Meanwhile, the Rumor Mill runs rampant…
As 2018 winds down to a close, all is quiet in the Yankees Universe except for Yankee Twitter and the endless possibilities expressed, again and again, by Yankee fans. The Yankees still have holes to fill in the bullpen and no confirmed plan at this moment in time to use anybody other than Tyler Wade and Gleyber Torres at shortstop to cover for Didi Gregorius. It does not appear these answers will be provided in 2018 and must wait until the calendar year changes.
Although Manny Machado has indicated he will not make his long-awaited decision until after the first of the year, I don’t think anybody knows what that really means. I think some Yankee fans and industry experts think we’ll have his choice on New Year’s Day or worst case, the next day. I honestly do not think this will be resolved that quickly. To account for some of the inevitable back and forth between teams (if that hasn’t already happened), I’ll predict we have Manny’s decision by Tuesday, January 8th. I think the first week of January will be trying to elicit the best possible offers from the interested teams. As much as I want the Yankees to sign Machado, it remains my belief he’ll take more money to play in the City of Brotherly Love or the Windy City. I heard Larry Bowa on MLB Network yesterday talking about how the Phillies can overcome Machado’s childhood fascination with the Yankees by adding a few more zeroes to the check. If this goes into an all-out bidding war, I have no doubt the Yankees will come in third to the Phillies and White Sox. At that point, Manny has to decide what is best for him and his family.
Manny Machado and wife, Yainee Alonso
The sooner Manny decides, the sooner we can move on to Plan B. I am ready to close the door, one way or the other. I am mentally prepared. If we have to settle for Freddy Galvis at shortstop, so be it. Let’s move on. At this point, pitching remains the team’s most critical need.
MLB Network’s Jon Paul Morosi is reporting the Los Angeles Angels are interested in David Robertson. Despite D-Rob’s expressed interest in playing close to his Rhode Island home, Morosi notes that Robertson would have the opportunity to close for the Angels and of course he knows Angels GM Billy Eppler well from their time together with the Yankees. It makes sense to me. I’d rather see D-Rob go to Anaheim versus pitching at Fenway Park for the Red Sox. I personally love Southern California so, in my opinion, it’s a no-brainer. I think it would be fun to play on the same team with Mike Trout. Eppler is trying to squeeze a few more wins out of his team with the recent signings of Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill. He needs to protect those investments by getting a reliable reliever to close out games. Robertson will be a much cheaper option than guys like Zach Britton and Craig Kimbrel and he’d fit well under new manager Brad Ausmus. Not that I am wishing D-Rob to the Angels. I’d still like to see him come back to the Bronx, but if that doesn’t happen, Anaheim is a preferred destination over division rivals.
Angels GM Billy Eppler
Gumby had a birthday yesterday. Jordan Montgomery turned 26 as he continues to work his way back from last summer’s Tommy John surgery. No doubt we’ll see the former Gamecock somewhere around the time Didi Gregorius returns (or maybe a little later in the season if Didi is somehow ready to go by June or July). Not expecting much out of Montgomery next season but I am looking forward to seeing him in Pinstripes again. Happy Belated Birthday, Jordan!
Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)
Searching for things to watch on TV last night, I settled on the original version of A Star Is Born (1937) starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Of course, it made me think of the 1937 Yankees. They won the ninth World Series in franchise history that year, finishing 102-52 to win the AL Pennant by 13 games over the Detroit Tigers. They defeated the New York Giants in five games to claim the World Series championship. What a year for Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig! The 34-year-old Gehrig, within two years from being forced from the game due to ALS, had 37 home runs and 158 RBIs. He batted .351/.473/.643 and had an OPS of 1.116. He took 127 walks to only 49 strikeouts. 22 year-old Joe DiMaggio had staggering numbers for such a young player. 46 homers, 167 RBIs, .346/.412/.673 and 1.085 OPS. He took fewer walks than Gehrig (64), but only struck out 37 times. Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri at second, Frankie Crosetti at short, Red Rolfe at third and a pitching staff anchored by Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing. Collectively, Gomez and Ruffing won 41 games as both pitchers reached the 20-win mark. Gomez threw six shutouts in 34 starts, pitching 278 1/3 innings, allowing only 72 earned runs for 2.33 ERA. Total Yankees domination. I love it! I know I left out some other great Yankees for the 1937 team but it must have been grand watching the Yankees annihilate their opponents year by year in the late 1930’s.
Moving back into current times, I felt kind of bad for Tyler Austin yesterday. When the Twins elected not to retain Logan Morrison after one year and Twins great Joe Mauer decided to retire, it appeared that Austin had a clear path to playing time for Minnesota next season. Then, the Twins acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Tampa Bay Rays and yesterday they inked former Seattle Mariners slugger and DH Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal with an option. Austin’s path to playing time appears to be blocked once again like it was with the Yankees. I was surprised Cruz went with Minnesota. I had really expected him to end up with the Houston Astros. He would have been a deadly bat in that lineup. I guess it’s better for the Yankees he went with Minnesota but of course he adds a weapon if the Twins can get a Wild Card rematch with the Yankees to avenge their loss in 2017. Cruz may be 38 but he has that David Ortiz knack for smashing huge home runs at the best times (or worst times, depending upon your perspective). I guess Ronald Torreyes will have plenty of opportunities for his Toe Night Show at Target Field next season.
