The 2019 New York Yankees…
Happy New Year!
Well almost, a few more hours to go…
From a sports perspective, I am not sorry to see 2018 exit the Main Stage. The Yankees were the most successful of my favorite professional teams during the year, making the ALDS before bowing out to the eventual World Series champions (who shall remain nameless). My football season came to end with a thud yesterday when the Minnesota Vikings, controllers of their own destiny, could not close the deal with the Chicago Bears, losing 24-10, and allowing the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to slide into the playoffs in their place. I know, please feel free to insert your best Kirk Cousins jokes. I am sure Tommy Kahnle…and Mike Trout…are very happy today. If you are a Giants or Jets fan, I am sure that you share my misery this morning although you have much better draft position.
Nevertheless, this is a Yankees blog so let’s talk baseball.
In March 2014, the Los Angeles Angels did the right thing and signed Superstar outfielder Mike Trout to a six-year, $144.5 million contract. Trout opted to sign the extension early, thereby skipping his arbitration-eligible years which would have left him eligible for free agency this off-season to join Manny Machado and Bryce Harper in the battle for $300 million contracts. Instead, he’ll gladly accept $34.083 million per year for the next two seasons before hitting the open market after the 2020 season. I mention this not for the reason the Yankees should eyeball Trout’s future free agency, but rather they should follow suit and offer the same kind of deal to Aaron Judge, the face of the Yankees franchise.
|Photo Credit: Rolling Stone (Theo Wenner)|
I know Judge is under team control for one more year and begins the arbitration phase in 2020, but I’d like to see the Yankees take care of him. TGP’s Daniel Burch did a very nice breakdown of team salaries this weekend to show the Yankees can afford both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Honestly, I’d rather see more dollars go to Judge. Sure, I hope the Yankees can sign either Machado or Harper but they don’t need both regardless of whether or not they can afford it (they can, as Daniel so elegantly illustrated). Making Aaron Judge play for barely more than “minimum” wage is wrong. Okay, the $622,300 he made last year is far more than most of us will make in any given year, but there’s something awful in a World where Judge makes less than 3% of the annual compensation provided to the bag of dead weight otherwise known as Jacoby Ellsbury. I know it’s the way the system works but Judge has outperformed the majority of his peers and deserves better. He is already recognized as the unofficial Captain of the team by the Yankees fan base and despite adding other superstar players like Giancarlo Stanton and potentially Machado (or Harper), Judge is arguably the most popular Yankee and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Hal, PLEASE pay the man.
|Photo Credit: AP (LM Otero)|
I really thought the Yankees would have added at least one major bullpen arm by year’s end. I guess there’s still some time for it to happen but it’s not looking very promising. I thought “Waiting for Manny” would have been a great time to focus on the pen. It seems like everyone is waiting for Craig Kimbrel to sign before the relief market moves, at least at the upper echelon of arms. I expect once Kimbrel decides where he’ll spend the Summer of ‘19, the pieces will move very quickly. Hopefully the Yankees are prepared to pounce on at least one of David Robertson, Zach Britton or Adam Ottavino. I’d really hate to lose out altogether on those three. The importance of a super-bullpen cannot be understated, particularly for a starting rotation that continues to carry so many questions. Even the current “sixth man” (Jonathan Loaisiga) has health concerns. I like some of the young arms in the system but I want “tried and true” to go with Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Jonathan Holder and Chad Green. No objections to breaking camp with Stephen Tarpley but we need a strong “closer-in-waiting” as a hedge for Chapman. I know Chapman’s workout photos this winter show him in peak condition but after last season, I don’t trust his knee and pitchers, generally-speaking, are fragile.
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CBS Sports, behind writer Dayn Perry, wrote their 50 MLB predictions for 2019 a few days ago. Surprise, another writer who predicts Manny Machado will be a Yankee. Perry projects Machado to sign the third-most lucrative deal in Major League history behind the free agent contract to be given to Bryce Harper (which, eventually, when it is signed, should rate as the largest) and Giancarlo Stanton. Perry also has the Yankees winning the AL East, on a second consecutive 100-win season, over the Boston Red Sox (the defending champs are projected as a Wild Card team). He sees the Yankees taking the Fall Classic in five games over the Washington Nationals. Perry must be having visions of Pinstripes dancing in his head because he has Luis Severino winning the AL Cy Young Award and CC Sabathia reaching 250 wins and 3,000 strikeouts. Lastly, he projects Mister Underpaid (Aaron Judge) with 44 home runs. I think all of us have envisioned 2019 as “the” year. Glad to see CBS Sports has jumped on the bandwagon.
