|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)|
Now arriving at Steinbrenner Field…everybody!
Today is the full reporting date for the New York Yankees with the arrival of all remaining position players. It’s an exciting day for the Yankees Universe as the Pinstripers begin preparations for what hopefully will lead to the 28th World Championship for MLB’s most storied franchise and our favorite team.
Even though the Yankees were not in the news, it was a very active Saturday night around Major League Baseball last evening.
The evening started with news that the Tampa Bay Rays had acquired first baseman/DH C.J. Cron from the Los Angeles Angels. The Cron move, from the Angels perspective, makes sense. Shohei Otani is expected to take DH time away from Albert Pujols, which will force Pujols to play more first base than he did last year (143 games at DH, 6 games at first). Luis Valbuena has the ability to handle both infield corners, whereas Cron was strictly 1B/DH, making the latter the more expendable of the two. I honestly do not understand the move from the Rays perspective. They have a need at first base given that Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison, last year’s first basemen, are both currently free agents and not expected to re-sign with the Rays. But to make room for Cron, they designated outfielder Corey Dickerson, the Rays’ sole representative on last year’s AL All-Star team, for assignment. Dickerson hit .282 last season with 27 home runs and 62 RBI’s (carrying a respectable .815 OPS). The Rays either have a specific trade in mind or they know they have good trade alternatives to consider for Dickerson who will never see the waiver wire.
The Rays weren’t finished. They followed the Cron trade by sending starter Jake Odorizzi to the Minnesota Twins for shortstop Jermaine Palacios. While I did not want a fly ball pitcher like Odorizzi pitching for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, I was surprised by the low cost for Minnesota to acquire the pitcher. Zack Littell, one of the prospects that the Yankees sent to the Twins in last year’s head-scratching trade for Jaime Garcia, is rated significantly higher among prospects in the Twins organization than Palacios. Good move by the Twins, but apparently, Tampa Bay Rays GM Erik Neander was drunk-dialing his friends last night. His first words this morning probably were, “OMG, I did what?” Maybe Yankees GM Brian Cashman should have called Neander last night to ask about Chris Archer.
The evening was capped by the long-awaited and much-anticipated free agent signing of first baseman Eric Hosmer by the San Diego Padres. Hosmer joins the now bearded former Yankee Chase Headley in lovely San Diego. Hosmer’s deal has two components. 5 years guaranteed for $105 million, with an opt-in for an additional 3 years and $39 million after 2022. Agent Scott Boras ensured that the contract was front-loaded for his client in what has been a very stagnant free agent market. The Hosmer signing has ramifications for several other players. Hosmer was viewed as a potential fall-back for the Boston Red Sox if they are unsuccessful in their stare-down with free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez. The move also increases the likelihood Mike Moustakas re-signs with the Kansas City Royals. The Royals preferred Hosmer over Moustakas but now that Hosmer is off the table, the Royals will most likely attempt to bring back Moose Tacos, eliminating any thoughts that the third baseman might accept a one year pillow contract with the Yankees.
