Photo Credit: MLB.com
Until the Yankees reclaim the Throne…
Many Yankees fans are quick to anoint the Yankees as the AL East champs, but yesterday, GM Brian Cashman, in interviews, echoed my beliefs. The Boston Red Sox are the AL East Champions until proven otherwise. We may like the 2018 Yankees but until they dethrone the Red Sox, J.D. Martinez and the Red Sox are the hunted. Sure, the Yankees made it further in the post-season in 2017 but it does not matter. The Yankees may have taken the Astros deeper into their series than the Red Sox did against the same opponent but the truth is that the Yankees and Red Sox both lost to the eventual World Series Champions.
Photo Credit: Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Zuma Press (Keith Birmingham)
I would argue that Martinez helps his team’s lineup more than Giancarlo Stanton helps his. I am not saying that Martinez will be a better slugger than Stanton, but it terms of how the player affects his own team, I think Martinez can have the bigger impact. The Red Sox were clearly missing something last year with the retirement of future Hall of Famer David Ortiz. Martinez brings power to his club and he’ll help those around him. The Yankees are destined to hit a lot of home runs with or without Stanton.
Photo Credit: Associated Press (Ross D Franklin)
Courtesy of The New York Post, Cashman told reporters on Wednesday, “They are the American League East Champs so we are not on equal footing. We were a wild card. They are the American League East champs and we are not. We are not on equal footing until we take it away from them.”
ESPN writer Marly Rivera reported that David Price (with a big smile on his face) gave the following response when asked about the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry with the Stanton/Martinez acquisitions: “You guys want it, let’s do it, we hate the Yankees. You guys want it, yeah we hate the Yankees. We hate them.” Price has a lot of work to do rebuild his image in his own city, but I do expect him to be much better this year than last. It gets lost but the Red Sox have two excellent relievers coming back this year from injury (Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg) which will make their bullpen much stronger in front of elite closer Craig Kimbrel.
There’s no doubt it is time to end Boston’s reign. Let’s do this.
Oh yes, I know the Muffin Man who lives in Drury Lane…
The song I repeatedly sang to my son when he was an infant has been going through my head lately, for some reason.
Photo Credit: Getty Images, via The Athletic
it’s funny but J.D. Martinez signing with the Red Sox may have led to the arrival of Brandon Drury in the Bronx. Cashman told the YES Network’s Michael Kay yesterday that the Yankees have been trying to acquire Drury from the Arizona Diamondbacks since back in the days when the late Kevin Towers was the team’s general manager. Cashman didn’t have any success in finding a match with Towers or the subsequent GM, Dave Stewart. He was finally able to get his man when he identified that current Arizona GM Mike Hazen was having trouble matching up with the Tampa Bay Rays in an effort to acquire outfielder Steven Souza, Jr. He stepped in to offer help through a three-way trade, and it resulted in both Hazen and Cashman getting their men. If the D-Backs had been successful in re-signing Martinez, their desire to get Souza would have been diminished and the odds are that Drury would still be working out in Phoenix.
The Yankees website hasn’t been updated with Drury’s new number yet but his Instagram account was sporting Todd Frazier’s number 29 yesterday (identifying the Yankees as his team). Drury wore 27 in Arizona so a number change was inevitable.
Cashman indicated that Drury will play third base which they feel is his best position although many have given strong reasons for why Drury should start at second. He wasn’t handing the third base job to Drury (it must be earned) but I have no doubt that the Opening Day Lineup will feature Drury at third base, barring injury. I do feel that if/when Miguel Andujar proves that he is ready, he’ll have every opportunity to compete with Drury for the job. May the best third baseman win. I like competition. It tends to draw out the best in everyone.
The Arizona Republic, in an article about their new outfielder, cited that you have to give up good players to get good players. They acknowledged that Drury, returning to his natural position at third, could blossom in New York.
Project Gleyber Torres at second base continues in full force. With Drury at third, Torres continues to be the favorite at Starlin Castro’s old position regardless of whether he starts Opening Day or a few weeks later to delay his service time. Many of you may be upset the Yankees most likely will not be starting rookies at both second and third bases, but I feel much better breaking in one rookie at a time for a team with high expectations. I do feel that both Andujar and Torres will be making contributions by late summer (assuming that Andujar does not get shipped elsewhere at the Trading Deadline).
