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!
Twins 6, Yankees 1…
The new guys did not help as the Yankees got clobbered in losing the series to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday. I liked the tweet by Mike Axisa of CBS Sports-MLB: “Frazier, Robertson and Kahnle for a starting pitcher”. Funny but also a bit truthful. I realize that Jordan Montgomery bounced back after the disastrous 2nd inning to give the Yankees an otherwise strong six innings but those 6 runs in the 2nd proved to be insurmountable. In the game of win or lose, Monty (6-5) sucked.
The toughest part about the 6-run 2nd was that all of the runs were scored with two outs. With runners at second and third, Zack Granite, a native New Yorker who was 2-for-22 in his MLB career to that point, singled up the middle to give the Twins a 2-0 lead. The dangerous Brian Dozier walked on a 3-2 count, pushing Granite to second. A Larry Rothschild visit to the mound later, Eduardo Escobar hit a single to center field which scored Granite and moved Dozier to second. Miguel Sano stepped up and decided to play a game of Home Run Derby with a blast to center off an 0-2 rolling curveball from Jordan Montgomery. It was 6-0 Twins before the new guys, who had just shown up due to a flight delay, could shake hands with all of their new Yankees teammates.
Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/AP
The Yankees had their biggest chance to get back into the game in the 7th inning. With Twins starter Jose Berrios still on the mound, Clint Frazier started the inning with a single to center. Garrett Cooper hit a liner to left for the first out. He was followed by Austin Romine who was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch. Clint Frazier to second. Todd Frazier then entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Ronald Torreyes but went down swinging for the second out. Gardner singled to left center to score Clint Frazier and advanced to second on an error by the left fielder, Robbie Grossman (who mishandled the ball before firing it to third). Romine moved to third. The Twins pulled Berrios and brought in reliever Taylor Duffey to face Jacoby Ellsbury. A single by Ellsbury could have brought the Yankees within striking distance but he struck out with the bat resting on his shoulder with a fastball down the middle to end the inning. It was the second time the Yankees left the bases full with no runs as Ronald Torreyes had grounded out with bases full of Yanks in the top of the 2nd before the onslaught of runs by the Twins.
Tommy Kahnle made his Yankees debut in the 8th in relief of Chad Green. He gave a preview of coming attractions by retiring the three batters he faced including two by strikeout. His pitches were hitting up to 100 mph. I liked Kahnle’s quote after the game, “I always dreamed once they (the Yankees) drafted me I would pitch for them in the big leagues. That day has come”. As a fan of Kahnle’s who was very disappointed when he was lost in the Rule 5 Draft to the Colorado Rockies and has remained keenly aware of the pitcher, I share his sentiments. Despite the loss, it was very good to see Kahnle in a Yankees uniform.
Credit: Associated Press
Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch on the right hand in the 9th but he is expected to be fine for today’s game in Seattle.
Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
The Yankees (48-45) need to forget this series and start with a clean slate today against the Mariners. The time is now to make a move after weeks of sliding backwards. The Yankees lost ground to the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. The Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-1, so the Yankees are now 4 1/2 games behind the leaders. They remain 1 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays who lost to the Oakland A’s, 7-2.
Next Up: Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, WA…
The Yankees get a chance to catch up with Robinson Cano and Ben Gamel for four games in the Pacific Northwest.
Here are the scheduled pitching matchups:
Yankees: Luis Severino (5-4, 3.40 ERA)
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (5-3, 4.20 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.33 ERA)
Mariners: Andrew Moore (1-1, 5.25 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.54 ERA)
Mariners: Ariel Miranda (7-4, 4.35 ERA)
Yankees: Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.61 ERA)
Mariners: Sam Gaviglio (3-5, 4.62 ERA)
I feel fairly confident about Thursday, even with King Felix on the mound, and Saturday, but as for Friday and Sunday…not so much.
Here’s hoping the new guys bring some much needed magic and mojo back to our favorite team.
Odds & Ends…
As expected, the Yankees made a flurry of roster moves yesterday to make room for Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle. Chasen Shreve was optioned to Triple A and Ji-Man Choi was designated for assignment. Rob Refsnyder, on the 40-man roster, was also DFA’d as the Yankees needed to create the room on the 40-man roster even though Tyler Clippard vacated his spot with the trade to the White Sox. I can’t say that I am overly excited about Luis Cessa remaining on the active roster. Given a choice between Cessa and Caleb Smith, I’d prefer to see Smith get the next start in place of Michael Pineda. Frazier took Tyler Clippard’s old number (29), Robertson reclaimed his own old number (30) with Clint Frazier switching to double-Mickey Mantle (77), and Kahnle’s number with the White Sox was waiting for him thanks to the recent dismissal of Chris Carter (48).
Speaking of poor starts, the Yankees are surely looking for rotation help after Jordan Montgomery’s string of sub-par starts. But being “careful buyers” probably means that the Yankees will not be players for guys like Sonny Gray or Gerrit Cole. Now is the time for GM Brian Cashman to earn the dollars for his next contract.
This is a hypothetical question considering that Aaron Hicks is not healthy, but if you have five outfielders (Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Hicks, and Clint Frazier), is Jacoby Ellsbury the sixth or seventh best outfielder? Just wondering…
Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Manager Joe Girardi has said that Todd Frazier will be the team’s regular third baseman. Chase Headley will move to first and platoon with Garrett Cooper. If Frazier has a strong finish to the season, I’d have to believe it is more likely the team will attempt to re-sign him over Matt Holliday. Frazier intends to talk to YES Network broadcaster Paul O’Neill about possibly switching his number from #29 to #21 before the team returns to the Bronx. Frazier has always worn #21 because of O’Neill. I think it would be appropriate and would not boo the move assuming that he gets O’Neill’s blessing.
Former Yankee Chris Carter has signed with the Oakland A’s, a team he played for from 2010 to 2012. He’ll report to the A’s Triple A club, the Nashville Sounds. I can still remember when the Sounds were a Double A team for the Yankees and Buck Showalter was a first baseman/outfielder for them.
We’ll probably be seeing another former Yankee soon (in the wrong uniform) as the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners have been identified as strong possibilities for David Phelps of the Miami Marlins. The Red Sox are also still looking at Miami’s Martin Prado, currently on the 10-Day DL, as well as Eduardo Nunez of the San Francisco Giants.
Have a great Thursday! Sevy can make it a truly awesome day. Let’s Go Yankees!