The Yankees’ Migration to Florida Begins…
When the calendar page turns next Friday, we will enter a month WITH Yankees baseball for the first time since last October. It may not be “real games” but we’re getting the band together again in Tampa, FL and the Yankees will be playing their first organized exhibition game in less than a month when they travel to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers on Saturday, February 23rd to take on the bullpen-challenged Boston Red Sox.
I don’t know about you but I am ready to see the guys at Steinbrenner Field and watching the navy blue spring jerseys in full force.
Before pitchers and catchers report to camp in roughly two and a half weeks, I’d really like to see the Yankees formally introduce their off-season acquisitions in a press conference at Yankee Stadium. It doesn’t appear it is going to happen but I always loved it when the Yankees held press conferences at the Stadium followed by photo sessions down on the often snow-covered field. It seems like ages ago when the Yankees acquired James Paxton, yet we’ve only heard his voice in interviews. Most of us have yet to see the smile on his face and the Big Maple tattoo on his arm as he talks about the excitement of being a Yankee.
Photo Credit: The Seattle Times (Ken Lambert)
If I owned the Yankees, I’d pull Paxton, Troy Tulowitzki, DJ LeMahieu, and Adam Ottavino to New York before they head to Tampa. Heck, Ottavino is already there so it would save Hal Steinbrenner some money.
Nice post yesterday by Bryan Van Dusen entitled “Bryce Harper Will Be a Yankee”. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t already done so. The way the market is playing out seems to be opening the possibility that Harper could find his way to Yankee Stadium. While I’ve long been a Manny Machado guy, I don’t really see the fit with Manny anymore given the infield acquisitions and the optimism Didi Gregorious could be back sooner than expected. Will there be a mid-summer “acquisition” better than Didi? I don’t think so. But as Bryan outlined yesterday, Harper fits the Yankees so many ways. I am sure they’ve heard the words of the newest Yankees talk about the reasons they joined the team. The theme of of an organization that wants to win every year resonates as does the lifelong dreams of wearing the famed Pinstripes. We know Bryce desires to be a Yankee. Hal Steinbrenner can make it happen and provide Yankee fans with one of the greatest young players in the game today (to go with our collection of other great young players).
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
The Boston Red Sox are seemingly hamstrung by their payroll. Not that I want the Yankees to be in a similar position, but the time to strike is now. Show no mercy. I want a roster that ensures the Red Sox are the team battling for Wild Card position this season and not the Yankees. The weakest position on the team, in my opinion, is left field. Brett Gardner is simply no longer the player he once was. Getting old sucks. I have no trust in Clint Frazier’s ability to stay healthy until he proves that he can. Jacoby Ellsbury? Please. Bring Bryce Harper to New York. His presence would help the other guys in the lineup and he’d deflect pressure off guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez.
If the market moves in the Yankees’ favor and they do sign Harper for less than original estimates, it will be one of Brian Cashman’s best moves in his Yankees career. Bryce Harper, New York Yankees. It sounds so right (or should I say ‘so lefty’?). Works for me. Let J.A. Happ pick out a new number. I hope he has that problem.
Staying with the “it’s just money” theme, the Yankees got a good idea what it might take to retain CF Aaron Hicks when the Los Angeles Dodgers signed oft-injured CF A.J. Pollock to a five-year, $60 million contract this week. Hicks, if he can stay healthy this season, figures to command an equal if not greater deal. I probably wish Estevan Florial was closer to The Show but the Yankees will have some tough choices next off-season with Hicks, Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances.
It’s great to see the finalization of Adam Ottavino’s three-year contract. I am really excited about his presence on this year’s team. I wanted Ottavino to wear Number 0 but I understood the concerns of those who didn’t want the Yankees to issue a number that has never been worn in the history of the franchise. In the end, I am glad the Yankees made the decision to allow Otto to wear his number. I know many wanted Number 2 to be the last single digit worn but there’s no disrespect with Otto continuing the tradition of single digits. I was a little surprised when the Yankees retired Joe Torre’s Number 6. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the manager and I loved the championships he brought to the organization, but it’s not like he played on the field with number 6 and it’s not necessarily a number we strongly associate with him. I get retiring Casey Stengel’s number but honestly I think retiring numbers should be reserved for players, especially when the organization has so many retired numbers. Aaron Boone managed 162 regular season games last year plus the Wild Card game and ALDS, yet we could probably count on one hand the number of times we actually saw his number. Boone could win the next five consecutive World Series but I wouldn’t retire Number 17. The recognition should be for the players, not the coaching staff. Players have a greater effect on the success of a manager than the manager has on the players. The point is, Number 6 should still be in circulation, and Otto’s number 0 should not be the last single digit.
