Category: Yankees

Thanksgiving…THANKS for GIVING us Otani? I hope!…

Much to be thankful for…

As Thanksgiving approaches, we have much to be thankful for this year. The Yankees clearly exceeded our expectations and they appear to be on the cusp of another great dynasty run.  It wasn’t that long ago that the Yankees were called an old team  with bare cupboards.  Thanks to GM Brian Cashman and his team, the MLB roster is loaded, the farm system is fully restocked and the future is excessively bright. I am grateful for the leadership of the Yankees and I am very excited about the upcoming seasons.

So, New York Yankees, THANK YOU!

Hot Stove League simmering…

Aside from Monday’s flurry of activity as the Yankees worked rapidly to finalize the 40-man Roster of Record for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, it has been a very quiet week.

Tuesday evening saw the MLBPA and Nippon Professional Baseball reach a tentative agreement on a new posting system to cover this off-season and the next three years. The MLB owners must still ratify the new agreement which should occur next Friday, December 1st. It is expected that Shohei Otani will be posted on Saturday, December 2nd, and MLB teams will have three weeks to sign the Japanese superstar. So, by this time next month, we should know whether or not Otani will be wearing Pinstripes in 2018. All I want for Christmas is Shohei Otani in the Yankees starting rotation…with bat in hand for his off days!

Credit:  Masterpress/Getty Images

This off-season it feels like teams are raiding the Yankees. We’ve seen the Miami Marlins snag the Yankees VP of Player Personnel (Gary Denbo) and the Houston Astros grabbed Yankees third base coach Joe Espada to be their new bench coach replacing Alex Cora (who was named the new manager of the Boston Red Sox).  The Red Sox have also indirectly caused the latest departure from the organization.  When Boston named Ron Roenicke as their new bench coach for Cora’s staff, it created an opening on the Los Angeles Angels coaching staff.  Roenicke had been the third base coach for the Angels last year.  Angels bench coach Dino Abel was moved to third base to replace Roenicke and the Angels hired Yankees minor league coordinator Josh Paul, credited with the development of Gary Sanchez, to be their new bench coach under manager Mike Scioscia. When the Yankees parted ways with manager Joe Girardi, Paul’s name was quickly mentioned as a possible replacement but he was never formally interviewed. I assume that he was a possibility for the new Yankee manager’s coaching staff but he took the ‘sure thing’ with the opportunity to be the bench coach for the Angels where he’ll be reunited with his former boss, GM Billy Eppler. I am sorry to see Paul go given how highly he was thought of within the Yankees organization but you can’t fault the guy for seeking advancement. He’s positioning himself to ensure that he does get the next managerial interview.

Credit:  Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports

Dellin Betances was caught on record this week while participating with a turkey giveaway in the Bronx.  He gave an endorsement for Rob Thomson as the next Yankees manager.  “A lot of guys like to work with him.”  I hate to read into anything but “a lot” is not “everyone”.  I still prefer Thomson as a member of the coaching staff as opposed to its leader.  But I am not so strongly opposed to Thomson that I’d be disappointed if he is named manager.  Support by the majority of the team is a huge positive.

All Rise except Judge (he can keep his arm down)…

The Yankees announced that Aaron Judge underwent shoulder surgery earlier this week (“loose-body removal and cartilage clean-up”). It doesn’t sound too severe and Judge is expected to be ready when camp opens in Tampa next February.  The scariest part of the announcement was the surgeon…Dr Neal ElAttrache, the noted “Tommy John” surgeon and the team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Dr ElAttrache is the surgeon who performed the TJ surgery on former Yankees prospect James Kaprielian.

Credit:  Barbara Davidson, Los Angeles Times

Happy Recovery to Aaron!  We’re looking forward to seeing him at 100% next Spring (okay, 99% works in his case).

Pitching his way to Sunny and 75…

Yankees prospect RHP Colten Brewer has signed a minor league free agent deal with the San Diego Padres. Brewer was only in the Yankees system for a year. He had been claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system last December. Brewer, 25, did well at A/AA this year but couldn’t continue the success when he reached Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In six appearances for the RailRiders covering ten innings, he gave up 17 hits and 13 earned runs (11.70 ERA).

The Yankees Dream didn’t work out for Brewer but we wish him the best in San Diego.

Credit:  Martin Griff

Did they used to work for us?  Yikes!…

I do not blame the Yankees organization but it is a black mark that former Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella received a lifetime ban from MLB for his involvement in the fraudulent international signings scandal perpetrated by the Braves. Atlanta’s former head of scouting Gordon Blakeley received a one year suspension. Both Coppolella and Blakeley have their roots with the Yankees organization. Coppolella was an intern during the George Steinbrenner regime. Blakeley was a former Yankees scout credited for signing Robinson Cano, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, and Jose Contreras.

I am not blaming the Yankees for the actions of their former employees but admittedly, after their crimes, I wish they had been former Red Sox employees  (or some other team) as opposed to the Yankees.  However, I am sure the example set with the Braves and the penalties they’ve suffered will cause all teams to button up their processes for international signings.

