Saturday, December 4, 2021

Silent Days and Nights...

  

MLB Lockout begins but when will it end?...

November was so much fun with the flurry of free agent signings, even if the Yankees chose not to participate, but then, thud, it all ended with the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the subsequent lockout unanimously imposed by MLB owners.

As a fan, this really sucks. I know the fun of the free agent signings in November would not have happened without the impending lockout, however, my favorite time of the MLB off-season is the Baseball Winter Meetings which were cancelled this year. The Rule 5 Draft was also postponed so catcher Josh Breaux stays in the organization a little bit longer.

It sounds as though the labor dispute will extend into 2022 and perhaps even into time allotted for Spring Training. The gap between the greedy owners and the players seems so wide. To an outside observer, there have been no signs, at least to me, that the two sides are willing to compromise. After the lost revenues of 2020, it seems almost unconscionable the owners would risk harm to their game rather than negotiate in good faith with the players. Even though the fans pay for the sport, we are the least represented party in this dispute. Everybody wants our money and more of it, and we have no voice except not to pay.

I am hopeful there is progress before the end of the year, but time will tell.

Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reported yesterday the Yankees have promoted Minor League Hitting Coordinator Dillon Lawson to Hitting Coach on Manager Aaron Boone’s staff, replacing the fired Marcus Thames, now hitting coach for Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins. This is the move I had expected the Yankees to make with their commitment to analytics and the rebounding success of hitting in the Yankees’ farm system this past year. As time moved on, I thought maybe they were looking at guys like Tim Hyers, the former Red Sox hitting coach who joined the Texas Rangers last month, or Brian Snitker’s son, Troy, the Houston Astros hitting coach. With Eric Chavez’s name on the rumor mill, I thought he might be a possibility, but at the end of the day, Lawson makes the most sense to me. The Yankees, due to the MLB Lockout, have not confirmed the promotion but I trust Lindsey and fully expect the formal announcement when MLB business resumes.


Photo Credit: Quad City Times

There is no word about the two assistant hitting coaches the Yankees plan to add, but I remain convinced Rachel Balkovec would be a brilliant and inspired addition. Her connection to Lawson, who brought her into the organization, makes it a natural choice.


Photo Credit: New York Yankees

To assist Pitching Coach Matt Blake, the Yankees, per Adler, will promote Minor League Manager of Pitch Development Desi Druschel to assistant pitching coach. As a native Iowan, I like Druschel’s connection to the University of Iowa. He served the University for five years ending in 2019 as, first, director of baseball operations, and, later, as pitching coach. Go Hawkeyes!

Druschel, right / Photo Credit: Brian Ray, HawkeyeSports.com

Note: With today’s Big Ten Championship looming between the Michigan Wolverines and the Hawkeyes, I had to find a way for a shameless plug of my favorite college football team.

There is no word who will fill the first base coach vacancy, although I will be disappointed if current bench coach Carlos Mendoza is not moved to the position to allow for a more seasoned veteran bench coach to aid Aaron Boone. Some of the names are probably holding out to see who gets the Mets managerial gig. As much as I would hate to see it, Buck Showalter makes the most sense to me. Whomever gets the job is going to benefit from the billionaire owner’s passionate desire to raise his club to greatness. Gee, I wish we had one of those kind of owners…

I get there was no reason for the Yankees to make splashy moves in November, and there are plenty of reasons why the Yankees should not have paid the exorbitant sums of money to the players who were signed. Yet, I was hoping for at least one move that could give us good feelings during this lockout. Sorry, shortstop Jose Peraza is not that guy. Fortunately, there are still plenty of unsigned players who could make the 2022 Yankees better so not all is lost.

My personal feelings about a stopgap shortstop are that it would do nothing to improve the Yankees, currently looking like the fourth best team in the AL East. Carlos Correa is going to cost a lot of money, but he brings greatness to both sides of the ball and would clearly improve the Yankees. He is young with heavy championship experience (regardless of your thoughts about how he got it) and would not be intimidated by New York. He makes the most sense to me, although I remain of the opinion that I would be incredibly happy to see Trevor Story as a Yankee. Either way, the Yankees need one of them. The whole idea of keeping the position warm for the young prospects (Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe) seems ridiculous. They are probably five years from potentially becoming what Correa and Story are today. For a win-now team, we need the best possible players now.

If the Yankees make the long-rumored trade with the Oakland A’s to acquire first baseman Matt Olson, it is pretty much a given Oswald Peraza would be included as part of the package. Everybody is getting excited about the rumors possibly linking Freddie Freeman to the Yankees, but I am skeptical on that one for no other reason than I feel he should and probably will stay in Atlanta.

I do not blame Masahiro Tanaka for declining to exercise the opt-out in his two-year contract with the Rakuten Eagles considering the MLB Lockout, but there was a little sadness when I saw it. I will admit there was a part of me hoping for a reunion with the Yankees. I would love to see Tanaka win a championship with the Yankees. With so much uncertainty surrounding Major League Baseball, Tanaka would have been foolish to opt out of a sure thing. I wish him the best of luck in 2022. Kind of funny that former Yankees first baseman Chris Gittens, released last month to play in Japan, will be Tanaka’s Rakuten teammate.

All I want for Christmas is Major League Baseball. Rob Manfred and Tony Clark, please man up and make it happen. For once in your lives, please think of the fans.

As always, Go Yankees!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Turkey Day, Yankee Fans...

  

Happy Thanksgiving to the Yankees and their fans everywhere…

Wishing you and your families a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday weekend!

Another quiet week in the Yankees Universe aside from the trade of speedy Tyler Wade to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the releases of Clint Frazier and Rougned Odor. One week to a potential lockout in MLB baseball, and all’s quiet…too quiet…on the Bronx front.

It is kind of funny that there are no true shortstops on the Yankees roster with Major League experience (sorry Gio, you are a third baseman). Everybody expects the Yankees to solve the shortstop vacancy one way or another (of course), but for now, it is a need. The Angels, meanwhile, have collected both Wade and Andrew Velazquez. For Wade, it is a homecoming for the Southern California native who grew up in Murrieta, California, which is close to Orange County. Murrieta is next to Temecula, which has some great wineries. No more cross-country commutes for Wade to attend Spring Training.


Photo Credit: Rob Carr, Getty Images

The loss of Wade was the direct cost for signing lefty reliever Joely Rodriguez so quickly after he was released earlier in the month. I think the Yankees should have either waited to sign Rodriguez or simply went after someone else with comparable skills after the deadline to set the 40-man rosters to keep an open spot for Wade. I get Wade was out of options and as the last man on the bench, the Yankees like the flexibility of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle. Oh well, I wish him the best in Anaheim. I am sure it is exciting for him to play in front of family and friends, and have Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon and Noah Syndergaard as his teammates. I hear his manager, Joe Maddon, likes versatile players. I am hopeful and optimistic that Oswaldo Cabrera is ready to become the next Tyler Wade on the Yankees roster.


For Clint Frazier, I wish him a full return to good health and the ability to resume his Major League career. It did not work out in New York, but he has the power to rewrite the story elsewhere. This time last year I had genuinely thought Frazier’s time in the Bronx had finally arrived. It turned out to be the road to the end. It will always be disappointing that he was unable to fulfill his early promise in Yankee pinstripes. Even though I am hopeful he can achieve his MLB dreams, it was clear a change of scenery is needed.


