Bring on the High Heat…

Sanchez had better get extra padding for that mitt…

Before the Yankees re-signed closer Aroldis Chapman, there was very little talk of what they SHOULD do.  Now that Chapman is back in the fold after his brief hiatus to win a World Series championship with the Chicago Cubs, the naysayers are out in full force.

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Credit:  ESPN.com Illustration

For me, I am glad Chapman once again anchors the back end of the bullpen.  If the Yankees had not paid him the record-setting 5 year, $86 million contract for a closer, the Miami Marlins were fully prepared to step in and pay him a million more.  Like him or not, Chapman was going to get his money.

I know the current Baby Bombers Implementation Plan is in full effect and there are cheaper alternatives available.  As great as Kenley Jansen is, he would have cost the Yankees their first round draft pick in the 2017 MLB Draft (then Number 17, but now Number 16 thanks to the Colorado Rockies’ signing of OF, SS, or 1B? Ian Desmond, thereby forfeiting their higher draft selection).  In terms of dollars, in addition to the draft pick, Jansen would have cost nearly as much as Chapman.

Free agent and former Kansas City Royals closer Greg Holland is still available but he carries more questions as he attempts to come back from injury.

A reunion with former Yankees closer David Robertson was a possibility but the Chicago White Sox have shown they demand premium plus in trades.

Signing Chapman did not cost a draft pick or talent…only money which the Yankees have.

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Credit:  www.drewlitton.com

Chapman does carry the negative stigma of domestic violence but I do believe in second chances.  He has not been convicted and by all accounts no one was seriously injured (or worse).  I hope and pray it was a wake up call for Chapman.  After 20 years of a Saint in the closer’s role for the Yankees, it’s unfortunate we have to deal with these issues.  But give the man a chance for redemption.

I did not believe that Dellin Betances was suited for the closer’s role.  My suspicions proved correct when we saw Betances stumble in September after the trades of Chapman and Andrew Miller.  It may have been fatigue but I felt it was more mental.  Betances is a great setup guy, perhaps one of the best in the game.  Being a great bridge does not necessarily equate to  being a great closer.

There is no doubt I would have preferred a reunion with Andrew Miller over Chapman but that was not going to happen.  The Cleveland Indians recognize they have one of the most versatile and dependable relievers in baseball and possibly one of the most selfless guys you can ever hope to meet.  But he is Cleveland property for the next few years under a very reasonable contract.  If Cleveland was amenable to trading Miller, they would want no less than the premier talent they paid to acquire him.  OF Clint Frazier is either first or second on any given Yankees top prospect list and P Justus Sheffield is a future mainstay in the rotation.

So regardless of the other options, I am glad that #54 found his way back to the Bronx.  The trio of Tyler Clipart, Betances and Chapman may not be ‘No Runs DMC’ but they’ll be close.  The Yankees still need other bullpen upgrades (I personally would like to see another reunion with the potential signing of lefty Boone Logan) but regardless of what happens, the pen will be a strength in 2017.

Next year’s going to seem like a Holliday…

After talk the Yankees would use the DH role to cycle through its position players as a form of rest, I was glad to see the Yankees make a short-term investment in former St Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday.  Any way you slice it, Holliday will be a major upgrade over the now departed Alex Rodriguez.  Last year, the Yankees offense was largely dependent upon two major underachievers, Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.  This year, the center of the lineup features Holliday and rookie sensation Gary Sanchez.  If the Yankees can get meaningful production out of new first baseman Greg Bird and right fielder Aaron Judge, this could be a very good offense.

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Credit:  Google Images / STL Sports View

I am still a proponent of trading Brett Gardner.  I feel strongly the team needs to open up left field for other young talent and allow Holliday an occasional start.  The Yankees clearly need another starter in the rotation so if Gardner can bring in a solid #5, I’m all for it.

I think P Jason Hammel would be a good signing for the rotation but if that doesn’t happen, I am hopeful GM Brian Cashman gets creative in adding another piece.  I would much rather see the team’s young talent fighting for only one rotation spot; not two.  I am not convinced Luis Severino can be an effective starter but we know that he can be a very effective reliever.  I would rather see Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchell in swing roles, serving as the long men out of the pen.  It would be much better for Luis Cessa and Chad Green to fight each other for a rotation spot than handing it to both of them.

