|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports|
The Hot Stove League is open for business…
The 2019-20 Baseball Off-Season or rather the Hot Stove League has officially begun. While the Washington Nationals and their fans celebrate the World Series championship, the rest of us are left to wonder what could have been. For years, we pointed to 2019 as our championship year. It’s disappointing it did not happen but on the bright side, the window has not closed and the Yankees will be back in 2020 to make noise in October.
I don’t have an off-season plan. I’ve already read plenty of great ones so no need for me to develop a fictional wish list that has no bearing on what Brian Cashman will actually do. My views are more what I’d like to see in the coming months.
But first, I’d like to extend a birthday wish to Daniel Burch, the Co-Founder and Head Writer of The Greedy Pinstripes blog. Happy Birthday, Daniel! I hope it’s a tremendous day for you, KariAnn, and your family. Enjoy, my friend! Speaking of Daniel, if you haven’t already, you should read his response to Hal Steinbrenner’s recent remarks and his off-season plan that was posted yesterday. It’s an excellent read and right on point. It followed a great off-season plan presented by the other Co-Founder of The Greedy Pinstripes, Bryan Van Dusen.
Now back to baseball. I always head into the off-season with great anticipation and optimism. It’s the chance to add enhancements to the team for its run next year. I do not believe in complacency and feel that you should constantly be looking for ways to improve the roster. We saw what complacency delivered for the Boston Red Sox last year. Granted, a number of their guys had career years the year before so a fall was inevitable but it certainly didn’t help that they made no effort to better their defense of their championship. It resulted in a disappointing, lost year for Boston. Not that I didn’t enjoy seeing Boston down and their fans quiet, but my point is simply that complacency never wins.
I know that going into 2020, I do not want a staff of starters capable of only going five or six innings, with a few bullpen games mixed in. We saw the results of a tired pen in October, even with the rest they were given in the regular season’s final month. Like many fans, I want the Yankees to sign Gerrit Cole (or Stephen Strasburg if he opts out). But realistically, I doubt the Yankees sign either. Unlike last year, when I was very hopeful the Yankees would sign either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, I do not hold the same belief about this year’s premier free agents. Not that I don’t want them, just rather I think the Yankees stick to their current business model and show financial constraint. As a Plan B, I’ve certainly warmed to the idea of someone like Zack Wheeler. I’ve long admired Madison Bumgarner but I share the belief that he’ll probably end up with the Atlanta Braves. I think someone like Hyun-Jin Ryu would be a tremendous addition but I can’t believe the Los Angeles Dodgers will let him get away. But then again, I never thought former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda would finish his MLB career as a Yankee.
Regardless of who the Yankees add to the starting rotation (correction, IF they add), there’s no room for J.A. Happ in my opinion. If there’s a move I am very hopeful for, it’s the ability to trade Happ and his contract, even if the team has to cover part of the salary and attach a prospect or two, to another team before the season starts. Last year was a very disappointing one for Happ and at 37 years old, he’s not going to get any better. The Yankees also cannot rely upon Domingo German, who remains on administrative leave for domestic violence. It’s likely he’ll serve a significant suspension next season and even then, I am not so sure I want the man, if the domestic violence accusations are true, on the roster regardless of his 18 wins. I reserve judgment until we know more about his case but at this point, German does not have my support. I know, I was able to forgive Aroldis Chapman and maybe that turns out to be the case with German once we know more. We’ll see but he’s not someone we can count on as we know it today.
I think it is more probable the Yankees will acquire another starter in trade rather than through free agency. I don’t know who they should target. I’ve certainly seen the name of Lucas Giolito come up plenty and I’d be glad to have him, but we’ll have to see how this plays out over the course of the off-season. Personally, I think the Chicago White Sox would be foolish to part with their young ace given the burgeoning young talent in their system. No doubt Brian Cashman and his analytics team have uncovered multiple names they’d love to target.
|Photo Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast, AP|
As of this writing, the following Yankees are free agents: Edwin Encarnacion, Austin Romine, Didi Gregorius, Cory Gearrin, Dellin Betances, CC Sabathia (retired), Brett Gardner and Cameron Maybin.
I’ve seen many people say that Dellin will be back. While I don’t think he’ll let the ridiculous words of Yankees President Randy Levine from a few years ago influence his decision, the fact remains as long as he is free to choose, it’s very possible that he goes elsewhere. I’d hate to see the Bronx native leave and he’s been such a huge part of the bullpen in recent years despite the lost 2019 season. I had assumed he’d sign a one- or two-year deal with the Yankees to rebuild value, but that may not be the case if another team offers him the right amount of money. This morning, Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com made his predictions for likely landing spots and he has Betances signing with the Houston Astros. Honestly, that makes me sick to the stomach. I really do not want to see Dellin in Houston or Boston. I suppose if he must leave, I’d prefer he goes to Philly to join up with Joe Girardi. But of the above-listed free agents, the one I want back the most is Dellin. I hope he and the Yankees are able to come together on a deal to keep him at home in the Bronx.
|Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images|
I think Brett Gardner will be back on another one-year deal. At this point in his career, he’s not getting anything more than one-year deals from the Yankees. If another team were to offer him a multi-year contract, I’d support the Yankees’ decision to let him walk away. I don’t want to de-value what Gardy meant to the Yankees in 2019, but my stance on all players is that I’d rather cut bait a year early than a year too late. But none of it really matters as I expect Gardy to be back in 2020.
Didi Gregorius is a tough one. I love the guy. His personality matches his strong defensive ability and I think, a year removed from Tommy John surgery, his bat will rebound next season to its previous form. It’s hard to envision Didi not with the Yankees. He has meant so much to them since Derek Jeter retired. However, I can easily see the Yankees making Gleyber Torres the everyday shortstop and giving D.J. LeMahieu a permanent spot at second base, his strongest position. It would allow the Yankees to reallocate the money it would take to re-sign Didi to other needs. If the money is re-directed to sign a guy like Gerrit Cole, it would be hard to argue keeping Gregorius in Pinstripes. If he leaves to sign with the rumored favorites, the Milwaukee Brewers or Cincinnati Reds, I’ll be sad but life goes on. Didi has been a great Yankee and as they say, change is inevitable and nothing lasts forever.