As for Rougie, this makes it twice that Joey Gallo has lost his friend as a teammate through release. First, when the Texas Rangers cut Odor and now. I enjoyed Odor’s home runs and the energy he brought to the team but overall, he is just not a good player. But you must believe someone will take a shot on him since the Texas Rangers are paying the majority of his 2022 salary. I would drop to see Rougie drop the need for power and focus on the finer art of hitting.

With teams continuing to appoint new coaches, I wonder when the Yankees will announce the additions to Aaron Boone’s coaching staff. I keep seeing other teams name new hitting coaches, yet it is still a vacancy for us. If the Yankees have offers out, what is taking so long? I know the unsettled managerial vacancy in Queens might be part of the delay as potential candidates (like Eric Chavez) may be under consideration. So much to do, yet so little time with the looming lockout.

Speaking of the Mets, Steve Cohen’s overreaction to the last-minute overnight decision of former Mets starter Steven Matz to sign with the St Louis Cardinals was priceless. Is this what it was like for Mets fans to watch the irrational antics of late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner? Matz owed the Mets nothing, and as a free agent, Matz had to make the decision he felt with in his best interests. Handshake agreements mean nothing. David Wells can attest to that. Nothing is official until the ink has dried on the contract. I have no issue with Matz deciding not to give his former club a chance to match the offer. I will not miss Matz in Toronto and I am glad he is back in the National League. The Yankees could further weaken Toronto’s starting rotation by signing Robbie Ray. Just sayin’…

Marcus Stroman seems like the perfect anti-hero to end up in Boston. I do not dispute his talent, but I have lost respect for the man personally. I would welcome his return to the AL East as a Yankees adversary. To be the best, you must beat the best, so Stroman does not scare me. Maybe the Angels will sign Stroman. They seem to be using the Mets pipeline to rebuild their pitching staff with the additions of Thor and reliver Aaron Loup.

Daniel Burch of The Greedy Pinstripes had this post yesterday about free agent starter Jon Gray. I have long admired Gray and I would like to see Matt Blake and the Yankees pitching instructors work with Gray at sea level. The 30-year-old Oklahoman was a Yankees draft pick in 2011 (10th round) but he did not sign, opting to attend the University of Oklahoma. Daniel is right, if the Yankees could get Gray on a four-year deal with the $11 million average annual value, they should do it.


Tuesday, November 30th, looms as a big day for MLB. The non-tender deadline was moved from December 2nd due to the impending lockout. I fully expect the Yankees to tender a new contract to Gary Sanchez regardless of how many fans are finished with him. There are no great catching options available, and Kyle Higashioka is a backup at best. Even if the Yankees have identified a strong potential alternative, Gary has trade value, which is greatly enhanced if the National League, as expected, adopts the designated hitter rule. I would be incredibly surprised if the Yankees non-tendered him, making him a free agent. It would simply be a bad business decision.

There could be a flurry of activity next week…then silence if a lockout happens. I am hopeful the Yankees can fill at least a need or two before any potential shutdown. Who knows how long a lockout may last? For as exciting as it was to see fans return to baseball stadiums this year, the labor dispute is such a downer for the sport. I wish the two sides were more proactive in settling their differences rather than forcing a lockout to provide the necessary pressure. Greed reigns supreme for all concerned.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Frazier, Odor, and Wade, You're Fired! ...

  


Trio designated for assignment, while Nelson and Sands head to Philly…

With so much buildup and anticipation among the Yankees Fan Base, yesterday’s Rule 5 40-man roster deadline was a bit underwhelming.

I think while many of us expected potentially huge deals to clear roster space, none came to fruition for the Yankees or anybody else. Trades can still happen, but the upcoming week (Thanksgiving) tends to be fairly quiet due to the holiday. The following week brings the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement and, as most experts predict, a lockout by the MLB owners. So, potentially, there may not be any major trades for the Yankees until a new CBA is in place. If the two sides cannot come to agreement until next Spring, it makes you wonder how much time the Yankees will have for roster construction.

For me, I would like to see resolution of the shortstop vacancy prior to any lockout. There is so much to do, yet so little time. I guess we will have to be patient and wait to see how GM Brian Cashman can bring more athleticism and diversity to the team despite the upcoming challenges and roadblocks.

The players cut were Clint Frazier, Rougned Odor and Tyler Wade. Wade probably surprised me the most. As one of the few shortstops on the roster, it seemed he was safe. Speed and diversity are generally strong traits for roster protection. As we have learned with Cashman over the years, no move is made without an eye toward another deal, so he most likely made the decision to part with Wade with a future deal or two in mind.



I wanted Clint Frazier to succeed in New York. When he was announced as the starting left fielder last season, it felt like he had finally arrived. Unfortunately, it turned out to be another lost year, and the concussion issues continued to play a huge part in his inability to get back on the field. A polarizing player, I now feel he will benefit playing in a lesser pressurized environment if he is able to overcome his health challenges. It is tough to see what his future holds. He could become a consistent MLB player, or he may be facing the end of the road. With such extremes, there was no point in saving a 40-man roster space for him. It is clear his time as a Yankee had ended. I am hopeful the Yankees can get something, anything…like a low-level minor-league prospect…for Frazier rather than an outright release. Same with Wade.

While designating Odor for assignment makes all the sense in the world, I will miss the energy he brought to the team. It is always nice to have that ‘Nick Swisher’ type of guy on the team, in terms of outgoing personalities. Considering the Texas Rangers will continue to pay Odor’s large salary in 2022 except for MLB’s minimum salary, you would have thought Hal Steinbrenner would have been a huge proponent to keep the Odor in the Yankees Clubhouse.

I half expected the Yankees to cut LHP Zack Britton since 2022 will be a lost year due to Tommy John surgery, much like the way the Yankees parted ways with Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda. There is some belief that Britton could be back by the end of the year. Not sure if that saved him or the impending free agency of Aroldis Chapman next off-season. If I had to guess 2022 will be Chapman’s final year with the Yankees.

To clear space, the Yankees also traded RHP Nick Nelson and C Donny Sands to Club Joe Girardi for a couple of not-highly-regarded, low level prospects (3B T.J. Rumfield and LHP Joel Valdez). Losing Nelson did not surprise me, but Sands did. As a recent addition to the 40-man roster, he seemed primed to fill the Triple A shuttle depth behind Yankees backup catcher Kyle Higashioka after a breakout season. Now, he gets a chance to fill a Major League role behind Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Many fans were surprised the Yankees protected Miguel Andujar, but his trade value may benefit if the NL adopts the designated hitter rule. While he certainly would not be a centerpiece, first baseman Chris Gittens could be a player in a potential trade to Oakland for first baseman Matt Olson. Or if Luke Voit is traded, he would become the backup depending on how the off-season plays out.

The Rule 5 eligible prospects added to the 40-man roster were SS Oswaldo Cabrera (who potentially becomes the new Tyler Wade); OF Everson Pereira (who almost went to Texas in the Joey Gallo trade); RHP Stephen Ridings; RHP Ron Marinaccio; and LHP JP Sears. Of the players, only Cabrera (eighth) ranks among the Yankees’ top ten prospects according to Baseball America. Cabrera only ranks 16th on the Yankees’ Top 30 list of prospects, according to MLB.com. Pereira is 13th on the MLB.com list.

