Sanchez had better get extra padding for that mitt…
Before the Yankees re-signed closer Aroldis Chapman, there was very little talk of what they SHOULD do. Now that Chapman is back in the fold after his brief hiatus to win a World Series championship with the Chicago Cubs, the naysayers are out in full force.
Credit: ESPN.com Illustration
For me, I am glad Chapman once again anchors the back end of the bullpen. If the Yankees had not paid him the record-setting 5 year, $86 million contract for a closer, the Miami Marlins were fully prepared to step in and pay him a million more. Like him or not, Chapman was going to get his money.
I know the current Baby Bombers Implementation Plan is in full effect and there are cheaper alternatives available. As great as Kenley Jansen is, he would have cost the Yankees their first round draft pick in the 2017 MLB Draft (then Number 17, but now Number 16 thanks to the Colorado Rockies’ signing of OF, SS, or 1B? Ian Desmond, thereby forfeiting their higher draft selection). In terms of dollars, in addition to the draft pick, Jansen would have cost nearly as much as Chapman.
Free agent and former Kansas City Royals closer Greg Holland is still available but he carries more questions as he attempts to come back from injury.
A reunion with former Yankees closer David Robertson was a possibility but the Chicago White Sox have shown they demand premium plus in trades.
Signing Chapman did not cost a draft pick or talent…only money which the Yankees have.
Chapman does carry the negative stigma of domestic violence but I do believe in second chances. He has not been convicted and by all accounts no one was seriously injured (or worse). I hope and pray it was a wake up call for Chapman. After 20 years of a Saint in the closer’s role for the Yankees, it’s unfortunate we have to deal with these issues. But give the man a chance for redemption.
I did not believe that Dellin Betances was suited for the closer’s role. My suspicions proved correct when we saw Betances stumble in September after the trades of Chapman and Andrew Miller. It may have been fatigue but I felt it was more mental. Betances is a great setup guy, perhaps one of the best in the game. Being a great bridge does not necessarily equate to being a great closer.
There is no doubt I would have preferred a reunion with Andrew Miller over Chapman but that was not going to happen. The Cleveland Indians recognize they have one of the most versatile and dependable relievers in baseball and possibly one of the most selfless guys you can ever hope to meet. But he is Cleveland property for the next few years under a very reasonable contract. If Cleveland was amenable to trading Miller, they would want no less than the premier talent they paid to acquire him. OF Clint Frazier is either first or second on any given Yankees top prospect list and P Justus Sheffield is a future mainstay in the rotation.
So regardless of the other options, I am glad that #54 found his way back to the Bronx. The trio of Tyler Clipart, Betances and Chapman may not be ‘No Runs DMC’ but they’ll be close. The Yankees still need other bullpen upgrades (I personally would like to see another reunion with the potential signing of lefty Boone Logan) but regardless of what happens, the pen will be a strength in 2017.
Next year’s going to seem like a Holliday…
After talk the Yankees would use the DH role to cycle through its position players as a form of rest, I was glad to see the Yankees make a short-term investment in former St Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday. Any way you slice it, Holliday will be a major upgrade over the now departed Alex Rodriguez. Last year, the Yankees offense was largely dependent upon two major underachievers, Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. This year, the center of the lineup features Holliday and rookie sensation Gary Sanchez. If the Yankees can get meaningful production out of new first baseman Greg Bird and right fielder Aaron Judge, this could be a very good offense.
Credit: Google Images / STL Sports View
I am still a proponent of trading Brett Gardner. I feel strongly the team needs to open up left field for other young talent and allow Holliday an occasional start. The Yankees clearly need another starter in the rotation so if Gardner can bring in a solid #5, I’m all for it.
I think P Jason Hammel would be a good signing for the rotation but if that doesn’t happen, I am hopeful GM Brian Cashman gets creative in adding another piece. I would much rather see the team’s young talent fighting for only one rotation spot; not two. I am not convinced Luis Severino can be an effective starter but we know that he can be a very effective reliever. I would rather see Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchell in swing roles, serving as the long men out of the pen. It would be much better for Luis Cessa and Chad Green to fight each other for a rotation spot than handing it to both of them.
The heavy lifting is done for the 2017 roster but the coming weeks should bring continued improvement. No major signings or trades are expected but just little tweaks to keep this team in contention while it looks ahead to brighter days in 2019. This is what Brian Cashman gets paid to do it, and so far, he’s been doing it well…
The Dawn of the Baseball Winter Meetings…
This week is always the most eventful one of the entire off-season. A flurry of activity followed by relative silence as we head into the holidays.
Credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Before the meetings start later this evening, the Yankees have already lost one option with Houston’s free agent signing of former Yankee Carlos Beltran. I had mixed feelings about his possible return to New York. He was arguably the team’s best hitter last season but he is also 40 years old. For a team that has aggressively gotten younger, adding “old” does not necessarily make sense. There is no guarantee that Beltran will be as good as last year, and it’s a near impossibility that he’d be better. Going with older veterans, I’d rather sign either Matt Holliday or Mike Napoli to a short-term deal that keeps the Yankees on the right path toward World Series contention in 2018 or 2019.
Back in the old days under George Steinbrenner, I am sure that both Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista would be Yankees by now. Of the two, I’d prefer Encarnacion but I don’t feel the Yankees should lock up huge long-term dollars for either player even if it would severely weaken the Toronto Blue Jays in the short run. In a couple of years, they’ll just be over-paid, under-producing aging veterans. We’ve seen enough of those in recent seasons.
Credit: Reuters/Ray Stubblebine
There are unofficial reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers have a deal in place with starter Rich Hill so that’s one less option on the pitching front. A deal with Jason Hammel probably makes the most sense. I like Hammel as a reliable, back of the rotation guy. He would be a good complimentary piece to Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda as the team looks to fill other pitching spots with youth. I would probably take a chance with either C.J. Wilson or Tyson Ross if given the opportunity.
It’s possible that GM Brian Cashman can uncover a quality arm via trade but it’s a virtual certainty the team won’t be involved in the Chris Sale sweepstakes. Sale alone would not make the Yankees an immediate World Series contender and he would cost the best quality of the farm system to acquire. So, the Yankees need to stay the course as they continue to add the pieces for future success.
I was disappointed to see minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson leave the organization. I am happy to see him return to the major leagues as the hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins, however, I thought he would have been a better hitting coach for the Yankees than current hitting coach Alan Cockrell or assistant hitting coach Marcus Thames. When the Yankees had dismissed Jeff Pentland last year, I was hopeful that Rowson would get the job. It was not meant to be. I think he’ll be a good addition to Paul Molitor’s staff in Minneapolis and should help former Yankee and current Twins’ co-catcher John Ryan Murphy to hit again.
I remain hopeful the Yankees re-sign pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Lindgren* as they recover from Tommy John surgery. Granted, neither pitcher will help in 2017 but I would really prefer to see them stay.
Let’s hope this week brings good news for Yankees fans…
*Several hours after this post, the Atlanta Braves announced they’ve signed Lindgren to a one year deal that will allow them to retain rights to Lindgren if they add him to their 40-man roster.
Winter is coming…
The dawn of the Winter Meetings. It’s is always one of my favorite times of the year. Last year was very quiet for the Yankees but still, so much happens in the first few days of the meetings with free agent signings and trades.
I am very relieved that the owners and the players association agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. I didn’t really expect a lockout but of course it was always a possibility until the two sides came to an agreement. I understand why the CBA issue held up the Yankees due to the luxury tax implications and uncertainty associated therewith. Now that both sides have a better understanding of the new deal, it should allow the Yankees to begin shaping the 2017 team.
I fully recognize that there will not be wholesale changes. This isn’t 2009 when the Yankees dumped a half billion dollars on top free agents. Sure, I’d love to have Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista on the team but realistically it is not going to happen. Between the two, I’d take Encarnacion but I still don’t think it will happen. The Yankees have a clear need for a solid, clutch-hitting DH but I think they’ll go with either Carlos Beltran or Matt Holliday. Staying in house is an option but that mean DH will be used as a rotation to rest the regulars.
I would love for the Yankees to find a way to move LF Brett Gardner and 3B Chase Headley but in both cases, age + contract make the players hard to move. Gardner would probably be the easier of the two to move. While the Yankees have in-house options to replace Gardner, they’d probably have to go outside to get a replacement for Headley. Miguel Andujar showed in the Arizona Fall League that he is the future at third, but his arrival is still a few years away. I’ve also seen the projections of Gleyber Torres taking over second base, pushing current second baseman Starlin Castro to third. But Torres won’t see the Bronx until late in the 2017 season or sometime in 2018. Despite the absence of immediate help at third, I am still ready to end the Chase Headley story even if he did recover from a horrendous April to have a very good season last year.
