Takeaways from MLB Week 22

Seth Gruen@SethGruenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2016

Takeaways from MLB Week 22

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    Right now, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman looks to be a genius.

    He had arguably the best July of any baseball executive. Cashman traded several of the team’s talented veterans for a haul of prospects that now give New York one of baseball’s best minor league systems.

    He was able to get Alex Rodriguez to retire and Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann to accept lesser roles all to make way for a group of talented young players who have the Yankees back into playoff contention.

    Did you know, though, that more young players will continue to have an impact as we head into September?

“Baby Bombers” Have Yankees Back in Playoff Race

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    A little more than a month ago, the New York Yankees sent their fan base into a tailspin when they engaged in a fire sale at the trade deadline.

    Though in an unfamiliar position at the trade deadline, the Yankees still did well, sending Carlos Beltran, Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Ivan Nova to various contending teams. Each of those trades netted New York a haul of prospects who now give the organization one of baseball’s best minor league systems.

    But in doing so, the team may have, unknowingly, given the team its best shot to contend in 2016.

    After an 8-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the Yankees sat 3.5 games out of an AL wild-card berth.

    Trading the aforementioned players combined with the retirement of Alex Rodriguez and reduced playing time of catcher Brian McCann and first baseman Mark Teixeira has given way to a youth movement.

    That was to be expected for a team that was aiming to recalibrate and compete in 2017. But what young players like catcher Gary Sanchez, outfielder Aaron Judge and first baseman/outfielder Tyler Austin have done is vaulted the Yankees right back into playoff contention.

    Sanchez, in particular, has swung a hot bat. In 26 games this season, he is hitting .366/.439/.782 with 11 home runs and 21 RBI.

    Though Judge and Austin have not swung hot bats, they have added athleticism to a Yankees defense that was lacking in that department.

Mike Trout Walks Away from Serious Highway Crash

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, among MLB’s best players, was involved in a serious highway crash on Wednesday night in Orange County, Calif.

    According to ESPN, which cites a California Highway Patrol report, Trout’s Mercedes-Benz was “one of four vehicles involved in two connected crashes.” Trout swerved but still hit a Chevrolet Sonic on its left rear side, causing it to spin and hit a wall.

    Trout, who walked away from the crash without injury, immediately got out of his car to check on the driver of the Chevy, who was taken to the hospital with injuries. The police report indicates that all parties were cooperative and that it is not believed drugs or alcohol were involved.

    Trout has been selected to the AL All-Star team five straight years. He won the 2014 AL MVP Award and finished second in the voting in 2012, 2013 and 2015.

David Ross Searches for a Ball That’s Right in Front of Him

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    Benny Sieu/Associated Press

    The Chicago Cubs refer to catcher David Ross as “Grandpa Ross” for the obvious reason that he is one of baseball’s elder statesmen at 39.

    But after a gaffe in a 5-4 win over the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on Thursday night, Ross may want to consider something many elderly people do.

    Get his eyes checked.

    After Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija attempted a bunt in the second inning, Ross couldn’t find the baseball, though it was literally in front of his face.

    Check out the video courtesy of MLB.com.

    Ross (.234/.356/.440), who has said he will retire after this season, is primarily the team’s backup and the personal catcher for Jon Lester, though he is among the more recognizable Cubs in Chicago.

    The play was a lighthearted moment in what has otherwise been a stellar defensive season for the Cubs who hold MLB’s best record.

    That was apparent just a day prior when in Chicago’s 6-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday night, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell made a diving, run-saving catch with the bases loaded and two out.

    Given that the runners were going on contact, the catch may have saved as many as three runs.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check out the catch courtesy of 670theScore.com.

Mets Lose Neil Walker for the Season

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    Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    The playoff hopes of the New York Mets were seriously dinged on Thursday when second baseman Neil Walker confirmed that he would undergo season-ending surgery to relieve a herniated disc in his lower back.

    After the Mets decided not to re-sign second baseman Daniel Murphy—clearly a mistake given that he’s an MVP candidate with the Washington Nationals—the team traded pitcher Jon Niese to the Pirates for Walker, who has been a bright spot in an otherwise struggling Mets lineup.

    While New York ranks at the bottom of MLB in nearly every offensive category, Walker posted .282/.347/.476, 23 home runs and 55 RBI in 113 games this season.

    The Mets have been riddled by injuries this season. Pitcher Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz have dealt with bone spurs. Pitcher Matt Harvey was lost for the year due to thoracic outlet syndrome and third baseman David Wright has been out since May 27 with back issues.

    Kelly Johnson (.249/.309/.396 this season) played second base for the Mets in a 4-1 loss to the Nationals on Friday. New York is two games out of the NL wild-card.

Yoan Moncada Headlines September Call Ups

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Though the Boston Red Sox have a slew of talented young players like Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., the best of them may have arrived with the big club on Friday.

    Second baseman Yoan Moncada was promoted by Boston on Friday, the club announced. He was promoted straight from Double-A.

    Though he was not in the lineup for the team’s game against the Oakland A’s, Red Sox manager John Farrell told Steve Kroner via ESPN that he expects the Cuban national will be in the lineup on Saturday.

    Moncada, 21, signed a contract with Boston in the spring of 2015 that included a $31.5 million signing bonus. Baseball America had Moncada ranked No. 1 on its midseason list of top 100 prospects.

    Moncada is a switch-hitter but in the same ESPN piece, Farrell noted that he hits better from the left side and said the majority of his starts will come against right-handed pitching.

    In 45 games with Double-A Portland,  Moncada went .277/.379/.531 with 11 homers and 28 RBI. The Red Sox play in Oakland at 8:05 p.m. ET on Saturday.

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