Tagged: New York

The Changing of the Guard…

Thoughts While We Wait for the Press Conference…

Aaron John Boone officially takes the reins as the 33rd Manager of the New York Yankees today at Noon ET. I continue to see so many opinions, both strongly tilted toward the pros and the cons. Being upset or taking a strong position that Boone is not the right guy serves no purpose. Regardless of how you feel, Boone will be the guy delivering the lineup card on Opening Day, March 29th, at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. There is nothing that you can do or say that will change Boone from taking that walk. So, it is in our best interests to unite and support the next manager of the Yankees.

Credit:  Sporting News Archive/Getty Images

Personally, I am excited to see what Boone can do. Admittedly, I wasn’t crazy about the lack of managerial or coaching experience but Boone has so many other positive attributes.  We’ve heard about his unique ability to relate with everyone, his sense of humor, his immersion into Major League Baseball as a youngster due to his grandfather, Ray Boone, and father, Bob Boone, both Major Leaguers.  Boone has said that he has prepared for 44 years for this job. Boone’s predecessor, Joe Girardi, won a Manager of the Year Award in his first season as a manager with no coaching or managing experience (2006 with the then-Florida Marlins). Granted, he was fired after the season, but still, there’s no reason that Boone can’t reach the same accomplishments (excluding the end of the year firing).

The immediate decisions that face Boone is the composition of his coaching staff. Larry Rothschild is returning as the team’s Pitching Coach but so far, that’s the only official announcement. The bench coach will be a critical hire and needs to be someone with strong managerial experience. The Yankees lost very strong in-house candidates when Josh Paul, Rob Thomson, and Al Pedrique left to join the coaching staffs of other MLB teams. Eric Wedge’s name has been thrown out as a possibility but so far, there have been no strong indications who might take the role. Yankees minor league coaches Reggie Willits and Carlos Mendoza have been cited as possibilities for the staff but neither has the experience to serve as bench coach. I am expecting the return of Alan Cockrell, Hitting Coach, and Marcus Thames, Assistant Hitting Coach, although they could just as easily walk away. It’s been mentioned that Mike Harkey, the bullpen coach and a Girardi buddy, could return. That one does surprise me a little since he was a Girardi friend and hire. Tony Pena is someone the Yankees should bring back. He’s certainly qualified to serve as bench coach despite his years as the first base coach.

Perhaps Boone addresses the coaching staff during today’s press conference or the staff is assembled over the next few weeks. Either way, I will be watching and listening with interest.

Al Pedrique’s departure (to join the Oakland A’s as first base coach) creates an opening at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. A replacement has not been named but I could easily see the elevation of High A-Tampa Yankees Manager Jay Bell to the position. I really hated to see Pedrique go. I felt he would have been the ideal bench coach…an experienced manager who has strong relationships with the younger Yankees. The A’s denied the Yankees permission to talk to their manager, Bob Melvin, but then stole one of the Yankees’ best coaches. Almost immediately, the A’s fans talked about the excitement of a coach who could help mold Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian based on his past experiences with them. Ouch!  He could have been doing that with the Baby Bombers.

Credit:  Jason Farmer, Scranton Times-Tribune

It was sad to see Rob Thomson take a lateral position with the Philadelphia Phillies, leaving the Yankees after 28 years in the organization. He will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge for Phillies rookie manager Gabe Kapler. Thomson must like sitting next to very physically-fit managers. It’s too bad he won’t be there for Aaron Boone but it’s probably hard to stay with an organization when you are passed over for a job you felt should be yours.

It’s a tough time to fill a coaching staff considering most other teams have finalized their respective staffs. I keep half-expecting Bret Boone to added. No idea what qualifications he has other than being a former Major Leaguer but like Aaron, he obviously grew up in a baseball family. His recent jokes about sexual harassment probably nixed the possibility he’d join his brother’s team.

Credit:  Alan Berner, The Seattle Times

The Yankees have cash to spend on the international market ($3.5 million) with the rejection by Shohei Otani but so far, the Yankees have been idle while Billy Eppler and the Los Angeles Angels have been very aggressive. Yesterday, the Angels signed two former Braves prospects including the top-rated shortstop Kevin Maitan and another shortstop, Livan Soto. The Yankees need to bring in more catching prospects but the Phillies grabbed former Braves catching prospect Abrahan Gutierrez.

