Tagged: Hal Steinbrenner

Yankees Dreams Do Not Equal Reality…

We may want it all but…

We’re the mighty Yankees. We should have every available superstar, right? To listen to some fans, that seems to be the case. But in reality, this is a business and the magical figure of $197 million to reset luxury tax penalties may as well be a hard and fast salary cap. Team Hal will do whatever it takes to stay under that mark.

It’s nice that free agent pitcher Yu Darvish has narrowed his choices to six teams, including the Yankees. But in the grand scheme of things, it means nothing. The Yankees are not going to pursue Darvish at this point given the pitcher’s desire for a contract in excess of $20 million per year annually.

Yesterday, Michael Kay reported on his show that the Yankees had previously offered Darvish 7 years at $160 million but had given him a short window (48 hours) to accept. When Darvish didn’t bite, the Yankees allegedly pulled the offer. No offense to Michael (he’s one of my favorites), I struggle with the thought the Yankees really made that type of offer with the current roster construction and cost. If the Yankees really did make that level of offer and Darvish did not accept, he was foolish in this stagnant market.

I really liked Yu Darvish when he first came to the United States and had been hopeful the Yankees would sign him before he was snagged by the Texas Rangers. But now, while I agree he is an upper echelon pitcher, I don’t feel that he’d be the right fit. The primary reason is money. The reality is that the Yankees will keep 2018 payroll below the $197 million threshold. Even if the Yankees moved contract(s) to make room, I don’t think it would be the wisest path to add a multi-year, greater than $20 mil per year, contract for a pitcher on the wrong side of 30. If Darvish was the missing piece to guarantee a World Series, it would be one thing but he’s not. The only thing that I like about a Darvish signing is that he wouldn’t cost multiple top prospects like a trade for Gerrit Cole would. The reality is that arms like Justus Sheffield and Albert Abreu could be out-performing Darvish in the big leagues within the next few years.

While Manny Machado would look great in Pinstripes, the reality is that he will not be part of the 2018 Yankees. At the moment, the Arizona Diamondbacks appear to be the frontrunner…if the Baltimore Orioles decide to trade their very talented third baseman. The D-Backs, if they acquire Machado, would move him to his position of preference (shortstop). While I think Machado should stay at third (for the sake of his surgically-repaired knees), you wonder if shortstop becomes Machado’s top priority when he hits the free agent market after the upcoming season. If so, the Yankees will not be in play given the team already has a strong shortstop. Didi Gregorius, the unsung hero of the 2017 Yankees, is not going anywhere.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

I am not opposed to the Yankees filling second and third bases with Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, respectively. I just don’t feel the Yankees would entrust two critical positions to rookies at the same time.

GM Brian Cashman is talking like Torres could break camp as the starting second baseman but it makes the most sense to keep him at Triple A for the first few weeks to delay his MLB service time and push his free agent eligibility back a year. Hal Steinbrenner, the accountant, is never going to go hog wild with payroll, even if he is successful in resetting luxury tax penalties this year. Unlike his father, he will always be concerned about the bottom line. I am comfortable with Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes covering second until Torres is ready. I buy into the opinion that we didn’t see the real Wade last year and he could be more like the player he was for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders this year. Training camp will be very critical for him. But, really, there’s no question second base belongs to Torres regardless of what Wade is able to accomplish.

As for third, Andujar, if he isn’t traded, will be watched very closely at training camp as he attempts to disprove the perspective that his defensive game hasn’t caught up with his bat.  Another name that has been suggested, Kyle Holder, seems to be a stretch. Holder is 23 but the highest he has played was at High A Tampa last year. It would be very difficult to make that type of leap for the defensive wizard. He’s not a power bat but in the Yankees lineup, he would not need to be. Realistically, I think Holder is still a season or two away. My opinion remains that the 2018 Yankees third baseman is not presently on the roster. But if I am wrong and Andujar heads north to the Bronx with the big league club in late March, so be it. I’ll be a fan and supporter.

I was glad to see the Yankees settle two of their potential arbitration cases yesterday when they signed Tommy Kahnle and Aaron Hicks to one-year contracts for $1.325 million and $2.825 million, respectively. With today’s deadline to exchange arbitration figures, it’s possible that we could see other signings. The other arbitration eligible players are Didi Gregorius, Dellin Betances, Sonny Gray, Adam Warren, Chasen Shreve and Austin Romine. The Yankees want to avoid contentious battles like the one with Dellin Betances last year, even though they won. Of the players, I’d really hate to see Gregorius or Gray go to arbitration. They are such huge keys for the upcoming season. The worst way to start the year would be for them to go into a room to hear about their faults from the team’s perspective.

My general sense is that the Yankees will make at least one other significant move before training camp but it’s equally possible that ‘what you see is what you get’ with the current roster. I expect other non-roster invitees beyond infielder Jace Peterson but it’s hard to classify any of those as “significant”.

Let’s see what today brings…

Go Yankees!

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The Dawn of the Baseball Winter Meetings…

 Greater-Orlando-1030x446

If you are going to dream, dream BIG…

Giancarlo Stanton.

