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Is No News Good News?…
It’s been very quiet in the Yankees Universe this week. By all accounts, the Yankees’ talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates for starter Gerrit Cole have cooled. Rightfully so if the Pirates are continuing to ask for top prospects in return. The Cole rumors have been like the Yankees long-standing desire for Oakland’s Sonny Gray that was finally consummated last summer. Rumors that stick around for years until they may or may not happen. At this point, I don’t see a trade for Cole but of course things could change if the Pirates lower their demands.
How does the saying go? Sometimes the best trade is the trade never made.
This week, a few sources were indicating the Yankees have interest in free agent Yu Darvish. I’ve liked Darvish for a long time but of course he bombed in the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers when he was tipping his pitches. There’s also no way the Yankees can fit him into the budget unless they move other salary (i.e., Jacoby Ellsbury). I don’t see Darvish coming to the Bronx. I thought it was interesting that the Houston Astros talked to Darvish since they used him as a punching bag on their way to a World Series championship. But trying to fit a Darvish contract into Team Hal’s budget would sacrifice greater areas of need on the team and would potentially limit what the Yankees could do next July at the tradling deadline.
There doesn’t seem to be any movement with talks about Arizona’s Patrick Corbin or Detroit’s Michael Fulmer. Fulmer would be the ideal candidate but he’s cost-prohibitive if the Tigers continue to ask for a ‘Chris Sale’ type of return.
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Chris Archer continues to show up on lists as a possible target for the Yankees. I’d certainly be happy with Archer but getting the Rays to trade within the division is probably comparable to trying to get the Orioles to trade Manny Machado to the Yankees. Okay, that might not be the right comparison because I think the hatred of O’s owner Peter Angelos toward the Yankees probably runs a little deeper than other clubs. If we bring up names within the division, it should include Toronto’s Marcus Stroman. I love Stroman and I think the native New Yorker would be an ideal fit in the Bronx. Stroman, 26, is in his second year of arbitration and is projected to make $7.2 million this year (he made $3.4 million in 2017). He won’t be a free agent until the 2021 season. As he gets more expensive, the Blue Jays will probably be more motivated to move the player, especially since they are entering a rebuild phase and need more young talent. Stroman would fit into the chemistry of the Yankees and showed good rapport with Aaron Judge through tweets last fall. But as long as the Blue Jays think they have a shot for a Wild Card, they won’t trade Stroman. I watch Josh Donaldson as the barometer. As long as the Blue Jays keep the 2018 free agent-to-be on the roster, they refuse to admit rebuild. But once he goes, the environment might be right to grab Stroman who would be worth the high cost.
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I was glad to see the Tampa Bay Rays trade third baseman Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants yesterday. Longoria has long been a Yankees killer (seemingly coming up with key hits at the worst moments for the Pinstripers), but Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues was quick to point out that Longoria batted .231/.290/.375 against the Yankees over the past three seasons. As Axisa noted, Longoria is a declining player signed for big money so his departure probably hurts rather than helps the Yankees in the AL East. I think Longoria will be rejuvenated in San Francisco (playing in a packed AT&T Park is substantially different than playing in the sparse Tropicana Field). The Longoria trade removes another third base suitor which indirectly helps the Yankees as it removes options for free agents Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier (hopefully driving down their asking prices to the point that the Yankees are able to sign one of the players). Sentimentally, I’d prefer Frazier but the Moose Tacos bat is better.
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The AL East took a different look yesterday with the Longoria trade and the announcement that Orioles closer Zach Britton had torn his achilles tendon in an off-season workout (he will most likely miss the first 4-6 weeks of the season). If the O’s are successful in trading Machado out of the division, it will be an indication that they are ready to move into rebuild phase. The latest AL East moves continue to show further separation between the Yankees and Red Sox and the rest of the division.
Back to Ellsbury, I would love to see the Yankees trade the aging, overpaid, under-performing outfielder. His presence prevents the Yankees from aggressively improving other areas of the team. I laugh when I see some of the “Ellsbury for (Player X)” suggestions, which are at times ridiculous. Ellsbury for Madison Bumgarner…yeah, right. Personally, I’d be happy with Ellsbury’s departure for no return. It is just a matter of how much money (and potentially prospects) the Yankees have package with him to get another team to bite. The Yankees either need to make room for Clint Frazier or trade him. He has nothing left to prove in the Minor Leagues.
