Friday, January 19, 2018

Why Would Jacoby Ellsbury Want To Stay A Yankee?

On the surface it's a silly question...

Why would Jacoby Ellsbury want to stay a Yankee?

I'm sure there are plenty of players in the Majors that would never, and have never, wanted to be a Yankee. But I'd bet those players are few and far between. The Yankees are the most storied franchise in Major League Baseball, and quite possibly the most storied franchise in all of sports. From Babe Ruth to Derek Jeter, from Murderer's Row to The Core Five (yes "FIVE"), from the Bleacher Creatures to The Judge's Chambers, being able to say "I'm a New York Yankee" comes with immense pride.

But the question remains... Why would Jacoby Ellsbury want to stay a Yankee?

It's not greed, because no matter where he plays he's going to get all of the money owed him. Contracts in Major League Baseball are guaranteed. Ellsbury will receive every penny of the $153 million deal he signed back on December 13th of 2013.

So what's the deal?

Well, my guess is that he just really likes being a Yankee, and that's something that should be cheered... not booed. But that's exactly what I expect to happen this season, because not waiving his no-trade clause is likely going to keep the Yankees from adding Yu Darvish.

Yu Darvish would turn the Yankees from a good bet to contend for the World Series to arguably the favorite. Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, and CC Sabathia make for a very good starting rotation. Place Darvish in there and "holy cow!" A great batting lineup, a great bullpen, and a great starting rotation. Even the biggest Yankee Hater would have to admit the Yankees would be nearly impossible to stop.

I suppose if Cashman and Company decide to stick with the kids at second and third base, and trade away a less expensive piece like Adam Warren, they could afford to sign Yu Darvish and still have around $5 million for mid-season trades and/or pick-ups. But I find that highly unlikely. It's just not enough of a cushion, because the team is clearly going for it all this season, and there's a good chance a mid-season pick-up will be needed, and the last thing management will want to worry about at that point is the cost.

Plus, past experience, and I understand that going by past experience is difficult because the Yankees of today are not at all like the Yankees of a few years ago, tells us that at least one of those infield spots will be filled by a veteran. I think it's very possible that Todd Frazier returns to the Yankees on a team-friendly deal. However, said deal won't be so "team-friendly" that Darvish could still be squeezed in.

To put things bluntly, Jacoby Ellsbury could keep the Yankees from being a better team in 2017 and beyond. And in doing so he's very likely tohear it from the boo-birds at Yankee Stadium.

Should he be booed? I don't think so, but the fact is he will be. And it kind of surprises me that he'd be willing to put up with that instead of going somewhere that he's actually wanted. Should such a place exist.

Why I Am Not Afraid of the Houston Astros in 2018

The Houston Astros are the defending World Series Champions from the 2017 season and the team has the reigning American League MVP on their roster heading into the 2018 season. The Astros have a full season of Justin Verlander heading into this next season, the team got younger and more versatile with the retirement of Carlos Beltran and the team also acquired Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates just a week or so back. Many Yankees fans are shaking in their boots right now and are actually scared of the defending World Series Champions, but me… I’m not… and here’s why.

Justin Verlander. I really cannot believe everyone suddenly fears Justin Verlander. First of all, let’s remember that before Verlander joined the Astros and went on that impressive 5-0 run with a 1.06 ERA, neither of which are sustainable even if he did magically figure something out or the change of scenery in Houston from Detroit mattered that much, Verlander was just 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA with Detroit. Now while those numbers, especially given the state of the Tigers offense at the time, are respectable they did not show the absolute dominant force that was Verlander in September and beyond in 2017. Verlander could be and likely will be good once again in 2018 with the Astros but there is no way he can replicate those numbers from the 2017 season like many are thinking or worried that he will. Science, history and not being able to predict baseball say that the soon-to-be 35-year old righty will regress, not get better.

