Saturday, September 23, 2023

Listen to the Fans: Fire Cashman Night...


Fire Cashman Night, 9/22/2023 (Photo Credit: Robert Sabo/NY Post)

Fans show up in support of Cashman’s dismissal…

Friday night was “Fire Cashman Night” and of course, the Yankees won with a reclamation project off the scrap heap (Luke Weaver), a common and consistent Cashman attempt to find ‘lightning in a bottle’. To Cashman’s credit, Weaver was once a promising young pitcher for the Cardinals and Diamondbacks, and perhaps the Yankees see something they can fix. Yet, it was funny that a Cashman ploy succeeded on a night when fans were calling for his ouster. Weaver was backed by Aaron Judge’s second three-homer game of the season, but the first home run, a three-run shot in the third inning would have been sufficient to back the tremendous outings by Weaver and reliever Jhony Brito. Gerrit Cole, not Matt Blake, is growing a reputation as the team’s Pitching Whisperer.

Gerrit Cole (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Despite Aaron Judge’s words after the game saying the players take the most responsibility for this season’s failure, the primary problem was the players who were on the field and that buck stops with Cashman. 

The Yankees (78-76) won Friday night’s game, 7-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the opening game of a three-game weekend series. The Yankees have eight games remaining. The series in Toronto next week will be tough but hopefully, the Yankees can win the series against Arizona this weekend with victories today and/or tomorrow and take next weekend’s series in Kansas City to ensure a winning season and help to stay a step ahead of the Boston Red Sox to avoid being the AL East Cellar Dweller. 

While I get the players need to perform better on the field, I do not feel that Brian Cashman should continue his role as the team’s general manager. It is TIME for a new voice and vision. Cashman’s years of complacency, the failures to make necessary supportive moves to help the huge free agent signings of Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge (signings driven by Hal Steinbrenner and not Cashma), and the disastrous trades and bypass of young generational free agent talent (most notably, Bryce Harper) over the past few seasons have helped the Yankees become the “mid” team they currently are. The Yankees spend money, it is the allocation of those dollars that has been the problem. Whether it is Giancarlo Stanton’s contract that grows uglier with each passing year or taking on the money owed to Josh Donaldson that largely helped the Minnesota Twins win this year’s AL Central crown, those are dollars that could have gone to elite players. As wide open as the American League is this year, it is too bad the Yankees were not prepared to participate. THAT is on Cashman. 

For every bad trade, people like to say the Yankees acquired Anthony Rizzo. The truth is the Yankees went for Rizzo when they could have had Matt Olson. Olson currently has 53 home runs and 132 RBIs and is batting .278/.386/.605 with .991 OPS. Maybe the Yankees never could have matched the package that the Atlanta Braves gave the Oakland A’s to get Olson but there is no real evidence they ever tried. Fans like Anthony Rizzo. He has a fun personality, is supportive of his t,eammates and is one of Aaron Judge’s best friends, he has a cute dog, and his defense at first base is light years ahead of the metal glove that preceded him (Luke Voit). In reality, Rizzo is an aging ballplayer with a bad back. Don Mattingly showed that a bad back can prematurely end a first baseman’s great career.  Sorry, I will not give Cashman credit for Rizzo even if I like the player. The Yankees could have and should have done better.   

Brian Cashman was the right man at the right time when he was promoted to succeed Bob Watson as the Yankees’ General Manager in 1998. He will always be associated with the 1990s Dynasty Years even though he was not the chief architect, and he has 2009 when he expertly used Hal Steinbrenner’s money to supplement a talented roster, bringing the championship back home. Cashman is a legitimate future Hall of Famer, however, his days as the Yankees general manager have reached the end of their useful life.

It is time to fire Brian Cashman.

Sadly, with each passing day as we near season’s end, the probability of Cashman’s firing lMostnce most teams, like Boston did in firing GM Chaim Bloom this month, make changes in August or September to ensure the new GM is in place before the start of the critical offseason. So, I guess I continue to hope Steinbrenner promotes Cashman to President of Baseball Operations (or a similar title) and makes room for a new showrunner. 

Regardless of what happens, the fans of the New York Yankees are united in the belief that Cashman must go (as general manager).

Wake up, Hal Steinbrenner, and listen to the fans. 

Thank you, Wandy Peralta

Wandy Peralta, one of the few successful trades in recent memory, has been a good Yankee. He pitched in 63 games this year, which spanned 54 innings. He has a 2.83 ERA with four saves. Yesterday, a right triceps strain caused the Yankees to place Peralta on the 15-day Injured List which ended his 2023 season and most likely his Yankees career. Peralta, a free agent after the season, is not expected to return.

Wandy Peralta (Photo Credit: @Yankees via X)

I am proud of the effort Peralta delivered for the Yankees during his time in Pinstripes.  He was not always successful, but he was certainly trying to succeed every time he took the mound. Not to say other players do not try, but Peralta always seemed unflappable in any situation. The Yankees could re-sign Peralta in the offseason, but I feel the odds are against it. With so many talented young pitchers moving up in the farm system, the Yankees have younger, cheaper options on the immediate horizon. Another team will most likely offer Peralta a multi-year deal that would be foolish for the Yankees to match. 

It sucks when a good Yankee leaves. I understand it, but it still carries a sense of loss. We appreciate your time in Pinstripes, Wandy. The team would have been better with more guys like you. Good luck with your continued MLB journey. 

To replace Peralta, the Yankees promoted pitching prospect Yoendrys Gómez. I am happy for Gómez. He gets a chance to prove if he can help in 2024 or at the very least, he can showcase his talents for other teams in the event he is traded in the offseason. I had expected Gómez to make his Major League debut last night, particularly when the Yanks had a pulled away from the D-Backs (although Clay Holmes tried his best to make it close), but it did not happen. Maybe today will be the start of his successful Major League career. 

