|Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports|
And Thus Endeth the Cole Rumors…
The trade rumor that wouldn’t go away…did. The Pittsburgh Pirates finally traded their so-called ace to the Houston Astros for a package that included reliever Joe Musgrove (a speculated middle-of-the-rotation starter type), third baseman Colin Moran, reliever Michael Feliz, and minor league outfielder Jason Martin. Moran, former Major Leaguer B.J. Surhoff’s nephew, was the Astros’ seventh-rated prospect according to MLB.com.
If the Yankees did, in fact, offer Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, and Miguel Andujar to the Pirates, Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington didn’t stop until he could find a much worse package for Steel Town. In reality, the trade shows that GM Brian Cashman never offered the much talked about packages for Cole. It’s been said that he may have only offered Clint Frazier OR Chance Adams. The Yankees were clearly not as high on Cole as the Astros were.
I’m glad the page can finally be turned. I am in favor of adding a starting pitcher only if it upgrades the current starting rotation. After completion of the one-year contracts for all the arbitration-eligible players, the Yankees have approximately $22 million left before they hit the luxury tax threshold (which is, of course, a hard “salary cap” in the Hal Steinbrenner Universe) of $197 million. The Yankees will not use all of that money so to say that they have $22 million left to spend is a bit of a misnomer. They need to set aside $2 million in case CC Sabathia hits his bonus milestones and there’s no way that Team Hal will bring payroll (AAV) tightly against the threshold. He’ll want a buffer and of course there needs to be enough room to play at the trading deadline. Only the Yankees truly know how much money they have left to spend.
If the Yankees did sign a free agent pitcher like Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb, it is a certainty that the contract of Brett Gardner or David Robertson would be moved to make room. With the money the Yankees would have to include with Jacoby Ellsbury if they could entice him to waive his no-trade clause, I don’t think moving him would provide enough salary space for a big ticket purchase. They’d have to find a team willing to take at least half of his current salary and honestly I don’t think that team exists.
Chris Archer, we’re coming for you. With Cole out of the picture, the pitcher most likely to draw top speculation as the guy targeted for the Yankees, it is the talented 29-year-old righthander of the Tampa Bay Rays. Of course, it’s possible that we could start hearing Michael Fulmer’s name again but both men continue to carry high price tags. If he doesn’t get a viable role for the 2018 Yankees (i.e., trade of Gardner or Ellsbury to make way), Frazier would look very good in Detroit’s outfield.
Even despite the current stagnant free agent market, I don’t think either Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier will accept a one-year “pillow” contract regardless of what happens between now and training camp. I like the left-handed bat of Moustakas but I think he’ll eventually end up with the St Louis Cardinals.
At this point, there is not really much left to do for the Yankees except make preparations to to start training camp in a month. Now that long-time coach Rob Thomson (annual organizer of training camp) is in Philadelphia, third base coach Phil Nevin and others will have to step up and deliver for new manager Aaron Boone. I am looking forward to the results of their preparation and organization as they host the members and challengers for the 2018 New York Yankees.
Go ahead, underestimate Didi Gregorius…
The MLB Network has been reviewing their top ten lists at each position, but they blew it for shortstops. The omission of Didi Gregorius is wrong. There’s no way that I’d trade Didi for half of the guys on this list:
Tim Beckham over Didi is a joke. Trevor Story was struggling to hold his job last season and it’s only a matter of time until Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers pushes him out of the way.
That’s fine. Pitch to Didi like you think he’s an afterthought in the Yankees lineup and let’s see what happens.
Congratulations to Tyler Austin…
Tyler Austin proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Stephanie Dana, over the weekend and she said yes. Hopefully this is a sign that 2018 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for the young Yankees first baseman/outfielder. Congrats to Tyler and Stephanie!