I am anxious to see the first images of Drury at Yankees camp. He is excited to be here and it’s infectious. His all-out style of play is going to make him a fan favorite. A lot of guys know how to play, but not everyone is a winner. I think you can easily put Drury in both categories.
|Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)|
The Dawn of the 2018 Yankees…
The nice, lovable Baby Bombers are gone. The famed rock star New York Yankees, the Evil Empire…the most hated team in MLB, are back and ready to dominate Baseball in 2018. Justin Verlander can talk all he wants about how the Houston Astros are the team to beat, but the Yankees are here to change the October outcome.
I wrote about it yesterday but it’s worth more keystrokes on my computer. Giancarlo Stanton. I had not heard when Stanton would report to Tampa so it was a mild surprise when he showed up yesterday. Judging by the media reception, everyone was unanimously excited about appearance of the Yankees’ newest slugger at Steinbrenner Field.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
It would have been fun to watch as Stanton made his way into the clubhouse to meet his new teammates and coaches. He got a jumpstart over the Winter with his dinner in Los Angeles with Manager Aaron Boone and of course he was in New York during the Baseball Writers Association of America dinner recently when he sat next to Aaron Judge. Now, he gets the opportunity to meet everyone, including all those who support the Yankees behind-the-scenes. There’s no question it will be a media event when Stanton takes his first swings of the Spring at Steinbrenner Field.
Reading the various comments in Tampa offer some insight into how Stanton will handle playing in baseball’s largest market. Aaron Boone said, “I think he’s welcoming the expectations and the largeness of what he is walking into. He understands that when he first takes the field in a couple of days, the attention is going to be huge, the scrutiny is going to be huge, and I think that’s something he’s prepared for the best he can.”
Lefty reliever Wade LeBlanc, in camp with the Yankees on a minor league contract, played with Stanton in Miami during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. LeBlanc remembers how level-headed Stanton was and offered, “I think that’s a quality you have to have in New York to handle the media and be okay with standing in front of them when you didn’t play well.” LeBlanc did say, “He’s never seen a tenth of this media before.”
New York is not for everyone but Stanton seems well prepared for the journey ahead. His personality and superior playing ability will soon make him a fan favorite if he’s not already there. Stanton talks about how this will be fun. Fun is infectious because it’s going to be fun for the fans too.
The greedy side of me wishes that the Yankees had added a “Stanton” to the starting rotation, but there’s time. No pressure to make a trade today when the availability of sellers will be much stronger in July. There’s always a possibility of a free agent signing (Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn) as long as those guys are on the market but it’s unlikely they’ll play for the Yankees given the payroll constraints to stay under the luxury tax threshold. I am intrigued about Chance Adams and what he can do in the Major League Camp this year. Although many words have been written by others speculating that Adams will eventually head for the bullpen, the guy has surpassed expectations at every level of his baseball playing career. He deserves the opportunity to make his case for starting at the MLB level and I, for one, will not doubt his potential for success. My primary hope is that he does it in a Yankees uniform and not pitching for some other team as part of a package to bring a more established starter to New York. I remember being excited about the potential of a young Al Leiter, only to watch him achieve great success for the (then) Florida Marlins and the New York Mets. That wasn’t fun as a Yankees fan. I hope the same fate does not await Adams. Granted, it might be good for him, but not so good for us.
There was another surprise in camp yesterday but not quite so pleasnt when it was announced that infield prospect Thairo Estrada had been shot in the hip at the end of January in Venezuela during a failed robbery attempt. The bullet remains in Estrada’s hip but it is not expected to impede his recovery and ability to play. He may be doing upper body workouts but you’d have to believe that this removes his name from consideration for the starting job at second base. He was a long shot anyway, having only played at the Double A level, but hopefully he continues to be one of the greatest prospects for an organization overflowing with great prospects. I am very glad that he is doing fine, considering how much worse this could have turned out.
Yankees pitching prospect Albert Abreu is also in recovery following his emergency appendectomy on February 7th. It’s a setback but he should be back on the field soon and should not miss much of the season. He’ll be one of the most interesting Pinstriped arms to watch in the Minor Leagues this year.