Randy Miller has Austin Romine going to the Los Angeles Angels. I can easily see that one coming true. It makes sense for the Southern CA native to go home, and there’s some excitement building in Orange County with Joe Maddon’s appointment as the team’s manager. If the Angels can sign Gerrit Cole and GM Billy Eppler is able to make a few other moves to bring in more talent to support Mike Trout, there’s some reason for optimism for the Angels. I don’t expect the Angels to be competing for the World Series next year, but they’ll be a fun team. I’ll hate to lose Romine but his loss is inevitable, especially if he is given the opportunity to start elsewhere. I’ve enjoyed Romine as the backup catcher but I don’t see him coming back under any circumstances. It’s a great opportunity for Kyle Higashioka and hopefully he’s doing everything possible this winter to prepare himself for the backup role behind Gary Sanchez. Eventually Anthony Siegler and Josh Breaux will be making noise, but for now, Higgy is the best option.
I can see Cameron Maybin coming back on a reasonable, cost-effective deal. I doubt the Yankees try to bring back Cody Gearrin or Edwin Encarnacion (after paying the $5 million buyout rather than $20 million salary for next season). CC, as we all know, is now content to wait for the call to the Hall of Fame.
I had assumed the Yankees would try to sign D.J. LeMahieu to an extension this off-season but upon further thought, I agree with the assessment that LeMahieu holds the overwhelming advantage in negotiations after his brilliant 2019 debut in Pinstripes. The Yankees are better off waiting to see how he performs in 2020. The risk is that he’ll be a free agent after the season but the current Yankees business model looks at the long-term view and will not overpay players like they once did with Jacoby Ellsbury. I know I’d like to see LeMahieu stay in Pinstripes beyond next season but for now, we’ll have to wait.
I don’t think the Yankees need to lock up Gleyber Torres on an extension this off-season but it should be a priority in the next couple of off-seasons. The prime extension target this off-season should be Aaron Judge. Do what it takes. Keep this man in Pinstripes for the duration of his career. Say what you will about the injuries but when healthy, the guy is one of the best in the game.
Today is the day we find out whether or not Aroldis Chapman opts out of his contract. It is assumed that he’ll opt out if he and the Yankees are unable to agree upon an extension. I’ve said all along that I am prepared for Chapman to leave. I’d love to have him back as the team’s closer next year but the Yankees are paying him top dollar. If it is not good enough and they are unable to agree on the dollars for additional year(s), then let him go. Zack Britton is certainly a capable closer who has proven to be the best in the game when fully healthy. I’d have no reservations about him being the Yankees’ closer. The Yankees would need to add other parts to the bullpen, like signing free agent reliever Will Smith, but I am confident the Yankees will be fine with or without Chappy.
Congratulations to Carlos Beltran. For as much as I hated to see him leave his job as a special advisor for the Yankees, I am happy he’ll get his first managerial gig with the New York Mets. Granted, not crazy it’s the Mets, but there are only so many managerial jobs and you have to start somewhere. I had hoped the San Francisco Giants, one of his former teams, would show interest, but it’s clear Beltran has an East Coast preference for family reasons. It’s kind of funny that Beltran will be butting heads with Don Mattingly and Joe Girardi in the NL East. When Beltran didn’t get the manager job with the Yankees, I had hoped he would be a part of the coaching staff. It obviously didn’t happen but Beltran was still able to bring his influence to the team. I wish him the best of luck in Queens and I hope everything works out for him despite the Wilpon family.
I miss Yankees baseball. Is it February yet?…
As always, Go Yankees!
Yankees Lefthander Cleared for Action…
The latest medical updates for CC Sabathia show he has been cleared to resume baseball activities which is good news for everyone but most notably CC himself. Artery blockages of the heart are a serious matter, especially for a large guy who isn’t even 40 yet. A happy and healthy CC Sabathia is the greatest concern. Baseball is secondary. I am excited Sabathia will be able to embark on his final year of his magical career with the gift of good health.
Nevertheless, it does allow the Yankees to continue fielding offers for Sonny Gray. As helpful as some people think Gray might be to the Yankees this year, my stance to rid the roster of his name has not changed. I think the Yankees can find other options for the sixth man role that do not entail paying the long man/spot starter $9 million for the year.
In his recent comments, GM Brian Cashman said, “When it developed (Sabathia’s angioplasty in December which involved placement of a stent in a blocked heart artery), it slowed down my conversations with intent because we had to see how this played out first.” Cashman went on to say, “Once he has these follow-up appointments, I’ll be in a much better position to either fully engage the conversations we’ve had or continue to slow-walk it while we make sure CC’s health is taken care of, that is first and foremost.”
Based on the latest reports, it seems safe that Cashman can get San Diego Padres GM A.J. Preller on the phone for further talks. It would be nice if the Yankees could get someone who can assist at the Major League level right now as opposed to a bucket of prospects. If the Yankees do go for prospects, I sure wouldn’t mind getting catcher Luis Torrens back. But for someone who could help now, Padres closer (and one-time Yank) Kirby Yates could certainly help fill the void left by David Robertson who departed for the not-so-greener pastures of Philadelphia. Well, I take that back, D-Rob did get plenty of green in Philly, to the tune of $23 million. Anyway, Yates would look nice in the Yankees bullpen if the team decides not to pay the clearly better option (Adam Ottavino) which might help the likelihood the Yankees re-sign Dellin Betances after the upcoming season.