This could be (should be) the week we finally hear about Manny Machado’s long-awaited decision. Even Jim Leyritz (@therealjleyritz) tweeted this yesterday when asked about Machado: “If I was a betting man. I’d say it’s all but done. Not sure as I was with Stanton deal last year. Being able to break that news doesn’t happen every year. Lol. But from what I’ve heard. All but the signature is needed. Stay tuned. Would be a good way to ring in the New Year.”
Regardless of what happens, I hope the Yankees retain Miguel Andújar. I don’t see a trade for an elite pitcher between now and spring training. and that’s the only way I could justify moving Andújar. I think the team is better served keeping him on the roster. The guy is a hit machine and can help this team solve its RISP problem. Maybe he’s moved at the trading deadline if the team happens to have another third baseman in place with the initials of MM, but I’d really like to see what Miggy can do in Year 2 of his Bronx story. Let’s mix him in at first base and left field during spring training and see what he is capable of or if Manny decides to go to Philly or Chicago, let Andújar continue to develop at third and work to refine his defensive skills. We’d need to ensure shortstop is strong-defensively until Didi Gregorius returns but let’s quit pushing the ‘trade Andújar’ movement. The Yankees are better with him.
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I hope Brian Cashman has enjoyed his “time off”. I know, that’s just what it looks like from the outside looking in. Regardless, I hope the New Year brings a focused GM on a mission to field the best possible team when the regular season opens in a few months. We’re good but we can get so much better. Let’s not miss this opportunity. It’s time to bring a championship back to New York.
Happy New Year to you, your family and everyone! Well, everyone except the Red Sox…definitely not the Red Sox.
As always, Go Yankees!
The 2018 Old Timer’s Day Rosters are loaded…
Yankees Old Timer’s Day is always an exciting event each year. I love the introductions and watching former Yankees greats take the field to the massive cheers of the home crowd. I cannot think of another team that honors its alumni as well as the Yankees. While I am grateful for each year that allows legendary Hall of Famer Whitey Ford to return to Yankee Stadium, the name which excited me the most this year was Andy Pettitte. It’s always fun when Andy makes a brief appearance during Spring Training or shows up while the team is on the road in Houston, but nothing is going to match his presence in the Bronx wearing the famed Pinstripes and the interlocking N-Y baseball cap. It will be Andy’s first appearance at Old Timer’s Day. The two greatest lefties in Yankees history will share the same field at the same time. Sweet…
I am also excited to see fellow first-timer Jason Giambi who will gleefully be sporting a Gleyber Torres jersey for the day.
While I am not a fan of Yankees President Randy Levine, I do not appreciate the bitterness expressed by former Yankee Jim Leyritz who did not receive an invitation. Leyritz directed his anger at Levine. He took to Twitter yesterday with “Yes it’s a joke already. Randy Levine and Debbie Tymon (Yankees SVP, Marketing) have said I didn’t do enough in Yankee history to be invited. How many sliders did they hit. Lol” I am appreciative of Leyritz’s contributions to the Yankees but he was never a star nor considered a key performer. Maybe the results of the 1996 World Series would have been different if Leyritz didn’t hit the eighth-inning three-run homer in Game 4 to tie the game which the Yankees eventually won in extra innings on their way to the championship in six games. I have no problem with the Yankees’ decision to pass on an invitation to Leyritz. Professionalism and character are part of the package for the invitees.