Baseball activity seems to be picking up in general. The minor free agent signings are picking up so there should be major movement with the free agent market over the coming days.  The Baseball Winter Meetings start Sunday in Orlando, Florida so next week should be a wild ride. Clint Frazier’s latest tweet (@clintfrazier) was “my cat has been staring at my shower drain for three straight hours and i’m freaking out”. We really need more excitement with the Yankees!

Today should be a fun day. Welcome (back) to the Bronx, Aaron Boone! Go Yankees!

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N’Otani for the Yankees…

toc_goodbye-ny

Yanks fail to make the cut…

 I have to admit that I was feeling a bit disappointed when it was announced that the New York Yankees did not make Shohei Otani’s weekend cut. The Yankees had been viewed, by the industry, as the favorites to sign the two-way Japanese superstar. But as word leaked in recent days that perhaps Otani preferred a smaller West Coast market and one without a current Japanese superstar, it started to seem as though the likelihood of Otani wearing pinstripes was slipping away.

GM Brian Cashman confirmed it last evening when the Yankees, the Red Sox and other prominent East Coast teams were axed without the benefit of a face-to-face meeting. It’s unfortunate but the process has clearly shown that Otani is not driven by money. If he was, he would have waited two years before coming to the United States when he would be free to test the open market. Instead, he’s willing to leave millions on the table to take a minimum compensation deal. While I think Otani would have been a great fit with the Baby Bombers, the last thing you want on your team is a guy who doesn’t want to be there. So, I bid Otani farewell and wish him luck as he embarks on his MLB career.

In many ways, it’s probably best for the Yankees to be eliminated early in the process. It frees them up to explore other options and hopefully it leads to re-signing team leader CC Sabathia. If the Yankees had stayed in the negotiations process with Otani, their primary focus would not have been on finding other ways to improve the team as we head into the most crucial week of the MLB offseason (next week with the Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida). They could have been distracted during this critical time, only to find out later that Otani didn’t really want to play in New York City or on the East Coast.

A few weeks back, The Greedy Pinstripes’ Daniel Burch wrote a piece about the potential pitfalls with an Otani signing and the challenges that would await a team trying to accommodate his wishes to pitch and bat. As we await the official announcement of the new Yankees manager, a guy who has never coached or managed, it’s probably best for him that he wasn’t placed into the difficult position of having to accommodate the wishes of an individual over the good of the team.

So, all things considered, after feeling some initial disappointment, I am glad that Shohei Otani will not be coming to the Bronx.  He has the right to choose where he wants to play. I want to see 25 men who want to be New York Yankees.

Giancarlo and the City by the Bay…

If Giancarlo Stanton’s choices are down to the San Francisco Giants and the St Louis Cardinals, it is my belief that he’ll choose San Francisco. Given that he grew up as a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I guess that’s sort of like growing up in the Bronx to become a Red Sock. But still, with no offense a great organization with a steep history in baseball tradition, I think it would be better to play in San Francisco than St Louis. Of course, there are cons with playing there. One of my favorite quotes is ‘the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco’, a witticism credited to Mark Twain. If you’ve been to San Francisco in August, you’ll know what I mean.

San Francisco, USA Beautiful Wallpapers (1)

I kept expecting the Los Angeles Dodgers to enter the fray for Stanton, but they, like the Yankees, are trying to reduce payroll to reset the luxury tax penalties. So, unless the Dodgers can eliminate a few bloated contracts (such as Adrian Gonzalez), Stanton will not be bleeding Dodger Blue.

It’s very possible that the Stanton trade could be consummated this week. I feel sorry for Miami Marlins COO Derek Jeter. For budgetary reasons, he’s being forced to break out what may be Baseball’s best outfield and perhaps setting the team back at least five years from being a legitimate contender. Jeter is finding that it is not so easy sitting on the other side of the table.

Yankee Stadium, Home of My Favorite Team…

Yes, of course it is. I wouldn’t be a Yankees blog writer covering the Yankees if they weren’t my favorite team.  But I am talking about another team. As a native Iowan, I have been a fan of the football program at the University of Iowa for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved the Hawkeyes even if they have historically disappointed me most every year.

The Hawkeyes are coming to Yankee Stadium.

Pinstripe-Bowl

It was announced this weekend that the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5) will play Boston College (7-5) in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 27thMy favorite team playing against Boston at Yankee Stadium. Yeah, I think that’s something I can easily support and have significant experience with even if the Hawkeyes have never played a bowl game in New York before.

Go Hawks!

 But back to Baseball and more importantly, Go Yankees!

Aaron Boone, Manager, New York Yankees…

Credit:  MLB.com

And Then There Was One…

Although no official announcement has been made, the Yankees have an agreement in place with Aaron Boone to serve as the successor for former Yankees Manager Joe Girardi.

