Managerial Dismissals in Triplicate…
This has been quite the week in the Major League Baseball. I thought Januarys were for the ‘quiet calm’ before players begin heading to their respective Spring Training homes in Florida and Arizona next month.
In the span of four days this week, three Major League managers had lost their jobs.
Jim Crane, owner of the Houston Astros, fired manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow almost immediately after MLB announced the penalties on Monday against the Astros for their involvement with the electronic sign stealing cheating scandal. Like New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, who sat out the 2012 NFL Season as punishment for his role in the infamous bounty scandal, I thought Hinch would have a one-year vacation and return to the dugout in 2021. Fortunately, Crane stepped up to do the right thing. Sever ties. I have no doubt Hinch is a good manager, but he allowed cheating on his watch and that’s inexcusable. Perhaps he’ll get another shot to manage one day but for now, it’s time to pay the piper.
Photo Credit: David Zalubowski, AP
On Tuesday, before MLB has completed their investigation of the Boston Red Sox for cheating allegations, the team announced they had mutually agreed to part ways with manager Alex Cora. Credit to the Red Sox for getting in front of this. Based on the MLB report, Cora was a ringleader for the electronic cheating conspiracy. Unlike Hinch, who simply knew about it and did nothing, Cora’s fingerprints were all over the ideas and actions that led to the cheating schemes. I will be very disappointed if Cora’s suspension does not exceed the one year suspension given to Hinch. Many are calling for a lifetime ban. I might not go that far but it should be for multiple years. We do not yet know the details of how he implemented his dishonest policies with the Red Sox during their championship run in 2018 but clearly Cora has brought great shame to the game of Baseball. Say what you will about Red Sox owner John Henry but like Crane, I am glad he took action against a guy who was very popular with the Boston players and fans. Singling Cora out, his actions are worse than anything Pete Rose ever did and we know that Pete received a lifetime ban. I think Rose is a miserable human being but I guess if Cora does not receive a lifetime ban, MLB should perhaps reconsider their ban on Rose. Personally, I am okay if Rose, one of the best players I’ve seen play, does not make the Hall of Fame until the year after his death, but maybe this whole electronic cheating scandal is causing me to soften on my hardline stance against Rose. Cora is clearly the worst of the two.
Photo Credit: Jim Davis, Boston Globe Staff
For a couple of days, there was speculation about whether or not New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran would retain his job. Holding the position for only two months, I am sure Beltran had been so excited to go to Spring Training with the Mets as their new manager, achieving a huge professional goal for his post-playing career. By Thursday, it was over. In another “mutual” decision, the Mets and Beltran parted ways. Some believe that Beltran could have kept his job if he had come out publicly to explain his role in the cheating scandal and to plead for contrition and absolution. As much as I had admired Beltran, the player, I felt it was impossible for Beltran to continue in a leadership role. As the only player identified in the MLB report, he was heavily involved with Cora in developing the schemes that have compromised the integrity of the game. If a manager cannot uphold trust and integrity, there’s no place in the game for him. As such, I felt Beltran had to go. I am glad the Mets reached the same conclusion even if they somewhat bungled their telephone press conference in making the announcement.The Mets will be the Mets. On one hand, you do feel bad for Beltran who was stripped of a dream of a lifetime, but on the other hand, he is responsible for his own actions.
Photo Credit: Rich Schultz, Getty Images
The biggest losers of this mess might be the Mets. The Mets organization was not an active participant in the cheating scandal like the Astros and Red Sox. During the off-season, they had a chance to get a good manager in former Yankees manager Joe Girardi who preferred to stay in New York. But for whatever reason, they opted to take a chance on the inexperienced Beltran and now they’ve paid dearly for it. I’d like to see Mets bench coach Hensley Meulens finally get his managerial opportunity but Buck Showalter would be a great choice too. While I am 100% on Team Aaron Boone now, Meulens was the guy I had wanted for Yankees manager when it was announced after the 2017 season that Girardi and the Yankees would be parting ways. In retrospect, particularly with how this off-season has played out, I am so very glad that Aaron Boone is manager of the New York Yankees. But I digress. Meulens is a great baseball man and deserves an opportunity. I think he would be very good for the Mets or any other MLB team as their leader.