Final Words

Michael King has made me a believer. He should be in the Yankees’ starting rotation next season. His early success in the rotation frees the Yankees to consider moving Clarke Schmidt in the offseason to help improve other areas of the roster.  I like Schmidt, but I like King better. As for pitching, I know many fans would like to move on from Frankie Montas, but I would like to see the Yankees bring him back on a short-term deal to prove himself. For as much as the Yankees paid for him and as talented as we thought he was at the time, it would be disappointing to get absolutely nothing from him in his Yankees career. As such, I am supportive of a one-year ‘prove it’ type of deal for his return. We have never seen Montas pitch when healthy and I would like for him to show Yankees fans why he was originally acquired. 

Frankie Montas (Photo Credit: AP)

I have mixed feelings about the potential interest in centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier. His tremendous glove was on display at Yankee Stadium this week when the Blue Jays were in town and he would be a nice “stopgap” for centerfield until Jasson Dominguez can return late next season, but the days of signing older players past their prime should be over if the team seriously wants to contend sooner than later. Maybe Kiermaier can prove otherwise if signed. I would not be disappointed if he showed up at Yankee Stadium this winter, pulling a Yankees jersey over his dress shirt, but conversely, I would not be disappointed if the Yankees simply passed. I am hoping Estevan Florial proves he can be a temporary solution in center next season despite the flaws in his bat. I am not convinced he can be, but he has time to prove it. Maybe not this year, but next Spring at the latest. 

Gerrit Cole should easily be the 2023 AL Cy Young Award winner, beating out former Yankees starter Sonny Gray. Cole is 14-4 with a 2.75 ERA. He has started 32 games, with one to go. He has pitched 200 innings and has 217 strikeouts. The gap between Cole and Gray is substantial enough that it does not matter what happens in the final starts for either pitcher. Cole is the AL’s best.  It is too bad the Yankees (i.e., Brian Cashman) did not give him a better-supporting cast for his greatest year in Pinstripes.

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, September 17, 2023

The March to the End...


Oswald Peraza (Photo Credit: NY Daily News)

 The Yankees making Games fun again…

For as dismal as this season has been, the Yankees have been fun to watch again for the first time in a long time. ‘Let the kids play’ was a common rally cry by the fanbase earlier in the season, and now that it has happened, the team is surprisingly making winning look easy. 

I know, winning is never easy, but from perception, the team is far more competitive with the youthful core driving the team’s lackluster veterans (at least those healthy enough to play).

The youth movement suffered a blow when Jasson Dominguez was lost due to injury, but the energy the other prospects have helped to bring to the team has not slowed it down. The injury to Dominguez, a torn ulnar collateral ligament that will require surgery, alters the team’s plans for 2024 as it will keep him off the field for the next 9-10 months. Jasson is set to have the surgery on Wednesday, and the Yankees should have a better idea of the expected recovery period after the surgery, but it seems improbable that he will be back until late next season.

Jasson Dominguez (Photo Credit: Adam Hunger/AP)

From a planning strategy viewpoint, Dominguez should not factor into the decisions for next season. If anything, I hope the injury helps to make the Yankees more aggressive this offseason to ensure the team can carry its late-season success into next year. The Yankees (75-73) currently lead the Boston Red Sox by two games in the all-important race to see which team avoids the AL East cellar. With the Yankees only six games out of the Wild Card chase, some fans are hanging on to the belief that there is a chance for October play. On September 17, with just a handful of games left, the Yankees are not going to make up the ground on the two teams they need to pass, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners. Since ending the nine-game losing streak on August 23, the Yankees are 16-8. I know the Yankees have six games remaining against the Blue Jays, but the odds of sweeping the Blue Jays both at home and in Toronto are low and there are simply not enough games left to make up the necessary ground. I get that as a fan we must believe until the end but as a realist, the towel has been thrown. Even if Yogi Berra once said, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over”, this season is over. 

My goals are modest. Stay out of the AL East cellar and keep the consecutive winning season streak intact. I certainly would not complain if the Blue Jays and Mariners stopped winning games, and the Yankees leaped them to grab the last Wild Card slot, but realistically, the deck is stacked against the Yankees. With fourteen games left in the season, there is simply not enough time. The Yankees would need to be unbeatable with the Jays and Mariners unable to muster any wins.

Dominguez was the most impressive of the prospects when the Yankees decided to go young, but since he has been out, Oswald Peraza is the one showing he should have a place on next year’s team. His bat is finally starting to come around, and no one is missing Josh Donaldson’s elite glove at third base. Peraza has quietly held his own and is doing the things to help the team win. I am not saying he should be handed the third base job next season. Those are decisions the Yankees must make this offseason, but Peraza has put himself in the conversation. 

Catcher Austin Wells may not be hitting (he is currently batting .118/.162/.176 with .339 OPS and, -7 OPS+…oof!), but he has played much better behind the plate than most people expected. I am not worried about the bat. It may not be this year, but Wells WILL hit Major League pitching. It is only a matter of time until he figures it out, and then he will be an offensive force. The state of catching is in good hands. The Yankees will have a tough decision to make with Kyle Higashioka, a well-liked player, who is strong defensively and shows occasional pop. Higgy is surprisingly 33 years old already, and he enters his final year of arbitration this Fall. He seems a likely non-tender candidate if the Yankees decide to go with Wells to pair with Jose Trevino, who is expected to be ready by Spring Training. With Ben Rortvedt in ready reserve, it seems Higgy is the most probable to go. Wells can help solidify the decision if his bat starts to show some life in the next couple of weeks. 

Austin Wells (Photo Credit: AP)

I think my excitement for Everson Pereira has cooled. He has stuck out 31 times in 70 at-bats, pouring cold water on the belief that he had been making progress in reducing his strikeout rate in the minors. Unlike Wells, I am not sure if Pereira’s bat can improve to become a Major League force. He seems like the prospect most likely to receive the Estevan Florial treatment next season (banishment to Triple-A until there are no other options for the team). Even though Florial is currently the starting centerfielder for the Yankees by default, I do not expect his return next season. I think the Yankees will be moving on from him. There are other prospects that need to be protected from Rule 5 Draft eligibility, and the Yankees have shown they do not have long-term confidence in Florial. I would be surprised if Pereira and/or Florial broke camp with the Yankees next Spring.

Like the seasons before it, the Yankees will enter the offseason in need of a legitimate answer for left field, in addition to other needs. 