Clint Frazier is in camp, sporting a shorter haircut and showing good maturity as he talks about the importance of being part of the team. He feels that he should be in the mix for center field with Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury and intends to force his way onto the roster. Sadly, I think he’s destined for Triple A as long as Ellsbury is on the roster and will only make it to the Bronx in the event of an outfield injury. I keep hoping that the Yankees find a way to move Ellsbury to create the opportunity for Red Thunder but the realist in me know that we’re stuck with Ellsbury for the long haul.
|Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)|
Not that I really want to talk about the Mets on this blog, but I thought was funny when new Mets third baseman Todd Frazier said that he was bad with names and would just call everyone “Big Dog”. It drew a response from Noah Syndergaard who said that he thought he was Frazier’s special Big Dog. Frazier is already making a difference in the Mets clubhouse. I miss that guy.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Kathy Willens)|
Today is the last “free” day for position players. Tomorrow is reporting day and the entire contingent of Yankees pitchers and position players, including non-roster invitees, will be present and accounted for at Steinbrenner Field. Time to get to work. They’re ready and so am I.
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Reinhold Matay)|
|Photo Credits: Getty Images|
How about Aaron Judge at Tight End?…
Admittedly, I was surprised when I saw the news that the Yankees had acquired infielder Russell Wilson from the Texas Rangers. Wilson, better known as the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, is nothing more than a guy who likes to experience Fantasy Baseball in a Major League Camp. He has no plans to play two sports and really only wants to maintain his connection to baseball, which is obviously one of his loves.
Even more surprisingly was the negative reaction of many Yankees fans. Personally, I had no issue with Wilson’s desire to achieve a dream of playing with the Yankees. His late father was a lifetime Yankees fan, and Wilson himself was a Yankees fan during his childhood and perhaps still is. I guess I see the positives of Wilson’s addition. He is an inspiration for the players and I view him as a great motivational speaker for the few weeks he will spend in Tampa. The Yankees have said that he’ll participate in pre-game workouts and will be in the dugout, but it doesn’t really sound like he’ll see much, if any, action on the field during games. So, I have no problems with Wilson’s presence. I am not a Seahawks fan, but Wilson has played his sport at the highest level and can share insights from his experiences as a very good, quality professional player.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
The Seattle Times speculates that while Wilson may not be using Baseball as leverage, it is possible that he is sending a signal to Seahawks ownership that there is life outside of Seattle. What’s better than going to one of the most recognizable teams in Sports in the biggest city in the country? Wilson is sure to draw a huge crowd when he makes his first appearance at Steinbrenner Field sometime during March. The paper indicated when Wilson last participated in Spring Training for the Texas Rangers (2014 and 2015), he was in negotiations for an extension with the Seahawks. It led to a four-year deal that expires in two years. At the time of the contract signing, Wilson was the second highest paid QB behind Aaron Rodgers (although he wanted to be the highest paid). However, since that time, he will fall to the tenth highest paid at the position once Alex Smith’s new deal with the Washington Redskins becomes official and Jimmy Garrapolo re-signs with the San Francisco 49ers. Wilson hasn’t played professional baseball since 2011 when he appeared in 61 games at the Class A level for the Colorado Rockies organization.
I did like CC Sabathia’s tweet that the Yankees were going to win the World Series and the Super Bowl this year. And the various memes that said the Yankees now have the best quarterback in New York, poking fun at Eli Manning, and, yes, Tim Tebow.
This is a total publicity ploy for both sides. No one has any illusions that Wilson has suddenly decided to embark upon a professional baseball career like Tebow. He’ll be back on the field for the Seahawks this fall when they try to rebound from a lost season. But when he does take the field, he’ll do it knowing that, for a few days or weeks, he was a New York Yankee. Life is good.
FlavaFraz21 gets his number back…
It was tough watching Todd Frazier with a Mets cap and a NYM jersey bearing his number #21 that he was unable to wear with the Yankees, thanks to Paul O’Neill, at his introductory press conference. Listening to him talk only reaffirmed what an incredibly positive voice he is for a clubhouse.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Kathy Willens)|
Based on reports, the Yankees were never willing to offer more than a one year deal. I know it’s not my money, but I would have gone two years with Frazier like the Mets did. Even if the Yankees acquire Manny Machado next off-season, Frazier could have provided backup support for both first and third bases, with some pop for DH. Or, based on the team-friendly contract that Frazier signed with the Mets, if the Yankees had signed him for the same approximate dollars, he would have had some trade marketability for the teams that strike out in their bids for free agents-to-be Machado and Josh Donaldson.
