With the help of a Walker…
Neil Walker makes his much anticipated debut in a Yankees lineup today in the only Spring rematch of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros…and the game is not televised…ugh! With no offense to the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox, this is one Spring game that could be a preview of coming attractions for October. Obviously, the outcome of this game decides nothing but I look forward to the Yankees-Astros battles over the course of the coming season. Hey, H-Town, we’re coming for you…
|Photo Credit: AP (Kathy Willens)|
As it stands, based on the comments floating out of camp, it appears that Tyler Wade has the advantage to start at second base for the Yankees against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 29th. His at-bat yesterday against Pittsburgh Pirates closer Felipe Rivero was epic. After Rivero sent Wade backwards into the dirt with a high and inside pitch, Wade battled back and worked a hard-fought walk. Last year, I have no doubt he would have struck out in that situation, allowing Rivero to get inside his head. Time and again, Wade is making the plays to show that he belongs. Given how much corporate executives raved about him over the winter and his subsequent performance this Spring, it’s easy to see why his name will be on the Opening Day roster. Walker’s flexibility to play multiple positions will most certainly keep his bat in the lineup even if Wade becomes the starter. Both Danny Espinosa and Adam Lind paid the price for the Walker signing as evidenced by their releases, but I think the remaining player most adversely impacted will be Ronald Torreyes. It is interesting and perhaps telling that Walker’s debut against the Astros will feature him at first base rather than second base. Have bat; will travel. Walker is ready to help wherever he is need in the infield except for shortstop and catcher. But something tells me he’d play those positions if they let him.
I remain very high on Brandon Drury. At the beginning of training camp, so many jumped on the Miguel Andujar bus after his series of home runs, but based on the signals I was reading, the organization feels that he needs more time to work on his defensive game. Also, given the many signs that there is mutual interest between the Yankees and Manny Machado, it makes you wonder about Andujar’s future in the organization. It seems like he is destined to be trade bait at some point. Nevertheless, for now, I am excited about Brandon Drury’s presence at third base even if Andujar or maybe Machado takes his job at some point in the future.
Joel Sherman of The New York Post recently ran an article which detailed how highly Drury is thought of by the Arizona Diamondbacks. They didn’t want to trade him but it was the only way they could land Steven Souza Jr from the Tampa Bay Rays to replace slugger J.D. Martinez who, as we know, left via free agency to sign with a certain team in Massachusetts. In his column, Sherman quotes D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo saying Drury might hit 30 home runs this year. Admittedly, that might be a bit too optimistic, but I like the potential of the player. The quote by Lovullo that stuck out with me is: “A great competitor, a great teammate. Cares on a pretty impressive level about being the absolute best he can be every single day. The Yankees got a special player. Very quiet. Very intense. But very attentive.” I feel strongly that Drury is going to be a significant contributor for the 2018 Yankees. Frankly, I’d love for him to play so well the Yankees decide they don’t need Machado.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Jonathan Dyer)|
It was disappointing to see Chance Adams’ reassignment to Minor League Camp on a down note. It wasn’t a great spring for him. He pitched in three games for a total of 4 2/3 innings, departing with 0-1 record and 11.57 ERA. 9 hits…ouch…6 runs…ouch…3 walks…ouch. In my eyes, both Justus Sheffield and Albert Abreu represent stronger future rotation possibilities. I am starting to side with those who believe that Adams’ future lies in the bullpen. It wasn’t only this Spring, there were signs last year in Triple A that started making me question his future as a starter. With all sincerity, I hope he proves me wrong. But that’s up to him, not me.
I like Jordan Montgomery but realistically, if the price is right, I’d still sign Alex Cobb. Pitching, pitching, pitching…you can never have enough.
Manager Aaron Boone is going to have so many options when he writes up his lineups depending upon matchups, but I really liked yesterday’s Aaron Judge-Giancarlo Stanton-Gary Sanchez sequence against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sanchez, of course, killed it with 5 RBI’s. I am convinced that El Gary can be “the beast” in the batting order all season long. Best hitter on the team in my opinion. Then again, there are no weaknesses, top to bottom. Boone could use a Power Ball machine to determine his batting order and not be wrong. Okay, that approach might be a little too much, but how many first-time managers are handed the keys to a Lamborghini? Poor Ron Gardenhire was the most experienced manager hired in the off-season and he was given a Ford Pinto. For Boonie, life is good.