The free agent market has been slow to develop this year, but things seem to be breaking. Cleveland’s Carlos Santana signed with the Phillies earlier in the week, and Cleveland countered by signing the Mariners’ Yonder Alonso to be their new first baseman. Up to this point, the free agent signings have primarily been directed at bullpen relief.
The Yankees are running out of time to make some noise before Christmas. I expect next week to be very quiet so if the Yankees do nothing this week, there probably won’t be any activity until January. On the bright side, we are moving closer to Spring Training. I have already bought my Giancarlo Stanton jersey so I am ready.
Waiting for Santa Claus in the Yankees Universe…
My thoughts that this could be a busy week took a hit yesterday when it was very quiet in the Yankees Universe and around baseball.
One of The Greedy Pinstripes co-owners (Bryan Van Dusen) took it as an opportunity to make a compelling argument for the acquisition of Danny Duffy of the Kansas City Royals. I personally do not feel that the Kansas City Royals will trade Duffy. The organization actually received somewhat good news on Monday when the Boston Red Sox re-signed first baseman Mitch Moreland to a two-year, $13 million deal. The signing presumably removes the Red Sox from the first base market (they had been rumored as the favored destination for Royals free agent Eric Hosmer). There is now actually optimism in Kansas City that the Royals could re-sign Hosmer. The San Diego Padres have been mentioned as a possibility for Hosmer but they would have to move Wil Myers back to the outfield (defensively-speaking, Myers has been better at first than in the outfield) and they’d give up a second round draft pick as compensation since Hosmer received a qualifying offer from the Royals. The New York Mets and the St Louis Cardinals remain possibilities for Hosmer too, but if the Royals are successful in bringing Hosmer back to KC, they are not going to “tank it” for a major rebuild. This means they are not going to give up one of their best young pitchers in Duffy who is under team control for the next four years. Duffy is also on record saying “Bury me a Royal” on Twitter in response to trade rumors. There’s no reason for the Royals to trade Duffy at the moment. Once they do trade Duffy, if they do, it will be a signal the team is ready to lose for the short term. I don’t think they are at that point yet so I don’t see Duffy as a present alternative for the Yankees.
The other TGP owner, Daniel Burch, has repeatedly said that the longer trade rumors persist about the Yankees acquiring Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the less likely it will actually happen. I agree with that assessment as GM Brian Cashman has a reputation for striking quickly in stealth mode. Hence, the Ninja reputation.
Michael Fulmer does not presently appear to be an option since the Detroit Tigers are not motivated to make a deal. I am sure that every call between Tigers GM Al Avila and Cashman begins with “Are you ready to deal Gleyber Torres?” which abruptly ends the conversation.
So, at the moment, the frontrunner for rotation help appears to be Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The D-Backs would love to re-sign outfielder J.D. Martinez (who remains the primary target for the Red Sox) but they would need to move some salary to make it happen. It’s funny how every Yankees move is somehow tied to the Red Sox. Corbin is arbitration eligible for his final year before free agency. He will get more expensive so now is the time for the D-Backs to make a move to ensure they do not lose the pitcher for nothing next off-season. He made a hair under $4 million last season. The D-Backs have a number of arbitration eligible players this off-season so moving Corbin would help control escalating costs while bringing back quality prospects. Corbin was terrific after the All-Star Break last year when he went 8-4 with a 3.26 ERA in his final 15 starts. MLB Trade Rumors is projecting that Corbin’s 2018 salary will be $8.3 million. The 28-year-old lefty would certainly represent an upgrade for the Yankees rotation and the cost shouldn’t involve the team’s best prospects. 2B/3B Brandon Drury has been frequently mentioned with Corbin’s name and he’d provide some help for the Yankees at those positions. Drury made $559,300 last season and is not arbitration eligible until 2019. The 25-year-old righty hit .267 with 13 HR and 63 RBI in 445 AB’s in 2017.
However, this trade rumor has been hanging out there since the Baseball Winter Meetings so the “Burch Rule” is probably in play (less likely to happen with each passing day).