The leader of The Greedy Pinstripes, Daniel Burch, posted this comment on Twitter yesterday:
Daniel perfectly summed up how I feel about the Manny Machado situation. I’ve probably been on Team Machado much stronger than either Daniel or Bryan Van Dusen (they both seem to prefer Bryce Harper which certainly makes sense), but I am just as tired of the situation as Daniel is. I am ready for the endless debate about Manny and Bryce Harper to end. There’s no doubt I want at least one of the two 26 year old superstars and will be disappointed if neither one of the generational talents come to the Bronx. But honestly, I want this to end even if it means neither player dons the Pinstripes this summer. I’d really like the Yankees to move on to other areas of roster improvement. If the Yankees do not get Machado, we still need a strong backup option for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Sure, Gleyber Torres can slide over and it is possible that Tyler Wade could step up to be the player we need, but I want another strong defensive option heading into Spring Training. I’ve long said Marwin Gonzalez would be a perfect fit for the roster with his versatility. In addition to his ability to play around the infield, the majority of his time last year was spent in left field. He would be a great option to spell Brett Gardner. Nothing against Gardy, but he is better served in moderation and not overly exposed every day at this point in his career. Gonzalez can play short, he can play third. Even though he’s never played the position, I bet you could toss him a catcher’s mitt and he wouldn’t embarrass himself. The point is the guy’s versatility. Plus, he is a team guy with championship experience. If not Gonzalez, I’d better happy with the return of Adeiny Hechavarria’s glove. Josh Harrison doesn’t return excite me despite the Yankees’ interest in the player over the years. But if the Yankees decide for an encore engagement with Neil Walker, so be it. Let’s not pin our hopes on Wade as the backup plan. I guess you could say we need a backup to the backup to see how this plays out in Spring Training.
There really isn’t much more the Yankees need to do to improve. Machado or Harper would make them better, but regardless, the Yankees will be ready to compete for the AL East Championship by the time the Baltimore Orioles arrive at Yankee Stadium in late March. The Yankees have not won the AL East since 2012 but it’s time to take back what is ours. It’s kind of sad that the only AL East team NOT to win the AL East since the Yankees last won are the Tampa Bay Rays. The Orioles, Blue Jays, and of course the Red Sox have hoisted the flag since the Yankees last dominated the AL Eastern Division. Boston, as we unfortunately know, has won it for the last three consecutive years. Enough is enough. I am tired of the Wild Card and want to ensure we enter October with a multiple-game series and are not faced with another ‘do-or-die’ one game or go home situation. The Red Sox will be strong, maybe not 108 wins strong, but they’ll be no pushover, especially if they figure out a good solution for the back end of their bullpen. The Rays aren’t going away anytime soon with their talented pitching staff, even if they can’t get anybody in the St Petersburg-Tampa area to watch them play. We also know there’s a beast being born in Toronto with the riches of young talent, like Vladimir Guerreo, Jr and Bo Bichette, rapidly working their way to the Show. We may not see it in 2019 but the Blue Jays loom as a serious threat on the horizon. Our opportunity is now. I know I am tired of talking about Machado and Harper, but dammit, they’d help.
Spring Training is a little more than a month away. With Boston feeling the pain of their payroll and the need to lock up some of their young superstars within the next couple of years, the Yankees have a golden opportunity to eliminate the gap in talent between the teams. Hal, it’s only money. Lord knows you are making more and more every year. Remember what it was like to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2009? You can have that feeling again. We want you to be sprayed with Champagne. We’re only thinking about your best interests so go ahead and spend a little and bring World Series Championship #28 back to the Bronx. Happy Yankee fans like to spend money.
This post kind of embodies where I am at with Machado. I keep trying to get him out of my head yet I inevitability circle back around to him. Please, let this end soon. If it is Machado or Bust, I am getting dangerously close to Bust. But you know, Manny would look really good in Pinstripes…
As always, Go Yankees!
12/19/2018, A Day in Pinstripes for Manny Machado…
Yesterday was Manny Day and I have to admit, after weeks of angry and very bitter comments on Social Media, I am still surprised how divided the Yankees fan base is over the potential signing of shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado to a lengthy and very lucrative contract to wear the famed Pinstripes. I personally have supported Manny from the start. When he was first traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer, I bought a Dodgers cap with Manny’s signature etched into the side while walking The Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. It remains a staple in my hat collection.
Blogger’s Note: Not my hat.
Manny spent 90 minutes at Yankee Stadium early Wednesday afternoon which Yankee fans, of course, immediately dissected as both good and bad. I didn’t really read much into it. Of the three teams chasing Machado, Manny is most familiar with Yankee Stadium and the team is very familiar with him. One doesn’t really need to sell the other. They just have to address the concerns raised during the past post-season about Machado’s “Johnny Hustle” comments. I am sure Manny got a tour of Yankee Stadium from an insider’s perspective, but really, I don’t see why the meetings should have taken all day. I doubt contract negotiations took place which would have been the most time-consuming element.
Jon Heyman later reported that Manny and his wife, Yainee, and his agent, Dan Lozano, had dinner in a Manhattan restaurant with the Yankees last night. I guess the Taco Bell near Yankee Stadium was out of the question. No names about who attended the dinner were mentioned but you’d assume that both Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone (and his lovely Playmate wife) were there. I didn’t see any reports of Hal Steinbrenner’s presence but it would be understandable for him to miss the meetings since his family is preparing for his mother’s funeral on Friday in Tampa.
The Manny Caravan moves to Philadelphia today to talk with the Phillies. It’s being reported that Manny’s consideration lies solely with the White Sox, Yankees, and Phillies, and no potential mystery teams as previously reported. In the end, it’s going to come down to money. It doesn’t matter that Manny’s brother-in-law is a first baseman for the White Sox, Carlos Beltran is a special adviser to Brian Cashman, or that the Phillies front office includes a few ex-Orioles employees. The team that is willing to pay Manny the most money will be the winner. Perhaps if all offers are equal, the tie goes to the Yankees, but I am prepared for this to go either way. I would love for Manny to pull on the Pinstripes and I’d love to see Alex Rodriguez give his blessing for Manny to wear Number 13.
