Happy New Year!
This has been an odd off-season for Yankees fans. Quietly, the Yankees have made small deals to get younger. The only significant addition of a proven high level performer is lefty Andrew Miller. Didi Gregorius makes sense given the team’s need at short, but he’s hardly proven himself as a top flight shortstop to this point in his career.
It was difficult to see David Robertson leave to sign with the Chicago White Sox, particularly since there were no outward signs the team tried to keep him. Not sure what the team saw that we didn’t, but Robertson has proved he can pitch in the Bronx and that’s not an easy task…especially when you follow the footsteps of a Legend…
Despite the brevity of his Yankees career, I was disappointed when I heard the news that Martin Prado had been traded to the Miami Marlins. While I am hopeful that Rob Refsnyder grabs second base in spring training, there’s always the chance that neither he nor Jose Pirela will be successful. Prado provides great diversity to a roster. While I am not disappointed that Mark Teixeira will have a sorely needed legitimate backup in Garrett Jones, I am not quite sure what to think about starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. I understand the potential is there, but it’s yet to be proven.
Robert Mayer – USA Today Sports
But probably the biggest sadness of the off-season occurred with the New Year’s first trade which saw the Yankees send once top prospect Manny Banuelos to the Atlanta Braves for relievers David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve. I can so remember when the “Killer B’s” (Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman) were so highly touted and viewed as the future of the Yankees. Betances failed as a starting pitcher, but obviously, he resurrected his promise with brilliance in the bullpen and now looms as the likely new closer. Brackman was released a couple of years ago and is now out of baseball. Nevertheless, I still had hope that Banuelos would finally arrive. After Tommy John surgery in 2012/13, I expected him to struggle in 2014. Few pitchers are able to come back at an immediate high level. It takes time. There is still time for Banuelos to blossom. To the Yankees’ defense, there is always the chance he’ll never be what he could have been. I will still root for Banuelos, the Brave, and I do hope that he becomes the pitcher we thought he would be.
Mike James – AP Photo
As a Yankees fan, there are certain guys in the farm system that you follow closely. Granted, there has been a shortage of high level talent in the system, but still, you hold out hope that certain guys will become the next core of the team. Yet, in recent years, it has usually just ended in disappointment, with Banuelos being the latest. I can think of Eric Duncan, Cito Culver, Mason Williams, and Slade Heathcott as a few who have failed. The successes of players like Dellin Betances have been few and far between. So, perhaps that’s why GM Brian Cashman is shuffling the deck. But it’s hard not to say that this feels like a rebuilding program, rather than re-tooling. So, the two year play-off drought threatens to be more. I know, I know, if CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and, eek!, Alex Rodriguez can return to form, the Yankees will be in the hunt. But that’s not a bet I would take. Of the players, I think, realistically, McCann is the only way who will bounce back. That means, with the roster as-is, the Yankee Stadium lights will be out in October.
I do have to add the usual caveat….I hope that I am WRONG!
So now, I look forward to the next wave of prospects making a difference. I am hopeful that guys like Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Jacob Lindgren, Gary Sanchez, Ian Clarkin, and the aforementioned Rob Refsnyder are able to accomplish what so many in front of them have failed to do…wear the pride and pinstripes of baseball’s most storied franchise, the New York Yankees.
Here’s hoping for much happiness and success in 2015 for all!
Still no shortstop, closer, help for the starting rotation, hitting coach, first base coach, legitimate third baseman…
Understandably, the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are always quiet. Okay, we’ve seen signings elsewhere (Russell Martin to the Toronto Blue Jays, Michael Cuddyer to the New York Mets) and a new $325 million dollar man. But in the Yankees Universe, the biggest news this week was GM Brian Cashman’s Thursday night sleepover on the streets of New York.
There have been reports the Yankees will not pursue any of the major free agents, comments that they may join the chase, followed by more reports of non-interest. With the Yankees, you never know if that’s just a smoke screen to help keep prices down or if it is genuine Hal Steinbrenner fiscal conservatism at play. But one thing is known, the 2015 Yankees will not win with the current roster. As it stands, they are losing talent from last year’s team that arguably over-achieved.
I know the thought of another long-term mega contract is frightful, but to plug Max Scherzer or Jon Lester into the starting rotation would provide an immediate upgrade. Yes, they still need to bring back David Robertson, Chase Headley, and Brandon McCarthy but there’s too much uncertainty in the starting rotation at the moment. The San Francisco Giants have proven time and again that a great starting pitching rotation helps to offset a less than elite offensive lineup.
Honestly, I am not sure what to expect this winter. If the Yankees maintain the status quo, it will be yet another October-less season for the Yanks.
When the Yankees drafted shortstop Cito Culver a few years ago, it was the perfect setup for him to be the eventual successor for Derek Jeter. He never developed as expected and will always be left to wonder what could have been. The Yankees are certainly worse off for his failure as they’ll either need to pay to bring back Stephen Drew as a temporary solution or give up quality prospects to bring in other options. There’s absolutely nothing in the upper levels of the farm system to provide relief in the foreseeable future.