Such a tease! For the last month, Yankees fans have dreamt of the idea of Giancarlo Stanton wearing Pinstripes. But with Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner’s budget and his drive to reset luxury tax penalties this year, the likelihood of Stanton coming to the Bronx appears to be about as strong as Shohei Otani changing his mind and deciding that he loves New York after all.

 Still, it’s tough to hear that the Yankees are one of four teams that Giancarlo Stanton would openly waive his no-trade clause for. The list includes the Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers (his hometown team and favorite growing up), the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs. I am mildly surprised that the Los Angeles Angels didn’t make the cut for the LA native (I know, they are not really in Los Angeles). It’s hard because the timing isn’t right for a team that is trying desperately to stay under $197 million for the payroll this year.

It’s possible that Stanton eventually accepts a trade to either the San Francisco Giants or the St Louis Cardinals but the longer this drags out, the more likely it is those teams will move on. If the Giants land Otani, it would seemingly improve their chances for getting Stanton to accept the already negotiated trade to the Giants. I tend to side with the majority that believe Otani will end up in Seattle, particularly now that they’ve gained an edge in international bonus pool money. Could this help the Yankees snag Stanton?  I guess time will tell as it often does.

 For the Yankees, the decision to sign Jacoby Ellsbury four years ago yesterday to the seven-year, $153 million contract is the gift that keeps giving (in a negative way). Ellsbury, now Baseball’s highest-paid pinch-runner, is an albatross for Team Hal. As long as Ellsbury’s contract hangs around the neck of the Yankees, it will be difficult for them to find the creative way to bring Stanton to the Bronx even though they have the resources to pull it off.

The Seattle Mariners had looked like a strong potential trade partner for the Yankees depending upon how much of Ellsbury’s contract the Yankees were willing to eat. But the Mariners removed themselves from the conversation with their trade acquisition yesterday of second baseman Dee Gordon, whom they intend to move to center field. The Boston Red Sox just look at the Yankees, stuck with Ellsbury, and laugh. There were no tears shed in Boston when Ellsbury signed with the Yankees. My closest Red Sox friends were glad to be free of the King of the DL four years ago.

It’s incredible to imagine Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge in the same lineup. It will never happen (will it?) but the protection in the batting order the Yankees could offer Stanton would be immense. It would be fun to watch all of those balls flying out of Yankee Stadium.

I keep hoping that GM Brian Cashman and his team, against all odds, can find a way to get creative while staying in line with Hal Steinbrenner’s budget. By self-admission, Cashman is paid to think outside of the box. Here is his latest opportunity. Make it happen! The realist in me knows that it will not come to fruition but it is fun to dream about. Taking on Stanton’s contract would be far better than paying over a half-billion dollars to Bryce Harper next off-season.

I feel bad for Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly who now gets to watch as his team is stripped of its best Major League talent. Donnie Baseball deserves better. Marlins CEO Derek Jeter is obviously finding that it is not so easy sitting on the other side of the table with a strict budget in hand.

The Bronx Coaching Staff…

Now that the Yankees have their manager (Aaron Boone) and the return of the pitching coach (Larry Rothschild), the focus is on the remainder of the coaching staff. I have not heard Tony Pena’s name at all. He is a valuable coach and I’d like to see his return. We’ve heard the names of Yankees ‘thirty-something’ minor league coaches Reggie Willits and Carlos Mendoza as possibilities.  We know that Rob Thomson, Josh Paul and Al Pedrique are no longer options, having found MLB employment elsewhere.  It was odd that the first name drawing attention is current Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen coach Josh Bard. A former catcher, the possibility of adding Bard leads me to believe that there is no interest in bringing back Pena.  Bard and Boone played together briefly in Cleveland. I seriously hope that Bard is not under consideration for Bench Coach. At Boone’s press conference, when asked if managerial experience was a prerequisite for the bench coach, Boone responded that he wanted smart and confident sitting next to him. Sounds like a possible setup for Bard. I guess it’s not like there is no managerial experience on the bench. Larry Rothschild was the original manager for the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays when they entered the league in 1998. But regardless of Rothschild’s presence, I personally would prefer to see experience sitting with smart and confident to offer suggestions to the new first-time manager.

Bard played for five teams over 10 seasons during his pedestrian career as a backup catcher, yet I think of him as a Red Sock. That’s kind of funny considering that he only played 7 games in 2006 for the Red Sox. The intent was for Bard to catch knuckle baller Tim Wakefield, who ironically gave up Boone’s 2003 ALCS Game 7 home run. But 10 passed balls in those 7 games ended his time in Boston.

Based on GM Brian Cashman’s words, they’ve provided a list of names to Boone and Boone has provided names to them and they are going through the vetting process. So, it’s highly probable that other guys, beyond Bard, have been or will soon be interviewed. Boone talks about having a world-class coaching staff, but it’s tough when we’ve seen a few world class guys like Thomson, Paul and Pedrique walk away from the organization. I hope that Boonie is right. The team’s leadership will be very instrumental in the success of the young Baby Bombers as we move forward.

