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Pete Caldera | New York Yankees Writer, Bergen Record

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August 3, 2023 6:04 am

Pete Caldera | New York Yankees Writer, Bergen Record

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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August 3, 2023 6:04 am

 New York Yankees writer for the Bergen Record Pete Caldera joins the show to talk about the lack of moves at the trade deadline, why the team is slumping, and the loss of Domingo German for the season.


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That's code PROGRAM. Pete Caldero, longtime Yankees reporter and writer for the Bergen Record and the USA Today Network, and we're pleased to welcome him to the show now for the first time. Pete, before we talk specifically about Domingo Herman, what are a few words you would use to describe, say, the last couple weeks for the Yankees? One is predictable because they've been the same lazy offense and just kind of remained in that malaise they've been in. It's been hard to score runs with this team. Obviously, not having Aaron Judge in their lineup had affected them greatly. Since he's been back, you can't anticipate that he's going to be just the one element that is going to turn things around. They've had a lineup of highly paid veteran position players that have performed way under expectations this year. Stanton, LeMayhew, and Rizzo have been the biggest of those underachievers.

That has made scoring runs just a nightly struggle for this team. The Domingo Herman news, especially when it's not been that long since he threw his perfect game, probably sent shockwaves around Major League Baseball. What's your reaction to that news that he's going to be away from the team the rest of the year while he deals with treatment? First, your emotions and your thoughts go towards him coming out of this a better person and for himself and his health and his family.

That's number one. His career has been dotted with inconsistencies on the mound and some troubles off the field, too. This is a player that had a domestic violence issue that he was suspended 81 games for in 2019. He will not pitch again for the rest of this year and there's a pretty good chance or at least there's a chance he's throwing his last pitch as a Yankee. They still have a year of control with him next year, but you don't know if this incident will lead to them severing ties with him or they give him another chance or what it looks like come spring training next year. First and foremost, his teammates and certainly manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman were concerned enough for the player that they knew he had to go into some kind of a treatment program. If this is the last pitch he's thrown for the Yankees, you look at the broader picture as a very talented pitcher that really never put it together consistently. He had a five-something ERA after he threw the perfect game and I think a lot of us were kind of thinking that maybe this is the jumping off point where he could kind of harness all the talent he has. He certainly is capable.

He showed it and he has showed it in the past, but just could never put it together overseas and injuries had something to do with that, too. Now you wonder about his career going forward now. Garrett Cole started and pitched tonight and they get a win over the Rays, but they've got some ground to make up, so what does this mean for their rotation? Well, they're getting Nesta Cortez back a little earlier than they expected. He'll pitch Saturday against the Houston Astros. Friday Luis Severino, who you talk about wildly inconsistent, I mean he just hasn't found it. In fact, he looked lost and has pretty much admitted so after his last start in Baltimore, but there was a chance that he could have come out of a rotation, maybe even skipped the start, go to the bullpen. The state of the Yankees rotation is now that if Herman was still in this mix, someone was probably going to come out of the starting five rotation when Cortez got back from his strained rotator cuff, but now he's back. Herman is obviously out and Severino is keeping his turn against Houston and there's going to be a lot of attention paid to that start. I mean, that's a tough lineup to have to turn things around with.

He says he's healthy. The velocity shows that the fastball there is just that his pitch mix and his command and probably his confidence has taken a huge hit here in these dozen 11 or 12 starts he's made for the Yankees in 23. So that's going to be another attention getter, big start for Severino here against Houston. Pete Caldera is with us on After Hours here on CBS Sports Radio covers the Yankees for the Bergen record and the USA Today Network. Just before we move on to more about the Yankees, you mentioned the Astros. They've been the nemesis for the Yanks a few times this last couple of playoff appearances. What's your reaction to them getting Justin Verlander back at the trade deadline? Yeah, right back in into the New York scene right away this weekend.

Yeah, that's that's going to be something. Obviously, a lot of teams made some big splashes that the trade deadline and the Yankees weren't were not one of them, but you know, this was one of the one of the few trade deadline periods. You can remember that the Yankees weren't actively shopping, starting pitching. I mean, their needs were left-field, left-handed hitting outfielder, preferably Cody Bellinger would have fit that to a tee. And then the Cubs obviously took him off the market the way they've been playing lately. And they could have used a possibly a third baseman, a catcher. They were looking for some relief help, and they did get a reliever, Middleton, from the Chicago White Sox. But you know, is that was anything you know, other than a, you know, maybe a Soto or a Bellinger, you know, going to move the needle for the 2023 Yankees?

Probably not. Say a Tommy Pham, you know, certainly could have upgraded the Yankees in the outfield, but you know, they chose to hang on to their their prospects or whatever the price point would have been for the Yankees to get a rental player and just fight with the guys that they have. But yeah, I mean, just to spin it back to Verlander, it's going to be really interesting just to see, you know, what he says about coming back to New York and to be in a town like this where you have the, you know, what two of the three highest payroll teams or the top two payroll teams in baseball, one just decided to, you know, fold up the tent and the other one, the Yankees, are going to struggle mightily to get just a piece of a wild card here. So, you know, what a turn of events it's been in New York for the last in the last four months.

No doubt. And I know it doesn't help to say that the Yankees would be first place in the AL Central, even though they're the basement of the AL East. But when you look at this team and see where they are now early August, what signs of life do you see or what signs of hope for them to actually make a run to a wild card? You know, if you want to look at the most optimistic, you know, part of the Yankees is that if their pitching stays healthy now, I mean, they still have a full complement of a five-man rotation that you can send to war and feel good about if they're operating at their norms. And, you know, you start with with Garrett Cole, but they desperately need, you know, calls for Don, you know, after five starts is, you know, coming off the the IL long IL stint, first to the forearm and then a back issue.

