Yankees need Sonny Gray if they are serious about contending

Posted on July 19, 2017

The New York Yankees hardly win anymore. They haven’t won a series in nearly six weeks, losing eight of their past 10 while tying two others. They have been the worst team in baseball over that span, losers of 22 of their past 32 games. That’s a .313 win percentage, which wouldn’t win you the batting title, let alone a division.

Yet they believe sunshine is right around the corner — maybe even starting in Seattle this weekend.

“I think we are poised to make a good, little run here,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Maybe he is right. Maybe he is wrong, but this is what the Yankees are right now. They are 48-45 and on pace for 84 or 85 wins, which might be good enough for a wild card in the weak American League. But it isn’t especially good. The Yankees are certainly due to play better.

They can’t really play worse, and they just made a big deal, sacrificing some young talent to try to win this season. They picked up a new third baseman in Todd Frazier and two new relievers in David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle — a go-for-it move from a sinking team.
The manager, not convincingly, said the Yankees have enough in the clubhouse already.

“I think all the tools are [in there],” Girardi said. “I do. We just have to play better.” Read more

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James Harden: Carmelo Anthony would ‘help our team tremendously’

Posted on July 15, 2017

The Houston Rockets have two-thirds of their own Big Three with James Harden and the newly acquired Chris Paul. The Rockets also were reportedly in the mix to acquire New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony in a trade.

Harden called Anthony “one of the best players that we have in this league” during a break from a basketball camp he hosted Friday in a suburb of Phoenix. But ultimately, Harden said acquiring Anthony would be up to the Rockets brass.

“I let the front office deal with that,” Harden said. “If we can get him, obviously he would help our team tremendously. What we have right now in our locker room is pretty good.”

The chances of the Harden-Anthony-Paul trio coming to fruition took a hit on Thursday.

The Knicks took Anthony off the trading block, according to a report by ESPN NBA Insiders Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne. Talks between the Knicks and the Rockets, as well as the Cleveland Cavaliers, had been ongoing for nearly a month. Anthony was willing to waive his no-trade clause for either team.

Harden, like the rest of the NBA, is in wait-and-see mode.

“That’s out of my hands,” Harden said. “I go out  there and put the basketball in the hoop and handle my business.”

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After fairy-tale season, Cubs are stuck in a stinker of a sequel

Posted on July 7, 2017

If this were 2016, the script would go something like this:

The Chicago Cubs are fighting and struggling to hang in a tight playoff race. Scuffling slugger Kyle Schwarber returns from a temporary demotion to Triple-A, emerging like Ray Liotta from the Iowa cornfields in “Field of Dreams.” He hits two homers, the Cubs carry him off the field, and Chicago goes on a tear to seize control of the NL Central.

It was kind of like that last season for the Cubs, even for Schwarber, who missed all but one regular-season game only to return and mash during an improbable World Series return, whisked to the Fall Classic the day before Game 1 from the Arizona Fall League. Whatever happened, you had the feeling it was going to turn out well.

But this is not 2016. And if last season felt like a fairy tale for the Cubs, this season feels like the poorly executed sequel.

Thursday’s game was a letdown for the 41,576 fans at a jam-packed Wrigley Field. The Milwaukee Brewers raced out to a big lead and cruised to an 11-2 victory, pushing their lead over Chicago in the National League Central to a season-high 4 1/2 games. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it’s the Cubs’ biggest deficit in the division since the second-to-last day of the 2015 season.

“Honestly, there is not a whole lot to talk about,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That game goes in the trash can as quickly any game we’ve ever played. We just didn’t pitch well early, and it’s very difficult to fight back from that moment.”

The day began with rosier news. Schwarber was recalled from Iowa before Thursday’s game, a one-off makeup encounter with a highly annoyed bunch of Brewers. Back on May 20, when the Brewers were hot and the Cubs were not, an afternoon game was called before it started because of an impending rainstorm that never happened. Milwaukee, which beat Baltimore at home on Wednesday night, didn’t particularly want to be in Chicago on Thursday. But the Brewers looked like a team intent on taking their annoyance out on their high-profile southern neighbors. Read more

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