Bryan Van Dusen wrote a great piece yesterday on The Greedy Pinstripes blog about why the Yankees should sign Bryce Harper instead of Machado. I do not disagree with Bryan. There are many reasons why Harper would be a great fit for the Yankees, most notably his left-handed bat in a predominantly right-handed lineup. What’s exciting about Harper and Machado is the upside of both young superstars. The best is yet to come. If the Yankees sign Harper instead of Machado, rest assured I’ll be very excited. My support of Machado in no way means that I would not gladly accept Bryce’s presence on the Yankees roster. The Yankees can easily find an interim second baseman/shortstop type to help cover Didi’s absence as he recovers from Tommy John surgery and I have no problem with Miguel Andujar continuing to work on his defensive skills at third base. While many fans do not want the Yankees to sign Machado for his potential adverse impact on Andujar, my main overriding factor is I want Didi Gregorius on this team beyond 2019. If signing Manny means the Yankees do not pursue an extension with Didi, I think my desire to sign Manny lessens considerably. Didi is my shortstop and that’s not going to change regardless of who is standing at short on Opening Day. If Manny told the Yankees yesterday that he is only going to play shortstop, it’s a hard pass for me. I am not interested. Manny would have to be willing to move to third base. I don’t care what it means for Andujar. Manny is the better player. Either Andujar learns another position like first base or left field or moves to DH or is traded in a package for an elite starter. I like Andujar but when you have an opportunity to get better, you do it. We have a World Series window in front of us right now. Do what it takes to get better. I am so ready to end Boston’s reign in the AL East.
I am anxious for Machado and Harper to sign so that we can end the excessive speculation and over-analysis about the young superstars. Frankly, I am getting a little tired of their names. I’d also like to see the Yankees move onto other pressing matters, like filling the voids in the bullpen. It was reported the Cleveland Indians are still talking Corey Kluber in potential trades, but the Yankees have not been connected with the latest rumors. I’d still love to see the Yankee re-engage the Indians to see if there is a fit, although Cleveland’s ability to shed payroll in recent trades has lessened the need for them to part with a member of their starting rotation. At this point, it’s looking like any potential upgrade for the current starting rotation will be a trading deadline decision next July.
On one more Harper-Machado note, it’s too bad that Bryce’s wife Kayla is not named Laurel. I would have really loved to have seen the Yainee versus Laurel debates.
Yesterday morning, TGP’s Daniel Burch was tweeting his interest in Troy Tulowitzki as a potential infield solution, given the Blue Jays are paying the freight on the $38 million owed to Tulo and he can picked up for minimum wage. While I may or may not agree with his opinion, it was funny to see many beat writers picking up Daniel’s mantra throughout the day. I know it was spurred by Tulo’s showcase this week in front of multiple teams, but credit to Daniel for being a step ahead of a few others who, unlike Daniel, are paid to do this for a living.
By now, we all know the Yankees designated pitcher Parker Bridwell for assignment when they re-signed LHP J.A. Happ and added him to the 40-man roster. No disposition has yet been given for Bridwell, but it’s a little bit sad that his recent waiver claim by the Yankees cost Ronald Torreyes his job. In retrospect, it wasn’t really worth it to claim Bridwell, particularly given there is nothing in his numbers that suggests anything special. Perhaps the plan, all along, was to try to sneak Bridwell through waivers since he is out of options to send him to Triple A for depth, but still, it seems like there were other and better sacrificial lambs on the roster, like Luis Cessa and A.J. Cole. At this point, I don’t really see a trade of Sonny Gray until closer to or during Spring Training. Despite some who have started to write that they’d like to see the Yankees retain Gray, I think he’ll be gone by Opening Day. I’ve certainly seen enough of him to last a lifetime.
I was a little underwhelmed by the Yankees’ decision to sign lefty Rex Flowers on a minors deal. I know it was just a depth move but I don’t see him adding any value at the Major League level. I probably liked Boston’s addition of righty Zach Putnam on a minor league deal better. Putnam hasn’t pitching any significant innings since 2016 due to Tommy John surgery early in the 2017 season, but he was once an effective reliever for the Chicago White Sox. I think he has more upside for the Sox than Flowers has with the Yankees. While Boston is still without a closer, they’ve quietly been collecting minor bullpen pieces with Putnam and others like Colten Brewer, who previously spent a season in the Yankees’ farm system, and former Seattle pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. The Sox also grabbed former Yankees prospect RHP Anyelo Gomez in the Triple A Rule 5 Draft which means that Gomez is theirs for good. Gomez still has the potential to be a breakout for the bullpen. Hopefully, GM Brian Cashman begins looking at the Yankees bullpen soon. I remain fearful that we’ll lose David Robertson to the Red Sox and would really like to see him return to the Bronx.
Well, today’s a new day. Let’s see what it has in store for us.
As always, Go Yankees!
Much Love to the Yankees Universe…
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!
We are thankful for the Yankees and a step further, we are thankful and grateful you are part of the Yankees Universe. These are exciting times for Baseball’s greatest franchise and we are hopeful next season will bring the 28th World Series Championship to the Bronx. To you and yours, enjoy the day and give your loved ones an extra hug from all of us.
|Credit: @Yankees on Twitter|
Unless you are a football fan, there’s probably not going to be much happening today sports-wise. I’ve seen the tweets on Twitter that it would be very much a Brian Cashman move of Brian Cashman to announce a major trade today. I doubt we’ll see any breaking news today but who knows. There’s nothing in the rule book saying trades and signings cannot happen today.
With Wednesday’s acquisition of another utility-type (speedy infielder/outfielder Tim Locastro) from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 40-man roster is full. The Yankees are just getting started with the off-season enhancement of its championship-quality roster so we know there are a few tenuous spots on the roster. Given the Yankees’ need for another high-end starter, a couple of bullpen replacement pieces for free agents David Robertson and Zach Britton, and possibly a strong option for the infield to help with the temporary absence of Didi Gregorius, there appears to be at least five roster spots that will need to be vacated.
Reviewing the roster, I see the following players at risk.
Luis Cessa – I think most of us have seen enough of Cessa and are ready to move on. There are teams that value him as a reliever so I think he’ll be moved. I know I have no trust in Cessa after hitters have seen him once or twice in a game. I just don’t see a long-term future in pinstripes for Cessa. He is simply a pedestrian starter in my eyes, and there are better options for the bullpen.
A.J. Cole – Thank you, next.
Sonny Gray – We know this is one spot that will be vacated. It is only a matter of time until Gray joins the ranks of ex-Yankees. For most of us, the sooner, the better. I’ve seen a few people on Yankees Twitter predicting a rebound season for Gray in pinstripes next year. Please, been there, done that. Like Cessa, we’ve seen enough to know Gray is not going to magically become a frontline ace for the Yankees. It is time to move on.
