AN “OLD” McCUTCHEN IS A HUGE UPGRADE OVER A “YOUNG” SHANE ROBINSON...
AND A PRE-SEASON FINALE THAT MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN A WASTE OF TIME?
Cheers to Brian Cashman and A.J. McCarron. They weren’t messing around Thursday night.
The New York Yankees general manager made a dramatic and timely trade for Andrew McCutchen and the Buffalo Bills quarterback showed us why he’s always been a winner.
The Yankees badly needed a boost in the outfield. Aaron Judge has a wrist injury and no one seems to know when – or if – he’ll be ready to play again this season.
Veteran Brett Gardner looks like he’s run out of gas (.196 batting average in August), Giancarlo Stanton started 81 straight games and Shane Robinson (.143 batting average – with no power – in 24 games) is a mediocre Triple-A player who doesn’t look right on a Yankees starting lineup card or even standing at the plate or in the outfield.
Cashman acquired McCutchen from San Francisco for two minor leaguers and cash. I’m pretty sure the Yankees could afford to sacrifice the players and the money for a player who could help them win their 28th world championship.
McCutchen not long ago was one of the best players in baseball over a four-year span with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In National League Most Valuable Player balloting, he was 2nd in 2012, 1st in 2013, 3rd in 2014 and 5th in 2015.
McCutchen has been described as “an old 31”, but he’s still a very good player. He was hitting .255 with 15 HRs and 55 RBI for the Giants this season. He had 13 stolen bases. He’s OK in center field and better than good in LF or RF. I think Yankee fans are going to love him.
***I wonder how many loyal but disgusted Buffalo Bills fans who tuned in for Thursday night’s pre-season finale at Chicago had bailed out by the time the fourth quarter started. The Bills had played terribly and trailed 27-3.
Buffalo “won’ the fourth quarter 25-0 – and the game 28-27. It might be a highlight of this rebuilding season.
McCarron, who played the whole game primarily because coach Sean McDermott didn’t want to risk injuries to Nathan Peterman and/or Josh Allen, was the hero of Buffalo’s you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it rally. In a flashback to his days as an All-American at Alabama, he hit on timely passes, kept drives alive with scrambles for first downs and capitalized on two ridiculously stupiid roughing-the-passer penalties by the Bears.
Most NFL pre-season games are meaningless – particularly the fourth and final games. But the Bills needed a confidence boost entering a challenging stretch of seven games – five on the road – to start the regular season. Thursday night’s amazing finish had to help.
McCarron might not ever start another game for Buffalo, but he showed again Thursday night why he’s been a winner all his football life. If you tuned out, you missed a great show.
MINNESOTA’S TWO BEST POSITION PROSPECTS ARE AT FORT MYERS
“When was the last time the Red Wings had zero prospects for an entire season?”
That’s was a text to my WHAM-1180 radio show this week.
The Red Wings were a veteran-laden team when this season began. I suspect that Rochester had one of the highest player payrolls in the 14-team International League this season – if not the highest.
I believe the parent Minnesota Twins knew the organization’s best prospects needed more seasoning below the Triple-A level.
Unfortunately, most of the retread veterans – particularly the hitters -- underperformed here this season.
Byron Buxton no longer is a prospect. He’s been around for too long. If he can ever get and stay healthy, he’ll be a very good major leaguer and might yet prove to be a star.
I believe at least two starting pitchers on this season’s Red Wings were legitimate prospects – Stephen Gonsalves and Francisco Romero.
I believe there was one position player who is a legitimate prospect – infielder Nick Gordon.
Gordon, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 June amateur draft, hit a solid .270 at Double-A Chattanooga last season and had an impressive showing this spring in Minnesota’s training camp. It was a surprise to some observers that he was reassigned to Chattanooga instead of to Rochester to start this season. Maybe the cold weather in the International League was a factor.
Gordon, who’ll turn 23 in October, was hitting .333 (54-for-162), with 10 doubles, 3 triples, 5 HRs and 20 RBI in 42 games with the Lookouts. He had 11 walks, 27 strikeouts, 7-for-9 stolen bases and a .906 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage). Then he finally got the call to Rochester.
Gordon has struggled in his first taste of Class AAA. In 95 games, he’s hitting only .215 (79-for-362), with 13 doubles, 3 triples, 2 HRs, 29 RBI, 13-for-15 stolen bases, 21 walks and 77 strikeouts.
I’m pretty sure Minnesota was hoping Gordon would be at least the top infield sub for the Twins next season. Who knows what they think now.
