|Photo Credit: Kevin C Cox, Getty Images|
Red Thunder Gets No Rest…
Now that we don’t have Gerrit Cole rumors to fuel our days, it looks like we’ll be hearing more and more about Yu Darvish until he finally signs somewhere.
John Harper of The New York Daily News floated a trade possibility this morning. In his scenario, the Yankees would send Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier to the San Francisco Giants for second baseman Joe Panik. By including Frazier, Harper figures the Yankees could get the Giants to pay $12-$13 million annually of what’s left on Ellsbury’s contract. In his line of thinking, the trade would open the pathway for the Yankees to sign Darvish so he basically views it as an Ellsbury/Frazier swap for Darvish/Panik.
|Photo Credit: Lance Iversen, USA TODAY Sports|
I am not sure that I’m crazy about the trade idea but if the Yankees were willing to send Frazier to Pittsburgh for Cole, they’d be willing to move him to bring in Yu Darvish.
If the Yankees carried a fifth outfielder on the roster to start the year (assuming Ellsbury and Frazier are dealt), it would most likely be Tyler Austin, who could back up first and the corner outfield spots, or Billy McKinney, an outfielder who did work at first base during the Arizona Fall League.
Panik’s presence would allow the Yankees to take their time with Gleyber Torres or move him to third base as once planned. A native New Yorker, Panik, 27, hit .288 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs for the Giants in 2017. He was eligible for arbitration for the first time this year and settled with the Giants last week for $3.45 million. He can be a free agent in 2021. His lefty bat would play well in Yankee Stadium.
No one is going to take Ellsbury in a straight one-for-one swap, even with boatloads of cash included. So as much as I’d hate to lose Frazier, this is probably a trade that I’d make so long as I knew that I could sign either Darvish or Alex Cobb for the starting rotation.
In an unrelated rumor, Jim Bowden is saying that the Milwaukee Brewers are interested in signing third baseman Mike Moustakas if they could trade Travis Shaw to the Braves, Mets or Yankees. I’m never too excited about adding an ex-Red Sock, but Shaw had a breakout year for the Brewers in 2017 with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs. He batted .273/.349/.513. He is a left-handed bat and will turn 28 in mid-April. Not sure what level of interest the Yankees might have, but it bears watching. It would certainly cause much angst in the Red Sox Nation.
|Photo Credit: Jim Davis, Globe Staff|
Congrats Hideki Matsui…
According to The Japan Times, former Yankee (and Yomiuri Giant) Hideki Matsui has been elected to the Japanese Hall of Fame. At 43 years and 7 months, Matsui is the youngest entrant to the Japanese HOF, eclipsing former Dodgers/Mets pitcher Hideo Nomo, who was 45 years and 4 months at the time of his election.
Before heading to the United States to join the Yankees, Matsui won three Central League home run titles (1998, 2000, and 2002) and he was MVP of the CL in 1996, 2000, and 2002.
This was Matsui’s first year on the Japanese ballot and he garnered 91.3% of the vote. He was joined by former Hanshin Tigers star Tomoaki Kanemoto and former Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara.
In his prepared statement, Matsui thanked his mentor, former Yomiuri Giants skipper Shigeo Nagashima. “Day in and day out, (Nagashima) checked my swing, and those days formed the cornerstone for me as a baseball player.”
|Photo Credit: Kyodo|
Hideki’s father, Masao, attended the announcement ceremony on his behalf. Hideki is in New York and was unable to attend.
Congratulations to the great #55 for the well-deserved honor!
Stanton and Judge who?…
Aaron Hicks caused quite a stir on Instagram this weekend when he posted a workout pic that shows he is more than capable of holding his own in the Yankees outfield. I was a little shocked when I first saw the pic and there were plenty of people who questioned whether or not it really was A-A-Ron (it is). Justin Diamond (@justindiamond) had the best tweet: “Sweet baby Jesus. @AaronHicks31 you on the juice this off-season?”…
Wow, what a football game!…
As a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, I’ve endured my share of disappointment over the years. The Vikings have found more unique ways to lose big games than any NFL team that I can think of. Well, outside of the Buffalo Bills. Yesterday’s NFC Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints was a game of atonement for me.