While I look back at 2017 as water under the bridge at this point, I totally get the fans who feel the Houston Astros should be forced to vacate their World Series championship. At this point, there’s no way to say the Yankees or the Los Angeles Dodgers should be anointed champions. It would be very hollow at this point. I feel bad for the guys who lost chances for a legitimate championship like CC Sabathia and Clayton Kershaw. Even Todd Frazier expressed regret this week for what could have been with the 2017 Yankees. But over two years later, there’s no way to settle a debate about who should have been the champions. At the very least, MLB should have taken the championship away from the Astros since it was dishonestly achieved. I know there is not a precedent in MLB for the removal of a championship, but this is a special circumstance that showed the Astros used an unfair advantage to claim the crown.
I will be glad when MLB completes its investigation of the Red Sox and we can move on. I am hopeful MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred makes it clear that future violations will not be tolerated and will automatically result in lifetime bans. It is very important to bring the trust, confidence, and integrity back into the game. No man, no team is bigger than the sport. This has been the darkest chapter of Major League Baseball in my lifetime which is significant considering many of us lived through the era of PEDs and steroids. Baseball is better than this, and we shall overcome.
In other news, the report about the possible renaming of East 161st Street for the one block in front of Yankee Stadium to Jeter Street received some buzz this week before all hell broke loose about the cheating scandal. I am not sure what I think about this. There have been so many great Yankees. I know Derek Jeter ranks among the greatest Yankee legends but he’s not bigger than a few of the names. I also see him as the CEO of the Miami Marlins. I don’t really care to name a street after the CEO of another team regardless of what he did for us. Jeter is going into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee. His number is retired by the Yankees and he has his place in Memorial Park. It should be enough, in my opinion.
I still have my doubts that Jeter will be an unanimous selection like Mariano Rivera last year. He may be leading the vote with 100% right now, but I think the final votes will bring at least one voter opting to exclude Jeter. Sure, I get the decision to re-name River Ave after Rivera. He was the greatest closer in MLB history and the first unanimous Hall of Fame selection. However, let’s face it, Jeter was not the greatest to ever play his position. We owe him very much for the great years he gave us and what he meant to so many Yankee teams and championships, but I don’t feel that it extends to naming the street by Yankee Stadium after him. I know, I was never Jeter’s biggest fan and most of you feel that he is a God, but I simply feel the Yankees are more important than any single player. Jeter was great but today we have Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge who both have chances to chisel their names alongside the great legends who have worn pinstripes. I appreciate what they mean today and can do for the Yankees going forward. Are we going to name future streets after them when all is said and done? Where does it end? I already think the Yankees have retired too many numbers.
Outside of signing Gerrit Cole and bringing back Brett Gardner, it’s been a very quiet off-season for the Yankees. LHP Stephen Tarpley is the latest ex-Yankee after he was designated for assignment when Gardy’s deal was officially announced and subsequently dealt to the Miami Marlins for third baseman James Nelson. Nelson has had a few disappointing years in minor league ball since opening some eyes in 2017. Last year, he hit .228/.279/.296 with four homers and 36 RBIs for the Marlins’ Class-A affiliate in Jupiter, FL. He may never amount to anything but the guy is only 22. I am interested to see if the Yankee instructors can help him tap into some of the potential he showed a few years ago. It’s not like the Yankee Farm System is overflowing with great third base prospects. I’d love for Nelson to achieve success with the Yankees. The organization has certainly been good for former Marlins prospect Michael King. I’d include Domingo German but for obvious reasons, I will abstain.