The biggest surprises of players not protected were C Josh Breaux (18th best prospect, according to MLB.com) and OF Brandon Lockridge (19th). You can probably add RHP Matt Sauer (27th) to this list.

Yankee prospects are chosen in the Rule 5 Draft every year and this year, if there is Rule 5 draft, should prove to be no different. The odds of sticking with another MLB club are low. The Garrett Whitlock success stories are exceedingly rare, but I always fear the teams that decide to tank and have open roster spots to fill. If MLB passes a minimum salary floor to protect against tanking, maybe it will help. I would hate to lose Breaux. I know he has not performed as expected and remains a project at age 24, but catching depth is important. At this point, 20-year-old Antonio Gomez is probably more important than Breaux, but he has not played above A ball. Anthony Siegler, drafted ahead of Breaux, has really fallen off the map. Maybe 2022 is the year the 22-year-old can re-establish some prominence in the Yankees’ farm system. I guess like pitching, you can never have too much catching, especially when the big-league starter is a disappointment.

It has been reported that the Yankees offered RHP Justin Verlander a one-year, $25 million deal (according to Jon Heyman of MLB.com). Verlander subsequently got the second year from the Astros which lead to his return to Houston. I am glad he did not take Hal’s money. I am sure that Verlander will make a successful return from Tommy John surgery despite his age, but c’mon, there are simply some players who should never wear the famed Pinstripes. If Verlander is not at the top of the list of guys who should not pull-on MLB’s greatest jersey, he is near the top. The Yankees need another strong starting pitcher, but there are other, better options.

Despite all Yankee fans love of Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo, this will probably be another one of those years where GM Brian Cashman goes with an under-the-radar trade to bring in young, talented starter on the verge of blossoming.

I wish former Angels GM and Yankees Assistant GM Billy Eppler all the best in his new role as general manager for the New York Mets. For as many people who passed on the job, the Mets did surprisingly good with hiring Eppler. I always liked Eppler and before he left the Yankees, I had really wanted the team to promote Brian Cashman to President of Baseball Operations and make Eppler the GM. Kind of makes me wonder if that is how it plays out in Flushing Meadow after Cashman’s contact expires after the 2022 season. I fully expect Hal Steinbrenner to bring Cashman back, but if the 2022 season does not meet minimum expectations, you never know what might happen.

As always, Go Yankees! 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Correa, Seager or Bust...

 

Yankees Fans impatiently wait…

Contrary to the title of this post, there is a very real possibility the Yankees get neither Carlos Correa nor Corey Seager. So, whether you feel the Yankees sign Correa, despite his history with trash cans, or Seager, despite his lesser defensive skills (than Correa) and the need for a position switch to third within the next couple of years, it is not our God-given right that we are going to get either one.

I could see a scenario where Correa goes to Detroit to be united with his former manager, A.J. Hinch, and Seager signs with the Texas Rangers, who are this year’s team with “stupid money” to spend. While it seems obvious the Houston Astros will not be players for Correa (based on their low-ball offer), you can never count the Los Angeles Dodgers out for Seager. He is a popular player with the Dodgers fan base, and a talented player on the field. The current third baseman, Justin Turner, will be 37 years old in ten days. Turner played 151 games last season, only the second time he has reached that number in his career, and the likelihood is that his numbers will start to trend downward. Turner will make $20 million in 2022 (counts $17 million toward the luxury tax threshold). His option for $16 million in 2023 can be bought out for $2 million. I can easily see the Dodgers deciding to move on from Turner if he shows signs of slippage in 2022. It makes sense to retain Seager to replace Turner and begin the transition next season, particularly if the universal DH is adopted in the National League. Trea Turner becomes the shortstop and insert Gavin Lux at second base. The Dodgers have the cash to make this work.

I am not trying to be a downer, but we need to set realistic expectations. If the Yankees sign Correa or Seager, I will be ecstatic. I am willing to forgive Correa if he joins the Yankees, and I think Aaron Judge would accept him, as one of the game’s best shortstops, in the Yankees clubhouse. While we will never forgive the sins of the Houston Astros as an organization, the players can seek redemption. I will never like Alex Bregman or Jose Altuve, as I viewed them as leaders in the scandal, but the other players were, to a small degree, victims of circumstances. They were part of a team and while we can say they should have blown the whistle; it is simply not as easy as that. How do you rat out your teammates? Or if you do, what kind of man are you? Some would say a great man, but others would say he is untrustworthy and unsupportive of his teammates. The latter tag would be exceedingly difficult to shake in clubhouses. It took an ex-Astro to step forward. I am not trying to defend Correa, but I do view it as a complicated situation for him. If the Yankees have the chance to sign a 27-year-old all-around great shortstop, they should.

While I keep going back and forth, there is no doubt I would love to have Corey Seager wear pinstripes. I am on board with a plan to eventually move Seager to third base to open shortstop for Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe when they are ready. It is likely if the Yankees are successful in trading for Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson, one of the young shortstops (probably Peraza) could be lost in the trade, but Volpe shows signs of being something special regardless of the talk he may need to be moved to second. In that scenario, sign a fill-in shortstop when the time comes to move Seager, and wait for a young stud like Trey Sweeney. The Yankees have options to keep Seager’s powerful bat in the lineup regardless of the position he plays.



But, if the Yankees are unsuccessful in their runs for either Correa or Seager, it is not the end of the world. I have long respected Trevor Story. I get the fears of Mile-High induced stats, but if you have seen the guy play, you know he is among the better players in the game. Like his former teammate, DJ LeMahieu, succeeded in New York, Story can do the same. Toronto’s Marcus Semien has the knack for coming up big in the brightest moments. He may be older, but he buys time for Peraza and Volpe. I know I would be disappointed if the Yankees do not get at least Story, but I would feel good with Semien playing shortstop in the Bronx next season.


Photo Credit: Michael Reaves, Getty Images

If the off-season shortstop acquisition is Andrelton Simmons, then we will know all plans went to hell.


It is sad that minor league free agent Kyle Holder’s offensive game could never match his sterling glove. If he could have hit, his timing for Major League readiness would have been now.

As other teams quickly move to make coaching staff changes, I wonder when the Yankees will announce Aaron Boone’s 2022 coaching staff. Based on GM Brian Cashman’s recent words, it sounded as though candidates were being vetted so it seems some announcements could be made soon. I saw the Minnesota Twins hired former Padres manager Jayce Tingler as their bench coach. Tingler may not have been a great manager for the loaded but uninspired Padres, but he is the type of hire I would like to see for Yankees bench coach. Not him specifically, but someone with his type of resume. Former Yankee coach Trey Hillman, most recently on Donnie Baseball’s staff in Miami, seems like a logical choice. He is valued by the front office and obviously knows the organization. I would move current bench coach Carlos Mendoza to first base. For third, former Mets manager Luis Rojas has been mentioned. Like Tingler, he did not prove to be a great manager, but I would have no trouble sliding him into the third base box as Phil Nevin’s replacement. It would be a good mutual fit for Rojas as it could position him for his next managerial job which could prove more successful for him.