Gerrit Cole. As much as I wouldn’t have minded Cole in Pinstripes I didn’t ever see Cole as a need for New York. A luxury, sure. Someone who made the team better, more than likely. The dominant force that many Astros fans are making him out to be? I’m not so sure about that actually. Cole’s numbers are trending in the wrong direction for a player that is leaving the spacious National League park in Pittsburgh to an American League Park in Houston. Cole has seen his numbers rise every year from his best season in 2015 and has struggled with nagging little injuries that as you age you find harder and harder to deal with and play through. Cole gave up 1.4 home runs per nine innings last season to go along with a 4.08 FIP, 31 home runs allowed, 1.251 WHIP and a career-high 55 walks allowed. The scariest part for Houston is this, these numbers are generally better, but not by much, than his worst season which occurred in an injury-riddles 2016 season. Maybe Cole is getting unlucky and will return to the dominant force that the righty once was in 2018? Sabermetrics courtesy of Fangraphs paint a different picture. Cole’s BABIP from 2017 (.298) was actually lower than his BABIP in 2016 and 2015, his career best season in the Major Leagues where Cole won 19 games, while every other stat (line drive percentage, contact % etc.) all relatively remained the same. Cole is throwing less fastballs and more changeup’s and curveball’s than ever according to Fangraphs which leaves you to wonder if his shoulder and/or arm are bothering him. It’s hard to say but the trends over the past three seasons wouldn’t give me the warm and fuzzy feeling if I were an Astros fan and gave me those similar feelings when I thought he was going to be a Yankee.

Jose Altuve is Jose Altuve, and the scariest part is that Altuve is just now entering his prime, not leaving it. The Yankees plan going forward? Limit the pitches that Altuve sees and take your chances with the rest of the lineup. It really is all you can do at this point and it is the ultimate respect. The same can be said for Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel is awesome and a Yankee-killer, everyone knows it. The Yankees just have to get what they can off of him and move on to a new day, a new game and a new series after they see him. Again, the ultimate respect. These two players are great ball players, gamers and they love to step up when the spot light is on. When are these two free agents again?

The Astros bullpen is good, but I wouldn’t call it dominant. I’d say the Yankees have a much better bullpen than the Astros with former closers everywhere. We all know how fragile relief pitching can be from year-to-year, with the obvious exception of closers, and I just don’t trust the Astros bullpen to be as good as they were in 2017 again here in 2018. It helps that the Astros play in a weak division where they get to beat up on other teams 20 times each a season, and don’t get me wrong I think the Astros are a hell of a team and can hold their own against the best teams in the Major Leagues again in 2018, but this team just doesn’t strike the fear in me that it does others. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t. Call it being a homer, call it being optimistic or call it just flat out being stupid but I am just not worried. I’m not.

This is all before I mention how Masahiro Tanaka had a down season in 2017, the Yankees have a full season of Sonny Gray in 2018, before Jordan Montgomery has a full season of experience and innings under his belt for the 2018 season and some dude named Giancarlo Stanton takes his turn at the plate four times a game against this Astros pitching staff. It isn’t going to be easy, it is going to be frustrating at times and the Yankees aren’t going to exactly run away with anything, but it doesn’t mean I am scared either. In fact, I look forward to it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

No Need To Worry About Second Or Third Base

"To infinity 2017 and beyond!"

If the Yankees were to trade for or acquire a second or third baseman, then that person has to be for 2017 and beyond. 

With the firepower the Yankees batting lineup possesses, there's absolutely no need for a move to be made. We could have 2015 Stephen Drew at second, and 2013 Jayson Nix at third, and the team would still average over five runs a game. 

I'm not saying that if we had players that contributed as little as Drew in 2015 or Nix in 2013 in the lineup regularly I'd be ok with that. However, I don't expect to have another All Star, let alone another MVP candidate, playing those positions this season. 

Therefore, unless the Yankees acquired somebody that's clearly above average, and under team control for at least a couple more years, then there's no point.

Here's a list of such players....

Second Base
Jose Ramirez
Jonathan Schoop
Robinson Cano

Third Base
Justin Turner
Jose Ramirez
Kris Bryant
Anthony Rendon
Nolan Arenado
Joey Gallo
Alex Bregman
Travis Shaw
Nicholas Castellanos

The Yankees are not trading for any of those three second basemen. Ramirez plays for the Indians, who would be looking to add to their team... not subtract. I suppose something might be able to get done to bring back Cano, but the $24 million AAV of his contract would be a huge obstacle. Jonathan Schoop is another outside possibility, but seeing that he's in Baltimore I doubt a deal would get done. 

Although Turner, Ramirez, Bryant, Rendon, Bregman, and Shaw look to be off-limits, third base does present some possibilities. 

Joey Gallo is a bit intriguing thanks to him coming off a 41 homer campaign last season, but his batting average is pretty bad (.209). So even though he's on that list, unless the Rangers asking price for him was pretty low, I'd pass.