Well, since Number 6 is retired, I do think they should honor Roy White and give him equal credit for the number in the way Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra share the retirement of Number 8. Roy White was such a huge and consistent part of the Yankees in the early years of my fandom. The lifetime Yank deserves his day in the sun at Yankee Stadium, and recognition with a plaque in Monument Park. White played 15 years for the Yankees from 1965 through 1979. He was always overshadowed by the bigger names but he was the consummate professional and the glue on so many of those great Yankee teams. Maybe his numbers did not warrant the sole retirement of his number but he deserves credit for it as much as Joe Torre in a shared capacity, in my opinion.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Speaking of retired numbers, it will be interesting to see if the Yankees take Number 35 out of circulation now that Mike Mussina has been elected to the Hall of Fame. I was pleased to see Mussina make the HOF but he was never a lock to make it in my opinion. There are certainly a number of players who are equally deserving, or maybe even more so, that have never gotten the call. Nevertheless, I am proud of Mussina’s accomplishment. I had felt he should go into the Hall of Fame with his Orioles cap but I was pleased with his decision to go in with no logo like fellow Hall of Famer Roy “Doc” Halladay who was equally great on two teams (same as Moose).
Mariano Rivera. What else can you say? The first man unanimously selected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame. There is no one better deserving of the honor and recognition. We were privileged to see one of the game’s greatest and the best to ever play his position for so many years at Yankee Stadium. Growing up, I always thought how cool it would have been to see Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle (in his prime) play. As it stands today, I am glad I was able to see guys like Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, and the Sandman. It makes up for never having seen the earlier legends. Congratulations Mo! You were one of a kind and we may never see someone of your greatness again. It was our pleasure to watch you.
Lastly, I was disappointed to see Al Leiter’s departure from the YES Network. I get his reasons for stepping down (to spend more time with his family and mentor his 18-year-old son Jack who will most likely be seen on Major League mounds in about a half decade or so). I was glad to hear Al will continue to appear on MLB Network but his voice will be sorely missed in the YES Network broadcast booth.
I am excited that Baseball is right around the corner. After next weekend (the Super Bowl), all eyes will turn to America’s greatest game. Well, maybe not basketball fans and March Madness, but for the rest of us, the dawn of the 2019 season is on the horizon. Can’t wait.
As always, Go Yankees!
How much are these stats worth?
13 Home Runs
.355 Batting Average
New speculation is placing the value of Bryce Harper’s next contract closer to $500 million than the previously thought $400 million. With an argument that Harper is twice the player Giancarlo Stanton is, is he worth twice the contract (or $650 million)? Harper is going to bring new meaning the term “franchise player”. How much did George Steinbrenner pay for the Yankees back in 1973? It’s a rhetorical question but the answer is $10 million (with 60% in borrowed funds). Granted, the Yankees are now worth more than $3.7 billion but it’s still phenomenal to think how much money Harper is going to get.
At face value and with a strong right-fielder already in place, I have to say that despite Harper’s greatness, Manny Machado is looking better and better every day. As luck would have it, we happen to need a third baseman. I am just not so sure about the one more year of Chase Headley part…
Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
As a Yankees fan, I am not a supporter of the Toronto Blue Jays but their players continue to provide more reasons to dislike them. The bat flip by Joey Bats after a home run against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday was ridiculous. I had no problem with Braves catcher Tyler Flowers pointing at Bautista with an inside-fastball sign on a pitch selection the next night. Braves pitcher Julio Teheran promptly drilled one into Bautista’s thigh. But the homophobic comments that Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar directed at Braves reliever Jason Motte were totally unacceptable. The anti-gay slur resulted in a two-game suspension for Pillar. I hope the Atlanta Braves fans realize that the Blue Jays are not representative of all AL East teams.