Here is the complete list of this year’s Old Timer’s Day participants:
Jesse Barfield (RF, 1989-92 Yankees)
Ron Blomberg (DH…MLB’s first, 1B, RF, 1969-76 Yankees)
Brian Boehringer (RHP, 1995-97, 2001 Yankees)
Aaron Boone (3B, 2003 Yankees; Manager, 2018-Present)
Jim Bouton (RHP, 1962-68 Yankees)
Scott Bradley (C, 1984-85 Yankees)
Dr Bobby Brown (3B, SS, 1946-54 Yankees)
Homer Bush (2B, SS, 1997-98, 2004 Yankees)
David “Coney” Cone (RHP, 1995-2000 Yankees)
Johnny Damon (OF, 2006-09 Yankees)
Ron Davis (RHP, 1978-81 Yankees)
Russell Earl “Bucky” Dent (SS, 1977-82 Yankees)
Al Downing (LHP, 1961-69 Yankees)
Brian Doyle (2B, SS, 3B, 1978-80 Yankees)
Mariano Duncan (2B, SS, LF, 1996-97 Yankees)
John Flaherty (C, 2003-05 Yankees)
Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford, “The Chairman of the Board” (LHP, 1950-67 Yankees)
Jason Giambi (1B, DH, 2002-08 Yankees)
Ron “Gator” Guidry (LHP, 1975-88 Yankees)
Charlie Hayes (3B, 1992, 1996-97 Yankees)
Reginald Martinez “Reggie” Jackson (RF, 1977-81 Yankees)
Dion James (OF, 1992-96 Yankees)
Jay Johnstone (OF, 1978-79 Yankees)
Scott Kamieniecki (RHP, 1991-96 Yankees)
Don Larsen (RHP, 1955-59 Yankees)
Graeme Lloyd (LHP, 1996-98 Yankees)
Hector Lopez (LF, 3B, 2B, 1959-66 Yankees)
Lee Mazzilli (1B, OF, 1982 Yankees)
Ramiro Mendoza (RHP, 1996-2002, 2005 Yankees)
Gene Monahan (Trainer, 1973-2011 Yankees)
Jeff “Nellie” Nelson (RHP, 1996-2000, 2003 Yankees)
Paul “The Warrior” O’Neill (RF, 1993-2001 Yankees)
Andy Pettitte (LHP, 1995-2003, 2007-13 Yankees)
Lou “Sweet Lou” Piniella (LF, 1974-84 Yankees; Manager, 1986-87, 1988)
Willie Randolph (2B, 1976-88 Yankees; Coach, 1994-2004)
Bobby Richardson (2B, 1955-66 Yankees)
Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers (CF, 1976-79 Yankees)
Nick Swisher (RF, 1B, 2009-12 Yankees)
Frank Tepedino (LHP, 1967-1971, 1972 Yankees)
Marcus Thames (OF, 2002 Yankees; Coach, 2016 to Present, Yankees)
Roy White (LF, 1965-79 Yankees)
Elston Howard widow Arlene Howard (C, LF, 1B, 1955-66 Yankees)
Jim “Catfish” Hunter widow Helen Hunter (RHP, 1975-79 Yankees)
Alfred Manual “Billy” Martin widow Jill Martin (2B, 3B, SS, 1950-57 Yankees; Manager, 1975-78, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1988)
Thurman Munson widow Diana Munson (C, 1969-79 Yankees)
Bobby Murcer widow Kay Murcer (OF, 1965-74, 1979-83 Yankees)
The 72nd Annual Old Timer’s Day will be on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 17th prior to the Yankees scheduled game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Heck, Rays Manager Kevin Cash (C, 2009 Yankees) might want to join the festivities.
As badly as it hurt to watch the Texas Rangers make mince meat out of the Yankees pitching staff on Wednesday night, it was probably salt in the wound to watch Danny Duffy and the Kansas City Royals bullpen hold the same Rangers to five hits and two runs last night. Duffy (2-6, 6.14 ERA) took a shutout into the eighth inning. Seriously? I hope CC Sabathia was watching and taking notes.
Hats off to the Tampa Bay Rays for turning back a furious Red Sox rally to beat Boston, 6-3, yesterday. The loss reduced the Red Sox lead over the Yankees in the AL East to only one game. The Red Sox entertain the Atlanta Braves (29-19, 1st in the NL East) at Fenway Park for a three-game weekend series starting tonight. Glad to see them finally play some winning teams.