As for third base options, I keep hoping that the Yankees can find a way to bring back Todd Frazier. A one-year contract with an option for one or two more years seems like the best team fit, but the player may feel that he can get more years elsewhere. Buster Olney floated the idea on Twitter yesterday that the Yankees would be a great fit for Mike Moustakas on a one-year deal which of course was met with laughter that Moose Tacos would actually accept one year (his agent is Scott Boras after all). But in theory, I love the idea for the player to build more value in the stacked Yankees lineup and an opportunity to exploit the right field porch before hitting the free agent market next off-season. It will never happen but it’s fun to think about.
Last Star out of Miami, Please Turn Out the Lights…
I feel bad for Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly who remains one of my favorite people in baseball. After the Giancarlo Stanton trade, he publicly made comments about his excitement for the youth movement in Miami. The Marlins have since traded Marcell Ozuna to the St Louis Cardinals and a couple of their remaining young stars (Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto) have expressed desires to leave. Mattingly will soon be fielding a team of minor leaguers at the Major League level. He deserves better. It’s a tough situation for the former Yankees captain regardless of the smile and positive words that he gives publicly.
|Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post|
Well, let’s see what today brings. Go Yankees!
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The Yankees and the Red Sox rekindle Baseball’s best rivalry tonight. The Yankees begin play two games ahead of the Red Sox in the division standings. Boston, the pre-season favorite to the win the AL East, has slowly been moving up the standings. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and have won two in a row.
The Red Sox are currently without the services of the gutsy Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia is on the DL with a left wrist sprain. He is not eligible to be activated until Friday. Boston is also without starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez as he went on the DL over the weekend with right knee subluxation (partial dislocation).
The Yankees will miss Chris Sale, who was the starter on Sunday in Boston’s 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles, this series. Boston’s talented young left-fielder Andrew Benintendi is starting to heat up. He had two home runs on Sunday to back Sale. He is currently batting .269/.342/.413 and has 7 HR and 30 RBI. He is second on the team with 8 stolen bases.
Credit: David Goldman-Associated Press
Jackie Bradley, Jr, after a horrific start is also coming around. Batting .269 with 7 HR and 24 RBI, he has a home run and 6 RBI’s in the last four games (5-for-13).
As Yankees manager Joe Girardi said over the weekend, it’s one big series after another right now. If the Yankees intend to be players in the AL East for the long haul this season, they need to make a statement. Since they’ve begun this rugged 13 consecutive game stretch against AL East opponents, the Yankees are 3-4. With the next 6 games at home against the Red Sox and Orioles, the Yankees can help themselves…or not.
The scheduled pitching match-ups for the Red Sox series are:
Red Sox: Drew Pomeranz (5-3, 4.24 ERA)
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 6.34 ERA)
Red Sox: Rick Porcello (3-7, 4.24 ERA)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (6-2, 4.12 ERA)
Red Sox: David Price (1-0, 3.00 ERA)
Yankees: Michael Pineda (6-3, 3.76 ERA)
Better to Rent or to Buy…
The arguments have been made for why the Yankees should stick to plan and forego any expensive rentals for the mid-summer. I get the logic. Does it make sense to part with Justus Sheffield, Clint Frazier, or Jorge Mateo to bring someone in for a few months when the youngsters can be part of the impending “dynasty”?
Yet, when you hear Yankees General Partner/Co-Chairperson Hank Steinbrenner make comments like, “Oh yeah. We’re greedy. We want to win this year.”, you know that it’s possible common sense may take a backseat.
Speculation is starting to run rampant with third base possibilities. I’ve seen a few articles centered on Todd Frazer as a potential trade target. His pic with Derek Jeter as a child is a nice story but it doesn’t mean I want the guy on my team. Frazier had 40 home runs last year, but he only batted .225/.302/.464. He has gotten off to a much worst start this year with only 8 homers, 25 RBI’s and a line of .195/.306/.396. The 31-year-old probably represents a buy low candidate but I am not enthused. He is making $12 million this year and will be a free agent after the season is over. I’ve already jettisoned Frazier from a couple of fantasy baseball teams. If the Yankees could acquire for some names that I’ve never heard of and will never hear again, I could probably buy into giving it a try. Otherwise, I don’t want to lose good prospects for a guy who is flirting with the Mendoza line (and on the wrong side to boot).