Credit: Getty Images
My wish list for this off-season still begins with closer Aroldis Chapman. I am still very hopeful that he’ll find his way back to the Bronx. Kenley Jansen would certainly be acceptable if Plan A does not materialize. I am probably warming up to the idea of a Bronx return for Mark Melancon but I think he’ll either stay in Washington or go to San Francisco. Greg Holland is also an option. I think the Yankees have to move Dellin Betances back to a key setup role where he is better suited. Mariano Rivera, he is not.
As for starting pitchers, I am not opposed to the potential signing of starter Rich Hill. He is older than I would like for a team in transition to youth, but he obviously has a quality arm and would provide rotation stability. He reminds me somewhat of Hiroki Kuroda. A consistent pitcher who can occasionally throw a gem. Not a frontline starter, but a very dependable one. As for trades, I have no idea. I’d love Tampa’s Chris Archer but I don’t think the Rays would trade inter-division and his cost would probably be too high. I liked the Arizona Diamondbacks’ acquisition of Taijuan Walker. A young pitcher who was not fulfilled his potential but the upside is still there. Those are the types of pitchers I’d try to target. I know, it does fall into the high risk, maybe high reward, possible low reward category but look where Jake Arrieta has taken the Chicago Cubs.
It was tough to see pitcher Nathan Eovaldi cut within the last couple of weeks and today’s non-tender of lefty Jacob Lindgren, both players who will miss the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. It wasn’t that long ago when Lindgren was tabbed as a can’t miss, fast-track prospect with the potential to make the major league roster the year he was drafted. Injuries have held Lindgren back, but he’s still young enough to recover for a fine professional career. I am hopeful the Yankees find a way to bring both pitchers back into the organization now that they’ve been removed from the 40-man roster.
Next week should be fun. Unlike last year, I am hopeful and optimistic that the Yankees will be active in an attempt to improve the roster and build strength around the emerging young core. We shall see…
It has been a very powerful week…
Meanwhile, back in the Bronx…
The Yankees bid farewell to World Series MVP Hideki Matsui today when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels (one year, $6 million). Clearly, if Matsui’s knees had held up, the ending would not have come like this. The Yankees will miss his clutch bat. Time and again, I can recall games where every bat was ice cold, but Godzilla still delivered the key hit to win the game. He was always in the right place at the right time against the dreaded Boston Red Sox. The Yankees haven’t fared well with Japanese players when it comes to pitchers (see Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa), however, they struck gold with a position player. Matsui arrived with much fanfare and was billed as Japan’s best player when he came to the United States. Expectations were high, and I’d say that he delivered. He was a class act and he will be missed. I am not excited that he went to a bitter rival, however, he does deserve the opportunity to show that he can be a major contributor. I wish him the best of luck in Southern California.
Paul Rodriguez/The Orange County Register
Of course, this does prove that old Yankee outfielders don’t die, they just sign with the Angels…
It was a busy day for my friend Julia. Her Red Sox announced the free agent signings of pitcher John Lackey and outfielder Mike Cameron today, and showed that GM Theo Epstein is truly a “man with a plan”. I agree with Boston’s decision to cut ties with Jason Bay and move forward with Mike Cameron. After all the reports about Bay, I’d have to say that I’d be very hesitant to sign him to a long-term deal. I am glad that the Yankees are staying out of the negotiations for Bay at this point. Let him go to the Mets. As for Lackey, I wanted the Yanks to sign him to fill the #3 spot in the rotation. Andy Pettitte did a great job last year, but I really think that he is no more than a #4 at this stage of his career. Boston does have a very impressive rotation (Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Lackey, Tim Wakefield, Dice-K, and/or Clay Buchholz). I really do not expect Buchholz to be on the Opening Roster since I feel the Sox will be successful in securing Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres for first base (sliding Kevin Youkilis to third) at a cost which will include Buchholz. So, congratulations to Julia for a very successful week. However, I will caution her that it is a long way from April 4th! Much can happen between now and then…
From my perspective, I’d take a chance on a low-risk, high reward pitcher to fill the #3 in the Yankees rotation. I like the rumors for either Ben Sheets or Justin Duchsherer. I’d probably prefer Sheets because he has the stronger pedigree and an established relationship with CC Sabathia. It’s always tough to transition from the National League to the American League, but a support system like CC would help. However, I wouldn’t be disappointed if the team pursued Duchsherer. Julia may brag about her rotation, however, I’d be okay going to battle with Sabathia, Burnett, Sheets/Duchsherer, Pettitte, and Hughes. For the record, I have switched my position on Joba Chamberlain, and I now think his return to the bullpen would be the best fit for his talent and we knew all along that Phil Hughes is a starting pitcher regardless of his bullpen success.