Note to Brian Cashman…

Please re-sign CC Sabathia. What are you waiting for?…

I am always anxious to see what the Baseball Winter Meetings will bring. Those few days bring the most excitement of the off-season. It’s very possible that nothing happens for the Yankees but it should be a fun week anyway. With such a large concentration of media gathered in Orlando, Florida beginning this weekend, rumors of trades and signings should soon start flying fast and furiously.

I’d love to be working on a post next week entitled ‘How the Yankees Made the Stanton Dream a Reality’…

Go Yankees!

Aaron Boone, Manager, New York Yankees…

Credit:  MLB.com

And Then There Was One…

Although no official announcement has been made, the Yankees have an agreement in place with Aaron Boone to serve as the successor for former Yankees Manager Joe Girardi.

 

I am surprised. Since he retired, Boone has served as a broadcaster with ESPN. He has not managed or coached at any level. I have not heard a single complaint about Boone’s personality or baseball knowledge, but like Michael Kay said, it’s handing the keys of a Lamborghini to someone who just got their driver’s license.  The Yankees job is the best in Baseball. The Yankees are the most storied, most prestigious team in the most powerful city in America. Expectations entering the 2017 season were fairly low, but the team finished the season a single game away from the World Series. Needless to say, expectations will be substantially higher as we enter the 2018 season. No pressure, Boonie!

I do not dislike the choice of Boone and had previously said I’d be okay with him as manager if Hensley Meulens was not selected. But Boone does need a very strong supporting cast (i.e., coaching staff). We know that pitching coach Larry Rothschild will be returning and he is perhaps one of the greatest components of the coaching staff but bench coach will be very critical. After not being selected as manager, Rob Thomson left the Yankees organization after 28 years and will become bench coach for inexperienced manager Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia. I’ve already heard Eric Wedge’s name mentioned as a possible bench coach for Boone (Wedge managed Boone in Cleveland after Boone left the Yankees). I continue to preach Al Pedrique. No one has the level of relationships with the young Baby Bombers like Pedrique does. He is an experienced successful manager. Granted, his managerial success has largely been in the Minor Leagues, but he knows how to run a game to win. He did manage the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004 for 83 games after Bob Brenly (who had managed the D-Backs over the Yankees in the 2001 World Series) was fired. Pedrique’s MLB managerial record is an uninspiring 22-61 but it’s not his fault. He was trying to do the best he could with a team that had gotten a World Series manager fired. Pedrique later served as bench coach for the Houston Astros and we all know that he won a Triple A championship with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in 2016.

In retrospect, It appears the Yankees had no plan when Girardi was dismissed. At the time Girardi was told his services were done, I had felt that GM Brian Cashman had a clear idea whom he wanted to occupy the manager’s chair. The Boone choice shows that he most likely did not enter the equation until he aced his interview with Cashman. Of course, he had to get his foot in the door for the interview so he was obviously on Cashman’s mind but most likely wasn’t the clear choice when this thing started.

Credit:  Patrick E McCarthy

I remember being a little upset when Boone suffered the knee injury in a pickup basketball game in January 2004 which ended his season and his Yankees career. It set in motion the trade which brought Alex Rodriguez to the Bronx. No disrespect to those of you who love A-Rod but that’s one trade I wish never would have happened. But from a character-standpoint, Boone was honest with the team about the injury which caused the forfeiture of his 2004 contract (receiving only $917,533 in termination pay on the $5.75 million deal). I am sure that earned him brownie points with Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner.

As for Hensley Meulens, he will return to the San Francisco Giants to become bench coach for Manager Bruce Bochy. I really hope that he gets an opportunity to manage in the not-so-distant future. For all we know, he could very well be Bochy’s replacement if the present Giants manager decides to step down in the next few years. I was very impressed with Meulens and I feel that he’ll be an outstanding manager one day.

Carlos Beltran didn’t get the job since the leap from player to manager with no break was viewed as too much, but I hope that Beltran gets another opportunity to serve within the Yankees organization. Like Meulens, he has the potential to be a great manager one day.  For now, it would be great to have him on the coaching staff. If not, his presence in the front office and/or as a spring training instructor would be invaluable.

Welcome back to the New York Yankees, Aaron Boone! We hope your learning curve is small and the team prospers under your leadership. Feel free to go ahead and hit another one out of the park for us.

Credit:  Allen Kee, Getty Images

The Hidden Ball Trick…

We know the Yankees tendered contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players prior to last evening’s deadline, but a number of MLB players were not so fortunate.

A name that jumped out at me without looking at the entire list was Ryan Goins of the Toronto Blue Jays. It is not so much about the player’s ability but rather he is the one who pulled off the sneaky hidden ball trick to record an out on Todd Frazier at second base back in September. In 2017, he hit 9 homers and 62 RBI’s in 143 games with a .237 batting average. Not a great player but he’s been pesky over his career. I guess he was unable to pull off a hidden ball trick on Toronto to entice them to extend his Blue Jays career.

Credit:  Associated Press

Another name that surprised me was first baseman Matt Adams. Adams, the former St Louis Cardinal who was acquired by Atlanta to fill in during Freddie Freeman’s time on the DL last year, was non-tendered by the Braves. I didn’t expect Adams to be part of the 2018 Braves Roster but I thought he had some value as a trade candidate for an organization that was recently stripped of multiple international prospects. Instead, he’ll hit the open market to find a new home. I’d take a flyer on him as a potential hedge for the health of Greg Bird.