 

I am surprised. Since he retired, Boone has served as a broadcaster with ESPN. He has not managed or coached at any level. I have not heard a single complaint about Boone’s personality or baseball knowledge, but like Michael Kay said, it’s handing the keys of a Lamborghini to someone who just got their driver’s license.  The Yankees job is the best in Baseball. The Yankees are the most storied, most prestigious team in the most powerful city in America. Expectations entering the 2017 season were fairly low, but the team finished the season a single game away from the World Series. Needless to say, expectations will be substantially higher as we enter the 2018 season. No pressure, Boonie!

I do not dislike the choice of Boone and had previously said I’d be okay with him as manager if Hensley Meulens was not selected. But Boone does need a very strong supporting cast (i.e., coaching staff). We know that pitching coach Larry Rothschild will be returning and he is perhaps one of the greatest components of the coaching staff but bench coach will be very critical. After not being selected as manager, Rob Thomson left the Yankees organization after 28 years and will become bench coach for inexperienced manager Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia. I’ve already heard Eric Wedge’s name mentioned as a possible bench coach for Boone (Wedge managed Boone in Cleveland after Boone left the Yankees). I continue to preach Al Pedrique. No one has the level of relationships with the young Baby Bombers like Pedrique does. He is an experienced successful manager. Granted, his managerial success has largely been in the Minor Leagues, but he knows how to run a game to win. He did manage the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004 for 83 games after Bob Brenly (who had managed the D-Backs over the Yankees in the 2001 World Series) was fired. Pedrique’s MLB managerial record is an uninspiring 22-61 but it’s not his fault. He was trying to do the best he could with a team that had gotten a World Series manager fired. Pedrique later served as bench coach for the Houston Astros and we all know that he won a Triple A championship with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in 2016.

In retrospect, It appears the Yankees had no plan when Girardi was dismissed. At the time Girardi was told his services were done, I had felt that GM Brian Cashman had a clear idea whom he wanted to occupy the manager’s chair. The Boone choice shows that he most likely did not enter the equation until he aced his interview with Cashman. Of course, he had to get his foot in the door for the interview so he was obviously on Cashman’s mind but most likely wasn’t the clear choice when this thing started.

Credit:  Patrick E McCarthy

I remember being a little upset when Boone suffered the knee injury in a pickup basketball game in January 2004 which ended his season and his Yankees career. It set in motion the trade which brought Alex Rodriguez to the Bronx. No disrespect to those of you who love A-Rod but that’s one trade I wish never would have happened. But from a character-standpoint, Boone was honest with the team about the injury which caused the forfeiture of his 2004 contract (receiving only $917,533 in termination pay on the $5.75 million deal). I am sure that earned him brownie points with Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner.

As for Hensley Meulens, he will return to the San Francisco Giants to become bench coach for Manager Bruce Bochy. I really hope that he gets an opportunity to manage in the not-so-distant future. For all we know, he could very well be Bochy’s replacement if the present Giants manager decides to step down in the next few years. I was very impressed with Meulens and I feel that he’ll be an outstanding manager one day.

Carlos Beltran didn’t get the job since the leap from player to manager with no break was viewed as too much, but I hope that Beltran gets another opportunity to serve within the Yankees organization. Like Meulens, he has the potential to be a great manager one day.  For now, it would be great to have him on the coaching staff. If not, his presence in the front office and/or as a spring training instructor would be invaluable.

Welcome back to the New York Yankees, Aaron Boone! We hope your learning curve is small and the team prospers under your leadership. Feel free to go ahead and hit another one out of the park for us.

Credit:  Allen Kee, Getty Images

The Hidden Ball Trick…

We know the Yankees tendered contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players prior to last evening’s deadline, but a number of MLB players were not so fortunate.

A name that jumped out at me without looking at the entire list was Ryan Goins of the Toronto Blue Jays. It is not so much about the player’s ability but rather he is the one who pulled off the sneaky hidden ball trick to record an out on Todd Frazier at second base back in September. In 2017, he hit 9 homers and 62 RBI’s in 143 games with a .237 batting average. Not a great player but he’s been pesky over his career. I guess he was unable to pull off a hidden ball trick on Toronto to entice them to extend his Blue Jays career.