Nelson was Miami’s 2017 Minor League Player of the Year but hasn’t been the same since he suffered a meniscus injury prior to the 2018 season. Nelson has ties to a former Yankee. He is the nephew of Chris Nelson who played 10 games at third base for the Yankees in May 2013.
The Yankees get credit for the first full-time woman coach when they brought in minor league hitting coach Rachel Balkovec, but the San Francisco Giants one-upped them they announced the hiring of Alyssa Nakken as the first full-time female coach at the Major League level. Nakken and Mark Hallberg, who also was promoted by the Giants to MLB assistant, will not be in the dugout during games, but they’ll assist the other coaches during pre-game and will help foster “a clubhouse culture that promotes high performance through, among other attributes, a deep sense of collaboration and team”, according to Giants manager Gabe Kapler. Congrats to Alyssa and I look forward to the day that she is in uniform during games as part of Kapler’s staff if she proves to be successful in her role.
As for former Giants player Aubrey Huff who criticized the team for Nakken’s promotion, STFU. I think this is a great step forward for MLB and I am excited to see what groundbreakers Balkovec and Nakken can do and hopefully open doors for others through their achievements.
As always, Go Yankees!
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.
And Then There Were Six…
The Yankees managerial interviews are over. According to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, there will be no further interviews nor will there be second round interviews in Tampa with the Steinbrenner family. According to sources, a clear frontrunner has emerged from the band of six although no speculation to who it might be.
As we know it, the following individuals interviewed for the job:
- Rob Thomson
- Eric Wedge
- Hensley Meulens
- Aaron Boone
- Chris Woodward
- Carlos Beltran
My personal preference remains Hensley Meulens for manager (I like his championship pedigree as part of the coaching staff for three World Series champions in San Francisco and his strong communication skills and ability to converse in multiple languages).
My choice for bench coach would either be Rob Thomson or Al Pedrique. But if Meulens does not get the job, I’d like to see either Aaron Boone or Carlos Beltran emerge as the choice.
With today’s announcement about the end of the interview process, it would seem that an announcement about the new manager is imminent. However, I am sure that there is still the small matter of ‘offer and acceptance’ before any official statements are made. Credit the Yankees for keeping this process, outside of the post-interview interviews, very mum.
I might be writing this post too soon as things could start moving very quickly for the next Yankees manager.
Player of Unique Abilities…
The MLB Owners met today (via conference call) to ratify the Posting Agreement with Nippon Professional Baseball. The agreement was met with unanimous approval. Otani is expected to be posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters later today. Once posted, teams will have three weeks to sign the two-way superstar. If he is posted today as expected, the deadline for signing will be December 22nd. Merry Christmas to us! All I want for Christmas is Otani. They are reporting that Otani is already in Los Angeles and preparing to meet with teams next week.
The Yankees made their public comment about Otani today when Brian Cashman said that Otani would be a “perfect fit” for the Yankees. However, there have been some unconfirmed reports that Otani would prefer to sign with a team that does not currently have a Japanese superstar (which seemingly would rule out the Yankees with the presence of Masahiro Tanaka). I personally think that Tanaka’s presence should be viewed as a plus to help Otani make the transition to life in the United States. After months of talking about Otani, it’s great that we are finally moving to the next phase. Cashman, in Stamford, CT for his annual rappel down the Landmark Building, said, “Obviously, he’s a player of unique abilities. I am certainly hopeful that he sees all the characteristics that the New York Yankees would have to offer.” Cash, we’re hopeful too.
Austin Romine Day…
This might not have the same impact as Shohei Otani, but the Yankees had a decision to make today on backup catcher Austin Romine. They had to decide if they would tender a 2018 contract by tonight’s 8 pm ET deadline for clubs. There had been some speculation the Yankees could non-tender the 29-year-old Romine, making him a free agent. But fear not, the Yankees have made the decision to tender 2018 contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players which includes Romine. The other no-brainer decisions were Dellin Betances, Sonny Gray, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Tommy Kahnle, Chasen Shreve, and Adam Warren.