This year, I hope the Yankees can reach deals with their arbitration-eligible players before their scheduled hearings. I’d hate to see a repeat performance of last year’s contentious  hearing between Dellin Betances and the Yankees that brought ugly remarks by Yankees President Randy Levine. The fade by Betances last season supported the Yankees position but last year’s hearing did nothing to help the confidence of the pitcher (hurting his psyche more than anything).

Well, yesterday was a busy start to the new month. The Yankees have their manager and team officials are probably headed to Los Angeles to meet with the agents for Japanese superstar Shohei Otani who was officially posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters yesterday. Representatives for both the San Francisco Giants and St Louis Cardinals have met with Giancarlo Stanton in Los Angeles so we could see a trade of the big slugger to either the Giants or Cards by early next week. Unlike November, December should prove to be a wild and exciting ride.

Go Yankees!

Turkey Leftovers Are History, Bring On Some Baseball Action!…

Waiting for Otani…

Given every other writer (or blogger in my case) has written that this has been the slowest off-season in recent memory, I will do my obligatory part to say that it’s been so slow.  November 29th and the best we can say is that former Boston Red Sox starter Doug Fister has signed a free agent contract with the Texas Rangers. The Red Sox picked Fister up off the scrap heap last summer and he gave them some decent starts down the stretch when they had holes popping up in other parts of the starting rotation. Good for him that he parlayed it into some sense of short-term job security in Texas.

I expected the Thanksgiving weekend to be quiet and it was. No Yankees news other than the preparation by all teams for the much anticipated posting of Japanese superstar Shohei Otani which should occur shortly after Friday when the MLB Owners ratify the new posting agreement. The Yankees are obvious favorites but of course some teams have been very vocal about their intent to pursue the two-way star.  The loudest has been the Seattle Mariners. We know that this move is not about money so the fact the Yankees can offer the second highest amount of green does not necessarily mean anything. I’ve felt all along that this move, for now, is about the endorsement dollars. I read one writer say Otani could make up to $20 million per year in endorsement deals between the United States and Japan. I realize that Otani played in a smaller market in Japan for a “ham company” but I feel that if he wants to be the best, there is none other than the New York Yankees for him. He’d have the opportunity to play in the greatest city (highest potential for endorsement deals) and he’d join a young team on the verge of something truly special.  His age would fit nicely with the other Baby Bombers to ensure an extended competitive run for the duration of his stay. He’d have a pitcher on the Yankees pitching staff that could help serve as a mentor (Masahiro Tanaka) and he’d have access to one of Japan’s greatest baseball players with Hideki Matsui (who knew a thing or two about incredible clutch hitting), currently special assistant to GM Brian Cashman.

I think it is an easy decision for Otani but of course, at this point, it is anybody’s guess where he ends up. In the end, I do hope it is Team Yankees while recognizing there are risks with a player attempting to both pitch and hit on a regular basis. Otani is a special talent and there may never be an opportunity to get a player of his caliber for only $3.5 million under team control for multiple years. No question that fits into Hal Steinbrenner’s 2018 budget.

Next Up, Carlos Beltran…

Carlos Beltran will become the sixth man interviewed for the Yankees managerial opening today. I like Carlos and I value his ability to communicate with players and the media, but I struggle with the idea of the player-to-manager path with no coaching experience. I wouldn’t mind seeing Beltran as part of the Yankees coaching staff but I’d really prefer someone who at least has coaching experience as its new manager. I saw a bunch of tweets yesterday that compared Beltran to Joe Torre as a player who successfully made the transition. But no one was mentioning that Torre’s record with his first team, the New York Mets, was a .405 winning percentage (286-420). He didn’t experience post-season success until he managed his fourth team, the Yankees. Beltran may prove to be an excellent manager one day but for a team that is positioned for success now, I’d rather not have a guy learning on the job.

Credit:  MLB.com

Yankees fan yesterday, Yankee today…

Credit to Peter Gammons for this piece that I found interesting. Newly acquired RHP Michael King (who joined the Yankees in the trade that sent LHP Caleb Smith and 1B Garrett Cooper to the Miami Marlins) was a second team All-State performer for Bishop Hendricksen High School in Warwick, Rhode Island in 2012. That summer he played in the Annual Summer Rivalry Classic held for Northeastern high school kids at Yankee Stadium. Among the free offerings that day was bubble gum that King was very fond of, stuffing perhaps 6 or 7 sticks of gum into his mouth at one point. Asked what he did with that big wad of gum, King indicated that he stuck it under the bench. According to Gammons, King, a childhood Yankees fan, said, “I figured I’d get it back when I get back there to the bullpen as a Yankee.” I love that story and the optimism. I look forward to the dream being fulfilled.

