DJ LeMahieu Signs 2-Year Deal w/Yankees…
The Yankees caught everyone by surprise on Friday when it was reported they had signed former Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu to a two-year contract worth $24 million, pending a physical. I knew the San Francisco Giants were interested in LeMahieu and were willing to move Joe Panik if necessary and the Los Angeles Dodgers had long been mentioned as a favorite but I hadn’t really given any thought to DJ as a Yankee. So, when I first heard the news, I was a bit underwhelmed.
This, in no way, means I do not recognize LeMahieu is a very good baseball player. He is. I guess going into the off-season, I felt the Yankees had a tremendous opportunity to substantially improve their club at a time when the Boston Red Sox are struggling with the pains of a very high payroll. I don’t want to beat the Red Sox, I want to crush them. I had felt if the Yankees could sign Patrick Corbin and Manny Machado and/or Bryce Harper, they’d be the clear most powerful team in the AL East. As we know, the Yankees expressed interest but did not play in the Corbin negotiations when other offers exceeded their comfort zone. Now, it appears the Yankees are out on both Machado and Harper.
I’ll remain on Team Machado until he signs with another club. Even Ken Rosenthal, while he believes the Yankees are no longer “in” on Machado, will only believe he’s not going to be a Yankee when he pulls up another jersey at an introductory press conference. To me, Machado is missed opportunity. A large number of fans are quick to say Machado was merely a ‘want’ and not a need. Okay, I get it. But how often are young (very young) superstars available for only money? And how many of those young superstars have always wanted to be Yankees? I guess we’d like to think everyone wants to be a Yankee. But that’s a rather narcissistic view. Both Harper and Machado are players who wanted to wear the famed Pinstripes and it’s disappointing, to me, that neither dream will come true.
Setting aside Machado and Harper, the Yankees ARE an improved team. I like the infield with LeMahieu at second and Gleyber Torres at shortstop over Troy Tulowitzki at short and Gleyber remaining at second even though I didn’t really want to see Gleyber sliding back and forth. I am not convinced Tulo can stay healthy and I certainly do not want to pin any hopes on him. LeMahieu, on the other hand, can play a vital role for this team.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Kelley L Cox)|
Down the stretch last year, Colorado’s great third baseman Nolan Arenado was quoted as saying this about LeMahieu: “If fans knew how much we appreciate DJ and saw how much we care for him and how important he is to this team, they’d realize what a big factor he is. He sets the standard for us. We go where he goes, really.” That’s very high praise from one of the game’s true superstars. Charlie Blackmon is also on record making similar comments. I listened to an interview with Blackmon a few days ago and he was still expressing hope the Rockies would re-sign LeMahieu despite the team’s acquisition of Daniel Murphy. It appears the Rockies intend to play Murphy at first, assuming they figure out what do to with Ian Desmond, and open second base for competition between a couple of young players. The Rockies hold aspirations of competing with the Dodgers for the NL West title and LeMahieu would have helped their cause.
While I probably would have preferred Marwin Gonzalez for his ability to play shortstop and left field, it’s hard to find fault with the defensive prowess LeMahieu brings to the team. He may not have much power but he’s certainly not going to disappoint you with his bat. He has a batting title to his credit (NL, 2016) and has appeared in a couple of All-Star games. He has won three Gold Gloves, including the past two years. He has also been the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at second for the last two seasons and in 2013.
Infield defense was a huge concern prior to LeMahieu’s signing so his presence is much needed and as it stands right now I am glad he’s a Yankee. If Tulo shows anything at shortstop, the Yankees have the option of moving LeMahieu to third with Miguel Andújar shifting to DH and Giancarlo Stanton playing left field which eases some doubts I have with the dependence on Brett Gardner as an every day option in left field. To sign Machado now would probably mean the end of the Yankees career for Didi Gregorius, a free agent after the upcoming season. I want Didi back as the team’s starting shortstop so maybe all things considered, the LeMahieu signing is a blessing.