I hope that not signing Frazier does not come back to haunt the Yankees.
If at third you don’t succeed…
As stagnant as the free agent market has been, I still do not see Mike Moustakas taking a one-year “pillow” contract. I am intrigued by the thought of the damage that Moose Tacos could do with the right field porch and his lefty bat would be a very healthy addition to the predominantly right-handed Yankees lineup. I don’t know where he’ll end up, but I don’t envision Moustakas in Pinstripes regardless of how greedy the Yankees decide to get (or not).
|Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)|
I am not opposed to Miguel Andujar as the starting third baseman but I do want a solid Plan B in place. Ronald Torreyes filled in capably at third last season but he’s not my preference for a starter if Andujar proves that he needs more seasoning in the Minor Leagues. Torreyes is best served as the team’s utility player.
Shane Spencer, he is not…
The Yankees signed former Los Angeles Angels outfielder Shane Robinson to a minor league deal with a training camp invitation. I am not sure that I really understand the addition of another outfielder given the plethora of outfielders participating in training camp. Robinson has played for the St Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins and Angels over his 8-year career, playing in 436 games. He doesn’t offer much with his bat (.226 lifetime batting average with six career home runs). He only played 20 games last year for the Angels, batting .194 with no homers and one RBI.
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
I’d say this is a depth move for Triple A, but even the outfield at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is overflowing. Robinson will make $950,000 if he makes the Major League roster but at face value, it seems so unlikely. If he does not make the MLB roster, he can opt out of his contract on June 15th.
5 more days until Pitchers and Catchers report…I cannot wait.
End of Short Yankees Reign for the Toddfather…
I know, we need to embrace the new era and accept that Miguel Andujar will be the starting third baseman this year. It’s been said that the Yankees are very high on Andujar and the Yankees apparently resisted including Andujar in the failed talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Gerrit Cole, who was subsequently dealt to the Houston Astros.
My concerns with Andujar echo the sentiments of other fans who feel that Andujar’s glove is not quite Major League ready and that he’ll be an average defender at best with improvement. I am not opposed to Andujar at third, but I wanted a strong backup plan. That’s why it was a gut punch for me yesterday when Todd Frazier signed a two year deal with the New York Mets. What’s worse is that the contract he signed is team-friendly (2 years for $17 million) which the Yankees could have matched without impairing their current salary position and objective to keep 2018 total payroll under the $197 million threshold for luxury tax purposes.
It made me sick to see Noah Syndergaard using the Yankees-themed ‘thumbs down’ emoji on Twitter in reaction to Frazier’s signing.
I guess part of my frustration is that the Yankees will make a run at Manny Machado this fall when he becomes a free agent. Machado, regardless of the Baltimore Orioles plan to play him at short this year, would be the team’s starting third baseman if the Yankees are successful in signing him. So, Andujar would be a one season experiment at the position, learning on the job at the Major League level. For one year, I’d rather have a strong experienced third baseman who is a clubhouse leader. Frazier helped solidify team chemistry after last year’s trading deadline and he was a fan favorite.
Maybe Andujar takes the job and runs with it, becoming a candidate for this year’s Rookie of the Year. Great for him (and us) if it happens. It is certainly within the realm of possibility. But it doesn’t mean that I have to like the fact that Todd Frazier is a Met.
I saw someone post that the Yankees’ apparent lack of interest in Frazier to be a sign that the team is either fully committed to Andujar or that GM Brian Cashman has something else up his sleeve. There’s no way the Yankees sign free agent Mike Moustakas. Aside from the cost it would take sign the former Royals third sacker, the Yankees would forfeit their second-highest and fifth-highest draft picks in this summer’s MLB Draft plus $1 million in international bonus pool money since Moustakas received a qualifying offer from Kansas City and the Yankees are a competitive balance tax payor. Neil Walker, who can play second or third, is certainly an alternative that has been discussed by some. Walker wouldn’t block the younger kids so he might be the best case scenario. Otherwise, we could be trotting out the no-bat Danny Espinosa when the season opens.
I wish Todd Frazier the very best with his new team. I am glad that he achieved his goal of staying in New York even if he now calls the wrong stadium home. The Mets are getting a great guy for their team.