The Bronx, Home of MLB’s Best Executive…

Congratulations to Brian Cashman for being named as Baseball America’s 2017 Major League Executive of the Year! It was a much deserved honor for the great GM. It probably doesn’t hurt the contract negotiations for his new deal either. Hal Steinbrenner issued a statement that read, “Brian plays a crucial role in our success, and I’ve known for quite some time how fortunate we are to have him leading our Baseball Operations Department. He cares deeply about this franchise and our fans, and he skillfully navigates the many challenges that come with holding the position he does in the media capital of the world.” Not bad for a kid who grew up as a Dodgers fan. He is ensuring that his name will be forever marked in Yankees history as one of the great pillars of success. Next stop, World Series!

Credit:  Stan Grossfield, Boston Globe Staff

Like everyone else, I am ready for some real off-season baseball action. But I am sure that once the calendar page turns to December, we’d better hold on. It should be a fun ride!

Go Yankees!

All Talk and No Action…

Credit:  Rich Schultz, Getty Images

Moving on to the Next Round?…

The Baseball off-season continues to move at a snail’s pace. Of course, things will change as we get past the Thanksgiving holiday and move into December and closer to the Baseball Winter Meetings.

In the meantime, we continue to pick apart every little thing that happens ad nauseum.  We learned this week that Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner not only supported GM Brian Cashman’s decision to sever ways with former manager Joe Girardi, he agreed with it and it has been something that they’ve had talks about for the past several years. Of course, that leads me to believe that it was Steinbrenner’s call and there are details that we may never really know. We do know there were perceived communication issues and that Girardi had failed to connect with the clubhouse, particularly over the last couple of seasons. Given how vocal both Cashman and Steinbrenner have been about the Girardi situation, it seems like there are more issues at play than just communication and connectivity to players. Steinbrenner implied that the Yankees would have made this decision even if the Yankees had won the World Series.

Although Girardi lasted a decade in the Bronx, he’s now been fired twice by ownership groups that gave scathing departing remarks. Girardi was NL Manager of the Year for the Florida Marlins in 2006, yet he was fired after the season. Then-owner Jeffrey Loria almost fired Girardi on the spot during an August game when Girardi told Loria to stop heckling the home plate umpire. Girardi may have done a decent managing job for the Yankees but you have to think that future teams will take a more cautious approach when/if considering him for managerial openings. I don’t know Girardi so I cannot attest to his personality beyond what I’ve seen during his pre- and post-game interviews but there’s something there, if I was an owner, that would give me pause about Girardi. I have no hard feelings against the man and I hope that he gets another opportunity in MLB but it was clearly time for a change.

Credit:  John Raoux, Associated Press

Upon the conclusion of the GM Meetings in Orlando, Florida, this week, GM Brian Cashman resumed his managerial interviews.

Former Yankee Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens was in the Bronx on Thursday. I really like Meulens. I know that a lot of people have scoffed at the guy and he has no managerial experience, but I like his communication style (handles himself very well in interviews) and he is clearly a guy that knows baseball and relationships.  He is fluent with multiple languages including a little bit of Japanese which gives him the ability to talk directly to the majority of players without the assistance of interpreters. He enjoys a great relationship with shortstop Didi Gregorius, whom he managed in the WBC Classic. Meulens has been part of three World Series championships in San Francisco.

Credit:  ESPN Internet Ventures

Cashman also spoke with former Yankee Aaron Boone on Friday. Boone is best remembered for his home run to the beat the Boston Red Sox in the 2003 American League Championship Series, a year before the Sox finally ended the Curse of the Bambino. It was Boone’s 2004 knee injury, suffered in a pre-season basketball game, that led the Yankees to their acquisition of Alex Rodriguez and the drama that ensued. Boone, as everyone knows, comes from a family rich in MLB tradition, with a grandfather, father and brother that were all Major Leaguers. There’s  no doubt he is an intelligent guy but like Meulens, no managerial experience, and unlike Meulens, no coaching experience.

I think either Meulens or Boone could do a good job if they are surrounded by the right coaches. I kind of like the idea of using either Al Pedrique or Eric Wedge as the new manager’s bench coach. I would not be disappointed to see Rob Thomson return to that role. It appears that Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward is next up for a managerial interview. I don’t really know much about Woodward so I don’t have any opinions about him.  At this point, I clearly prefer Meulens and Boone over him. Not sure if Woodward will be the last of the candidates before we start Round 2 or if there will be more guys paraded through the Bronx.  The next round will feature a trip to Florida to meet with the Steinbrenner family.  I’d probably take the candidates by Trinity Memorial Gardens in Trinity, FL. If the ground rumbles (the Boss turning over in his grave), you know the candidate is probably not the one.

I am anxious for the Yankees to make a decision, but I understand they are under no pressure to hurry and can afford to take their time. Outside of Shohei Otani, they do not figure to be big players in Free Agency despite the greedy nature of us, the fans. CC Sabathia has already said that he’d return despite not knowing who the next manager will be. So, for now, we wait…

All Rise for the Judge!…

Congratulations to Aaron Judge for being named AL Rookie of the Year, as expected, and his second place finish in the AL MVP voting. I expected the AL MVP vote to be much closer than it really was. Jose Altuve took 27 of 30 first place votes with only two going to Judge. There was some outrage from the media but the class exhibited by Judge was so professional and heartfelt (as we have come to expect with the big slugger). After Altuve won, Judge tweeted: “M-V-P!!! Nobody more deserving than you!! Congrats on an unforgettable 2017!! @JoseAltuve27”. Judge makes me proud that he is a Yankee every day.