The Vikings jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half and I was getting congratulations from a number of friends. As a Vikings fan, I knew it was way too early to start getting excited. Plus, Drew Brees is still one of the game’s great quarterbacks. Sure enough, a couple of plays in the second half shifted the momentum to the Saints. The Vikings lost the lead and then re-captured it with less than 2 minutes to go. I was fearful that the Vikings had left too much time on the clock for Brees and Company and unfortunately I was right. Brees led the Saints to a field goal to re-capture the lead at 24-23 with 25 seconds left. Starting on their own 25 after a touchback on the kickoff, the Vikings moved to their 39 and faced a third down with 10 seconds left and no time outs. I was resigned to the agony of defeat when Vikings QB Case Keenum hit WR Stefon Diggs for a 61-yard touchdown to win the game. The Vikings won the game, 29-24. It was such an incredible feeling…something like Aaron Judge hitting a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 9th.
|Photo Credit: Pioneer Press|
I am not sure what will happen next week in Philadelphia as the Vikings take on the Eagles for the NFC Championship but I am enjoying the ride. The Eagles are the only thing that stands between the Vikings and playing this year’s Super Bowl at US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. So regardless of whether they win or lose, the Vikings are going home. I just hope it is with a game still be played.
Lastly, We Remember…
Today, we remember the late great Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Actually, he is thought of every day, but today is officially his day. He had so many great words over the course of his life, but I’ll leave this post with one: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Thank you, Dr King, for making a difference. We are a better country because of you and would have been even greater if you hadn’t been taken from us prematurely. We are forever grateful for you and your efforts to make this a better World for all of us.
Never forget MLK Jr…
Prize Fight between Betances and Levine called off…
The Yankees avoided an off-the-field fight yesterday when they signed all of their arbitration-eligible players to one-year, non-guaranteed contracts, including Dellin Betances who lost his fight at the arbitration table last year. It sparked angry (and, in my opinion, unnecessary and ridiculous) words from Yankees Team President Randy Levine. This year, Betances gets the $5 million he sought a year ago when Levine said that “five million dollars goes to elite closers, people who pitch the ninth inning and have a lot, a lot and a lot of saves.” Personally, I think Betances will rediscover the magic and will resume his role as one of the elite setup artists in baseball. He is worth the money, regardless of what Levine may think.
|Photo Credit: Anthony J Causi, New York Post|
I was glad to see the Yankees stayed a couple of dollars shy of the $29.4 million total projected by MLB Trade Rumors. Not that MLB Trade Rumors is the foremost authority, but they were fairly accurate in their projections.
Here are the actual one-year settlements for the arbitration-eligible players:
Didi Gregorius, $8.25 million
Sonny Gray, $6.5 million
Dellin Betances, $5.1 million
Adam Warren, $3.315 million
Aaron Hicks, $2.825 million
Tommy Kahnle, $1.3125 million
Austin Romine, $1.1 million
Chasen Shreve, $825,000
Total: $29.2275 million
Gregorius accepting $750,000 less than his projected amount of $9 million was the difference-maker in bringing the total for all players under $29.4 million. Gregorius has one more year of arbitration before he hits free agency. I really hope the Yankees look to lock him up on a new long-term deal next off-season rather than wait for him to hit the free market. Same with Sonny Gray.
Yu had me at…
Following the Yankees’ ‘did they or didn’t they’ make an offer to free agent pitcher Yu Darvish is funny. Earlier in the week, Michael Kay reported on his show the Yankees had offered Darvish a 7-year contract for $160 million. On Twitter, Darvish responded “They don’t give me offer yet”. Darvish subsequently clarified his position with “Sorry guys. My mistake. Actually they did make offer the numbers are not correct.”
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
Nothing against Darvish, I like the pitcher, but I wouldn’t want to devote in excess of $20 million per year to the pitcher even if the Yankees could somehow find a way to move Jacoby Ellsbury and his heavy contract or trade someone like Brett Gardner or David Robertson. Yesterday, Dodgers Nation posed a question to their fan base if they wanted the Dodgers to re-sign Darvish. The immediate reaction was negative, with many lingering feelings of disappointment and resentment over the awful World Series performance given by Darvish. Not that I feel a couple of poor (very poor) starts should define Darvish, but the October Stage is not made for everyone. It was a red flag that Darvish might not be a guy who can elevate his game when the stakes are at their highest. If money was no object, then I’d gladly be willing to accept Darvish on the team. But in the grand scheme of things for a team trying to stay under $197 million, the money is better served in other areas.
