It’s Manny Machado Day or Is It?…

Baseball: Dodgers' Machado
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

The Machado Rumor Mill Runs Rampant…

According to “Anthony in White Plains”, today is the day for the announcement Manny Machado is signing with the Yankees for an alleged 8-year deal worth $240 million. In a previous post, I had picked this date as the day Manny signs but admittedly as I write this post now, I am very skeptical there will be any news at all.  Until someone like Ken Rosenthal, Jon Paul Morosi, or Buster Olney says it’s happening, I am not going to believe it. I am certainly not going to take the word of Anthony in White Plains or Dan Clark in Australia.

I do know that I am so ready for the Manny Machado and Bryce Harper talk to end. This is as divided as I’ve ever seen the Yankees fan base. While I’ve wanted the Yankees to sign Manny despite others’ preference for Bryce, I am nearing the point where I just want them to sign somewhere…anywhere…even if it is not with the Yankees. Let’s move on with our lives. Sadly, that won’t be happening until Manny and Bryce know where they will be playing in April. Until then, we have to ride the roller coaster of rumors.

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I was saddened to see David Robertson sign with the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday. D-Rob has arguably been the most consistent reliever in baseball for the last decade. He was magical in critical jams, hence the “Houdini” nickname. I enjoyed having confidence on the mound in bases loaded jams because somehow you knew D-Rob would work his magic. With some guys in the pen, you know when they let a few guys on base, we’re going to have flashbacks of Tyler Clippard on the mound. That wasn’t the case with Robertson.

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Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

I did bother me a little yesterday when Robertson said that he had talked with GM Brian Cashman this winter but Philadelphia was where he wanted to be. He says all the right things about a willingness to pitch anywhere in the late innings but no doubt the greater potential to close in Philly or at least have a job share with Seranthony Dominguez was more appealing than setting up Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. I also read that something had changed with Robertson during his time away in Chicago and he was not as beloved in the clubhouse his second time around. Specifically, it was mentioned he was not popular with the younger players. Considering the team is mostly comprised of younger players, that didn’t sound very good. I had never heard of any locker room dissension but of course we’ve all heard the role D-Rob played in the team vote that cost certain members of the organization, like assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere and traveling analyst Zac Fieroh, money from the distribution of the team’s playoff shares. I’ve defended D-Rob’s role as he didn’t force other players to vote for limiting shares but as a leader of the vote, there was a negative perception of his involvement. We may never know what exactly transpired (well, not until a book is written one day) but it does seem a parting of the ways was mutually beneficial. Thanks for the memories, D-Rob. We do wish you well in Philly unless they happen to be playing the Yankees in the World Series. It does kind of stink that the Phillies have now snagged two valuable members of the Yankees’ 2018 playoff team, having previously inked OF Andrew McCutchen, and could potentially steal Machado away from the Yankees.

With relievers Robertson and Andrew Miller off the board, Zach Britton and Adam Ottavino are the most desirable options available. Reports show the Yankees focusing on Britton and we know the player enjoyed his time in the Bronx and was amiable to returning so I am hopeful the two sides can come together on an agreement soon. NJ Advance Media for NJ.com was reporting this morning the Yankees have not been as engaged with Britton as other teams in recent days so I am hopeful this is a ‘get back to us with your best offer and we’ll see if we can match it’ situation. I like Ottavino, but I’d rather have Britton among the two. It’s rumored Britton wants a four-year deal. It seems like the Yankees could come up with a solid three-year contract with vesting option for the fourth year to entice Britton to return. If Britton wants four years, he should have some skin in the game to ensure the fourth-year option is exercised. My biggest disappointment will be if the Yankees fail to sign either player.  Regardless of what happens, the Yankees need a strong rebound season from Tommy Kahnle. As it stands right now, he is one of the most crucial pieces in the pen. Another year like last year would be detrimental to the team. As for free agent Craig Kimbrel, thanks but no thanks.

Apparently, Troy Tulowitzki took his physical yesterday so the official announcement of his signing should be imminent. Once it happens, someone will lose his place on the 40-man roster. The most logical candidates appear to be infielder Hanser Alberto and outfielder Tim Locastro. Position-wise, Alberto appears to the odd man out but player-to-player, I’d probably keep Alberto over Locastro. Locastro is not going to beat out Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, or, gasp, Jacoby Ellsbury and appears to be more of a depth piece for Triple A. Not that I think Alberto is going to make the Major League roster, but he’s had a good winter and offers infield versatility. I’d like to see what he can do in the organization. The only thing that I’ve really heard about Locastro is that he is fast. That’s nice. Next.

As for Tulo, I really wish I could get excited about his addition. But honestly, we don’t know what we are getting. He could be the starting shortstop on Opening Day or he could be released at the end of training camp. It’s not like he was a huge investment. The guy hasn’t played in a year and a half and has not shown an ability to stay healthy for the last few years. He may have looked great in the tryout that preceded his signing with the Yankees but playing the game will be the true test. Until then, I want a strong plan in place for shortstop/second base should Tulo fail. Sorry Tyler Wade, you are not a strong plan.

Inevitably, the departure(s) of Sonny Gray, Luis Cessa and/or A.J.Cole will free up space but I don’t think those are moves made yet. Could be wrong. I am far from having any inside knowledge of the situation.