I’d take $84 million guaranteed too…
With my apologies to those of you who are Jets fans, I am glad that QB Kirk Cousins signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Of course, I say that as a lifelong (long suffering?) Vikings fan. Perhaps Minnesota overpaid for a QB with a losing record, but I like Cousins as the team’s new field general. I have greater faith in him than I did the three Vikings quarterbacks who departed via free agency. Case Keenum. Great guy, but was it him or the system? Could be a one-season wonder. Maybe not, but I’d rather have the guy who is coming off three consecutive 4,000 yard seasons. Sam Bradford. Love the arm, but the dude can’t stay healthy. Teddy Bridgewater. He looked like the future star of the organization until the devastating knee injury. Do we really know if he can successfully make it back? For a team that is Super Bowl-caliber, the Vikings couldn’t take the chance. Bridgewater could blossom for the Jets and provide them with the QB they’ve been lacking. From a character standpoint, you’d be hard-pressed to find many better than Bridgewater. I think the Jets made the right move to sign him. I really hope that he realizes the greatness that seemed destined for him in Minnesota. There’s no doubt he has championship-quality drive and determination.
During the press conference yesterday in Minneapolis to announce the signing, Cousins sounded a bit like Brian Cashman talking about Aaron Boone in his description of how the city and team “checked all the boxes”. I kept anticipating some type of “expect to be great” line in Kirk’s speech but he did “check the boxes” for me by mentioning Super Bowls (plural). Works for me. Congratulations to Kirk and his family. I wish him much success and happiness in the Twin Cities. Now, just bring me the Super Bowl, I means Super Bowls, that I’ve waited all my life for!
|Photo Credit: Star Tribune (Elizabeth Flores)|
But, back to baseball. Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (David Goldman)|
The Rivalry Continues…
Today is the first meeting of the Boston Red Sox and your New York Yankees. Of course, it’s just a meaningless exhibition game but there’s no doubt all of us, without exception, want to beat the hated Red Sox. We’ll have to do it without the Big Boppers as neither Aaron Judge nor Giancarlo Stanton will provide a preview of what they intend to do to Red Sox pitching.
Here is the scheduled lineup for today’s game at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, FL:
Aaron Hicks, CF
Greg Bird, 1B
Brandon Drury, 3B
Didi Gregorius, SS
Gleyber Torres, 2B
Danny Espinosa, DH
Austin Romine, C
Billy McKinney, RF
Jake Cave, LF
The starting pitcher will be Chance Adams, making his second Spring start.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)|
For the Red Sox, they won’t be giving the Yankees an advance look at J.D. Martinez as he, like Judge and Stanton, will take the bench. Pitching for the Red Sox will be left-hander Brian Johnson who is the favorite to win the fifth spot in the Red Sox rotation at the start of the year, thanks to the injuries to Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.
The Yankees signed free agent first baseman Adam Lind on Friday to a minor league deal with an invitation to training camp. The deal includes an opt-out at the end of training camp if he is not on the Major League roster. The backup first base job appears to be Tyler Austin’s to lose. It’s hard to envision Lind making the team unless the Yankees do not trust Austin as the primary support for Greg Bird (or if Austin gets hurts, which is within the realm of possibility). Lind did have surprisingly good numbers for the Washington Nationals last year when he batted .303/.362/.513 with .875 OPS in 301 plate appearances. Four of his 14 home runs were pinch-hits. He is a career .272/.330/.465 (.795 OPS) hitter with 200 home runs. Lind, 34, came up in the Toronto Blue Jays organization and played for them through the 2014 season. Since then, he’s had a new team each year. Milwaukee Brewers (2015), Seattle Mariners (2016) and the Nationals (2017).
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Alex Brandon)|
Austin answered Lind’s signing with a walk-off home run to beat the Atlanta Braves on Friday afternoon. Apparently he borrowed a page from Miguel Andujar’s playbook for rules of engagement with the competition at your position.
My guess is that Austin makes the team and Lind opts out to sign a MLB deal with another team to be their backup first baseman. I don’t see the Austin to Triple A and Lind on the Opening Day roster scenario. One or the other will be part of the organization and the other will not, in my opinion.
Jacoby Ellsbury has a nagging injury. Great. The DL King has been diagnosed with a mild right oblique strain. If it was Ellsbury’s intent to beat out Aaron Hicks for the starting center field job, he’s not off to a good start. Honestly, the Yankees should bite the bullet after the season is over. There will be $47.3 million left on his contract, but at that point, it will be time to cut bait. It’s too bad that Brian Cashman was unable to find a taker, even with the willingness to pay a significant portion of what’s left on Ellsbury’s deal. I agree with Cashman’s assessment that Ellsbury remains an above-average player when healthy but those last two words become more dicey with each passing year.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Tom Szczerbowski)|
Ellsbury’s “backup”, outfielder Clint Frazier, is struggling with his own problems. He continues to be troubled by headaches associated with a concussion he suffered earlier in the Spring. The Yankees had been trying to increase his workload but Thursday’s workout led to sending Frazier for a MRI on Friday. He whacked his head against the wall in left field at LECOM Park in Bradenton, FL last Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hopefully this is not a setback and Frazier continues his path toward good health. I know I’d rather go to war with Red Thunder over Ellsbury.