Please Keep Numbers 29 and 77 Ready…
We are now only a month away before pitchers and catchers report to training camp in Tampa, Florida. With so many free agents still available, it would seem that we’ll be playing exhibition games before some big names know what jerseys they’ll be pulling on. I continue to preach for the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier to a two-year deal to take third base and provide backup support at first for Greg Bird. Of course, I’d also trade Brett Gardner despite his leadership qualities and status as the most tenured Yankee to open up a significant role for Clint Frazier. So, my views are obviously ‘Up goes Frazier(s)’.
|Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters|
I thought we’d see more baseball activity last week than we did. Admittedly, it seems like I feel that way every week yet we continue to hear crickets. Yes, the Mets re-signed Jay Bruce but the off-season continues to move along very slowly. I don’t believe owners are guilty of collusion. I think this year has been a wakeup for owners who do not want to give extended contracts to guys and end up with ‘Jacoby Ellsbury-like’ situations on your hands. Plus, you have the added factor that MLB’s two biggest spenders are furiously trying to keep payroll under $197 million. I am hopeful the current sluggish market conditions bring quality third base help to the Yankees.
R.I.P. to a Legendary Sportcaster…
I am very sad to hear the news of the passing of retired sportscaster Keith Jackson. Growing up in the 70’s, he was the premier voice of College Football and so many other top sporting events to me. His style and grace were legendary qualities. So many times in my life I’ve said “Whoa, Nellie!”, thanks to Jackson. He passed away Friday night in the Los Angeles area, where he made his home. Farewell, Keith. May you rest in peace. Heaven has gained a tremendous Angel and we will miss you.
|Photo Credit: LA Times|
Have a great long weekend, Yankees family! Go Yankees!
The Cole Hard Truth…
I wish the Yankees would put the Gerrit Cole rumors to rest. Yesterday, it was reported that the Houston Astros had interest in Cole as a possible acquisition target. Fine, let the ‘Stros pay the high price for the talented but inconsistent starter. But no, the New York Daily News had to run a story that ‘Gerrit Cole to Yankees seems inevitable’ despite the interest from Houston.
For me, the ship has sailed. I was once enamored with the idea of adding Cole, but as time has passed, I see greater value with Jordan Montgomery in the starting rotation and guys like Clint Frazier and Chance Adams part of the organization. I would still like to see the Yankees create an opening for Frazier through the trade of either Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury (somebody take Ellsbury, please!) but Red Thunder can play a huge role on the 2018 Yankees if given the opportunity.
The Yankees have the money to add a proven third baseman and move forward to training camp with a solid starting five of Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia, and Jordan Montgomery. Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield, and Albert Abreu headline the list of talented pitching prospects that can be plugged in if necessary at some point during the season but there are other arms in the organization that can help. Chad Green was told to report to training camp as a starter. He’s certainly an option (although my preference is to keep him in the ‘pen), and Adam Warren is always on standby. Let’s keep any bullets for a trade to use in July when the team assesses its needs for the duration of the season without having to further deplete the great farm system that Cashman and Company have built.
Speaking of a proven third baseman…
I know that Todd Frazier just wants to play baseball and would like to know where he is going to spend the upcoming season. But his words to the New York Post yesterday read like a veiled plea to the Yankees. According to the Post article written by Kevin Kernan, Frazier said “It’s going to be a new, revitalized me. I want to prove that I’m worth it. I want to be prepared and be the leader I can be on the field. I know whatever team I do fit with, they’re going to get the best Todd Frazier they are ever going to have because I want to play better. I want to get my average up. I have a lot of goals set for myself. Whenever we figure out what team we are going to go with, it’s going to be a lot of fun because I’m going to get these guys going as much as I am going to get myself going.”
It’s that last sentence “…I’m going to get these guys going…” that strikes a chord with Frazier’s leadership qualities and the strong influence he plays in the clubhouse.
In the Post article, Frazier goes on to say “We’ve had contact with the Yankees, my agent, Brodie (Van Wagenen) has done a great job. I love playing for the Yankees. It was such a fun time for me. We just came up short. We had a really good squad, and they are going to be really good again.” Reading between the lines, he is clearly saying that he can help the Yankees get to the next level. Of course, the article also implies that Frazier would gladly join the New York Mets for the right opportunity, but clearly Frazier recognizes that this is a great time to be a New York Yankee.
“I would love a multi-year deal, but I am not closing the door on anything. I’m prepared for anything.” Brian Cashman, that’s a message for you.