The New York Mess…
The Mets are really going to sign free agent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez? It makes me appreciate every day that I am a Yankees fan. Nothing like pushing a young, promising first baseman (Dominic Smith) out of the way for an aged ‘has-been’. Jon Heyman’s argument is that A-Gon only costs the minimum and there are questions about Smith’s conditioning. Viable arguments but I am glad that A-Gon is on their team and not mine.
|Photo Credit: Orange County Register|
Life as a Minnesota Vikings fan has not been as rewarding as life as a Yankees fan, but the best Vikings team in years takes the field today against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC playoffs. The winner moves on to the NFC Championship to play the Eagles in Philadelphia. I am hopeful and optimistic that the Vikings will be the ones traveling to the City of Brotherly Love.
The Vikings will feature three active QB’s behind starter Case Keenum. Sam Bradford, who missed the majority of the season with a knee injury, was activated for today’s game. He’ll be joined by fellow QB’s Teddy Bridgewater and Kyle Sloter. With Keenum, Bradford, and Bridgewater all potential free agents after the season, I was very glad to see the Vikings waive backup TE Kyle Carter rather than Sloter to free up a spot for Bradford. Bradford was the starting QB in the season opener when the Vikings beat the Saints. My hope is that all three backups need to do no more than hold clipboards while Keenum continues his season of rejuvenation.
And as always, Go Yankees!
|Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports|
Yankees 13, Tigers 4…
Watch out, the Yankees have the runs! Seriously, it was great to finally have a breather. The tone was set early when Gary Sanchez blasted the second longest home run this year (493 feet) as the Yankees throttled the Tigers.
Aaron Hicks got the party started in the first inning with a one-out single, a grounder up the middle. Enter El Gary. Boom! He blasted a moon shot that flew over all rows in the left field stands and bounced off the back wall just under the LED board that shows pitch count. The home run was two feet short of the home run Aaron Judge hit on June 11th against the Baltimore Orioles. Aaron Judge, moved down in the order to clean-up, worked a walk off Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd. Didi Gregorius, the road warrior (has hit in 16 of his last 19 road games), lined a double to right-center. Judge advanced to third. The Yankees picked up their final run of the inning when Tyler Austin lofted a sacrifice fly to center which scored Judge. 3-0, Yankees.
|Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports|
With Masahiro Tanaka cruising, the Yankees picked up more runs in the third. Aaron Judge led off with another walk. Didi Gregorius hit an infield bouncer toward third that glanced off the leg of the pitcher, Matthew Boyd, as he attempted to field the ball. Didi was awarded a hit. Tyler Austin lined a solid fly that dropped in left, scoring Judge. Didi moved to second. After Chase Headley lined out to center, Todd Frazier ripped the ball down the line to the right field corner. Both Judge and Gregorius scored. The Toddfather safely slid into third ahead of the outfield relay. The Tigers pulled Boyd and brought in reliever Warwick Saupold. Ronald Torreyes, the little man always coming up big, lined a sacrifice fly to right, and Frazier slid into home under the throw from the outfield. The Yankees led, 7-0.
The Tigers finally got on the board in the bottom of the 3rd. James McCann led off with a liner to center to reach first. Two outs later, Ian Kinsler hit a long fly that bounced off the warning track in center for a double. McCann scored on the play.
The Yankees loaded the bases in the 4th with a single (Gary Sanchez) and two walks (Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin) but couldn’t score. With Warwick Saupold still on the mound, they broke through with more runs in the 5th. Todd Frazier lined a single to left. Ronald Torreyes chopped a hit through the left side for single. Brett Gardner hit into a fielder’s choice to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, Cabrera off first, threw to second to erase Toe. Gardy was too fast for the Tigers to get the ball back to first. Runners at the corners. Aaron Hicks hit an infield grounder toward first that Miguel Cabrera couldn’t field cleanly. It was ruled a fielder’s choice with Hicks safely reaching base. Frazier scored on the play while Gardy took second. After Gary Sanchez struck out, Aaron Judge ripped the ball to left to score Gardy. The Yankees had increased their lead to 9-1. It was the end of the day for Saupold. I was sorry to see him go. The Tigers brought in Drew VerHagen and he got the Tigers out of the inning by inducing Didi Gregorius to ground out to second.