The Major League career of reliever Ryan Bollinger lasted one game without an appearance. He was returned to Double A-Trenton after sitting in the bullpen for Wednesday night’s loss in Texas. His spot will presumably be filled by Tommy Kahnle who is expected to be activated off the disabled list today. Greg Bird is also expected to return this weekend. I still think Tyler Austin will be the odd man out with a free bus ticket to Scranton, PA.
Hopefully Luis Severino gets the Yankees back on the winning track tonight against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Given that we will not see Shohei Ohtani pitch this weekend, there’s no doubt he’ll be penciled in at DH to take his shots at Yankees pitching. I am sure if he watched the Yankees-Rangers highlights, he is drooling at the prospect. I trust Sevy will set the right tone for the series.
Jim Leyritz is reporting it so it must be true…
The cold Gerrit Cole rumors began reheating last night. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, “Yankees, Pirates renewing Gerrit Cole discussions according to source”. I am not sure how or why Jim Leyritz is always ‘in the know’ (he was among the first to report the Yankees had consummated the trade for Giancarlo Stanton), but he posted the following tweet earlier this morning: “Feinsand is right on. Cole deal had been agreed on in principle at winter meetings. Just a matter of pieces. Cole side wants to get this done before New Year. Happy New Year Yankees Fans.”
|Credit: Julie Jacobson, AP|
So, regardless of whether you like this deal or not, it sounds like Gerrit Cole will soon be joining the New York Yankees. In other words, Chasen Shreve, it’s time to think about a new number.
The Cole rumors are the polar opposite of the fan reaction leading up to last summer’s acquisition of Sonny Gray. I had injury concerns about Gray but most fans, including myself, were in support of the trade for Gray despite the high cost. I personally like the idea of adding Cole, who may arguably be only the fourth best starter in the Yankees rotation. I think he would be energized by playing in front of New York fans at Yankee Stadium and the rock star status the Yankees hold with road games. I know that Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage is known as the Pitching Whisperer, but I’d really like to see what Larry Rothschild could do with Cole. The dude has premium stuff so Larry has much to work with. It’s not like we’d be bringing Jaime Garcia back to the Bronx. But many Yankees fans I know hate the idea of bringing Cole into the highly competitive AL East, particularly given his propensity to give up homers last season. Maybe it’s a big “if”, but if the Yankees could get Cole pitching closer to his ace potential, the Yankees starting pitching rotation would be one of the AL’s best.
Many fans are upset that we’ll potentially lose outfielder Clint Frazier and a top pitching prospect like Chance Adams. All things considered, I’d probably prefer to give up Adams over Justus Sheffield or Albert Abreu. But at the end of the day, I trust GM Brian Cashman and his team to make the right decisions. Cashman is rarely fleeced in a deal and I don’t think he’ll overpay in this situation. You keep hearing that the Pirates want Gleyber Torres but that’s not happening.
I don’t like Frazier-Adams for Cole alone. I think the Pirates would also need to include 2B/3B Josh Harrison for that high of a cost. Frazier-Adams for Cole-Harrison is a potential win/win for both sides in my opinion.
|Credit: Rob Carr, Getty Images|
If anything, I am a little sick that Clint Frazier has been made a redundant player because of the presence of Jacoby Ellsbury on the Yankees roster. In an ideal world, the Yankees would clear out Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to open room for the younger guys. The Yankees apparently tried to engage the San Francisco Giants in trade talks for Ellsbury but the Giants prefer other outfield options. Given the spacious outfield at AT&T Park, I think either Ellsbury or Gardner would be a good fit for the Giants. Plus, the Giants train in Scottsdale, Arizona which is close to Ellsbury’s home (an enticement to get him to waive his no-trade clause). I remain hopeful the Yankees can find a way to ship out Ellsbury despite the cash and prospects that will need to be included. Ellsbury and his contract hurt the Yankees in so many ways.
The Cole Rumors continue to be the one that will not die. Last night’s flurry of reports after days of nothing seem to indicate something could happen soon. Either way, I’d like to see the Yankees pull the trigger or move on. And under no circumstances should they be forced to overpay. There are other strong options without having to hand our list of top ten prospects to another team.
If New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon is irate about the Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, I wonder how he’ll feel if the Yankees upgrade their starting rotation too? Fred, it sucks to be you.