I was surprised the Yankees re-signed LHP Joely Rodriguez so quickly. Granted, I thought he did an excellent job after his acquisition from Texas last July at the trading deadline, but realistically, he is easily replaceable. Why waste a valuable 40-man roster spot with him? I know the Yankees saved money. By declining the team option for $3 million, the Texas Rangers were on the hook for the $500,000 buyout. Putting Rodriguez’s John Hancock on a piece of paper three days later for $2 million technically saved the Yankees $1 million. I think I would have waited, even if it had meant losing Rodriguez, to keep the roster spot open. As it stands, the Yankees need to clear roster space (currently full) between now and next weekend to make room for valuable Rule 5 eligible prospects. I would hate to see another Garrett Whitlock situation where a talented prospect is grabbed by a rival and flourishes at the Major League level. The deadline to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 Draft is Friday, November 19th, so it is a given there will be activity on the Yankees’ transaction wire this week. A wonderful time to send multiple players to Oakland for Matt Olson.



Speaking of Olson, it is tough. I really enjoyed Anthony Rizzo as a Yankee. I truly feel that if he had not contracted COVID-19, his time in Pinstripes could have embodied the brilliance of his first several weeks before becoming ill. I know he is an older player, and Olson is so much younger and better, but I would hate to lose Rizzo while chasing a potentially unsuccessful run for Olson. If the Yankees do grab Olson, I will not give it a second thought and will be incredibly happy for the team’s latest first baseman. I am hopeful if the Yankees cannot pry Olson from the A’s, they can quickly pivot back to Rizzo.

The Yankees should sign Aaron Judge to an extension.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

The next critical date for the Yankees is December 1st for the non-tender deadline. This is the date we will know the fates of guys like Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier. A few years ago, it would have seemed so improbable they would be non-tendered, but here we are. It seems a given that Frazier is gone. Not sure how much value Andujar has right now, but it still seems a trade for a low-level lottery ticket would make more sense. I do not see the Yankees letting Sanchez go but I also recognize his time as a starting catcher for the Yankees may be over. There is a part of me that still holds out hope Sanchez can be the player we once thought he was going to be. If not, I would rather see him traded so the Yankees can control his destination rather than simply allow him to hit the open market and land with a rival, only to find success with his new team. I am glad that Brian Cashman, and not me, must make these decisions.

December 1st also represents the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement so the next day could bring a lockout. There is growing pessimism that a new deal can be struck before the CBA expires, yet it seems so foolish for both sides to allow a stoppage that could disrupt, at a minimum, the off-season. All parties stand to make incredible sums of money in 2022 if they can collaborate and compromise. A lockout, in my opinion, would do more harm than good for the game.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Time for Off-Season Improvements...

  

Photo Credit: Allen Beatty

Cashman’s Goal: Build a better, more-diverse team for 2022…

The end of the World Series is always nice since it signals the end of the present baseball season, and the start of the always enjoyable Hot Stove League.

Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves for their surprising…but well-earned…World Series championship. They lost their best player, Ronald Acuna, Jr, during the season, yet overcame the odds to capture victory with some of the most improbable names. 


Photo Credit: Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports

No sadness in watching the Houston Astros suffer humiliating defeat on their home turf, where the trash cans could only stand by quietly and watch. As much as I wanted the Astros, like the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, to LOSE (friggin’ Losers), I think I had reconciled myself to the fact if they won the series based on their talent, I would accept the win. Fortunately, it did not come to that, but I do recognize there are talented Astros despite their prior misdeeds. They did not reach the World Series by luck.

So, you can place me among the Yankee fans who would accept Carlos Correa as a Yankee if he were to sign with our favorite team. Realistically, I do not think it will ever happen. But how could you say no to one of the best (all-around) …and still quite young…shortstops in the game? His best years are ahead of him. Whichever team signs him, whether it is Houston, Detroit, the Los Angeles team also known as Anaheim, or some other team, will be better in 2022 with Correa on their roster.

All tea leaves indicate the Yankees will sign Corey Seager despite not as defensively gifted as Correa and clearly on a fast track for a position move to third base. There is a part of me that hates to see Seager leave Los Angeles, but they are in good hands (and bat) with Trea Turner. Turner’s move to short would allow the Dodgers to plug the talented Gavin Lux in at second base (the natural positions for both Turner and Lux).


Photo Credit: Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times

Many fans seem to be down on him, but I would be happy with Trevor Story. I get the concerns about his Mile-High inflated stats, but Story can play. His skills are transferable to sea level. Any of these three (Correa, Seager, or Story) would help improve the Yankees. There are more moves to be made, but this would be a tremendous start to a successful off-season. If we hear news the Yankees have signed Andrelton Simmons as their choice for shortstop, it will be hard to get excited about next season regardless of any other moves they may make.

I am concerned about a potential lockout when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires at midnight on December 1st. It makes you wonder if we will see more activity in November…or less if the owners decide to take a ‘wait and see’ approach. I am trying to stay optimistic and hope the owners and players can work to find common ground before any potential lockout or work stoppage. The last thing the game needs right now is disruption.

The fans in the Yankees Universe seem to salivate, excessively, over A’s first baseman Matt Olson as it appears there may be a fire sale in Oakland. I get it. I would love to have Olson on the roster in addition to one of the top three free agent shortstops. However, like Correa, I do not think it will happen. I would love to be surprised on this one. If the Yankees can get Anthony Rizzo, at the very least, I will feel much better about first base heading into next season. So, Rizzo to Olson, or somewhere in between, will be fine. Ready to move on from Luke Voit and I continue to believe it is a waste of DJ LeMahieu’s talents to put him at first.

As fun as it would be for the Yankees to sign free agent starter Robbie Ray to slot in behind Gerrit Cole, the Yankees, or rather owner Hal Steinbrenner, is not going to abandon his financial constraint as a professionally trained bean counter. If a huge contract is handed out, it will be isolated to the new shortstop. Jon Gray seems to be an interesting pitching option to me. He was once a Yankees draft pick (unsigned), and I would like to see what Gray can be away from Coors Field. He is a talented pitcher, and I would certainly take the risk with him. I know, we did not have much luck with the last Gray to wear pinstripes, but, honestly, I feel the results would be better this time around. The right-handed Gray is only 30 (his birthday was yesterday), so he has good years ahead of him. Let us see Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake work his magic with Gray to pull out his full potential. I would love to see it.


Photo Credit: Rob Tringali, Getty Images

The Yankees waive four players, and three are claimed by other teams. The Philadelphia Phillies waived six players, and all, including former Yank Ronald Torreyes, go unclaimed. It is a testament to the talent on the Yankees roster. I do not think it was a surprise to see the Yankees remove Bronx native Andrew Velazquez, Tim Locastro, Greg Allen, or Rob Brantly from the 40-man roster (to clear room for the Injured List returnees before the opening of free agency on Monday). The toughest part is Locastro being claimed by the Red Sox. I really hate to see Yankees lost to the Red Sox for nothing, particularly when they perform as well as former Yank Garrett Whitlock did last season. Locastro is not suddenly going to become the next Mookie Betts, and there is no guarantee he will survive the Red Sox roster through the off-season, yet I simply dislike the Sox grabbing any Yankee players. As for Velazquez, he was a fun story and I appreciated his contributions last season, but there is no way the Yankees would sacrifice a roster spot for the journeyman infielder. I wish him the best in Anaheim. Allen takes his speed to Pittsburgh. Fine, give Estevan Florial a chance. Brantly went unclaimed and was outrighted to Triple A, but he can refuse the assignment to become a free agent. All four of those players are replaceable.