I have great respect for new Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos but he has his hands full…no doubt an understatement.

Latest Yankees Managerial Candidate…

If outgoing WFAN host Mike Francesa is going to toss his name into the ring as a potential manager for the Yankees, I’ll throw one out…Bryan Van Dusen, co-owner of The Greedy Pinstripes!  The guy knows how to communicate with players and he loves statistical analysis.  Plus, he is a devout Yankees fan and has shown the ability to address the media in a highly effective manner.  Sounds like he checks all the boxes to me.

Van Dusen for Yankees Manager!

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Go Yankees!

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All Aboard the Yankees Train…

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg, New York Post

The 40-Man Chess Match…

Yesterday figured to be a very busy day for the Yankees as MLB teams had to set their 40-man Rosters of Record for Rule 5 eligibility (draft to be held at the conclusion of next month’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL) and it was.

Before the past weekend, the Yankees only had two open spots on the 40-man. Then, a few trades later, the Yankees were able to protect six young prospects from becoming potential ex-Yankees. Granted, any player chosen in the Rule 5 Draft has to stick on a MLB roster for the entire year but it happened as recent as last year when the San Diego Padres held on to Yankees catching prospect Luis Torrens (even though the very young Torrens was over-matched at the Major League level).

DEPARTURES

RHP Nick Rumbelow

RHP Ronald Herrera

LHP Caleb Smith

1B Garrett Cooper

ADDITIONS

LHP Reiver Sanmartin

LHP J.P. Sears

RHP Juan Then

RHP Michael King

International Bonus Pool Money ($250,000)

ADDED TO THE 40-MAN ROSTER

RHP Domingo Acevedo

RHP Albert Abreu

RHP Jonathan Loaisiga

INF Gleyber Torres

INF Thairo Estrada

OF Billy McKinney

Trade: Nick Rumbelow to the Seattle Mariners for LHP J.P. Sears and RHP Juan Then. I thought this was the best trade. Sears, 21, fits the Yankees mold as a former collegiate player who could be useful in the bullpen. Even though his fastball tops out at 92 mph, he has been something of a strikeout machine. In his final year at The Citadel, he led NCAA Division I with 142 K’s in 95 1/3 innings. Then (not the pitcher), last year, in his first year in the Minors, he struck out 51 batters in 27 2/3 innings. Then (the pitcher), 17, a projected middle of the rotation starter, is the only new prospect to crack MLB’s Top 30 Prospects for the Yankees (his debut is at #28 in front of RHPs Giovanny Gallegos and Trevor Stephan).

Credit:  MLB.com

Trade:  Ronald Herrera to the Texas Rangers for LHP Reiver Sanmartin.  Herrera provides the Rangers with an arm that is nearly ready while the Yankees buy some time with a lower level prospect. Sanmartin, 21, is a year younger than Herrera and has compiled a 14-4 record with 2.62 ERA over three minor league seasons.

Credit:  MiLB.com

Trade: Caleb Smith and Garrett Cooper to the Miami Marlins for Michael King and Shohei Otani Money. The Yankees lose a valuable lefty with Smith’s departure but I figured that his roster spot was the least secure. Cooper did a decent job when called upon last year, but it was inevitable that the Yankees would have to make a decision between Tyler Austin and Cooper despite the latter owning a name that recalls the late great actor Gary Cooper and the movie classic The Pride of the Yankees. The writing was on the wall when Billy McKinney started working out at first base in The Arizona Fall League. This trade is being advertised as Derek Jeter’s first even if he probably didn’t handle any of the negotiations. Marlins VP of Player Development and Scouting Gary Denbo knows a thing or two about Yankees prospects. Many were calling this trade a huge win for the Marlins but I thought it served a very useful purpose for the Yankees. They cleared two spots on the roster which ensured that Thairo Estrada and Jonathan Loaisiga (“Johnny Lasagna”) could be protected and added a lottery ticket with the 22-year-old King. Maybe King never realizes his dream, but the additional international bonus pool money gives the Yankees a total of $3.5 million to pursue Shohei Otani. If the Yankees are successful in signing Otani, it would be very hard to look at this trade as a failure for the Yankees regardless of how Smith or Cooper eventually perform for the Marlins.

The Yankees should gain better clarity about the availability of Otani later today. The MLBPA extended the posting agreement deadline, which had been scheduled to expire yesterday, by 24 hours. The new deadline is tonight at 8 pm ET.  If the parties are able to agree on a new posting agreement, it ensures that Otani will be posted this off-season and will make his much anticipated trip to the United States to choose his next team (or as I prefer, sign with the Yankees).

Credit:  The Japan Times

The Yankees will need to make additional roster moves should they sign Otani and/or re-sign CC Sabathia but for now, the Yankees are prepared for next month’s Rule 5 Draft. I am fearful of losing LHP Nestor Cortes, RHP Cale Coshow, and/or RHP J.P. Feyereisen, among others, but it speaks to the strength of the Yankees farm system that the potential losses will hurt.