Move over, Mystique and Aura, here comes Smart and Confident…
The Yankees made Aaron Boone’s coaching staff official yesterday. The names are exactly as we expected:
Bench Coach: Josh Bard
Pitching Coach: Larry Rothschild
Bullpen Pitching Coach: Mike Harkey
Hitting Coach: Marcus Thames
Assistant Hitting Coach: P.J. Pilittere
Third Base Coach: Phil Nevin
First Base Coach/Outfield Instructor: Reggie Willits
Major League Quality Control Coach/Infield Instructor: Carlos Mendoza
Also, the following supporting roles:
Catching Coach: Jason Brown
Coaching Assistant/Bullpen Catcher: Radley Haddad
Coaching Assistant/Instant Replay Coordinator: Brett Weber
It’s great to hear that guys like Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Gleyber Torres and Ronald Torreyes are already in Tampa and working out at Steinbrenner Field. The sound of Spring is nearly upon us.
First-time World Champions: Philadelphia Eagles…
Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles for winning the 2018 Super Bowl. I am sure that there are a lot of disappointed New York Giants fans, but for me, I am glad that the team from Boston was not successful. I am sure that Aaron Boone and Tommy Kahnle, avowed Eagles fans, were very happy. I am hoping they experience the joy of championships from beginning to end this year.
Just think, final month without Baseball…
Outside of the big December splash which brought the second iteration of “Mike” Stanton to Pinstripes and a plethora of reliever signings in MLB, it is has been an extremely quiet off-season. Sadly, it does not give us much to write about except for speculation and thoughts of wild-ass trade propositions.
Soon, Baseball Training Camps will be buzzing with activity. In many cases, players are already on-site in Florida and Arizona, ready for the arrival of pitchers and catchers in a few weeks. Gone are the days when players ate pizza and drank beer all winter long (now reserved for us, the fans), arriving at training camp to get in shape. We’re ready (for baseball, in addition to beer and pizza) and I am sure the Yankees players are too (the baseball part). But is GM Brian Cashman ready? That’s the million dollar question.
|Photo Credit: New York Daily News (Andrew Savulich)|
I keep saying that I find it hard to believe the Yankees will go into camp with rookies at both second and third bases. Then again, we rip another daily page off the calendar and there have been no changes to the current 40-man roster. I want a solid Plan B in place for third base. I feel that we are covered at second. The odds-on favorite is obviously Gleyber Torres (GLAY-burr, for those of you scoring at home) even if he has to spend the first couple of weeks at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to delay MLB service time. Backup support is in the form of Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes, with improved play expected of the former. The wild card is non-roster invitee Jace Ryan Peterson. Someone from that group, most likely Torres, is going to step up and provide a major contribution at second base. Third base is my concern. I like Miguel Andujar. His bat appears to be Major League ready even if his defensive skills haven’t quite caught up. I am not opposed to starting Andujar at third, but what’s Plan B? What if Andujar is not ready for the challenge? Trades are rarely made in April or May with limited seller motivation. I wouldn’t want to see Torreyes as the long-term alternative (he is better served in the utility role). Torres could probably be looked at as a fallback plan but I prefer the converted shortstop at second over third. The perfect scenario for me is the return of Todd Frazier. But short of that, I want a decent veteran for backup support or someone who could platoon with Andujar, assuming the Yankees do not bring back a starting option like Frazier.
At this point, I’ve given up the idea of adding another top starter for the rotation. Yu Darvish would look outstanding in Pinstripes. But at $20 million plus per year, he’s simply not affordable in Hal Steinbrenner’s budget. Even if the Yankees made room, I am not sure that $20+ million annually is the route to go for a thirty-something pitcher on an extended multi-year contract. The Free Agent Class after the upcoming season is the most fruitful in years and the Yankees are expected to be players. But before jumping in the free agent pool in a big way, the Yankees need take care of their own. The one player that they should re-sign to a contract extension next off-season is Didi Gregorius. If he delivers a season comparable to last year, he’ll have the right to make very high demands during contract negotiations. Hopefully, the Yankees do not wait until Didi becomes a free agent after the 2019 season to try and lock him up.