Earlier in the week, Brett Gardner became a free agent when he declined his player option. While there was no way the Yankees were going to exercise the team option ($7.18 million), I did think Gardy would pick up his option. But in retrospect, you know Gardner will be back in Pinstripes next season if he wants to. By declining the player option, he picks up $1.5 million from the Yankees for the buyout and can still sign a new contract for as low as the player option amount of $2.3 million to increase his overall compensation. Every year I say it, I am ready to move on from Gardy, but it seems inevitable he will be back until he is not. At some point, Florial must learn and mature as a Major League player. If not, trade him. It is another move I find highly unlikely, but it would be cool if the Yankees acquired Starling Marte to play center, making Aaron Hicks the fourth outfielder, sending Gardy off to retirement and future Old Timer’s games.

I am not sure why former Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers left Boston after the season, but I do find him an intriguing candidate for the Yankees. Boston bats have performed well under Hyers’ tutelage. There is talk the Red Sox could replace him with Astros hitting coach Troy Snitker, son of the Braves manager. I would not mind if the Yankees snagged Snitker for themselves. There seems to good options for the Yankees to replace former hitting coach Marcus Thames. I am anxious to see who will be sitting next to Aaron Boone in the dugout, assuming they move current bench coach Carlos Mendoza, as they should, to another role (first or third base coach). I continue to hold out hope for a seasoned, veteran strategist who can help Boone be the best he can be.

Let the off-season begin. I hold much hope the guys reporting to Steinbrenner Field next February will be ready and prepared to bring the long-awaited 28th World Series championship to New York City. A Braves championship means the start of a Yankees dynasty, right? Let’s go!

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Boston Red Sox are Losers...

 

Photo Credit: David J Phillip, AP

Win or go home, Boston chooses the latter…

The Boston Red Sox are home for the holidays, and it is a fantastic feeling. Sure, it is a little difficult to watch the Houston Astros celebrate another return to the World Series, but for one series, they were the lesser of two evils. My only hope now is the National League (either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves…most likely the latter) crush the ‘Stros in the Fall Classic.

It would have been more difficult to watch the Red Sox advance to the World Series. It is bad enough they have won more World Series this century than the Yankees. On paper, the Yankees were a much better team this season. But sadly, the game is not played on paper and the Red Sox, as disgusting as it is to say, were better than the Yankees in 2021. It is funny that Red Sox fans were chanting ‘Yankees Suck’ during the ALCS. They could not have even celebrated their place in the American League Championship Series without letting the Yankees seep into their minds.

By the time the Yankees announced Manager Aaron Boone had signed a new contract this week to return for three more years, I had reconciled myself to the fact he was coming back. I cannot really say that I like the move but it had become ‘expected’ to me. He seems like he would be a great guy to have a beer with and discuss the intricate details of the game of baseball, but, after four seasons, he has not proven to be an elite manager. If anything, he has regressed. His decisions cost the team multiple games this year, a season when one more victory would have secured home field advantage for the ill-fated Wild Card game or more success against the Baltimore Orioles could have yielded the division crown. I get why the Yankees Universe is upset about Boone, however, there is nothing we can do about it. It is not like Hal Steinbrenner is going to yield to the pressure and force Boone to resign. He is here and we need to make the most of it. He is the manager of our favorite team and as such, he needs our support. If you cannot support Boone, go join the Mets fan base. I hear there are plenty of vacancies to fill.


Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran, North Jersey.com

I remain convinced the Yankees need an extraordinarily strong bench coach, and someone who can challenge Boone’s ideas. He does not need buddies on the coaching staff…he needs guys who can make the team better with singular and collaborative focus. I have seen a few comments that current bench coach Carlos Mendez and Boone are too much alike. That is exactly what the Yankees do NOT need. For awhile after the regular season, I thought Buck Showalter was the frontrunner for the vacant San Diego Padres managerial position, but it no longer is the case. Buck would be an ideal bench coach for the Yankees. He has the right experience, confidence and temperament to be a tremendous sounding board for Boone. Not sure he would take that type of role, but he would be an excellent fit, in my opinion. A good inexperienced option would be someone like former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. His fire and determination would be a nice counter-balance for the more laid back and jovial Boone. No question Boone needs someone who will challenge his decisions. He may be the final word for in-game strategies but it is critical that he knows and understands the 360˚ view for any choice. Boone’s knowledge of baseball is advanced, having grown up in a baseball family, but there’s room for improvement with his managerial skills.

I am hopeful the Yankees make the right choices for Boone’s catching staff. They have done an excellent job with the pitching instructors they have brought into the organization over the last couple of years, including current pitching coach Matt Blake. They have reinvented hitting education in the minor league system with Dillon Lawson and others. Eric Cressey, on the health and conditioning side of the house, seems to be making a difference. Despite the team injuries this year, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton remained healthy at the same time for the first time in forever. The hope is for the continued innovative hires for the Major League coaching staff to join the holdovers.

If the right coaches are hired and Boone can show maximization of the talent on his roster, he can regain the support of the fan base. Just win, baby. That is the key ingredient. While Boone has many detractors, I do not feel the fan base dislikes the man. They simply doubt his ability to lead and bring the Yankees back to their rightful place in the game’s most important final series of the year. If he wins, all can be forgiven.

Did I mention the Red Sox are losers and headed home to Fenway Park to clear out their lockers? It was poetic justice that former Yankee Adam Ottavino was on the mound when the Astros broke open a tight game with three runs in the eighth inning during last night’s clincher. Ottavino was GM Brian Cashman’s “poison pill” to ensure the Red Sox would not be successful…wink, wink.


Photo Credit: Tony Gutierrez, AP

The Dodgers have been exceptionally good when their backs are to the wall, yet I am skeptical of their ability to overcome the 3-2 deficit in the NLCS, especially with the series’ return to Atlanta for the final game(s). Losing Justin Turner at such a critical time weakens the team despite their depth. The Dodgers have also announced Max Scherzer will be unable to make the Game 6 start due to a “dead arm”. I fully expect the Atlanta Braves to advance to the World Series to play the Astros, and it could happen as soon as tonight. For the Braves, it would be redemption for the many years they have come so close, only to falter. Even though I want the Dodgers to win, I will fully support the Braves in the World Series if they advance. A Braves championship over the Astros would be justice.



MLB Network’s Jon Heyman is predicting the Yankees will sign Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager and Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Robbie Ray. I think I have cooled on Seager for no other reason than his days at shortstop are numbered, and he will require a move to third base sooner than later. I get the concerns about his defensive skills, but he is a talented player. I guess if you believe Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe can be Major League elite at shortstop within the next two years, it makes sense. I am not convinced Peraza and/or Volpe will be great until they prove they can at the Major League level. This is the reason I would much prefer to remove the potential doubt, and sign the better, younger (and understandably more expensive) Carlos Correa despite his role in banging the trash cans. Correa is so talented on both sides of the ball, and he is one of those guys who can make those around him better. Ray makes total sense to me. The Yankees have long admired the pitcher, and with Jameson Taillon scheduled to be delayed next season due to off-season surgery, they could use a guy like Ray to follow staff ace Gerrit Cole. I want to see a strong return by Luis Severino; however, he carries much risk for no other reason than he has not pitched much the last few seasons. I would not want to place the pressure that he must perform for the Yankees to be successful. Remove the pressure, and let Sevy contribute whatever he can in his second year removed from Tommy John surgery. Someone like Ray could be the staff’s workhorse, along with Jordan Montgomery, behind Cole.


