We have the Yankees 2020 schedule, following MLB’s announcement just now. As we knew, Opening Day will be July 23 against the Nationals at 7pm on ESPN. It will be the first game of the MLB season for anyone, and it’s a good one: Gerrit Cole vs. Max Scherzer, anyone? I’ll take it! Here is the whole schedule, minus dates:
The pandemic-related changes here seem to work out in the Yankees’ favor, in my estimation:
40 of the 60 games (66%) are inter-divisional matchups, with 10 games each against the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays, and Red Sox. Last year, for reference, the Yankees went 54-22 (.710) against these teams.
Of the 20 games against the Red Sox and Rays, 13 (65%) will be at home. Who knows if that matters without the fans, but it feels like an advantage in any case.
The Yankees will face off against the NL East for the other 20 games. They play the Mets 6 times, Nationals and Marlins thrice each, and the Phillies and Braves 4 times apiece. (There is no real frame of reference here, as the Yanks’ split their 4 games with the Mets in 2019 and played no other games against the division. The Yanks are better than 4 of these teams, at least, in my view.)
Put another way, this means that 13 of the 60 (22%) games this season will be the Yankees matching up against the Orioles and Marlins. Prettay, prettay, prettay good.
We’ll have more on the implications of all of this in the days to come, and I’ll update this with the actual schedule once it’s available. Until then, there’s an almost-real Yankees game on YES in about an hour. I’m excited to check it out.
UPDATE (6:31pm): Here is the full schedule.
60 games in 67 days! It’s going to be a real sprint of a season. I’d guess the Yanks’ well-practiced methods of resting stars and managing the pen will be even more important this year.
Tonight is the closest we’ve been to “real baseball” since Spring Training. The Yanks will play the first of two consecutive intrasquad games under the lights at Yankee Stadium tonight. YES will have the broadcast both nights, beginning at 6 pm EDT. I’ve been pretty agnostic to all of this so far – I will need to see the season to believe it at this point – but I’m going to be honest: I am psyched for this. So is Gleyber:
Anyway, there will be actual baseball to discuss soon! That is pretty exciting. It all starts today, really, as it’s the first time we’ll see the Yankees in “action” since March. (Unless there’s rain, which, as I glance out the window now, seems incredibly likely.) I don’t really care that it’s even less meaningful than Spring Training matchups. Baseball is baseball. Here are the big things in Yankeeland from the past few days.
The Big Story: Schmidt vs. Happ
Remember way back in Spring Training when Clarke Schmidt was all the rage? I was convinced that he was going to pull a Jordan Montgomery, surprise everyone, and win a spot in the rotation out of camp. He was certainly doing his part: in 7 innings, he allowed just 2 ER, struck out 8 guys, and walked 3. His quality of opponent was just below AAA level, per Baseball-Reference, but that’s worth taking with a grain of salt: Spring Training was barely underway. Bigger opportunities were coming.
More importantly, he’d started to develop some really nice stuff. His curve in particular (see above) was turning heads. So, when the Yankees announced that Schmidt would be starting the first intrasquad game against J.A. Happ, I definitely noticed. Schmidt is clearly still in the conversation even after all of this time. (For more on that, see Derek’s breakdown from earlier today.)
Here are two additional items worth keeping in mind tonight:
It’sA Different Rotation: Back in March, James Paxton was on the shelf nursing a back injury. He’s now fully recovered and should be in the big league rotation come Opening Day, so that, in theory, means one fewer spot to win. But with Tanaka’s new injury (more below), that spot may be open again.
Gerrit Cole, James Paxton, Jordan Montgomery, and Happ all figure to be a lock for the rotation out of Camp: Part II. That leaves one open spot for Schmidt to win, figuring he’ll be competing against Mike King and possibly Deivi Garcia for that final slot. (It also wouldn’t necessarily shock me to see a six-man rotation this year for many reasons, but we’ll get there when we get there.)
Every Game Matters: The big difference between now and Spring, though, is the added importance of each game. Look, I know April games always counted – and boy did I miss them this year – but it’s all taken on a different significance this year. A 60-game season means each game is that much more important. That means each start is more important, as there are fewer of them to go around. Obvious stuff. But how the Yanks divvy up those starts, especially at the beginning, will tell us a lot about how they feel about these guys. I wonder if they’re ready to give Schmidt regular starts in this new context. We’ll find out, I guess.