|Photo Credit: Instagram via @sirdidig18|
Like Tulo, LeMahieu will have to find a new number. The number 9 he wore in Colorado is retired for the late Roger Maris. The Yankees retired the number for Maris in 1984, a few months after they had traded Graig Nettles, the last to wear the number, to the San Diego Padres.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
The fringe players are slowly coming off the 40-man roster. RHP A.J. Cole was claimed by the Cleveland Indians on waivers yesterday. He had been designated for assignment to make room for Tulowitzki. I thought the Yankees might be able to pick up a lower-ranked prospect for Cole but it was not to be. Yesterday, to make room for LHP Zach Britton, infielder Hanser Alberto was waived and almost immediately claimed by Britton’s former team, the Baltimore Orioles. Once the LeMahieu signing becomes official, the Yankees will need to make another move so Luis Cessa, Ben Heller and Tim Locastro are probably the most vulnerable unless the Yankees finally move Sonny Gray for prospects (I’d prefer MLB talent in return). I like Heller despite his current recovery from Tommy John surgery (which means he can’t provide any immediate help) but would prefer to see the exit of Cessa over Heller.
The Yankees are always slow to announce their non-roster invitees for Spring Training but the list is building:
LHP Rex Brothers
LHP Danny Coulombe
RHP Drew Hutchison
OF Billy Burns
OF Matt Lipka
I don’t see any great upside with these players but Scranton/Wilkes-Barre needs some help after the losses they’ve suffered in the last few months so they represent organizational depth. Brothers is a one-time Colorado Rockie and teammate of Tulo, LeMahieu, Tommy Kahnle and, cough-cough, free agent reliever Adam Ottavino.
Lastly, while I was glad to see the Yankees agree with all of their arbitration-eligible players on new contracts for the upcoming season except one, I was disappointed the one player is Luis Severino. I don’t like the arbitration process which requires the team to tell an arbitrator the entirety of the player’s faults to build their case for the lower salary. If Dellin Betances leaves via free agency after the season, I will look back to the contentious hearing he had with the team a couple years ago and the poor choice of words by Yankees President Randy Levine after the decision in the team’s favor as a reason for his departure. I know, Dellin’s final decision will most likely be based on money but he surely has the negative feelings in the back of his mind regardless of his love of wearing the hometown Pinstripes. I think what bothers me more about Sevy’s case is how close the two parties are. Severino wants $5.25 million while the team offered $4.4 million. It seems like there was room for compromise. The two sides can continue to negotiate so I hope there is resolution before the actual arbitration hearing is held. We need to build Sevy up to be the ace he is destined to be, not tear him down.
I was very glad the Yankees settled with new starting pitcher James Paxton for $8.5 million. I want Paxton’s experience to be very positive from the start. By all accounts, he is very excited about pitching for the Yankees. In reading and listening to Zach Britton’s words about re-signing with the Yankees, it is very clear how he and his family were treated by the Yankees played a very strong factor in his decision to return. I want Paxton fully appreciate his first year in the Bronx too.
Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training a month from tomorrow. I am anxious to see Tampa and Steinbrenner Field buzzing with Yankees again. There’s no doubt Manager Aaron Boone will carry greater confidence and preparedness into camp this year with a year under his belt. I am convinced he’ll be much stronger this year and that bodes well for the team.
Good times in the Yankees Universe.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: SI.com (Kristyn Ulanday)|
Opening the Gates of Steinbrenner Field…
As the saying goes, today is the first day of the rest of your life. Or as I prefer to call it, the first day of the 2018 New York Yankees. Welcome, Pitchers and Catchers! Your host, Aaron Boone, and his staff are eager and ready to serve you.
I am excited and anxious to hear Boone’s kickoff press conference today at 12:00 pm ET. We’ve heard Boonie talk over the winter but now he’s officially in uniform and ready to lead Baseball’s most storied franchise to the Promised Land. It’ll be cool to get a glimpse inside his mind as he begins his Pinstriped Journey in earnest. Sure, he’s had the conference calls with his coaches and shared text messages, a few rounds of golf or dinner with his players, but today it gets real. It’s a very exciting time in the Yankees Universe. After meeting with the press today, Boone will lead the first official workout tomorrow on Valentine’s Day. Very appropriate given how much we love these Yankees.
