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…
Thanks to a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles last night, the Yankees finally get back into the win column. Of course, it’s been so long, I had forgotten what “win” means. So, I looked it up in the dictionary:
1.be successful or victorious in (a contest or conflict).“the Mets have won four games in a row”
synonyms: take, be the victor in, be the winner of, come first in, take first prize in, triumph in, be successful in More
The definition references the Mets, so I guess this is just another loss…
Now the real season begins…
Admittedly, I didn’t watch any of the World Series games. It was hard for me to get excited about either the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets. I was definitely not one of the Yankees fans that jumped on the Mets bandwagon. Congratulations to the Royals for their championship as they truly played like champions to get the title (even if I didn’t see it).
The end of the World Series is good as it signaled the start of the Hot Stove League. Of course, November tends to be a slower month, especially as we get closer to Thanksgiving. But things should be humming this time next month.
Hopefully, the Yankees do not have another off-season of inactivity. The free agent market doesn’t look overly appealing but I doubt the Yankees will be big ticket buyers anyway since no large contracts are coming off the books. Of the possible moves, I would support a move to sign Justin Upton and trade Brett Gardner. When Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are on, they are a dynamite duo. But it happened too infrequently last season due to injuries. As for pitchers, I know the Yankees won’t spend the money for Zack Greinke, but either Jeff Samardzija or Jordan Zimmerman would be good. I have heard the complaints about Samardzija and how he wouldn’t play at Yankee Stadium since he is a flyball pitcher, but he’s an innings eater. With so many health risks in the starting rotation, it would be nice to have dependability in at least one spot (well, two if you consider Luis Severino). Otherwise, the others are almost assured of being part of DL-R-US at some point in the season.
Aside from those guys, there really isn’t much that excites me. I respect Ben Zobrist, but he’s on the wrong side of 30. I understand Rob Refsnyder’s defensive limitations, but I’d still rather go with youth and potential at second over age even if it means sacrifice in the short run. I like Dustin Ackley and keep hoping that he has a resurgence to reach some of the potential he had early in his career. That one might be a pipe dream, but I am fine with Refsnyder and Ackley at second over bringing in a higher cost free agent.
I have my concerns about Chase Headley at third, but he’s not going anywhere. Of course, there’s Mark Teixeira and it is inevitable that 2016 will be broken up by another stint or stints on the DL. I am sure that Greg Bird will be a frequent traveler on the Scranton/Wilkes Barre to NYC Shuttle which is too bad since Bird has proven he can play at this level. Just waiting for Teixeira’s contract to expire…
Nothing against Brian McCann but it’s too bad his contract is so long and that DH is occupied by Alex Rodriguez. Gary Sanchez is starting to show the promise that we’ve known for so many years and it won’t be long until he’s knocking on the door at Yankee Stadium. I like John Ryan Murphy, but Sanchez will push him aside when its time.
It should be a fun off-season.
I had hoped that GM Brian Cashman would go outside the organization to bring in a replacement for Assistant GM Billy Eppler who left to take the GM job with the Los Angeles Angels. However, they stayed in-house and went with Tim Naehring although he won’t get Eppler’s Assistant GM job title. I have no qualms with the choice (even if the guy is a Red Sock), but wish they had brought some new blood into the organization.
I later read the Yankees reached out to former Boston GM Ben Cherington which would have been a good choice. But I understand his reasons for staying out of the game for now.
Speaking of GM’s, I was shocked to see the sudden departure of Alex Anthopoulos. He reinvigorated the Blue Jays with his bold moves. He shouldn’t have a problem getting another gig but the timing wasn’t the best since all of the GM slots are presently filled. Of all the good things I’ve heard about Mark Shapiro (the new president of the Blue Jays), I am surprised that Anthopoulos didn’t stick around at least one year to give it a chance.
Donnie Baseball in South Beach…
Congratulations to Don Mattingly for getting another job so quickly. He’ll see some familiarity with guys like Dee Gordon (a former Dodger) but he’ll find it’s different going from a team that isn’t afraid of spending money to one that routinely shows its frugal ways. But I’d take Giancarlo Stanton over Yasiel Puig any day of the week. I am sure that Mattingly will miss Clayton Kershaw, but he should do well in Miami. It didn’t work out for Joe Girardi and countless others, but Mattingly has the right personality and attitude to make it work.