Credit:  Associated Press

Another name that surprised me was first baseman Matt Adams. Adams, the former St Louis Cardinal who was acquired by Atlanta to fill in during Freddie Freeman’s time on the DL last year, was non-tendered by the Braves. I didn’t expect Adams to be part of the 2018 Braves Roster but I thought he had some value as a trade candidate for an organization that was recently stripped of multiple international prospects. Instead, he’ll hit the open market to find a new home. I’d take a flyer on him as a potential hedge for the health of Greg Bird.

This year, I hope the Yankees can reach deals with their arbitration-eligible players before their scheduled hearings. I’d hate to see a repeat performance of last year’s contentious  hearing between Dellin Betances and the Yankees that brought ugly remarks by Yankees President Randy Levine. The fade by Betances last season supported the Yankees position but last year’s hearing did nothing to help the confidence of the pitcher (hurting his psyche more than anything).

Well, yesterday was a busy start to the new month. The Yankees have their manager and team officials are probably headed to Los Angeles to meet with the agents for Japanese superstar Shohei Otani who was officially posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters yesterday. Representatives for both the San Francisco Giants and St Louis Cardinals have met with Giancarlo Stanton in Los Angeles so we could see a trade of the big slugger to either the Giants or Cards by early next week. Unlike November, December should prove to be a wild and exciting ride.

Go Yankees!

The Hot Stove League is Starting to Bubble…

And Then There Were Six…

The Yankees managerial interviews are over. According to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, there will be no further interviews nor will there be second round interviews in Tampa with the Steinbrenner family. According to sources, a clear frontrunner has emerged from the band of six although no speculation to who it might be.

As we know it, the following individuals interviewed for the job:

  • Rob Thomson 
  • Eric Wedge
  • Hensley Meulens
  • Aaron Boone
  • Chris Woodward
  • Carlos Beltran

My personal preference remains Hensley Meulens for manager (I like his championship pedigree as part of the coaching staff for three World Series champions in San Francisco and his strong communication skills and ability to converse in multiple languages).

Hensley Meulens

My choice for bench coach would either be Rob Thomson or Al Pedrique. But if Meulens does not get the job, I’d like to see either Aaron Boone or Carlos Beltran emerge as the choice.

With today’s announcement about the end of the interview process, it would seem that an announcement about the new manager is imminent. However, I am sure that there is still the small matter of ‘offer and acceptance’ before any official statements are made. Credit the Yankees for keeping this process, outside of the post-interview interviews, very mum.

I might be writing this post too soon as things could start moving very quickly for the next Yankees manager.

Player of Unique Abilities…

The MLB Owners met today (via conference call) to ratify the Posting Agreement with Nippon Professional Baseball. The agreement was met with unanimous approval. Otani is expected to be posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters later today. Once posted, teams will have three weeks to sign the two-way superstar. If he is posted today as expected, the deadline for signing will be December 22nd. Merry Christmas to us! All I want for Christmas is Otani. They are reporting that Otani is already in Los Angeles and preparing to meet with teams next week.

Shohei Otani

The Yankees made their public comment about Otani today when Brian Cashman said that Otani would be a “perfect fit” for the Yankees. However, there have been some unconfirmed reports that Otani would prefer to sign with a team that does not currently have a Japanese superstar (which seemingly would rule out the Yankees with the presence of Masahiro Tanaka). I personally think that Tanaka’s presence should be viewed as a plus to help Otani make the transition to life in the United States. After months of talking about Otani, it’s great that we are finally moving to the next phase. Cashman, in Stamford, CT for his annual rappel down the Landmark Building, said, “Obviously, he’s a player of unique abilities. I am certainly hopeful that he sees all the characteristics that the New York Yankees would have to offer.” Cash, we’re hopeful too.

Austin Romine Day…

This might not have the same impact as Shohei Otani, but the Yankees had a decision to make today on backup catcher Austin Romine. They had to decide if they would tender a 2018 contract by tonight’s 8 pm ET deadline for clubs. There had been some speculation the Yankees could non-tender the 29-year-old Romine, making him a free agent. But fear not, the Yankees have made the decision to tender 2018 contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players which includes Romine.  The other no-brainer decisions were Dellin Betances, Sonny Gray, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Tommy Kahnle, Chasen Shreve, and Adam Warren.

There have been calls on this blog site for the Yankees to sign Alex Avila to back up Gary Sanchez. There’s no guarantee that Romine retains his backup job next Spring, even though he was tendered a contract today, so Avila is not out of the question. Another option, Kyle Higashioka, was hitless in 18 MLB at-bats last season and he played in only 21 minor league games due to injury. It’s anybody’s guess what he will bring in 2018 but he did hit .338 with nine dingers in his limited minors play. It would be nice if he comes to Spring Training happy and healthy, and shows that he can be the primary support for El Gary…with no offense to Romine (who, of course, has none).