I was reading one blog the other day that talked about trades the Yankees wish they could undo. The blogger listed the Brandon Drury trade as his first choice. I know that trade didn’t work out, but I don’t look at it as one I’d undo. I really liked Drury’s acquisition at the time of the trade. I liked the player and the potential that I thought he could bring to the team. A solid defender with some pop. I know it cost the Yankees several really good prospects (second baseman Nick Solak, currently rated as the eleventh best prospect for the Tampa Bay Rays by MLB.com and pitcher Taylor Widener, who ranks as second best prospect for the Arizona Diamondbacks) but I can’t say I’d undo the trade. It was a risk worth taking. It didn’t work out. Drury had the undisclosed migraines and never really performed for the Yankees before losing his job to Miguel Andujar and subsequently getting traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in the J.A. Happ deal. I thought then and I still feel that when healthy and given the opportunity, Drury is going to help a team. Not sure the Blue Jays are that team since 2019 should bring the emergence of top prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr to the Show at some point during the season to place a stranglehold on third base for years to come but Drury will make good on his promise one day. Look, I’d love to have Widener back but I wouldn’t undo the Drury trade even with the benefit of hindsight. You have to take those types of chances to get better and I’d never want to see GM Brian Cashman get “gun shy” and start holding onto prospects longer than he should. Some trades work, some trades don’t. That’s how it goes.
Not that I am trying to wish the new year to get here any faster, but I am looking forward to getting to next Wednesday so that the Hot Stove League can resume activity. The days of nothingness are long and boring on the baseball front. I am anxious and excited for pitchers and catchers to report to Tampa, FL on February 13th but there is still so much work to be done. We need to ensure that Aaron Boone, in 2019, knows what it must have felt like to be Joe McCarthy in 1937. No pressure, Cash. Talk to your boss and get it done.
As always, Go Yankees!
Happy Mother’s Day! With no offense to Derek Jeter, that’s still the primary special occasion today. So I hope it’s a wonderful Mother’s Day for all mothers in the Yankees Universe. This is your day! None of us would be here getting ready to celebrate Derek Jeter Night if not for you.
Congrats to Derek Jeter as he gets ready to leave a permanent reminder of his notable Yankee achievements in Monument Park. Unless someone eventually takes number “0”, it’s the final single-digit number to be retired.
As the number 2 begins to make its way to the Monument Park Wall, it’s hard not to remember when it was worn by the late Bobby Murcer. Murcer wore the number when he was reacquired from the Chicago Cubs in 1979 until his release in 1983. Bobby was a great Yankee. I don’t really remember much of his first tour with the Yankees, but growing up in the Midwest, Murcer was constantly on TV with the Cubs. I knew his history with the Yankees and he was a welcome addition to the 1979 Yankees which would soon be marred by one of the team’s greatest tragedies (the death of catcher Thurman Munson). As a close friend of Munson, Murcer’s actions and words in the days following the tragic plane crash in Akron, Ohio were huge. It was easy to see how much Murcer loved Munson and the Yankees. We were later privileged to have Murcer as a Yankees broadcaster until his passing.
Of course, #2 recognition also has to be given to Mark Koenig who was the first Yankee to wear the number in 1929 courtesy of his spot in the lineup. Koenig, the team’s shortstop, was part of the famed 1927 Murderer’s Row, when he batted second in front of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri.
Yankees third baseman Red Rolfe wore the number from 1931 until his retirement after the 1942 season.
The only person to wear #2 for more years than Jeter was Frankie Crosetti. Also a shortstop, Crosetti spent his entire 17-year playing career as a member of the Yankees. He started wearing #2 in the final years of his playing career in 1945 and continued throughout his 20-year coaching career with the team which ended in 1968.
While Number 2 is being retired for Jeter, the number will forever carry the significant contributions of those who wore the number before the kid from Kalamazoo.
The first game of today’s double-header begins at 2:05 pm Eastern. The Derek Jeter Night pre-game ceremony scheduled between games will start no earlier than 6:30 pm ET. The second game of the doubleheader will begin following the pregame ceremony but no earlier than 7:30 pm ET. Many former teammates will be in attendance including David Cone, Tino Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Paul O’Neill, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Gerald Williams, and Bernie Williams. Former Yankee greats Reggie Jackson and Willie Randolph will also be there, along with Dick Groch, an area scout who signed Jeter, former Yankees head athletic trainer Gene Monahan, and Jean “Soot” Zimmer, widow of former Yankees coach Don Zimmer.
Derek Jeter, this is your day…your night. Enjoy!
The New York Post’s Steve Serby had a Q&A with Aaron Hicks this morning. When asked what is the biggest criticism he’s heard that bothers him the most, he responded: “I don’t want to be considered…I want to be a starter. I don’t want to be a fourth outfielder. That’s kind of something that I don’t like. I’m better than a fourth outfielder.” I agree 100%. Sadly it is time for GM Brian Cashman to create the room in the outfield for Hicks to start. Without question, I would love for the Yankees to move Jacoby Ellsbury, but that’s not happening. So, it is back to Brett Gardner as the most marketable outfield asset for a trade. Gardner’s recent homer binge hopefully raised his perceived value.
Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals agreed to a one-year $21.65 million contract for the 2018 season. It includes a $1 million incentive if he win’s the MVP Award. The contract buys out Harper’s final year of arbitration eligibility and he maintains eligibility to become a free agent following the 2018 season. He’s making $13.625 million this year. To celebrate his new contract, he hit a walk-off two-run homer to beat the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday. I am anxious to see what he does when he signs that 10-year $400 million deal with the Yankees in a couple of years. Hal, it’s just money…
It’s not really Yankees news but Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Chris Iannetta took a fastball to the face in Friday’s action. The pitch fractured some teeth and Iannetta’s nose, but the catcher is doing okay and hoping to avoid a DL stint. The pitch was thrown by former Yankees prospect Johnny Barbato, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this year. All the best to Iannetta with his recovery. It could have been much worse and I am thankful it was not.
|Credit: Mark J Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports|
Have a great Mother’s Day and Derek Jeter Night! Let’s take two!