It creates a potential opening for either Jake Cave or Billy McKinney to make noise although it is likely that Ellsbury will be ready for Opening Day.
I try not to get too caught up in Spring stats but I have to admit that, physically, Jordan Montgomery looks great. He doesn’t quite have the ‘Gumby’ look from last year and his face seems more mature. He pitched three innings yesterday in the win over the Braves, striking out five batters. He gave up two hits, but did not allow any runs. All 22 of his pitches were in the strike zone. The 25-year-old appears capable of showing that he is not the starting rotation’s weakest link.
Now, let’s beat those friggin’ Red Sox. Go Yankees!
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Lynne Sladky)
A Meaningful Monday…
Not bad for a Monday. The day started with the arrival of Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in training camp to field grounders with Didi Gregorius and blast a few homers (six) for batting practice in a group that featured Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. After the eventful day, third baseman Miguel Andujar capped it off with a dramatic 9th inning two-out walk-off home run to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-3.
Clearly, the story of the day was Russell Wilson. It’s funny how every news article, especially those in Seattle, expressly state that he has not suddenly decided to give up his day job (as if they are worried about it). Some Yankees fan think Wilson is a distraction, but I take it for what it is. It is an opportunity to break up monotonous Spring Training by spending time with a Super Bowl-caliber professional athlete. I’ve always said there are guys who know how to play the game and there are guys who are winners. The rare combination is the guy who embodies both. Wilson is one of those rare athletes. I think he has much to offer the young Yankees even if he never fields a single play or takes an at-bat in an exhibition game. Winners breed winners. I am glad that Wilson is a Yankees fan and is spending his off-season in a baseball environment around the Yankees. His five or six days in camp will pass quickly and he’ll be gone. But the impact of his visit will remain with the players as they march toward the start of the 2018 season and its grand expectations.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Lynne Sladky)
Maybe Wilson should spend some time trying to talk some sense into reliever Tommy Kahnle and his “overkill” love for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sadly, I think that’s a lost cause.
At the very least, I’d give Wilson an at-bat in one of the upcoming exhibition games but it is possible the Seahawks have imposed a moratorium on what Wilson can and cannot do while in Yankees Camp. It would be nice to see Stanton and Judge catch a few passes before Wilson departs.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Lynne Sladky)
Monday evening, in the first night game of the Exhibition Season, the Yankees continued their winning ways, fourth win in four games, to make Aaron Boone an undefeated manager to start his career. I know, these games mean nothing but it’s tremendous to see everyone embrace Boone’s desire to be “great”. I was disappointed the Phillies game was not televised as I would have enjoyed watching Sonny Gray’s Spring debut. He pitched two innings, giving up two isolated singles, but struck out 2 batters and did not allow any runs. He was throwing strikes as all 12 of his pitches were in the zone.
Chance Adams made his debut (which is another reason I wanted to watch the game). Adams got into trouble with the first batter he faced, his high school teammate Dylan Cozens. Adams and Cozens were in the same class at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona (Class of 2012).
Cozens, comparable to Giancarlo Stanton in size and weight, drew a walk off his friend to start the third inning. He stole second and then advanced to third when Rhys Hoskins hit a grounder to first. A sacrifice fly by Phillies free agent acquisition Carlos Santana brought Cozens home for the only run off Adams. The next batter, Cesar Hernandez, got the only hit off Adams over his two innings of work, with a single to left. Aaron Altherr followed with the second walk of the inning but Gary Sanchez rescued Adams when his throw to second caught Hernandez off base for the third out.
The player of the game was, no doubt, Miguel Andujar. Andujar entered the game as a pinch-hitter for right fielder Billy McKinney in the bottom of the 7th inning. Andujar’s double to left scored Mark Payton, running for Brandon Drury, from third to tie the score at 2. Andujar stayed in the game as the replacement for Drury at third base. The Yankees had a chance to win it with a RBI single by Jorge Saez in the 8th, but Cody Carroll’s attempt to earn the save failed when he allowed a solo home run to Scott Kingery, another Arizonan, in the top of the 9th. No worries. Gleyber Torres and Mark Payton recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, bringing Andujar to the plate. After two balls, Andujar swung and missed at the next two pitches. On the fifth pitch from Phillies reliever Ranger Suarez, Andujar sent the ball over the fence in left clearing most of the Phillies off the field before Andujar could finish his home run trot.