The heavy lifting is done for the 2017 roster but the coming weeks should bring continued improvement.  No major signings or trades are expected but just little tweaks to keep this team in contention while it looks ahead to brighter days in 2019.  This is what Brian Cashman gets paid to do it, and so far, he’s been doing it well…

–Scott

 

 

 

Roll camera, on your mark, ACTION!…

The Dawn of the Baseball Winter Meetings…

This week is always the most eventful one of the entire off-season.  A flurry of activity followed by relative silence as we head into the holidays.

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Credit:  AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Before the meetings start later this evening, the Yankees have already lost one option with Houston’s free agent signing of former Yankee Carlos Beltran.  I had mixed feelings about his possible return to New York.  He was arguably the team’s best hitter last season but he is also 40 years old.  For a team that has aggressively gotten younger, adding “old” does not necessarily make sense.  There is no guarantee that Beltran will be as good as last year, and it’s a near impossibility that he’d be better.  Going with older veterans, I’d rather sign either Matt Holliday or Mike Napoli to a short-term deal that keeps the Yankees on the right path toward World Series contention in 2018 or 2019.

Back in the old days under George Steinbrenner, I am sure that both Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista would be Yankees by now.  Of the two, I’d prefer Encarnacion but I don’t feel the Yankees should lock up huge long-term dollars for either player even if it would severely weaken the Toronto Blue Jays in the short run.  In a couple of years, they’ll just be over-paid, under-producing aging veterans.  We’ve seen enough of those in recent seasons.

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Credit:  Reuters/Ray Stubblebine

There are unofficial reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers have a deal in place with starter Rich Hill so that’s one less option on the pitching front.  A deal with Jason Hammel probably makes the most sense.  I like Hammel as a reliable, back of the rotation guy.  He would be a good complimentary piece to Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda as the team looks to fill other pitching spots with youth.  I would probably take a chance with either C.J. Wilson or Tyson Ross if given the opportunity.

It’s possible that GM Brian Cashman can uncover a quality arm via trade but it’s a virtual certainty the team won’t be involved in the Chris Sale sweepstakes.  Sale alone would not make the Yankees an immediate World Series contender and he would cost the best quality of the farm system to acquire.  So, the Yankees need to stay the course as they continue to add the pieces for future success.

I was disappointed to see minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson leave the organization.  I am happy to see him return to the major leagues as the hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins, however, I thought he would have been a better hitting coach for the Yankees than current hitting coach Alan Cockrell or assistant hitting coach Marcus Thames.  When the Yankees had dismissed Jeff Pentland last year, I was hopeful that Rowson would get the job.  It was not meant to be.  I think he’ll be a good addition to Paul Molitor’s staff in Minneapolis and should help former Yankee and current Twins’ co-catcher John Ryan Murphy to hit again.

I remain hopeful the Yankees re-sign pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Lindgren* as they recover from Tommy John surgery.  Granted, neither pitcher will help in 2017 but I would really prefer to see them stay.

Let’s hope this week brings good news for Yankees fans…

—Scott

 

*Several hours after this post, the Atlanta Braves announced they’ve signed Lindgren to a one year deal that will allow them to retain rights to Lindgren if they add him to their 40-man roster.

Ready, aim, fire!…

Winter is coming…

The dawn of the Winter Meetings.  It’s is always one of my favorite times of the year.  Last year was very quiet for the Yankees but still, so much happens in the first few days of the meetings with free agent signings and trades.

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I am very relieved that the owners and the players association agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.  I didn’t really expect a lockout but of course it was always a possibility until the two sides came to an agreement.  I understand why the CBA issue held up the Yankees due to the luxury tax implications and uncertainty associated therewith.  Now that both sides have a better understanding of the new deal, it should allow the Yankees to begin shaping the 2017 team.

I fully recognize that there will not be wholesale changes.  This isn’t 2009 when the Yankees dumped a half billion dollars on top free agents.  Sure, I’d love to have Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista on the team but realistically it is not going to happen.  Between the two, I’d take Encarnacion but I still don’t think it will happen.  The Yankees have a clear need for a solid, clutch-hitting DH but I think they’ll go with either Carlos Beltran or Matt Holliday.  Staying in house is an option but that mean DH will be used as a rotation to rest the regulars.