It’s only been a few days but I am very impressed with how Gleyber Torres has handled himself this spring. He’s so young (21) but he shows maturity beyond his years. He has made a very strong effort to converse in English which is never an easy thing to do. Most of us raised with English as our primary language struggle with it. Torres wants to make the Opening Day roster but he has stated he would understand if he has to go to the minors to start the season. His words, from what I’ve seen, are team-oriented and not selfish like some players. He is my favorite to be the Yankees starting second baseman, either on Opening Day or within a few weeks after the season has started. Even though the Yankees have publicly stated that service time will not be a consideration, I am convinced the Yankees, given a choice, would wait to start Gleyber’s service time clock to delay free agency by a year. He is an exciting player and once he grabs second base, he’ll be a long-term fixture in the Bronx.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
It may be inevitable that Manny Machado and the Yankees join forces after the season, but I have reservations. Manny will head into the season as Baltimore’s starting shortstop, his preferred position, and is making comments that he expects to player there for a very long time. According to Machado, “This is where my heart has always been, this is what I’ve wanted to do. This is what I’ve always wanted to do. This what I came into this world to do — to play shortstop at the big league level. Finally, Buck and the Baltimore organization are giving me the opportunity to go out there and do what I can at that position and show myself. That’s been my dream all along. I’m really looking forward to it.” Machado added, “Once I do it this year, it’s not something that’s just switching off. I’m making the transition. Hopefully, I want to stay there and continue doing it. This is where my heart has always been. Finally getting an opportunity to do it for a full season. I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully I can continue playing [shortstop] for a long time.” I’ve seen comments say the Yankees would/should move Didi Gregorius to third base to accommodate Machado. I am sorry but that’s not a price I think the Yankees should pay. Didi has earned the right to be the team’s starting shortstop. He’s such a team guy that I am sure he’d make the move if asked, but why should he? I like Machado but there are other options. I really hope that Miguel Andujar grabs third base this year and runs with it, eliminating the need for Machado. The plan for next offseason should not be ‘Machado or Bust’ unless he recognizes that the only path to the Bronx is and should be third base. Andujar has the ability to make this entire issue moot.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jonathan Daniel)|
Here are the number assignments for the Yankees coaching staff (thanks to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com):
17-Aaron Boone, Manager
59-Josh Bard, Bench Coach
60-Mike Harkey, Bullpen Coach
64-Carlos Mendoza, Infield Coordinator/Quality Control Coach
53-Phil Nevin, Third Base Coach
63-P.J. Pilittere, Assistant Hitting Coach
58-Larry Rothschild, Pitching Coach
62-Marcus Thames, Hitting Coach
50-Reggie Willits, First Base Coach/Outfield Instructor
It’s going to be fun to watch the coming days at Steinbrenner Field. Granted, it will be a disappointment if this year’s team falls short of its quest for a World Championship, but the ride is going to be magnificent. Welcome Yankees, one and all! Let’s get to work.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
Waiting for Santa Claus in the Yankees Universe…
My thoughts that this could be a busy week took a hit yesterday when it was very quiet in the Yankees Universe and around baseball.
One of The Greedy Pinstripes co-owners (Bryan Van Dusen) took it as an opportunity to make a compelling argument for the acquisition of Danny Duffy of the Kansas City Royals. I personally do not feel that the Kansas City Royals will trade Duffy. The organization actually received somewhat good news on Monday when the Boston Red Sox re-signed first baseman Mitch Moreland to a two-year, $13 million deal. The signing presumably removes the Red Sox from the first base market (they had been rumored as the favored destination for Royals free agent Eric Hosmer). There is now actually optimism in Kansas City that the Royals could re-sign Hosmer. The San Diego Padres have been mentioned as a possibility for Hosmer but they would have to move Wil Myers back to the outfield (defensively-speaking, Myers has been better at first than in the outfield) and they’d give up a second round draft pick as compensation since Hosmer received a qualifying offer from the Royals. The New York Mets and the St Louis Cardinals remain possibilities for Hosmer too, but if the Royals are successful in bringing Hosmer back to KC, they are not going to “tank it” for a major rebuild. This means they are not going to give up one of their best young pitchers in Duffy who is under team control for the next four years. Duffy is also on record saying “Bury me a Royal” on Twitter in response to trade rumors. There’s no reason for the Royals to trade Duffy at the moment. Once they do trade Duffy, if they do, it will be a signal the team is ready to lose for the short term. I don’t think they are at that point yet so I don’t see Duffy as a present alternative for the Yankees.
The other TGP owner, Daniel Burch, has repeatedly said that the longer trade rumors persist about the Yankees acquiring Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the less likely it will actually happen. I agree with that assessment as GM Brian Cashman has a reputation for striking quickly in stealth mode. Hence, the Ninja reputation.
Michael Fulmer does not presently appear to be an option since the Detroit Tigers are not motivated to make a deal. I am sure that every call between Tigers GM Al Avila and Cashman begins with “Are you ready to deal Gleyber Torres?” which abruptly ends the conversation.