The 7th inning brought more runs for both sides. I am sure that Sonny Gray was feeling slightly envious of the run support Masahiro Tanaka was getting. Brett Gardner led off the 7th with a triple, a long fly to right that Alex Presley couldn’t catch up to. Aaron Hicks followed with a shot into the right center field stands and the Yankees had added to their lead, 11-1.
|Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports|
In the bottom of the inning, the Tigers finally broke through against Tanaka again. John Hicks, pinch-hitting for Miguel Cabrera, doubled to left. Nicholas Castanellos homered to right, just a few rows up in the stands and it was 11-3. Following a coaching visit to the mound by pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Andrew Romine hit a ball down the left field line similar to the ball that John Hicks had hit, but Gardy’s throw to second was ahead of the runner for the out. A ground out by James McCann ended the inning and the game for Masahiro Tanaka.
Chasen Shreve replaced Tanaka in the 8th. He retired the Tigers despite a double by Jose Iglesias to push the game to the 9th. With Tigers reliever Jeff Ferrell pitching, Tyler Wade, pinch-hitting for Ronald Torreyes, reached on an infield single to short thanks to his speed out of the box. Following line outs by Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez hit his second home run, a blast to right. It was 13-3 Yankees. The homer was El Gary’s 25th of the year. He is only 5 homers of the team record shared by Jorge Posada and Yogi Berra (twice). All this from a man who missed a month of the season. I think he likes the third hole in the lineup.
Shreve finished up the 9th to protect the bullpen. There was a bit of comedy with Nicholas Castanellos at bat (easy to say when the Yankees are holding a 10-run lead). Castanellos hit a fly to center. Jacoby Ellsbury tried to catch the ball on a slide but the ball got past him and rolled to the wall. Brett Gardner retrieved it and threw to the cut-off man, Tyler Wade, who threw home too late to get Castanellos. Inside-the-park home run and the second HR of the night for Castanellos. Andrew Romine followed with a high fly ball that took Brett Gardner to the wall but Gardy made the catch to end the game. The Yankees win!
The Yankees (67-57), who picked up a 1/2 game during Monday’s day off thanks to a Red Sox loss, couldn’t make up any ground on Tuesday as Boston pounded the Cleveland Indians, 9-1. It was an interesting game for the Red Sox as starter Doug Fister gave up a lead off home run to Francisco Lindor and then held the Indians hitless for the duration of the game. Not bad for a bargain basement pickup. The Yankees trail the Sox by 4 games. The battle for third place in the AL East continues to swing back and forth between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-5, to move back into third. They are 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees. The O’s fell to the Oakland A’s, 6-4. They are 7 games back of the Yankees. No change in the Wild Card standings as the Yankees continue to lead the Minnesota Twins by 2 1/2 games.
I had no problem with Manager Joe Girardi’s decision to pinch-hit for Aaron Judge in the 7th inning. Judge had four at-bats. He walked three times and had the RBI single. He also scored two times. It was a productive day for him and it was time for the MLB-record for strikeouts in consecutive games to end at 37. Girardi denied pulling Judge to end the streak but regardless of whether or not he did, I thought it was the right thing to do.
|Credit: Carlos Osorio-Associated Press|
The two-run home run masked an otherwise tremendous start by Masahiro Tanaka (9-10). This is the pitcher the Yankees need down the stretch. His final line was 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 4 SO which qualified as a quality start but it was better than that. Nice job, Masa!
|Credit: Carlos Osorio-Associated Press|
It was a very productive night for Gary Sanchez, including the two home runs, and Aaron Hicks, with his dinger. They had 4 and 3 RBI’s, respectively. Every Yankees starter reached base by either hit or walk. We needed this. Hopefully the Yankees will continue to hit and drive in runs during this road trip.
Have a great Wednesday! The Yankees can take the series today with a win. Go Luis Severino and Go Yankees!
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
For CC Sabathia, it really came down to one bad pitch. With runners at first and second with two outs in the top of the 2nd inning, CC got into an extended battle with Tigers first baseman John Hicks, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Hicks deposited a poorly thrown backdoor slider into the right field stands (just beyond the glove of a leaping Aaron Judge), giving the Tigers a lead they would not relinquish.
|Credit: Paul J Bereswill-New York Post|
Justin Upton homered off Sabathia in the 3rd inning, also with two outs, to give the Tigers the necessary insurance run they would need to win. The Yankees wasted an opportunity to chip away in the bottom of the 3rd when Tyler Wade led off with a double to center. A wild pitch by Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez moved Wade to third with no outs. But Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge all failed to bring Wade home.