I would love for the Yankees to find a way to move LF Brett Gardner and 3B Chase Headley but in both cases, age + contract make the players hard to move.  Gardner would probably be the easier of the two to move.  While the Yankees have in-house options to replace Gardner, they’d probably have to go outside to get a replacement for Headley.  Miguel Andujar showed in the Arizona Fall League that he is the future at third, but his arrival is still a few years away.  I’ve also seen the projections of Gleyber Torres taking over second base, pushing current second baseman Starlin Castro to third.  But Torres won’t see the Bronx until late in the 2017 season or sometime in 2018.  Despite the absence of immediate help at third, I am still ready to end the Chase Headley story even if he did recover from a horrendous April to have a very good season last year.

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Credit:  Getty Images

My wish list for this off-season still begins with closer Aroldis Chapman.  I am still very hopeful that he’ll find his way back to the Bronx.  Kenley Jansen would certainly be acceptable if Plan A does not materialize.  I am probably warming up to the idea of a Bronx return for Mark Melancon but I think he’ll either stay in Washington or go to San Francisco.  Greg Holland is also an option.  I think the Yankees have to move Dellin Betances back to a key setup role where he is better suited.  Mariano Rivera, he is not.

As for starting pitchers, I am not opposed to the potential signing of starter Rich Hill.  He is older than I would like for a team in transition to youth, but he obviously has a quality arm and would provide rotation stability.  He reminds me somewhat of Hiroki Kuroda.  A consistent pitcher who can occasionally throw a gem.  Not a frontline starter, but a very dependable one.  As for trades, I have no idea.  I’d love Tampa’s Chris Archer but I don’t think the Rays would trade inter-division and his cost would probably be too high.  I liked the Arizona Diamondbacks’ acquisition of Taijuan Walker.  A young pitcher who was not fulfilled his potential but the upside is still there.  Those are the types of pitchers I’d try to target.  I know, it does fall into the high risk, maybe high reward, possible low reward category but look where Jake Arrieta has taken the Chicago Cubs.

It was tough to see pitcher Nathan Eovaldi cut within the last couple of weeks and today’s non-tender of lefty Jacob Lindgren, both players who will miss the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery.  It wasn’t that long ago when Lindgren was tabbed as a can’t miss, fast-track prospect with the potential to make the major league roster the year he was drafted.  Injuries have held Lindgren back, but he’s still young enough to recover for a fine professional career.  I am hopeful the Yankees find a way to bring both pitchers back into the organization now that they’ve been removed from the 40-man roster.

Next week should be fun.  Unlike last year, I am hopeful and optimistic that the Yankees will be active in an attempt to improve the roster and build strength around the emerging young core.  We shall see…

—Scott

The Calm before the Storm…

Can I have my cake and eat it too?…

Thanksgiving Week is generally the calm before the storm as the Hot Stove League usually doesn’t begin percolating until we get closer to the December Winter Meetings.  No offense to catcher Jason Castro, but his signing with the Minnesota Twins was not exactly major news.

The trade of Brian McCann happened as expected.  I didn’t really anticipate any frontline prospects in the trade so all things considered, I was pleased with two young pitching prospects even if they are both projects at this point.  It would have been nice for a return that represented immediate help for the major league roster, but there’s nothing wrong with stockpiling quality arms.  While it is possible that neither Albert Abreu nor Jorge Guzman ever see the big leagues, the potential is there even if it is a few years away.

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Credit:  Ben Sandstrom and MiLB.com

While I hope for the eventual arrival of top Yankees “born” prospects James Kaprielian, Jordan Montgomery, Dietrich Enns, and Ian Clarkin, it’s fun watching the progress of the newcomers (Justus Sheffield, Dillon Tate, and others).  So, it will be nice to see Abreu and Guzman in the mix.

I was very impressed with the Arizona Fall League performance by SS prospect Gleyber Torres.  Named the MVP of the AFL season, he has clearly shown that he is the future of the Yankees infield.  Didi Gregorius has been a very capable replacement for the retired Derek Jeter but at some point, he is going to be hearing Gleyber’s footsteps.  Well, either he or second baseman Starlin Castro.

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Credit:  Tim Holle / Brevard County Manatees

For my off-season wish list, it probably starts with the hopeful signing of former Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who graciously brought Torres to New York through the trade with the Chicago Cubs in July.  The news reports yesterday that Chapman is interested in rejoining the Yankees was very nice, but such a teaser.  It will be a disappointment if he signs elsewhere.