For a meaningless game, it sure was exciting. If only we had been able to watch it…well, those of us not so fortunate to be at Steinbrenner Field. So far, the battle for third base between Brandon Drury and Miguel Andujar has been very spirited. It’s early but the competition at third base has been better than second base.
Photo Credit: Newsday
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
The Yankees starting lineup for today’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida at 1:05 pm Eastern will be:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Miguel Andujar (aka “The Stud”), 3B
Tyler Austin, 1B
Danny Espinosa, 2B
Austin Romine, C
Jace Peterson, DH
Ronald Torreyes, SS
Billy McKinney, LF
Shane Robinson, RF
The starting pitcher will be Bullpen Ace Chad Green.
I am not exactly a fan of Hanley Ramirez, but the Red Sox 1B/DH was popping off yesterday after Boston finally announced the signing of free agent slugger J.D. Martinez. His words were something to the effect that they were going to step on everybody’s neck now. I harbor no ill will toward Ramirez, Martinez or the Red Sox but I am looking forward to Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton putting on a display this year against the Red Sox, along with the other great young Yankees hitters. Let’s see whose neck gets stepped on. I hope, and I suspect, that this will not be a fun year for Ramirez. The best way to shut up Han-Ram is for the Yankees to win the American League East. I like our odds.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)|
The Dawn of the 2018 Yankees…
The nice, lovable Baby Bombers are gone. The famed rock star New York Yankees, the Evil Empire…the most hated team in MLB, are back and ready to dominate Baseball in 2018. Justin Verlander can talk all he wants about how the Houston Astros are the team to beat, but the Yankees are here to change the October outcome.
I wrote about it yesterday but it’s worth more keystrokes on my computer. Giancarlo Stanton. I had not heard when Stanton would report to Tampa so it was a mild surprise when he showed up yesterday. Judging by the media reception, everyone was unanimously excited about appearance of the Yankees’ newest slugger at Steinbrenner Field.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
It would have been fun to watch as Stanton made his way into the clubhouse to meet his new teammates and coaches. He got a jumpstart over the Winter with his dinner in Los Angeles with Manager Aaron Boone and of course he was in New York during the Baseball Writers Association of America dinner recently when he sat next to Aaron Judge. Now, he gets the opportunity to meet everyone, including all those who support the Yankees behind-the-scenes. There’s no question it will be a media event when Stanton takes his first swings of the Spring at Steinbrenner Field.
Reading the various comments in Tampa offer some insight into how Stanton will handle playing in baseball’s largest market. Aaron Boone said, “I think he’s welcoming the expectations and the largeness of what he is walking into. He understands that when he first takes the field in a couple of days, the attention is going to be huge, the scrutiny is going to be huge, and I think that’s something he’s prepared for the best he can.”
Lefty reliever Wade LeBlanc, in camp with the Yankees on a minor league contract, played with Stanton in Miami during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. LeBlanc remembers how level-headed Stanton was and offered, “I think that’s a quality you have to have in New York to handle the media and be okay with standing in front of them when you didn’t play well.” LeBlanc did say, “He’s never seen a tenth of this media before.”
New York is not for everyone but Stanton seems well prepared for the journey ahead. His personality and superior playing ability will soon make him a fan favorite if he’s not already there. Stanton talks about how this will be fun. Fun is infectious because it’s going to be fun for the fans too.
The greedy side of me wishes that the Yankees had added a “Stanton” to the starting rotation, but there’s time. No pressure to make a trade today when the availability of sellers will be much stronger in July. There’s always a possibility of a free agent signing (Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn) as long as those guys are on the market but it’s unlikely they’ll play for the Yankees given the payroll constraints to stay under the luxury tax threshold. I am intrigued about Chance Adams and what he can do in the Major League Camp this year. Although many words have been written by others speculating that Adams will eventually head for the bullpen, the guy has surpassed expectations at every level of his baseball playing career. He deserves the opportunity to make his case for starting at the MLB level and I, for one, will not doubt his potential for success. My primary hope is that he does it in a Yankees uniform and not pitching for some other team as part of a package to bring a more established starter to New York. I remember being excited about the potential of a young Al Leiter, only to watch him achieve great success for the (then) Florida Marlins and the New York Mets. That wasn’t fun as a Yankees fan. I hope the same fate does not await Adams. Granted, it might be good for him, but not so good for us.
There was another surprise in camp yesterday but not quite so pleasnt when it was announced that infield prospect Thairo Estrada had been shot in the hip at the end of January in Venezuela during a failed robbery attempt. The bullet remains in Estrada’s hip but it is not expected to impede his recovery and ability to play. He may be doing upper body workouts but you’d have to believe that this removes his name from consideration for the starting job at second base. He was a long shot anyway, having only played at the Double A level, but hopefully he continues to be one of the greatest prospects for an organization overflowing with great prospects. I am very glad that he is doing fine, considering how much worse this could have turned out.