Domingo German – German represents insurance for the rotation, but I think Jonathan Loaisiga is a better option and the Yankees have to give Chance Adams a “chance” (sorry, had to do it). I feel Adams is better served in the bullpen but for now, he remains a starter and should be given every opportunity to succeed. My favorite pitching prospect is Albert Abreu but I don’t think he’ll be Major League ready by next season. He is on the 40-man roster so there’s always the opportunity for a late season call-up. Domingo Acevedo is also on the 40-man so I see it as a numbers game for German, and place him at the greatest risk of losing his spot among these names.
Ronald Torreyes – I know everybody loves Toe, but the Yankees seem to be bringing in other utility types (Hanser Alberto and the aforementioned Locastro). I am sure Yankees VP, Assistant General Manager Michael Fishman and his analytics team have very strong opinions about the players that will best serve the Yankees in the utility role. Thairo Estrada will be healthy and the bullet in his hip has finally been removed. Estrada, Alberto and Locastro will battle Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes, and I simply see Torreyes as the loser, making him a strong candidate to be non-tendered.
Jacoby Ellsbury – I place this name here only for my continued hope that Brian Cashman finally pulls a rabbit out of his hat to move Ellsbury. When healthy, I know, he’s a decent player. But I am done with DL’s-bury and ready to move on. If healthy, I think the Yankees should cut bait. There’s only two years left on his deal. It’s an expensive decision to let go, but I see Ellsbury as addition by subtraction. If he is not ready to go by Spring Training, the best financial decision is to place him on the disabled list for continued insurance payments, but seriously, I just want to move on.
There are other players on the roster that could be moved in trades, but the above players are the ones that I see most at risk.
I was watching a replay yesterday of the Seattle Mariners game at Yankee Stadium on June 21, 2018 when James Paxton took the mound in his now “home” stadium against Luis Severino. The Yankees had two two-run homers in the first inning by Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar, narrowly missing a third home run when Seattle’s Mitch Haniger leaped to rob Giancarlo Stanton of a long fly ball to the center field fence. Paxton settled down and chalked up nine strikeouts before he departed in the Yankees’ 4-3 victory. Here’s hoping his next Yankee Stadium start gets off to a better start. It was thrilling to watch the Yankees’ best two starting pitchers going at each other. I never really noticed it before but Paxton has very intense eyes when he is pitching. I also didn’t realize that he was such an Andy Pettitte fan growing up. The guy is clearly a competitor with an intensity that kind of reminds me of the heart of Lance Lynn (except Paxton has the arm to match the intensity). I don’t think we’ll have to worry about any ‘Sonny Gray-like’ meltdowns from Paxton. Sure, he’ll have his clunkers like any other pitcher, but he seems to be a warrior to me. Paul O’Neill will be proud.
The deeper we get into the off-season, the more I want to see David Robertson return. I am so hopeful the Yankees and D-Rob can come to an agreement to allow Houdini to continue his “path in Pinstripes”. I get fired up every time I see D-Rob run off the mound at the conclusion of an inning. For the other reliever spot, I really want to see the Yankees sign Adam Ottavino but I wouldn’t be disappointed with the return of either Zach Britton or Andrew Miller. I just think Ottavino represents the safest choice. Well, actually Britton would the safest, but I think his desire for closer’s money will price him out of the Yankees’ reach.
I’ve seen some Yankee fans say the team should sign Boston’s Joe Kelly, currently a free agent. No, Hell NO! I don’t want to see that guy anywhere near Yankee Stadium in a home uniform. I prefer to see Yankees either teeing off on his pitches or slugging his face in with their fists. Sorry, I am not a proponent of violence but I do not want to see that guy on my team. He could be the greatest reliever in the history of baseball and I’d still want no part of him. I know, Mariano Rivera is the greatest reliever in history but my point is I don’t care what Kelly is capable of, I don’t like the guy.
Lastly, I hope this is the year Mike Mussina gets into the Hall of Fame but I suspect he’ll fall short. He deserves his spot in Cooperstown so I hope he eventually gets there. As they say, time will tell. Meanwhile, Mariano Rivera should be a shoo-in. There will be voters who leave Mo off their ballot for whatever reasons (which makes no sense to me), but I think he’ll come in with at least 95% of the vote. I can’t wait for the Hall of Fame inductions next year with a smiling Rivera present at the festivities. One of my all-time favorite Yankees.
|Photo by Jim McIsaac, Getty Images|
Enjoy Thanksgiving, but, remember, Christmas is right around the corner…
As always, Go Yankees!
Let the Dialing for Dollars Begin…
Free Agency has officially begun as the team-exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents expired yesterday and the rumors are running rampant. I am never quite sure why they even allow teams a window to talk to their free agents since it almost never results in any pre-open free agency signings. This year, there was more activity with guys renegotiating new contracts due to opt-outs and buyouts.
Before I get started, I wanted to give a shout-out to Bryan Van Dusen of The Greedy Pinstripes last week for his post entitled Manny Machado vs. Bryce Harper, and The Rest Of The Offseason. Bryan put a great deal of time and thought into his post and of the many, many posts out there about the Yankees off-season and what the team should do, Bryan’s piece is one of the most thorough, logical, and reasonable. It represents a great blueprint for how the Yankees can win the 2019 World Series Championship. Nice job, Bryan!
Well, the World Series didn’t exactly go to plan. Pulling for the Los Angeles Dodgers, I lost a bet with my good friend Julia (@werbiefitz), a lifelong die-hard Red Sox fan. As a result, my FaceBook cover photo has shown a picture of the Red Sox celebrating their championship for the last week. I can’t take it down until a full seven days have elapsed from the end of the World Series. Needless to say, I’ve been staying away from FaceBook lately. I am also reading a Red Sox-related book chosen by Julia. Upon completion, I have to write a 500-word essay about the ten things I’ve learned from reading the book. My goal is to have this finished before Thanksgiving.