One name that's quite intriguing is Nolan Arenado. Arenado is right there with Manny Machado in that they're both very good players, at the same position, but the one big difference is that Nolan is not eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season. But would Colorado want to move him? While the Dodgers seem to have a firm grip on the National League West division, the Rockies certainly have their eyes on one of the Wild Card spots. Taking things a step further, the Rox also have a nice crop of starters that the Yankees could go after. But I just don't see such a big trade happening with a team that has serious postseason hopes.

There's been plenty of talk about trading for Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers, but third baseman Nicholas Castellanos (he can also play right field) would be a nice target. He brings a good batting average and can hit 20+ home runs. His defense leaves some to be desired, although it's not awful by any means. Miguel Andujar and a non-Adams/Sheffield pitching prospect could probably get a deal done. But what about a trade that would bring over Castellanos and Fulmer? While that would be perfect, I'm not sure about the cost. Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar, Chance Adams, and another lower-level pitcher? Is that too much? Probably, but I would think hard about this trade.

The way I see things when it comes to trading for a second or third baseman, it's Detroit or bust. I don't think any other player would be available without the Yankees having to blow a team away with an offer. And let's be honest, the Yankees absolutely do not need to offer a package that would blow anybody away. 

I'm going to definitely be thinking more about that Fulmer and Castellanos trade I mentioned above.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Does Anyone Know the Name Travis Shaw and Is He Available?

Photo Credit: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

So, it seems, there I go again with that, the idea that the San Francisco Giants just give up their proven second baseman Joe Panik for the Yankees Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier wasn’t exactly the most popular of posts I’ve done here on the blog. Whoops. It was so unpopular in fact that the Giants went out and threw dirt on the grave of the post immediately by acquiring Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Whoops again. I still stand behind the idea as I searched the Giants roster looking for scenarios that could send Ellsbury packing I have always been one to have a Plan B when it comes to getting greedy, even if it is less likely now that McCutchen is in San Francisco.  That quest has taken me to the National League Central Division and to a team that is on the cusp of competing, hello Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Brewers made things interesting for the Chicago Cubs all the way down to the final month of the 2017 regular season and while that made many fans and people within the organization happy most have to be ready to take the next step. While Milwaukee has been quiet on the free agent and trade market to date, and to be fair… who hasn’t been, that doesn’t mean that the team cannot swing a trade with a certain team from the Bronx to make both sides not only happy, but better as well.

As I stated in my Joe Panik article and as it has been stated all over Twitter and the Yankees blogosphere for a month now, the Yankees either need a second baseman or a third baseman according to many before the season starts. Personally, I would be okay with having Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes hold down second base for Gleyber Torres for 20 games while Miguel Andujar mans third base, but it seems like I am in the minority. With that in mind I have been scouring the potential trade market when I ran across a name that not a lot of people are talking about, Travis Shaw.

Travis Shaw is likely the least “greedy” move the Yankees can make as the Brewers third baseman is not a household name and doesn’t strike fear in every Boston Red Sox household (by the way, Shaw is a former Red Sox farmhand that was traded to Milwaukee in the Tyler Thornburg trade) across the land but that doesn’t mean Shaw wouldn’t be an incredible pickup for the Yankees on the cheap. In 2017 Shaw posted a 4.0 WAR while slashing .273/.349/.513/.862 with an OPS+ of 121. Shaw hit 31 home runs in 2017, the Bronx Bombers would officially be back adding that kind of pop to an already dangerous lineup, while also driving in 101 RBI with a much-needed for the Yankees left-handed swing.

Shaw would be under team control through the 2021 season with New York if acquired and just for the league minimum here in 2018 as Shaw is pre-arbitration eligible. So, what are the Brewers needs heading into the 2018 season? While I don’t pretend to be an expert on the Brewers it isn’t hard to tell that the team could use obviously a third base replacement (Miguel Andujar), second base (Tyler Wade) and starting pitching (not Jordan Montgomery, not Chance Adams and not Justus Sheffield).

The problem with this trade is that the Yankees would seemingly have to blow away the Brewers as Milwaukee has no reason to NEED to trade Shaw. The Brewers are ready to compete, and Shaw is a huge part of that meaning the Yankees may have to include Domingo Acevedo or even Chance Adams along with Andujar and Wade/comparable player in order to acquire Shaw. As much as I love Adams, that has been well-documented for years now here on the blog, I think I pull that trigger on that deal without hesitation. I know many are high on Andujar, and frankly I am too, but this isn’t trading away potential for a season or two of a player’s prime. This is youth for youth and the unknown for more of a “sure thing.” The problem for New York, in terms of prospects anyway, is that you have to pay for that. Paying for that makes the Yankees not only better in 2017, but it makes them better in the future as well with a long-term option at third base.

