICS (Wednesday’s game not included): The Nationals stole 116 bases during the regular season (tied for the most in the NL) but didn’t even attempt a theft in their first 10 postseason games. In Tuesday’s World Series opener, however, they swiped a pair of bases…Forty-three runs were scored in the Astros-Yankees ALCS. Twenty=nine of them came on home run balls…On Tuesday the Nationals scored five earned runs against Gerrit Cole of the Astros. That equals the number Cole surrendered in the entire month of September…Runs have been scored in the first inning 20 times in 31 postseason games. The team holding the lead after the first went on to win only 60 percent of the time…Wade Miley pitched 2 2/3 innings for the Astros in Game Three of the Division Series against the Rays. Houston hasn’t had a lefty on the mound since…The Nationals have been charged with five errors in 11 postseason games. Three of them belong to Howie Kendrick. No wonder he was chosen to be the designated hitter in Game One of the World Series.