Ken Rosenthal is reporting Cleveland’s chances of trading either Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer are diminishing by the day so it doesn’t look like the Yankees will be in play for another starter until potentially the trading deadline in July unless it is some random (i.e., bargain bin) arm they decide to bring into camp.

Well, let’s see what today brings. Manny Machado could be exciting the Yankees Universe by day’s end or we could be listening to the continued chirp of crickets emanating from Yankee Stadium. Hal, please loosen the wallet. We know you can afford to make Yankee fans very happy. What’s good for us is good for you.

As always, Go Yankees!

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A Headline 4 or 5 Years Too Late…

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)

Yankees Sign Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki…

I went to bed early last night and missed the news the Yankees had signed veteran shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. So, I woke up to the flurry of news this morning the Yankees had signed the one-time superstar. What does it mean? Nothing, nothing at all. A few years ago, this would have been major news but not today. The 34-year-old Tulo is a shell of his former self. But to his defense, it kind of reminds me of the old Toby Keith song, As Good As I Once Was, which goes on to say “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once, as I ever was”.

This is simply another “dumpster dive” by GM Brian Cashman.  He gets a player he coveted in years past for pennies on the dollar. The Yankees will only be responsible for paying the Major League minimum of $555,000 while the Toronto Blue Jays pay Tulo $38 million to wear the famed Pinstripes. I don’t think anyone has expectations or illusions Tulo will be ‘the man’ at shortstop during the absence of Didi Gregorius. If he plays, it is a bonus. A shot worth taking. Worst case, Tulo can’t make it back from the variety of ailments that have afflicted him over the last few years and the Yankees cut him. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  If he performs, there is the potential Cashman flips him at the trading deadline in July if Didi is back and healthy (assuming Tulo plays well enough to warrant a prospect or two) or they keep him around as a depth piece. For Tulo, it is an opportunity to rebuild value on Baseball’s biggest stage. I’m sure he’s talked to former teammates J.A. Happ and Matt Holliday about what it is like to play for the Yankees.

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Tulowitzki, as we all know, was a huge fan of Derek Jeter growing up as we’ve been constantly reminded about over the years. Tulo has only worn the number 2 at the Major League level with the Colorado Rockies and Toronto Blue Jays but he’ll have to pick out a new number in the Bronx assuming he makes the Opening Day roster. My vote is for Number 12. Tyler Wade has not done anything of significance with the number and he seems like the best candidate for number re-assignment. Or I’d take Number 72 as representation for both Mickey Mantle and Derek Jeter.

I wish Tulo the best as he tries to make his comeback. I hope he’s successful. If he is, that means he outperformed guys like Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada, and Hanser Alberto in spring training. But there’s no way anyone should be counting on Tulo as a savior for the drive to World Championship #28. He is a roll of the dice for pocket change. That’s all.

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As for the real shortstop target, we should have resolution on Manny Machado this week…hopefully. I don’t know what I think at this point. I’ve seen the positive news such as Dan Clark’s infamous Twitter declaration that Machado will be a Yankee and other miscellaneous reports such as an alleged house hunting excursion in Westchester County to look at Phil Jackson’s old place. It’s no secret I am on Team Machado. I want the Yankees to sign him and I know that I’ll be disappointed if it does not happen. I did see a tweet by baseball writer Bob Klapisch this week who put the odds for Machado signing with the Yankees at 60/40. He mentioned Yankees ownership and front office are split on Machado. It seems like it could give the Philadelphia Phillies an opportunity to slip in with a revised significantly greater offer to snag the generational talent away from the Yankees. I know there are many Yankee fans that won’t be disappointed if Machado goes elsewhere. This is about as divided as I’ve ever seen the Yankees Universe or at least in recent years. Regardless of the guys who show up in Tampa next month, I hope the Yankees fan base will unite and support the players who break camp as the Opening Day roster even if neither Machado nor Harper are on the team. I think they will, but we’ll have to deal with the division a little bit longer until all of this plays out.

Even if the Yankees redirect and go after Bryce Harper instead of Machado, I’d still expect them to bring in another shortstop or second baseman to help fill the Gregorius void. Adeiny Hechavarria, Freddy Galvis, Jose Iglesias, I don’t care but I’d want other options besides Tulowitzki and holdover Tyler Wade. My preference has been to keep Gleyber Torres at second base but, in my opinion, he remains the best shortstop option despite the Tulo signing.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t express best wishes and congratulations to TGP Leader Daniel Burch. Today, Daniel and his lovely fiancée, Kari Ann, will finally say “I do” to become Mr and Mrs Greedy Pinstripes.  As we’ve seen from his posts for a long time, Daniel has been so incredibly excited for this day to arrive (as I am sure Kari Ann has been too). We are equally as excited about their future together and wish them much love, extraordinary happiness and overwhelming success! Congratulations Daniel and Kari Ann!

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Time for me to go back into Waiting for Machado mode. Hopefully we’ll hear something by the end of the week. I don’t think I could possibly stand this dragging into next week.

As always, Go Yankees! But today and better yet, Go Daniel and Kari Ann!

Daniel

The Dawn of New Yankees Year…

The 2019 New York Yankees…

Happy New Year!  

Well almost, a few more hours to go…

From a sports perspective, I am not sorry to see 2018 exit the Main Stage. The Yankees were the most successful of my favorite professional teams during the year, making the ALDS before bowing out to the eventual World Series champions (who shall remain nameless). My football season came to end with a thud yesterday when the Minnesota Vikings, controllers of their own destiny, could not close the deal with the Chicago Bears, losing 24-10, and allowing the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to slide into the playoffs in their place. I know, please feel free  to insert your best Kirk Cousins jokes. I am sure Tommy Kahnle…and Mike Trout…are very happy today. If you are a Giants or Jets fan, I am sure that you share my misery this morning although you have much better draft position.