It is a certainty that Hal Steinbrenner will not go hog wild with payroll next year even if he is successful in resetting the luxury tax penalties in 2018.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. I would trade Brett Gardner. Look, I love the player and what he has meant to the Pinstripes. Unless Brian Cashman proves that he is indeed the Miracle Worker (i.e., trade of Jacoby Ellsbury), the most marketable redundant player is Gardy. I get it, you can’t replace his intangibles in the clubhouse but others have to step up. Moving Gardy’s contract would give the Yankees budget room to bring back Todd Frazier and possibly a lesser starting pitcher to add to the training camp mix. They’d still have plenty of room for July acquisitions without fear of breaking the $197 million luxury tax threshold. You’d have Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury to cover center, and Clint Frazier for left field on the days that either Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton are at DH. I’d prefer Gardy over Ellsbury, but face it, Ellsbury is not going anywhere. That’s a very solid outfield without Gardner’s presence. The Yankees are not going to re-sign Gardner next off-season when he becomes a free agent. There is too much outfield depth and talent in the Yankees farm system to devote eight figures to a guy in his mid-thirties. So knowing that this is most likely his last year in the Bronx, I’d make a move now to free up some dollars to help the positions of need.
I’ll be preaching for the return of Todd Frazier until he signs somewhere. Pinstripes, Please!
‘Deja Vu, All Over Again’ as the great Yogi Berra would say…
The ‘Alex Rodriguez will replace Aaron Boone as Yankees manager’ jokes were running rampant yesterday when it was announced that A-Rod has signed on as part of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball team replacing Boone. A-Rod obviously has a history of replacing Boone considering that he took Boone’s place in 2004 when Boonie injured his knee during a pickup basketball game and was subsequently released. My thought was that Boone should never leave his Playmate wife. Otherwise, A-Rod, after he moves on from J-Lo (c’mon, you know it’s inevitable), might be there to replace Boone once again. Seriously, I think A-Rod is a good addition to the ESPN team. Matt Vasgersian will replace Dan Shulman as the play-by-play announcer, joining A-Rod, in for Boone, Buster Olney and holdover Jessica Mendoza. A-Rod will continue working for FOX Sports during the post-season and World Series as well under the unique talent-sharing arrangement. Give A-Rod credit for rebuilding his image. Time will tell if it helps his case for induction into the Hall of Fame, but all things considered, it can’t hurt.
With the majority of the top free agents still available as we bear down on the end of January, the biggest off-season winners for their decisions have to be Giancarlo Stanton, for using his no-trade clause to navigate a trade to the Bronx, and Masahiro Tanaka, for his decision not to opt-out. I’d also have to say that the Justin Upton’s choice to sign a five-year deal for $106 million with the Los Angeles Angels (including a full no-trade clause) to waive his opt-out was not far behind. Otherwise, it’s hard to believe that the best free agent contract signed so far has been the three-year, $60 million deal that Carlos Santana took from the Philadelphia Phillies to be their new starting first baseman. When players like Yu Darvish and J.D. Martinez eventually sign, I am sure that they’ll break the $100 million barrier but I don’t recall a time when the majority of the top ten free agents were unsigned at this point in the off-season.
With suppressed prices, I hope this does not lead to the Yankees signing third base types like Yunel Escobar, Cliff Pennington, or Darwin Barney. I may want veteran help at third but I guess my sights remain aimed a little higher. Todd Frazier, come home.
|Photo Credit: Associated Press (Seth Wenig)|
|Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports|
And Thus Endeth the Cole Rumors…
The trade rumor that wouldn’t go away…did. The Pittsburgh Pirates finally traded their so-called ace to the Houston Astros for a package that included reliever Joe Musgrove (a speculated middle-of-the-rotation starter type), third baseman Colin Moran, reliever Michael Feliz, and minor league outfielder Jason Martin. Moran, former Major Leaguer B.J. Surhoff’s nephew, was the Astros’ seventh-rated prospect according to MLB.com.
If the Yankees did, in fact, offer Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, and Miguel Andujar to the Pirates, Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington didn’t stop until he could find a much worse package for Steel Town. In reality, the trade shows that GM Brian Cashman never offered the much talked about packages for Cole. It’s been said that he may have only offered Clint Frazier OR Chance Adams. The Yankees were clearly not as high on Cole as the Astros were.