Can Van Wagenen and Cashman find common ground to bring the Toddfather back to the Bronx? I can’t speak for others, but I would love to see it. There are no guarantees that Manny Machado will be wearing pinstripes in 2019. Josh Donaldson is on the wrong side of his prime. Granted, Frazier is only a year younger than Donaldson, but Frazier has shown that he can excel as a Yankee. I would really like to see what Todd could do with an entire season at Yankee Stadium. I remain hopeful that the Yankees can find a way to bring Frazier back.
Goodbye, Home Run Derby…
I’ve never been a Trenton Thunder game so I’ve never had the good fortune watch Derby, a 9-year-old Golden Retriever, in action retrieving baseball bats. Yesterday, the Yankees Family was greatly saddened to learn the news that Derby had died over the weekend from cancer.
The Trenton Thunder will celebrate Derby Day on Friday, January 26th, which would have been Derby’s tenth birthday. They’ll share a special tribute video and are encouraging fans to participate through social media.
Derby was the son of the late Thunder Bat Dog, Chase That Golden Thunder, who passed away from cancer in 2013. Derby’s son, Rookie, began full-time bat retrieving duties for the Thunder in 2016. So, the spirit of Derby and his father Chase will live on through Rookie at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, NJ.
Farewell, Derby. Thanks for a job well done! You’ve left a piece of yourself in the heart of the Yankees Universe.
Oakland Athletics with Pinstripes showing…
Former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders manager Al Pedrique, now first base coach for the Oakland A’s, will see a number of familiar faces in Arizona next month. Of course, he’ll see the guys involved in the Sonny Gray trade…Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian. But he’ll also see former Yankees first-round pick Slade Heathcott, who signed as a minor league free agent. Heathcott spent last year in the Giants organization. Injuries and an inability to hit with success in the upper levels of the minor leagues have plagued Heathcott, now 27. Hopefully, the clean slate in Oakland works to his advantage.
Go Yankees! Speaking of training camp, I read yesterday that Evan Longoria has already reported to the San Francisco Giants training facility in Scottsdale, AZ. Wow, baseball will be back before we know it. Pitchers and catchers have a little more than a month before they have to report to Tampa. We’ve been treated to the training videos of Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, but I am looking forward to watching these guys in action at Steinbrenner Field. Soon, young Grasshopper…
Please do not D-ROB Peter to pay Paul…
More and more people are clamoring for David Robertson to be traded to free up salary room to make a big splash to reel in Yu Darvish or Mike Moustakas (on top of the huge acquisition to add slugger Giancarlo Stanton). For the record, I am not in favor of trading D-Rob.
I get it. Robertson will cost $11.5 million for luxury tax purposes but the guy is such a huge part of the Yankees bullpen. I was so glad when the Yankees reacquired Robertson last summer. I haven’t felt that type of excitement since Andy Pettitte came back from three years in Houston. One of my favorite Yankees coming home. D-Rob carries the Andrew Miller attitude…whatever it takes. Both men value the team ahead of the individual and are willing to pitch whenever, wherever. I trust Robertson more than any other member of the bullpen to close on the days that Aroldis Chapman is not available.
Dellin Betances can be the most devastating reliever in the game, but as we’ve seen, his 6’8” frame can also get out of whack, making him very hittable. The last couple of years, he has faded down the stretch. D-Rob may not always win, but he’s a strong competitor every time he takes the mound.
I am bummed that we are in the last year of D-Rob’s contract. I am hopeful the Yankees either re-sign Robertson after the season or make a huge play to bring back Andrew Miller, who will also be a free agent after the 2018 season.
But for the 2018 season, I cannot imagine the Yankees bullpen without David Robertson.
To me, it makes more sense to trade Brett Gardner. But every pro-trade Robertson article I’ve read, talks about how invaluable Gardy is to the clubhouse. I understand those intangibles, but time and again, the Yankees have had to replace strong clubhouse leaders. Team leadership did not dry up when Derek Jeter walked out of the Stadium for the final time. If Gardy leaves, another guy (or guys) will step up to fill the void. From purely a player aspect, D-Rob is more valuable to the bullpen than Gardy is to the outfield given the plethora of other younger outfield options.
The enigma on the current roster construction is Jacoby Ellsbury and his suffocating contract. The New York Post speculates that the Yankees might have to include as much as $50 million on the contract to move Ellsbury once the current market depletes itself of better outfield options. It’s not like Ellsbury suddenly became Pablo Sandoval. He is still a good player, but he doesn’t fit on the 2018 Yankees. Hopefully GM Brian Cashman will astound us all by finding a way to move Ellsbury’s contract sooner rather than later.