There have been calls on this blog site for the Yankees to sign Alex Avila to back up Gary Sanchez. There’s no guarantee that Romine retains his backup job next Spring, even though he was tendered a contract today, so Avila is not out of the question. Another option, Kyle Higashioka, was hitless in 18 MLB at-bats last season and he played in only 21 minor league games due to injury. It’s anybody’s guess what he will bring in 2018 but he did hit .338 with nine dingers in his limited minors play. It would be nice if he comes to Spring Training happy and healthy, and shows that he can be the primary support for El Gary…with no offense to Romine (who, of course, has none).
One ex-Yankee has already been non-tendered today. Chase Whitley, who spent the last couple of years in Tampa, was waived by the Rays and claimed by the Atlanta Braves.
Happy Belated Birthday, Mo…
I know that Mariano Rivera pitched at an elite level into his 40’s but it was still hard to believe that Mo turned 48 years old on Wednesday. Man, I loved that guy! He was by far my favorite Yankee during the Dynasty years. We wish him a very Happy (Belated) Birthday! And, yes, we still miss that amazing right arm on the Yankee Stadium mound.
|Mariano Rivera (Credit: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images)|
The Hot Stove League has been simmering for the last month, but we are now on the edge of rapid fire. Let’s hope it brings great news for the 2018 Baby Bombers.
The First Round continues…
Brian Cashman, the general manager currently working on a handshake deal with Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner, was burning the weekend oil yesterday.
After interviewing Hensley Meulens and Aaron Boone over the previous two days, Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward was in town to meet with Cash on Saturday. I don’t know Woodward and perhaps he may be a wonderful manager one day, but I don’t think he’s the right guy for the job right now. In his post-interview comments, he talked much about what Dave Roberts did. I am less concerned about what Roberts did and more concerned about what Woodward would do. I don’t want Dave Roberts 2.0. Roberts did an outstanding job, but the new Yankees manager needs to be his own man. I know that Roberts name came up because the questions were asked about how Woodward gained insight working with the man who led the Dodgers to the doorstep of a World Series championship this year. But I really want a manager who is strong and confident in his own words and style. I thought Aaron Boone did a better job addressing the media despite the lack of any coaching experience.
It is well known the Yankees want a manager who will accept analytics and input from the front office. When Woodward was asked about analytics, he responded, “As a coach, it took the progression from Seattle to L.A. for me to understand the benefit of it.” That tells me he didn’t come to fully appreciate analytics until the last two years considering he joined the Dodgers on December 17, 2015.
Maybe I am overly negative about Woodward because I do not really know anything about him. I wasn’t in the room when he talked with Cashman, but he’s probably the least preferred (for me) of the candidates interviewed. I’d rank the candidates, based solely on those who have interviewed, in this order:
- Hensley Meulens
- Aaron Boone
- Rob Thomson
- Eric Wedge
- Chris Woodward
Here is my order for preferred bench coaches:
YANKEES BENCH COACH
- Al Pedrique
- Eric Wedge
- Rob Thomson
- Jay Bell
- A name that has not expressed interest in coaching or managing…Jorge Posada (if he did have interest, I’d move Hip-Hip-Jorge further up the list)
I feel strongly that Pedrique needs to be part of the 2018 coaching staff. He knows the young Baby Bombers better than anyone. There is no one that has the same level of relationships that he’s built with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Clint Frazier, Jordan Montgomery, Gleyber Torres, Greg Bird, Chance Adams and others. He is credited for believing in a smallish-16 year old Jose Altuve when no one else would. After many other teams, including the Yankees, passed on Altuve for being too small, Pedrique talked the Houston Astros into giving the 2017 AL MVP and World Series Champion $15,000 to sign. That might be the best $15,000 ever spent in Major League Baseball, at least in modern times. Pedrique was able to see beyond the physical size to view the talent and the heart of the player.
|Credit: Cheryl Pursell, via Pinstriped Prospects|
I had to put Posada’s name on the list. I miss the guy’s passion and intensity. When he’s on the field, there’s probably not too many guys that want to win more.