In the bottom of the 4th, the Yankees finally got on the board when Gary Sanchez opened with a double to left. Didi Gregorius homered to right to bring the Yankees within two runs, 4-2. But those were the only runs the Yankees would be able to get off Anibal Sanchez.
The Yankees picked up their final run in the bottom of the 8th against the Tigers bullpen. With Alex Wilson pitching, Gary Sanchez singled to left and advanced to second on a throwing error by left fielder Justin Upton. The Tigers replaced Wilson with Daniel Stumpf and he was greeted by a run-scoring single from Didi Gregorius to make it a one-run game. Matt Holliday grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Tigers almost added to their lead in the top of the 9th. David Robertson had been brought in to start the inning, in relief of Adam Warren. Thanks to two singles, the Tigers had runners at first and second with two outs. Austin Romine’s brother Andrew singled to center but Brett Gardner gunned down the lead runner (James McCann) at the plate.
|Credit: Jim McIsaac-Getty Images|
In the bottom of the 9th, Jacoby Ellsbury walked with two outs. A throwing error by Tigers reliever Shane Greene on a pick-off attempt allowed Ellsbury to race to third. The Tigers chose to intentionally walk Brett Gardner to face Clint Frazier. Gardner stole second to put the winning run in scoring position. The stage was set for Frazier to be the hero. Unfortunately, he took two called strikes without moving his bat and then popped out on the third pitch from Greene to end the game. It was a disappointing loss and another game of missed opportunities.
The Yankees (57-48) dropped a half game behind the Boston Red Sox with the loss. Boston battled the Cleveland Indians all night long, with the lead constantly changing hands. The Indians scored 7 runs off Red Sox ace Chris Sale in the game. They also scored two runs in the top of the 9th against Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, including a solo homer by Francisco Lindor which tied the game. The Indians took a 10-9 lead into the bottom of the 9th with closer Cody Allen on the mound, but Boston’s Christian Vasquez hit a three-run homer for the 12-10 walk-off win. The Tampa Bay Rays also won. They beat the Houston Astros, 6-4, behind Chris Archer. They are 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees. The Baltimore Orioles won their fourth consecutive game (7-2 over the Kansas City Royals) so they moved within 5 1/2 games of the Yankees.
|Credit: John Wilcox-Boston Herald|
|Credit: Kathy Willens-AP|
|Credit: Robert Sabo-New York Post|
Credit: Getty Images
Jaime Garcia, in a pre-game interview, told the story how his late grandfather had told him as a boy he would play for the Yankees. The Yankees are his family’s favorite team, and they were Jaime’s favorite team as a kid. Great story. I am looking forward to watching Jaime pitch in pinstripes. Based on Joe Girardi’s comments, it appears that Sonny Gray will start in Cleveland on Thursday and Garcia will take the mound the next day. I hate to be guilty of looking ahead, but I can’t wait for Thursday and Friday. They should be fun and exciting games.
Credit: Kathy Willens-AP
It has been said that the Gray trade has the potential to be a steal for the Yankees. While I am glad Gray is a Yankee, the potential also exists for the trade to be a steal for the A’s. I still believe that James Kaprielian can be a top of the rotation starter. Jorge Mateo and Dustin Fowler can be very dangerous players for a future A’s squad. Best case, the trade is a win/win for both organizations.
It was another win for Chance Adams (7-3, 2.32 ERA). The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders defeated the Buffalo Bisons, 5-1, on Tuesday behind Adams but the usual problem surfaced with too many walks (four). He went 6 innings (101 pitches), giving up 8 hits and 3 runs to the Bisons. He struck out 3. Billy McKinney, one of the players that will need to be placed on the 40-man roster before December’s Rule 5 Draft, hit a three-run homer to back Adams.
The Cubs can still say “Wait ’til next year!”…
Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs and their (true) fans for the long-awaited World Series championship!