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
So, this brings us to left field. The latest reports have Johnny Damon expecting a $13 million per year payday. Frankly, I am losing interest in retain Damon for 2010. Mark DeRosa has been mentioned as a possibility, and I am okay with him as Damon’s replacement. I do have concerns about Nick Swisher repeating his 2009 success, or Curtis Granderson learning to hit lefties, so the Yanks would probably be seeking a corner outfield upgrade at the July trading deadline. However, in the interim, I would like the team for the first half of the season with Sheets or Duchsherer in the rotation and DeRosa in left. I would certainly like the Yankees to become players for Matt Holliday but I just don’t think it will happen.
I do wish the Yankees would give the perception (right now) of being a proactive organization doing everything possible to ensure a repeat championship in 2010 rather than one mired in financial constraints. Who knows if the reports of payroll cutting are real or just negotiating ploys, but the team needs to strike before all of the premium players are gone. I’d also re-engage Florida to see if Josh Johnson could be had at the right price…
I don’t want to dissect the Roy Halladay trade to the Phillies, but I am surprised that the Philles gave up both Cliff Lee and Kyle Drabek to secure Doc’s services. Granted, Roy Halladay is arguably the best pitcher in baseball but how could he outperform the brilliant performance given by Cliff Lee in a Phillies uniform? I know that Lee will be demanding outrageous monies at the end of his contract next year, and the Phillies felt that they needed to re-tool after relinquishing great talent like Drabek for Doc. But wow, what a rotation it would have been featuring Halladay, Lee, and Cole Hamels. Plus, J.A. Happ is still in the rotation. I’d rate this trade better for the Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays than the Phillies. I might even say the Oakland A’s emerged stronger with their acquisition of Michael Taylor for a player caught in a glut of corner infielder/DH types (Brett Wallace). As a Yankees fan, I am glad to see Halladay exit the AL East. However, it won’t be long before we hate to face Kyle Drabek…
Meanwhile, back at Yankee headquarters…
Let the trading and signings begin!…
The Yankees embarked on their 2010 off-season journey by dealing reliever Brian Bruney to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named (most likely the Nats’ first round pick in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft). Bruney has been a vital cog in the Yankees bullpen for the past few years, although there have been a few interruptions caused by injury. I am not sure what I think about this one. I have to believe that Brian Cashman has a motive for making the move. It’s been said that Cash feels that Bruney’s role can be replaced by lower cost options, however, I liked the thought of having Bruney as a safety net for the bridge to Mariano Rivera should Phil Hughes make a successful transition to the starting rotation next season. Or perhaps Cash has more grandiose plans that would keep Hughes as the Yanks’ primary setup man. Regardless, Bruney will be missed, and I wish him the best of luck in the Nation’s Capitol.
Michael Strobel/US Presswire
Okay, you could say that Bruney is not the first player to depart given the number of players who are free agents. However, none have signed with other clubs yet so Bruney is the first major departure from the 2009 Champions.
It was also announced that pitcher Andy Pettitte has decided to return in 2010. Unlike last season, Andy was very quick to make the decision to return. Of course, the team and Pettitte now have to agree on compensation so this could still be dragged out over the course of the next few weeks. I am glad to see Andy’s return as that would be preferable over a gamble that someone like Randy Wolf could have a successful transition to the Bronx. When he’s done, Andy will stand tall among the franchise’s best left-handed pitchers. He may not reach the club’s win record for a southpaw, but he’ll be in the neighborhood. If only he hadn’t left for the Houston Astros for three years…
So, the Los Angeles Angels are kicking the tires of Boston Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay. If they allow Vladimir Guerrero to depart, it would make sense that the Angels pursue someone of Bay’s caliber. If that happens, I’d have to believe that the Red Sox will become the odds-on favorite to land Matt Holliday as Bay’s replacement.
I just completed a very busy week, and it’s great to be home. Last Sunday, I attended a Kelly Clarkson concert in San Jose.