Obviously, it is not fun to know the Red Sox have won four championships this century. But if there is any positive about this year’s Boston champagne party at the conclusion of the World Series, it will be so much sweeter when the Yankees snatch the trophy away from them next year.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)|
The Yankees’ off-season got started quickly this year when the Yankees, as expected, declined the $12.5 million option on Brett Gardner’s contract. After paying the $2 million buyout, the parties quickly announced a new one-year deal for $7.5 million. TGP’s Daniel Burch had pitched bringing back Gardy for $6.5 million so he was very close to the team’s line of thinking. I thought it was a bit of an overpay, but I had mentally prepared myself to move on from Gardner due to the crowded outfield. But upon reflection, I agree Clint Frazier is a huge question mark/uncertainty heading into next year and Jacoby Ellsbury, despite reports of good health, is just buying time until his next DL stint. Regardless of whether or not I think the Yankees should bring CC Sabathia back, I honestly do not feel they will. Certainly things could change, but I think CC gets put on the back burner as the Yankees pursue other pitching opportunities. It increases the likelihood another team, such as the Oakland A’s or Los Angeles Angels, could pitch him an incentive-laden one year deal to return to his home state of California before he rides off into the sunset. Without Sabathia in the clubhouse, Brett Gardner becomes the senior voice and mentor for the younger guys. He may not be the player he once was, but his influence on this team is invaluable so welcome back, Brett!
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Nick Turchiaro)|
Every year, I look forward to MLB Trade Rumors and their predictions for the top free agents (teams and contracts). Tim Dierkes is one of the best and I have a great deal of respect for him, but I have to admit that I about fell off my chair when I read his latest offering. He has Bryce Harper going to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 14 years (Yikes!) and, gulp!, $420 million. I am not sure we’ll see a contract break the $400 million mark this year, but if that’s the price tag, the Yankees shouldn’t play. I’d love to have Bryce on the Yankees, but I’d rather spread the money around for the best possible club. Dierkes has Manny Machado going to the Philadelphia Phillies for almost as much (13 years at $390 million). I think most Yankee fans want the team to sign at least one of those guys (with a few ready to spend a billion dollars to sign both as if that would ever happen). If Dierkes is right and Machado and Harper sign elsewhere, I would prefer to see them go to National League clubs. I know, the Yankees don’t need either guy. But it is not often that 26-year-old superstars are available for nothing more than money. So, count me among those who want to come away with at least one. Nonetheless, we need to be prepared the Yankees may not be in play for either.
Third on Dierkes’ list is Patrick Corbin. I saw one writer this week predicting an ‘out of nowhere’ signing of Corbin by the San Diego Padres, but Dierkes stayed with the majority to project Corbin to the Yankees on a 6-year deal for $129 million. Sign me up. If there is one guy I want in this year’s free agency, it is Corbin. He may not be a frontline ace, but he is a very sound option for the starting rotation and would place right behind Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka to give the team a formidable front three. Yesterday, news broke that the Cleveland Indians may be willing to trade veterans so immediate speculation went to a trade to bring Corey Kluber to the Bronx. Regardless of whether or not the Yankees go after Kluber, I’d still sign the left-handed Corbin. He seems like an excellent fit for Yankee Stadium. Honestly, I think the Indians would be foolish to trade Kluber but if it did happen, he is one of few that are as good as Boston’s Chris Sale. The Yankees should be “all-in” if Cleveland is truly willing to deal, but conversely, it should not stall plans to go hard after Corbin. Getting both would be “greedy”, sure, but losing out on both would hurt.
Dierkes has Andrew Miller going to the Red Sox and Zach Britton to the Astros. I have resigned myself to the loss of Britton and dread the thought he’ll sign with either the Red Sox or Astros. Miller scares me a bit with his recent injury history, but I loved the guy as a Yankee and I would like to see him come back if the Yankees do not resign Britton or David Robertson. Miller has an infectious team-first mentality that rubs off on others and the talent to match.
|Photo Credit: SI.com|
Friday was an active day as teams had to make decisions regarding qualifying offers. The Arizona Diamondbacks, as expected, issued a qualifying offer to Patrick Corbin. The one that surprised me was the decision by the Houston Astros not to extend the qualifying offer to Charlie Morton. As such, he represents another option for the Yankees should they lose out on Corbin or simply decide not to pursue him for whatever reasons. If Morton is the best the Yankees can get this off-season, it will be a huge disappointment. Sorry, Charlie. C’mon, I had to do that! With the recent rule changes, the Yankees won’t lose their first round draft pick should they sign Corbin since it’s protected. They would lose their second highest draft pick in next year’s MLB Draft plus a half-million in international bonus pool money. Morton would not cost anything but money but seriously I hope the Yankees can do better.
With the heavy roster activity by MLB teams yesterday, the Yankees picked up a minor league infielder claimed on waivers from the Texas Rangers. Hanser Alberto is a 26-year old shortstop with an ability to play multiple infield positions and even logged some time in the outfield. He hasn’t done much in limited big league opportunities with the Rangers, but he has strong minor league numbers. Last year, in Triple A, he hit .330/.346/.452, with .797 OPS, in 361 at-bats. He doesn’t have much power, but he did drive in 58 runs last year for Round Rock. It remains to be seen if he’ll stick on the 40-man roster this winter. One Rangers blog predicted the Yankees will try to slip him through waivers so that they can outright him to the minors (Alberto is out of options), giving the Rangers an opportunity to grab him back. We’ll find out within the next couple of weeks as the team prepares to finalize its 40-man roster in advance of December’s Rule 5 Draft. I am not really expecting Alberto to stick around.
I was glad to see Clayton Kershaw sign an extension to remain with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I know he’s struggled with injuries the last couple of years, but I see him as a lifetime Dodger. I know some Yankee fans were hopeful that he’d reach free agency, but I didn’t think the Yankees would have been in play. Knowing Kershaw and how important family is to him, I think he would have returned to his home state of Texas if things didn’t work out with the Dodgers or at the most, would have gone somewhere in the Midwest. There was never a chance he was going to come to the East Coast, in my opinion.
Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward lost his competition last off-season with Aaron Boone for the Yankees’ managerial gig, but now he’ll get a chance to compete with Boone again as the new manager for the Texas Rangers. The Yankees certainly hold high regard for Woodward given their consideration of him last year. I wish him the best in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
Lastly, before I go, I want to say that I am on Team Sanchez. So many Yankee fans have wanted the team to trade Gary Sanchez to the Miami Marlins for J.T. Realmuto. I am not questioning Realmuto is a great catcher, but I am not ready to give up on El Gary. 2018 was not a good year for him but I think he’ll be much better in 2019 with room to improve. If the Yankees are going to give up good, young prospects, it should be for their biggest weaknesses, like the starting rotation for one. Selling Gary low would be a huge mistake in my humble opinion.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: Getty Images (Elsa)|
Star Shortstop to undergo TJ surgery on his elbow…
My words yesterday morning didn’t age very well. I had said that shortstop was firmly set, yet here we sit today searching for Plan B at the position. I was as surprised as anyone to hear yesterday after my post that Didi Gregorius needed Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm after an apparent injury suffered during the recent ALDS against Boston. When Didi was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks, he apparently had a partial tear in the elbow that was asymptomatic. In a way, we’ve probably been living on borrowed time, much like we are with Masahiro Tanaka. While Gleyber Torres was able to bounce back fairly quickly from the same surgery, his surgery was on his non-throwing arm so the rehab for Didi will be longer than it was for Gleyber. Some have said that Didi could be out until after the All-Star Break. Plus, there are no guarantees with the surgery.
For those of us still trying to recover from the disappointment of losing the ALDS, these were not the words we wanted to hear. The immediate option is to slide Gleyber to short and play someone like Tyler Wade at second or re-sign Neil Walker to do it. Daniel Burch, the fearless leader of The Greedy Pinstripes, has cited second baseman D.J. LeMahieu as someone the Yankees could pursue. LeMahieu, who helped the Colorado Rockies reach the NLDS before their ouster by the Milwaukee Brewers, will be a free agent after the season. I think most Rockies fans would prefer for him to stay in the Mile High City. Some have mentioned him as a possible solution at third for the inevitable departure of the Rockies’ great third baseman Nolan Arenado, who will be a free agent after the 2019 season. I like LeMahieu but I am not sure he’s the best solution for the Yankees. Sometimes it takes a while for an idea to warm up for me, so if the Yankees do sign LeMahieu, maybe I’ll come around. Credit to Daniel for his “outside the box” thinking.
The obvious answer, for me, is to sign Manny Machado to play short until Didi can return, then slide him to third, pushing Miguel Andujar to left (or trade Andujar for much-needed pitching). I wanted Manny before the announcement of Didi’s surgery yesterday so this only reinforces the desire. Manny was 2-for-4 and had a homer and 3 RBI’s last night for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their 6-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. Manny was the lone star on a night Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal tried to do his best Gary Sanchez impersonation with two passed balls and a couple of errors.
I am worried about the future of Didi Gregorius. He is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the 2019 season. Facing a potentially lost season, it’s not outside the realm of possibility the Yankees decide to move on. I personally hope the surgery does not prevent the team from looking into a long-term deal for the Yankees shortstop. I wouldn’t wait until next November to discuss dollars with Didi’s agent. The time is now. I would prefer Didi is not facing the pressure of playing for a new contract when he returns next June or July.
It was funny when GM Brian Cashman mentioned Sonny Gray during yesterday’s press conference. I didn’t reference Gray at all in my post yesterday which shows how much I’ve moved on from the guy. I’ve been absolutely convinced that he cannot pitch under the pressure of New York, and Cashman reaffirmed it when he said that “probably to maximize his abilities would be more likely best somewhere else”. Cashman had to back-pedal a little but it was only because he needs to protect potential trade value for Gray. Gray is as good as gone, and I am glad. I think he’ll prosper someplace like Pittsburgh or Milwaukee or even back in Oakland. But he was never going to be “the man” in New York. It happens. Just ask Ed Whitson or Javier Vazquez. New York is not for everybody. I do not wish any ill will toward Gray. I hope he goes on to have a very fine career…in a different uniform.
It was also revealed CC Sabathia had surgery on his right knee, but realistically this is just an annual thing with Sabathia at this stage of his career. It should have no bearing on whether or not the Yankees try to lock up CC on another one-year deal. Sabathia is expected to be ready next Spring, regardless of whether he is in Tampa, FL for training camp or elsewhere.
Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi interviewed with the Texas Rangers yesterday for their open managerial position. I could see Girardi in Dallas/Fort Worth. I’d probably prefer to see him resume his managerial career in the National League but if he was to go anywhere, the Rangers are fine. It’s better than seeing Girardi show up in the AL East with Baltimore or Toronto.
While I wish Girardi the best, I don’t look back and wish he was still the Yankees manager. In an interview yesterday, Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said that the decision to move on from Girardi was years in the making. I trust Yankees Leadership for the reasons they felt a change was necessary. I remain supportive of Manager Aaron Boone, but I am slightly disappointed that the team intends to stand pat with the coaching staff. I think Josh Bard will be an improved Bench Coach in 2019 unless he snags a managerial gig before then, but probably the one position I’d look closely at is pitching coach. Larry Rothschild is revered as one of the best pitching coaches in the game, yet when a Yankees pitcher makes an adjustment that results in success, the player compliments are generally directed at other guys like Pedro Martinez or Andy Pettitte. I’ll use Hal Steinbrenner’s words from yesterday, “look, I am not a baseball guy”, but from afar I really haven’t been all that impressed with Rothschild. It’s very possible that I don’t know “shit from Shinola” on this topic but it’s just a casual observation from a fan. I can’t really recall a time when I heard a pitcher say that their success is attributable to Larry. Maybe it’s been said and I just haven’t heard it. Whatever. When Mel Stottlemyre, Sr was the Yankees pitching coach, you clearly knew the impact he had on the pitching staff. I just don’t have that same confidence with Rothschild.
Adeiny Hechavarria is a pending free agent, but I hope the Yankees find a way to bring him (and his glove) back. I know that everyone loves Ronald Torreyes, but I’d prefer the defensive wizard in Hechavarria over Toe even if it means the team parts ways with Aaron Judge’s little buddy. With Didi shelved, the Yankees could certainly use the defense lost with his absence.