Credit: Brian Cassella, The Chicago Tribune
Admittedly, I was pulling for the Cleveland Indians. I have no great love for the Indians, but ace reliever Andrew Miller was my favorite Yankee during his time in New York. Also, I have the highest respect for manager Terry Francona, who is probably my favorite manager outside of Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
Still, it was exciting to see the young Cubs finally bring closure to baseball’s longest drought. It’s staggering to think how many Cubs fans lived their entire lives without seeing a Cubs championship. For the first time in my life, the Cubs have won more recently than the Yankees. The Cubs are poised for future success so, in a way, this feels like the 1996 Yankees. The best of the Cubs may be yet to come.
It was an interesting World Series with both bullpens featuring pitchers who represented the back end of the Yankees’ pen earlier this year with flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman and the very versatile Andrew Miller. There was speculation that the pitchers would play a key role in the seventh game of the series, but both had off nights (thanks in large part to the heavy load that both carried over the course of the series).
Credit: Nam Y. Huh, AP
It was arguably one of the greatest World Series that I’ve seen. How often is the World Series tied at the end of the 9th inning of Game 7? Not very…with a statement of the obvious. I do feel bad for the Indians and their fans to come so close. Victory was within their reach with a clutch hit or two.
Theo Epstein has proven that he is the master of dispelling curses. He did it in Boston and now he’s done it in Chicago. I wonder if he’s ever thought about pro football? I am starting to think that he’d be a wise choice to take control of the Minnesota Vikings. Seriously, Theo deserves much credit for bringing a championship to Chicago.
Credit: The Associated Press
I know that he was glad to return to New York, but I wonder if there was a part of reliever Adam Warren that missed being a member of the Cubs during October.
Credit: Bleacher Nation
The future of Pinstripes…
Now that the World Series is over, the Hot Stove League can begin. Next week, we’ll see the opening of free agency, although any real activity is still a few weeks away. I am very hopeful the Yankees aggressively pursue either Chapman or Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. I am not really interested in a reunion with Washington Nationals free agent closer Mark Melancon. I’d really like to see the Yankees employ Dellin Betances much like how Miller was used by the Indians. With a strong closer, and hopefully continued improvement by young pitchers like Jonathan Holder, the Yankees bullpen has the potential to be as great as it was early last season. I’ll miss Miller but the Yankees can take much pressure off the starting rotation with a strong pen. That’s a much easier fix than a trade for a frontline starter like Chris Sale.
I wish I knew with certainty that Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, and Tyler Austin will be as ready for the major leagues next spring as Gary Sanchez. If these players struggle, it may be a long year in New York.
The Arizona Fall League has shown the Yankees have a great shortstop/second base prospect in Gleyber Torres, who could eventually force the Yankees to move Starlin Castro or Didi Gregorius, but he’s still a few years away. The Yankees don’t have an immediate high level third base prospect, but Miguel Andujar has shown he is doing his best to fast track it to the Bronx to allow the Yankees to replace the disappointing Chase Headley. I am excited about the future of starting pitcher James Kaprielian. I just hope that he’s not included in any trades for more established pitchers.
Credit: Bill Mitchell
This is a difficult off-season for the Yankees. If they stay the course and continue to acquire young prospects and avoid large free-agent signings, it’ll be hard for the team to take the next step to return to World Series contention. After so much work to acquire top level prospects, it would be foolish to trade them away for players in their 30’s.
Clearly, the Yankees have guys they can and should move. As much as Brian McCann wants to stay in New York, it makes too much sense to move him to Atlanta or elsewhere. With young catchers like Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka to back up Gary Sanchez, the Yankees have greater needs in other areas. The Yankees do need to move either Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury. The latter would be preferable, but the former might be easier, but maybe not as easy as it would have been a year ago. Chase Headley is an overpay, but until something better comes along, he’s not going anywhere.
While I understand the reasons the Yankees need to non-tender pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who is currently recuperating from Tommy John surgery, I do hope that they find a way to re-sign him to a deal to allow him to return following his recovery. It’s a given that second baseman/utility-man Dustin Ackley will be non-tendered, ending his brief Yankees career. I had always hoped that he’d finally unlock his potential in New York but it was not meant to be.