This situation bears watching over the next few weeks but hopefully when the team takes the field for the 2018 season, #30 is on the Yankees roster.
|Photo Credit: MLB.com|
A familiar Foe…
The Toronto Blue Jays grabbed a potential infield option for the Yankees yesterday when they acquired former Yankee Yangervis Solarte from the San Diego Padres. Solarte lost his job at third base when the Padres reacquired Chase Headley. With an ability to play both second and third, Solarte would have been a good option for the Yankees to back the Gleyber Torres/Miguel Andujar youth movement.
|Photo Credit: Lenny Ignelzi-AP|
Mayans MC, Opening Soon at a TV near you…
In a bit of non-baseball news, I have to plug an upcoming TV series. FX announced this past week that they’ve given a 10-episode series order for Mayans MC. Mayans MC, a spin-off of the highly successful Sons of Anarchy, is “set in a post-Jax Teller world, where EZ Reyes (JD Pardo), fresh out of prison, is a prospect in the Mayan MC charter on the Cali/Mexi border. Now EZ must carve out his new outlaw identity in a town where he once was the golden boy who had the American Dream within his grasp.” The new series, which is set to premiere either this summer or late fall, is co-created by Kurt Sutter and Elgin James. The show will feature an almost all-Latino cast. Sons of Anarchy star Emilio Rivera (reprising the role of Mayans MC President Marcus Alvarez) headlines the strong cast that also features Pardo and Edward James Olmos.
I am very excited about the potential of the new TV series, and look forward to Sutter’s latest vision. Also, hats off to Glendale Harley-Davidson of Glendale, CA. They have been instrumental in helping the cast members of the new show. I bought my own Harley at Glendale H-D a few years ago and I very proud of this dealership.
Steinbrenner Field, Opening Sooner…
In theory, the upcoming week should bring more baseball news to the table. The holidays are over, and training camps open in a little more than a month. I expect to see in increase in free agents signings which should loosen up the trade market. It’s been 20 years since the Yankees won 125 games enroute to the 1998 World Series championship. I am not saying that the 2018 team will be as great, but this team has the potential to be something special if Brian Cashman continues to make the right moves. It’s time to bring the championship back to the Bronx!
Welcome to the New Year, Yankees Family!
2017 and falling one game short of the World Series is a distant memory. We’ve turned the page, and it is time to look onward and upward. To each of you, I wish a most joyous and highly successful New Year, both personally and professionally, and it’s one, for all os us, that I hope consummates in the 28th World Championship for the New York Yankees.
|Credit: Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images|
As we head into the New Year, I am not quite sure why the Yu Darvish rumors persist. I don’t have anything against Darvish. I’ve long liked the pitcher, but I don’t see how he fits. The Yankees may like Darvish but it doesn’t mean that they should sign him. Earlier in the off-season, MLB Trade Rumors projected the next Darvish contract at 6 years and $160 million. While prices will begin to drop for the stagnant free agent market, I’d be surprised if Darvish gets anything less than $20 million per year. That figure alone would take the Yankees past the $197 million luxury tax threshold.
There’s speculation that the Yankees could move Jacoby Ellsbury to make some room, but you and I both know that the Yankees have to pay a huge chunk of that onerous contract to get any team to bite. And, oh yeah, there’s the little issue that you need Ellsbury’s consent too. Even if the Yankees could move Ellsbury and pick up, say, $10 million in annual salary relief, it wouldn’t make sense to sign Darvish as it would leave very little room for experienced quality infield help and potential trading deadline moves.
So, let’s kill any talk of Yu Darvish. There’s no chance he’ll show up in Pinstripes.
Same for the Gerrit Cole rumors. The Pittsburgh Pirates know what the Yankees are willing to offer and there has been no deal. The Yankees are not going to sweeten the pot beyond the rumored names. Those talks appear to be dead and I do not see any chance of resuscitation.
At this point, starting pitching is not really a need. Sure, there are questions about the rotation but name a team that doesn’t have questions with at least one starter. The odd man out if the Yankees were to acquire another starting pitcher would be Jordan Montgomery. To me, the only real reason that you’d make a trade is if you have the belief that this is the year the UCL tear in Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow will finally require Tommy John surgery. CC Sabathia surely won’t make all of his 2018 starts but with guys like Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield and Albert Abreu waiting in the wings, there is hope and promise on the horizon. While I’d hate to lose Chad Green out of the bullpen, the Yankees have told him to come to Spring Training as a starter. So, when in need of spot starts, Green and Adam Warren are more than capable of the challenge.