I can’t end this post without mentioning another transaction that occurred yesterday even if it was non-Yankees news. The Toronto Blue Jays waived former Yankees fan favorite Rob Refsnyder and he was claimed by the Cleveland Indians. While I wish Refsnyder well in Cleveland, I kind of wish that he’d go somewhere like San Francisco where the Yankees wouldn’t have to routinely see him. I hold out hope that Refsnyder will achieve the promise he once held but admittedly his flame of potential is growing dimmer.

Credit:  Mark Lomoglio, Icon Sportswire

Now that the 40-man roster maneuvering has been completed, I fully expect the next week to be very quiet. Perhaps there are more managerial interviews but most likely, we’ll be on the other side of the Thanksgiving Weekend before we see any notable Yankees news.

While I would have loved being able to protect every valuable prospect, I thought the Yankees did a very good job covering the best of the best. Project Next Dynasty continues on its very very bright and positive path. We are now accepting applications for Bandwagon Fans. Go Yankees!

Workin’ on the Weekends…

The First Round continues…

Brian Cashman, the general manager currently working on a handshake deal with Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner, was burning the weekend oil yesterday.

After interviewing Hensley Meulens and Aaron Boone over the previous two days, Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward was in town to meet with Cash on Saturday. I don’t know Woodward and perhaps he may be a wonderful manager one day, but I don’t think he’s the right guy for the job right now. In his post-interview comments, he talked much about what Dave Roberts did. I am less concerned about what Roberts did and more concerned about what Woodward would do. I don’t want Dave Roberts 2.0.  Roberts did an outstanding job, but the new Yankees manager needs to be his own man. I know that Roberts name came up because the questions were asked about how Woodward gained insight working with the man who led the Dodgers to the doorstep of a World Series championship this year. But I really want a manager who is strong and confident in his own words and style. I thought Aaron Boone did a better job addressing the media despite the lack of any coaching experience.

It is well known the Yankees want a manager who will accept analytics and input from the front office. When Woodward was asked about analytics, he responded, “As a coach, it took the progression from Seattle to L.A. for me to understand the benefit of it.” That tells me he didn’t come to fully appreciate analytics until the last two years considering he joined the Dodgers on December 17, 2015.

Maybe I am overly negative about Woodward because I do not really know anything about him. I wasn’t in the room when he talked with Cashman, but he’s probably the least preferred (for me) of the candidates interviewed. I’d rank the candidates, based solely on those who have interviewed, in this order:

YANKEES MANAGER

  1. Hensley Meulens
  2. Aaron Boone
  3. Rob Thomson
  4. Eric Wedge
  5. Chris Woodward

Here is my order for preferred bench coaches:

YANKEES BENCH COACH

  1. Al Pedrique
  2. Eric Wedge
  3. Rob Thomson
  4. Jay Bell
  5. A name that has not expressed interest in coaching or managing…Jorge Posada (if he did have interest, I’d move Hip-Hip-Jorge further up the list)

I feel strongly that Pedrique needs to be part of the 2018 coaching staff. He knows the young Baby Bombers better than anyone. There is no one that has the same level of relationships that he’s built with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Clint Frazier, Jordan Montgomery, Gleyber Torres, Greg Bird, Chance Adams and others. He is credited for believing in a smallish-16 year old Jose Altuve when no one else would. After many other teams, including the Yankees, passed on Altuve for being too small, Pedrique talked the Houston Astros into giving the 2017 AL MVP and World Series Champion $15,000 to sign. That might be the best $15,000 ever spent in Major League Baseball, at least in modern times. Pedrique was able to see beyond the physical size to view the talent and the heart of the player.

Credit:  Cheryl Pursell, via Pinstriped Prospects

I had to put Posada’s name on the list. I miss the guy’s passion and intensity. When he’s on the field, there’s probably not too many guys that want to win more.

You may have different thoughts but that’s fine.  No one said that we had to agree.

No word if the Yankees will continue to interview more guys before moving on to Round 2. I had expected Jerry Hairston, Jr to talk but there have not been any indications he will.  Brad Ausmus has made it known that he wants to take a year off before resuming his managerial career. He was interested in the Red Sox job only because it was close to his home in Cape Cod and he grew up as a Red Sox fan. Aside from the Red Sox, Ausmus wants to devote the next year to his family. You can’t blame him for his priorities. I thought maybe the Yankees should interview Pittsburgh Pirates coach Joey Cora so that the Red Sox-Yankees Wars could be the Battle of the Cora Brothers. Okay, I am just kidding on that one. For the reasons I cite Pedrique as the preferred bench coach, I believe he should be afforded the opportunity to interview for the managing job.

We’ll see. The process continues and should gain better clarity over the next days and weeks as we move forward.

