The Holiday Season Slowdown…
As the final days of 2017 burn away, there’s not much happening in the Yankees Universe…at the moment. Granted, this has been one of the quieter off-seasons for all MLB teams with so many unsigned free agents. I know, we already got our shiny new toy (Giancarlo Stanton) but there is still work to be done.
|Credit: Stan Grossfield, Boston Globe|
The Yankees finally announced the one-year, $10 million deal for CC Sabathia this week. Realistically, I am expecting some regression from Sabathia at this point (it would be hard to replicate last year’s statistics considering he turns 38 in late July), but he means so much to the clubhouse. I always thought Mike Mussina finishing his career with a 20-win season was the best way to go (short of winning a World Series championship). I doubt Sabathia’s knee will allow him the former but he certainly has a shot at the latter. The value of veteran leadership is understated. I don’t think Matt Holliday gets enough credit for his “behind-the-scenes” work with Aaron Judge last season. With new coaches on board, Sabathia brings a wealth of consistency and mentorship that would otherwise be missing. I am not trying to sell the other team veterans short, but Sabathia has been such a leader in the clubhouse and a guy that the team loves. I am glad to see him back in Pinstripes.
Speaking of Mussina, I think it is a travesty that he currently trails Roger Clemens in the Hall of Fame voting. According to MLB Network, with 27.9% of the votes completed, Clemens currently has 71.6% (75% is needed for induction into the Hall of Fame). Mussina trails Clemens by nearly a percentage point (70.7%). Granted, Clemens has the better stats but he also cheated. Moose played the game cleanly and spent his entire career in the highly charged AL East. I feel that Moose deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame ahead of Clemens. It’s inevitable that Clemens and other Steroid-users like Barry Bonds will eventually make the Hall but I’d prefer that it takes a few more years.
Brendan Kuty of NJ.com is reporting that a reunion between the Yankees and third baseman Todd Frazier is unlikely. With the Sabathia signing, the projected Yankees payroll currently stands at $178 million. Frazier made $12 million in 2017. The Yankees still desire to add a cost-controlled pitcher and need room for trading deadline additions and roster call-ups. This is where the pain of Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract really hurts. I remain hopeful that the Yankees can move Ellsbury. One writer recently suggested that the Yankees pay all but $15 million still owed to Ellsbury (which equates to nearly $53.5 million including $5 million buyout in 2022). The writer (I do not recall who) correctly stated that Ellsbury, still a good player, should be worth at least $5 million per year for another team. He doesn’t steal as many bases as he used to and he’s always an injury risk whenever he takes the field, but if healthy, he can help a team. Of course it has to be a team that he’d waive his no-trade clause for. I keep watching the San Francisco Giants and hoping their efforts to acquire Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton fail. An additional $5 million for payroll would certainly help the Yankees achieve their objective of adding another pitcher while bringing in quality veteran talent at third. I remain hopeful the Yankees can find a way to bring Frazier back but the optimism has faded.
While the Yankees are the early favorites to sign 2018 free agent-to-be Manny Machado, there is no certainty that he will sign with the team. As such, I think a two-year offer for Frazier makes sense if the Yankees can find the payroll room to stay under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million. If the Yankees do sign Machado next year, Frazier is still a valuable roster component, especially if he can play more first base during the upcoming season. If the Chicago Cubs or St Louis Cardinals make a trade with the Baltimore Orioles for Machado, there’s a good chance one of those teams could entice Machado to sign a long-term deal. The cost to acquire Machado, even with just one year left on his contract, will be high so any team parting with the level of talent necessary to acquire the premium player will make every attempt to lock up Machado. Pulling the trigger on such a deal would indicate some willingness or optimism on the receiving team’s part that they could sign Machado. There is no guarantee that Miguel Andujar will be successful at the Major League level or defensively-speaking, that he is even ready. With youth at second base (should Gleyber Torres win the job as expected), I feel that it is too risky to have MLB inexperience at third base too for a team with heightened expectations.
More Cash for Cash…
By now, we all know that GM Brian Cashman has received a 5-year extension worth approximately $25 million. Even the most fervent Cashman critics have acknowledged the good job that Cash has done to rebuild the Yankees farm system. If I owned the team, I would re-structure the front office to model the Chicago Cubs arrangement with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Under that structure, Cashman would become President, Baseball Operations. Randy Levine’s title (President) would be realigned to show his status on the business side of Operations. Actually, he wouldn’t have a job if I owned the team, but I guess that’s another matter. With Cashman’s promotion, I would appoint Tim Naehring as Executive Vice President, General Manager. Naehring would get the job since he is currently viewed as Cashman’s right-hand man although an argument could certainly be made for either Jean Afterman or Damon Oppenheimer.