Photo Credit: Mark Brown, Getty Images

I hope the Yankees do not go the ‘lipstick on a pig’ route to sign Andrelton Simmons. I want one of the top three available shortstops (Correa, Seager, and Colorado’s Trevor Story) fielding questions from the YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits in Tampa next spring.  I am less concerned about pitching and trust one of the younger arms (Luis Gil, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Medina, Deivi Garcia, etc.) will be ready for a breakout. The sad tale of Garrett Whitlock (lost to the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft) is proof positive that tremendous talent only needs opportunity. I would gladly take Robbie Ray or even the San Francisco Giants’ Kevin Gausman but clearly shortstop, first base, center field and catching are the higher areas of need. Gary Sanchez is the strongest ‘in need of a change of scenery’ candidate on the roster, but with no in-house options currently, they need to find a solid replacement. I have long supported Sanchez despite his struggles but at this point, it does seem he will never be the player we once thought he would be. I had really hoped catching coordinator Tanner Swanson could get through to Gary and help him realize his full potential. However, not everything is possible in this world. I am ready and prepared for change.

I am anxious to get the World Series behind us so that the Yankees can start building for a better, stronger and more successful 2022 season.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Closing the Book on the 2021 Season...

  

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg, NY Post

Turning off the Yankee Stadium lights…

The 2021 season was a disappointment. With the severe highs and lows, it never felt like that was a championship-quality year to me, and the uninspired play in the Wild Card game was hardly a surprise. I guess all things considered, it is better to exit the playoffs by getting trounced by your bitter division rival than it is to win 106 games and the division, only to lose to your hatred enemy on a called third strike that was clearly a proper checked swing.

Excellent job by Bryan Van Dusen (as usual) with his 2021-2022 Offseason Plan! His trade proposals and acquisitions always show great thought and consideration. You may not agree with his choices, but his logic is always sound, and he has a strong understanding of what will make the Yankees a team to watch in 2022.

It goes without question, there are necessary changes in the Bronx. The week’s announcement that three coaches (Marcus Thames, P.J. Piliterre, and Phil Nevin) would not be returning was expected and needed. The body of Thames’ work has been strong, but the hitters’ struggles in 2021, unless your name is Stanton or Judge, sealed his fate as a scapegoat. I would not be surprised to see minor league hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson promoted to the Major League team as Thames’ replacement. If Lawson gets the job, there is a chance he could make Rachel Balkovec his assistant hitting coach. I think both would be excellent choices. They know and understand how the organization works, and they have familiarity with the younger hitters in the farm system. If the Yankees decide to bring in coaches from outside the organization, there is no doubt they will have similar technology savvy backgrounds for today’s analytics-driven team philosophies.

I like bench coach Carlos Mendoza, just not as bench coach. Maybe he moves to third base with Nevin’s removal. I have never understood why the Yankees have not gotten a strong bench coach with managerial experience during the Aaron Boone regime. His buddy, Josh Bard, did not work out for whatever reason, although he does find himself in the National League Championship Series as bullpen coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I saw one post this week that said the Yankees need a ying to Boone’s yang. I agree. There needs to be a strong voice that can provide Boone, if he returns, with solid options. He would never take the job and is a strong managerial candidate this off-season, but a Buck Showalter-type is what comes to mind. I have heard names like Eric Wedge and Fredi Gonzalez. Those are not names that excite me as a manager, but I think either could be a sound choice as a bench coach. They both have managerial experience, and they have past relationships with Boone. Neither man would be afraid to speak their minds to Boone and challenge him on his decisions.

I have gotten over my anger with Aaron Boone. There were a few days that I wanted his head on a platter, but I have gotten over it. I feel that he can get better by improving those around him. Coaches and players. By all accounts, he is a good guy, and the players like him. A manager needs to be more than a friend, and Boone does not strike me as a strategist like other managers in the game. Even Binder Joe seemed more prepared for games. I am not saying that I wish Joe Girardi were still manager. I keep seeing those comments, but that ship sailed. We can only look forward. If Boone had a strong right-hand man that was a strategist and visionary with experience, he would be better because he would have stronger and more informed choices. I expect an announcement that Boone will be returning on a two or three-year deal within the next couple of weeks.


Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin, NY Post

I love the speculation by Yankee fans for potential shortstop and first base options. I enjoyed having Anthony Rizzo on the team. I would not mind seeing the Yankees re-sign him, although if they have an opportunity for either Matt Olson or Freddie Freeman, those guys would be preferred. The Yankees need to move on from Luke Voit. I am not enamored with the talk of moving D.J. LeMahieu to first base. He is such a brilliant defender at second base. I would rather trade Gleyber Torres and keep LeMachine at second base. I am expecting a better 2022 season for D.J. Worst-case, move LeMahieu to third, not first. Keep him within his highest and best use. If Rizzo, Olson, or Freeman is the team’s first baseman next season, I will be happy.

Like many, I would love to have one of the elite shortstops that will soon be available for money. I have long admired Trevor Story, and I appreciate the left-handed bat of Corey Seager. The best choice is a very hated Astro, Carlos Correa. Many talk about the young guys, Oswald Peraza, and Anthony Volpe, however, they are at least a year away from the Major Leagues and a few years from being potential frontline performers. The time is now. Let us not waste the prime of Gerrit Cole’s career. I would not let Peraza or Volpe keep me from pursuing an elite shortstop. If Torres is traded, Volpe could be D.J’s eventual replacement at second. Worry about where to play them when they are ready. For now, let us build a team that can challenge the Rays, Red Sox, and Blue Jays for AL East superiority.

I know Gio Urshela has expressed interest in staying at short, but that does not excite me. Either keep him at third or trade him if LeMahieu becomes the team’s third baseman.

Every off-season I say the same thing, but he keeps coming back. It is time for Brett Gardner to hang up his cleats. He has been a great Yankee and he will not be forgotten, but it is time for younger guys. Estevan Florial is ready, and I would prefer to move forward with him over Gardy. I do not trust Aaron Hicks from a health perspective, so the Yankees do need to address centerfield. I am expecting a better 2022 season for Joey Gallo. I know how awful his time in pinstripes has been, but I am truly hopeful the Yankees can collaborate with him to improve his hitting skills. He will never hit for average but if he could reduce the strikeouts, I think he can play a bigger role in the team’s success. His defense and ability to get on base did not desert him. If not, the name mentioned by many (Starling Marte) seems like such a great fit.


Photo Credit: Frank Jansky, Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Of course, the Yankees are not going to balloon payroll to $300 million so we can only dream. At the end of the day, the Yankees will be economical with their choices. They will spend but they will be financially prudent with their choices. This could prevent the possibility for a guy like Correa.