Making Room on the 40-Man…

Monday, November 20th is a big day for the Yankees. The 40-man roster of record for Rule 5 eligibility must be set by 7 pm Central Time. The Yankees had previously moved outfielder Jake Cave and reliever Nick Rumbelow to the 40-man roster, which left two spots open. With big names like Gleyber Torres, Albert Abreu and Billy McKinney, among others, that need to be protected, something has to give on the 40-man roster.

On Saturday, the first move was made when the Yankees sent Rumbelow to the Seattle Mariners for two lower level prospects…LHP J.P. Sears and RHP Juan Then.  Sears, 21, was an 11th round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft. Then, 17, was an international signing for $77,500 in 2016 out of the Dominican Republic.

John Patrick Sears pitched at Class A level after his draft selection last year. A reliever, he pitched a total of 27.2 innings for two teams.  In 17 games, he struck out 51 batters while walking only 12.  His ERA was a combined 0.65, but he did not give up any earned runs when he moved from Short Season-A Everett to Full Season-A Clinton (10 innings of work).  He is “Sonny Gray-sized”…alright, an inch taller (5’11”).  According to Baseball America, he works in the 88-92 mph range with a high spin fastball and uses deception from a low delivery slot.

Credit:  Citadel Athletics

Juan Then (man, did the ‘now and then’ jokes start popping up on Twitter) is obviously still very young (and raw). He carries high upside and projects as a mid-rotation starter.  Then pitched rookie level ball in the Dominican Summer League and was 2-2, 2.64 ERA in 61.1 innings. He struck out 56 batters. His fastball sat in the 90-92 mph range, and he also worked with a couple of offspeed pitches.

It’s tough to see a Major League-ready arm depart for future hopefuls, but it is the price that must be paid when you own one of the best farm systems in baseball. The Yankees will lose quality talent through Rule 5 but moves like this help protect more players. Last year was tough when the Yankees lost young catching prospect Luis Torrens who stuck on the San Diego Padres’ roster all season. I expect this year to be no different. For Rumbelow, he’s 26 and will have a much clearer shot at making a 2018 opening day roster with an opportunity to join the Mariners bullpen already stocked with former Yankees David Phelps and James Pazos.

I wonder if Brian Cashman is working today. Stupid question, I know he is. Go Yankees!

All Talk and No Action…

Credit:  Rich Schultz, Getty Images

Moving on to the Next Round?…

The Baseball off-season continues to move at a snail’s pace. Of course, things will change as we get past the Thanksgiving holiday and move into December and closer to the Baseball Winter Meetings.

In the meantime, we continue to pick apart every little thing that happens ad nauseum.  We learned this week that Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner not only supported GM Brian Cashman’s decision to sever ways with former manager Joe Girardi, he agreed with it and it has been something that they’ve had talks about for the past several years. Of course, that leads me to believe that it was Steinbrenner’s call and there are details that we may never really know. We do know there were perceived communication issues and that Girardi had failed to connect with the clubhouse, particularly over the last couple of seasons. Given how vocal both Cashman and Steinbrenner have been about the Girardi situation, it seems like there are more issues at play than just communication and connectivity to players. Steinbrenner implied that the Yankees would have made this decision even if the Yankees had won the World Series.

Although Girardi lasted a decade in the Bronx, he’s now been fired twice by ownership groups that gave scathing departing remarks. Girardi was NL Manager of the Year for the Florida Marlins in 2006, yet he was fired after the season. Then-owner Jeffrey Loria almost fired Girardi on the spot during an August game when Girardi told Loria to stop heckling the home plate umpire. Girardi may have done a decent managing job for the Yankees but you have to think that future teams will take a more cautious approach when/if considering him for managerial openings. I don’t know Girardi so I cannot attest to his personality beyond what I’ve seen during his pre- and post-game interviews but there’s something there, if I was an owner, that would give me pause about Girardi. I have no hard feelings against the man and I hope that he gets another opportunity in MLB but it was clearly time for a change.

Credit:  John Raoux, Associated Press

Upon the conclusion of the GM Meetings in Orlando, Florida, this week, GM Brian Cashman resumed his managerial interviews.

Former Yankee Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens was in the Bronx on Thursday. I really like Meulens. I know that a lot of people have scoffed at the guy and he has no managerial experience, but I like his communication style (handles himself very well in interviews) and he is clearly a guy that knows baseball and relationships.  He is fluent with multiple languages including a little bit of Japanese which gives him the ability to talk directly to the majority of players without the assistance of interpreters. He enjoys a great relationship with shortstop Didi Gregorius, whom he managed in the WBC Classic. Meulens has been part of three World Series championships in San Francisco.

Credit:  ESPN Internet Ventures

Cashman also spoke with former Yankee Aaron Boone on Friday. Boone is best remembered for his home run to the beat the Boston Red Sox in the 2003 American League Championship Series, a year before the Sox finally ended the Curse of the Bambino. It was Boone’s 2004 knee injury, suffered in a pre-season basketball game, that led the Yankees to their acquisition of Alex Rodriguez and the drama that ensued. Boone, as everyone knows, comes from a family rich in MLB tradition, with a grandfather, father and brother that were all Major Leaguers. There’s  no doubt he is an intelligent guy but like Meulens, no managerial experience, and unlike Meulens, no coaching experience.