We have not seen, you know, the calls for Don that, you know, that was commanding 162 million dollar six-year contract and free agency to come to the Bronx. You know, Severino, we talked about, you know, this is at his best as a frontline starter who is, you know, pitching like a guy who's, you know, struggling to stay in a rotation, frankly. You know, getting Mr. Cortez back should help. And he was an all-star last year, but, you know, he struggled this year and probably, you know, pitched with at a bit of a handicap coming out of spring training because he had a groin issue that he kind of tried to pitch his way through and it might have impacted his mechanics and his command in the first half.

And then he winds up on the IL with a shoulder issue. But getting him back in the rotation, if he gives you anything close to what he gave you last year, you got to feel good about that. And their bullpen's a bit terrific. You trust that, you know, if you get a lead late, you'll be able to hold it. It's just the scoring has been a spectacular struggle for this team.

And then, you know, you just have to hope in these last two months that, you know, that these guys either get hot or just frankly, you know, play to their norms. Even Rizzo admitted, you know, the other night in a fit of frustration that he was just hitting a little bit, you know, how much it would help this club. You know, you watch, you know, Garrett Cole who's a 1-0 game in Baltimore, and this is the kind of stuff that's led to them being in the position they are. You know, they haven't had a real lead-off hitter all year. And, you know, the middle of their order, certainly without judge for a spell, but, you know, with LeMayhew and Rizzo and Stanton not performing up to standards, that has had a devastating effect on this lineup. Pete Caldera is with us talking Yankees here on After Hours, CBS Sports Radio. Do Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman survive this if the Yankees don't make the postseason, in your opinion? If we're going down the same route where there's not another catastrophic injury to a guy like Judge or pitching staff, and they don't make postseason, you know, this could be the year where a manager or GM, you know, pays for their job.

Let's go back a bit. Hal Steinberg has basically had control of his team since 2010. He is not George Steinberg, his father. He's had a very good working relationship with Cashman. This is the only, you know, baseball ops head that he has known or dealt with on a daily basis for over a decade. And he's grown to trust him implicitly and his opinions and the baseball lieutenants that Cashman surrounds himself with. So, you know, does that relationship change with a failed playoff year with the payroll they have and, you know, what they did to spend for Judge and Radon and Rizzo last offseason?

Hard to say. I would still think that that relationship is pretty rock solid. And then you go to the manager. You know, in the past, when the Yankees have changed managers and they change managers infrequently in the Cashman era, those have been decisions that have been made by Cashman and taken to ownership and for approval. And it happened with Joe Torre and it happened with Joe Girardi. Does it happen with Aaron Boone?

Possibly. But it hasn't happened yet. And they have had championship caliber rosters that have not made it past the American League Championship Series or have suffered worse fates than not even getting to the ALCS. So hard to say. But I would think, though, that the possibility of a managing change, if this stays the way it is, is greater now than it probably in any other year with Boone at the helm because of, look, it's New York and, you know, maybe six years and this is the tipping point here. But, yeah, it's not trending in the right direction, put it that way.

Gotcha. Pete, before I let you go, it's clear that the AL East is the best division in baseball. Every team is above 500. The Orioles and the Rays right now are sitting on 66 wins apiece. The Blue Jays have 60 and they're six and a half games back of the O's in the division. It's crazy how good this division is. So of course that matters when we're talking about the Yankees because they are still a club above 500. What do you think of the Orioles and the Rays at the top right now?

Sterling, I have a lot of talent and staying power and all those teams that you mentioned help themselves at the deadline. You know, even the Orioles who, you know, didn't make any real dramatic moves in the offseason, you know, coming off a surprising year when they, you know, got it to contention, now have positioned themselves to where, you know, you like their chances against Tampa Bay and Toronto and, you know, to some extent, obviously the Yankees and the Red Sox. You know, you look at Toronto's team though, you know, top to bottom, the talent on that roster is superior. But you wonder, they really, they haven't fired off, you know, wins at the rate of their talent. This year and in past years, I mean, they, you know, they struggled a bit in the first half, started playing better of late. And you wonder if they've got a run in them to where, you know, their talent alone could, you know, sustain them and push them to an AL East championship or at least a long run after securing a wildcard. So, I got to like all their chances. And, you know, the Red Sox have been surprising to that, you know, to be in it when we, I think we all, as a consensus thought that, you know, this was going to be an automatic last place team and are still in a really good division. But this division has, you know, probably with the one exception being the Yankees has kind of, you know, outperformed maybe their own expectations to this point.

It's going to be an it's going to be an interesting run at the end. We have a different schedule though now. I mean, we're not, you know, you're not playing three, a six series, three home, three away within your division this year with the new scheduling format.

It's just a two and two. So, you know, you're not going to have more of these head to head games within the division that, you know, might be a lot more interesting down the stretch. You know, I look at the Yankees schedule. I mean, they finished the year in Kansas City, just interesting enough. I mean, if they needed a game to get it to the post-season or something, they'll be playing their last three games of the year in Kansas City and not at Toronto or Boston or Tampa Bay where it could be a little more dramatic. But yeah, we're all going to watch with interest because I mean, these teams are loaded, they're talented. And especially with the, you know, in the case of the Rays and the Orioles, to be doing it with two of the lowest payrolls in the game is a real testament to those two franchises and their front offices.

Never a dull moment. So you can follow Pete Caldera on Twitter at Pete Caldera, C-A-L-D-E-R-A. Covers this team now for 20 years.

Bergen Record USA Today Network Baseball writer. It's good to catch up with you. Thank you so much for your insight in a couple of minutes, Pete. Anytime, Amy. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-03 06:42:02 / 2023-08-03 06:48:44 / 7

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