Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (David Butler II)
Yankees at Home Seeking Reinforcements…
If you believe the rumors, the Toronto Blue Jays are closing to dealing free agent-to-be LHP J.A. Happ and the frontrunners are the New York Yankees and the pitching-starved Milwaukee Brewers. Until a deal is consummated, there is always the potential for a mystery team to strike and nab Happ at the eleventh hour.
I am not trying to prospect-hug, but the Yankees should not move any of their highest prospects or Clint Frazier for a two-month rental. It is said the Blue Jays like Brandon Drury. Great, I like Drury too and so does Baltimore Orioles GM Dan Duquette, but it doesn’t mean he should be included in a rental trade.
As it stands, I am not interested in Happ if the cost is too high so I appreciate Brian Cashman’s commitment to retaining his best prospects. I do think Happ would be an upgrade for the starting rotation. A better option than Luis Cessa (despite some good starts recently), Domingo German or Jonathan Loaisiga. So if the Yankees do make the trade, I’ll be supportive. If not, so be it. Happ is not the great savior that Justin Verlander turned out to be last year for the Houston Astros.
Cole Hamels is available but the guy hasn’t pitched a quality start since mid-June. He also makes too much damn money for a team trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold, even if the Texas Rangers pitch in a few dollars. There is not really anything that appeals to me about Hamels other than once upon a team he was a part of a World Series championship but c’mon, he was 25 at the time. At 34, he is not exactly the same pitcher anymore and more times than not makes Sonny Gray’s stats look legendary.
TGP’s Daniel Burch recently mentioned Zack Wheeler (4-6, 4.33 ERA) as a good target. When I first heard it, I was very skeptical. But the more I think about it and if the New York Mets are not willing to move Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, Wheeler actually makes some sense. Who knows, maybe Daniel likes Wheeler because he is from Georgia but Zack’s numbers are as good as those for Happ or Hamels. Plus, the righty is on the right side of 30 (28) as opposed to the other two. In his last start this week against the San Diego Padres, Wheeler held the Padres to two runs on four hits over seven innings, picking up the win. Granted, I’d get confused with names like Zach and Zack on the roster, but Wheeler represents more than a rental and his contract this year was only for $1.9 million (the prorated portion would fit easily into the Yankees budget and still allow room for another major acquisition). Wheeler enters his final year of arbitration eligibility for next year and will be a free agent after the 2019 season. I think Daniel may have been on to something when he called out Wheeler as a possibility. I know that I’d prefer him over Happ or Hamels if the price is right.
One potential name fell off the board yesterday morning when the Boston Red Sox acquired former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays. Boston has been plagued by injuries on the back half of their rotation so Nasty Nate fills a void for them. In the post-season, Eovaldi can be flipped to the bullpen to provide Red Sox manager Alex Cora with another weapon. The cost was high (25 year old lefty Jalen Beeks). Beeks was winless in two starts for the Red Sox this year, but he has good 2018 minor league numbers (5-5, 2.89 ERA, 16 games started, 117 strikeouts in 87 1/3 innings). I think it was a solid move for the Rays but Eovaldi certainly makes the Red Sox pitching staff better. I do hate it when former Yankees end up in Boston. I still haven’t really forgiven David Cone or David Wells for putting on that uniform.
As much as I like Brandon Drury, I would flip him to Baltimore for RHP Kevin Gausman, Greg Bird’s high school buddy. Gausman, 27, has been a Crown Prince of Underachievement since he was the fourth overall selection in the 2012 MLB Draft, but I like his potential. If someone could unlock his talent, he has the potential to be a very good Major League starter. This year for the O’s, Gausman is 4-8 with 4.54 ERA in 20 starts. I heard a rumor (fake news) yesterday that the Colorado Rockies were going to send their top prospect (infielder Brendan Rogers) to the O’s for the Colorado native. Gausman doesn’t warrant that level of return. If Duquette can land Rogers, he’d be foolish not to send Gausman home to the Mile High City. Gausman is only making $5.6 million this year and won’t be a free agent until after the 2020 season. If Cash is able to package Drury with a couple of prospects, he should make the move to acquire Gausman before the Rockies can pounce on him.