I’m glad the page can finally be turned. I am in favor of adding a starting pitcher only if it upgrades the current starting rotation. After completion of the one-year contracts for all the arbitration-eligible players, the Yankees have approximately $22 million left before they hit the luxury tax threshold (which is, of course, a hard “salary cap” in the Hal Steinbrenner Universe) of $197 million. The Yankees will not use all of that money so to say that they have $22 million left to spend is a bit of a misnomer. They need to set aside $2 million in case CC Sabathia hits his bonus milestones and there’s no way that Team Hal will bring payroll (AAV) tightly against the threshold. He’ll want a buffer and of course there needs to be enough room to play at the trading deadline. Only the Yankees truly know how much money they have left to spend.
If the Yankees did sign a free agent pitcher like Yu Darvish or Alex Cobb, it is a certainty that the contract of Brett Gardner or David Robertson would be moved to make room. With the money the Yankees would have to include with Jacoby Ellsbury if they could entice him to waive his no-trade clause, I don’t think moving him would provide enough salary space for a big ticket purchase. They’d have to find a team willing to take at least half of his current salary and honestly I don’t think that team exists.
Chris Archer, we’re coming for you. With Cole out of the picture, the pitcher most likely to draw top speculation as the guy targeted for the Yankees, it is the talented 29-year-old righthander of the Tampa Bay Rays. Of course, it’s possible that we could start hearing Michael Fulmer’s name again but both men continue to carry high price tags. If he doesn’t get a viable role for the 2018 Yankees (i.e., trade of Gardner or Ellsbury to make way), Frazier would look very good in Detroit’s outfield.
Even despite the current stagnant free agent market, I don’t think either Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier will accept a one-year “pillow” contract regardless of what happens between now and training camp. I like the left-handed bat of Moustakas but I think he’ll eventually end up with the St Louis Cardinals.
At this point, there is not really much left to do for the Yankees except make preparations to to start training camp in a month. Now that long-time coach Rob Thomson (annual organizer of training camp) is in Philadelphia, third base coach Phil Nevin and others will have to step up and deliver for new manager Aaron Boone. I am looking forward to the results of their preparation and organization as they host the members and challengers for the 2018 New York Yankees.
Go ahead, underestimate Didi Gregorius…
The MLB Network has been reviewing their top ten lists at each position, but they blew it for shortstops. The omission of Didi Gregorius is wrong. There’s no way that I’d trade Didi for half of the guys on this list:
Tim Beckham over Didi is a joke. Trevor Story was struggling to hold his job last season and it’s only a matter of time until Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers pushes him out of the way.
That’s fine. Pitch to Didi like you think he’s an afterthought in the Yankees lineup and let’s see what happens.
Congratulations to Tyler Austin…
Tyler Austin proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Stephanie Dana, over the weekend and she said yes. Hopefully this is a sign that 2018 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for the young Yankees first baseman/outfielder. Congrats to Tyler and Stephanie!
The New York Mess…
The Mets are really going to sign free agent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez? It makes me appreciate every day that I am a Yankees fan. Nothing like pushing a young, promising first baseman (Dominic Smith) out of the way for an aged ‘has-been’. Jon Heyman’s argument is that A-Gon only costs the minimum and there are questions about Smith’s conditioning. Viable arguments but I am glad that A-Gon is on their team and not mine.
|Photo Credit: Orange County Register|
Life as a Minnesota Vikings fan has not been as rewarding as life as a Yankees fan, but the best Vikings team in years takes the field today against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC playoffs. The winner moves on to the NFC Championship to play the Eagles in Philadelphia. I am hopeful and optimistic that the Vikings will be the ones traveling to the City of Brotherly Love.
The Vikings will feature three active QB’s behind starter Case Keenum. Sam Bradford, who missed the majority of the season with a knee injury, was activated for today’s game. He’ll be joined by fellow QB’s Teddy Bridgewater and Kyle Sloter. With Keenum, Bradford, and Bridgewater all potential free agents after the season, I was very glad to see the Vikings waive backup TE Kyle Carter rather than Sloter to free up a spot for Bradford. Bradford was the starting QB in the season opener when the Vikings beat the Saints. My hope is that all three backups need to do no more than hold clipboards while Keenum continues his season of rejuvenation.
And as always, Go Yankees!