The next two months will go a long way toward shaping the 2017 Yankees. They could be inactive, much like last year, or they could be aggressive. I am hoping for something in the middle. Cautious, strategic planning for long-term sustainability…and Aroldis Chapman.
Time will tell as it often does…
Glad my favorite NFL team is 4-0…
The playoffs have started but it clearly feels as though baseball is over for me this year given the Yankees are home for the holidays. I’ve picked up the mantle for the Los Angeles Dodgers given they are my favorite National League team, but of course, it’s just not the same. Realistically, I don’t think anyone is beating the Chicago Cubs in the NL this year. They seem to be the team of destiny. In our lifetime, we’ve seen the end of the Curse of the Bambino and now it seems the end of the Cubbies’ World Series drought is near.
On the AL side, I thought the Boston Red Sox would emerge as the premier team. But two games into the AL playoffs has shown a short 5 game series is anybody’s to win. The Red Sox are not playing like the team that completely destroyed the Yankees in Boston a few weeks ago. I have no doubt the Red Sox can sweep the next three games to win their series against the Cleveland Indians but obviously they do find themselves in a precarious situation with no room for error. I have been quietly surprised and pleased by Cleveland’s performance. Tito Francona has long been one of my favorite managers (Don Mattingly is the other) and he is showing why in this series against his former team.
Credit: Jake Roth, USA Today Sports
The Texas Rangers quietly had the best year in the AL, but they have absolutely no pitching answer for the devastating bats in the Toronto Blue Jays’ lineup. Right now, the odds are in favor of a Blue Jays-Indians American League Championship Series. I thought we’d be looking at Red Sox-Rangers but I guess that’s why they play the games.
Fortunately, the quick start by the health-challenged Minnesota Vikings gives me something to think about other than baseball and the absence of America’s favorite team.
Credit: Jerry Holt, TNS
Excuse me, can I have that chair?…
With spots on the 40-man roster at a premium, it wasn’t a surprise to see the recent moves to free up space. While Blake Parker and Kirby Yates did well, at times, during the season, they are replaceable parts. It didn’t take the Los Angeles Angels long to snatch up both players. The Yankees also cut ties with Eric Young, Jr but that was no surprise as his only role was speed for September (filling the Rico Noel role from a year earlier). No doubt there are more moves to be made. I am glad to see the Yankees protect young guys like catcher Kyle Higashioka who could have been lost without a spot on the 40-man roster. Tough decisions for GM Brian Cashman.
Credit: Reinhold Matay, USA Today Sports
When you are trying to protect young talent, the 40-man roster suddenly feels so limiting. I am sure there will be some losses of quality talent in this year’s Rule 5 draft. It is always hard to see lost prospects achieve major league success elsewhere (Jose Quintana of the Chicago White Sox comes to mind). Last year saw the Yankees lose a couple of guys, like outfielder Jake Cave, but fortunately none stuck on their respective major league rosters and were returned. I don’t think they’ll be so lucky this year.
I am thankful that Alex Rodriguez will not be filling one of those seats this off-season. As much as Brian McCann would like to stay, I think the Yankees need to find a way to move him and his salary. I would prefer a more consistent bat at DH but even if the Yankees don’t go outside for help, they have a plethora of young outfielders. Greg Bird will most likely replace Mark Teixeira at first which means the Yankees need to find a place for Tyler Austin. With so many outfield options, DH might be the best spot for the young slugger who could then spell Bird at times.
With such a youthful roster, guys like Chase Headley are suddenly looking very old.
Credit: Noah K Murray, USA Today Sports
I remain hopeful that the Yankees will pursue a proven closer like Aroldis Chapman (my preference) or Kenley Jansen in the off-season. With Dellin Betances moving back into the primary setup role, the Yankees bullpen could return to its status as one of the game’s best which would relieve pressure on the starting rotation. I just don’t see any great starting pitching options available in the trade market which wouldn’t cost multiple top prospects.