Catcher is another position that needs to be reconsidered. I have reached the conclusion that Gary Sanchez needs a change of scenery. The problem is that Kyle Higashioka is a backup at best. If the Yankees do move on from Sanchez, they need a good replacement. It is not like J.T. Realmuto is available. I keep hearing Tucker Barnhart’s name. I would not be opposed to the catcher, who will be 31 in January. Austin Wells, like Peraza and Volpe, is expected to make his MLB debut in 2023. Barnhart could keep the seat warm until he is ready and provide the Yankees with a solid bridge if Sanchez leaves. I am disappointed that Anthony Seigler, a former first round pick (2018), has not progressed as expected.

I am anxious to get the World Series over so that preparation for the 2022 season can begin. I never thought I would find myself rooting for the Houston Astros but here we are. That seems so wrong on so many levels, but there is simply no way I could ever bring myself pulling for the Red Sox. Congrats Astros for the Game 1 win, despite the heroics of former Dodger Kiké Hernández. My support for the Astros will end with the ALCS. Regardless of whether the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves win the NLCS (Go Dodgers!), the NL will have my full support in this year’s World Series. I hope it is the Dodgers but will stand behind the Braves if necessary.

As always, Go Yankees!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

2021-2022 Offseason Plan

Before you get into this I wanted to say that yes... I know this team's payroll would go up by around $50 million over last season. However, I went with this because their payroll would still be lower than the Dodgers was this past season. Not to mention that fans are back and revenue is returning to normal, and the Yankees were under the Luxury Tax threshold. So this shouldn't be a ridiculous idea I've come up with. Is it likely? Probably not. But it's still not the highest payroll in the league. 

So with that out of the way, here goes nothing... 

I believe the 2021 Yankees had enough talent that they should have won a lot more than they did. Good hitters don't just forget how to hit like Urshela, Torres, and LeMaheiu seemingly did (at least for large chunks of the season). That, along with many questionable strategic and lineup decisions, make me want to see changes in the coaching staff. That not only includes Aaron Boone, but basically everyone except pitching coach Matt Blake. 

I don't mean to take any blame away from the players, as they should still perform no matter who is leading the charge. But there's a reason coaches and managers get paid like they do. They can absolutely make a difference by at least creating an atmosphere that pushes players to be better. 

It makes me think of car racing... You can have the best car on the track, but if you don't take the turns right, don't change the tires when you should, and don't make the correct in-race decisions then chances are you won't cross the finish line first. You should still do well, but more often than not you'll still fall short of victory. 

Sorry to you racing fans out there, as that analogy was probably really sloppy. But you should get the gist. 

Can they win if the same coaching staff returns? Absolutely. Hell, I believe the team I put together below could win with my dumbass running the show. But I can't help but think there are better options, and the Yankees should never settle for second best.

To start with the moves I'd make this offseason, I've decided on Trevor Story as my pick to be the new shortstop. Trevor is a good overall hitter with 25-30 HR power, has good speed, and that bat comes with elite defense. He does have a fairly high strikeout rate and is another right-handed hitter, but he's still my guy. And since the Yankees had interest in him during the season, I don't think I'm the only one with strong interest in Story. Carlos Correa has a better bat and a championship pedigree, but that comes with just an okay glove and without the speed the Yankees could really use. Either man would make me happy, though. Oh, and when it comes to Corey Seager... pass, as his defense is not good at all, which is too bad as his strong left-handed bat would be great. But if you thought Torres was bad at sthorstop, then you wouldn't be happy with Seager there.

My next move would be trading Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, Luis Medina, Alexander Vargas, and Albert Abreu for Matt Olson & Frankie Montas. Olson is entering his second year of arbitration, while Montas is entering arbitration for the first time, making both men a little too rich for a poverty team like Oakland. You might say that Torres and Voit are both arbitration-eligible as well, however, those two will get paid as much as Olson himself (based on MLB Trade Rumors projections it's Olson's $12m vs. Voit & Torres' $11.3m). By the way, MLBTR predicts Montas will cost $5.2m, making this deal a total savings for Oakland of nearly $6 million. I don't have to explain why I'd like Olson, so allow me to point out that Frankie Montas was among the top 20 in MLB in spin-rate for his 4-seam fastball, has an ERA+ of 119 over his past three seasons (it was 75 in that stupid 2020, meaning he's likely better than that 119), struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings over the last three years, and has been good at avoiding the long-ball (mind you, that's in cavernous RingCentral/Oakland Coliseum).

Then I'm trading Clarke Schmidt and Gary Sanchez for Willson Contreras. The Cubs #4 prospect is catcher Miguel Amaya, who is an on-base machine (.406 in AA this past season), but they may want to bring him along slowly by starting him in AAA next season (he only played in 23 games last season in AA), with a possible call-up later in 2022. In the meantime, having the MLB-experienced Sanchez should help bridge the gap. Meanwhile, the Cubs are in need of pitching, and while they'll likely spend on somebody for the top of their rotation, a young pitcher that is ready for MLB with good upside should be quite attractive. Conteras isn't going to excite Yankees fans much, but he's a very good defender whose bat isn't going to be a negative. 

While I'd like the Yankees to go after Starling Marte to take over center field, I just don't see it happening. With the moves I think they should make, which I feel are more important than signing Marte, their payroll would be higher than I think they'd go. Hell, I already think the payroll my team would cost will be too much. And with Marte being a right-handed hitter, putting Hicks... a switch-hitter... back into CF would give their lineup that good right/lefty mix they've been missing. The fact that Story has some speed to put at the top of the lineup makes passing on Marte easier to handle as well.

I really thought the Yankees needed to address the bullpen this offseason, but they have been so good at finding and developing relievers that I decided against it. I was looking at Aaron Loup, and also looked into trades, but after seeing what we already have I think we're good to go. The only thing I may like to see is picking up the team option on Joely Rodriguez. Darren O'Day returning has plenty of upside, but I'd be more comfortable with Joely there instead. But what happens between those two depends on whether O'Day picks up his player option after an injury-shortened season.

With signing a shortstop to a long contract, I'm sure prospect huggers would be in tears over Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza being blocked. Well, Gio Urshela will be a free agent in a couple years meaning that after 2023 we can give third base to Peraza or Volpe (or move Story to third and give shortstop to either of them). If they are both ready for MLB then we have a mighty nice problem on our hands. Either way, I don't like the idea of passing on very good MLB players for what might be in a year or two. 

To finish up, here are a few quick notes...

-If you're worried about starting depth, which will be necessary for every team in MLB, the Yankees still have Nestor Cortes Jr, Luis Gil, and Deivi Garcia.
-I'm not a fan of Odor, but seeing that Texas is paying his entire salary for 2022 then why not keep him to at least start the season? We can always dump him since we wouldn't have to pay him, anyway. 
-If Gardner retires, then put Estevan Florial on the bench instead. 
-Non-tender or trade arbitration-eligible players Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar, Domingo German, and Tim Locastro.

All of that would leave the 2022 New York Yankees with an excellent team, that has a very good shot at finally winning their 28th World Series Championship. So I'll leave you with the roster I've put together...

