The Most Boring Off-Season Ever…
It’s kind of funny to say that this has been one of the slowest Hot Stove Leagues in recent memory, especially when your team acquires the best slugger on the planet, but I can’t remember the last time the majority of the top free agents were unsigned in January.
The Yankees never figured to be big players in the free agent market, given their desire to keep the ‘Alex Rodriguez-freed’ payroll under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million for reset purposes. But then the Los Angeles Dodgers made their big salary relief trade with the Atlanta Braves which gave them the same opportunity as the Yankees to reset their luxury tax rate so you have baseball’s two biggest spenders on the sidelines.
My personal hope is that the slow free agent market leads Todd Frazier back to Pinstripes where he belongs. Of course, rumors circulated yesterday that the Yankees had been back in touch with the Baltimore Orioles about third baseman Manny Machado. I am not convinced the Orioles would trade their best player to the Yankees despite his impending free agency, but conversely, I am not sure the Yankees should give up some of their best prospects for a guy they could sign as a free agent next fall. I wouldn’t want to give the O’s the bullets to reload. But then again, if the O’s make a trade this winter, they’ll bring in quality talent from somewhere. As long as Machado is on the table, it probably keeps any potential deal with Todd Frazier on ice (no pun intended for those of you in New York and New Jersey).
Mark Prior has found his way to the Los Angeles Dodgers as their new bullpen coach, replacing Josh Bard who decided to take a seat on the Yankees bench next to new manager Aaron Boone. The Yankees’ one-time top draft pick (he didn’t sign in 1998) and former Chicago Cub was most recently the minor league pitching coordinator for his hometown San Diego Padres. Prior attempted to make the transition to a relief pitcher in the Yankees organization during the 2011 season but could never capture the potential that was once promised to him through a series of arm injuries. I hope that he finds greater success with his coaching career.
Some teams have been very active with minor league contract signings carrying training camp invitations, but until yesterday, the Yankees had been quiet. It changed when they signed former Atlanta Braves infielder Jace Peterson to a minor league deal on Friday. Peterson has a high pedigree (he was once a first-round draft selection for the San Diego Padres) but he’s never been able to hit in the Major Leagues. He found his way to the Braves for the 2015 season but underwhelmed the team as its starting second baseman that year. The career .234 hitter was released by the Braves last month when he was non-tendered in advance of arbitration. I can’t see him as more than training camp fodder and help with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, but you can never have enough competition for Major League jobs. Good luck to Peterson as he attempts to find his place with his third MLB organization. New coaches, new scenery….who knows, crazier things have happened. In a bit of irony, Peterson made his MLB debut during the 2014 season when former and now current Padres third baseman Chase Headley was placed on the DL. Peterson seems like this year’s Pete Kozma signing to me. If he could only hit, he looks like a version of Austin Romine’s brother Andrew with an ability to play multiple positions.
Jace, just a note, please don’t scratch the big guy…
|Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports|
The New York Post ran an article a couple of days ago indicating that GM Brian Cashman is prepared to go into the season with youngsters at second and third, meaning Gleyber Torres (or Tyler Wade) and Miguel Andujar. I still find it difficult to believe that the Yankees would entrust both critical positions to youth and inexperience (at the MLB level) at the same time. The Post article included Cashman’s words “if the market changes, we’re prepared to adjust” which shows that this is just a waiting game and Cashman is hoping for prices to fall.
I am excited about Gleyber Torres and the future of second base in his hands. I’ve seen so many say that he should open the season as the starting second baseman. For as much as I love the guy, the Yankees MUST delay the start of his MLB service time to pick up an additional year before he hits free agency. That only means that he’ll spend a few weeks in Moosic, PA focusing on solely the nuances of second base before hitting the main stage in the Bronx. It will be well worth the wait for so many reasons. At this point, it’s just fine-tuning but for a guy coming off Tommy John surgery, even a position player with his non-throwing arm, a few weeks in Triple A would be beneficial. In the interim, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade deserve the opportunity to keep the position warm for Torres.
|Photo Credit: Andrew Savulich-NY Post|
The guys over at NJ Advance Media for NJ.com do a great job covering the Yankees. Randy Miller posted a column today featuring a scout’s take on top Yankees prospects. It is well worth the read. As a huge fan of pitching prospect Albert Abreu, I thought the scout’s take on the young right-hander was excellent: “I love him. You’re going to like this kid. I saw him in the Fall League. He was throwing 91-97. He sat 94. He’ll show you a plus curveball at times that is tight with depth. His changeup needs some refinement, but it has a chance to be a plus pitch in the future. He’s aggressive. He gets swings and misses. He’s pretty good with a good body. And he’s a good makeup kid. His delivery gets out of whack at times and it affects his stuff. When he stays square and direct to the plate and he’s working downhill, he’s good. I give him a chance to be a No. 3 starter, a middle-of-the-rotation type guy. If everything comes, he has an outside chance to be a No. 2 starter. Based on what I’ve seen, I like him better than Chance Adams.” I know that Justus Sheffield is going to be a great Yankee, but the scout’s last line about Abreu is the very reason that I’d gladly give up Chance Adams in a trade for a proven MLB starting pitcher. I am very high on Abreu and I am excited about his future in pinstripes.