Kyle Higashioka

One ex-Yankee has already been non-tendered today. Chase Whitley, who spent the last couple of years in Tampa, was waived by the Rays and claimed by the Atlanta Braves.

Happy Belated Birthday, Mo…

I know that Mariano Rivera pitched at an elite level into his 40’s but it was still hard to believe that Mo turned 48 years old on Wednesday. Man, I loved that guy! He was by far my favorite Yankee during the Dynasty years.  We wish him a very Happy (Belated) Birthday!  And,  yes, we still miss that amazing right arm on the Yankee Stadium mound.

Mariano Rivera (Credit:  Jim McIsaac, Getty Images)

The Hot Stove League has been simmering for the last month, but we are now on the edge of rapid fire. Let’s hope it brings great news for the 2018 Baby Bombers.

Go Yankees!

Thanksgiving…THANKS for GIVING us Otani? I hope!…

Much to be thankful for…

As Thanksgiving approaches, we have much to be thankful for this year. The Yankees clearly exceeded our expectations and they appear to be on the cusp of another great dynasty run.  It wasn’t that long ago that the Yankees were called an old team  with bare cupboards.  Thanks to GM Brian Cashman and his team, the MLB roster is loaded, the farm system is fully restocked and the future is excessively bright. I am grateful for the leadership of the Yankees and I am very excited about the upcoming seasons.

So, New York Yankees, THANK YOU!

Hot Stove League simmering…

Aside from Monday’s flurry of activity as the Yankees worked rapidly to finalize the 40-man Roster of Record for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, it has been a very quiet week.

Tuesday evening saw the MLBPA and Nippon Professional Baseball reach a tentative agreement on a new posting system to cover this off-season and the next three years. The MLB owners must still ratify the new agreement which should occur next Friday, December 1st. It is expected that Shohei Otani will be posted on Saturday, December 2nd, and MLB teams will have three weeks to sign the Japanese superstar. So, by this time next month, we should know whether or not Otani will be wearing Pinstripes in 2018. All I want for Christmas is Shohei Otani in the Yankees starting rotation…with bat in hand for his off days!

Credit:  Masterpress/Getty Images

This off-season it feels like teams are raiding the Yankees. We’ve seen the Miami Marlins snag the Yankees VP of Player Personnel (Gary Denbo) and the Houston Astros grabbed Yankees third base coach Joe Espada to be their new bench coach replacing Alex Cora (who was named the new manager of the Boston Red Sox).  The Red Sox have also indirectly caused the latest departure from the organization.  When Boston named Ron Roenicke as their new bench coach for Cora’s staff, it created an opening on the Los Angeles Angels coaching staff.  Roenicke had been the third base coach for the Angels last year.  Angels bench coach Dino Abel was moved to third base to replace Roenicke and the Angels hired Yankees minor league coordinator Josh Paul, credited with the development of Gary Sanchez, to be their new bench coach under manager Mike Scioscia. When the Yankees parted ways with manager Joe Girardi, Paul’s name was quickly mentioned as a possible replacement but he was never formally interviewed. I assume that he was a possibility for the new Yankee manager’s coaching staff but he took the ‘sure thing’ with the opportunity to be the bench coach for the Angels where he’ll be reunited with his former boss, GM Billy Eppler. I am sorry to see Paul go given how highly he was thought of within the Yankees organization but you can’t fault the guy for seeking advancement. He’s positioning himself to ensure that he does get the next managerial interview.

Credit:  Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports

Dellin Betances was caught on record this week while participating with a turkey giveaway in the Bronx.  He gave an endorsement for Rob Thomson as the next Yankees manager.  “A lot of guys like to work with him.”  I hate to read into anything but “a lot” is not “everyone”.  I still prefer Thomson as a member of the coaching staff as opposed to its leader.  But I am not so strongly opposed to Thomson that I’d be disappointed if he is named manager.  Support by the majority of the team is a huge positive.

All Rise except Judge (he can keep his arm down)…

The Yankees announced that Aaron Judge underwent shoulder surgery earlier this week (“loose-body removal and cartilage clean-up”). It doesn’t sound too severe and Judge is expected to be ready when camp opens in Tampa next February.  The scariest part of the announcement was the surgeon…Dr Neal ElAttrache, the noted “Tommy John” surgeon and the team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Dr ElAttrache is the surgeon who performed the TJ surgery on former Yankees prospect James Kaprielian.