I departed the next day for business meetings in New Jersey. After the meetings, a number of my co-workers and I traveled to New York to see Rock of Ages on Broadway. It was a terrific show, and the star, former American Idol finalist Constanine Maroulis, was phenomenal.
From New York, I headed to Phoenix where I spent the weekend. I went to Sunday night’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The game was a disaster, as the Vikings fell to the Cardinals, 30-17. However, the stadium was impressive. Hopefully, Favre and Company will rebound for a strong finish to the season. Everyone’s allowed a clunker or two, right?
Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic
Arriving back in San Jose, all the nearby mountains were snow-capped, which is a very rare sight in Silicon Valley. It was a beautiful sight, and it was so good to be home!
They got it right…
The homer pick was to go with CC Sabathia for the 2009 AL Cy Young Award. However, it was clear that Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals is THE right choice. He had an incredible season. Imagine what he could have done playing for Boston or New York. The win-loss record wasn’t spectacular (16-8), however, the 2.16 ERA and 242 strikeouts were. It was a dominating season and Greinke was the class of the American League.
Of course, “dessert” for Greinke is his upcoming nuptials this weekend to former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Emily Kuchar. Okay, Zack lives in a world that I will never know…
Congrats, Zack, on a tremendous season!
I am not so sure that I like the Yankees very slow and non-reactionary approach to the early off-season. I know that GM Brian Cashman is trying to see how many dollars in his wallet, however, the team is costing themselves money by not proactively seeking to retain certain free agents like Johnny Damon.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Yankees would be wise to start talking about an extension with Derek Jeter now rather than wait until the expiration of his current contract. By waiting, it will most likely cost the team more than if they’d put forth the deal to secure Jeter’s pinstripe-only career.
Barton Silverman/The New York Times
I was really shocked to hear that the only coach signed for next season is hitting instructor Kevin Long. Even manager Joe Girardi is a lame duck with a contract set to expire after next season. Maybe it’s just me, but it would be kind of nice to have a first or third base coach.
Maybe the Yankees have a grand master plan that will work to perfection. They’ll walk off with top free agents John Lackey and Matt Holliday signed to very reasonable deals. But then again, maybe they won’t and they’ll be scrambling to retain the likes of Sergio Mitre, who’s option they declined earlier today.
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
Admittedly, I am a bigger fan of Theo Epstein’s quick-strike approach. I’d rather make the moves with swiftness and confidence. Act before your opponent has time to react. Take a chance on the sleepers. I dislike going into September of a pennant chase with Sergio Mitre as your fifth starter. I know that you can’t have an All-Star at every position, however, there are a number of low budget moves the Yanks can make to strengthen the team for its defense of the World Series championship. If he’s ready, I would like to see Austin Jackson in center, but that does mean the team needs proven production from the corners. I liked Boston’s pickup of Jeremy Hermida and I think the Yankee scouts should be doing their homework on the next breakout players. Last off-season, I would have loved to have acquired the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andre Ethier. Now, after the successful season he had in 2009, he’d be impossible to acquire. But he could have been had pre-2009. I know, I keep waiting for the next Paul O’Neill, however, those type of deals can be made.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
With the rumors of whether or not 2010 will be the final season for Dodgers manager Joe Torre, I do feel bad that he has to endure the divorce battle between Frank and Jamie McCourt. There has been talk of contract negotiations between Torre and the team so hopefully the divorce situation won’t adversely impact Torre. Ultimately, I am a fan of Don Mattingly as the next Dodgers manager, however, it should, respectively, be on Joe Torre’s terms.
If the Yankees do non-tender Chien-Ming Wang, I do hope that they move quickly to sign him to an incentive-laden deal. I still think that Wang can be the pitcher he was in 2006 and 2007. I was frustrated last season, however, he clearly was not healthy.
I’ll be headed to Arizona in a few weeks to finally see Brett Favre play as the Minnesota Vikings take on the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, AZ. I haven’t seen the Vikings play (in person) for about 20 years. The last time was against the Dallas Cowboys in Irving, Texas. The Vikings won a shoot-out in overtime, 44-38. A quick Google search tells me that it was 22 years ago on Thanksgiving Day. Hopefully, December 6th in the Sonoran Desert will be equally exciting and with the same result!
The previous week will start with a Kelly Clarkson concert (oh yeah!) and will also include a Broadway play in New York City, so here’s hoping for a GREAT week for ME! J