I think either Meulens or Boone could do a good job if they are surrounded by the right coaches. I kind of like the idea of using either Al Pedrique or Eric Wedge as the new manager’s bench coach. I would not be disappointed to see Rob Thomson return to that role. It appears that Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward is next up for a managerial interview. I don’t really know much about Woodward so I don’t have any opinions about him.  At this point, I clearly prefer Meulens and Boone over him. Not sure if Woodward will be the last of the candidates before we start Round 2 or if there will be more guys paraded through the Bronx.  The next round will feature a trip to Florida to meet with the Steinbrenner family.  I’d probably take the candidates by Trinity Memorial Gardens in Trinity, FL. If the ground rumbles (the Boss turning over in his grave), you know the candidate is probably not the one.

I am anxious for the Yankees to make a decision, but I understand they are under no pressure to hurry and can afford to take their time. Outside of Shohei Otani, they do not figure to be big players in Free Agency despite the greedy nature of us, the fans. CC Sabathia has already said that he’d return despite not knowing who the next manager will be. So, for now, we wait…

All Rise for the Judge!…

Congratulations to Aaron Judge for being named AL Rookie of the Year, as expected, and his second place finish in the AL MVP voting. I expected the AL MVP vote to be much closer than it really was. Jose Altuve took 27 of 30 first place votes with only two going to Judge. There was some outrage from the media but the class exhibited by Judge was so professional and heartfelt (as we have come to expect with the big slugger). After Altuve won, Judge tweeted: “M-V-P!!! Nobody more deserving than you!! Congrats on an unforgettable 2017!! @JoseAltuve27”. Judge makes me proud that he is a Yankee every day.

Credit:  SI.com

Yankee Dreams extinguished…

The Yankees lost a long-time farmhand and one-time top prospect when outfielder Mason Williams signed a minor league free agent deal with the Cincinnati Reds. I am sorry that it never worked out for Williams in Pinstripes. I had very high hopes at one point that never came to fruition. Hopefully, for his sake, the change of scenery helps him achieve some the success that had once seemed inevitable for the talented 26-year-old.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

Another former Yankees prospect, a few years removed from the organization, pitcher Manny Banuelos, has signed a minors deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It doesn’t seem like that long ago when Williams and Banuelos were the top prospects with the Yankees. Of course Banuelos was part of the Killer B’s (the trio of Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman).

The only Killer B that made it was Betances. Like Williams, I hope that Banuelos can find success in Chavez Ravine. He has failed to impress the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angels so maybe fourth time’s a charm. I really liked Banuelos as a young prospect and had hoped to see him achieve MLB success.

And we continue to wait. Go Yankees!

Hearing Crickets at Yankee Stadium…

Waiting for breaking Yankees news…

We are moving into Day 3 of the GM Meetings but not much is happening in the Yankees Universe.

Managerial interviews were suspended while GM Brian Cashman participates in the Orlando, FL meetings.  But we do know that Hensley Meulens, currently the bench coach for the San Francisco Giants (formerly their hitting coach in the most recent season), will be interviewed when Cashman gets back to New York.  Meulens has managed Team Netherlands in the WBC Classic several times and the former Yankee has a good relationship with shortstop Didi Gregorius (both guys are from Curacao).  Meulens, like Didi, speaks multiple languages.  He is thought very highly of by the Giants organization and many believe that he is being groomed to eventually replace manager Bruce Bochy.

 

Aaron Boone is also thought to be on the candidate list but no word when he’ll interview.  The latest name to be added to the list is Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward.

The interest expressed by YES broadcaster John Flaherty and the very recently retired Carlos Beltran do not appear to be gaining any traction.  Among the potential candidates with no prior managerial experience, Beltran does seem to be a viable option.  He wants to manage one day and his leadership was evident during his time with the Yankees.  Perhaps he should take a coaching job first, but I’ve always believed that managerial experience is not necessarily a prerequisite for the right person.  The Boston Red Sox took a chance on a first-time manager with Alex Cora, but they ensured that Cora had a wealth of experience when former Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was named as his bench coach.  Beltran enjoys a good relationship with the New York media which is one of the requirements for the job.  He wouldn’t be my first choice as manager, but I wouldn’t object if he is hired.

Credit:  Noah K Murray, USA TODAY Sports

The word is that Cashman has not yet reached out to everyone that he wants to talk to.  I still find it hard believe Cashman didn’t already have a plan when he made the decision to part ways with Joe Girardi.  Girardi, by the way, showed up at the GM Meetings yesterday as part of the MLB Competition Committee.  That must have been very weird for him, especially if he encountered any of the representatives for the Yankees.  I am sure that he and Cashman didn’t go grab a beer together after the day’s activities were over.

I thought it was interesting that the Yankees had asked for and were denied permission to speak with Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin.