So, at the moment, the frontrunner for rotation help appears to be Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The D-Backs would love to re-sign outfielder J.D. Martinez (who remains the primary target for the Red Sox) but they would need to move some salary to make it happen. It’s funny how every Yankees move is somehow tied to the Red Sox. Corbin is arbitration eligible for his final year before free agency. He will get more expensive so now is the time for the D-Backs to make a move to ensure they do not lose the pitcher for nothing next off-season. He made a hair under $4 million last season. The D-Backs have a number of arbitration eligible players this off-season so moving Corbin would help control escalating costs while bringing back quality prospects. Corbin was terrific after the All-Star Break last year when he went 8-4 with a 3.26 ERA in his final 15 starts. MLB Trade Rumors is projecting that Corbin’s 2018 salary will be $8.3 million. The 28-year-old lefty would certainly represent an upgrade for the Yankees rotation and the cost shouldn’t involve the team’s best prospects. 2B/3B Brandon Drury has been frequently mentioned with Corbin’s name and he’d provide some help for the Yankees at those positions. Drury made $559,300 last season and is not arbitration eligible until 2019. The 25-year-old righty hit .267 with 13 HR and 63 RBI in 445 AB’s in 2017.
However, this trade rumor has been hanging out there since the Baseball Winter Meetings so the “Burch Rule” is probably in play (less likely to happen with each passing day).
As for third base options, I keep hoping that the Yankees can find a way to bring back Todd Frazier. A one-year contract with an option for one or two more years seems like the best team fit, but the player may feel that he can get more years elsewhere. Buster Olney floated the idea on Twitter yesterday that the Yankees would be a great fit for Mike Moustakas on a one-year deal which of course was met with laughter that Moose Tacos would actually accept one year (his agent is Scott Boras after all). But in theory, I love the idea for the player to build more value in the stacked Yankees lineup and an opportunity to exploit the right field porch before hitting the free agent market next off-season. It will never happen but it’s fun to think about.
Last Star out of Miami, Please Turn Out the Lights…
I feel bad for Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly who remains one of my favorite people in baseball. After the Giancarlo Stanton trade, he publicly made comments about his excitement for the youth movement in Miami. The Marlins have since traded Marcell Ozuna to the St Louis Cardinals and a couple of their remaining young stars (Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto) have expressed desires to leave. Mattingly will soon be fielding a team of minor leaguers at the Major League level. He deserves better. It’s a tough situation for the former Yankees captain regardless of the smile and positive words that he gives publicly.
|Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post|
Well, let’s see what today brings. Go Yankees!
Pitching, pitching, pitching…
The Yankees were very fortunate in the first half to get the mileage they did out of Bartolo Colon (even with his stay on the DL) and Freddy Garcia. But two games into the second half, their performances have been very dismal as the Yanks have been crushed by the Toronto Blue Jays on successive days.
I think that both Colon and Garcia are capable to having respectable finishes to the season but all things considered, I’d rather go in a different direction. I am sure that there is a good reason for why 8-game winner Ivan Nova is pitching for Scranton/Wilkes Barre. I’d never claim to the talent evaluator that Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild are, but it would make more sense to me to let the younger pitcher grow and develop in the major league rotation.
Yankee scouts are out in full force scouring other major league ballparks. I am sure that Brian Cashman has a short list of guys that he’d like to acquire even if he’d never publicly admit it. I fully recognize that the trading deadline is not going to result in Felix Hernandez wearing pinstripes, but I am sure that there are a few arms out there capable of being major upgrades over Colon and Garcia.
The losses by Colon and Garcia aren’t just their faults. This is a team game and the other guys simply did not pick up the veteran pitchers when they got hit hard. For whatever reason, the Blue Jays seem to have the Yankees number or at least they have for the last few years. If the Yankees intend to win the division, they need to figure out how to beat Toronto and Boston since they haven’t really shown they are capable of beating either team.