Not really trying to dive into plans for next year’s rebuild, but the Yankees should not let the overall positive play of the younger players deter them from making hard decisions this offseason. The one note I will make for next season is the hope the Yankees can find a way to offload Giancarlo Stanton even if they must eat part of his contract. “If” is foolish to say, it is a certainty they will have to pay part of the contract to move him. The cost of doing business. The question is whether the Yankees can find a taker.  Stanton also has a say in whether he goes, so it becomes a matter of finding a willing trade partner that is also appealing to Stanton. Southern CA probably holds the most attraction for him. Yet, the Padres seem like an unlikely option with the hefty contracts on their books, and the Angels are a mess. Do the Dodgers need Stanton? They just won the NL West for the tenth time in the last eleven years and are probably not motivated to take a chance on an aging slugger, especially with their sights on Shohei Ohtani. San Francisco was once interested in Stanton, but he was a much younger player then. It seems like the Yankees are stuck with Stanton for the long haul, but I will hold out some sense of optimism that the Yankees can find a way to move on. I like Stanton and have long admired his ability to murder baseballs. However, at this stage of his career, he seems like a detriment to a rebuilding team. A team that needs a “quick” rebuild like the Yankees. Stanton could probably find better success on a smaller stage. Not to say he cannot handle the big stage. He has always been a stand-up guy and I do not feel New York has intimidated him. Yet, playing for a team with lesser expectations could help Stanton in the long run. 

I am not trying to pour cold water on the Yankees better play in recent weeks. My outlook or perception has improved considerably from where it stood in August. Next season was looking rather gloomy, but rays of sunlight are starting to appear thanks to the energy and excitement of the younger players. The big challenge will be the offseason. Whether Brian Cashman is the general manager or not, the Yankees face their biggest offseason challenge in years. Whatever they do, the Yankees need to trust their farm system which seems to be getting stronger by the day. The days of acquiring aging third basemen with behemoth contracts should be in the rear-view mirror. Building for today with an eye for tomorrow has served the Dodgers well.  The Yankees should take note. 

Misiewicz Injury

It was horrifying to see Yankees reliever Anthony Misiewicz take a line drive off his head during Friday night’s game against the Pirates. The ball, hit by Pittsburgh’s Ju Hwan Bae, was traveling at 100.6 mph. Thankfully, Misiewicz was able to get up on his own feet before being carted off the field. He has been released from the hospital after being treated for a concussion. Head injuries can never be taken lightly, but I am hopeful his positive attitude and determined drive help will lead him to a full recovery.

Anthony Misiewicz carted off the field (Photo Credit: Gene J Puskar/AP)

The Yankees placed Misiewicz on the 7-day concussion injured list. I am hopeful he can return to the field this season; however, his health is the paramount concern so I hope to see him again when he is ready regardless of when that may be. 

Shohei Ohtani Out

Earlier this season, it looked like Shohei Ohtani might make a run at Aaron Judge’s AL Home Run Record of 62 home runs. Now, it becomes a question of whether he has played his last game as a member of the Los Angeles Angels. A UCL tear in August had shut down Ohtani, the pitcher. However, he remained on the team as a batter. Unfortunately, less than two weeks later, Ohtani had injured his oblique during batting practice. Continued oblique irritation finally led to the decision for Ohtani to halt his 2023 campaign and begin the necessary work for 2024 which will start with the elbow procedure. He cleared out his locker on Friday which gave the first signal that his season was done. 

Ohtani finishes the year with 44 home runs and 95 RBIs. He hit .304/.412/.654 with 1.066 OPS. Despite the injuries, the free-agent-to-be figures to capture a near-record contract in the upcoming offseason. I would have said ‘record contract’ but the injuries lessened the expectation if only slightly. 

Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani (Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

I do not harbor any belief the Yankees will sign him. I have mixed feelings about it, and the latest injuries certainly give pause to the belief he can continue his path as an elite two-way player. The day will come when he needs to focus on one or the other. That day may have already passed. I like Ohtani and I think he is fantastic for baseball. I hope he finds the right team next season. Well, anywhere outside of Boston.  I would be excited to see him in Pinstripes, I just do not think the Yankees will spend the dollars and, with so many other needs, they probably should not.  Personally, I would like to see him stay in the greater Los Angeles area to play for the Dodgers. 

As always, Go Yankees!

Thursday, September 7, 2023

The Rise of The Kids...


Jasson "The Martian" Dominguez / Photo Credit: Adam Hunger/AP

Wait until all is lost, then promote the best players…

The Yankees’ 2023 game plan has been a disaster. From poor roster construction to playing journeyman players over the best prospects, everything GM Brian Cashman has touched has turned to ashes. Entering play tonight, the Yankees were six and a half games out of the Wild Card chase. Forget the mathematical chances to make the playoffs, the door has closed. With Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner planning to bring in an outside firm to inspect the organization in the offseason, hard questions must be asked of every member of the front office. Brian Cashman should sit in the hottest seat. He may be Hal’s buddy, but Hal’s continued support of Cashman breeds complacency. The Yankees cannot afford complacency.  I am hopeful this season has been an eye-opener for Hal, and that it causes him to second-guess every member of the organization.  Anything less than excellence is unacceptable.

With the Yankees’ vast resources, they should be ahead of most other teams in every facet of baseball operations. For a few weeks during the nine-game losing streak, the Yankees felt like one of the worst run organizations in the game. Realistically, I know that is far from the truth. The Yankees are well-run, but they are not the best they can be. 

After feeling so discouraged about the team during the losing streak and the rapid plummet out of playoff contention, the emergence of the young prospects has been encouraging. Jasson Dominguez, Austin Wells, Oswald Peraza, and Everson Pereira have made Yankees games fun again. The wins and losses do not matter. Even if the Yankees somehow performed a miracle to reach the playoffs, their stay would be short…even with the kids. Everything that is happening on the field right now is for a better 2024. 

I am excited for Jasson Dominguez. I never expected The Martian to make the Major Leagues at the youthful age of 20, but I am glad he is here. As great as his Major League start has been, I try to temper my expectations. I am not holding him to any standard or belief that he must be a superstar. Maybe that is not who he is. But I know he can be a good baseball player, and championships are won with good players. 