I guess the Yankees will be giving us blog writers plenty to write about this winter. Never a dull moment in the Bronx. As long as it culminates in a World Series championship next year, all is good.
As always, Go Yankees!
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Mitch Stringer)|
Shoes or no shoes, Rookie continues to excel…
The Yankees didn’t beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-1 on Friday night solely behind the bat, feet, and arm of young Gleyber Torres but as usual, the youngster was in the thick of things as the Yankees won the opener of their now three-game series with the O’s behind solid pitching by Sonny Gray.
Admittedly, I moved to pessimistic mode when Sonny Gray allowed the first inning solo shot by the great Manny Machado, but Torres changed my mood considerably when he singled in the third to score Neil Walker with the tying run.
Torres led off the fifth inning with a double that he tried to stretch to triple but an uncooperative shoe that went flying off his foot altered his momentum with a slight stumble that allowed the outfield throw to reach third ahead of the sliding Torres. Although the Orioles announcer for the TV broadcast I was watching called the Yankees second baseman by the name of Gleyber Torreyes during the at-bat, Torres continues to be a very exciting player regardless of the outcome or how you pronounce his name.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Nick Wass)|
Greg Bird, showing why he is so highly thought of by the Yankees organization, tripled to the center field wall, when O’s outfielder Adam Jones misjudged his leap, scoring Brett Gardner with the go-ahead run. Gardy had singled after the shoeless Torres had been thrown out at third. Bird, please just stay healthy. We need you.
I was very pleased with the overall performance by Sonny Gray. I can get so infuriated with his pitching but he delivered the way he was expected to when GM Brian Cashman summoned the former Oakland Athletic to the Bronx last summer. After giving up the Machado homer, he held the O’s to three meaningless hits and no runs before his departure after six innings.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
For as much as I have focused on Torres in recent days, there’s no question Aaron Judge is this team’s MVP. His seventh inning homer (his 16th dinger of the season and 41st RBI) gave the Yankees a three-run cushion they would not relinquish. Psychologically, this was huge, especially when Dellin Betances loaded the bases in the eighth with a couple of walks and a plunking of Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo. Fortunately, Betances was able to exit the inning unscathed when he got the unspectacular Jace Peterson out on a grounder back to the pitching mound.
Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win for Gray and the Yankees. It was his 13th save of the season. I am grateful we continue to see 2016 Chapman and not last year’s version.
The Boston Red Sox (39-19) lost again, their second loss in a row to the Houston Astros, so the Yankees (36-17) have narrowed the gap in the AL East to just a half game. The Astros, behind the pitching of Gerrit Cole, beat Chris Sale for the 7-3 victory. The Orioles are 21 games behind the Yankees. Wow, it’s only June 2nd. I do feel badly for O’s manager Buck Showalter. I am not sure that he’s going to survive this season. I used to love beating him but now he just looks so pathetic in the O’s dugout, loss after loss. I can still remember watching Showalter as a Double A player in the Yankees farm system as if it was yesterday. The team that was surprised me the most in the division is the 28-28 Tampa Bay Rays, currently in third. They’ve lost a couple games but for them to be playing .500 ball is impressive given the current talent struggles on their roster. They are playing more like how I expected the O’s to play instead of vice versa.
The legendary Yankees career of Oliver Perez has come to an end. After signing a minor league contract earlier this year, Perez wasn’t awful for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders but there was no chance he was going to find his way to the Bronx. He exercised a June 1st opt-out and will have a chance to find a team with a clearer path of the Major Leagues. Good luck to him. Frankly, I am glad the Yankees never needed his services.
Bryan Van Dusen wrote an excellent piece the other day about the value of the roster spots for the Yankees (too many good players to fit within the confines of a 25-man roster). I am always too quick to dump on Aaron Hicks but leave it to Van Dusen to provide the reminder for why Hicks is a valuable role player for the Yankees: “Aaron Hicks – I’m not sold on him being a starter, at least not for the Yankees, but if you look beyond a pedestrian batting average this season (.232) he’s a solid player. He’ll get on base at a decent clip, doesn’t strike out much, makes contact often, and is a top ten defensive centerfielder in all of MLB.” As usual, I agree with Bryan. I’d love to see Clint Frazier at the Major Leagues, but for as much as I might like him over Hicks, Red Thunder is not going to experience MLB success in center field. He’ll make his mark with a corner outfield position and last time I checked, those spots are filled. Van Dusen suggested moving Gardy to center to open left for Clint Frazier but goes on to say letting Frazier crush it in Triple A to help his trade value might be the best path. Again, I have to agree. I love Red Thunder and it would be awesome to see him on the Yankee Stadium field. But this team needs pitching and Frazier might be the best trade chip. Nice job on your analysis, Bryan.
It seems like I’ve been ripping on Chance Adams as much as I have Sonny Gray this year, but I have to congratulate Adams for his terrific outing last night. Adams, with 93 pitches, threw a shutout, scattering four hits, over 5 2/3 innings en route to a 4-0 win over the Indianapolis Indians. Adams struck out seven batters, but more importantly, did not walk anyone. If Adams wants to re-establish himself in the call-up pecking order, this is the way to do it.
|Photo Credit: MiLB.com|
On a side note, every time I check a RailRiders box score, it seems like Cody Carroll is dominating hitters in relief. It’s almost unfair when the RailRiders take the field against Triple A opponents. A “MLB-ready” team that could effectively compete against many of the MLB teams facing minor league squads. The men among boys. It’s a nice problem to have.
Lastly, Aaron Judge’s air high five for the missing Ronald Torreyes was a nice, but sad, moment in yesterday’s game. I am hopeful the Yankees can find a way to bring back Torreyes sooner rather than later but sadly it will probably take a trade to clear space. Too many good players, not enough roster spots.
Today is a new day. The Yankees can capture first place in the AL East with a win and a Red Sox loss. Time to put Boston in the rear-view mirror. Of course, rain might have a say in the matter with the thunderstorms expected in Baltimore this afternoon/evening. Rain Gods, please delay your visit and allow America’s favorite team to win today.