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Credit:  Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press

While I’ve heard the Yankees are in the mix for Carlos Beltran, along with the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros, I would probably prefer to see the Yankees go with someone like Cleveland’s Mike Napoli for the 1B/DH role.  Napoli has been such a great clutch performer in his career.  It’s not to say that Beltran hasn’t been, but at this point, I am not really interested in 40-somethings on the roster occupying space with no upside.  Napoli is getting older but at least he’s younger than Beltran (even if only by 4 years or so).  Obviously, I would take Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion over Napoli but I don’t think the Yankees will be in the market for those players due to the dollars involved.  But I am hopeful that the Yankees can find protection in the lineup for catcher Gary Sanchez.

I remain hopeful for the trade of veterans Chase Headley and Brett Gardner.  I am not sure who’d replace Headley as prospect Miguel Andujar is not ready, but I am sure that Cashman can find other options.  If the Yankees could get rid of Jacoby Ellsbury, I’d want Gardner to stay but unfortunately, Ellsbury is not going anywhere.  Therefore, it makes sense to move Gardner to free up room for younger players.  With Aaron Judge slated for right field, guys like Aaron HIcks, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, and others need opportunity.  The most logical spot is left field.

The next few weeks should be interesting…

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Happy Thanksgiving to all!  Be safe and enjoy the time with your families.

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—Scott

Enough about the Cubs…

Waiting for Brian Cashman’s microphone-drop…

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It’s November, the Presidential Election is behind us, and baseball free agency has begun.  The Hot Stove League is officially underway.

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The Yankees may be as inactive this off-season as they were last off-season, but the rumors that they’ve reached out to the agents for notable free agents is activity that we did not see or hear last year.

I am hopeful the Yankees land either Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen for the back end of the bullpen.  I’d prefer Chapman for several reasons.  The familiarity with the Yankees (for the player and the fans), and no draft pick compensation attached.  But I would not be disappointed if the Yankees end up with Jansen.  I view them as 1A and 1B.  As good as he is, I am not really interested in a reunion with Mark Melancon.  My 2A choice would probably be Greg Holland.  The price tag for the elite closers may prove to be too much for the Yankees so there’s the chance that Dellin Betances retains his closer role.  I’d place him as my 3A choice given that I’d really prefer to see him return to a setup role and be used more like the way Andrew Miller was handled by Tito Francona after Miller’s arrival in Cleveland.

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Credit:  AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Brian McCann will be traded.  I have no doubt this will happen.  Despite McCann’s desire to stay, it makes too much sense to move him.  The backup catching role can be capably handled by Austin Romine or Kyle Higashioka.  For years, Alex Rodriguez blocked DH, and if on the roster, McCann would do the same thing.  Given the Yankees do not have a huge clutch bat for DH (like Boston did with David Ortiz), I’d prefer to see DH used by young hitters like Tyler Austin who might not otherwise have a spot in the starting lineup or rotate some of the older guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley.  Granted, the Yankees are not going to get two top prospects for McCann even if they eat half of his remaining salary but they should be able to get a return that does provide help in other areas.

I did like the idea of Kendrys Morales as a potential DH signing but now that he’s a Blue Jay (3 years for $33 million), the Yankees will have to look elsewhere if they pursue a free agent or trade candidate.

I understand the reasons the Yankees will non-tender Nathan Eovaldi.  He will miss the 2017 season following Tommy John surgery and it may be a couple of years before he can potentially get back to the progress point he had reached.  It’s equally possible that he never becomes a consistent, dependable starter in the big leagues.  Still, I’ll be saddened to see him go.  I had hoped he would be able to harness his great stuff and prove to be a solid #3 starter in the rotation.  I hope if the Yankees do non-tender him as expected, they attempt to re-sign him on a more reasonable deal that allows the pitcher to recuperate and get back to the Show.

For a team that’s been focused on getting younger, I am so glad that the Yankees did not pursue the two 40-somethings that signed with the Atlanta Braves (R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon).  I am a bit surprised that the Braves are investing in the older pitchers given the youth movement in Atlanta.  This might actually increase the odds that McCann returns to Atlanta, although the Houston Astros are looming as a very strong possibility.

This is also the off-season to move Brett Gardner.  The return may not be as great as it might have been just a year ago, but the Yankees need to open room in the outfield for the younger prospects.  Assuming that Aaron Judge takes right field, the Yankees are stuck with Jacoby Ellsbury in center, so left field is needed for guys like Aaron Hicks, Mason Williams and potentially Clint Frazier.  I guess eventually Ellsbury will need to move to left to make room for Frazier in center, and that could happen as early as the summer of 2017.  Keeping Gardner just delays the inevitable.