I was surprised to see Derek Jeter crucified for not attending the All-Star Game in Phoenix. While I think that he should have made an appearance at the game, I can understand and appreciate his reasons for not playing. He had just finished a stint on the DL and he is vital to his team’s chances in the second half. The ASG break was a good opportunity for DJ to ensure that he got good rest before resuming the rigors of every day play. It’s not just Derek, I think any of the players who were voted as starters but withdrew for whatever reason should have made the trip to Phoenix to at least acknowledge the fans.
Still, nobody received criticism for pulling out of the game like DJ did. I know, that’s just life with the New York Yankees.
Give the young guy a shot…
I’d like to see the Yankees bring up Brandon Laird to give him a taste of third base at the major league level while Alex Rodriguez is on the DL. It would be interesting to see what he could do in a platoon situation with Eduardo Nunez. I would rather go that route than pursue an aging and high priced vet like Aramis Ramirez or someone like that. Laird’s batting average leaves a little to be desired (.266) but he is driving in runs (47 RBI’s).
One if by land, two if by sea…
I was watching the Minnesota Twins play the Kansas City Royals on TV last night and I have to say that I am impressed with Minnesota’s Ben Revere. The speedster lined a shot to right, and after he rounded second base, he started to fall and went into a somersault. Yet, with his speed, he was still able to arrive at third ahead of the ball. It was one of the most interesting triples that I’ve seen.
Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune
The night didn’t fare very well for the Twins as their closer, Matt Capps, gave up a two-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the top of the 9th in the 2-1 loss to the Royals. Hosmer, by the way, is another young player that I am very impressed with. As for Matt Capps, I wonder how much longer until Joe Nathan takes back his old job. I know it all depends upon Nathan’s health, but Capps has been brutal.
Oh yeah, this is a pinstripe blog…
Back to the Yankees, they definitely need to find a way to salvage the series in Toronto today and tomorrow. They have a tough four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg next week and they need to build some momentum going into the series. There isn’t anyone better to have on the mound today than the great CC Sabathia. Hopefully he’ll get his 14th win today…
Have a great weekend!
I expected a slowdown in Derek Jeter’s march to 3,000 hits but I didn’t anticipate a 15 day intermission until DJ can resume his hit parade. I had been hoping that he could reach the illustrious milestone against this weekend’s opponent, the Chicago Cubs, but it was not meant to be as DJ was placed on the DL after straining his right calf.
It will be interesting to see what Eduardo Nunez can do for the next couple of weeks as the starting shortstop. There is no chance that DJ is going to lose his job, but this is a great opportunity for Nunez to prove to the organization that he is capable replacement when the day does come for #2 to step down.
Paul J. Bereswill
What? Was Ed Figueroa unavailable?…
Thursday’s starting pitcher is who? It appears that Brian Gordon will be the starting pitcher for the Yankees on Thursday for the final game of their series with the Texas Rangers. Pardon me if I don’t have the slightest clue who Gordon is. He apparently opted out of his minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies to sign with New York. I am assuming that he knows this is just a one start audition as Bartolo Colon will hopefully be back. The 32 year old right-handed pitcher is a veteran of 15 minor league seasons.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Ironically, Gordon made the switch from position player to pitcher after the 2006 season with the help of then Astros special assistant, Nolan Ryan. Ryan, of course, is now the CEO and president of the team that Gordon will be facing on Thursday.
Sometimes the best trades are the ones never made, well, maybe not…
I wonder if the Kansas City Royals regret not trading Joakim Soria to the Yankees last year. Soria has had his share of challenges this year, including losing his job briefly to Aaron Crow. Meanwhile, the Royals are absolutely loaded with young talent as premier prospects Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas have burst on the scene with more stellar talent on the way. Add a few top Yankees prospects to the mix, and the Royals would clearly assert themselves as a contender for years to come. They opted to keep Soria, but their future is still very bright. It is just a question of how much brighter it could have been if they had been willing to part with the right pieces.
If this year has proven anything to me, it is that you cannot rely on any relievers from year to year. This year’s stud will be next year’s washout. Well, unless your name is Mariano Rivera…