Tyler Austin has joined High-A Tampa to begin his rehab assignment. The Yankees will have some decisions to make when he finishes the rehab assignment. With Greg Bird ready to begin his rehab assignment next week, it increases the likelihood that Austin heads to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. But the RailRiders have a good recent addition at first already. Mike Ford, called up last week from AA-Trenton, has three homers in six games and eight RBI’s. He is 8-for-26 (.308). The RailRiders are also loaded in the outfield with Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler, Mason Williams, and Mark Payton. If it were up to me, I’d think hard about moving/cutting Chris Carter and slotting Austin in as backup first baseman/outfielder.
Roy White Day.
Alright, I’ll join the bandwagon. My awareness of White was more acute during his age 30+ seasons, but he was a trusted, reliable and a bit under-appreciated member of the Yankees and those back-to-back World Championships in the late 70’s. For a team that was overflowing with superstars, White simply did his job when called on. With no disrespect to Joe Torre who retired #6, I still think of White when I see the number. Not many players stay with one team their entire career, but White was one of them with fifteen years in Pinstripes. The other outfielders, Reggie Jackson and Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers, were more flamboyant but White always seemed to come up big whenever you needed him. I agree, he gave his baseball life to the Yankees and it is only right that they give Roy his day at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees have a new manager!
Credit: Brendan Kuty/NJ Advance Media
Okay, it was just one game. Bench coach Rob Thomson was manager of the New York Yankees on Friday night so that Joe Girardi, could attend his daughter’s high school graduation. Congrats to Joe Girardi for showing (and the Steinbrenner Family for allowing) that family does truly matter.
Credit: YES Network
A lost night in St. Petersburg…
Rob Thomson, you’re fired (just kidding…well, maybe a little serious). One-game manager Rob Thomson, filling in for Joe Girardi, failed in his one attempt to steer the ship. Back to the bench for you, Rob. The Yankees were undone by a pitcher who couldn’t make it more than five innings, thereby placing a heavier burden on the bullpen, a bad defensive play at third, and Thomson’s decision to leave his best hitters on the bench in a three-up, three-down ninth inning that led to the 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Luis Severino only gave up one run, a first inning double by Logan Morrison that scored Evan Longoria, and struck out seven Rays. But he gave up five hits and three walks with 89 pitches (only 59 for strikes) and was gone by the sixth inning.
After the Rays had tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning at 2-2 with runners at second and third and two outs, the Yankees could have avoided further damage. With third baseman Ronald Torreyes thinking about the runner advancing to home plate, a hopper by Rickie Weeks Jr went under his glove into left field, scoring the two runners on base. Weeks Jr was credited with a double in a very liberal decision as it probably should have been an error by Toe.
Matt Holliday did his part in trying to bring the Yankees back. After a walk to Brett Gardner and a pop-out by Jacoby Ellsbury to open the eighth, Holliday homered to right to tie the game at 4. The Rays came right back in the bottom of the inning when Tyler Clippard (0-2) gave up a run-scoring single by Evan Longoria after putting two men on base through walks. Longoria has gotten off to a slow start this season but against the Yankees, he always looks All-World. A 4-for-5 night, with two runs scored and the RBI, ensured the Yankees were playing from behind.
|Credit: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports|
Still, the Yankees could have rallied again in the ninth inning, but Thomson kept both Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks on the bench so we’ll never know. Sanchez and Hicks, both of whom had the night off, could only watch as Chris Carter struck out (surprise, surprise) and Austin Romine grounded out to end the game.
The loss dropped the Yankees to 24-15. With Baltimore’s 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in extra innings, the O’s closed the gap in the AL East to just a half-game again. The Boston Red Sox lost so I guess the evening wasn’t a complete disappointment.
Welcome back, Joe Girardi. I will be glad to have you back in the saddle for today’s game. I hope the graduation ceremony was a tremendous success for Serena and the family, but it will be great to have you making the lineup decisions today.
Have a great Saturday! Let’s win the games we should win and not give them away.