Credit:  Barbara Davidson, Los Angeles Times

Happy Recovery to Aaron!  We’re looking forward to seeing him at 100% next Spring (okay, 99% works in his case).

Pitching his way to Sunny and 75…

Yankees prospect RHP Colten Brewer has signed a minor league free agent deal with the San Diego Padres. Brewer was only in the Yankees system for a year. He had been claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system last December. Brewer, 25, did well at A/AA this year but couldn’t continue the success when he reached Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In six appearances for the RailRiders covering ten innings, he gave up 17 hits and 13 earned runs (11.70 ERA).

The Yankees Dream didn’t work out for Brewer but we wish him the best in San Diego.

Credit:  Martin Griff

Did they used to work for us?  Yikes!…

I do not blame the Yankees organization but it is a black mark that former Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella received a lifetime ban from MLB for his involvement in the fraudulent international signings scandal perpetrated by the Braves. Atlanta’s former head of scouting Gordon Blakeley received a one year suspension. Both Coppolella and Blakeley have their roots with the Yankees organization. Coppolella was an intern during the George Steinbrenner regime. Blakeley was a former Yankees scout credited for signing Robinson Cano, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, and Jose Contreras.

I am not blaming the Yankees for the actions of their former employees but admittedly, after their crimes, I wish they had been former Red Sox employees  (or some other team) as opposed to the Yankees.  However, I am sure the example set with the Braves and the penalties they’ve suffered will cause all teams to button up their processes for international signings.

I have great respect for new Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos but he has his hands full…no doubt an understatement.

Latest Yankees Managerial Candidate…

If outgoing WFAN host Mike Francesa is going to toss his name into the ring as a potential manager for the Yankees, I’ll throw one out…Bryan Van Dusen, co-owner of The Greedy Pinstripes!  The guy knows how to communicate with players and he loves statistical analysis.  Plus, he is a devout Yankees fan and has shown the ability to address the media in a highly effective manner.  Sounds like he checks all the boxes to me.

Van Dusen for Yankees Manager!

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Go Yankees!

All Aboard the Yankees Train…

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg, New York Post

The 40-Man Chess Match…

Yesterday figured to be a very busy day for the Yankees as MLB teams had to set their 40-man Rosters of Record for Rule 5 eligibility (draft to be held at the conclusion of next month’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL) and it was.

Before the past weekend, the Yankees only had two open spots on the 40-man. Then, a few trades later, the Yankees were able to protect six young prospects from becoming potential ex-Yankees. Granted, any player chosen in the Rule 5 Draft has to stick on a MLB roster for the entire year but it happened as recent as last year when the San Diego Padres held on to Yankees catching prospect Luis Torrens (even though the very young Torrens was over-matched at the Major League level).

DEPARTURES

RHP Nick Rumbelow

RHP Ronald Herrera

LHP Caleb Smith

1B Garrett Cooper

ADDITIONS

LHP Reiver Sanmartin

LHP J.P. Sears

RHP Juan Then

RHP Michael King

International Bonus Pool Money ($250,000)

ADDED TO THE 40-MAN ROSTER

RHP Domingo Acevedo

RHP Albert Abreu

RHP Jonathan Loaisiga

INF Gleyber Torres

INF Thairo Estrada

OF Billy McKinney

Trade: Nick Rumbelow to the Seattle Mariners for LHP J.P. Sears and RHP Juan Then. I thought this was the best trade. Sears, 21, fits the Yankees mold as a former collegiate player who could be useful in the bullpen. Even though his fastball tops out at 92 mph, he has been something of a strikeout machine. In his final year at The Citadel, he led NCAA Division I with 142 K’s in 95 1/3 innings. Then (not the pitcher), last year, in his first year in the Minors, he struck out 51 batters in 27 2/3 innings. Then (the pitcher), 17, a projected middle of the rotation starter, is the only new prospect to crack MLB’s Top 30 Prospects for the Yankees (his debut is at #28 in front of RHPs Giovanny Gallegos and Trevor Stephan).

Credit:  MLB.com

Trade:  Ronald Herrera to the Texas Rangers for LHP Reiver Sanmartin.  Herrera provides the Rangers with an arm that is nearly ready while the Yankees buy some time with a lower level prospect. Sanmartin, 21, is a year younger than Herrera and has compiled a 14-4 record with 2.62 ERA over three minor league seasons.