Credit:  SI.com

Yankee Dreams extinguished…

The Yankees lost a long-time farmhand and one-time top prospect when outfielder Mason Williams signed a minor league free agent deal with the Cincinnati Reds. I am sorry that it never worked out for Williams in Pinstripes. I had very high hopes at one point that never came to fruition. Hopefully, for his sake, the change of scenery helps him achieve some the success that had once seemed inevitable for the talented 26-year-old.

Credit:  Jim McIsaac, Getty Images

Another former Yankees prospect, a few years removed from the organization, pitcher Manny Banuelos, has signed a minors deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It doesn’t seem like that long ago when Williams and Banuelos were the top prospects with the Yankees. Of course Banuelos was part of the Killer B’s (the trio of Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman).

The only Killer B that made it was Betances. Like Williams, I hope that Banuelos can find success in Chavez Ravine. He has failed to impress the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angels so maybe fourth time’s a charm. I really liked Banuelos as a young prospect and had hoped to see him achieve MLB success.

And we continue to wait. Go Yankees!

Thinking Baseball on Football Sunday…

I may be a Minnesota Vikings fan and looking forward to seeing how the team performs today against the Washington Redskins with Teddy Bridgewater standing on the field for the first time in 15 months, albeit in a backup role…for the moment. But truth be told, I am more interested in the moves that can be made to continue the growth and development of the 2018 New York Yankees.

Ohtani or Otani?…

I’ve spelled it both ways but I guess I’ll go with Otani moving forward. I continue to see it spelled either way and I don’t have Ohtani/Otani on speed-dial to clarify.

Credit:  Getty Images

The Associated Press reported that Shohei Otani held a news conference on Saturday. Otani’s words included, “The other day I met with team officials and stated my intentions. My request was met with warm words of support, so I hope to do my best in America from next year on.” While it would be financially wiser to wait until he turns 25 to enter Major League Baseball (when he could be a free agent with no restrictions), Otani wants to raise the level of his game now rather than wait. “I am not a complete player yet, and I want to go to an environment where I can continue to get better”.

Otani apparently had a desire to go to MLB straight from high school but instead opted to sign with the Nippon-Ham Fighters with assurances that he could play a two-way role for the team. While he would like to continue hitting and pitching, it sounds like he is a realist and wants to see what situations are available to him in the United States. “Just before I turned professional, I didn’t imagine I would be able to do both, but since then, the fans have encouraged it,” Otani said. “That has left me with a strong desire to keep doing it…not only for me, but for them.” The DH role seems to tilt the scales in favor of the American League and the big market endorsement opportunities ($$$$) seem to favor the Yankees.

The Yankees remain the frontrunners but until he is formally posted and signs a contract with a MLB team, it’s anybody’s guess where he’ll ultimately end up. I hope he is a Yankee and that the presence of Hideki Matsui and Masahiro Tanaka in the organization are deemed as huge positives for him. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe cites the Toronto Blue Jays as a possible  dark horse destination for Otani but, seriously, the Blue Jays do not bring the honor and prestige of MLB’s most-storied franchise.

My off-season goal remains to see the headline, “Yankees to sign Otani”, followed closely by “Yankees trade Ellsbury”….

Eric Wedge…Seriously?

The second name on GM Brian Cashman’s interview list was the former Indians and Mariners manager.  Ummm, next please. I do not want to see the former backup Red Sox catcher as Manager of Baseball’s greatest franchise. I don’t buy the ‘third time’s a charm’ logic for the two-time managerial loser. This name reinforces to me that I want someone with connections to either the Yankees or to the city of New York and its surrounding region as the next skipper.

Aaron Boone is another name receiving much attention and he’ll most likely be included on the interview list in the not-so-distant future.

With the GM Meetings on tap for this week, starting Monday, it will be interesting to see if Cashman is able to continue with the interview process or if he has to take a brief pause. The big name agents will be present at the meetings to begin dialogue for potential signings leading up to next month’s Winter Meetings. So even though there probably won’t be any significant trades or signings this week, the groundwork is being laid. Perhaps Cashman spends just a day or so at the GM Meetings before excusing himself and leaving his chief lieutenants to represent the Yankees.

I don’t know the Yankees time frame, but I am hopeful they resolve the managerial search by Thanksgiving so the team knows its leadership as we head into the very busy and vital December trading/signing period.

Albert Abreu, Ace or Bullpen Duty?…

I personally like Yankees prospect Albert Abreu, the young 22-year-old right-hander acquired from the Houston Astros in the Brian McCann trade, as one of my favorites in the farm system.  But scouts seem mixed regarding whether he is the next Luis Severino or is deemed to be a more valuable component to add to the bullpen mix. Of course, it was only last off-season the same question was being asked about Severino. I prefer to see Abreu start, but opportunity will play a major role. If the Yankees sign Otani, the Yankees rotation seems fairly solidified with Otani, Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery. That’s already considering young arms like Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield (plus Domingo Acevedo) are waiting in the wings. But I can never think of a season off the top of my head where a team’s sixth or seventh starter didn’t play a key role at some point in the season. Abreu must take advantage of any opportunities that he is given. He’s one of the arms that I’ll be paying close attention to next Spring.