As sad as it was to see Harrison Bader go to Cincinnati, he was quickly forgotten with the emergence of The Martian as the new centerfielder. In the long run, the Yankees are better for the change. I liked Bader as a Yankee. He is a New Yorker who understands how to play in New York City. However, as Dominguez continues to mature, he will be a much better player for the Yankees and hopefully a healthier one.

It is frustrating that the Yankees basically punted left field in Spring Training (I think that term was used by Mike Axisa but it fits). We knew last offseason that left field needed to be addressed, and all we got was the return of since-released Aaron Hicks, Red Sox castoff Franchy Cordero, and other journeyman players like Jake Bauers and Billy McKinney. Everson Pereira has not exactly solved the left field problem, but he has brought better consistency. Hopefully, the bat will come around in time. I expect Pereira to hit better next year, but the Yankees cannot go into the offseason believing Pereira is the answer. He needs to prove himself next Spring. I have loved Pereira “the prospect”, but he needs to earn his way onto the team. The Yankees should not let Pereira prevent them from upgrading the position if they can. I know everyone would love to see the Yankees acquire Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres. I am not getting my hopes up for that one even if I would love to see Soto in Pinstripes. I am a realist and I do not think the Yankees will sacrifice the talent needed to acquire him or spend the money that will be necessary to keep him. For me, Cody Bellinger continues to have the most appeal. No, he is not the player Soto is, but Bellinger can solve left field (or center) and he can effectively back up first base. He has a left-handed bat that fits well with the short porch in Yankee Stadium. There is a fear that he will regress to the player he was during his final years with the Dodgers, but I think his rebirth in Chicago can be sustained.  Bellinger has long been one of my favorite players, and it helps that he is the son of a former Yankee.  Not that sentimentality is a reason to add a player, but Belli was born to play in Yankee Stadium. 

Cody "Future Yankee" Bellinger / Photo Credit: Michael Owens/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Austin Wells has sold me. I want him as part of the catching tandem with Jose Trevino in 2024. It is time to move on from Kyle Higashioka. I like Higgy, and he has been a good Yankee, but it is time for him to begin the journeyman part of his career, much like Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli before him.  I have liked Higgy’s rapport with the pitchers, and by all accounts, he is a great teammate. Yet, those are not reasons to keep him when better players (like Trevino and Wells) are available. Ben Rortvedt has not proven he can be an effective Major Leaguer. He seems like one of those Quad-A players who will hang around for backup purposes (either buried on a Major League roster or stashed at Triple-A). With younger up-and-coming catchers in the organization, I am not sure that Rortvedt is a long-term fit. Trevino and Wells seem to complement each other well. One is brilliant defensively and the other can be an offensive force. Early reports seem to dispel that Wells is not a defensive catcher as he has held his own with his first games as a Yankee. If he hits like we think he can, the Yankees do not need every catcher to have Trevi’s defensive prowess behind the plate. 

Oswald Peraza was ready to be a Major League player during Spring Training. It is unfortunate it took until September and the release of third baseman Josh Donaldson to make it happen. Although Peraza has yet to find his groove at the plate, he has handled himself effectively at third base, and his presence feels more comforting than Donaldson even if Donaldson’s defense remained elite through his offensive struggles. I like Peraza, but like Everson Pereira and left field, I do not feel the Yankees should automatically hand him third base next year. As with Pereira, Peraza needs to prove himself in Spring Training. His presence should not prevent the Yankees from acquiring an upgrade if they can. 

I am looking forward to the top pitching prospects in camp next Spring. Chase Hampton, Richard Fitts, Will Warren, Clayton Beeter, Drew Thorpe, Brock Selvidge…I want to see if these guys can be a part of 2024 success in the Bronx. The Yankees are showing elite pitching development and it is exciting to experience the first wave arrival of the accelerated pupils.  Hampton has been a beast, but Thorpe looks like the head of the class. 

Drew "Future Ace" Thorpe / Photo Credit: Dave Janosz/Hudson Valley Renegades

I was reluctant when I first heard that Michael King wanted to be in the starting rotation. He has been such a valuable pitcher in his bullpen role. But as he continues to improve with each start, I am buying into his presence in next year’s rotation. Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes, Jr. will carry questions into next season. Luis Severino seems unlikely to return. Clarke Schmidt is the only pitcher not named Gerrit Cole who has proven he belongs in the rotation. There is a risk Schmidt will be dealt in the offseason so it is not a certainty he will be back. King provides the stability we need behind Cole. As for King’s bullpen role, I am cautiously optimistic Luis Gil can be that guy. This has been a lost season for Gil as he makes his comeback from Tommy John surgery, but he should enter Spring Training ready to go. If not Gil, then hopefully one of the other prospects (Clayton Beeter?) will step up. 

Despite the improved play by the Yankees, thanks to the youngsters, Brian Cashman should not get a free pass. He needs to be held accountable. He has a record that is Hall of Fame worthy, but times change. The Yankees need a new voice and vision. I am interested in knowing who persuaded Hal Steinbrenner to force the call-up of the young players. It seems to have Brian Sabean’s fingerprints on it. If Hal is listening to other people, it is possible that he makes a hard decision on Cashman despite their years of friendship and the fact that Cashman was hired by Hal’s dad. I always throw in the caveat that I am okay with the promotion of Cashman to President of Baseball Operations so long as the new GM has total autonomy. One thing is certain, Brian Cashman cannot be the Yankees General Manager in 2024. 

As frustrated as I have been with Manager Aaron Boone, I accept his return next season. Yankees Captain Aaron Judge has been vocal in his support of Boone, and Boone has the support of most of the players. I get that a manager should not be a buddy to his players, but unless there is a manager who is far superior…and available…I do not see a management change with the Yankees. I said it last year and I feel the same. If a change in the coaching staff should be made, it is Bench Coach. I do not have anything against Carlos Mendoza. Mendy seems well-liked on the team, but he is too much like Boone.  The Yankees Bench Coach should be an experienced manager who is unafraid to voice his opinion.  Boone needs to be challenged with his decisions, even if ultimately, he is the decision-maker. I think it would help Boone make better decisions. There is no question Boone knows how to deal with people. He is well-liked in the game, and he seems to have command of the clubhouse. It is not Boone’s fault WHO was in the clubhouse. Better players, better Boone. It is that simple.