As a Los Angeles resident, I’ll miss Mattingly heading the local team. As for the Dodgers, it’s anybody’s guess who will be the new manager. If they opt for Nebraska coach Darin Erstad, it would be funny to see an Angel as the Dodgers manager considering the Angels have a Dodger as their manager. I am intrigued with the idea of Kirk Gibson given his history with the Dodgers, and of course, I think Dave Martinez is ready to be a manager and he has strong ties to Andrew Friedman from their days in Tampa. Whomever gets the job will experience the incredible heat that Mattingly endured the last couple of years. It’s funny that the Yankees job would be an easier one than the Dodgers, but times have changed.
End of a run…
Sadly, the 2015 postseason has meant the demise of Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Mattingly was always one of my favorite players so it was easy to cheer for the Dodgers as my second favorite or favorite NL team when I moved to Los Angeles. I didn’t think Mattingly was ready to manage when he was a contender for the Yankees’ managerial position that ultimately went to Joe Girardi when Joe Torre left. But since becoming the Dodgers manager, I felt that Donnie Baseball has grown every year.
The post-season is such a weird, frenetic time. It’s not really about the best team in baseball as the St Louis Cardinals can attest but rather whichever teams are playing the best in October. In shortened one or five game series, anything can happen. For a team with a $300+ million payroll, the Dodgers had too many flaws. A weak starting rotation after the big two of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, short on a few big or clutch bats, and the disadvantage to run into a New York Mets starting pitching staff that jelled at the right time (just ask the Chicago Cubs).
I’d have a very hard time pinning this one on Mattingly. I know that he has not enjoyed playoff success, but his teams effectively compete year after year. His time will come and he will be soaking in the bubbly at some future point.
I am hopeful that Mattingly is a big league manager next year. Not crazy about the thought of the Miami Marlins, but they would be very fortunate to have him.
As a game strategist, I would clearly take Joe Girardi over Don Mattingly. But man for man, the preference is Mattingly. If I owned the Yankees, I could easily fire Girardi to replace him with Mattingly. Of course, I’d also look for a very strong bench coach, but I think Mattingly does a better job of relating to people.
Maybe one day Donnie Baseball can make the return to the Yankees organization, but sadly, that time is not now. So, I’ll cheer for him wherever he lands, wherever that may be.
Sorry, it’s just hard for me to get excited about the upcoming New York Mets-Kansas City Royals World Series. I really have no interest in seeing either team become the latest World Champions. I guess this is one of those years that I’ll have to impatiently await the start of the Hot Stove League.
Let the Bird fly…
I dislike reading the reports that first baseman Greg Bird may have to go back to the minor leagues. He proved that he is major league ready and he’ll only get better. I know that Mark Teixeira is the better defender, but I simply do not trust Teixeira’s ability to stay healthy. I guess that’s part of the logic in sending Bird down. Inevitably, there will be a point in time that he’ll be needed. It’s too bad. I would rather turn the page, and move forward with Bird today. Then, look for a solid backup with good defensive skills. In other words, I am ready for the Mark Teixeira Show to end its run in New York.
Anthony J. Causi
With so many heavy contracts still on the roster, it appears that the Yankees will be very limited in their ability to create roster flexibility this off-season. I think it would be foolish to expect the same (or better) production from the older guys, like Alex Rodriguez. Somehow, the 2016 Yankees need to be re-constructed knowing that there will be continued regression among the above 30 players. I know, an obvious statement, but not one that’s easy to do. I would expect significant major league contributions at some point next season by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. But that will mean potential injuries to Carlos Beltran and/or Brian McCann. Injuries break continuity and momentum. I would rather do what it takes to eliminate or at least reduce the odds of injury.
Best of luck to Billy Eppler…
I was disappointed to see Billy Eppler go, but it’s a good opportunity for him to return to his native California as the new GM of the Los Angeles Angels. Time will tell if his run is successful, but he certainly has the tools. I know that I’d love to have Mike Trout as the core player on my team.
I am not sure if GM Brian Cashman has plans to replace Eppler, but if he does, I hope that he brings in new blood from the outside rather than promote from the old guard. The commitment to youth is working, but sustainability is continuing to make the right decisions on players. The Yankees have made a few too many poor player decisions, so this is an area that continually needs improvement.
I wish the Yankees could have found a way to keep Eppler, even if it meant moving Cashman up and out of the GM role. But now that he’s gone, the Yankees need to find that next potential superstar GM to serve as Cashman’s chief lieutenant.