Credit:  MiLB.com

Trade: Caleb Smith and Garrett Cooper to the Miami Marlins for Michael King and Shohei Otani Money. The Yankees lose a valuable lefty with Smith’s departure but I figured that his roster spot was the least secure. Cooper did a decent job when called upon last year, but it was inevitable that the Yankees would have to make a decision between Tyler Austin and Cooper despite the latter owning a name that recalls the late great actor Gary Cooper and the movie classic The Pride of the Yankees. The writing was on the wall when Billy McKinney started working out at first base in The Arizona Fall League. This trade is being advertised as Derek Jeter’s first even if he probably didn’t handle any of the negotiations. Marlins VP of Player Development and Scouting Gary Denbo knows a thing or two about Yankees prospects. Many were calling this trade a huge win for the Marlins but I thought it served a very useful purpose for the Yankees. They cleared two spots on the roster which ensured that Thairo Estrada and Jonathan Loaisiga (“Johnny Lasagna”) could be protected and added a lottery ticket with the 22-year-old King. Maybe King never realizes his dream, but the additional international bonus pool money gives the Yankees a total of $3.5 million to pursue Shohei Otani. If the Yankees are successful in signing Otani, it would be very hard to look at this trade as a failure for the Yankees regardless of how Smith or Cooper eventually perform for the Marlins.

The Yankees should gain better clarity about the availability of Otani later today. The MLBPA extended the posting agreement deadline, which had been scheduled to expire yesterday, by 24 hours. The new deadline is tonight at 8 pm ET.  If the parties are able to agree on a new posting agreement, it ensures that Otani will be posted this off-season and will make his much anticipated trip to the United States to choose his next team (or as I prefer, sign with the Yankees).

Credit:  The Japan Times

The Yankees will need to make additional roster moves should they sign Otani and/or re-sign CC Sabathia but for now, the Yankees are prepared for next month’s Rule 5 Draft. I am fearful of losing LHP Nestor Cortes, RHP Cale Coshow, and/or RHP J.P. Feyereisen, among others, but it speaks to the strength of the Yankees farm system that the potential losses will hurt.

I can’t end this post without mentioning another transaction that occurred yesterday even if it was non-Yankees news. The Toronto Blue Jays waived former Yankees fan favorite Rob Refsnyder and he was claimed by the Cleveland Indians. While I wish Refsnyder well in Cleveland, I kind of wish that he’d go somewhere like San Francisco where the Yankees wouldn’t have to routinely see him. I hold out hope that Refsnyder will achieve the promise he once held but admittedly his flame of potential is growing dimmer.

Credit:  Mark Lomoglio, Icon Sportswire

Now that the 40-man roster maneuvering has been completed, I fully expect the next week to be very quiet. Perhaps there are more managerial interviews but most likely, we’ll be on the other side of the Thanksgiving Weekend before we see any notable Yankees news.

While I would have loved being able to protect every valuable prospect, I thought the Yankees did a very good job covering the best of the best. Project Next Dynasty continues on its very very bright and positive path. We are now accepting applications for Bandwagon Fans. Go Yankees!

Workin’ on the Weekends…

The First Round continues…

Brian Cashman, the general manager currently working on a handshake deal with Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner, was burning the weekend oil yesterday.

After interviewing Hensley Meulens and Aaron Boone over the previous two days, Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward was in town to meet with Cash on Saturday. I don’t know Woodward and perhaps he may be a wonderful manager one day, but I don’t think he’s the right guy for the job right now. In his post-interview comments, he talked much about what Dave Roberts did. I am less concerned about what Roberts did and more concerned about what Woodward would do. I don’t want Dave Roberts 2.0.  Roberts did an outstanding job, but the new Yankees manager needs to be his own man. I know that Roberts name came up because the questions were asked about how Woodward gained insight working with the man who led the Dodgers to the doorstep of a World Series championship this year. But I really want a manager who is strong and confident in his own words and style. I thought Aaron Boone did a better job addressing the media despite the lack of any coaching experience.

It is well known the Yankees want a manager who will accept analytics and input from the front office. When Woodward was asked about analytics, he responded, “As a coach, it took the progression from Seattle to L.A. for me to understand the benefit of it.” That tells me he didn’t come to fully appreciate analytics until the last two years considering he joined the Dodgers on December 17, 2015.