I’d talked myself into Schmidt in the spring – he certainly was looking ready – but that is ancient history now. It really is. It’ll be really interesting to see how things develop tonight.
The Big Story Pt. II: Tanaka’s Concussion
I’m sure we’ve all seen this by now, but man oh man was Tanaka absolutely drilled on Saturday. That is one of the scariest moments I can ever recall seeing on a diamond, honestly. (Watch at your own peril.) A few folks were saying that the team should have used L-screens, but I don’t think it would have even mattered in this case. It was also meant to be a live at-bat, clearly, which has to happen at some point.
In any event, nobody can react quickly enough to get out of the way. The ball left the bat at 112 mph. It was just one of those freak accidents that happen sometimes. Tanaka was taken to the hospital and released later that night, later saying that he “feels it a bit right now”:
He was subsequently diagnosed with a “mild concussion” (if such a thing exists), and entered into the league’s concussion protocol. Who knows if he’ll be ready for Opening Day in a few weeks. I have my doubts – head injuries are no joke, and even missing a few days of camp, which would be the bare minimum here, will have snowball effects for getting ready – but it is what it is. We’ll see how this develops.
What is more important is that Tanaka seems to be okay for now. He “came in around noon or 12:30 today and was in really good spirits — he got a good night’s sleep, no loss of appetite. I think all the signs are pointing that he really dodged the bullet there. We’re encouraged where he is, but we’ll take it day by day,” Aaron Boone said yesterday.
A bunch of stuff happened over the weekend. Here’s the most important leftover information not mentioned above:
Gary, Chapman Arrive: Camp is starting to fill out. Gary Sánchez and Aroldis Chapman both arrived yesterday, so we’re almost at full capacity.
Paxton Ready to Go: As I indicated above, Paxton is all good and ready to go. That’s good news, and hopefully Big Maple puts on a dominant season to position himself for some big bucks this offseason, when he’ll be a free agent. (Bryan Hoch)
Hicks is Healthy: Aaron Hicks also appears healthy and ready to play, which would make him the first player in MLB history to get Tommy John surgery and not miss a single game. It makes sense given Didi’s timeline last year, and it’s a real win for the Yankees. They’re much better with his patience at the plate and stellar defense in center. (Bryan Hoch)
COVID & the Yankees: DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa both tested positive for COVID over the weekend and are resting at home. (They never made it to the Bronx, obviously.) LeMahieu is asymptomatic while Cessa is feeling sick. Everyone in camp already tested negative, per Aaron Boone. (James Wagner)
Testing Issues: A number of MLB teams – the Angels, Astros, Athletics, and Nationals among them– have experienced issues with the new testing protocol. The Yankees, too, had their own issues. Mass testing at this scale was always going to be a massive logistical operation, and it’s definitely not a surprise that there are some kinks to iron out, but the league is going to need to figure this out sooner rather than later if a real season is going to happen.
It feels good to be back, doesn’t it? As I said above, YES Network will have the broadcast tonight beginning at 6pm and first pitch at 7pm. Enjoy the “game”, everyone.
UPDATE (4:45 pm): Well, would you look at that. A lineup graphic! Check it out:
A few quick notes: 1) looks like Tyler Wade is getting a shot with the A-team, 2) Matt Duffy playing short sure is interesting, 3) this will help elevate the “quality” of Clarke Schmidt’s spring opposition, 4) I assume Clint is supposed to be in left field (not a second DH) and 5) Estevan Florial, emergency catcher. A real lineup! Imagine that.
Today’s 4pm 60-man roster submission deadline has come and gone. Above is the group the Yankees will play with this season, though things can change depending on trades (they can only trade from this group, by the way) and injuries. Additionally the Yankees made a couple of roster moves today.
Today, the Yankees placed RHP Luis Severino on the 60-day injured list (recovering from “Tommy John” surgery performed on 2/27/20), signed INF Matt Duffy (#18) and C Max McDowell to minor league contracts & released RHP Dan Otero (#36) and re-signed him to a minor league contract
Unfortunately, we don’t have a breakdown between who will be at Yankee Stadium for “summer camp” vs. who’ll be at the satellite camp.