You may have different thoughts but that’s fine. No one said that we had to agree.
No word if the Yankees will continue to interview more guys before moving on to Round 2. I had expected Jerry Hairston, Jr to talk but there have not been any indications he will. Brad Ausmus has made it known that he wants to take a year off before resuming his managerial career. He was interested in the Red Sox job only because it was close to his home in Cape Cod and he grew up as a Red Sox fan. Aside from the Red Sox, Ausmus wants to devote the next year to his family. You can’t blame him for his priorities. I thought maybe the Yankees should interview Pittsburgh Pirates coach Joey Cora so that the Red Sox-Yankees Wars could be the Battle of the Cora Brothers. Okay, I am just kidding on that one. For the reasons I cite Pedrique as the preferred bench coach, I believe he should be afforded the opportunity to interview for the managing job.
We’ll see. The process continues and should gain better clarity over the next days and weeks as we move forward.
Making Room on the 40-Man…
Monday, November 20th is a big day for the Yankees. The 40-man roster of record for Rule 5 eligibility must be set by 7 pm Central Time. The Yankees had previously moved outfielder Jake Cave and reliever Nick Rumbelow to the 40-man roster, which left two spots open. With big names like Gleyber Torres, Albert Abreu and Billy McKinney, among others, that need to be protected, something has to give on the 40-man roster.
On Saturday, the first move was made when the Yankees sent Rumbelow to the Seattle Mariners for two lower level prospects…LHP J.P. Sears and RHP Juan Then. Sears, 21, was an 11th round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft. Then, 17, was an international signing for $77,500 in 2016 out of the Dominican Republic.
John Patrick Sears pitched at Class A level after his draft selection last year. A reliever, he pitched a total of 27.2 innings for two teams. In 17 games, he struck out 51 batters while walking only 12. His ERA was a combined 0.65, but he did not give up any earned runs when he moved from Short Season-A Everett to Full Season-A Clinton (10 innings of work). He is “Sonny Gray-sized”…alright, an inch taller (5’11”). According to Baseball America, he works in the 88-92 mph range with a high spin fastball and uses deception from a low delivery slot.
|Credit: Citadel Athletics|
Juan Then (man, did the ‘now and then’ jokes start popping up on Twitter) is obviously still very young (and raw). He carries high upside and projects as a mid-rotation starter. Then pitched rookie level ball in the Dominican Summer League and was 2-2, 2.64 ERA in 61.1 innings. He struck out 56 batters. His fastball sat in the 90-92 mph range, and he also worked with a couple of offspeed pitches.
It’s tough to see a Major League-ready arm depart for future hopefuls, but it is the price that must be paid when you own one of the best farm systems in baseball. The Yankees will lose quality talent through Rule 5 but moves like this help protect more players. Last year was tough when the Yankees lost young catching prospect Luis Torrens who stuck on the San Diego Padres’ roster all season. I expect this year to be no different. For Rumbelow, he’s 26 and will have a much clearer shot at making a 2018 opening day roster with an opportunity to join the Mariners bullpen already stocked with former Yankees David Phelps and James Pazos.
I wonder if Brian Cashman is working today. Stupid question, I know he is. Go Yankees!
|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.
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!
Waiting for breaking Yankees news…
We are moving into Day 3 of the GM Meetings but not much is happening in the Yankees Universe.
Managerial interviews were suspended while GM Brian Cashman participates in the Orlando, FL meetings. But we do know that Hensley Meulens, currently the bench coach for the San Francisco Giants (formerly their hitting coach in the most recent season), will be interviewed when Cashman gets back to New York. Meulens has managed Team Netherlands in the WBC Classic several times and the former Yankee has a good relationship with shortstop Didi Gregorius (both guys are from Curacao). Meulens, like Didi, speaks multiple languages. He is thought very highly of by the Giants organization and many believe that he is being groomed to eventually replace manager Bruce Bochy.
