Who’s on third is not a parody of the classic Abbott and Costello skit. It’s a legitimate question that the Yankees need to have answered.
Yankee GM Brian Cashman said the third base job is Gio Urshela’s “to lose.” Urshela gave the Yankees a surprisingly good season as their everyday third-baseman after Miguel Andujar went down for the year with a shoulder injury.
It creates a bit of a dilemma because the Yankees never got to see how Andujar followed up his incredible rookie season, while Urshela stepped up in his absence.
According to NY Daily News Yankee beat reporter Kristie Ackert, two teams inquired about a trade for Andujar but the Yankees are reluctant to part with him right now. Ackert is correct when she wrote, “Andujar is a talent that the Yankees should be careful about giving up.”
The Yankees have a legitimate concern about Urshela. Is he the player who compiled most of his positive numbers in the first five months of the season, or is Urshela the player who hit .207 in September and .242 in the post-season. Did he get tired down the stretch, thus the poor output or did the “carriage turn back into a pumpkin.”
Andujar’s defense has received valid criticism but his bat has “off the charts” potential. It appears this decision will be made in spring training, so how will the Yankees handle it. Let’s say Urshela does “lose” the job and Andujar regains his position. It’s up to Andujar and the Yankees to help his defense improve and that begins with his footwork, because most of his problems are with his throws. According to a report from Newsday Yankee beat reporter Erik Boland, Andujar has been working on his defense down in Tampa.
The Yankees should, at the very least, pursue another position for Andujar to get his potent bat into the lineup. Trying him at first base seems to make sense as an alternative.
Even though the story behind Yoenis Cespedes’ injuries appears to be valid, he is still going to deal with the venom and the ridicule that is expected, particularly on the road. I can see fans coming to the game with a boar’s head or posting some kind of sign with a “smart” remark. You wonder how that will affect him, should he be able to get back on the field this season.
I would advise Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen to get out of the prognostication business.
Last off season, Van Wagenen pronounced the Mets as “the team to beat” in the NL East. At Thursday’s press conference to introduce Dellin Betances, Van Wagenen said, “This signing was intended to blow the cover off of our ceiling.” He went on to add, “This collective group has the potential to be one of the best bullpens in baseball.”
Adding Betances to a collective group that features Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson is a move in the right direction, but there are no guarantees.
Bullpens are a “crapshoot” every season. It’s like one year up and one year down in most cases so it’s hard to really gauge what you’re going to get. The Mets are going to need strong, bounce back seasons from Betances, Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia, while hoping for status quo from Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson, provided they all stay healthy.
The Nationals are not resting on their laurels as reigning World Champions. Reportedly, Washington had been having discussions with the Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant. Chicago is asking a hefty price for Bryant, who has filed a grievance about service time. Bryant is currently under control for two more years. If Bryant’s claim is successful, he would be a free agent after next season, thus altering the price tag for a potential deal. The Cubs reportedly asked Washington to include Victor Robles in any deal for Bryant but GM Mike Rizzo backed off on that. In the meantime, Rizzo signed Starlin Castro and Asdrubal Cabrera to fill some holes in the infield.
In 2017, four of the five teams in the NL East finished under .500. Two years later, the NL East is deemed the best division in baseball.
Getting a “charge” out of watching the replay of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series on MLB Network.
What struck me is, of the 27 outs registered by Larsen, only 7 were groundouts. Seeing Mickey Mantle hit a home run off Sal Maglie and then make his famous trot around the bases was thrilling. There are some plays that don’t get the same notoriety like Mantle’s catch off Gil Hodges in left centerfield in the fifth inning or the ground ball in the second that deflected off Andy Carey right to Gil McDougald, who threw out the speedy Jackie Robinson.
Duke Snider just missed a home run in the top of the fourth that was barely foul and then took a called third strike. Sandy Amoros did the same in the fifth (to almost the same spot foul) and then hit one of the seven ground outs. In the third, Maglie lined a ball to centerfield that went right to Mantle. In the eighth, Snider, who had good swings off Larsen that day, hit a tough, one hopper to McDougald at shortstop, who fielded it cleanly on the short hop and threw to first for the out.
Mel Allen and Vin Scully, two of the greatest baseball broadcasters of all time, were working the game, and they’re not talking all the time. They’re letting the game breathe. There are no graphics on the screen, no overload of useless stats, no in-game managerial interviews, no replay reviews, no designated hitter, and lest I forget, no Dodger base runners.
No matter how they try and mess with the game, in many ways, if I may quote the great Led Zeppelin, “The Song Remains the Same.”
Karpin’s Korner appears every weekend on nysportsday.com