It’s such a great time to be young and a Yankee for so many of these guys. Who wants to join?…
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
It was a sad day with news of the passing of two legends…
I was saddened to hear that Hall of Famer Bob Feller had
passed away. While not unexpected, it
was still the loss for baseball’s legacy.
I was too young to have ever watched Feller pitch, but I could identify
with him having grown up in a small Iowa farming community.
His three no-hitters included one in Yankee Stadium in
Feller had the personality traits of my grandmother…cantankerous,
honest to a fault, and a complete disregard about what others may have thought
about him/her. Of the stories I heard
today, I liked the one about when he bought a new furnace at the age of
90. Apparently, he was arguing over the length
of the warranty (wanted a 15 year warranty rather than 10 years). His wife tried to reason with him by saying
that either way, the furnace was going to outlive him. Yet, Feller simply reiterated that he wanted
15 years. You gotta love his fight and
determination! It is a sad day for the
Cleveland Indians organization and an ever sadder day for the baseball
world. He’ll be missed…
Today also saw the loss of movie director/producer Blake
Edwards. He made many great movies but
for me, the most notable was the Pink Panther series with Peter Sellers. He was married to legendary actress Julie
Andrews for over 40 years. Thanks Blake
for bringing us a lifetime of great memories!
Now, back to baseball and the Yankees. Of course, not much has happened since I last
wrote. The Yankees officially announced
the signing of catcher Russell Martin to a one year deal for $4 million with
incentives. It was also disclosed that
he needs knee surgery but it is considered minor and he’ll be ready to go after
three weeks following the surgery on Monday.
Of the two up and coming Yankee prospects at catcher, I can see the
argument for Austin Romine given the greater defensive potential than super
prospect Jesus Montero. I don’t want to
see Montero traded given the power of his bat, but I am warming up to the idea
if it means bringing a #2 starter to the Yankees rotation. Romine is the son of a former Red Sox (Kevin
Romine) but he does appear that he’ll be a better catcher than Montero but
obviously won’t have similar offensive production. The wild card is catching prospect Gary
Sanchez who is not as advanced as either Romine or Montero, but is certainly as
The Yankees have two very strong pitching prospects in
Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos. I’d really
hate to see the Cliff Lee snub result in the loss of either prospect. I like Betances but I am very intrigued by
Banuelos, a lefty. I’d also like to see
Andrew Brackman succeed in pinstripes.
But, all things considered, the Yankees do have the prospects to make a
notable trade. For whom, that’s anyone’s
guess. Personally, I would prefer to
target a 25 year old who is on the verge of a breakout season rather than trade
for a 32 or 33 year old starter who has probably seen his better days. This is why Justin Masterson of the Cleveland
Indians stands out to me. As a former
Red Sox pitcher, it would be so great to see him realize major league success
in the Bronx.
Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer
Admittedly, I am not very optimistic about the Yankees
signing of onetime super prospect Mark Prior.
Now, just a body for the bullpen, he has potential but I am trying to
keep expectations low.
The Yankees are apparently working on a deal with former
Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano. I like
the move. I think that Feliciano would
be a great alternative for Boone Logan as the second lefty in the pen. I saw that the Yankees were mentioned as a
possibility for Brian Fuentes, but I just wasn’t that impressed with Fuentes
during his stays in Anaheim and Minneapolis.
I know the Yankees have long lusted after him dating back to his days in
Denver, but I’d rather go for a specialist like Feliciano.
Chris Faytok/The Star Ledger
Now that Kerry Wood is close to re-signing with the
Chicago Cubs, the Yankees do need to find a reliable setup option to Joba
Chamberlain and David Robertson. Wood
showed how great a solid and consistent setup option for closer Mariano Rivera
can be. Given the weaknesses of the
starting rotation, the Yankees need to re-create the shutdown capability that
the Tampa Bay Rays had last year with Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano.
The team is still in on former Red Sock Bill Hall, but I
fully expect him to go to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Of the remaining free agents, there is not much that
excites me. It would be great to see the
addition of someone like Rafael Soriano but all indications are the Yankees won’t
pay closer dollars for a setup specialist.
As each year passes, I do think that the Yankees need a
closer-in-waiting for Mariano Rivera as he will begin to falter at some
point. This is why I think the Yankees
need to focus on one of those great Roberto Kelly-for-Paul O’Neill type of
trades. Get the guy who is on the verge
of greatness and one who we will cheer when he takes the field for the final
time. Easier said than done, but it can
If I were to believe the press clippings, the 2011 World
Series has already been determined (Boston Red Sox versus Philadelphia
Phillies). But, sorry, I am not going to
concede. Give Brian Cashman the time he
needs to assemble the 2011 Yankees. I am
sure that we won’t be disappointed. The
YES Network and Yankee Stadium are, of course, two very big beasts to
feed. Fielding a middle division team
just won’t cut it…