As much as I would love to have one of the impending free agent bats in Toronto, I think the cost would be too great for the team at this point in time. I like the strategy of acquiring a young players with upside like Aaron Hicks even if that one didn’t exactly pan out…yet. That’s exactly what the Blue Jays did when they acquired Jose Bautista from the Pittsburgh Pirates and I think that one turned out well for the acquiring team.
I don’t think I’ll be ready to proclaim the Yankees as a World Series contender come Spring, but hopefully the team continues to make the moves to set up the Yankees for a run in 2018 and beyond. A strong base for sustained success is unquestionably the best path over any quick fixes.
Now is the time when Brian Cashman truly earns his paycheck…
Credit: Corey Sipkin, New York Daily News
Saving the best dance for last…
After a ho-hum drive to the trading deadline, it was a fun ride after the Yankees disposed of their top relievers and their best bat. The release of Alex Rodriguez signaled the opening of the youth movement, which had technically already begun with the trades for Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro. Yet, it wasn’t until catcher Gary Sanchez arrived that the magic was re-inserted into Yankee Stadium. With Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Tyler Austin as the opening act in August, the team thrust themselves back into post-season contention. For a time, it seemed as though it might work, but a brutal September schedule brought an end to those aspirations. Still, for the Yankees to be in contention as late as September 29th, it was an improbable ride.
The Baby Bombers gave Yankees fans reason to be optimistic again. Judge’s stay was short-lived due to injury but it gave the Yankees a chance to see other guys like Mason Williams.
I am not foolish enough to believe that Luis Cessa or Chad Green are the next great aces in baseball, but both achieved some success at the major league level and are posed to compete for jobs next spring.
It’s clear that the off-season strategy should involve getting a high caliber bat, a starting pitcher and help for the relief corps. I am not convinced that Dellin Betances can be a frontline closer but as a set up guy, he’s among the best. The Yankees would be wise to re-secure the services of former closer Aroldis Chapman in free agency. I prefer Chapman over Dodgers closer and free agent to be Kenley Jansen because Chapman is just a freak of nature…and he’s shown he can have success in New York. Chapman should be the team’s top target so that they can shorten games and take pressure off the starting rotation.
Credit: Kim Klement, USA Today Sports
I am not sure who’s out there for starting pitching but I’d prefer not to invest big dollars in a 36 year old like Rich Hill who has reinvented himself as a top starter. Young, controllable talent will come at a very steep price, and there’s not really much available through free agency. The Yankees would be wise to see what they could get for Michael Pineda but after his disappointing 6-12 season, the return would be minimal. Actually, the Pittsburgh Pirates should be all in for a Pineda trade. Struggling Yankees pitchers always seem to pitch like aces in Pittsburgh.
The only obvious starters in the rotation for next season are Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia. It could also be the final years as Yankees for both pitchers. Tanaka can opt out of his contract after next season and Sabathia’s long-term and at times onerous contract finally reaches it conclusion.
A year lost to injury probably removes James Kaprielian as a rotation option next year. Hopefully, other guys like Jordan Montgomery and Justus Sheffield will have a chance to show what they can bring.
GM Brian Cashman has his work cut out in trying to restructure the team’s pitching.
As for offense, I am sure that we’ll hear names like Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. But neither name really excites me. I am hopeful that Aaron Judge can play to his potential and that Gary Sanchez shows that his hot start was not a fluke. Greg Bird will be the team’s starting first baseman with the retirement of Mark Teixeira and barring competition from Tyler Austin. It would be nice if the team could find a new third baseman, and perhaps trade Brett Gardner. Moving both Chase Headley and Brian McCann would be a huge win.
The Yankees need to make some off-season moves to put the team in better position for 2017 but it will be difficult without sacrificing some of the quality prospects they acquired over the last couple of months or their own homegrown talent.
I don’t see any obvious answers other than to let Cashman continue to piece together his hope and vision for the coming years.
I am thankful the Yankees gave us a few months of excitement after the up and down start. I feel better about the team as it enters this off-season than I did last year. It’s unfortunate that the team was unable to make the playoffs but realistically, this team was not ready for October success. Hopefully the current Cashman path has the Yankees on a collision course for next October. Time will tell. It should be an interesting off-season.