Maybe I am overly negative about Woodward because I do not really know anything about him. I wasn’t in the room when he talked with Cashman, but he’s probably the least preferred (for me) of the candidates interviewed. I’d rank the candidates, based solely on those who have interviewed, in this order:

YANKEES MANAGER

  1. Hensley Meulens
  2. Aaron Boone
  3. Rob Thomson
  4. Eric Wedge
  5. Chris Woodward

Here is my order for preferred bench coaches:

YANKEES BENCH COACH

  1. Al Pedrique
  2. Eric Wedge
  3. Rob Thomson
  4. Jay Bell
  5. A name that has not expressed interest in coaching or managing…Jorge Posada (if he did have interest, I’d move Hip-Hip-Jorge further up the list)

I feel strongly that Pedrique needs to be part of the 2018 coaching staff. He knows the young Baby Bombers better than anyone. There is no one that has the same level of relationships that he’s built with Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Clint Frazier, Jordan Montgomery, Gleyber Torres, Greg Bird, Chance Adams and others. He is credited for believing in a smallish-16 year old Jose Altuve when no one else would. After many other teams, including the Yankees, passed on Altuve for being too small, Pedrique talked the Houston Astros into giving the 2017 AL MVP and World Series Champion $15,000 to sign. That might be the best $15,000 ever spent in Major League Baseball, at least in modern times. Pedrique was able to see beyond the physical size to view the talent and the heart of the player.

Credit:  Cheryl Pursell, via Pinstriped Prospects

I had to put Posada’s name on the list. I miss the guy’s passion and intensity. When he’s on the field, there’s probably not too many guys that want to win more.

You may have different thoughts but that’s fine.  No one said that we had to agree.

No word if the Yankees will continue to interview more guys before moving on to Round 2. I had expected Jerry Hairston, Jr to talk but there have not been any indications he will.  Brad Ausmus has made it known that he wants to take a year off before resuming his managerial career. He was interested in the Red Sox job only because it was close to his home in Cape Cod and he grew up as a Red Sox fan. Aside from the Red Sox, Ausmus wants to devote the next year to his family. You can’t blame him for his priorities. I thought maybe the Yankees should interview Pittsburgh Pirates coach Joey Cora so that the Red Sox-Yankees Wars could be the Battle of the Cora Brothers. Okay, I am just kidding on that one. For the reasons I cite Pedrique as the preferred bench coach, I believe he should be afforded the opportunity to interview for the managing job.

We’ll see. The process continues and should gain better clarity over the next days and weeks as we move forward.

Making Room on the 40-Man…

Monday, November 20th is a big day for the Yankees. The 40-man roster of record for Rule 5 eligibility must be set by 7 pm Central Time. The Yankees had previously moved outfielder Jake Cave and reliever Nick Rumbelow to the 40-man roster, which left two spots open. With big names like Gleyber Torres, Albert Abreu and Billy McKinney, among others, that need to be protected, something has to give on the 40-man roster.

On Saturday, the first move was made when the Yankees sent Rumbelow to the Seattle Mariners for two lower level prospects…LHP J.P. Sears and RHP Juan Then.  Sears, 21, was an 11th round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft. Then, 17, was an international signing for $77,500 in 2016 out of the Dominican Republic.

John Patrick Sears pitched at Class A level after his draft selection last year. A reliever, he pitched a total of 27.2 innings for two teams.  In 17 games, he struck out 51 batters while walking only 12.  His ERA was a combined 0.65, but he did not give up any earned runs when he moved from Short Season-A Everett to Full Season-A Clinton (10 innings of work).  He is “Sonny Gray-sized”…alright, an inch taller (5’11”).  According to Baseball America, he works in the 88-92 mph range with a high spin fastball and uses deception from a low delivery slot.

Credit:  Citadel Athletics

Juan Then (man, did the ‘now and then’ jokes start popping up on Twitter) is obviously still very young (and raw). He carries high upside and projects as a mid-rotation starter.  Then pitched rookie level ball in the Dominican Summer League and was 2-2, 2.64 ERA in 61.1 innings. He struck out 56 batters. His fastball sat in the 90-92 mph range, and he also worked with a couple of offspeed pitches.

It’s tough to see a Major League-ready arm depart for future hopefuls, but it is the price that must be paid when you own one of the best farm systems in baseball. The Yankees will lose quality talent through Rule 5 but moves like this help protect more players. Last year was tough when the Yankees lost young catching prospect Luis Torrens who stuck on the San Diego Padres’ roster all season. I expect this year to be no different. For Rumbelow, he’s 26 and will have a much clearer shot at making a 2018 opening day roster with an opportunity to join the Mariners bullpen already stocked with former Yankees David Phelps and James Pazos.

I wonder if Brian Cashman is working today. Stupid question, I know he is. Go Yankees!