Nevertheless, this is a Yankees blog so let’s talk baseball.

In March 2014, the Los Angeles Angels did the right thing and signed Superstar outfielder Mike Trout to a six-year, $144.5 million contract. Trout opted to sign the extension early, thereby skipping his arbitration-eligible years which would have left him eligible for free agency this off-season to join Manny Machado and Bryce Harper in the battle for $300 million contracts. Instead, he’ll gladly accept $34.083 million per year for the next two seasons before hitting the open market after the 2020 season. I mention this not for the reason the Yankees should eyeball Trout’s future free agency, but rather they should follow suit and offer the same kind of deal to Aaron Judge, the face of the Yankees franchise.

Photo Credit: Rolling Stone (Theo Wenner)

I know Judge is under team control for one more year and begins the arbitration phase in 2020, but I’d like to see the Yankees take care of him. TGP’s Daniel Burch did a very nice breakdown of team salaries this weekend to show the Yankees can afford both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.  Honestly, I’d rather see more dollars go to Judge. Sure, I hope the Yankees can sign either Machado or Harper but they don’t need both regardless of whether or not they can afford it (they can, as Daniel so elegantly illustrated). Making Aaron Judge play for barely more than “minimum” wage is wrong. Okay, the $622,300 he made last year is far more than most of us will make in any given year, but there’s something awful in a World where Judge makes less than 3% of the annual compensation provided to the bag of dead weight otherwise known as Jacoby Ellsbury. I know it’s the way the system works but Judge has outperformed the majority of his peers and deserves better. He is already recognized as the unofficial Captain of the team by the Yankees fan base and despite adding other superstar players like Giancarlo Stanton and potentially Machado (or Harper), Judge is arguably the most popular Yankee and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Hal, PLEASE pay the man.

Photo Credit: AP (LM Otero)

I really thought the Yankees would have added at least one major bullpen arm by year’s end. I guess there’s still some time for it to happen but it’s not looking very promising. I thought “Waiting for Manny” would have been a great time to focus on the pen. It seems like everyone is waiting for Craig Kimbrel to sign before the relief market moves, at least at the upper echelon of arms. I expect once Kimbrel decides where he’ll spend the Summer of ‘19, the pieces will move very quickly. Hopefully the Yankees are prepared to pounce on at least one of David Robertson, Zach Britton or Adam Ottavino. I’d really hate to lose out altogether on those three. The importance of a super-bullpen cannot be understated, particularly for a starting rotation that continues to carry so many questions. Even the current “sixth man” (Jonathan Loaisiga) has health concerns. I like some of the young arms in the system but I want “tried and true” to go with Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Jonathan Holder and Chad Green. No objections to breaking camp with Stephen Tarpley but we need a strong “closer-in-waiting” as a hedge for Chapman. I know Chapman’s workout photos this winter show him in peak condition but after last season, I don’t trust his knee and pitchers, generally-speaking, are fragile.

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CBS Sports, behind writer Dayn Perry, wrote their 50 MLB predictions for 2019 a few days ago. Surprise, another writer who predicts Manny Machado will be a Yankee. Perry projects Machado to sign the third-most lucrative deal in Major League history behind the free agent contract to be given to Bryce Harper (which, eventually, when it is signed, should rate as the largest) and Giancarlo Stanton.  Perry also has the Yankees winning the AL East, on a second consecutive 100-win season, over the Boston Red Sox (the defending champs are projected as a Wild Card team). He sees the Yankees taking the Fall Classic in five games over the Washington Nationals. Perry must be having visions of Pinstripes dancing in his head because he has Luis Severino winning the AL Cy Young Award and CC Sabathia reaching 250 wins and 3,000 strikeouts. Lastly, he projects Mister Underpaid (Aaron Judge) with 44 home runs. I think all of us have envisioned 2019 as “the” year. Glad to see CBS Sports has jumped on the bandwagon.

This could be (should be) the week we finally hear about Manny Machado’s long-awaited decision. Even Jim Leyritz (@therealjleyritz) tweeted this yesterday when asked about Machado: “If I was a betting man. I’d say it’s all but done. Not sure as I was with Stanton deal last year. Being able to break that news doesn’t happen every year. Lol. But from what I’ve heard. All but the signature is needed. Stay tuned. Would be a good way to ring in the New Year.”

Regardless of what happens, I hope the Yankees retain Miguel Andújar. I don’t see a trade for an elite pitcher between now and spring training. and that’s the only way I could justify moving Andújar. I think the team is better served keeping him on the roster.  The guy is a hit machine and can help this team solve its RISP problem. Maybe he’s moved at the trading deadline if the team happens to have another third baseman in place with the initials of MM, but I’d really like to see what Miggy can do in Year 2 of his Bronx story. Let’s mix him in at first base and left field during spring training and see what he is capable of or if Manny decides to go to Philly or Chicago, let Andújar continue to develop at third and work to refine his defensive skills. We’d need to ensure shortstop is strong-defensively until Didi Gregorius returns but let’s quit pushing the ‘trade Andújar’ movement. The Yankees are better with him.