If the Yankees have to make a move, I’d probably be more in favor of Mike Moustakas. Also a free agent at the end of the year, Moustakas is making $8.7 million this year with better numbers. He has 14 home runs and 29 RBI’s and is batting .255/.295/.510. Both Moustakas and Frazier had fielding percentages of .947 entering play yesterday. Moustakas is younger…he’ll be 29 in September.
It all boils down to cost. How much? If the Yankees can make moves to improve the team without sacrificing key talent, they should do it. If not, stand pat. The great thing about a top farm system is redundancy at certain positions. Thairo Estrada is doing a great job at AA-Trenton but he plays second base/shortstop. It is a position of strength for the Yankees with Gleyber Torres, Tyler Wade, Jorge Mateo and others. If trades could create opportunity for redundant players blocked in the system, I am not opposed to their inclusion in potential roster-enhancing moves.
This is a tough call. I recognize that the Yankees are building for something greater but I also know that when you have your opportunities for October baseball, you make the most of it. There does need to be a good short-term plan with long-term vision. If you get a ticket to the dance, you never know what can happen.
Odds & Ends…
Because of Sunday’s rainout, Chance Adams scheduled start for AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was pushed from Monday to today. Bryan Mitchell, Sunday’s scheduled starter, took the mound on Monday night in the RailRiders’ 6-3 win over the Rochester Red Wings. He didn’t figure in the decision as he only lasted 2 1/3 innings, giving up 3 hits and 2 runs. Domingo German, pitching in relief for the first time since 2012, gave a start-like relief performance in picking up the win. German limited the Red Wings to 5 hits and 1 run over 5 2/3 innings, while striking out 7. Ben Heller picked up his first save.
The RailRiders victory featured the first home run, a three-run shot, by super prospect Gleyber Torres. Torres was 3-for-3 with a walk, and he drove in 4 RBI’s.
Tyler Austin completed his rehab assignment and was re-assigned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It’s just a matter of time before Austin gets the call for the short trip to NYC. Rob Refsnyder offers better versatility with his ability to play second and third, in addition to first base and the outfield. But at some point, his bat needs to start producing. If not, the Yanks are better served by first baseman/OF Austin.
Have a great Tuesday! Hopefully we’ll see the “good” Tanaka later today. Go Yanks!
I expected a slowdown in Derek Jeter’s march to 3,000 hits but I didn’t anticipate a 15 day intermission until DJ can resume his hit parade. I had been hoping that he could reach the illustrious milestone against this weekend’s opponent, the Chicago Cubs, but it was not meant to be as DJ was placed on the DL after straining his right calf.
It will be interesting to see what Eduardo Nunez can do for the next couple of weeks as the starting shortstop. There is no chance that DJ is going to lose his job, but this is a great opportunity for Nunez to prove to the organization that he is capable replacement when the day does come for #2 to step down.
Paul J. Bereswill
What? Was Ed Figueroa unavailable?…
Thursday’s starting pitcher is who? It appears that Brian Gordon will be the starting pitcher for the Yankees on Thursday for the final game of their series with the Texas Rangers. Pardon me if I don’t have the slightest clue who Gordon is. He apparently opted out of his minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies to sign with New York. I am assuming that he knows this is just a one start audition as Bartolo Colon will hopefully be back. The 32 year old right-handed pitcher is a veteran of 15 minor league seasons.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Ironically, Gordon made the switch from position player to pitcher after the 2006 season with the help of then Astros special assistant, Nolan Ryan. Ryan, of course, is now the CEO and president of the team that Gordon will be facing on Thursday.
Sometimes the best trades are the ones never made, well, maybe not…
I wonder if the Kansas City Royals regret not trading Joakim Soria to the Yankees last year. Soria has had his share of challenges this year, including losing his job briefly to Aaron Crow. Meanwhile, the Royals are absolutely loaded with young talent as premier prospects Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas have burst on the scene with more stellar talent on the way. Add a few top Yankees prospects to the mix, and the Royals would clearly assert themselves as a contender for years to come. They opted to keep Soria, but their future is still very bright. It is just a question of how much brighter it could have been if they had been willing to part with the right pieces.
If this year has proven anything to me, it is that you cannot rely on any relievers from year to year. This year’s stud will be next year’s washout. Well, unless your name is Mariano Rivera…