Filling a position of need…
Finally, there is life in the Bronx! Of course, it was only a matter of time given the needs of the team, but today was a day of large activity by the New York Yankees.
The morning was greeted with news that the Yankees had acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks, shipping starting pitcher Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers in a three-way trade. While it’s never good to relinquish young, controllable pitching talent, the price of a 4th or 5th starter (or possibly long reliever) in Greene to acquire a starting shortstop was a no-brainer.
Christian Peterson/Getty Images North America
Gregorius is not coming to the Bronx to replace Derek Jeter. He is merely the man who will be penciled into the slot created by the retirement of the future Hall of Famer. But truth be told, short looks so much better in the hands of a 25 year old than it would have with a 41 year old regardless of the achievements for the latter. Gregorius will bring good defense to an infield that needed help. He may not hit, but he’ll hit better than backup shortstop Brendan Ryan. He may be headed into the season as a platoon with Ryan (per Brian Cashman’s words earlier today), but Gregorius will have every opportunity to prove that the position is his. The Yankees are much better with his presence. Time will tell if he is a short or long term solution, but for now, he is an improvement over the speculated possibilities of Stephen Drew, Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie.
SOMEONE had to take Jeter’s spot and it may as well be Didi.
With Greene’s departure, the obvious first question is whether this will motivate the Yankees to pursue Max Scherzer. While I would love the Yankees to pursue Jon Lester, it seems almost too late in the process for the Yankees to enter the picture since it has been speculated that Lester will choose his destination next week during the Winter Meetings.
My fear is that the Boston Red Sox will soon be touting both Lester and Cole Hamels in their starting rotation which is even more reason that the Yankees need a true ace at the top of their staff. Too many questions with the other starters so Scherzer is sorely needed.
It’s Miller Time!…
In the morning, it was also reported that reliever Andrew Miller would be deciding his selection today. Later, it was announced the Yankees were his choice. I wouldn’t say that they ‘won’ the bidding since technically, they were runner-up to the Houston Astros who offered more, but Miller felt the Yankees were the better destination. Of course, it helps that Miller makes his home in Tampa so it will be a short commute to spring training.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
Miller’s signing makes the most sense if the Yankees can somehow re-sign closer David Robertson. The bullpen is so much stronger with the trio of Robertson, Dellin Betances and Miller than it is with Betances and Miller as co-closers. Given the shortcomings of the starting rotation, mastery of the 6th innings on will be crucial. I really like the thought of two powerful lefties in the pen (Miller and newcomer Justin Wilson, acquired earlier in the off-season from Pittsburgh). Of course, last year’s top draft selection, lefty reliever Jacob Lindgren is burning through the system and will be in the major league bullpen in the not so distant future. So, for a team that has struggled with finding dominant left-handed relief in recent years, they’ll soon be dealing with a position of strength. Manager Joe Girardi must be getting good night’s sleep these days.
I love the Baseball Winter Meetings. It is always my favorite time of the off-season. Of course, as a Yankees fan, my team is generally very active during the week. Last year’s flurry of acquiring Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran on the same day was such a rush. Kind of like today when the Yankees acquired Gregorius and Miller…
When they needed a manager, the Rays simply took the Cash…
Finally, the Tampa Bay Rays announced their new manager when they named former catcher Kevin Cash to the position.
I was a little surprised that the Rays are replacing perhaps baseball’s best manager with a guy who has never managed before. But Cash has been learning the craft under the watchful eye of Tito Francona in Cleveland as bullpen coach, and he brings the right amount of enthusiasm and intelligence to the position. Clearly, new Rays President Matt Silverman is trying to place his own stamp on the team. The best choice would have been to hire former Rays bench coach Dave Martinez but of course, that would have been a carryover from the Andrew Friedman-Joe Maddon regime. All things considered, I am glad that Martinez was able to slide over to the Chicago Cubs to continue his role as bench coach for Maddon.
It will be interesting to see how Cash does. It’s interesting that he can claim World Series rings with both the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Now, he’ll see those teams routinely as a member of the AL East. Hopefully, he does well and his stay in St Petersburg is long and mutually rewarding. Well so long as it doesn’t involve any AL East or World Series championships.