Aaron Boone is also thought to be on the candidate list but no word when he’ll interview. The latest name to be added to the list is Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward.
The interest expressed by YES broadcaster John Flaherty and the very recently retired Carlos Beltran do not appear to be gaining any traction. Among the potential candidates with no prior managerial experience, Beltran does seem to be a viable option. He wants to manage one day and his leadership was evident during his time with the Yankees. Perhaps he should take a coaching job first, but I’ve always believed that managerial experience is not necessarily a prerequisite for the right person. The Boston Red Sox took a chance on a first-time manager with Alex Cora, but they ensured that Cora had a wealth of experience when former Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was named as his bench coach. Beltran enjoys a good relationship with the New York media which is one of the requirements for the job. He wouldn’t be my first choice as manager, but I wouldn’t object if he is hired.
|Credit: Noah K Murray, USA TODAY Sports|
The word is that Cashman has not yet reached out to everyone that he wants to talk to. I still find it hard believe Cashman didn’t already have a plan when he made the decision to part ways with Joe Girardi. Girardi, by the way, showed up at the GM Meetings yesterday as part of the MLB Competition Committee. That must have been very weird for him, especially if he encountered any of the representatives for the Yankees. I am sure that he and Cashman didn’t go grab a beer together after the day’s activities were over.
I thought it was interesting that the Yankees had asked for and were denied permission to speak with Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin.
Even though a new manager has not been named, I was glad to see that the Yankees will be bringing back pitching coach Larry Rothschild for the 2018 season. I’d like to see RailRiders manager Al Pedrique on next year’s coaching staff given his strong relationships with the Baby Bombers.
|Credit: Jackie Shear, The Trentonian|
Cashman did indicate this week that the future in the outfield is Aaron Hicks and not Jacoby Ellsbury. With no apparent trade talks in play, it looks like Ellsbury will once again be Baseball’s highest paid pinch-runner. Hopefully things change and Cashman is able to use to cash to entice another team to take Ellsbury. At this point, it would be addition by subtraction even if the Yankees have to pay the freight (a bulk of the remaining monies due on Ellsbury’s contract). Cashman also stated that Gleyber Torres could make a run at the third base job next Spring. That talk leads me to believe there will be absolutely no attempt to re-sign Todd Frazier. We didn’t really expect Frazier to return but until he actually signs with another team, there’s always hope. Unfortunately, those are odds that I’d never take despite how great the Toddfather fit with the Baby Bombers.
The Yankees did have one free agent signing this week. Well, it was a minor league free agent signing that may never have an effect on the Major League roster. They signed former Phillies prospect, catcher Chace Numata, 25. The organization has lost some catching depth through free agency this off-season and of course the Yankees parted ways with the great Erik Kratz. Numata has never advanced above Double-A for the Phillies. He was selected in the 14th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. For AA-Reading this year, Numata batted .249 with 4 HRs and 28 RBIs in 84 games. Even though Numata might not ever make it to the Bronx, the Hawaiian native will play a valuable role in the development of Yankees pitching prospects in the upper levels of the farm system.
The Cincinnati Reds have signed lefty Joe Mantiply to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Mantiply spent the 2017 season with the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
Entering the off-season, my favorite managerial candidate was Dave Martinez, formerly bench coach for Joe Maddon in Chicago and my favorite general manager choice was Alex Anthopoulos, formerly an executive for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Martinez was hired by the Washington Nationals as their new manager, replacing Dusty Baker, while the Atlanta Braves this week hired Anthopoulos as their new GM (with President John Hart rumored to have a lessened voice in the organization). I had thought Anthopoulos would have been a great choice for the Yankees if they had decided to make a change. I think both guys will do very well with their new jobs.