Salaries listed next to a player include contracts, non-arbitration eligible minimum salaries (King only), and MLB Trade Rumors arbitration projections.
* = left-handed pitcher/batter
# - switch-hitter

Starting Lineup
1. Trevor Story SS ($30m)
2. Aaron Judge RF ($17.1m)
3. Matt Olson* 1B ($12m)
4. Giancarlo Stanton DH ($22m... Miami is paying $3m)
5. DJ LeMaheiu 2B ($15m)
6. Joey Gallo* LF ($10.2m)
7. Gio Urshela 3B ($6.2m)
8. Willson Contreras C ($8.7m)
9. Aaron Hicks# CF ($10m)

Bench
Kyle Higashioka C ($1.2m)
Tyler Wade* IF ($.7m)
Francisco Odor* 2B ($0m... Texas is paying him)
Brett Gardner* OF ($2.575m)

Rotation
1. Gerrit Cole ($36m)
2. Luis Severino ($10m)
3. Frankie Montas ($5.2m)
4. Jameson Taillon ($4.7m)
5. Jordan Montgomery* ($4.8m)

Bullpen
Aroldis Chapman* ($17.5m)
Jonathan Loaisiga ($1.7m)
Chad Green ($4.1m)
Lucas Luetge* ($1.1m)
Wandy Peralta* ($1.7m)
Clay Holmes ($1m)
Mike King ($.6m)
Darren O'Day ($1.575m)

Miscellaneous Payments
Zack Britton ($14m while he recovers from Tommy John surgery)
Joelly Rodriguez ($.5m buyout)
Remaining 40-man players ($2.25m)
Player Benefits ($16m)

Total Projected Payroll - $258.4m (Dodgers were at $262m in 2021)

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Nothing Comes Easy...

 

Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer, AP

The Yankees’ Rollercoaster continues…

Just when the Yankees start to give you some confidence, they take it away. Such has been the 2021 season for Yankee fans. Last night’s 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays was disappointing despite the Yankees attempted comeback that fell short. Many fault Aaron Boone’s handling of the bullpen for the loss (true belief, in my opinion) but was clear to me that Rays manager Kevin Cash continues to out-manage Boone in their head-to-head matchups.


Photo Credit: Mary Altaffer, AP

With only a game lead in the Wild Card chase, anything can happen with just two games left. I see many predicting when the Yankees will clinch a playoff spot, but with all honesty, they could see themselves out of the playoffs as easily as grabbing one of the two Wild Card spots. It’s unfortunate the two primary Wild Card challengers, the Boston Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays, drew losing teams for their final regular season series while the Yankees were handed a division champ that is one victory away from 100 wins.  I like the challenge of beating the best to be the best, but of course you must actually beat them. 

Since the start of the recent Red Sox series, every game has been must-win. The Yankees did very well against both Boston and Toronto, yes, but they need to step up and take care of business against the Rays. They can’t depend on the Washington Nationals or the Baltimore Orioles (Boston and Toronto opponents, respectively) to deliver a playoff spot for the Yankees. They need to control their own destiny…and they need to make a statement in doing so…to secure home field advantage for the single-game elimination if they do succeed in making the playoffs. I don’t think any team really fears the Yankees at this point.

I will never say ‘I wish Joe Girardi was the manager’…that ship sailed several years ago, and I refuse to look back. However, the Yankees, regardless of how this season plays out, need to revisit their current managerial choice. If they win the World Series, odds are Aaron Boone would be rewarded with an extension, but realistically, I do not see a World Series championship in the cards for us this year. The deck is stacked against the Yankees, and they haven’t proven they can beat the better teams ahead of them when the chips are on the line.  I so want to be proven wrong in this belief, trust me. The Yankees can do better than Boone at the helm. I always thought Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin would be a good choice and the Yankees have had interest in the past, but just like the Rays went with an unknown when they hired Kevin Cash to replace Joe Maddon, the Yankees can find the right guy. Not that I necessarily want a manager with no experience, but everybody must start somewhere. They’ve rebuilt and upgraded the level of pitching instruction and can use similar strategy to upgrade all facets of the organization. Bottom-line, Aaron Boone has shown enough to know that he is not the one to lead us to the promised land


Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Okay, enough beating up on Boone. I just hope the Yankees can win today and tomorrow to make anything less than the top Wild Card spot moot. 

Not great news to hear D.J. LeMahieu has a sports hernia. I suppose it is good news he plans to play through it and could potentially be back on the field on Sunday after receiving a cortisone injection. The only question is how effective he can be with the injury. It was nice to see the return of shortstop Andrew Velazquez (at the expense of Albert Abreu who optioned to the sidelines) earlier this morning.  While Gio Urshela has done a decent job at short, he’s obviously needed at third with the state of D.J.’s health, and I clearly have more trust in the Bronx native’s glove than I do Gio despite his strong defensive skills. You must accept less offense with Velazquez in the lineup (he’s starting at shortstop today), but it just means everyone else needs to step up and take care of business. Gary, yes, I am talking to you…among a few others. For Velazquez, he gets a chance against his former teammates, and I am sure he’d love to be celebrating this weekend on his truly home turf. 

Just win, Yankees, just win…


I will be going to a baseball game today. I wish I was in New York and going to Yankee Stadium, but living in Southern California, I’ll have to settle for the next best thing. Headed to Dodger Stadium later today for a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. By game time, the Dodgers should know if they’ve been eliminated from the NL West division championship or if they still have slight hope for at least a tie. The San Francisco Giants, up by 2 games with 2 games to go, are playing the disappointing San Diego Padres in the City by the Bay this afternoon. A win by the Giants and the best (or worst) the Dodgers can do is where they currently sit, top Wild Card team with an upcoming visit by backup first baseman Albert Pujols’ old team, the St Louis Cardinals, on Wednesday. 

Hey Daniel Burch, I will be wearing my Bat Flip Brotherhood t-shirt featuring Cody Bellinger. This hasn’t been the greatest of years for the son of former Yankee Clay Bellinger and who knows if he’ll even play but I’ll be pulling for bat flips by Mookie Betts, the Turners (Justin and Trea) or possible future Yank Corey Seager. Thanks for the shirt, Bro.

Bat Flip Brotherhood on Etsy, by Dan Burch

Not trying to turn this into a Dodgers post (sorry), however, it was sad to see Dodgers Great Clayton Kershaw walk off the mound due to injury last night. He is suffering from forearm discomfort. While he still needs to undergo further testing, it is possible this was the final start as a Dodger for Kershaw. The injury could rule him out of the playoffs if the Dodgers can advance past the Cardinals, and he’s an impending free agent. The Dodgers trade deadline acquisition of Max Scherzer looks so huge right now.  For Kershaw, as much as he has meant to the Dodgers, he is not the pitcher he once was even if he’s Cooperstown-bound. I could see him returning to his native Texas since he continues to make his home there. Regardless of what happens, I wish Clayton and his family the best. I hope he has a chance to pitch again this year in trying to look at this with glass half full. Kersh has been such a tremendous Dodger. 


Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of Joe Girardi, I thought it was interesting this week when his team hired the son of Yankees great Don Mattingly as their new director of player development. Preston Mattingly, 34, previously Major League advance scouting and game planning coordinator for the Padres, is viewed as an up-and-coming Major League executive. Rumor has it he came with a strong recommendation from the manager of the Miami Marlins. Seriously, this is a good hire by Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, a man who knows how to tear down a farm system or two. Not that I wish anything good for the Phillies, a team I don’t care for despite their Yankee connections on the team, but congrats to young Mattingly as he continues his rise among front office executives. 



As always, Go Yankees!