Yankees pitching prospect Albert Abreu is also in recovery following his emergency appendectomy on February 7th. It’s a setback but he should be back on the field soon and should not miss much of the season. He’ll be one of the most interesting Pinstriped arms to watch in the Minor Leagues this year.
Clint Frazier is in camp, sporting a shorter haircut and showing good maturity as he talks about the importance of being part of the team. He feels that he should be in the mix for center field with Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury and intends to force his way onto the roster. Sadly, I think he’s destined for Triple A as long as Ellsbury is on the roster and will only make it to the Bronx in the event of an outfield injury. I keep hoping that the Yankees find a way to move Ellsbury to create the opportunity for Red Thunder but the realist in me know that we’re stuck with Ellsbury for the long haul.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
Not that I really want to talk about the Mets on this blog, but I thought was funny when new Mets third baseman Todd Frazier said that he was bad with names and would just call everyone “Big Dog”. It drew a response from Noah Syndergaard who said that he thought he was Frazier’s special Big Dog. Frazier is already making a difference in the Mets clubhouse. I miss that guy.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Kathy Willens)|
Today is the last “free” day for position players. Tomorrow is reporting day and the entire contingent of Yankees pitchers and position players, including non-roster invitees, will be present and accounted for at Steinbrenner Field. Time to get to work. They’re ready and so am I.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)|
The Smell of Spring…
Spring Training is just around the corner, with pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Tampa within the next ten days (no later than Tuesday, February 13th). First workout will be on Valentine’s Day. Yes, we love those pitchers and catchers, especially when they wear Pinstripes.
|Photo Credit: Newsday (J Conrad Williams, Jr)|
Here is the complete list of the Yankees’ 40-man roster plus non-roster invitees (identified below as “NR” in lieu of numbers). The numbers are according to the Yankees website through MLB.com. It appears that Austin Romine has taken Joe Girardi’s old number, thanks to his loss of #27. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar have been given high numbers which means nothing will be handed to them, although, as it stands right now, both are projected to be on the MLB Roster on Opening Day or shortly thereafter.
87 Albert Abreu
88 Domingo Acevedo
NR Chance Adams
68 Dellin Betances
NR Cody Carroll
NR Cale Coshow
85 Luis Cessa
54 Aroldis Chapman
NR Raynel Espinal
NR J.P. Feyereisen
62 Giovanny Gallegos
63 Domingo German
55 Sonny Gray
57 Chad Green
NR David Hale
61 Ben Heller
65 Jonathan Holder
48 Tommy Kahnle
NR Brady Lail
NR Wade LeBlanc
89 Jonathan Loaisiga
47 Jordan Montgomery
30 David Robertson
52 CC Sabathia
40 Luis Severino
NR Justus Sheffield
45 Chasen Shreve
19 Masahiro Tanaka
NR Dillon Tate
43 Adam Warren
NR Taylor Widener
NR Francisco Diaz
38 Kyle Higashioka
NR Erik Kratz
NR Chace Numata
28 Austin Romine
NR Jorge Saez
24 Gary Sanchez
67 Miguel Andujar
26 Tyler Austin
33 Greg Bird
NR Danny Espinosa
90 Thairo Estrada
18 Didi Gregorius
NR Kyle Holder
NR Jace Peterson
NR Nick Solak
81 Gleyber Torres
74 Ronald Torreyes
39 Tyler Wade
66 Jabari Blash
70 Jake Cave
22 Jacob Ellsbury
NR Estevan Florial
77 Clint Frazier
11 Brett Gardner
31 Aaron Hicks
99 Aaron Judge
71 Billy McKinney
27 Giancarlo Stanton
There is still time for these 60 names to change and there probably will be some tweaks before camp actually opens. At any rate, it will be very exciting to see many of these players on the field in the not-so-distant future. Position players must report by Sunday, February 18th, with the first full workout scheduled for the next day. The Yankees open their Spring Schedule in 20 days against the Detroit Tigers at Steinbrenner Field (1:05 pm EST, February 23rd).