My most recent fear was averted yesterday when it was the Texas Rangers (and not that the Yankees) that gave a minor league contract with training camp invite to free agent third baseman Trevor Plouffe. I was starting to get worried that we’d see him in Tampa, but alas, the Rangers saved the day.
There’s still time for new faces to appear but at the moment, the starting rotation returns intact from top to bottom and the leading contenders for second and third bases are Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, respectively. The next few days will feature many bullpen sessions and we’ll get our first images of the new season.
I am ready for Yankees baseball.
The Freak is back…
Speaking of reclamation projects, the Yankees will send a scout to watch Tim Lincecum’s showcase in Seattle on Thursday according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Admittedly, when I first heard the 34-year-old was attempting another comeback, I scoffed. Two years ago, he signed a deal with the Los Angeles Angels after providing an open tryout in front of scouts. He failed miserably, going 2-6 with 9.16 ERA in nine games pitched. His WHIP was an unsightly 2.374. Maybe there’s nothing left, but then again, maybe there is.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images, via Men’s Fitness (Joe Robbins, Otto Greule, Jr)|
People scoffed at Bartolo Colon when he made a comeback with the Yankees a few years ago, yet he continues to pitch and it is likely he’ll find another Major League contract somewhere this year. I am not saying that Lincecum is Colon, but at one time, Lincecum was a very good pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. I seriously doubt he’ll ever be anything close to that level again but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Why not take a shot? If he shows nothing, you help him pack his bags and send him on his way. He certainly won’t be cost prohibitive at this point in his career. I’d sign him if he shows anything on Thursday. He wouldn’t unseat any current starters in the rotation regardless of how well he throws but he could be a better option as a replacement starter than Luis Cessa if he has anything left. I am sure some team will take a chance on The Freak through a minor league deal to see if he can help.
Stick a fork in him, he’s done…
I am so very disappointed in Rich “Goose” Gossage. At one time, the guy was my favorite player. I loved to watch him come into games throwing heat and shutting down the opposition. It was tough to watch Goose leave the Yankees when he signed a free agent contract with the San Diego Padres in January 1984. Even tougher watching the Padres in the World Series that year, who also featured former Yankee Graig Nettles at third base, even if they lost to the Detroit Tigers. I was excited when he played for a couple of months with the Yankees at the end of the 1989 season despite being in the twilight of his career. I was proud when he was named to MLB’s Hall of Fame in 2008. Unfortunately, his behavior since that time has been anything but professional.
Last year, he took shots at Hall of Famer-to-be Mariano Rivera, one of my all-time favorite Yankees over the course of my lifetime, which I did not appreciate nor respect. When I heard the Yankees had not extended an invitation to Spring Training for Goose this year, I felt it was the right thing. The Yankees did not need the unwanted attention and distraction for a new manager and coaching staff. Yet, the New York Daily News beat writers had to reach to Goose to get comment about the spurned invitation and he chose to use it as a forum to go off on GM Brian Cashman.
Frankly, I don’t care if Gossage ever sets foot in Yankee Stadium again. He comes across as an angry old man to me. I am tired of his “back in my day” rants. He played in a different era but it doesn’t mean that it was better. The game has changed. Sadly, Gossage has not. There is no place for him with today’s game and no place for him in the Yankees Universe. Let him go play Old Timer’s games with the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s or Seattle Mariners. What? Those teams do not hold their former players in same high regard as the Yankees? Sucks for him. Good riddance…
Rest in peace, facial hair…
We also say goodbye to CC Sabathia’s beard.
While I personally feel that the Yankees should change the long-standing team policy that prohibits facial hair outside of “porn star” mustaches, it’s too bad that they can’t at least open Spring Training to a relaxed hair policy before the team heads north to put on the famed pinstriped jerseys. Sabathia had a very cool beard this winter, as did a number of other players. It would be nice to see them with a tougher look, if only for the exhibition games at Steinbrenner Field. Some guys, like Jordan Montgomery, could seriously stand an edgier look instead of the choir boy approach. I know, the hair policy will never change. The Steinbrenner Family will always preserve George’s wishes as long as they own the team. I get the professionalism aspect to the policy but I am also a believer in self-expression. I am not crazy about Justin Turner’s flowing red hair and beard with the Los Angeles Dodgers but it is who he is and I would not want to change him. If it works for the player, it works for me.