Convincing Milwaukee to make a move for Shaw is going to be a tough one but if the Yankees can fill two or three needs for the Brewers including their replacement for Shaw then Milwaukee may be interested. If not, it doesn’t hurt to do your due diligence anyway and ask. The worst that they can tell you is no, right?

Get greedy, get Shaw. That makes a monster lineup all the scarier for the foreseeable future. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Yankees Are One Trade Away From Calling It An Offseason

The New York Yankees are one of the best teams in the American League on paper right now, so I stand behind my thought process that the team doesn’t necessarily “need” to do anything else this offseason. Much of the team that was one win away from the World Series in 2017 is back and while the Astros probably got better with the acquisition of Gerrit Cole, it is debatable whether the team is better suited for a World Series run than the Yankees are currently. That’s another topic for another blog post though, instead I’d rather focus my efforts on one trade that, albeit an unpopular trade I am sure amongst most Yankees fans, could basically end the heavy lifting for the Yankees this offseason, at least on the trade front. The San Francisco Giants presumably need two outfielders and the Yankees have two to spare while San Francisco has a middle infielder that may strike the Yankees fancy for a season or two. Is it time for “Let’s make a deal?”

The Yankees need either a second baseman or a third baseman this offseason with Gleyber Torres waiting in the wings to take on either position full time later on in the year. The Giants second baseman currently is Joe Panik while their third baseman is a familiar foe in Evan Longoria. Now I don’t know about you, but I personally want absolutely nothing to do with Longoria in pinstripes leaving me with just one option, Panik. Who is Joe Panik? Panik is a proven second baseman with postseason and World Series experience at just 27-years old. Panik is a left-handed bat that would benefit from the short porch in Yankee Stadium, a solid defender in the middle infield that would fit in well with Didi Gregorius defensively, and a cost-effective piece for a Yankees team still looking to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold.

Panik just agreed to a deal with the Giants worth $3.45 million through arbitration giving the Yankees a nice chunk of money to spend elsewhere on the free agent or trade market. How so? Because one of those two outfielders the Giants need that the Yankees will be giving them is Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees already reportedly have $22 million to play with this offseason while still remaining under the luxury tax “cap” and trading away at least half of Ellsbury’s salary would give New York a lot of wiggle room to make moves, maybe even enough wiggle room to land a Yu Darvish or another top-tiered free agent.

The other outfielder the Yankees would send to San Francisco, I know you’re dying to know and I know you probably already have a sneaking suspicion. It is Clint Frazier. As much as I would like it to be Brett Gardner I just can’t see the Giants taking on that much salary for two aging and identical players. The Yankees are going to have to sweeten the pot to get anyone to take Ellsbury and Frazier is that sweetener, in my opinion. The Giants already have Miguel Gomez, who made his MLB debut last season and is the team’s 22nd best prospect according to, ready to take over at the position in place of Panik as well as vastly improving their outfield situation with the trade.

Is giving up basically Clint Frazier for Joe Panik and cash considerations a “loss” for the Yankees? Some may think so, yes, but one must also remember that the money saved will or could lead the Yankees in another direction. Is Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier worth Yu Darvish, Alex Cobb or Jake Arrieta and Joe Panik? 100 times out of 100, yes. At least in my opinion. It is all about giving something to get something and that’s what the Yankees are doing here with this trade. You trade from a position of strength or depth to fill a gap, that’s how the 1995 – 2000’s Dynasty Yankees did it and that is how this team can do it as well.

And before you jump all over me let’s take a look at the stat line for Joe Panik while remembering that Panik plays half his games in the very pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. Just because Panik is left-handed and just because Barry Bonds made it look easy to hit home runs out of that stadium it doesn’t mean that it is. Panik will benefit from the dimensions at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees team as a whole would benefit from having another left-handed bat in the lineup day in and day out. Anyway, I’m rambling so here are his stats with the Giants

4 Yr4 Yr438181821745986162917012176.282.345.408.753105
162 162 162672801703261163465.282.345.408.753105

As you can see, thanks to Baseball Reference, Panik is a very solid second baseman. Oh, and did I mention that Panik was born in Yonkers, New York? That has to count for something, right? Panik would be under contract through the 2020 season through arbitration and could give the Yankees comparable production to Starlin Castro for a fraction of the cost, while again also potentially bringing in a Yu Darvish type player as well.