Earlier it had been reported that the Boston Red Sox had interest in trading for Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton but it sounds as though Stanton does not want to play in Boston. The Los Angeles Dodgers are now rumored as a possible destination. The Dodgers certainly have the financial strength to absorb Stanton’s contract but the human cost to acquire him will be huge. You can be assured that Marlins CEO Derek Jeter is not going to give Stanton away. Stanton, protected by Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner, would be very scary in the Dodgers lineup. But I wouldn’t rule out the Red Sox until if/when a trade for Stanton actually happens.
How many more days until Spring Training? I’m ready. Go Yankees!
It seems weird that the Yankees season is over with
the World Series set to begin tonight.
When I was a kid growing up in Iowa, there was a cartoonist who worked
for The Des Moines Register that used to say it wasn’t an official World Series
unless the Yankees were in it. I have
always believed those words! 😉
Seriously, it is interesting that we finally have a
World Series with two teams that do not have a history of World Series success. For the Texas Rangers, they’ve never been to
the World Series, and for the Giants, they’ve never won a World Series since
they moved to San Francisco although they have made a couple of trips. Given that I live in the Bay Area and the
Giants have generally been my preferred NL team over the years, I’ll be pulling
for them tonight as they embark on Game 1 against the Rangers.
There are no active Giants players with ties to the Yankees
organization, however, the Yankees do have a presence through the coaching
staff and back office. The two most
notable individuals are GM Brian Sabean who started in the
Yankees front office working for George Steinbrenner and pitching coach Dave Righetti. I always chuckle when I think of Rags as a
pitching coach. Please don’t get me
wrong. I think he’s a terrific coach and
he was a great player, however, when he was young…before he “made it” to the
big leagues for good, he used to struggle with his control. So, he was the guy who needed such intensive
coaching and now he is the master. I
lived in Dallas for 14 years and during many of those years, Rags was the
Yankees closer. So, I have so many
memories of Rags closing out games in Arlington, Texas. So, in many ways, he’ll be returning to an
area that he is well familiar with and has enjoyed success. Hopefully, he’ll be able to pass on that
success to Tim Lincecum and company.
Some of the other names in the Giants organization
who have past connections to the Yankees:
Roberto Kelly, First Base
I remember being upset when the Yankees traded
Kelly to the Cincinnati Reds for Paul O’Neill.
Ha! I think that trade worked out
well for the Yanks. Sorry Roberto…
Hensley Meulens, Batting Coach
I remember when “Bam Bam” was a much-hyped
youngster with so much promise. He never
achieved success with the Yanks and was eventually sold to a team in Japan.
Henry Cotto, Coordinator,
Cotto was a bench player for the Yankees during the
lean years (1985 to 1987). I think of
him more as a Chicago Cub although he only played one year for them
(1984). He had an undistinguished career
but he definitely could run.
Lee Smith, Coordinator,
Lee is obviously better known for his great years
with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, but he was with the Yankees in
1993 toward the end of his career. He
was a late season pickup and did well during his short stint even though the
Yankees did not that year.
J.T. Snow, Special Assistant
Snow, the son of former Los Angeles Rams great Jack
Snow, was originally drafted by the Yankees.
But he was traded in the deal that brought Jim Abbott to New York. He had some productive years for the Angels
but he achieved his greatest success with the Giants.
Dick Tidrow, Vice President,
Tidrow is definitely one of the more notable
Yankees as he played a very prominent role in the Yankees bullpen during their
two championships in the late 70’s. As a
kid growing up, he and Sparky Lyle were the faces of the bullpen.
Fred Stanley, Director, Player
Another player from those World Championship clubs
of 1977 and 1978, “Chicken” backed up shortstop Bucky Dent and was a valued
reserve during those years.
Joe Lefebvre, Senior Adviser,
Drafted by the Yankees, he only played for the team
one year (1980) before moving on to the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia
Phillies. However, he did play a part in
helping the Yankees win the AL East Division that year. I remember 1980 as the year the Yankees won
103 games but lost to the Kansas City Royals in the play-offs resulting in the
firing of late manager Dick Howser (back when George had a very itchy trigger
finger when it came to managers).