The Yankees can reassess their starting pitching needs in July and make decisions accordingly. No Cole. No Darvish. Let’s move on.
I remain very hopeful the Yankees can move Jacoby Ellsbury (please!). The real question is how much of the contract the Yankees have to absorb to make it happen and how much prospect talent they need to include. In reality, no team will make a trade for Ellsbury as long as the free agent market continues to offer guys like Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Gomez, and Austin Jackson. Ellsbury may be better than all except for Cain, but it will take an environment of desperation for teams in need of a quality centerfielder to act on a possible Ellsbury trade.
If the Yankees believe strongly that Miguel Andujar can be the answer at third base, they should make a lower level free agent signing for someone like Eduardo Nunez to ease the transition. I’ve said that I wouldn’t want rookies on both sides of Didi Gregorius but the Yankees have Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes to hold down second until Gleyber Torres is ready. Realistically, the Yankees will start Torres at Triple A for at least 20 service days to push his free agency back a year. That’s a move that they have to make for the long-term best interests of the organization. While Wade/Torreyes man second base, it would be helpful to have a veteran covering third or at least provide support for Andujar.
With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Tampa by February 13th, there’s not really much left to be done for GM Brian Cashman. With the holiday season behind us, the coming weeks will be about finding value and bargains. I still expect the addition of a veteran third baseman but nothing major. I am resigned to the fact that we won’t see the return of the Toddfather nor will we be celebrating Moose Tacos in the Bronx. Nevertheless, I am confident that whomever runs out to third base at the start of the game at 3:37 pm EDT on Thursday, March 29th at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada will be the right decision.
Here is the MLB Network’s projected Yankees lineup:
Brett Gardner, LF
Aaron Judge, RF
Giancarlo Stanton, DH
Greg Bird, 1B
Gary Sanchez, C
Didi Gregorius, SS
Aaron Hicks, CF
Miguel Andujar, 3B
Ronald Torreyes, 2B
Personally, I kind of like putting Bird between Judge and Stanton to break up the righties, but that’s for Aaron Boone to decide, not me. The above lineup, with or without experienced help at third, is very solid…particularly once the Gleyber Show arrives.
|Credit: Andrew Savulich, New York Daily News|
It’s going to be a great New Year in the Bronx! I am excited and look forward to the upcoming season, and hold strong dreams of a victorious October. Let’s stain those Pinstripes with the Bubbly!
The Holiday Season Slowdown…
As the final days of 2017 burn away, there’s not much happening in the Yankees Universe…at the moment. Granted, this has been one of the quieter off-seasons for all MLB teams with so many unsigned free agents. I know, we already got our shiny new toy (Giancarlo Stanton) but there is still work to be done.
|Credit: Stan Grossfield, Boston Globe|
The Yankees finally announced the one-year, $10 million deal for CC Sabathia this week. Realistically, I am expecting some regression from Sabathia at this point (it would be hard to replicate last year’s statistics considering he turns 38 in late July), but he means so much to the clubhouse. I always thought Mike Mussina finishing his career with a 20-win season was the best way to go (short of winning a World Series championship). I doubt Sabathia’s knee will allow him the former but he certainly has a shot at the latter. The value of veteran leadership is understated. I don’t think Matt Holliday gets enough credit for his “behind-the-scenes” work with Aaron Judge last season. With new coaches on board, Sabathia brings a wealth of consistency and mentorship that would otherwise be missing. I am not trying to sell the other team veterans short, but Sabathia has been such a leader in the clubhouse and a guy that the team loves. I am glad to see him back in Pinstripes.
Speaking of Mussina, I think it is a travesty that he currently trails Roger Clemens in the Hall of Fame voting. According to MLB Network, with 27.9% of the votes completed, Clemens currently has 71.6% (75% is needed for induction into the Hall of Fame). Mussina trails Clemens by nearly a percentage point (70.7%). Granted, Clemens has the better stats but he also cheated. Moose played the game cleanly and spent his entire career in the highly charged AL East. I feel that Moose deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame ahead of Clemens. It’s inevitable that Clemens and other Steroid-users like Barry Bonds will eventually make the Hall but I’d prefer that it takes a few more years.