Previous non-roster invitees absent
A number of players who were in camp in March are not listed. This includes Chad Bettis, who announced his retirement a few days ago. So, no surprise there.
The remainder of those who are absent are all position players. Two catchers in Kellin Deglan and Wysnton Sawyer, power-hitting Chris Gittens, and outfielders Trey Amburgey and Thomas Milone. It’s not clear why these players were left off, though it’s also possible that they will be added later as the Yankees still have two open spots.
From a catching standpoint, my guess would be that Deglan and Sawyer simply were the odd men out with six already chosen. If you squint, maybe Sawyer is a suprise snub given his connection to Tanner Swanson. But of course, he may have no wanted to play given the global pandemic and all.
Gittens, last year’s Eastern League MVP, has big power but the Yankees are already pretty set at first base and designated hitter. I’m very mildly surprised Amburgey isn’t around considering he hit a respectable .274/.329/.494 (106 wRC+) in Triple-A lat year. Milone doesn’t have much experience at higher minor league levels so his absence is understandable.
New names to the mix
You probably have heard of Matt Duffy but not Max McDowell.
Duffy, who was with the Rangers in the spring, has had an up-and-down big league career but solid lifetime numbers. He’s hit .282/.338/.380 (101 wRC+) and recorded 7.6 fWAR. Most of that production came with the Giants in 2015 (4.4 fWAR), but he also had a strong 2018 with Tampa Bay (2.5 fWAR). He’s had a hard time staying healthy, though he does provide some sorely needed infield depth. He’s mainly a third baseman, but has experience at every position on the infield dirt.
McDowell is a 26 year-old catcher who’s spent his career in the Brewers’ organization. He was their 13th rounder back in 2015. The backstop has reached as high as Double-A, but hasn’t hit much in the minors. Presumably he’s a solid defender because the Yankees seem to favor that behind the plate. Mainly though, he serves as emergency depth.
Miguel Andújar, listed as an infielder/outfielder, obviously is going to continue getting reps in the outfield. I was curious to see how the Yankees would handle this after the long layoff. I’m sure Miggy was working on the new position even with the league on hold, but I can’t imagine it was quite the same not under the organization’s eye entirely.
Didn’t take long for the Yankees to re-issue Didi Gregorius’s number. Newcomer Duffy has taken it. This really isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, but that the Yankees didn’t issue it back in the spring seemed semi-noteworthy.
Nobody pivotal players opted out of playing for the Yankees this year. I can only imagine what the reaction would have been like had Gerrit Cole decided to stay home with his pregnant wife in order to protect her from the virus.
More details to come on the amount of games to be played, but it’s evident that the players will get what they’ve been owed since the initial March agreement: full prorated pay. Meanwhile, the owners get the benefit of expanded playoff revenue.
Of course, the big mystery is how baseball will be played amidst a global pandemic. Frankly, there probably shouldn’t be any baseball or any sports this summer! Alas, an attempt will be made.
Again, more to come.
Update, 2:47pm: Here’s some cold water for ya:
Source says no deal is close yet between MLB and MLBPA beccause the proposal was just sent by MLB. No agreement even in principle at this point.
Quick take: that’s not that great of an offer. There are 22 off days in a typical 162 game season. 10 in 70 days, while a nice reprieve for players in theory, leaves money on the table. And as Baseball Prospectus’s Craig Goldstein tweets, it’s essentially offering three more games worth of pay compared to the previous offer.
Anyway, because why the hell not, here is some video from that performance:
Good stuff, Chad. Hopefully, we will all be back watching you make batters look stupid with one (1) good pitch. I sure do miss that.
This weekend’s big non-labor story concerned the Yankees, so it makes sense for us to start there. I covered that in some detail on Saturday, so check that out for more in-depth thoughts. The basics, though, are that a component of a lawsuit against MLB alleges that the league withheld key info from the public re: the 2017 investigation into the Yankees.
If you don’t remember, the Yanks were fined in 2017. That was announced in a press release, which the plaintiffs argue is different from private correspondence Rob Manfred sent to Brian Cashman. A New York Judge on Friday announced that the previously private communication is to be unsealed. Drama! Anyway, check out the post for more detail.