The next week should be interesting regardless of what happens. The Yankees have awakened from their slumber…
THE DAY AFTER THE RETURN OF THE MAN FROM TEXAS
The Yankees designed pitcher Chase Wright, 26, for assignment today to make room on the 40-man roster for Andy Pettitte. Wright is best known for giving up consecutive home runs to Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, and Jason Varitek on April 22, 2007. If that’s not enough to get DFA’d, nothing is! Seriously, I was surprised that the Yanks cut Chase Wright over Dan Giese. Granted, Giese did carve a nice niche out of the pen last year, but I think Wright has better long term potential as age is certainly a factor. I can see it now…the Yanks cut Wright after 10 days; he is quickly picked up by Boston, and returns to Yankee Stadium to throw a no-hitter for the Red Sox.
Hopefully, the Yankees will be able to get something in return for Wright, which I think they most likely will. Perhaps he will be part of a trade that involves Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher.
As we get closer to spring training, I am becoming more and more reluctant to part with either Nady or Swisher. I’d rather see them compete for the right field, and let the best Nick, errr I mean, man win.
Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner , when asked about Manny Ramirez, responded “We’re out of it”. Of course, you always have to take what Hank says with a grain of salt. I’d find the statement to be more credible if it were coming from Hal Steinbrenner. But, to Hank’s defense, he was the one in the organization who wanted Ramirez. Nevertheless, you never know if the comments are continued posturing or a statement of fact. Given the payroll and economical concerns, I do think the Yankees won’t pursue Ramirez. But then again, they are the Yankees and they play in a completely different universe.
MORE ON JOE TORRE
It is interesting to see the retractions and backpedaling by Tom Verducci and Joe Torre regarding their book, The Yankee Years. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that the book needs to be read in its full context before decisions and judgments are made. But, Torre read and re-read the book, and was comfortable with its contents. Based on David Wells book alone, you know that little snippets get leaked in advance of the book’s release so Torre had to know that anything potentially controversial would hit the streets prematurely. Verducci said that Torre was a third person author who is being treated as the first person author by the New York media. Torre allowed his name to be put on the book so he has to take full responsibility for its contents, regardless of who said what.
I think this will die down after the book’s release, but Joe has created the very media circus that he always tried to avoid. This will be a distraction in the Yankees camp, and I suspect that Joe will be asked more Yankee-related questions than Dodger ones when he reports to camp. Good timing, Joe. Hopefully, Brian Cashman is right about this incident pulling the team together, standing united with A-Rod.
Joe Girardi has probably written a note to self, “Remember to trash only the Florida Marlins and Jeffrey Loria”. Of course, the Marlins are not necessarily a guaranteed hook when writing a book so if you’re going for the dollars, aim high.
JASON VARITEK BELONGS IN BOSTON
I think Jason Varitek should accept Boston’s two year offer which includes $5 million for the first year with a second year player option of $3 million, as opposed to the one year $5 million deal. The fact is that Varitek’s offensive production is not going to improve at this point in his career, and could very well continue to erode. But, the intangibles that Varitek brings to the team justify his roster spot. As captain of the team, his leadership has been strongly evident to the players and fans, which includes opponents.
I read an interview with new Yankees catcher Kevin Cash, and his quotes are very telling.
“I’m not pro-Red Sox or pro-Jason,” Cash said. “I’m not picking sides. I just know the value of what he does in the clubhouse. That pitching staff is unbelievable. The guys they sign and the guys they develop in that organization are all talented players. I think it works both ways. I think Jason has benefited from playing with the Red Sox and having the opportunity to work with those pitchers.
“At the same time, every pitcher on that staff will tell you how vital a role he plays in their career and during each season.”
(Courtesy The Providence Journal)
Cash also mentioned how Jason goes out of his way to communicate with his pitchers, particularly when there are language barriers with someone like Daisuke Matsuzaka or Hideki Okajima. Boston will need to lean on catchers Josh Bard or George Kottaras, or perhaps still pursue a trade for someone like Miguel Montero, but Varitek needs to be there. To win, you want to beat the best, and Varitek makes the Red Sox better.
Catchers always make the best managers, so I see a future successful managerial career for Varitek if he so chooses…