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters (Kim Klement)|
It was sad to read this weekend that Matt Holliday, who would still like to play, has received no offers. Hopefully somebody gives him the opportunity for his Swan Song. He was a tremendous force on the Yankees last year until he was derailed by the Epstein-Barr virus. Unfortunately, I see no room for him on the Yankees but he’d be a tremendous player/coach/mentor for a team wiling to give him the opportunity.
|Photo Credit: New York Post|
I won’t lie…there is a part of me that hopes the Yankees find a way to sign Yu Darvish. Bryan Van Dusen (@BryanV_TGP) posted the following question on Twitter this morning: “Does Yu Darvish want to be a Yankee so bad that he’s willing to wait as long as possible, just in case they free up enough money? Or is this a ridiculous question by a desperate #Yankees fan?” Logic tells me that it will never happen. Even if the Yankees freed up more salary space, there’s probably other areas of greater need than handing a multi-year contract averaging more than $20 million annually to a thirty-something pitcher. Plus, there are young, talented (and cheap) pitchers on the immediate horizon with Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield, Albert Abreu and others. But still, it’s nice to think about what Darvish would look like in the Yankees rotation. I have no problem with the Yankees getting greedy…
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Tim Bradbury)|
This weekend represents the official end to the NFL season with Super Bowl 52 on Sunday. Nothing against Tom Brady and his eventual path to the NFL Hall of Fame, but I’ll have to go with the underdog Philadelphia Eagles. I have no desire to back any team from Boston. It probably helps that I am not a New York Giants fan so I am not opposed to backing the Eagles. There’s probably a lot of truth in the statement that only Patriots and Giants fans want to see New England win (although I am sure there are a few Cowboys and Redskins fans in that category too). So, on Sunday, I’ll be cheering for Tommy Kahnle…
|Photo Credit: MLB.com|
To Trade or Not To Trade…
Just when you thought that things couldn’t get any crazier with the Gerrit Cole trade rumors, they took another wild curve today when it was reported that the Houston Astros had acquired Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Some sports reporters were saying the trade was imminent and MLB Trade Rumors posted their usual ‘to acquire’ headline with Houston Astros to acquire Gerrit Cole. But minutes later, the news of false reports circulated and it was announced that a trade was not imminent and the teams were not close. Huh, what?…
So, as I type this post, Cole is still a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I think.
My position remains that the Yankees should not trade for Cole. When the rumors of the potential Astros trade began swirling, there were reports that the Yankees had shut down any further discussions with the Pirates. I like Cole and I think the Yankees, through coaching and environment, could bring out the best in the talented pitcher. But at this point, I do not feel that he is worth the cost of Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar and a top pitching prospect. However, I do not want to see Cole go to Houston. The strong only get stronger. Cole on that pitching staff would be scary. Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, Cole, Lance McCullers, Jr and Charlie Morton (with Brad Peacock and Colin McHugh on standby). The Astros pitching staff would certainly be more formidable than the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, other teams that have very strong staffs.
I think the Yankees should reserve any decisions for pitching additions until the July trading deadline. They’ll be looking at pro-rated salaries (helpful to meet the goal to stay under $197 million) and will have a much better idea of needs. For me, it’s sign Todd Frazier to a two-year deal and let’s see everyone next month in Tampa.
I’d love to add Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb but those two are not considerations as long as #22 is occupied. The Yankees could gain so much flexibility with payroll if they could move Jacoby Ellsbury, even if it includes paying as much as $15 million per year on what’s left. But it’s tough when Ellsbury seems content to collect his paycheck as the team’s fifth outfielder and no desire to relinquish his right to veto any trade.
The Yankees obviously have a very strong bullpen. I like some of the younger names with potential like Cody Carroll, Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder. This could open some flexibility to trade a more established name later in the season. Someone like David Robertson, whom I would hate to see go, if the Yankees feel they are not going to re-sign him after the season or Dellin Betances who most certainly will be traded at some point if/when he re-establishes his value. Sellers will be more desperate at the trading deadline and the Yankees will have greater strength with potential trade bait.
I think the official position of this website is ‘Get Chris Archer Now!’…
Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara-AP
I am not quite on the ‘Chris Archer or Bust’ train but if I see any indication that the Tampa Bay Rays might be willing to trade him, I wouldn’t be opposed to jumping on the bandwagon. I personally love Marcus Stroman, a native New Yorker, who would fit seamlessly into the Bronx. But admittedly, the chances the Toronto Blue Jays would trade a star pitcher to the Yankees are more remote than even the Rays.
Unless the Yankees can clearly upgrade their starting five, it’s better to stand pat and make air reservations for Tampa.
See ya, Cito…
It’s tough to see former top prospects leave the organization. Granted, when they leave on their own, they were unable to make their mark. Such is the case for former top draft pick Cito Culver. The shortstop was drafted in the first round (32nd pick) of the 2010 MLB Draft. Unfortunately, the bloom faded and Culver could never hit for average. He did manage 12 home runs last year in Triple A but carried a .223 batting average. The organization obviously has many better second base/shortstop types so Culver was never going to realize his dream in Pinstripes. Instead, he has signed a free agent contract with the Miami Marlins who seem to be collecting Yankees prospects. It’s a minor league deal that does not carry an invitation to MLB spring training. I wish Culver the best and hopefully he can insert his name into the picture of the rebuild currently underway on Team Jeter.