The two best prospects in the organization currently are with the Fort Myers Miracle of the Advanced A Florida State League: left-handed hitting outfielder Alex Kirilloff (.348; 175-for-503; 74 runs; 44 doubles; 7 triples; 18 HRs; 100 RBI, .965 OPS in 127 games at A/AA) and shortstop Royce Lewis, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 June amateur draft. They figure to start next season with Chattanooga and be playing for the Red Wings by Opening Day 2020 at the latest.
THOUGHTS AND FACTOIDS ON BASEBALL
Albert Pujols had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Wednesday and is done for the season. In 117 games with the Los Angeles Angels this season, he hit .245 with 19 HR and 64 RBI. He has three seasons left on his 10-year, $240 million contract and will turn 39 in January...In 11 years with St. Louis his batting average was .328 and his OPS was 1.037. In seven years with the Angels, he’s hitting .260 with a .768 OPS. He’s a .302 career hitter now (3,082 for 10,196) but likely to retire below .300.
Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona) is emerging as a top candidate for National League Most Valuable Player. He’s doing his best work on the road: .340 batting average; 20 HRs; 48 RBI; reached base in 42 consecutive road games). The Diamondbacks are 39-29 on the road. At home, Arizona is a mere 35-31 and Goldschmidt is hitting .238 with 10 HRs and 28 RBI.
Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar has all but locked up American League Rookie of the Year (.300; 142-for-474); 37 doubles; 2 triples; 22 HRs; 74 RBI; .855 OPS)...but Shohei Ohtani (Angels) would’ve made things interesting if he were healthy all season: .275 (65-for-236); 38 runs; 16 doubles; 1 triple; 15 HRs; 43 RBI; .897 OPS in 79 games; 4-1 record; 3.10 ERA in 9 starts as a pitcher.
Cleveland would have a tough time in the postseason if left-handed relief ace Andrew Miller is out of commission. On Wednesday, he went on the disabled list for the third time this season with shoulder woes.
Willis Astudillo, who spent most of this season with Rochester, hit his first MLB home run in Wednesday night’s 4-3 Minnesota victory at Cleveland. In 10 gamers with the Twins, he’s hitting .269 (70-for-26), with 1 triple, 1 HR, 4 RBI, o walks and 2 strikeouts.
Greg Byrd and Brett Gardner have been hurting the Yankees in August: Byrd .114 (9-for-79); 2 HRs; 8 RBI; 20 strikeouts...Gardner .196 (21-for-107); 2 HRs; 5 RBI; 25 strikeouts; .328 on-base percentage.
BILL STRANGE DIES; FINGER LAKES HALL OF FAME TRAINER
Bill Strange, one of the sharpest and most-respected trainers in the history of Finger Lakes Race Track, died peacefully Tuesday night. He was 89.
Strange arrived at Finger Lakes from California in 1971 with a string of horses including veterans that outclassed most of the racing stock at his new home track. His legendary classy old winners included Sagely (51 wins in 124 starts from age 2 to 16), Flyingphere (48 wins in 213 career starts) and Silver Fir (46 wins in 165 starts). He had a knack for keeping older horses happy, sound and competitive.
He could train younger horses, too, including FL Hall of Famers Anniron and Proud Puppy, who combined to win 14 stakes races.
Strange won the FL trainers’ title in 1972 and 1990. He led the nation’s trainers in winning percentage in 1972 (60 wins in 159 starts; 38 percent). Horses he saddled at Finger Lakes finished first or second in 54 percent of their races.
He retired from training after the 2003 season. Among his top riders at Finger Lakes were Bobby Cook, Les Hulet and John Grabowski, who was his nephew.
VINC AND WITHERS STAR AS PETERBOROUGH CLOSES IN ON SUMMER TITLE
Rochester Knighthawks stars Matt Vinc and Jake Withers are helping the Peterborough Lakers close in on the Ontario summer Series A Lacrosse title.
Peterborough beat Oakville Thursday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven finals. Game 6 is Saturday in Oakville.
Vinc (0 games) and Evan Kirk (3 games) are Peterborough’s two classy National Lacrosse League star goalies. Withers, the mazing faceoff man, is 138-for-166 on faceoffs in the playoffs. Knighthawks and Lakers teammate Cory Vitarelli has 16 goals and 6 assists in 10 games. Former K-hawks star Shawn Evans leads the playoffs in scoring: 10 goals, 39 assists, 49 points in 12 games.
Peterborough’s biggest advantage (besides Withers) over Oakville in the playoffs has been on the power play: Oakville 27.08 percent (13-for-48); Peterborough 67.39 percent (31-for-46).
The Athletic.com’s Corey Proman ranked the NHL’s 32 teams in young talent under 23. His conclusion: “Buffalo has the top farm system and it isn’t really close.” That talent includes Rasmus Dahlin and Caey Middlestadt, who figure to be wearing Sabres uniformd immediately. But Proman added, “Rochester should be an interesting team to monitor this season.”