Farewell to #16…
A week ago, I woke up on Sunday morning to the dreadful news that Miami Marlins’ ace Jose Fernandez had perished in a boating accident. At first, I didn’t want to believe and had hoped it was just another internet hoax. But sadly, it was true. When I thought of pitchers the Yankees should try to trade for, I always thought of Fernandez. Aside from being one of the best pitchers in baseball, his enthusiasm and team spirit were always at the forefront. His personality would have captured New York.
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It was probably unlikely the Yankees ever could have secured Fernandez as the price tag would have been very high but it was fun to think about. Now, we’re left only with thoughts of what could have been. For his short time in the majors, he made a mark. When the Marlins made the decision to retire his number even though he had only been in the majors a few years, it was the right thing to do. If Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball, Fernandez was in the same room.
Watching Marlins manager Don Mattingly break down while talking about Fernandez was hard to see. Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair, and the world would have been a much better place had Fernandez been able to take the field for his scheduled start last Monday against the New York Mets. He will be missed. His loss is felt all across Major League Baseball, and he will not be forgotten. In various parts around the world, there are young boys who idolized Fernandez. Undoubtedly, some of those young men will one day make their MLB dreams come true. Through them, Fernandez will continue to live on.
Rest in peace, Jose…
The Fat Lady sings…
It’s been a fun ride since the Baby Bombers era began, but alas, all good things must end. The series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox have all but ended any playoff aspirations. Admittedly, I didn’t feel the Yankees would have been successful in October but still, it’s disappointing it will not happen given how close the team came. Probably even more disappointing is how winnable the games on the current losing streak were.
Gary Sanchez has proven he is a bonafide future superstar. There’s no doubt he is the team’s catcher now and in the future. Yogi Berra and Thurman Munson would have been proud.
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I remain unconvinced that Dellin Betances can be the dominant closer that his predecessors were. His inability to hold runners and the mental aspect of his game can be too challenging. I think he is better served as the primary setup guy. In the off-season, I’d really like to see the Yankees go after pending free agents Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen. Given how frugal the team has become, it’s most probable that the team will keep the status quo. Clearly, the team will need to bring in at least one proven starting pitcher (#3 caliber or better) so it’s unlikely they’d spend big dollars on a closer and go after an ace.
The commitment to youth is great, but the Yankees really need to do more to replace the underachieving veterans on the team. Jacoby Ellsbury has only proven the Yankees were foolish for not spending more to retain former second baseman Robinson Cano. Cano is far more valuable than the duo of Ellsbury and Starlin Castro.
The Yankees probably missed the window to trade Gardner for a quality return.
I know that Brian McCann will most likely be moved in the off-season even if cash is involved to help cover the cost of the contract. It’s too bad the team can’t find a way to move Ellsbury and Chase Headley too.
Good hire by the Blue Jays…
I was disappointed to see Ben Cherington take the VP of Baseball Ops position with the Toronto Blue Jays. I still think the Yankees should promote GM Brian Cashman and hire a new GM. Alex Anthopoulos remains my favorite choice, but Ben Cherington was a very close second. He is a good baseball executive who does not get enough credit for the job he did with the Boston Red Sox.
Whew, I won’t miss that bat…
I am glad to hear that the Yankees will be honoring retiring Red Sox slugger David Ortiz on September 29th. He has been such a great opponent over the years, and I certainly will not miss his walk-off hits against the Yankees. He’s been one of the game’s best for a long time and he certainly leaves behind his mark of excellence.
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Today represents the opening of the new US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota as the Vikings face their chief rival, the Green Bay Packers, in Sunday night football. The game should also feature the introduction of Sam Bradford as the new starting quarterback. I am ready to see what Bradford can do with a solid supporting cast. Hopefully his ability to throw downfield will open up the running lanes for Adrian Peterson.
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Although the Vikings lost when they opened their temporary home (TCF Bank Stadium) a couple of years ago, they have not lost when opening a permanent home (winning the inaugural games at both Metropolitan Stadium and the Metrodome). Let’s hope that history repeats itself. Go Vikings!