Even though a new manager has not been named, I was glad to see that the Yankees will be bringing back pitching coach Larry Rothschild for the 2018 season.  I’d like to see RailRiders manager Al Pedrique on next year’s coaching staff given his strong relationships with the Baby Bombers.

Credit:  Jackie Shear, The Trentonian

Cashman did indicate this week that the future in the outfield is Aaron Hicks and not Jacoby Ellsbury.  With no apparent trade talks in play, it looks like Ellsbury will once again be Baseball’s highest paid pinch-runner. Hopefully things change and Cashman is able to use to cash to entice another team to take Ellsbury.  At this point, it would be addition by subtraction even if the Yankees have to pay the freight (a bulk of the remaining monies due on Ellsbury’s contract).  Cashman also stated that Gleyber Torres could make a run at the third base job next Spring.  That talk leads me to believe there will be absolutely no attempt to re-sign Todd Frazier.  We didn’t really expect Frazier to return but until he actually signs with another team, there’s always hope.  Unfortunately, those are odds that I’d never take despite how great the Toddfather fit with the Baby Bombers.

The Yankees did have one free agent signing this week.  Well, it was a minor league free agent signing that may never have an effect on the Major League roster.  They signed former Phillies prospect, catcher Chace Numata, 25.  The organization has lost some catching depth through free agency this off-season and of course the Yankees parted ways with the great Erik Kratz.  Numata has never advanced above Double-A for the Phillies.  He was selected in the 14th round of the 2010 MLB Draft.  For AA-Reading this year, Numata batted .249 with 4 HRs and 28 RBIs in 84 games.  Even though Numata might not ever make it to the Bronx, the Hawaiian native will play a valuable role in the development of Yankees pitching prospects in the upper levels of the farm system.

The Cincinnati Reds have signed lefty Joe Mantiply to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.  Mantiply spent the 2017 season with the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

Entering the off-season, my favorite managerial candidate was Dave Martinez, formerly bench coach for Joe Maddon in Chicago and my favorite general manager choice was Alex Anthopoulos, formerly an executive for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Martinez was hired by the Washington Nationals as their new manager, replacing Dusty Baker, while the Atlanta Braves this week hired Anthopoulos as their new GM (with President John Hart rumored to have a lessened voice in the organization).  I had thought Anthopoulos would have been a great choice for the Yankees if they had decided to make a change.  I think both guys will do very well with their new jobs.

Earlier it had been reported that the Boston Red Sox had interest in trading for Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton but it sounds as though Stanton does not want to play in Boston.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are now rumored as a possible destination.  The Dodgers certainly have the financial strength to absorb Stanton’s contract but the human cost to acquire him will be huge.  You can be assured that Marlins CEO Derek Jeter is not going to give Stanton away.  Stanton, protected by Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner, would be very scary in the Dodgers lineup.  But I wouldn’t rule out the Red Sox until if/when a trade for Stanton actually happens.

How many more days until Spring Training?  I’m ready.  Go Yankees!

Thinking Baseball on Football Sunday…

I may be a Minnesota Vikings fan and looking forward to seeing how the team performs today against the Washington Redskins with Teddy Bridgewater standing on the field for the first time in 15 months, albeit in a backup role…for the moment. But truth be told, I am more interested in the moves that can be made to continue the growth and development of the 2018 New York Yankees.

Ohtani or Otani?…

I’ve spelled it both ways but I guess I’ll go with Otani moving forward. I continue to see it spelled either way and I don’t have Ohtani/Otani on speed-dial to clarify.

Credit:  Getty Images

The Associated Press reported that Shohei Otani held a news conference on Saturday. Otani’s words included, “The other day I met with team officials and stated my intentions. My request was met with warm words of support, so I hope to do my best in America from next year on.” While it would be financially wiser to wait until he turns 25 to enter Major League Baseball (when he could be a free agent with no restrictions), Otani wants to raise the level of his game now rather than wait. “I am not a complete player yet, and I want to go to an environment where I can continue to get better”.

Otani apparently had a desire to go to MLB straight from high school but instead opted to sign with the Nippon-Ham Fighters with assurances that he could play a two-way role for the team. While he would like to continue hitting and pitching, it sounds like he is a realist and wants to see what situations are available to him in the United States. “Just before I turned professional, I didn’t imagine I would be able to do both, but since then, the fans have encouraged it,” Otani said. “That has left me with a strong desire to keep doing it…not only for me, but for them.” The DH role seems to tilt the scales in favor of the American League and the big market endorsement opportunities ($$$$) seem to favor the Yankees.

The Yankees remain the frontrunners but until he is formally posted and signs a contract with a MLB team, it’s anybody’s guess where he’ll ultimately end up. I hope he is a Yankee and that the presence of Hideki Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka in the organization are deemed as huge positives for him. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe cites the Toronto Blue Jays as a possible  dark horse destination for Otani but, seriously, the Blue Jays do not bring the honor and prestige of MLB’s most-storied franchise.