Prize Fight between Betances and Levine called off…
The Yankees avoided an off-the-field fight yesterday when they signed all of their arbitration-eligible players to one-year, non-guaranteed contracts, including Dellin Betances who lost his fight at the arbitration table last year. It sparked angry (and, in my opinion, unnecessary and ridiculous) words from Yankees Team President Randy Levine. This year, Betances gets the $5 million he sought a year ago when Levine said that “five million dollars goes to elite closers, people who pitch the ninth inning and have a lot, a lot and a lot of saves.” Personally, I think Betances will rediscover the magic and will resume his role as one of the elite setup artists in baseball. He is worth the money, regardless of what Levine may think.
|Photo Credit: Anthony J Causi, New York Post|
I was glad to see the Yankees stayed a couple of dollars shy of the $29.4 million total projected by MLB Trade Rumors. Not that MLB Trade Rumors is the foremost authority, but they were fairly accurate in their projections.
Here are the actual one-year settlements for the arbitration-eligible players:
Didi Gregorius, $8.25 million
Sonny Gray, $6.5 million
Dellin Betances, $5.1 million
Adam Warren, $3.315 million
Aaron Hicks, $2.825 million
Tommy Kahnle, $1.3125 million
Austin Romine, $1.1 million
Chasen Shreve, $825,000
Total: $29.2275 million
Gregorius accepting $750,000 less than his projected amount of $9 million was the difference-maker in bringing the total for all players under $29.4 million. Gregorius has one more year of arbitration before he hits free agency. I really hope the Yankees look to lock him up on a new long-term deal next off-season rather than wait for him to hit the free market. Same with Sonny Gray.
Yu had me at…
Following the Yankees’ ‘did they or didn’t they’ make an offer to free agent pitcher Yu Darvish is funny. Earlier in the week, Michael Kay reported on his show the Yankees had offered Darvish a 7-year contract for $160 million. On Twitter, Darvish responded “They don’t give me offer yet”. Darvish subsequently clarified his position with “Sorry guys. My mistake. Actually they did make offer the numbers are not correct.”
|Photo Credit: Getty Images|
Nothing against Darvish, I like the pitcher, but I wouldn’t want to devote in excess of $20 million per year to the pitcher even if the Yankees could somehow find a way to move Jacoby Ellsbury and his heavy contract or trade someone like Brett Gardner or David Robertson. Yesterday, Dodgers Nation posed a question to their fan base if they wanted the Dodgers to re-sign Darvish. The immediate reaction was negative, with many lingering feelings of disappointment and resentment over the awful World Series performance given by Darvish. Not that I feel a couple of poor (very poor) starts should define Darvish, but the October Stage is not made for everyone. It was a red flag that Darvish might not be a guy who can elevate his game when the stakes are at their highest. If money was no object, then I’d gladly be willing to accept Darvish on the team. But in the grand scheme of things for a team trying to stay under $197 million, the money is better served in other areas.
Please Keep Numbers 29 and 77 Ready…
We are now only a month away before pitchers and catchers report to training camp in Tampa, Florida. With so many free agents still available, it would seem that we’ll be playing exhibition games before some big names know what jerseys they’ll be pulling on. I continue to preach for the Yankees to re-sign Todd Frazier to a two-year deal to take third base and provide backup support at first for Greg Bird. Of course, I’d also trade Brett Gardner despite his leadership qualities and status as the most tenured Yankee to open up a significant role for Clint Frazier. So, my views are obviously ‘Up goes Frazier(s)’.
|Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports, via Reuters|
I thought we’d see more baseball activity last week than we did. Admittedly, it seems like I feel that way every week yet we continue to hear crickets. Yes, the Mets re-signed Jay Bruce but the off-season continues to move along very slowly. I don’t believe owners are guilty of collusion. I think this year has been a wakeup for owners who do not want to give extended contracts to guys and end up with ‘Jacoby Ellsbury-like’ situations on your hands. Plus, you have the added factor that MLB’s two biggest spenders are furiously trying to keep payroll under $197 million. I am hopeful the current sluggish market conditions bring quality third base help to the Yankees.
R.I.P. to a Legendary Sportcaster…
I am very sad to hear the news of the passing of retired sportscaster Keith Jackson. Growing up in the 70’s, he was the premier voice of College Football and so many other top sporting events to me. His style and grace were legendary qualities. So many times in my life I’ve said “Whoa, Nellie!”, thanks to Jackson. He passed away Friday night in the Los Angeles area, where he made his home. Farewell, Keith. May you rest in peace. Heaven has gained a tremendous Angel and we will miss you.
|Photo Credit: LA Times|
Have a great long weekend, Yankees family! Go Yankees!