I look at the current Yankees roster and do not see anyone that is worthy of replacing Derek Jeter as Captain. That’s one spot that will sit vacant for a few years. There’s certainly no urgency to pass the baton.
There’s no doubt the Yankees have a plan. Eventually, the plan will start to unfold and we’ll see what the team has up its sleeve. Until then, eat lots of Turkey, potatoes and gravy and look forward to the Winter Meetings in December. We’re at the calm before the storm.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
A tough “break”…
For the entire off-season, I was hopeful the Yankees would invest in a young, promising outfielder who, at the very least, could fill a fourth outfielder role but with the potential to be a future regular. Alas, it was not meant to be. So, it only added salt into the wound with today’s news that CF/LF Curtis Granderson will miss ten weeks with a fractured forearm.
I guess this temporarily puts an end to speculation about whether or not Brett Gardner will move to center. For now, the job is his, so the focus will be on left field. As it stands, the frontrunners are Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera, but that’s not going to cast fear in anyone’s heart except for maybe Joe Girardi and the fans. It would be wonderful if Zoilo Almonte could become the spring phenom and break camp as the starting left fielder but that’s probably asking a bit much for a AA player.
If the Yankees had a stronger young shortstop, it might be time to try the new guard at short and move Derek Jeter to left. But I don’t think Angelo Gumbs or Cito Culver are anywhere close, and I wouldn’t move Jeter for Eduardo Nunez. With the possibility that this is the last season in New York for free agent to be Granderson, the day will come when Jeter needs to vacate short if he intends to keep playing and left field is the most natural fit.
I am not in favor of the Yankees overpaying for a 10-week rental like Alfonso Soriano or Vernon Wells even if their respective current teams are willing to foot the bill for the majority of monies still owed to those players. Yes, there’s part of me that wouldn’t mind seeing Soriano come back home, but I am not sure that either of those players would be the answer. As it was, the Yankees were talking about scoring fewer runs in 2013 than they did last year. I guess that gulf just widened, which puts more pressure on the Yankees starting rotation.
GM Brian Cashman won’t make a knee-jerk reaction to find a replacement, but I am hopeful that he’ll come up with a low cost acquisition to help bridge the loss until Grandy returns in May.
Fun times in the Bronx…or should I say in Tampa at Steinbrenner Field…
Is #36 the batboy?…
I cannot get used to seeing Kevin Youkilis without his goatee. He looks like such a boy without the trademark facial hair. I know that he hasn’t always gone unshaven in Boston, but he simply looks smaller, younger, and less fearful than I remember him as a Red Sock. Let’s hope that plate discipline and the reputation as the Greek God of Walks still remains. Personally, I wish that the former Sock could have gotten a better number than #36 but as long as Youk’s happy, I am happy. I don’t know the Yankees’ plans for Jorge Posada’s #20 but I would have given it to Youk. But if that number is untouchable, I probably would have gone something cool in the higher numbers like #72 or #99. As a fan of Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle, I would have taken #74.
I finally watched Argo this weekend. It is a very good movie. I was in Air Force basic training when the hostages were captured in Iran, so it brought back memories. I knew that the writers took creative license to make the movie very dramatical, but regardless, the rescue of those specific hostages were very significant. The Canadians deserve more credit than they were given, but it was an intense moment in American history and Ben Affleck did an tremendous job in re-telling the story.
Jack Nicholson is out now to present the Best Picture on the Oscars. My gut tells me that it will be Lincoln. I thought it was a good movie, but it wasn’t, in my opinion, great. So, regardless of who wins, any of the losers were certainly deserving of the win. So, the winner is…
Very nice! They made the right decision…
A split against Doc Halladay and Jamie Moyer is not so bad until you realize that the loss was against the latter…
The Yankees pummeled Philadelphia starter Roy Halladay on Tuesday night with three home runs in defeating the Phillies 8-3. The victory was somewhat of a surprise given that Halladay held an 18-6 mark against the Yankees going into the game. Time and again, Halladay has frustrated Yankee bats, but last night was not one of those times. If memory serves correctly, Halladay has also lost to the Boston Red Sox this season so his reunion with the AL East has not been very enjoyable for him.
Tonight, ancient starter Jamie Moyer got revenge in helping the Phillies defeat the Yanks, 6-3. The seats at Yankee Stadium were barely warm by the time the Phillies had surged ahead 6-1 after three innings. The relief contingent of Boone Logan (freshly called up from AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre to replace DL-bound Marcus Thames) and Chad (is he still around?) Gaudin pitched superbly and gave the Yankees a chance to climb back into it. The Yankees weren’t really able to get anything going although they did bring the potential tying run to the plate before Jorge Posada struck out to end the game. Where are those grand slams (or at least a 3-run dinger in this case) when you need them? Oh well, tomorrow is a new day. Fortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays also lost (6-2 to the Atlanta Braves) so the Yankees remain tied for the AL East lead despite the loss.