Today, Evan Drellich of The Athletic, who has been all over the sign-stealing story, reported that the Yankees and MLB will appeal that decision.
This was predictable – it’s standard procedure in matters like this – but will only add more fuel to the speculative fire here. For what it’s worth, SNY’s Andy Martino reported that the letter “did not say [the] Yankees engaged in sign stealing.” That tracks with my expectations, honestly, but it’s worth noting that Martino’s source is presumably from MLB or NYY. Both camps have a real interest in that public narrative, after all.
We won’t hear the end of this one until we finally see this letter, which I expect we will before all is said and done. That’s when we’ll know for sure.
Here comes everyone’s favorite part of these roundups: the latest on the labor negotiations. Unfortunately, there’s quite a bit of news on this front from the past few days, including today. Here are the basics:
On Friday, MLB put out a proposal calling for 72-games and 70% of the player’s pro-rated salary.
On Saturday, MLBPA rejected that offer – correctly pointing out that it was the equivalent of offering six in one hand and two bundles of three in the other – and said that it was time for MLB to “tell us when and where” to play.
Today, Manfred went on ESPN and said he was “not 100% confident” that there would be a season. That’s because he says the union intended to “file a grievance that MLB had not tried to play the most games possible.”
Sigh. There’s a lot to say. Let’s start with the obvious: this is all so freaking exhausting. So exhausting. It is completely unnecessary, self-defeating, and frustrating. Anyway, let’s be tactical here for a second: MLB really screwed this one up. It’s unfathomable, honestly. They’ve done everything right (from their point-of-view) in recent CBAs and free agency periods only to screw it up like this.
As for the union, its move to stop negotiating was an uncharacteristically adept move. Remember, the original March agreement stipulated that both parties needed to work, in good faith, toward a season that would include as many games as possible. The players have transparently been doing so; the league is transparently not doing so. However, because MLB just proposed 72 games, it did concede that they could play more than the 48 games they would implement. In fact, MLB is threatening to play no games at all unless the union drops its potential “you don’t want to play as many games as possible” grievance. It’s holding that out as some sort of a checkmate, despite, well, you get it. Incredible. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton, and we’ll have to see how it works out for them.
Anyway, that’s what MLB’s tantrum today was all about. We will surely have more on this soon, but it’s a rough look for Manfred, that’s for sure. I’ll never miss Bud Selig (and neither should you) but woof.
It’s also worth noting that anti-MLB sentiment seems to be expanding even beyond my little bubble of labor-friendly baseball fans. It sure seems like Manfred, and the league, are losing both the tactical and PR battle to Tony freakin’ Clark! Imagine. Finally, I would feel bad that Manfred is joining other commissioner’s on ESPN’s “The Return of Sports” special tonight, but hey: you reap what you sow.
Amateur Talent/Bonus Pool/Scouting/
A few things from the amateur talent department, which I’ll just note briefly here since this is already running a bit long:
Teams can hold voluntary programs for draftees “that do not involve baseball activities if players are at club facilities for pre-signing physical exams.” (JJ Cooper)
The league officially moved back the 2020-21 international signing period from July 2, 2020 to January 15, 2021. It will end on December 15, 2021 at5 pm ET, with the delays because of COVID-19.
The Yankees’ bonus pool allotment for it is be $4,232,700. (Baseball America) Teams, unlike in the past, cannot trade any of this money.
MLB sent a memo to teams saying they should not offer so-called “exorbitant” amounts in any continuing education scholarship program while trying to sign undrafted free agents. (JJ Cooper) Does MLB even like MLB? many people are asking!
So that’s the rundown there. Don’t miss Derek’s breakdown of Austin Wells from earlier. My own take here is that I like the pick. The Yankees have no problem developing bats and he’s got a good one. He’s a consensus first round pick who may have even gone higher without some injuries, so nothing not to like in my opinion. Looking forward to following him.
Let’s end on a positive note, shall we? Everyone else might not want to play baseball, but there is one man who does: Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. Good luck watching this one and not getting fired the hell up. Gerrit Cole, in pinstripes (kinda). Imagine!