The baseball offseason is over. It is time to get to work…
|Photo Credit: Newsday (J Conrad Williams, Jr)|
13 long years…
As Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins approach the finish line on the potential largest contract in the history of Major League Baseball, I can’t help but wonder how crazy this is. 13 years at $325 million is a lot of money any way you slice it. Granted, Stanton will only be 37 at the end of the deal, but I stand with the many who believe that excessively long contracts are not good for the sport.
While guys like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera earned their pay through their last games, the tail end of the contracts for Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia are looking ghastly. For A-Rod and over $30 mil per year for three more years, the Yankees get a guy who hasn’t played for a year and is being mentioned as a back-up first baseman/DH type. If he manages to hit 20 home runs next season, it will be considered a success but not when you tally the cost of each of those home runs. Stanton is not A-Rod and odds are that Stanton will be playing at a higher level toward the back end of his contract, but there is so much potential for this deal to go drastically wrong. With players now frequently receiving opt out clauses, it’s too bad that the teams do not get an opt out when things go sourly. I would love to see the Yankees use the money slated for A-Rod, Teixeira and Sabathia elsewhere. If the Yankees maintain the status quo this offseason (signing only their own free agents) and do not make any attempt to upgrade the team, we’re faced with another mediocre season and it’s directly the result of the bad contracts.
The Yankees lost a great player when Robinson Cano signed his monster deal in Seattle, but even in retrospect, I think the Yankees were smart in not matching Seattle’s offer.
Giancarlo Stanton is a great player and the Marlins are better with him than without. But I do not like the precedent that it sets. Odds are that Stanton opts out and gets even more money so good for him. Yet, what protects the Marlins from a bad investment? Or how the bar is elevated for future deals? I am trying wondering if I will see players receiving a percentage of team ownership one day.
When I was a kid, I remember star pitcher Ron Guidry having to settle for $900,000 because George Steinbrenner said that he’d never pay a pitcher a million dollars a year. I guess times have changed…
The early results…
So far, the Yankees have re-signed Chris Young and acquired lefty reliever Justin Wilson. I think both moves are good for the back of the roster. The Yankees needed to do something with Francisco Cervelli given the catching depth and to get a guy like Wilson was a smart move given the team’s difficulty in finding a replacement for Boone Logan.
Young earned a return to the Bronx with his September performance. Hopefully, that’s the player the Yankees are getting for 2015 and not the earlier Mets version.
As much as I would like to see the Yankees pursue Jon Lester or Max Scherzer, I’ll be very relieved if and when the Yankees re-sign David Robertson, Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy. New York is a hard place to play, but all three of these guys have shown they can prosper in the Bronx. Robertson followed a legend with grace and ease, Headley showed brilliant defense at a position we really haven’t seen since Graig Nettles, and McCarthy gave the Yankees a chance to win with almost every start. Dellin Betances had a great first year but we really do not know if he could make the transition to closer. It wasn’t something that Robertson was able to do immediately as he did not enjoy success the year Mariano Rivera was hurt in Kansas City. I believe that A-Rod will look to be the older, injury prone player that he has become, if not worse.
The Yankees need to make some inspired trades. It may mean taking a chance on someone who, for whatever reason, has not found his potential, but that’s okay. I’d rather take a chance on a young player with upside than getting locked into a three year deal with an aging outfielder.
I was glad to see former Yankee and Pirate A.J. Burnett re-sign with Pittsburgh, foregoing more money from his last year’s team, the Philadelphia Phillies. Burnett was a good fit in Pittsburgh and it was nice to see a player take an offer that extended beyond just money.
Not that I want to wish the year away, but I am anxious for next month’s winter meetings so that Project Improve the Yankees can start taking form…