BOVADA has posted over/under on starts this season for Buffalo rookie quarterback Josh Allen at 13.5. If you can really wager on this in Las Vegas, I imagine there are long lines of bettors wanting to take the UNDER.
Golfer Nick Tryniski, 29, from Baldswinsville, had the first two holes-in-one of his life – on consecutive shots -- August 26 at Knickerbocker Country Club In Cincinnatus. The 12th and 13th holes both were par-3, 152 yards. Playing partner Chris Stafford witnessed the feat. Tryniski shot 73 for his round. The National Hole-In-One Association’s odds on consecutive holes-in-one by an amateur golfer are 67 million-to-1.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...
Friday, August 31
Matt Adams (30)...Charl Schwartzel (34)..Larry Fitzgerald (35)....Ramon Santiago (39)...WWE Mickie James (39)...WWE Jeff Hardy (41)...Scott Niedermayer (45)...Padraig Harrington (47)...Mike Caldwell (47)..Hideo Nomo (50)....Bob Mongrain (59)...Kent Nilsson (62)...Frank Robinson (83). Richard Gere (69) is invited to the birthday party.
Saturday, September 1
Calais Campbell (32)...Leodis McKelvin (33)...Clinton Portis (37)...Aaron Scobel (41)...Cuttino Mobley (43)...Jason Taylor (44)...Zach Thomas (45)...Tim Hardaway (52)...Hardy Nickerson (53)...Brian Bellows (54)...Dale DeGray (55)...Karl Mecklenburg (58)...ESPN Kenny Mayne (59)...Vinnie Johnson (62)...Ben Williams (64)...Garry Maddox (69)...Ed Podolak (71)...Rico Carty (79). Gloria Estefan (61) and Alan Derschowitz (80) are invited to the birthday party. Rocky Marciano was born on the date 95 years ago (1923) and died in 1969 at age 45.
Sunday, September 2
Brandon Ingram (21)...Ronald Torreyes (26)...Julius Stanford (28)...Marcus/Markieff Morris (29)...BJason Hammel (36)...Brian Westbrook (39)...Tommy Maddox (47)...Rich Aurelia (47)...Lennox Lewis (53)...Sam Mitchell (55)...Eric Dickerson (58)...Rex Hudler (58)...Mario Tremblay (62)...Joe Danelo (65)...Jimmy Connors (66)...Nate Snell (66)...Harvey Catchings (67)...Terry Bradshaw (70)...Tiny Archibald (70)...Glenn Sather (75)....John Thompson (77)...Peter Ueberroth (81). Amerk Hall of Famer Stan Smrke was born on this date 90 years ago (1928) and died in 1977 at age 48...Salma Hayek (52) and Keana Reeves (54) are invited to the birthday party.
ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...
119 years ago (1909), A J Reach patented the cork-centered baseball...84 years ago (1934), Chicago Bears 0, College All-Stars 0 in the first NFL Chicago All-Star Game before 79,432 fans...31 years ago (1987), Curtis Strange set golf’s record for official money earnings in one year: $697,385...27 years ago (1991), Houston Cougars quarterback David Klingler threw six TD passes in the second quarter of a 73-3 romp over Louisiana Tech...21 years ago (1997), the Yankees retired Don Mattingly’s No. 23.
72 years ago (1946), Patty Berg won the inaugural U.S. Women’s Open...46 years ago (1972), American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer beat Russian champion Boris Spassky 12.5-8.5 in Reykjavik, Finland...40 years ago (1978), Baltimore’s Sammy Stewart, in his MLB debut after being recalled from the Rochester Red Wings, struck out seven consecutive batters in a 9-3 victory over the White Sox...34 years ago (1984), Willie Totten of Mississippi State passed for 536 yards and 9 TDs in an 86-0 romp over Kentucky State. Teammate Jerry Rice caught 17 passes for 294 yards and 5 TDs...19 years ago (1999), Mario Lemieux became the first player from a major team sport to purchase his former team – the Pittsburgh Penguins...12 years ago (2006), Roger Goodell began his tenure as NFL Commissioner.
78 years ago (1940), Byron Nelson beat Sam Snead 1-up in the 36-hole final of the PGA Championship in Hershey, Pa. ... 52 years ago (1966), Joe Auer retuned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a TD for the Miami Dolphins in their first-ever NFL regular-season game but they lost the game 23-14 to Oakland before 26,776 fans at the Orange Bowl...41 years ago (1977), 43-year-old transsexual Renee’ Richards lost 6-1, 6-4 to Virginia Wade at the U.S. Open...18 years ago (1990), Toronto’s Dave Stieb pitched the record ninth no-hitter of rgw MLB season, beating Cleveland 3-0.