With free agent signings and trades starting to happen, I am anxious to hear some Yankees news.  The team definitely needs help for the starting rotation, but that will take a well researched trade or two since there is nothing on the free agent market outside of veteran Rich Hill.  There are no shortage of options for GM Brian Cashman to improve the roster and continue the youth enthusiasm we saw in August and September.

Let’s get this party started!…

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Credit:  New York Daily News

—Scott

The World Champion Chicago Cubs…

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!

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

—Scott

Are the Cubbies moving toward a date with Destiny?…

Missing the Pinstripes in October…

I seriously thought the Boston Red Sox would advance to the World Series this year (to play the Chicago Cubs).  For some reason, it appeared to be destiny that Theo Epstein, who broke the Curse of the Bambino, would have the opportunity to break the Lovable Losers’ long-standing World Series drought against his former team.

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Credit:  AP

Admittedly, I was not disappointed to see the Cleveland Indians, and in particular manager Tito Francona, upstage Boston with the ALDS series win, sending the Red Sox home.  Primarily because of reliever Andrew Miller, I am pulling for the Indians in the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Francona has long been one of my favorite managers so it’s an easy team to root for.

Granted, I am still pulling for the Los Angeles Dodgers given they are my favorite NL team, however, I believe this is the year of the Chicago Cubs.

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So, at this point, the only team I don’t really want to see in the World Series is the Blue Jays.  As a Yankees fan, it is very difficult to root for other AL East teams.

It is interesting that if the Indians and Cubs do meet in the Fall Classic, the two best Yankees relievers at the start of the year will be facing one another.  Miller, during his short time in New York, was my favorite Yankee after the retirement of Mariano Rivera.  Miller was great in New York, but Francona has found ways to use Miller in superior ways to take full advantage of the pitcher’s greatness.  Aroldis Chapman is arguably one of the best closers in baseball and he could very well find himself back in pinstripes at the end of the year.  It would be very fun to watch these two brilliant pitchers work their magic in the game’s biggest stage.

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Credit:  MLB.com

Every team remaining in the playoffs has at least one former Yankee on its roster.  Cleveland has former Yankees prospect Zach McAllister in addition to Miller.  The Cubs have Chapman.  The Dodgers have Rich Hill, who was briefly a Yankee a few years ago.  Lastly, the Blue Jays have former Yankees catcher Russell Martin.  His backup is former Yankees prospect Dioner Navarro.  So, at least one ex-Yankee is guaranteed a ring this year.

Perhaps they should invite him to Old Timer’s Day so that he can continue to terrorize Yankee pitching…

While there was delight in watching the Indians beat the Red Sox, there was sadness watching the end of the brilliant career of David Ortiz.  He was such a thorn in the Yankees’ side over the years, but I built up great respect for the player.  He ended his career without a noticeable dropoff in ability and production.  By comparison, it was clear Alex Rodriguez was done when he left.  Ortiz could have stayed in the game a few more years, earning multi-millions of dollars.  He should get the call for Cooperstown one day.  He earned it.  He is one of the very few players that was able to end his career on his terms.

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Credit:  ESPN.com

Coming soon to a stadium near you…

Last year in the Arizona Fall League, we were able to get an advance preview of how great catcher Gary Sanchez could be.  This year, pitcher James Kaprielian and shortstop Gleyber Torres have stood out in the early days of the AFL.  Kaprielian is showing that the Yankees should look inward for help in the starting rotation next spring, and Torres is providing a glimpse of the future when Yankees will be forced to make decisions regarding incumbent starters Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro to make room for Torres and second baseman/shortstop Jorge Mateo.

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Credit:  Tim Holle/Brevard County Manatees via River Ave Blues

It’s also good to see first baseman Greg Bird, the most probable replacement for the retired Mark Teixeira, back on the field.  He does seem a little out of place in the AFL as a bonafide major leaguer among a sea of prospects, but the lost year due to injury makes this a necessity to prepare Bird for next season.

I am anxious for the current season to reach its conclusion so that the Hot Stove League can start to simmer.  I am anxious to see what GM Brian Cashman can do to help the Yankees take the first step back to contender status.  This was a very promising year after the so-so start.  I don’t expect the Yankees to be World Series contenders next year, but I do believe that another championship could be attained within two to three years with the right moves now.  I am hopeful that 2017 brings more of what we saw in September with the Baby Bombers.

As the saying goes, time will tell as it often does…

—Scott