Two other former Pinstriped first-round draft picks signed elsewhere in recent weeks. Dante Bichette, Jr (2011) signed with the Colorado Rockies organization and Slade Heathcott (2009), who spent last year in the San Francisco Giants organization, signed with the Oakland A’s. It is kind of sad when you look back over the past decade of Yankees first-round picks and only Clarke Schmidt (2017), Kyle Holder ( 2015), and Aaron Judge (2013) are still part of the Yankees family. Granted, guys like James Kaprielian and Blake Rutherford were parts of major trades last summer but it does show the ratio of first round draft position to MLB team success (with the original team) is very small.
Angel in the Infield…
While you can argue that the big offseason winners so far are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (signing of Shohei Otani and infield rebuild with acquisitions of Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart) or the New York Yankees (the trade for the NL MVP), the biggest winners, to me, are the international prospects freed from the Atlanta Braves organization after being penalized by MLB. They retained their bonuses from the Braves but then were free to sign with new teams and new bonuses. Considering a few of these guys (or more) will eventually wash out, the lyrics of “money for nothing and chicks for free” from that old Dire Straits song echo through my head. Notwithstanding the risk, the Yankees finally signed one of the former Braves prospects when they inked SS Angel Rojas for $350,000. Rojas had received $300,000 from the Braves during the 2017-18 signing period. Welcome to the Yankees family, Angel!
Yanks on Fire…
MLB.com recently posted this pic. If this doesn’t get you fired up for the return of baseball next month, nothing will…
Manny Reasons to make a trade…
I haven’t given a lot of thought to the talent the Yankees might consider offering for Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (primarily because I don’t think the O’s will trade him to the Yankees for obvious reasons). But to acquire Machado now rather than wait until after the season to try and sign him through free agency, would you offer a package of Dellin Betances, Chance Adams, Thairo Estrada and Miguel Andujar? I don’t know but it’s one that I would have to think about. I gotta admit that Machado looks pretty good in Pinstripes…
Thank you to the New York Yankees for extending the protective netting at Yankee Stadium. The team issued the follow release on Wednesday:
Expanded Netting to be installed at Yankee Stadium for 2018 Season
The New York Yankees today (Wednesday, January 10th) announced details regarding the additional protective netting that will be installed at Yankee Stadium for the start of the 2018 regular season. Increased coverage will include partially retractable netting attached to the roofs of both dugouts and stationary netting extending beyond the far ends of the dugouts toward the foul poles.
During the design and engineering process, the Yankees consulted with the architecture firm Populous along with netting company Promats Athletics.
Netting attached to the roofs of both dugouts will extend to a height of nine feet above each dugout during games. The bottom portions of these nets will be upwardly retractable by up to three feet, allowing fans the opportunity to fully interact with players during batting practice when the protective batting cage is being employed around the home plate area of the field. Prior to the start of the game, the nets will connect to the dugout roof, where they will remain in place throughout the game.
Beyond the dugout, netting will extend to Section 011 on the first-base side and Section 029 on the third-base side. The netting in these locations will rise to eight feet above the playing field (approximately 5.5 feet above the wall surrounding the field of play), and will remain in place from the start of batting practice through the end of the game. These sections of netting may be removed for soccer matches or other events held at Yankee Stadium.
Dyneema fiber Ultra Cross 1.2 mm-wide knotless netting — the same as was used for Yankee Stadium backstop netting in 2017 — will be utilized for all netting in the 2018 season. Additionally, all netting will be “field green” in color to minimize its visible impact for those in attendance and viewers watching on television.
Installation will begin in February, and will be completed in time for the Yankees’ scheduled 2018 home opener on Monday, April 2 vs. the Tampa Bay Rays.
In addition, a similar protective netting system at George M. Steinbrenner Field is being installed and will be operational for the start of Yankees spring training (Tuesday, February 13).
The fan experience at the Stadium is important but the safety of the fans is the greatest concern. This is an excellent move by the Yankees.