Today should bring more trade speculation and maybe another deal or two. Yesterday saw two pitchers changing their uniforms. We already talked about Eovaldi moving to Beantown, but the Tampa Bay Rays also sent another pitcher (Matt Andriese) to the Arizona Diamondbacks. I like the move for the D-Backs. The right-handed Andriese, 28, has the ability to start or relieve.
Brian Cashman could have us all fooled and pulls an ace out of his sleeve before next Tuesday. But if not, he has good options without having to part with talent that represents our future to secure a middle-of-the-rotation arm. I am sure that sleep has been a very limited resource for Cash and his team this week while they work the phones and turn every stone. He has already brought us a great left-handed reliever for three Rule 5 eligible prospects who are easily replaceable in the Yankees farm system. No reason that Cashman’s run of good luck (or rather, judgment) should stop now. My only fear with Cashman right now is sleep deprivation.
Every time I see a headline that says the Yankees are the frontrunners for this guy or that guy, it seems like the player’s team is just trolling to see if they can raise the price for others. When Cashman wants his guy, you generally do not hear about it until it happens. So, in the case of J.A. Happ, I’ll believe it when I see it. Until then, I think he’ll be pitching in Milwaukee or Philadelphia or some other location this time next month.
Yesterday was not so great for the Yankees as they dropped yet another series to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees need to figure out how to drive home runners in scoring position and beat the poorer teams. These narrow losses with high RISP are aggravating. The Yankees have lost their swagger and now look more like the team that stumbled out of the gate with a 9-9 mark. After their 3-2 loss yesterday, the Yankees are 5 ½ games behind the Red Sox in the AL East Standings. It could have been six if not for the rainout of Boston’s game. The Sox used dingers to build a 5-0 lead on the Orioles in the first two innings, only to see them wiped out for the postponement. When the game is made up, they’ll restart the scoreboard at 0-0. Bummer, sucks for them.
The Yankees will have a new teammate when they take the field today. The Yankees will need to make a roster move on the active roster to make way for LHP Zach Britton. No word (at least not what I’ve seen) on Britton’s new number although I expect third base coach Phil Nevin to relinquish his #53. No move on the 40-man roster is needed since Britton slid into the spot vacated when David Hale was released. Sounds like Britton had a tough time leaving Baltimore and he had a long talk with Orioles manager Buck Showalter following the news of his trade which lasted into the wee hours of Thursday morning. There’s always the potential for Britton to return to Baltimore in the off-season through free agency, but I am hopeful that he adapts to his new surroundings and teammates very quickly. The Yankees Clubhouse seems to be a very fun and close knit group and I see no reason why Britton cannot be a part of it.
Britton’s post on Twitter yesterday portrayed his high character: “Well, 12 years went by pretty fast. I remember my first day in the Orioles organization, wide eyed and anxious to pursue my childhood dream. Through Bluefield, Aberdeen, Delmarva, Frederick, Bowie, Norfolk and ultimately Baltimore. I’ve met people that forever impacted me as a player and a person. I’m sad to leave those memories behind but beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to be an Oriole for this long. Birdland – thank you for your support throughout my entire career, through the ups and downs you were always there. I SALUTE YOU!”
Britton’s road now leads him to the Bronx and new memories. Let’s help him close the door on Baltimore and begin his new journey in Pinstripes. I am sure when he pulls on his Pinstriped jersey today, he will experience the pride that goes with the history and tradition of Baseball’s most storied franchise. Welcome, Zach! We are glad you are here.
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)
The Yankees are back home today and begin a four-game set against the Kansas City Royals. Sonny Gray (7-7, 5.34 ERA) looks to build upon the positive vibes from his last start. For the Royals, they’ll start the only pitcher that I’ve ever heard of for this series (Jakob Junis, 5-10, 5.03 ERA). For the rest of the games, the Royals will throw out Brad Keller, Heath Fillmyer, and Burch Smith. In other words, who? The Yankees need to win these games. The Royals are a beatable team. I know the Yankees have struggled against teams with losing records this year but past performance does not have to equal future results (or so they say). Today is a new day, a day which needs a Yankees victory. Guys, please make it happen even if you don’t make it “Happ-en”.