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I hope Brian Cashman has enjoyed his “time off”. I know, that’s just what it looks like from the outside looking in. Regardless, I hope the New Year brings a focused GM on a mission to field the best possible team when the regular season opens in a few months. We’re good but we can get so much better. Let’s not miss this opportunity. It’s time to bring a championship back to New York.

Happy New Year to you, your family and everyone! Well, everyone except the Red Sox…definitely not the Red Sox.

As always, Go Yankees!

To Be a Yankee or Not To Be…

Unofficial Source points Machado to the Yankees…

Dan Clark, an Orioles blogger from Australia, caused quite a stir yesterday afternoon when he tweeted Manny Machado is headed for New York.

According to Clark, he trusts his source and stands behind his words. Ultimately, nobody really knows until Manny signs his name on the dotted line. He may want to be a Yankee as we’ve often heard and he may feel today the Yankees are his team but until the final decision is made and the agreement is in place, Manny is free to change his mind. I continue to hope Manny signs with the Yankees but honestly it continues to be my opinion that he’ll take the most money which will probably not be the Yankees regardless of how much he may have loved the team as a kid.  My hope is the Yankees make their final offer close enough that it causes Manny to accept slightly less to wear the Pinstripes. But if it is a wide gap, the Yankees had better enact Plan B immediately.

I feel bad for Clark. He has taken so much heat for his comments and people are attacking his credibility. In my opinion, that’s not fair. Does having “credentials” make a guy like Joel Sherman a better human being? No, I don’t think so. Clark has friendships with the Orioles and he is more connected to the inner workings of that organization than most Yankee insiders. I place some value in Clark’s message, but I recognize to blindly trust the words until proven correct is foolish. If he is right, great. I look forward to the introduction of Manny Machado at Yankee Stadium. If he is wrong, the world goes on and we wait for the development of Plan B to cover for the temporary loss of Didi Gregorius next season. I won’t think any less of Clark if he is proven wrong. He has expressed an opinion which is his right. He has the basis of sources that he trusts. We don’t know his sources but it’s not a reason to invalidate Clark’s words. I support his right to say whatever he wants about the Yankees or Orioles or any other team. He believes the words, right or wrong, and that’s all that really matters.

As for Machado, the Yankee fan base seems so divided over the young superstar. I know that he failed to deliver a World Series championship for the Los Angeles Dodgers and we all know about the infamous “Johnny Hustle” comments, but last time I checked, the Red Sox rolled over all their competition last season, not just Machado’s Dodgers. I don’t blame Machado for the Dodgers’ loss. This is a team game. He is one of the best players at his position, whether it is shortstop or third base. He makes any team better and I think if he becomes a Yankee, the fan base will rally around him. At the end of the day, he’ll only want the same thing we want, a World Series championship. We’re going to boo him for that?

In my post yesterday, I predicted Manny’s decision will come on Tuesday, January 8th.  However, that was under the assumption final offers had not been submitted. If, in fact, the Yankees, White Sox, and Phillies have submitted their best and final offers to Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, I’ll revise my decision date to Friday, January 4th. Next week should be an eventful one. We’ll see. Either way, I am glad the Machado speculation is coming to an end.

I saw the blurb this morning in MLB Trade Rumors about the Texas Rangers and their trade of Jurickson Profar to the Oakland A’s. In the post today, Gerry Fraley, Rangers beat writer for The Dallas Morning News, is quoted as saying “The Yankees were interested in Profar as a stopgap player while Gregorius recovers but weren’t willing to give up much”. I figured the Yankees could have put together a prospect package that rivaled the one received from the A’s but this indicates the Yankees were not as sold on Profar as we thought. Fraley goes on to say Profar’s throwing problems will not be as obvious at second (he had 24 errors last season at third and shortstop) but the Yankees do not need a permanent second baseman (they already have great one) and the last thing they need is another defensively-challenged infielder. I like Profar and continue to hope he can fulfill the promise he once held as the top prospect in the game, but it sounds like the Yankees made the right decision to pass.

The Sonny Gray to the Brewers talk seems to be picking up steam again. For Sonny, I think it would be a great opportunity. The Brewers have a good, young team and it’s obviously a winning environment right now. Sonny could prosper in Milwaukee. As for a potential return, I’ve heard Corey Knebel’s name. I know 2018 was a struggle for the Brewers’ closer and it included time in the minor leagues to find himself again, but I like Knebel and I think he’d be a good addition to the bullpen. Another potential name is first baseman/outfielder Eric Thames, but man, that would really be a pronunciation conflict with Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames. Seriously, Thames would be a good add but it would spell the end for Greg Bird and I am not sure the Yankees are ready to break that bond yet.

Bryan Van Dusen (@Bryan_TGP) posted this comment on Twitter this morning: “All this talk about Manny Machado, and I’m just hoping that Brett Gardner is not the regular left fielder this season. Although, I’m looking out for Clint Frazier, as I wouldn’t be surprised if he became the regular left fielder sometime during the season (assuming no Bryce)”. I agree with this 100%. There hasn’t been a lot of talk about Red Thunder and I know everyone wants to see if he can stay healthy, but I am really hoping that Frazier can grab a starting role through his performance. I think everyone loves Gardy and he has been a great Yankee but the truth is he is not the player he once was. He can still be a very good fourth outfielder but the team should not depend upon him in the starting outfield when there are better options. Frazier, clearly, can be the better option.