Aaron "The Captain" Judge & Aaron "2024 Manager" Boone / Photo Credit: Getty Images

I am a Yankees fan. We will survive this season despite the frustrations. Hopefully, the team can play well enough to ensure a winning season (to keep that streak intact) but even if it is a losing season, shit happens. The ask is for a better tomorrow. That is ON Hal Steinbrenner. His choices this offseason will determine the direction of the team. Time for Hal to make the Boss proud.

As always, Go Yankees!

Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Season of Change is Upon Us...


Jasson Dominguez (Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post)

Out with the old, in with the young…

Writing about the Yankees is no longer fun.

This has been such a disappointment of a season. Aaron Judge’s toe. I think the injury at Dodger Stadium was when the air started to deflate my enthusiasm.  While the play saved the game for the Yankees, many of the subsequent losses were the result of Judge’s absence. In retrospect, I would have rather lost the Dodgers game and kept a healthy Judge on the field. Nevertheless, I never expected the Yankees to go in such a tailspin, and I legitimately had hoped the Yankees would try to improve at the trade deadline.  When it did not happen, I lost hope for this season even if the Yankees have not been mathematically eliminated.

Even if the Yankees could make the playoffs, what would they do? They do not have the team built for October success. Any playoff series would be a one-and-done situation. 

The blame for the Yankees’ 2023 failure resides with General Manager Brian Cashman. I think the team’s Analytics Department is largely responsible for many of the misfires, but they report to Cashman. The failures occurred on his watch, and he should be held accountable. I will maintain my position that promoting Cashman to President of Baseball Operations is an acceptable alternative to his firing. Either way, the Yankees need a new general manager. The search should be external only. Tim Naehring may be a talented executive, but the Yankees need new ideas. There are many bright minds in baseball, and the Yankees should tap into other teams’ strengths. 

You always hear that Cashman would find another job in Major League Baseball immediately if the Yankees let him go. Fine, let him get started on his new job as soon as possible.  I could not care less about Cashman’s post-Yankees career. 

The first off-season firing by the Yankees should be Assistant GM Michael Fishman, the head of the Analytics Department. I know he is another long-tenured employee, but it is time for a new approach. We need new Nerds. I equally understand the need to bring a balance of analytics with old-school baseball.  The Yankees have the financial resources to find the right guys who can make a difference. 

If the Yankees fire (rather than promote) Cashman, they should also place Manager Aaron Boone on the chopping block. I reluctantly place blame on Boone for this dreadful season even if he shoulders some blame with his decisions.  2023 will always be about the horrific roster construction and the bad personnel decisions that were made in the years leading up to it. If Cashman is gone from the organization, the new GM should have the right to choose his own man for the team’s manager. My personal favorite is Willie Randolph. I think he would be a strong choice. I have always been supportive of Don Mattingly, but I have mixed emotions about him suiting up as the Yankees manager. Many fans are put off by his managerial records for the Dodgers and Marlins. There is also the aspect that I would hate to see my favorite Yankee player (when he played) fail for the organization.

Maybe Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner is finally listening to the fans. He told the Associated Press today that this year was obviously unacceptable. He promised there would be a deep dive into the organization and everything they are doing, and mentioned they may bring in an outside company to look at baseball operations and especially a closer evaluation of the team’s analytics. Hal needs to be the driver for frank and honest discussions and be prepared to make hard choices if the Yankees intend to recapture their winning ways in the immediate future.  The season may be unacceptable to Hal, but the front office is unacceptable to us, the fans. We demand change. We demand actions that will drive better performance in the seasons to come.   

It was frustrating to see the Yankees take no action at the trade deadline. I was on board with buying if the team believed the Wild Card was within reach or selling if the team felt they did not have the horses to succeed in October. But to do nothing was the worst possible outcome.  Subsequently, the Yankees have shown they should have been sellers. The recent nine-game losing streak effectively ended any aspirations of catching the teams ahead of them. There was value in several players without ripping the necessary core for 2024.  This week’s placement of Harrison Bader on irrevocable waivers was an example of getting nothing when they probably could have gotten a mid-range prospect. The Cincinnati Reds claimed Bader today which ended his Yankees career. Bader is sad and so are we. I do not blame the Yankees for parting with the free agent-to-be, only frustrated they let him go for nothing because of the trade deadline inaction. Maybe Bader will come back to the Yankees next year. Stranger things have happened, and I think there is mutual respect between the player and the team.  Maybe we have seen the last of him in Pinstripes. Either way, I wish him the best for the remainder of his professional baseball career. Baseball needs more players like Harrison Bader. 

Harrison Bader (Photo Credit: YES Network via X, fka Twitter)

The Yankees finally closed the book on one of the most highly controversial acquisitions in recent memory when they released third baseman Josh Donaldson. Donaldson is an excellent defender, but I am glad his Yankees career is over. For him, I do not blame the Yankees for letting him go for nothing. They are on the hook for the remainder of his contract, but I do not think I could have accepted seeing him on the field in Pinstripes again. I closed the book on him when he was placed on the Injured List and had no interest in his reactivation to the active roster. He was once a great player, a Most Valuable Player, but those days passed long before he pulled on the Pinstripes. Donaldson signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers today, so he will get a chance to prove he is worthy of a spot in Milwaukee’s active roster and is eligible to play in the postseason since he signed before September 1. Good for him. This is probably the last thought I will give Donaldson. I could never embrace him as a Yankee and would just as soon erase any memories of him. 

The Yankees also released the minor league trade deadline acquisition (Spencer Howard) after less than one month in the organization.

With much resistance, the Yankees finally gave way to the needed youth infusion. Although the statistics have not been great, outfielder Everson Pereira and infielder Oswald Peraza have been playing nearly every day. Although they have yet to hit like they did in Triple-A, Peraza has made highlight plays with his glove at third base. I am okay with their struggles. It is part of their maturation and growth as Major League Baseball players. At this point, wins and losses are irrelevant. The Yankees are building for 2024, and Pereira and Peraza can be part of future success. 