I know, my trade proposal sucks so what’s yours? And do you think the Giants would go for it? Leave it all below in the comments section. Thanks in advance. 

Pinstriped Trade Rumors Will Never Die...

Photo Credit:  Kevin C Cox, Getty Images
Red Thunder Gets No Rest…

Now that we don’t have Gerrit Cole rumors to fuel our days, it looks like we’ll be hearing more and more about Yu Darvish until he finally signs somewhere.  

John Harper of The New York Daily News floated a trade possibility this morning. In his scenario, the Yankees would send Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier to the San Francisco Giants for second baseman Joe Panik. By including Frazier, Harper figures the Yankees could get the Giants to pay $12-$13 million annually of what’s left on Ellsbury’s contract.  In his line of thinking, the trade would open the pathway for the Yankees to sign Darvish so he basically views it as an Ellsbury/Frazier swap for Darvish/Panik.  

Photo Credit: Lance Iversen, USA TODAY Sports
I am not sure that I’m crazy about the trade idea but if the Yankees were willing to send Frazier to Pittsburgh for Cole, they’d be willing to move him to bring in Yu Darvish.  

If the Yankees carried a fifth outfielder on the roster to start the year (assuming Ellsbury and Frazier are dealt), it would most likely be Tyler Austin, who could back up first and the corner outfield spots, or Billy McKinney, an outfielder who did work at first base during the Arizona Fall League.

Panik’s presence would allow the Yankees to take their time with Gleyber Torres or move him to third base as once planned. A native New Yorker, Panik, 27, hit .288 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs for the Giants in 2017. He was eligible for arbitration for the first time this year and settled with the Giants last week for $3.45 million. He can be a free agent in 2021. His lefty bat would play well in Yankee Stadium.

No one is going to take Ellsbury in a straight one-for-one swap, even with boatloads of cash included. So as much as I’d hate to lose Frazier, this is probably a trade that I’d make so long as I knew that I could sign either Darvish or Alex Cobb for the starting rotation.

In an unrelated rumor, Jim Bowden is saying that the Milwaukee Brewers are interested in signing third baseman Mike Moustakas if they could trade Travis Shaw to the Braves, Mets or Yankees. I’m never too excited about adding an ex-Red Sock, but Shaw had a breakout year for the Brewers in 2017 with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs. He batted .273/.349/.513.  He is a left-handed bat and will turn 28 in mid-April. Not sure what level of interest the Yankees might have, but it bears watching. It would certainly cause much angst in the Red Sox Nation.

Photo Credit: Jim Davis, Globe Staff
Congrats Hideki Matsui…

According to The Japan Times, former Yankee (and Yomiuri Giant) Hideki Matsui has been elected to the Japanese Hall of Fame. At 43 years and 7 months, Matsui is the youngest entrant to the Japanese HOF, eclipsing former Dodgers/Mets pitcher Hideo Nomo, who was 45 years and 4 months at the time of his election.

Before heading to the United States to join the Yankees, Matsui won three Central League home run titles (1998, 2000, and 2002) and he was MVP of the CL in 1996, 2000, and 2002. 

This was Matsui’s first year on the Japanese ballot and he garnered 91.3% of the vote. He was joined by former Hanshin Tigers star Tomoaki Kanemoto and former Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara.

In his prepared statement, Matsui thanked his mentor, former Yomiuri Giants skipper Shigeo Nagashima. “Day in and day out, (Nagashima) checked my swing, and those days formed the cornerstone for me as a baseball player.”  

Photo Credit: Kyodo
Hideki’s father, Masao, attended the announcement ceremony on his behalf.  Hideki is in New York and was unable to attend.

Congratulations to the great #55 for the well-deserved honor!

Stanton and Judge who?…

Aaron Hicks caused quite a stir on Instagram this weekend when he posted a workout pic that shows he is more than capable of holding his own in the Yankees outfield. I was a little shocked when I first saw the pic and there were plenty of people who questioned whether or not it really was A-A-Ron (it is). Justin Diamond (@justindiamond) had the best tweet:  “Sweet baby Jesus. @AaronHicks31 you on the juice this off-season?”…

Wow, what a football game!…

As a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, I’ve endured my share of disappointment over the years. The Vikings have found more unique ways to lose big games than any NFL team that I can think of. Well, outside of the Buffalo Bills. Yesterday’s NFC Playoff game against the New Orleans Saints was a game of atonement for me.