On MLB Network yesterday, one of their predictions for the new year was the Yankees’ acquisition of LHP Madison Bumgarner at the trading deadline.  That’s one I could really get into. I know there’s been a lot of talk and speculation about MadBum but everyone expects the Giants to try and get their best deal in July. This is one that I hope the Yankees are positioning themselves for, especially if MadBum stays healthy. The Giants love Bumgarner, but new President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi will make a decision that is in the best interests of the Giants organization for the long run. The odds MadBum will be traded are as great as they’ve ever been. I’d love to see him playing in October again.

I am so tired of the World Series highlights that are continually replayed as the end of the year approaches. Can we turn the page already? The Red Sox are so yesterday’s news.

As always, Go Yankees!

Yankees’ Front Office Enjoying Time Off (Allegedly)…

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Meanwhile, the Rumor Mill runs rampant…

As 2018 winds down to a close, all is quiet in the Yankees Universe except for Yankee Twitter and the endless possibilities expressed, again and again, by Yankee fans. The Yankees still have holes to fill in the bullpen and no confirmed plan at this moment in time to use anybody other than Tyler Wade and Gleyber Torres at shortstop to cover for Didi Gregorius. It does not appear these answers will be provided in 2018 and must wait until the calendar year changes.

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Although Manny Machado has indicated he will not make his long-awaited decision until after the first of the year, I don’t think anybody knows what that really means. I think some Yankee fans and industry experts think we’ll have his choice on New Year’s Day or worst case, the next day. I honestly do not think this will be resolved that quickly. To account for some of the inevitable back and forth between teams (if that hasn’t already happened), I’ll predict we have Manny’s decision by Tuesday, January 8th. I think the first week of January will be trying to elicit the best possible offers from the interested teams. As much as I want the Yankees to sign Machado, it remains my belief he’ll take more money to play in the City of Brotherly Love or the Windy City. I heard Larry Bowa on MLB Network yesterday talking about how the Phillies can overcome Machado’s childhood fascination with the Yankees by adding a few more zeroes to the check. If this goes into an all-out bidding war, I have no doubt the Yankees will come in third to the Phillies and White Sox. At that point, Manny has to decide what is best for him and his family.

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Manny Machado and wife, Yainee Alonso

The sooner Manny decides, the sooner we can move on to Plan B.  I am ready to close the door, one way or the other. I am mentally prepared. If we have to settle for Freddy Galvis at shortstop, so be it. Let’s move on. At this point, pitching remains the team’s most critical need.

MLB Network’s Jon Paul Morosi is reporting the Los Angeles Angels are interested in David Robertson.  Despite D-Rob’s expressed interest in playing close to his Rhode Island home, Morosi notes that Robertson would have the opportunity to close for the Angels and of course he knows Angels GM Billy Eppler well from their time together with the Yankees. It makes sense to me. I’d rather see D-Rob go to Anaheim versus pitching at Fenway Park for the Red Sox. I personally love Southern California so, in my opinion, it’s a no-brainer.  I think it would be fun to play on the same team with Mike Trout.  Eppler is trying to squeeze a few more wins out of his team with the recent signings of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill. He needs to protect those investments by getting a reliable reliever to close out games. Robertson will be a much cheaper option than guys like Zach Britton and Craig Kimbrel and he’d fit well under new manager Brad Ausmus. Not that I am wishing D-Rob to the Angels. I’d still like to see him come back to the Bronx, but if that doesn’t happen, Anaheim is a preferred destination over division rivals.

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Angels GM Billy Eppler

Gumby had a birthday yesterday. Jordan Montgomery turned 26 as he continues to work his way back from last summer’s Tommy John surgery. No doubt we’ll see the former Gamecock somewhere around the time Didi Gregorius returns (or maybe a little later in the season if Didi is somehow ready to go by June or July). Not expecting much out of Montgomery next season but I am looking forward to seeing him in Pinstripes again. Happy Belated Birthday, Jordan!

 

 

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Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)

Searching for things to watch on TV last night, I settled on the original version of A Star Is Born (1937) starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Of course, it made me think of the 1937 Yankees. They won the ninth World Series in franchise history that year, finishing 102-52 to win the AL Pennant by 13 games over the Detroit Tigers. They defeated the New York Giants in five games to claim the World Series championship. What a year for Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig! The 34-year-old Gehrig, within two years from being forced from the game due to ALS, had 37 home runs and 158 RBIs. He batted .351/.473/.643 and had an OPS of 1.116. He took 127 walks to only 49 strikeouts. 22 year-old Joe DiMaggio had staggering numbers for such a young player. 46 homers, 167 RBIs, .346/.412/.673 and 1.085 OPS. He took fewer walks than Gehrig (64), but only struck out 37 times. Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri at second, Frankie Crosetti at short, Red Rolfe at third and a pitching staff anchored by Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing.  Collectively, Gomez and Ruffing won 41 games as both pitchers reached the 20-win mark. Gomez threw six shutouts in 34 starts, pitching 278 1/3 innings, allowing only 72 earned runs for 2.33 ERA. Total Yankees domination. I love it! I know I left out some other great Yankees for the 1937 team but it must have been grand watching the Yankees annihilate their opponents year by year in the late 1930’s.