This “prayer” was making its rounds on email
yesterday. I do not know who the author
ors, as we forgive those who home run against us. Lead us not into defeat, but help us beat the
Rangers…with the help of the Beard, the Buster and
the Dirty Dozen.
Here’s hoping the former Yankees enjoy a World
Series championship in 2010!
As for the Yankees, they are apparently negotiating
a new 3-year deal with manager Joe Girardi.
I am glad to see that they are working to resolve Girardi’s situation
quickly so they can focus on the critical needs of the team. GM Brian Cashman acted very swiftly in
announcing that pitching coach Dave Eiland would not return. I have no issues with the decision. The Yankees starting pitching underperformed
this year, and A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez were the biggest reasons
why. I also think that Phil Hughes was
capable of more than he showed down the stretch. I am not sure who’d be the best candidate to
replace Eiland. Hey, I’d love to see
Dave Righetti back in New York but unfortunately he’s not going anywhere. Hopefully, Cashman and Girardi will be very
selective about who they chose for the very important role.
I saw this morning that CC Sabathia will be having
minor knee surgery. While this procedure
does not sound serious, I hope it is not indicative of the start of future
problems associated with CC’s weight.
This does show how critical it is for the Yankees to secure another ace
for the staff. Like everyone else, I am
strongly in favor of signing free agent to be Cliff Lee, however, I am very
dismayed at the reports of the poor treatment his wife received from the
Yankees fans during the ALCS at Yankee Stadium.
That type of abuse is completely unacceptable and it is an embarrassment
to be associated with those types of Yankee “fans”. I use the term “fans” very loosely because
those idiots are very poor representation of “fans”.
Hopefully, this does not keep the Lee’s from
considering an offer to join the Yankees.
I know it will be a tough, uphill battle to sign Lee as it is, and they
certainly did not need ill-treatment by the fans to give Mrs. Lee a strong
reason for not wanting to come to New York.
I want the core Yankees to return (Derek Jeter,
Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte).
However, I do not feel that the Yankees should overpay to convince them
to stay. So, if it is time to sever
ties, I am prepared as I feel the money would be better served to help bring
younger, more talented (at this stage of their careers) to New York to help
pursue a championship in 2011. Of the
core, I think re-signing Mariano Rivera is the most vital. He is still performing at a top level,
although the Yankees would be well served to re-sign Kerry Wood if
possible. I don’t want Derek Jeter to
leave but at some point, he is going to start becoming a liability at
short. I’d rather see the team cut ties
before rather than after that happens. I
want Andy Pettitte to return, but I would not want to see high expectations
placed on him. Put him in the #4 or #5
spot in the rotation and be satisfied with the results if he decides to
return. I didn’t mention the last core
member, Jorge Posada, since he is still under contract. However, I am ready for a change at
catcher. Just like the Boston Red Sox
moved Jason Varitek to a reserve role, the Yankees should do the same with
Jorge. At 39, he is past his prime at
the catching position and now is the time for the highly heralded Jesus Montero
if he can show in spring training that he is ready for the job. If the Yankees do sign Cliff Lee, it would be
great to see Lee pitching to Montero since Montero would have been the cost of
a trade with Seattle to get Lee before they reneged and moved him to Texas.
As for the Hot Stove League rumors, I have to admit
that I am somewhat intrigued by the potential of bringing Jayson Werth to New
York to play right field. As much as I
like Nick Swisher, he is a streaky hitter and hasn’t shown the clutch bat in
October like Werth has. Of course, I
would love to have Carl Crawford in left, but I think right is a greater
need. I fully expect Brett Gardner to
continue to improve. Granted, he is no
Carl Crawford, but his speed is very disruptive on the bases and he showed a
much better ability to get on base this year.
Brian Cashman definitely has his work cut out for
him this off-season. It should be