Hot Stove League starting to simmer…

SURPRISE ME, SURPRISE ME NOT…

The week has seen much activity on the free agent front even if the Yankees have not been involved (like anyone really expected them to be).  It was no surprise to see David Price sign with the Boston Red Sox.  Weeks earlier, the club clearly stated its intention to go big game hunting in its search for an ace.  It was a given that they’d overpay to get their man and in the end, they did.  Price certainly improves the Red Sox rotation but of course he’s only one man.  I guess that’s where Craig Kimbrel comes in…to help on the days that Price doesn’t pitch.  I am sure the Red Sox still have a move or two to make before Truck Day.

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AP

The surprise was Zack Greinke signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The speculation had been that he would sign with either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the San Francisco Giants.  I had really expected the Dodgers to step up to keep their “co-ace”.  I didn’t see Tony LaRussa and the D-Backs lying in the weeds.  It will be interesting to see what the Dodgers do now as they clearly need help in their rotation (beyond just Greinke’s spot).

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DWINDLING ROTATION OPTIONS…

It is becoming less and less likely that the Yankees will be able to snag a Jeff Samardzija.  The teams that missed out on the aces will be much more aggressive with the next tier which of course means more overspending.  If there are any certainties with the Yankees, it is that Hal Steinbrenner is not going to overspend as long as he is still responsible for the bloated contracts to Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran.

If I owned the Yankees, I would target Samardzija* for the rotation and Jason Heyward for the outfield.  Beltran has just one year left on his contract and he is 39.  Heyward could represent the future and allow the Yankees to decrease their reliance on Beltran.  With all the health risks in the Yankees’ rotation, they need a workhorse.  I’ve never been a fan of Johnny Cueto so I’d certainly prefer Samardzija.  I am intrigued by Yankees prospect and Micheal Pineda clone Domingo Acevedo but he’s still in development and won’t help in early 2016.  Shelby Miller would be nice but it appears the price tag is too much.  Last year, I didn’t really know anything about Nathan Eovaldi other than he was one of the worst NL pitchers in 2014.  But youth and promise were on his side, and he turned out to be a very good acquisition.  Perhaps GM Brian Cashman is targeting another similar project.  It certainly helps to have a quality pitching coach like Larry Rothschild.

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John Munson/The Star Ledger

The Yankees’ success this past season has reinforced Hal Steinbrenner’s belief that he doesn’t need to spend to build a winner.  However, I feel that it will be harder and harder for the older guys to replicate past performances.  That’s a statement of the obvious, but last season saw solid performances from A-Rod and Teixeira.  It is inevitable that that the day is coming when their performances collapse and they become a shell of their former selves.  A-Rod will be 41 and we know that Teixeira likes to get cozy on the DL.  If all of the older players regress next season, it will be a very long one.  I wonder if the Yankees had finished last like the Red Sox if there would have been a greater sense of urgency in the Bronx.  I guess next off-season should be more active if the Yankees do indeed regress, combined with the contracts that will be coming off the books.

BIG “LITTLE” SPENDERS…

It’s funny.  For years, it was teams like the Yankees and Dodgers that could spend at will, and could cover up mistakes by spending more money.  Now those teams are trying to show fiscal constraint, and the lower market teams, flush with cash from revenue sharing and cable deals, are starting to make the foolish financial decisions.

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OH, BY THE WAY…

Congratulations to Don Mattingly and the Miami Marlins for stepping up to hire Barry Bonds as their hitting coach.  Say what you will about Bonds, but his hand/eye coordination was among the best in major league history.  The all-time home run champion will never see the Hall of Fame but he deserves a chance to continue his career in baseball and try to restore some credibility.  It has worked for Mark McGwire, and Bonds deserves the same opportunity.  I think he’ll be a very effective hitting coach.

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NBC Sports

Also congratulations to the Dodgers for their new manager, Dave Roberts.  I think it was a tremendous hire, and a much better choice than the in-house candidate, Gabe Kapler.  Nothing against Kapler, but I just feel that Roberts has the personality and drive to succeed with the Dodgers.  The Dodgers were also wise in prying bench coach Bob Geren from the New York Mets to fill the same role with them.  The Dodgers bench is in very strong hands with Roberts and Geren.

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AP Photo/NIck Ut

Next week is my favorite week of the Hot Stove League, the Baseball Winter Meetings.  I know that it’s unlikely the Yankees will be active participants, but it is a fun week with the flurry of activity.  While I don’t expect the Yankees to make any major moves, there’s the part of me that knows there is always the chance.  The Yankees didn’t suddenly get poor when the rest of the team became rich.  They still sit in the largest market in the country and have revenue streams that other teams can only dream about.

By the way, is it really December already?…

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—Scott

*After writing this post, the reports came out that the San Francisco Giants have signed Samardzija for 5 years/$90 million.  At that price, the Yankees should have played.  But they didn’t, and I still don’t want Johnny Cueto.  Looks like it will be a year of rotation turbulence in the Bronx…

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