Credit:  Zachary Lucy, Four Seam Images via AP

Brian McCann may have picked up a World Series ring, making his acquisition a huge win for the Astros, but the Yankees did very well picking up Abreu and RHP Jorge Guzman for the former Yankees catcher. I’ve seen a number of pro-Astros articles that claim a huge Astros victory for the trade, but in time, I think the Astros and their fans will rue the day they let Abreu and Guzman go.

Where will the path lead Giancarlo Stanton?…

I know that it’s been written on this site that the Yankees should go after Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, but it’s not going to happen on Hal Steinbrenner’s watch. With the team committed to getting under the payroll cap to reset luxury tax penalties, I don’t see the Yankees parting with the young prospects that it would take to acquire Stanton or committing the necessary dollars to take on Baseball’s largest contract. Yes, Yankee fans can dream but it is not going to happen for the Pinstriped faithful.

So, where does Stanton go? There is talk that early conversations are being held with the Boston Red Sox. I fully expect the Red Sox to add a big bat this off-season but I’d be surprised if they went after Stanton. It’s scary to think of Stanton in that lineup, but the Red Sox will need big dollars for their young, cheap talent like Mookie Betts and Chris Sale. Betts made just $950,000 last year and is now arbitration-eligible. The Red Sox have Sale for two more years  and will need lock him up on a long-term deal to avoid losing him through free agency. Those are two guys who will command a healthy chunk of Red Sox payroll over the next few years. I think it is more likely the Red Sox pursue someone like free agents first baseman Eric Hosmer or outfielder J.D. Martinez to help fill the void when David Ortiz retired after the 2016 season. Nevertheless, it’s within the realm of possibility for Boston to get “greedy”. After all, Sox owner John Henry has to feed the beast, otherwise known as the Red Sox Nation.

Another team mentioned for Stanton is the St Louis Cardinals. I don’t see the Cardinals ponying up the cash to take on Stanton’s contract, let alone the prospects that it would take. While it now looks like a very prudent financial decision, they let their franchise player, Albert Pujols, one of the all-time Cardinal greats, depart through free agency a few years ago over money.

The other two teams mentioned as possible destinations are the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies.

It will be interesting to see how this develops over the course of the off-season even if we are forced to be bystanders as Team Hal looks at the bigger picture and of course the bottom line.

Well, let’s see what this week brings. Go Yankees!

The Judgian Blast…

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Yankees 5, Mets 3…

…Ya gotta love John Sterling and his home run calls.  Aaron Judge hits a home run and it’s almost bigger news than the game itself.  His blast, which traveled into the third deck of the left center stands, traveled 457 feet at a velocity of 117 mph to help power the Yankees to the win over the New York Mets.  It was funny to watch the Mets outfielders stand without moving as they watched the ball fly over.  


I didn’t like the first inning when the Yankees failed to take advantage of a scoring opportunity and the Mets did not.  Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single lined to right.  He stole second (the throw bouncing off Ellsbury as he slid), and later advanced to third on Aaron Judge’s ground out back to the pitcher.  Robert Gsellman looked at Ellsbury but didn’t hold him long enough before throwing Judge out.  Unfortunately, the Yankees could not bring Ells home.  In the bottom of the inning, the Mets didn’t waste their opportunity. Juan Lagares opened with a double down the third base line all the way to the corner off Yankees starter Jaime Garcia.  After moving to third on a ground out, he scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Yoenis Cespedes.  The Mets had the early 1-0 lead.


The second inning was weird but the Yankees came away with the game-tying run.  With the Mets rotating third baseman Travis d’Arnaud and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera in frequent positional switches, Chase Headley drew a one-out walk against Mets starter Robert Gsellman.  A wild pitch by Gsellman into the dirt through catcher Rene Rivera’s legs allowed Headley to move to second, followed by a passed ball on Rivera that advanced him to third. Rivera’s look back at Gsellman was a classic “WTF?”. Garrett Cooper grounded out to third on a diving stop by Asdrubal Cabrera but Headley scored on the play.  The Yankees had tied the game.


Aaron Judge led off the 4th inning with his towering blast. It was one of those “wow” moments.  The home run was Judge’s 37th of the year.  The Yankees had taken their first lead of the game, 2-1.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

In the bottom of the 5th, Rene Rivera hit a two-out solo homer over the wall in left center to tie the game.  It seemed so wrong that his homer counted as much as Judge’s did.  


The Yankees took their second lead of the game in the 6th inning.  Aaron Judge singled on a liner to left with one out.  Successive walks to Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez loaded the bases and ended the day for Robert Gsellman.  Reliever Paul Sewald was brought into the game and Chase Headley greeted him with a sacrifice fly to center which scored Judge.  3-2, Yankees.


In the bottom of the inning, the Mets came right back to tie the game again.  Asdrubal Cabrera opened the inning with a single to left.  He subsequently  tried to steal second on a ball that got away from Gary Sanchez, but it was a bad idea to test El Gary’s arm.  Out at second.  Yoenis Cespedes drew a walk from Jaime Garcia and Michael Conforto doubled to left…a roller to the wall, advancing Cespedes to third.  Manager Joe Girardi pulled Garcia and brought Tommy Kahnle into the game.  Travis d’Arnaud lofted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Cespedes but Kahnle was able to limit the damage to only the one run. Game was tied again at 3.