My off-season goal remains to see the headline, “Yankees to sign Otani”, followed closely by “Yankees trade Ellsbury”….

Eric Wedge…Seriously?

The second name on GM Brian Cashman’s interview list was the former Indians and Mariners manager.  Ummm, next please. I do not want to see the former backup Red Sox catcher as Manager of Baseball’s greatest franchise. I don’t buy the ‘third time’s a charm’ logic for the two-time managerial loser. This name reinforces to me that I want someone with connections to either the Yankees or to the city of New York and its surrounding region as the next skipper.

Aaron Boone is another name receiving much attention and he’ll most likely be included on the interview list in the not-so-distant future.

With the GM Meetings on tap for this week, starting Monday, it will be interesting to see if Cashman is able to continue with the interview process or if he has to take a brief pause. The big name agents will be present at the meetings to begin dialogue for potential signings leading up to next month’s Winter Meetings. So even though there probably won’t be any significant trades or signings this week, the groundwork is being laid. Perhaps Cashman spends just a day or so at the GM Meetings before excusing himself and leaving his chief lieutenants to represent the Yankees.

I don’t know the Yankees time frame, but I am hopeful they resolve the managerial search by Thanksgiving so the team knows its leadership as we head into the very busy and vital December trading/signing period.

Albert Abreu, Ace or Bullpen Duty?…

I personally like Yankees prospect Albert Abreu, the young 22-year-old right-hander acquired from the Houston Astros in the Brian McCann trade, as one of my favorites in the farm system.  But scouts seem mixed regarding whether he is the next Luis Severino or is deemed to be a more valuable component to add to the bullpen mix. Of course, it was only last off-season the same question was being asked about Severino. I prefer to see Abreu start, but opportunity will play a major role. If the Yankees sign Otani, the Yankees rotation seems fairly solidified with Otani, Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery. That’s already considering young arms like Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield (plus Domingo Acevedo) are waiting in the wings. But I can never think of a season off the top of my head where a team’s sixth or seventh starter didn’t play a key role at some point in the season. Abreu must take advantage of any opportunities that he is given. He’s one of the arms that I’ll be paying close attention to next Spring.

Credit:  Zachary Lucy, Four Seam Images via AP

Brian McCann may have picked up a World Series ring, making his acquisition a huge win for the Astros, but the Yankees did very well picking up Abreu and RHP Jorge Guzman for the former Yankees catcher. I’ve seen a number of pro-Astros articles that claim a huge Astros victory for the trade, but in time, I think the Astros and their fans will rue the day they let Abreu and Guzman go.

Where will the path lead Giancarlo Stanton?…

I know that it’s been written on this site that the Yankees should go after Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, but it’s not going to happen on Hal Steinbrenner’s watch. With the team committed to getting under the payroll cap to reset luxury tax penalties, I don’t see the Yankees parting with the young prospects that it would take to acquire Stanton or committing the necessary dollars to take on Baseball’s largest contract. Yes, Yankee fans can dream but it is not going to happen for the Pinstriped faithful.

So, where does Stanton go? There is talk that early conversations are being held with the Boston Red Sox. I fully expect the Red Sox to add a big bat this off-season but I’d be surprised if they went after Stanton. It’s scary to think of Stanton in that lineup, but the Red Sox will need big dollars for their young, cheap talent like Mookie Betts and Chris Sale. Betts made just $950,000 last year and is now arbitration-eligible. The Red Sox have Sale for two more years  and will need lock him up on a long-term deal to avoid losing him through free agency. Those are two guys who will command a healthy chunk of Red Sox payroll over the next few years. I think it is more likely the Red Sox pursue someone like free agents first baseman Eric Hosmer or outfielder J.D. Martinez to help fill the void when David Ortiz retired after the 2016 season. Nevertheless, it’s within the realm of possibility for Boston to get “greedy”. After all, Sox owner John Henry has to feed the beast, otherwise known as the Red Sox Nation.

Another team mentioned for Stanton is the St Louis Cardinals. I don’t see the Cardinals ponying up the cash to take on Stanton’s contract, let alone the prospects that it would take. While it now looks like a very prudent financial decision, they let their franchise player, Albert Pujols, one of the all-time Cardinal greats, depart through free agency a few years ago over money.

The other two teams mentioned as possible destinations are the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies.

It will be interesting to see how this develops over the course of the off-season even if we are forced to be bystanders as Team Hal looks at the bigger picture and of course the bottom line.

Well, let’s see what this week brings. Go Yankees!

Early November in the Yankees Universe…

Mr Cashman will see you now…

The Hot Stove League has been open for a few days but for the most part, it’s been all quiet on the Eastern Front (a/k/a The Bronx).

The managerial interviews have begun with Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson taking the first at-bat. He must have fouled off a bunch of pitches because he apparently met with GM Brian Cashman for six hours this week. I should be fully supportive of Thomson for manager. He’s a company man who has been with the Yankees organization for 28 years. He brings promises of communication and trust in the players and has tried to give assurances that he would not be “more of the same”. Yet, for some reason, I cannot fully embrace his candidacy. I’d like to see him stay in the organization and I am certainly not opposed to his inclusion on the coaching staff for the eventual new manager. But he’s not really my ideal choice for manager.