With new room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees are expected to promote outfielder Jasson Dominguez and catcher Austin Wells on Friday. I suspect we may see a pitcher as well. It seems that Clayton Beeter is the most likely candidate.  With many projecting Beeter to be a future reliever, I want to see if he can help fill the void in the bullpen with the move of Michael King to the starting rotation. I have mixed feelings about losing King from the bullpen, but he has the arsenal to start and if starting pitching is his passion, he should go for it. 

It would be tremendous if the youth infusion helps the Yankees catch the Boston Red Sox to saddle them with last place in the AL East. 

I do not know what the future holds. I am not optimistic about 2024. It seems like championship contention will not happen until 2025 at the earliest. The Yankees could surprise us. We have the right to be skeptical after years of underwhelming decisions. I want to write about the Yankees to be enjoyable again. I love the New York Yankees, and there is nothing better than a season that ends with the Yankees celebrating a World Series championship.  In 2017, the Yankees fell short, but the team was universally loved. I hope we can have that type of team again.  Well, one that does not have to face a cheating organization with the odds stacked against them, but regardless of why the Yankees did not win in 2017, I want a team with heart, passion, and determination like the Baby Bombers. Give us a reason to believe. The young players are our hope for the future. I am glad they are here.

Volpe has 20/20 vision…

Congratulations to shortstop Anthony Volpe for his twentieth home run today, a three-run shot in the ninth inning that tied the game with the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees went on to lose in extra innings due to a throwing error by Gleyber Torres, but it does not take away the historic achievement by Volpe to become the first Yankees rookie with twenty stolen bases and twenty home runs.

Anthony Volpe (Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio/AP)

I have been a little frustrated by fans who have complained about Volpe. He is a rookie. He is not going to be brilliant on the field every day. He is still growing as a Major League player and needs time to become the player he will be.  I am not fine with the Yankees losing season, but Volpe’s struggles are an acceptable cost of doing business. He WILL be better.

Although I once wanted Volpe as the starting second baseman and Oswald Peraza as the starting shortstop, times have changed. The commitment was made to give shortstop to Volpe, and he is gradually showing us the reason why. I have no intention of looking back. Volpe is the shortstop of the future.  Period…end of story.

Chad Green’s return…

I am saddened to see the news that the Toronto Blue Jays will be activating Chad Green tomorrow. Sad only because he is a Blue Jay, but I am happy that Chad will soon be on a Major League mound again. It will be Green’s first MLB appearance since May 2022 when he underwent Tommy John surgery.  I am glad his rehabilitation since surgery has led him back to the game even if he is wearing the wrong uniform.

Chad Green (Credit: sportskeeda)

All things considered, I wish Green was still a Yankee, but the combination of free agency and the surgery last year led to the parting of ways.  It happened to Nathan Eovaldi, and he has gone on to have a nice career. Hopefully, the same works out for Chad.  Well, with the usual caveat that it does not happen against the Yankees.  Chad is a good guy, and I wish him the best north of the border.

Final note…

I hope Bryan Van Dusen (@Bryan_TGP on X, formerly Twitter) writes his annual Game Plan for The Greedy Pinstripes blog. It is a piece that I look forward to every year, and I think the upcoming offseason is the biggest challenge the Yankees have faced in many years. Bryan puts so much thought into his plans, and I would like to see how he feels the Yankees can return to their winning ways sooner than later.

Bryan, this is your call out. 

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Just One of Those Seasons...


Giancarlo Stanton (Photo Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Yankees are not a good team…

Aside from a rare Friday night victory, Yankee fans were dealt a double whammy yesterday. The Yankees announced the placement of Nestor Cortes, Jr on the 15-Day Injured List with a rotator cuff strain in his left pitching arm (days after placing Carlos Rodón on the Injured List), and that Luis Severino (ugh!) will make his next start on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves. Most fans felt the team needed to bring in a pitcher and a left fielder before the August 1 deadline, and in retrospect, that need has been heavily underscored in the days following the deadline. 

Losing Nestor hurts. The Yankees’ playoff chances were in doubt before his loss, so the reinjury of Nestor’s rotator cuff moved the Yankees further away from the ability to compete for October.  

Continuing to start Luis Severino every fifth day has become a joke. The games he starts feel like losses before the first pitch is thrown and they generally are. In his last seven games, Sevy is 1-5 with an 11.71 ERA and 2.39 WHIP. The use of an opener on Wednesday did not help as Sevy gave up four earned runs on five hits in two innings of work, taking the loss and helping the Yankees to drop the three-game series to the Chicago White Sox. Expecting better results against the Atlanta Braves is not a prudent bet. I think I can speak for most fans when I say we have seen enough of Luis Severino in 2023.

Luis Severino (Photo Credit: Robert Sabo/NY Post)

An impending free agent, his chances of resigning with the Yankees are about as good as Aroldis Chapman’s were last off-season. I guess you could say that Sevy did not give up on his team like Chapman did, but regardless of whether Sevy’s ailments are physical or mental, 2023 is a lost season for him and he is not going to make a miraculous comeback. It is time to move on from Sevy and given how much I have liked the pitcher over the years, that is a tough but true realization. With Nestor moving to the Injured List, both Randy Vasquez and Jhony Brito are in the Major League clubhouse. Yet, the Yankees continue to roll out Sevy every week for more losses.  I had expected Will Warren to make an impact for the Major League team sometime this season, but he is only 7-4 with a 4.27 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in nineteen starts this season in Triple-A. Still, I would probably rather see Warren take his lumps for the big-league club than watch Severino pitch again. Clayton Beeter seems like the only other minor league option, but he has fared worse at the Triple-A level (1-3, 6.25 ERA, 1.52 WHIP in six games). The righthanded pitchers are both 24 years of age. The Yankees need to rebuild their starting rotation next season behind Gerrit Cole and a hopefully healthy Carlos Rodón and it is important for the Yankees to find out what they have with the young pitchers like Warren and Beeter. I would rather see them grow at the Major League level now than be subjected to another Severino start. 