Ronald Torreyes led off the 7th inning with a double to the left field corner.  What can you say about Toe? He is constantly coming up with key, unsung hits in critical moments. A sacrifice bunt by Brett Gardner, pinch-hitting for Kahnle, pushed Toe to third. Successive walks of Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks by Paul Sewald loaded the bases. Admittedly, the fourth ball to Hicks looked like the third strike but oh well, I’ll take it. Aaron Judge had first crack at the potential scoring opportunity but he popped out to the catcher.  Didi Gregorius was next and he didn’t miss his opportunity.  He rapped a double with authority to the right field corner, scoring both Toe and Ellsbury.  

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

From there, the Yankees rode the bullpen arms of Adam Warren and David Robertson to victory.  The Mets were given four outs in the bottom of the 9th when a third strike on Amed Rosario rolled under Gary Sanchez’s glove to the backstop, allowing Rosario to reach first.  Robertson was charged with the wild pitch, but Sanchez should have had his glove down.  Robertson shook it off and did what he does best.  He closed the game out for his 14th save on a called strikeout of Rene Rivera who had represented the potential tying run.  I continue to be thankful every day that DRob is a Yankee again.

Credit:  Frank Franklin II-Associated Press

The Yankees (64-55) were unable to pick up any ground on the Boston Red Sox.  The Sox were trailing the St Louis Cardinals, 4-2, in the bottom of the 9th at Fenway Park, but Xander Bogaerts homered and Mookie Betts hit a two-run double to give the Red Sox the 5-4 walk-off win.  So, the Yankees remain 4 1/2 games behind the Sox.  The Sox are off today so the Yankees will either gain or lose a 1/2 game depending upon the outcome  of the Yankees-Mets series finale.  Both the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles lost.  The Rays dropped a 3-2 contest to the Toronto Blue Jays and the O’s were beaten 7-6 by Yonder Alonso and the Seattle Mariners.  So, they trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 and 6 games, respectively.  


Despite the monster home run, Aaron Judge set the MLB record for consecutive games with a strikeout for non-pitchers with a swinging strikeout in the top of the 9th.  He has now struck out in 32 successive games.  


Although he was on the mound when the Mets tied the game in the 6th, Tommy Kahnle (2-3) was the beneficiary of the two-run double by Didi Gregorius in the 7th to take the win. Excellent job by Adam Warren who pitched two innings of scoreless one-hit ball with 3 strikeouts.  I am sure that the Chicago Cubs look at Warren and wonder where that guy was at the start of last season.

Mets starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who hadn’t played third since high school, was forced to play the position when both Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes were scratched before the game due to ribcage injuries.  d’Arnaud and Cabrera, the second baseman, made a total of 22 positional switches during the course of the game.  Cabrera would frequently move to third for right-handed hitters.  It was a smart play by Mets manager Terry Collins as he limited the fielding chances for d’Arnaud.  Cabrera took all of the grounders to third and d’Arnaud only had to deal with a popup.  

Credit:  Elsa-Getty Images

Odds & Ends…

Credit to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com for the words of Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner at the MLB Owners Meeting in Chicago: 

  • If we don’t make the play-offs, it’s a failure.  Any year, any year.  That’s just the mindset for us.
  • It was a great first two and a half months.  It’s been tough the last two months for the most part.  But I think they’re coming out of it and the pitching additions we made at the Deadline are already helping, and we’re going to have a strong last five, six weeks. 
  • The changes we did at the last Trade Deadline a year ago clearly [were] a difficult decision. But I made it, it was mine, and we got a lot of good players from it and we still stayed in contention until the last couple weeks. But we’ve been fortunate. The young guys we kept talking about for three, four years finally got to the point where they could contribute at the big league level. Other guys — [international] signings like Estevan Florial — have been good. So we’ve got a very good player development system right now, and we’re competing. That’s always a very good sign. And it’s always tough to give up some of the top [prospects], but I wasn’t going to do it for a rental. If you do it, you do it for a young guy that’s under control for a year or two.
  • We can still go into the free-agent market. We’ll just have to see who’s ready [in the Minor League system] and who’s not and how the team looks at X [payroll] number.

Credit:  Nam Y Huh-Associated Press

Greg Bird began his rehab assignment last night with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.  After the RailRiders completed the rain suspended game from the night before (which they lost 9-4 to the Gwinnett Braves), Bird was penciled into the lineup at first base for the regularly scheduled Wednesday game.  He was 0-for-2 with a strikeout in the first four innings of the RailRiders’ 4-1 loss to the Braves.  Chance Adams, 9-4, was the losing pitcher.


CC Sabathia will be activated off the DL on Saturday according to Sweeny Murti of WFAN. He’s scheduled to make the start against the Boston Red Sox.  I wish I felt more optimistic about this news than I do.

Have a great Thursday!  Let’s sweep the Subway Series with a win!  Go Yankees!