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Final Out, 1937 World Series at the Polo Grounds, Gehrig to Gomez

Moving back into current times, I felt kind of bad for Tyler Austin yesterday. When the Twins elected not to retain Logan Morrison after one year and Twins great Joe Mauer decided to retire, it appeared that Austin had a clear path to playing time for Minnesota next season. Then, the Twins acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Tampa Bay Rays and yesterday they inked former Seattle Mariners slugger and DH Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal with an option. Austin’s path to playing time appears to be blocked once again like it was with the Yankees. I was surprised Cruz went with Minnesota. I had really expected him to end up with the Houston Astros. He would have been a deadly bat in that lineup.  I guess it’s better for the Yankees he went with Minnesota but of course he adds a weapon if the Twins can get a Wild Card rematch with the Yankees to avenge their loss in 2017. Cruz may be 38 but he has that David Ortiz knack for smashing huge home runs at the best times (or worst times, depending upon your perspective). I guess Ronald Torreyes will have plenty of opportunities for his Toe Night Show at Target Field next season.

I was reading one blog the other day that talked about trades the Yankees wish they could undo. The blogger listed the Brandon Drury trade as his first choice. I know that trade didn’t work out, but I don’t look at it as one I’d undo.  I really liked Drury’s acquisition at the time of the trade. I liked the player and the potential that I thought he could bring to the team. A solid defender with some pop. I know it cost the Yankees several really good prospects (second baseman Nick Solak, currently rated as the eleventh best prospect for the Tampa Bay Rays by MLB.com and pitcher Taylor Widener, who ranks as second best prospect for the Arizona Diamondbacks) but I can’t say I’d undo the trade. It was a risk worth taking. It didn’t work out. Drury had the undisclosed migraines and never really performed for the Yankees before losing his job to Miguel Andujar and subsequently getting traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in the J.A. Happ deal. I thought then and I still feel that when healthy and given the opportunity, Drury is going to help a team. Not sure the Blue Jays are that team since 2019 should bring the emergence of top prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr to the Show at some point during the season to place a stranglehold on third base for years to come but Drury will make good on his promise one day. Look, I’d love to have Widener back but I wouldn’t undo the Drury trade even with the benefit of hindsight. You have to take those types of chances to get better and I’d never want to see GM Brian Cashman get “gun shy” and start holding onto prospects longer than he should. Some trades work, some trades don’t. That’s how it goes.

Not that I am trying to wish the new year to get here any faster, but I am looking forward to getting to next Wednesday so that the Hot Stove League can resume activity. The days of nothingness are long and boring on the baseball front. I am anxious and excited for pitchers and catchers to report to Tampa, FL on February 13th but there is still so much work to be done. We need to ensure that Aaron Boone, in 2019, knows what it must have felt like to be Joe McCarthy in 1937. No pressure, Cash. Talk to your boss and get it done.

As always, Go Yankees!

Destination: 2019 World Series Championship…

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Yankees are one or two moves away from “full throttle”…

Another day, another 24 hours gone by with no news on the Yankees front. Waiting for Manny Machado’s decision feels like an eternity. While many of you may be hopeful the Yankees pass on the…don’t say it, don’t say it…”generational” talent, I think it will be a huge disappointment for those of us who wish to see the Yankees sign the young superstar shortstop/third baseman.

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Probably the worst thing about waiting for Manny is how it has placed other moves on hold. Or at least that’s the way it seems from an outsider’s perspective. Not knowing how many dollars it might take to reel in Machado, the Yankees don’t know how much they will have to spend on the bullpen. It also prevents the Yankees from pursuing Plans B or C for the temporary replacement of Didi Gregorius. I know I’ve mentioned D.J. LeMahieu in the past and Daniel Burch wrote a piece about the player yesterday, but I don’t really want to see the Yankees sign a multi-year deal with a free agent second baseman that could potentially spell the end of the illustrious Yankee career of Didi Gregorius. If you make a huge multi- year deal for an above-average second baseman, it increases the likelihood the Yankees permanently move Gleyber Torres to his natural shortstop position and pass on offering Didi an extension. So, I think all things considered, I’d prefer to see a temporary glove-first shortstop like Adeiny Hechavarria or Jose Iglesias over someone like LeMahieu even if the latter’s bat could help. I want Didi Gregorius as the Yankees’ shortstop for the long-term and I am certainly not prepared to see him leave next off-season. I think in my mind, I envision Didi’s return somewhere around the trading deadline in July but some reports have him back sooner. I know that’s also an argument for why the team shouldn’t sign Machado but this is still a good Yankees team that can withstand a few months without Didi in the lineup.

If it’s my money, I pay the most dollars to bring in bullpen help to restore its status as a super bullpen and find a reasonably cheap deal for an interim shortstop to keep Gleyber Torres firmly planted at second base.

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Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)

I know I’ve said that I want one of David Robertson, Adam Ottavino or Zach Britton, but the truth is I want Britton. I think this becomes more apparent to me with each passing day that Britton remains a free agent. I am ready to see D-Rob go, even if that means he calls Fenway Park home, if it means the return of #53 to the Yankees bullpen. Obviously, if Britton decides he wants to be a closer again and takes more money elsewhere, I’d want the Yankees to go hard after D-Rob or Ottavino. I think for the second open bullpen slot, the Yankees will attempt to fill it from within with the likes of Stephen Tarpley, Joe Harvey and Chance Adams. Surely, Tommy Kahnle has to be better this year. He can’t possibly be any worse than he was last season.