As for Nestor, they are saying surgery is not on the table. I hope that is truly the case. It would be disappointing for weeks or months to pass, only to find out that Nestor needs Tommy John surgery. Until he is determined to be fully healthy, it is hard to factor him as a primary rotation cog for 2024.  I am hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. I would love for the fears to be unfounded. The Nestor news was further aggravated by the disclosure that Frankie Montas will not pitch this season. There had been some hope we would see him toward the end of the season. Montas will go down as one of Brian Cashman’s worst trades despite several other strong recent contenders for the abysmal title. 

The Yankees have not faced a losing season since Buck Showalter’s first season as Yankees manager in 1992. They finished 76-86, tied for fourth place in the AL East. Currently, the Yankees are 60-56, alone in the AL East Cellar by one game.  A losing season is a possibility. The Yankees are four games out of the Wild Card chase and the gap between them and the current third Wild Card team, the Toronto Blue Jays, seems much greater than it is. The two outside teams ahead of the Yankees in pursuit of the Blue Jays, the Seattle Mariners, and the Boston Red Sox, have current win streaks of eight and three games, respectively.  They are doing what the Yankees have been unable to do…win consistently. Face it, the Yankees are not making the playoffs. Even if they did somehow manage to leapfrog the Red Sox, Mariners, and Blue Jays in the next month and a half, they would not make it far in the playoff rounds. I do not buy ‘anything can happen if they make the playoffs’ with this Yankees team. There will be no World Series parades in New York this year. 

The Yankees should have sold at the deadline. Standing pat was the worst thing they could have done. Either go for it or reload for next season. The Yankees chose to do neither. Now, we are faced with possibly the worst Yankees team in thirty-one years and a grim outlook for next season. What will it take for Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner to take action to restore the team to World Series contending status? If it takes a losing season to make it happen, so be it. Hal needs to take the necessary action to ensure the Yankees can compete with the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston Red Sox in the coming years. Baltimore looks to be a very dominant team with their pipeline of young, growing star players. Hal has apparently made the decision to retain Brian Cashman, which I think is a mistake. It is time for new blood in the front office. Assistant GM and analytics nerd Michael Fishman is done. The Yankees need a new head nerd and a new manager if Cashman is not going anywhere. Well, they would need those two positions replaced even if Cashman was exiting. The point is the Yankees need to stop doing what they have always done and try a new, fresh innovative approach to help lead the team to successful results. I would love to see what the brightest available minds in baseball could do with the Yankees’ vast resources. 

Hal, your move.

So long, Deivi

In a surprise move, the Yankees designated RHP Deivi Garcia for assignment on Monday to make room for Jonathan Loáisiga. Garcia was subsequently claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox and re-assigned to their Triple-A club. It is a sad Yankees ending for a pitcher that once held so much promise. Glad to see Loáisiga’s return but genuinely sorry it came at Deivi’s expense. Albert Abreu seemed like a better candidate for dismissal.  


Deivi Garcia (Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post)

With the number of talented minor league players that need to be placed on the 40-man roster this winter or be exposed to the Rule 5 draft, it was fairly obvious that Garcia would not survive his place on the roster come November. Yet, I did not expect the ending to happen so quickly.  The Yankees must have believed he offered no hope for this season since they were willing to let him go. At the very least, if the Yankees knew Garcia was not in their future plans, they should have dealt him at the deadline for a low-level minor leaguer. If Garcia finds success in Chicago, the Yankees’ mishandling of the pitcher will be forever magnified. It reminds me of New York Mets starter Jose Quintana who played out a minor league contract with the Yankees in 2011 and signed a free agent contract with the Chicago White Sox. Quintana proved the Yankees misjudged his talent. Hopefully, for Deivi’s sake, he can do the same. 

As always, Go Yankees!  

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Non-Commitment to Winning...


Luis Severino, Kyle Higashioka, and Aaron Boone (Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II/AP)

The Yankees continue to make baffling moves…

Where do we go from here?

We, as fans of baseball’s most-storied franchise, want the team to make the playoffs. It is our annual rite of passage. Dreams of a division championship have evaporated but grabbing at least the final Wild Card slot seemingly is within the realm of possibility. Yet, the Yankees’ front office continues to make the moves that thwart those plans. 

Friday night’s game felt like a loss before it happened. With Luis Severino as the scheduled starter, it was obvious the Houston Astros would score runs. A three-run homer in the first inning by Houston’s Yainer Diaz gave the immediate “here we go again” feeling. Despite three home runs, the Yankees could not overcome the deficit Sevy created. Home runs by Jake Bauers, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Giancarlo Stanton were nice, but solo home runs suck. Much better when a man or two or three are on base. The Astros won the game, 7-3, halting the Yankees’ brief two-game win streak. I am starting to feel a little better about the team’s bats, but Sevy is a reminder that you need good pitching too. I hope his latest clunker does not derail the momentum of the team’s recent offensive improvement. 

Luis Severino has been given enough chances. The results are in. He is not good. Maybe he is simply not healthy, whether it is mental or physical. It is time to pull the plug. I am not sure that I trust him even as a bullpen piece. The Yankees already have Albert Abreu for the garbage innings, and that is probably the only role that makes sense for Sevy.

For the season, Sevy is 2-6. He has started thirteen games and has pitched 61 2/3 innings. His ERA is a very bloated 7.74, and he has the lowest K/9 rate of his career (7.88). His fWAR is -0.6. He has given up at least five runs in six of his games, and he has allowed thirty-two runs, which includes nine home runs, in his last six games. 

I like Luis Severino and when he was right, he was one of my favorite players. I am convinced his 2023 season is done. He is not going to suddenly become an effective and reliable starter again. He needs to work on making himself better for 2024. As a pending free agent, it seems unlikely he will return to the Yankees. It makes me sad. But if his roster spot is decided between him and pitching prospect Clayton Beeter, who becomes Rule 5 eligible after the season, the future is with Beeter. Whether it is Beeter or another prospect that needs to be added to the roster, the 2024 Yankees have no room for Luis Severino. I truly hope he can find Major League success again, but it appears it will be in a different uniform. Shut Sevy down and let him work toward a better future. I wish him luck. 