The Vikings jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half and I was getting congratulations from a number of friends. As a Vikings fan, I knew it was way too early to start getting excited.  Plus, Drew Brees is still one of the game’s great quarterbacks.  Sure enough, a couple of plays in the second half shifted the momentum to the Saints. The Vikings lost the lead and then re-captured it with less than 2 minutes to go. I was fearful that the Vikings had left too much time on the clock for Brees and Company and unfortunately I was right. Brees led the Saints to a field goal to re-capture the lead at 24-23 with 25 seconds left. Starting on their own 25 after a touchback on the kickoff, the Vikings moved to their 39 and faced a third down with 10 seconds left and no time outs. I was resigned to the agony of defeat when Vikings QB Case Keenum hit WR Stefon Diggs for a 61-yard touchdown to win the game. The Vikings won the game, 29-24. It was such an incredible feeling…something like Aaron Judge hitting a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 9th.  

Photo Credit: Pioneer Press
I am not sure what will happen next week in Philadelphia as the Vikings take on the Eagles for the NFC Championship but I am enjoying the ride. The Eagles are the only thing that stands between the Vikings and playing this year’s Super Bowl at US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. So regardless of whether they win or lose, the Vikings are going home. I just hope it is with a game still be played.

Lastly, We Remember…

Today, we remember the late great Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Actually, he is thought of every day, but today is officially his day. He had so many great words over the course of his life, but I’ll leave this post with one: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Thank you, Dr King, for making a difference. We are a better country because of you and would have been even greater if you hadn’t been taken from us prematurely. We are forever grateful for you and your efforts to make this a better World for all of us.

Never forget MLK Jr...

Go Yankees!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Once Again, Brian Cashman is Right…

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

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 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
Go Vikings…

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.  

Go Vikings!

And as always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Examining the Yankees Payroll Situation After "Arbitration Friday"

Photo credit: Pinstripe Alley

The deadline for players and teams to swap numbers and potentially come to an agreement on a contract for the 2018 season has come and gone and the New York Yankees agreed to terms with each and every one of their arbitration eligible players. I may be only speaking for myself and Dellin Betances here but I will say this anyway, thank goodness. Earlier in the week I personally wrote an article laying out how the arbitration process could make or break the Yankees offseason and their search for austerity. Let's look at how those numbers panned out and how it will or won't affect not only the Yankees attempt to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold but also how it could affect how the organization goes about their offseason both in the trade market and on the free agent market as well.

Here are the eight Yankees arbitration eligible players with their MLB Trade Rumors arbitration prediction numbers in parenthesis and the actual number they agreed to with the team beside it in red. Let's analyze.

Adam Warren ($3.1 million) 3.315 million - +$0.215 million 
Didi Gregorius ($9 million) $8.25 million - $0.75 million "saving"
Dellin Betances ($4.4 million) $5.1 million - +0.7 million
Sonny Gray ($6.6 million) $6.5 million - $100K "savings"
Austin Romine ($1.2 million) $1.1 million - $100K "savings"
Aaron Hicks ($2.9 million) $2.85 million - $500K "savings"
Tommy Kahnle ($1.3 million) $1.3125 million - +$0.125 million
Chasen Shreve ($900K) $0.825 million - $0.075 million "savings"

Alright, so the Yankees had five players who made less than what MLB Trade Rumors predicted and three that made more than what MLBTR predicted for a total of $29.2525 million. MLB Trade Rumors predicted the Yankees spending $29.4 million which means the Yankees beat that number by $0.1475 million, I would say that is "winning." 

The Yankees didn't go over the $30 million the team had allotted for arbitration this season and now have roughly $22 million to work with this season. Now keep in mind this includes any call ups throughout the season, any additions at the July 31st trade deadline, and potentially up to $2 million in incentives for left-hander CC Sabathia leaving the Yankees very little wiggle room in the grand scheme of things. Does this leave enough room for Yu Darvish? Probably not. Does it leave enough room for Mike Moustakas on a one-year pillow contract? I mean, maybe... but it isn't likely. Does this leave enough room to, barring a Jacoby Ellsbury or David Robertson type trade to clear space, add a veteran at third base like Eduardo Nunez and maybe another lesser starting pitcher or reliever to call it an offseason? Yes, that seems the most likely option right now. 

Damn you austerity, and damn you slow offseason. DO SOMETHING!

One Step Closer to Spring Training...

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!