The San Diego Padres keep popping up in trade rumors involving top starting pitchers like Corey Kluber and Marcus Stroman. I don’t really get why a young San Diego team with a very strong farm system that could potentially set up the team as a contender in two or three years would trade prospects for a thirty-something starter. Kluber is one of the game’s best right now but by the time the Padres are ready to contend, he’ll be on the inevitable downward slide. Kevin Acee, the Padres beat writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune tweeted yesterday that the Padres won’t be adding Kluber or Stroman and mentioned the team’s priority is a third baseman.  We know the Padres like Miguel Andujar, which does make you wonder if the Yankees and Padres could team up to make a three-way deal with the Indians to bring Kluber to New York. The Padres could potentially get their hands on Sonny Gray in addition to Andujar in a deal that might make sense for all three teams. I keep reading the Indians won’t trade their ace to an American League team but if the Padres and Yankees work collectively, they can make the Indians an offer they can’t refuse. I think Sonny Gray would thrive in Petco Park and would give the Padres the starter they’ve been seeking. I know that we keep hearing the Dodgers associated with Kluber, but I think they’d be stronger pursuing a trade with the Miami Marlins for catcher J.T. Realmuto, a huge need for the Dodgers, and signing a free agent starter like Dallas Keuchel than using prospects to bring Kluber to Chavez Ravine. If the Yankees can somehow acquire Kluber, I don’t really care what they do the rest of the offseason. They’ll have a team ready to dethrone the defending World Series champions.

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Circling back to the wonderful world of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, the buzz yesterday was neither player really likes Philadelphia. I don’t really care for the Philly bashing as I like the city, but there’s no doubt, to me, Philly does not hold the same glamour, glitz, and prestige that New York City has. If your primary concern is your legacy in Major League Baseball, there’s no better place to play than New York. Of course, it takes two to tango. I know the Yankees are waiting for prices to drop and maybe that’s the smart play. But the team has the financial strength to bring one of the two best free agent superstars to hit the open market in years to the Bronx in a way that requires virtually no thought from the player or his agent. Well, let’s be honest, the Yankees have the money for both players, but realistically, that’s never going to happen in the bean-counting world of Hal Steinbrenner. I remember how jazzed the fan base was last year when the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton. I know Stanton has taken his not-so-fair share of heat, but he’s a great slugger capable of so much more. Imagine bringing a guy like Machado or Harper to the team with Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Gleyer Torres and others. This would excite the fan base beyond heights we’ve seen in years.

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We’re probably facing another quiet day in the Hot Stove League. I doubt anything heats up until we get to late next week. I’d love a surprise Yankees addition before then, but for now the wait must go on. We will persevere and hopefully by the time pitchers and catchers head for Tampa in February, the Yankees will be a much stronger team than they are today. The Yankees Universe has one primary New Year’s resolution…take the World Series championship away from the Boston Red Sox! Hal, say goodbye to your money, and let’s do this!

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As always, Go Yankees!

 

Waiting for Gifts from Santa Cashman…

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Photo Credit: Hearst Connecticut Media (Scott Mullin), via Stamford Advocate

One holiday down, one to go…

It’s the day after Christmas and there are still a number of questions yet to be answered for the New York Yankees. Sure, the Yankees acquired left-hander James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners in November and they re-signed LHP J.A. Happ earlier this month but we’re the ‘what have you done for me lately’ crowd.

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When will the Yankees sign infielder Manny Machado?  As we’ve been told, Machado does not intend to make any decisions until after the first of the year.  Does that mean we’ll know something on January 2nd? Probably not. This thing could drag out for days or weeks into January before it plays out. I feel the team needs to brace itself for Plan B in the event Machado takes the money from Philadelphia or Chicago and runs (well, in his case, slowly jogs). Although I am not excited about the idea, the Yankees should consider signing Troy Tulowitski but they’d be foolish to rest their hopes on Tulo as a Didi Gregorius “fill-in”. I really like the diversity of Marwin Gonzalez and he has a championship pedigree thanks to his role in helping the Houston Astros win it all in 2017. I’m not excited about moving Gleyber Torres temporarily off second base to cover for Didi at short, but a second baseman like D.J. LeMahieu or Jed Lowrie could help this team. I think Brian Dozier has seen his better days so that’s a hard pass for me. Neil Walker, I’ve already seen that show. It’s probably not outside the realm of possibility the Yankees decide to stay in-house and give Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada, and Hanser Alberto opportunities during Spring Training. For a team ready to contend for the World Series, I hope not. There’s too much at stake for the Yankees to come up, pardon the pun, short.