I hate seeing good people like Billy Eppler and Gary Denbo leave the organization for “better” opportunities and feel that there are ways to reward current Cashman underlings.
2017 Pinstripe Bowl Champions…
Congratulations to the Iowa Hawkeyes for their 27-20 victory over Boston College in the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium yesterday. I have been a lifelong fan of the University of Iowa (perhaps even longer than I’ve been a Yankees fan which dates back to my childhood). It was weird seeing a football field placed in the middle of Yankee Stadium, but for my Hawkeyes, it was their first bowl win since 2010. The Hawkeyes finished 8-5 this year, however, it did include a victory over Ohio State which was the highlight of the season for me.
I can’t really think of a better way to end the year than for one of my favorite teams to win within the confines of the home of my favorite MLB team. Beating Boston was a bonus. Nice job, Hawkeyes!
|Credit: Bryon Houlgrave, The Register|
Now that the Hawkeyes have won their bowl game on hallowed grounds, it is time to bring back the baseball diamond to Yankee Stadium.
I can’t believe the calendar page is getting ready to turn to 2018 but the new year brings great hope and optimism for Yankees fans. I am ready for training camp. We’re only about a month and a half away before pitchers and catchers report. Tampa will soon be rocking with excitement! Now batting, Number 27 (sorry, this never gets old)…
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.
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.
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 27th. My 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.
But back to Baseball and more importantly, Go Yankees!
There has been no Yankees news this week as it appears
the team’s focus is on Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl between Kansas State and
It always concerns me when I hear that the team cannot
focus on pressing matters when there is a specific focus in another area. Haven’t the Yankees heard of
multi-tasking? Instead of worrying about
whether the Wildcats or the Orangemen will win the inaugural New Era Pinstripe
Bowl, I really wish resources were dedicated to finding a pitching staff that
can compete with the Boston Red Sox.
As it stands, the Boston Red Sox have to be the clear
favorite to win the AL East so that leaves the Wild Card up for grabs. There will be no shortage of AL East
competition, without even getting into the other divisions. Baltimore and Toronto both figure to be
improved, plus there’s no way that you can count out the Tampa Bay Rays. Maybe in years past, you could pencil in the
Yanks for at least a Wild Card slot, but that’s certainly not going to be the
case in 2011.
I was reading MLB Trade Rumors and saw their column about
“Unfinished Business: AL East” and have to admit that the Yankees entry
Yankees: starter, right-handed outfielder. The rest of the Yankees’
offseason centers on Andy Pettitte‘s decision, since that will determine whether Brian Cashman has to
pursue a Jeff Francis/Freddy Garcia type or rely on Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. The team will likely add a fourth outfielder who bats right handed
and consider utility infielders and relievers.
At this point, it sounds more and more like Andy Pettitte
will be staying home in Deer Park, Texas for the season. If that’s the case, any of the above options
spell doom for the Yanks. I am not
convinced that A.J. Burnett will have a bounce back season so we are potentially
looking at a rotation that features only two (out of five) solid starters in CC
Sabathia and Phil Hughes. Sorry, but
that’s just not going to get it done against the likes of the Red Sox, Rays,
Tigers, Twins, Rangers, Angels, A’s or even the Orioles.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
If, somehow, the Yankees managed to get by all of the AL
teams to advance to the World Series, they’d be ousted by the Philadelphia
Phillies, San Francisco Giants, or Milwaukee Brewers.
I hate to be so doom and gloom when spring training is
still several months away but it is discouraging to see the other strong teams
get stronger while the Yankees wither away.
Unless you are 23 or 24, time is not your friend. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are not going
to magically have their best seasons ever.
Those days have come and gone.
I do still think that Andy Pettitte will return although
the odds against it increase with each passing day. If I was part of the organization for as long
and successful as Andy, it would be very hard to turn down the team’s appeals
for my return. If they needed me, I’d be
there regardless of the personal sacrifices involved as long as I knew that I
could perform at a high level.
Therefore, I’d be very surprised to see Andy turn his back on the
organization. That’s why I think he’ll
give it one more year and then close the book.
Even if Andy comes back, GM Brian Cashman has to do
more. The setup combo of David Robertson
and Joba Chamberlain does not instill a great sense of confidence based on
their performance last year. Plus, the
day will come when Mariano Rivera simply doesn’t have it anymore and the team
needs to be prepared.
How do you talk the Florida Marlins into trading Josh
Johnson or the Seattle Mariners out of Felix Hernandez? I don’t know but that’s what Brian Cashman is