Credit:  Associated Press

A new name surfaced yesterday in former Yankee Aaron Boone. It’s unknown when/if he will interview with Cashman. Given that I’ve been supportive of other broadcasters getting the job, like Jerry Hairston, Jr and Mark DeRosa, you’d think I would support the possibility of an ex-Yankee. Yet, I was ‘ho-hum’ when I saw his name. I am appreciative of his home run to win the 2003 American League Championship Series, but he’s not really someone that I can envision in the job. Perhaps he is someone I would grow with in time if he is the one. We’ll see.

David Cone and John Flaherty are also names that received heavy ink in New York publications this week. Between the two, Coney would be the better option to me with no offense to Flaherty.

The Miami Marlins have confirmed that manager Don Mattingly will return for the 2018 season so that effectively removes his name from consideration. As a huge Mattingly fan, even today, I did not really want to see Mattingly back in the Yankees organization as its manager. Managers are so heavily second-guessed and I didn’t want to see Mattingly tarnish his great Yankees legacy in any way.

I think the best tweet I saw about the managerial search yesterday came from MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand: “Something to keep in mind re: Yankees managerial search.  This is a chance for Cashman to interview several people to get a feel for them in a different role. Many will interview, only one will get the job. Don’t get caught up in any one name.”  So, as the saying goes, trust the process. I have the trust in Brian Cashman that he’ll make the right decision. His legacy is heavily invested in the next hire with the Yankees on the cusp of something great. Gene Michael was widely recognized as the chief architect of the 90’s dynasty but this potential run belongs solely to Cashman and his chief lieutenants (backed by the Steinbrenner family, of course). All things considered, Cashman can’t afford to make the wrong choice.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s Ohtani!…

I have been trying to avoid getting excited about the possibility of adding Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani but the ‘Ohtani to America’ (or should we just call it the ‘Ohtani to Pinstripes’) movement took another step in the right direction. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reported that Japanese news reports are stating the Nippon-Ham Fighters have announced they will post Ohtani this off-season. All I want for Christmas is Ohtani in the Bronx! I am still trying to be cautiously optimistic but it would be very exciting to have him join the strong cast of Baby Bombers.

The Yankees can offer Ohtani the second highest signing bonus at $3.25 million. They trail only the Texas Rangers who can offer $285,000 more than the Yankees. The Rangers can also offer no state income tax. But I am hopeful the promotional opportunities will be greater for Ohtani in New York. He stands to make a great deal of his income through endorsement deals. Also, when you look long-term, the Yankees can offer more lucrative dollars and stability for future contracts. Faced with the impending free agency of Japanese ace Yu Darvish last summer, the Rangers chose to deal Darvish to the Dodgers rather than make a strong effort to re-sign him. Granted, Darvish didn’t exactly have a stellar finish to his season but it reinforced to me that if you want long-term security, New York is a better place to be than Texas. Plus, the Yankees have the legacy of Japanese greats Hideki Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka.

Shohei Ohtani (top right) / Credit:  Koji Watanbe, Getty Images

Farewell to a Pitcher and a Catcher…

It was tough to see the loss of former Blue Jays and Phillies great Roy Halladay this week to the tragic plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa, FL. When he played, he was the definition of “the” true ace for me. I had always hoped the Yankees would find a way to acquire him when he played for the Blue Jays but recognized that intra-division trades of superstars rarely happen. Still, he was marvel to watch pitch despite his domination of the Yankees. His loss was felt and I am deeply saddened by his untimely departure.

A lesser known baseball player also died this week but it was equally as sad. 17-year-old Daniel Flores, a catcher out of Venezuela the Boston Red Sox had signed in last year’s International Draft for $3.1 million signing bonus, succumbed to cancer in Boston. Flores was rated as the fifth best prospect in the Red Sox system according to MLB.com. Prior to the draft last year, Flores was ranked as the second best International prospect behind shortstop Wander Franco (who signed with the Tampa Bay Rays). By comparison, the Yankees top signing, outfielder Everson Pereira, was ranked fourth. According to scouting reports, Flores would have been a brilliant defensive whiz behind the plate. It’s unfortunate he is unable to reach his dream to play at Fenway Park but hopefully his signing bonus provides long-term security for his family and loved ones.

May both men rest in peace.

No Gold Glove Awards but a few Silver Sluggers…

Congratulations to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez for winning their first Silver Slugger Awards. These were easy calls and it would have been a great travesty if either player had been omitted. Now, we await the results of AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP which should bring more hardware in Judge’s direction. Individual awards are nice but we really need to get these guys a World Series championship!

Today is Veteran’s Day. For all veterans everywhere, thank you for your service. We remember you today and always…

In closing, as always, Go Yankees!