Moyer became the oldest pitcher to beat the Yankees at 47 years, 155 days. The previous oldest pitcher was former Yankee Phil Niekro who was 47 years, 122 days when he last beat the Yanks according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Julia will be quick to point out that the Boston Red Sox are only three games back after their 6-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. The city needs something to cheer about given that they will lose the NBA Finals to the soon-to-be World Champion Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night! J
There has been much speculation that the Yankees should pursue a trade for a frontline pitcher like Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt. That’s a tough one. As much as I would like Cliff Lee, I have a tough time finding a spot in the rotation for him. CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes are locks and not going anywhere. A.J. Burnett, as frustrating as he can be at times, isn’t going anywhere. So, the only spot would be Javier Vazquez but he’s been arguably the Yankees best pitcher for the past month. I guess the question would then become whether you can trust Vazquez for the remainder of the season. If the Yankees can trade for Lee contingent upon signing him to a new contract, perhaps it makes sense given Javy’s impending free agency. But, of course, at what cost? If you are talking about Jesus Montero or Austin Romine and other top talent, it is probably not worth it (and that is what it would take). It would be better to take your chances during free agency in the off-season. The downside is that you wouldn’t have Lee in the play-off rotation should the team get that far. Okay, I know they’ll get that far, but it is a little early yet. It’s probably better to build a stronger bench for the stretch run…
Apparently, the Yankees have tentatively reached an agreement with top 2010 draft pick shortstop Christopher “Cito” Culver. Culver, who had signed a letter of intent with the University of Maryland, withdrew from his commitment to the school. The Yankees cannot formally sign Culver until he officially graduates from high school.
A Pac-10 match-up between Colorado and Utah? It could happen if the Utes accept the conference’s invitation to join. Wow, this has been a crazy off-season. Colorado to the Pac-10, Nebraska to the Big 10, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and others staying put in the Big 12. Growing up in the Midwest, there was always something special about those Nebraska-OU games so it will be sad to see the rivalry, as we know it, come to an end. Granted, Nebraska hasn’t done much in recent years, but the Cornhuskers are still a premier school. As a fan of the University of Iowa, it will be fun to see Nebraska-Iowa on a consistent basis, but it won’t be the same.
It was probably the most anticipated start in major league baseball for as many years as I can recall. I don’t remember a time when a rookie was as hyped as Stephen Strasburg was this year. I know the opponent was only the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it is still a team of major league players. Strasburg was brilliant despite the incredible pressure of high expectations. He matched the season high in strikeouts for any pitcher by striking out 14 batters (Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers struck out 14 on May 30th against the A’s). It was also the highest strikeout total in a pitching debut since James Rodney Richard of the Houston Astros in 1971 and Karl Spooner of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954. Strasburg went 7 innings until he was lifted for a pinch hitter, allowing only 4 hits and 2 runs. Matt Capps closed out the game to give Strasburg his first major league victory in his first major league start. I’d say expectations were met…
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
I am happy for the Washington Nationals and their fans. The Expos/Nationals have historically been the Los Angeles Clippers of Major League Baseball. Great baseball players have passed through the organization, but too often they achieved their greatest successes elsewhere. However, they’ve finally started to collect good, young talent and are the new Tampa Bay Rays. Their future is very bright, and Strasburg gives the team a leg up on everyone else. Five years from now, when many current stars will be fading or retired, Strasburg should be at the top of the heap with the Nationals, with an outfield that include 2010 #1 overall pick Bryce Harper, and primed for championships.
I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the Yankees first round selection in the 2010 MLB Draft. They selected a player that did not appear on any mock draft boards and wasn’t targeted to be selected until possibly the 4th or 5th round. When his name was read, an internet search yielded nothing. Cito Culver/RHP. I was surprised that the Yanks would go for a high school pitcher, but later reports indicated that his name was actually Christopher Culver (Cito is his nickname) and he was drafted as a shortstop. It’s possible that he may be Derek Jeter’s future replacement. Before the draft, I had heard that the Yankees had intended to go for the best player available. Given that Culver is a New York-area player, I am hopeful that the lack of praise for Culver is the product of a very astute Yankees scouting department and not simply a reach for a player with potential promise. Time will tell…
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Oh yeah, the Yankees did play a game tonight. Granted, the Yankees generally struggle against lesser teams but the next two series involving the Baltimore Orioles and the Houston Astros should serve the team well as they start revving up the momentum for interleague play which ultimately leads to Dodger Stadium. Behind Phil Hughes, the Yankees defeated the O’s 12-7. Hughes’ performance wasn’t quite Strasburg-like, but it was enough to win his 8th game of the season. He only went 6 innings, giving up 9 hits but only 3 runs, and struck out 4. Kevin Millwood (0-7) continued his no-luck pitching for the O’s in taking the loss.
If it is possible to blow a 9-run lead, Chad Gaudin did his best to try. He allowed a two-run homer to Adam Jones in the 8th, and gave up a two-run scoring double in the 9th. Personally, I thought that Manager Joe Girardi let Gaudin pitch too long and if it were up to me, I would designate Gaudin for assignment after the game. Just like he did for Oakland, he has done nothing for the Yanks and is occupying valuable roster space.
Unfortunately, both the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Ray won so no ground was gained in the AL East standings.
Oh well, tomorrow is a new day! J