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When will the Yankees focus on the bullpen?  The obvious answer is now. With Machado’s decision pushed off until next week at the earliest, I really wish the Yankees would fill at least one of the two vacancies this week. With each passing day, there is an increasing likelihood that David Robertson, Adam Ottavino and Zach Britton sign elsewhere. It really sucks listening to St Louis Cardinals fans and players talk about how excited they are to have Andrew Miller. As much as I like Robertson, I don’t really get the sense he is a priority for the Yankees, therefore, I really hope they are actively working with the agents for Ottavino and Britton. I know Britton has the potential to get “closer” money, but we need his talent and skills in the Yankees bullpen. Last year showed that we cannot place 100% faith in Aroldis Chapman and his problematic knee. Dellin Betances did a fine job, but I prefer to keep him in a setup role which means we need a proven backup closer to help Chappy. Ottavino has closed and certainly offers that ability, but I’d rather see Britton return among the two choices. Healthy, he is ready to dominate once again. But I won’t be disappointed if Ottavino is the one.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Do the Yankees need to bring in another starter?  Quite simply, the answer is yes. Perhaps the Yankees are convinced Jonathan Loaisiga is the solution for the role of “sixth man”. But he’s about as much of a question mark as the starting rotation itself.  Loaisiga is a talented pitcher but until he can prove the ability to stay healthy, he’s going to carry the injury-risk label. Starting with the back end of the rotation, CC Sabathia is expected to be ready for Spring Training but realistically the Yankees need to prepare for other options in the event CC suffers any setbacks. Encountering heart problems at 38 is never a good sign and we do not know how Sabathia will hold up to the rigors of a 162-game schedule. J.A. Happ was solid for the Yankees down the stretch, but he’s 36. A smart pitcher, yes, but a year closer to retirement. With Masahiro Tanaka, you know we’ll eventually hear “he needs Tommy John surgery”. We’ve been living on borrowed time and it is inevitable he’ll eventually need the surgery to continue. Despite a successful 2018 campaign, James Paxton carries his own injury concerns. Luis Severino is perhaps the pitcher with the fewest question marks but he needs to overcome his second half regression from last season. The Yankees need a bona fide starter to serve as the long man/spot starter. I really hope the 2019 answer is not Luis Cessa or A.J. Cole.

Why is Sonny Gray still on this team?  I really thought Gray would be an ex-Yankee before 2019 but we’re running out of time. There has presumably been strong interest in Gray, with as many as eleven teams expressing interest, but GM Brian Cashman has yet to receive an enticing offer. Although I am surprised he hasn’t been traded yet, I fully expect Gray to be gone before pitchers and catchers report to Tampa, FL on February 13th. I think many fans were hopeful the Yankees could package Gray with a few high end prospects to grab Cincinnati’s Scooter Gennett but I think that ship has sailed. With the Reds acquiring Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood from the Los Angeles Dodgers last week, the team is clearly focused on squeezing a few more wins out of their roster next season. Parting with their talented second baseman would not be consistent with that objective. At this point, I don’t think Gray’s presence on the roster is helping anyone. There seems to be an increasing number of Yankee fans wanting the team to hold onto Gray for the hope he can still be what we once thought he would be. For me, I’m done with Gray as much as I am done with Jacoby Ellsbury.

Which leads me to the next question, why is Jacoby Ellsbury still on this team?  Insurance payments. As long as the Yankees have the potential to collect on insurance to defray Ellsbury’s cost, he isn’t going anywhere. If and when he is finally healthy, the Yankees will either make the hard decision to stash Clint Frazier at Triple A or they’ll cut bait with Ellsbury and eat the remainder of his contract. If you count the 2021 buyout of his contract, the Yankees still owe Ellsbury $47.3 million. If the Toronto Blue Jays can afford to absorb $38 million to sever ways with Troy Tulowitski, the Yankees can afford $47 million to make Ellsbury an ex-Yankee. It amazes me how the Los Angeles Dodgers can routinely shed bloated contracts but the Yankees cannot. Well, credit to Cashman for the Chase Headley contract elimination but he needs to find the way to part ways with Ellsbury. If Ellsbury is on the Opening Day Roster (I highly doubt it), I will have no choice but to root for him but, ideally, I hope that day never comes.

I know there are more questions that need to be answered before the Yankees show up for Spring Training in February but these are a few on my mind. I am not sure the tandem of Greg Bird/Luke Voit offers the best hope for first base in the long run but we need more time to see how this plays out. Voit has earned the right to play first base for the Yankees, but Greg Bird should be given the opportunity to play during Spring Training and earn his right to be part of the Opening Day roster. He is running out of time and chances, but I don’t think it is the end of the road for Bird yet nor should it be.

Miguel Andujar is my third baseman until he isn’t.

If there is one starting position on the team that concerns me, it is left field. I love Brett Gardner as much as the next guy, but at this point in his career, he’s better suited to serve as fourth outfielder in my humble opinion. I suppose there’s always a possibility that Giancarlo Stanton plays left more often next season or Clint Frazier works himself into a platoon with Gardy or even takes the job. So much is dependent upon whether or not the Yankees sign Machado. If they do, there will be a chain reaction when Didi Gregorius returns late next summer which will presumably push Machado to third, displacing Andujar who will have to move to first, left or DH. Until this is figured out, it will concern me.

One position that does not cause any alarm for me is catcher. I really expect to see an improved Gary Sanchez in 2019. I honestly feel that he’ll continue to improve defensively with each passing season. I was never in favor of the trade rumors for J.T. Realmuto and stand by El Gary as the present and future of Yankees catching. Austin Romine is a fine backup so I have no desire to see any changes with the current catching duo. I’d certainly have no qualms about Kyle Higashioka taking Romine’s job away if his performance dictates it. That would be a nice problem to have. Until younger guys like Anthony Siegler and Josh Breaux are knocking at the door, Sanchez is this team’s catcher.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

These were just some random thoughts on my mind. There hasn’t been much baseball talk the last few days with the holiday season upon us so I’ve been missing it. I turned on MLB Network Radio this morning and had to listen to one-time Yank C.J. Nitkowski talk about his Christmas gifts for his wife. That’s nice. Let’s get this talk back to Baseball. Is it time for Spring Training yet?

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As always, Go Yankees!