Brendan Kuty of NJ.com is reporting that a reunion between the Yankees and third baseman Todd Frazier is unlikely. With the Sabathia signing, the projected Yankees payroll currently stands at $178 million. Frazier made $12 million in 2017. The Yankees still desire to add a cost-controlled pitcher and need room for trading deadline additions and roster call-ups. This is where the pain of Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract really hurts. I remain hopeful that the Yankees can move Ellsbury. One writer recently suggested that the Yankees pay all but $15 million still owed to Ellsbury (which equates to nearly $53.5 million including $5 million buyout in 2022). The writer (I do not recall who) correctly stated that Ellsbury, still a good player, should be worth at least $5 million per year for another team. He doesn’t steal as many bases as he used to and he’s always an injury risk whenever he takes the field, but if healthy, he can help a team. Of course it has to be a team that he’d waive his no-trade clause for. I keep watching the San Francisco Giants and hoping their efforts to acquire Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton fail. An additional $5 million for payroll would certainly help the Yankees achieve their objective of adding another pitcher while bringing in quality veteran talent at third. I remain hopeful the Yankees can find a way to bring Frazier back but the optimism has faded.
While the Yankees are the early favorites to sign 2018 free agent-to-be Manny Machado, there is no certainty that he will sign with the team. As such, I think a two-year offer for Frazier makes sense if the Yankees can find the payroll room to stay under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million. If the Yankees do sign Machado next year, Frazier is still a valuable roster component, especially if he can play more first base during the upcoming season. If the Chicago Cubs or St Louis Cardinals make a trade with the Baltimore Orioles for Machado, there’s a good chance one of those teams could entice Machado to sign a long-term deal. The cost to acquire Machado, even with just one year left on his contract, will be high so any team parting with the level of talent necessary to acquire the premium player will make every attempt to lock up Machado. Pulling the trigger on such a deal would indicate some willingness or optimism on the receiving team’s part that they could sign Machado. There is no guarantee that Miguel Andujar will be successful at the Major League level or defensively-speaking, that he is even ready. With youth at second base (should Gleyber Torres win the job as expected), I feel that it is too risky to have MLB inexperience at third base too for a team with heightened expectations.
More Cash for Cash…
By now, we all know that GM Brian Cashman has received a 5-year extension worth approximately $25 million. Even the most fervent Cashman critics have acknowledged the good job that Cash has done to rebuild the Yankees farm system. If I owned the team, I would re-structure the front office to model the Chicago Cubs arrangement with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Under that structure, Cashman would become President, Baseball Operations. Randy Levine’s title (President) would be realigned to show his status on the business side of Operations. Actually, he wouldn’t have a job if I owned the team, but I guess that’s another matter. With Cashman’s promotion, I would appoint Tim Naehring as Executive Vice President, General Manager. Naehring would get the job since he is currently viewed as Cashman’s right-hand man although an argument could certainly be made for either Jean Afterman or Damon Oppenheimer.
I hate seeing good people like Billy Eppler and Gary Denbo leave the organization for “better” opportunities and feel that there are ways to reward current Cashman underlings.
2017 Pinstripe Bowl Champions…
Congratulations to the Iowa Hawkeyes for their 27-20 victory over Boston College in the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium yesterday. I have been a lifelong fan of the University of Iowa (perhaps even longer than I’ve been a Yankees fan which dates back to my childhood). It was weird seeing a football field placed in the middle of Yankee Stadium, but for my Hawkeyes, it was their first bowl win since 2010. The Hawkeyes finished 8-5 this year, however, it did include a victory over Ohio State which was the highlight of the season for me.
I can’t really think of a better way to end the year than for one of my favorite teams to win within the confines of the home of my favorite MLB team. Beating Boston was a bonus. Nice job, Hawkeyes!
|Credit: Bryon Houlgrave, The Register|
Now that the Hawkeyes have won their bowl game on hallowed grounds, it is time to bring back the baseball diamond to Yankee Stadium.
I can’t believe the calendar page is getting ready to turn to 2018 but the new year brings great hope and optimism for Yankees fans. I am ready for training camp. We’re only about a month and a half away before pitchers and catchers report. Tampa will soon be rocking with excitement! Now batting, Number 27 (sorry, this never gets old)…
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…
Most families are preparing for Christmas and the Holiday Season, and I am sure that the Yankees family is no different. The likelihood of any major Yankees news over the next few days is about as realistic as Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos graciously handing Manny Machado over to the Yankees. In other words, it is going to be very quiet as we try on our new Giancarlo Stanton jerseys.