Sooner or later, this off-season has to get busy, right? Waiting…
The Yankees, most likely, have made their final moves for 2017…
Granted, we only have a couple of days left but it’s been all quiet in the Yankees Universe. Rumors continue to swirl and the Yankees are always linked to, seemingly, everybody.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported today that the Yankees continue to eye free agent pitcher Yu Darvish. Regardless of the cost, that one makes no sense to me. The money it would take to sign Darvish would erode the remaining dollars under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million. There’s no way that Darvish will settle for $5-$10 million in annual compensation at this point in his career when he should command more. The pitcher needs to rebuild value after his disastrous World Series performances for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but at the end of the day, teams look at his body of work and not a couple of ill-fated starts with accusations that he was tipping his pitches.
|Credit: Associated Press|
Yesterday, TGP’s Bryan Van Dusen made the argument that the Yankees should stand pat with their starting pitching staff. To a degree, I concur but ultimately GM Brian Cashman is on record saying the Yankees want to acquire another starting pitcher. There are questions about every starter in the Yankees rotation and Cash obviously has more information and insight into each pitcher that we are not privy to. So, from my perspective, while I may believe another starter is not necessary, the powers-that-be feel otherwise so our opinion is irrelevant.
I don’t really want to give up Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, and/or Miguel Andujar in a trade for Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole. I am a little frustrated that Frazier’s current predicament is a direct result of an outfield glut hurt by the presence of Jacoby Ellsbury and his massive contract. In a perfect world, I’d trade away both Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to make way for the younger guys. I want to see room made for Frazier but equally I’d like to see Billy McKinney and Jake Cave get opportunities. McKinney can hit and he showed last year why he was once a top draft pick.
I am a fan of Chance Adams but the presence of Justus Sheffield and Albert Abreu give me comfort the Yankees have other young viable starters on the immediate horizon.
I recognize that not every Yankees prospect has a future in Pinstripes. There is great value in prospects as trading chips for contending teams. I am prepared for a trade for a proven Major League starting pitcher. I may not like it, but it is the cost of doing business for a team that is prepared to win NOW. I am not sure who will be the fifth starter for the Boston Red Sox at the start of the upcoming season since Edwin Rodriguez is recovering from knee surgery (Steven Wright perhaps?) but the Red Sox still have arguably the best staff in the division with a front four featuring Chris Sale, David Price, Drew Pomeranz, and Rick Porcello. The Toronto Blue Jays are probably not too far behind with Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada and Joe Biagini. Admittedly, both of those teams have injury concerns. With the Red Sox, it is David Price who has struggled both mentally and physically in Boston. For Toronto, it is Aaron Sanchez who missed most of last year with right middle finger issues. Sanchez is the latest example of a young starter who threw a career high in innings pitched the preceding year, only to follow up with an injury plagued season. I am not saying that Luis Severino is going to get hurt but he did pitch a career high with innings pitched last year including the play-offs. Many experts have forecasted some regression in his 2018 performance. If either Boston or Toronto are able to overcome their injury concerns, they will be very formidable. If the Red Sox add a power bat like J.D. Martinez, they’ll be tough to beat. So, if Brian Cashman feels that we need to add starting pitching, I am not going to argue with him.
For what it is worth, Bob Klapisch is currently reporting that the Yankees are “nowhere” on a possible deal for Gerrit Cole and have never been close in talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates. As Klapisch tweeted today: “NYY rotation is set for now”.
My biggest concern heading into 2018 is second and third base. I am ‘all in’ for making Gleyber Torres the starting second baseman or going with Tyler Wade/Ronald Torreyes to start until Torres is ready. Third base troubles me the most. I am not convinced that Miguel Andujar is ready (offensively, yes, but I feel that his defensive skills are lacking). I prefer Torreyes as the utility player and not in a dedicated starting position so he is not really who I want at third base day in and day out.
I’d love to see the return of Todd Frazier but I am not optimistic at all. Everyone talks about the Yankees signing Manny Machado after the 2018 season as a free agent, but I really feel that if the Chicago Cubs or St Louis Cardinals make the investment to acquire Machado this off-season (which could very well happen), they’ll make very strong efforts to sign Machado to a new deal. It is easy to say the Yankees should just sign Frazier or Mike Moustakas to a one-year deal, but in reality, the market will dictate otherwise. The Yankees need a hedge for 2019 if Machado (or someone like Josh Donaldson) is not an option. I’d be a proponent for a two-year deal for Frazier. I really like what he brings to the team with his play and attitude. It is infectious. He may not hit for average, but he’ll give you some bombs and will play a great third base. Plus, he’ll keep the clubhouse loose in the pressurized New York environment. Trade him next year if the team is successful in signing Machado. But regardless of my preferences, I’d like to see the Yankees get experienced help at third base to ease the transition we’ll face at second. Poor Didi Gregorius if he has to play with rookies on both sides.
|Credit: Seth Wenig, AP|
All indications are that 2017 will end quietly for the New York Yankees. We’ll soon see what 2018 has in store for everybody’s favorite team. Exciting times in the Bronx.