The Yankees (57-53) have fallen eleven games behind the surprising AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles. They remain in last place, a half-game behind the putrid Boston Red Sox. They are three and a half games out of the Wild Card chase and trail Wild Card outsiders Seattle and Boston. The Mariners have won eight of their last ten games and have a three-game win streak. The Wild Card slots are currently held by Tampa Bay, Houston, and Toronto. If those three teams continue to play to their abilities, there is no way the Yankees can catch them. Poor decisions by the Yankees’ front office have ensured 2023 disappointment.  It is kind of funny that if the Yankees were in the AL Central, they would be the division leaders by percentage points.

Barring a miracle, the Yankees’ season will end on Sunday, October 1st in Kansas City after the regular season finale against the Royals. 

Post-Deadline Losses

The trade deadline passed with barely a whimper from the Yankees and no upgrades for the pitching staff or positions in areas of need. The ineptitude to bring in reinforcements has been magnified by the losses of Domingo German and Anthony Rizzo.

In both situations, the warning signs were evident before the deadline. German was placed on the restricted list after a clubhouse incident involving alcohol went out of control. I am sorry for German, and I hope he finds the help he needs, but I have a difficult time believing the Yankees did not know his continued struggles with alcohol after the domestic violence involving his now-wife a few years ago. He seemed like a powder keg waiting to explode, and, of course, it happens at the most inopportune time of the season. 

Anthony Rizzo was placed on the 10-day Injured List with post-concussion syndrome which dates to his collision with San Diego’s Fernando Tatis, Jr over Memorial Day Weekend. Rizzo has looked lost at the plate all summer, and it is difficult to understand why it took the Yankees so long to determine there was a medical problem with Rizzo’s struggles. As a time with a conservative reputation when it comes to injuries, Rizzo shows they might have liberal incompetence to go with conservatism in their evaluation of player injuries. If Rizzo is struggling with a May head injury in August, I cannot envision his successful return to the field this year. Long, extended rest will be the only cure. I want a healthy Rizzo for next season so if that means shutting him down this year, so be it.  It is not like the team is trending in the right direction anyway.

Anthony Rizzo (Photo Credit: Robert Sabo/NY Post)

The Yankees could have brought in reinforcements that could have helped ease the losses of German and Rizzo. The company line will be they were not aware of the losses until the deadline had passed, but the warning signs, with both players, were evident long before the deadline passed. Not sure why Yankees management does not want to win as badly as we do. 

The roster construction dysfunction is the responsibility of a single man, General Manager Brian Cashman. I know potential moves that might have helped could have been thrashed by Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner for financial reasons. Regardless of the constraints, Cashman may have faced, the demise of the team is his fault. Sure, the players need to be held accountable, but in the world of Major League Baseball, the buck ultimately stops with the man (or woman) who places those players on the field. 

I fall back to my longstanding belief…promote Brian Cashman to President of Baseball Operations and hire a new general manager from outside the organization. Look hard at the teams who are successful in combining analytics with old-school baseball, and pluck one of the best and brightest minds. The Baltimore Orioles were a pathetic organization under former general manager Dan Duquette. His contract was not renewed after the 2018 season, and the Orioles made the tremendous decision to pluck executive Mike Elias from the Astros organization. Elias has revitalized the Orioles as a winning organization. You can say they are the product of tanking and high draft choices, but having high draft choices does not guarantee success. You must choose the right players, which Elias has done. He has also embraced the international free agent market, something his predecessor failed to do. The Yankees need a visionary hire like the Orioles saw in Elias.  As an aside, I never want the Yankees to “tank”, but a stronger general manager with the Steinbrenner Family’s money can ensure it never happens.  Steinbrenner’s money has helped to make Cashman look better than he is. Imagine if they had the right man on the job. 

You can certainly make the argument that bright analytic minds do not always equate to Major League success. Chaim Bloom has not exactly set the World on fire in Boston. The Yankees need to reevaluate their current cadre of nerds. The first move should be the dismissal of Vice President, Assistant General Manager Michael Fishman. Enough is enough. Let the Yankees’ prospective new general manager bring in his own talented nerd to head the analytics department. 

Healthy Returns

The Yankees' pitching staff will get some immediate help in the coming days. Nestor Cortes, Jr will be activated today to make the start against the Houston Astros which will feature the Astros debut of their former ace, Justin Verlander. I am always skeptical when pitchers first return after an injury layoff and Nestor is no different. He has pitched in minor league rehabilitation games, so it is not like he just rolled out of the hospital bed to take the mound against the ‘Stros. Yet, minor league hitters are not major league hitters. At least not yet anyway. I am excited about the return of Nasty Nestor and although I am optimistic about his help for the duration of the season, I am a little more pessimistic about today.

Nick Ramirez was optioned to Triple-A after last night’s game to make room for Nestor.

The bullpen gets a huge pickup from the return of Jonathan Loáisiga who is expected to be activated by Monday. Clay Holmes has restored my confidence in his closing ability, and a healthy Loáisiga helps make Holmes that much better. I am excited about the bullpen. Keynan Middleton showed he might be able to help too with two strikeouts in a hitless inning of work last night for his Yankees debut.

Welcome back, Nestor and Jo-Lo!

Pereira for Left Field

Now that the Yankees have exhausted outside options for the problematic hole in left field, I am all-in for the promotion of outfield prospect Everson Pereira. Pereira is already on the 40-man roster and has continued to hit following his promotion from Double-A Somerset to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. For the RailRiders, Pereira has hit 5 home runs and has driven in 25 runs in twenty-two games. He is hitting .347/.376/.579 with .955 OPS. The results were good in Double-A, but they have been better in Triple-A.  Pereira may not be the left-handed hitter the Yankees need, but he can play. I am convinced he is better than the stable of Quad-A players the Yankees are currently using in left field. 

Everson Pereira (Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Brian Cashman has failed to find a solution for left field for so long that we finally have an in-house option. Let the kid play. Time to promote Everson Pereira to the Major Leagues. Pinstripes are waiting.

As always, Go Yankees!