Is the World Series over yet?… ;(
(Not) Takin’ Care of Business…
The last week has been a struggle for the New York Yankees. This team is not playing like one that will enjoy post-season success. It seemed as though they were playing from behind in almost every game against the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. Those deep first inning holes were virtually impossible to overcome, especially when team hitting is in a slump. These are not good signs for Tuesday’s Wild Card game.
I thought Manager Joe Girardi was wrong resting guys during Saturday’s double-header with the Orioles. While I realize it is important to rest guys, it could have cost the Yankees a chance to play their Wild Card game at home. With the Yankees most likely facing the Houston Astros and their ace, Dallas Kuechel, the home field advantage is huge. If the Yankees can’t win Tuesday’s game, what good was the additional rest last Saturday?…
Fortunately, the Yankees have the Arizona Diamondbacks to thank for their season-ending victory over the Astros to give the Yankees home field advantage. But it is the Astros who carry momentum into the winner take all, one game format. Plus, the ace advantage is theirs with Kuechel, with a Yankees offense that can’t seem to hit good (or bad) pitching.
At the beginning of the year, I didn’t feel the Yankees had the team to succeed in October. As the regular reason ends today with the Yankees in the post-season, I still do not believe they can succeed. The season ending series against the Red Sox and Orioles showed that they do not have the clutch hitters (outside of Carlos Beltran) to get the job done. The Yankees can get guys on base…they just can’t bring them home. Now that the pitching will be amplified in the play-offs, it’s only going to get worse from here. The Yankees have showed no heart in September and that doesn’t translate to playoff success. I know, the Yankees lost the last six of the regular season in 2000 and won the World Series. That was a much better team and the 2015 squad does not have the same resiliency.
I still think there were some moves that GM Brian Cashman could have made at the trading deadline without sacrificing the farm to bring in additional strength and energy for the pennant run. It was disappointing then for the Yankees to do nothing, and it hurts even more now as the team struggled at the end of the regular season like a whipped puppy. I know that it would have cost a lot of money, but Max Scherzer would have looked so good in the Yankees rotation. With no sure things in the rotation, Scherzer would have gone to the head of the Class. With him on the mound, I would have liked the chances against the Astros much better.
This has been an agonizing week as a Yankees fan. It was hard to see the team throttled like a bottom feeder by the Red Sox, and then tossed around like a salad by the Orioles.
Probably my biggest fear with the Yankees’ achievement of a Wild Card is that it fuels Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner’s belief that he can rebuild the team exclusively through the farm system. While there are talented guys in the system, it is far from one of the best. They need to supplement the promising prospects with good, smart trades and thoughtful, strategic free agent acquisitions. Paul O’Neill would have never had a Yankees career if the team hadn’t taken a chance on the former Cincinnati Reds outfielder. The Chicago Cubs look masterful for their acquisition of starting pitcher Jake Arrieta who should be the NL Cy Young winner. At the time of the trade with the Orioles, Arrieta was just another miscellaneous transaction and there were no tears shed in Baltimore. How much would the O’s like to have him today? That’s what you pay scouts for and that’s the difference between winners and losers.
The regular season is over. The Yankees now have one game to prove me wrong. They need to bring heart and intensity to Tuesday’s game, and show the World they are not the September pushover they appeared to be. I so want to believe that I am wrong and that this team is capable of much, much more. At least their destiny is in their hands. I am sure the Los Angeles Angels would gladly change positions with the Yankees, along with a few other teams like the Red Sox and O’s.
Congratulations to the NL West Champions…
Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers for winning the NL West and securing home field advantage against their first round play-off foe, the New York Mets. Like the Yankees, the Dodgers hit a slight bump in September but they recovered and won the games they needed to win. At one point, it seemed improbable they would catch the Mets for a better record. Yet, they persevered and did exactly that.
The National League will be very hard to win with the presence of the St Louis Cardinals, but I thought Manager Don Mattingly did a good job this year. It helps when you have All-World players like Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but he had to manage around disappointing seasons for Yasiel Puig and Joc Pedersen. The arrival of Corey Seager is exciting even if it likely means the end of the short Dodgers career for Jimmy Rollins. I fully expect the Dodgers to advance to the NLCS to take on the Cardinals. Nothing against the Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates or Chicago Cubs, but I feel that the NL World Series representative will be either the Cardinals or Dodgers. I can’t say that I’d be disappointed if the Cubs advanced to the World Series, but I think they are still a year away.
Well, time for us to find out who will be this October’s heroes…