I admit it. I reacted like a lemming to all of the rumors that percolated on Thursday night about renewed talks between the Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates about starting pitcher Gerrit Cole. It turned out to be nothing, and it would appear the Pirates are still trying to aim high (too high) with their asking price. I’ve seen suggestions of OF Clint Frazier, 2B/SS Tyler Wade, 3B Miguel Andujar, and LHP Jordan Montgomery for Cole. That’s ridiculous and not something that should be considered. To me, that’s akin to asking for Yankees soon-to-be starting second baseman Gleyber Torres. I strongly believe the latest Cole rumors had their origin in the Pirates camp as the Pirates attempt to gain some leverage in talks. It’s not like GM Brian Cashman or his team to leak proposed trade details. Of course, it could also just be the Red Sox Nation trolling Yankees fans.
At this point, I am so tired of the Cole rumors that I wish the Yankees would either pull the trigger (but not to the point they overpay) or walk away. There are things that I like about Cole but conversely I recognize the faults of a pitcher that has never lived up to his potential. We did not like it during the stretch last year when Masahiro Tanaka was serving up batting practice during games and it wouldn’t be well received to watch Cole as a gopher ball pitcher in Yankee Stadium. Cashman should give Pirates GM Neal Huntington a ‘take it or leave it’ offer (perhaps throwing in Austin Romine for no other reason than the Pirates seem to like our catchers, ala Francisco Cervelli and previously Russell Martin and Chris Stewart) and be prepared to move on if Huntington responds negatively. I’ve felt all along that a package of Clint Frazier and Chance Adams is very, very fair, but many argue that’s too much. Anything more, for Cole alone, is too much.
I’ve wondered what the Yankees will do with their international bonus money that was accumulated for a failed run at Japanese superstar Shohei Otani. The Yankees didn’t sign any of the top international prospects that were recently released by the Atlanta Braves as part of their punishment by MLB so the obvious choices were the remaining unsigned players on Baseball America’s ranking of top international prospects, most notably tenth-ranked outfielder Raimfer Salinas, 16, and fifteenth-ranked catcher Antonio Cabello, 17. Sure enough, the two Venezuelan players have been signed by the Yankees according to Baseball America. The signings give the Yankees a total of five of the top 20 international players as ranked in the 2017 signing period. The Yankees had previously signed fifth-ranked OF Everson Pereira, eleventh-ranked SS Ronny Rojas and twentieth-ranked SS Robinson Chirinos. We’ll soon learn more about Salinas and Cabello in future editions of Meet a Prospect by TGP’s own Daniel Burch I am sure, but for now, welcome to the Yankees family, Raimfer and Antonio!
Speaking of prospects, I was saddened to see the departure of Dante Bichette, Jr. He had six years to progress through the Yankees farm system, but the third baseman, 25, was unable to advance past Double A. If he had been able to develop into a Major League player, his timing would have been perfect to take over third base for the Yankees next season. But alas, it was not to be. Young Dante became a minor league free agent in November and has signed with the Colorado Rockies, the team his father once starred for. The Bichette family is very close to former Yankees manager Joe Girardi and young Dante grew up calling him “Uncle Joe”. Girardi named his own son Dante after the elder Bichette. I wish Dante Jr the best as he tries to achieve his elusive MLB dream in the Mile High City.
|Credit: Martin Griff|
For every Yankees blogger (myself included) that suggests the Yankees should find a way to unload Jacoby on the San Francisco Giants, there’s a Giants blogger writing why Ellsbury would be a very bad fit for the Giants. Bottom line, the Giants want no part of Ells. I hate it, but I think we’re stuck with #22 for the long haul. The biggest waste of a roster spot in my opinion. At some point, the Yankees will choose to cut bait but that’s probably not this off-season. I keeping hoping for a Christmas Miracle that takes Ellsbury away but I think I’ll be disappointed with that one.
I was listening to MLB Network’s interview yesterday with former Marlins second baseman and now Mariners center fielder Dee Gordon. He was asked if he had spoken with the other recently traded Marlins (Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna). We know that Stanton is now the big slugger in the lineup of big sluggers, while Ozuna went to the organization that holds the most World Series titles not named the Yankees, the St Louis Cardinals. The reactions conveyed by Gordon were very different. While Ozuna was saddened by the trade (despite the fact that he is going to a storied franchise with a long-standing history of baseball tradition), “G” is excited and ready to get after it. I love it. I can’t wait to watch Stanton in spring training wearing the perfect shade of blue.