Thursday, November 15, 2018

IBWAA SELECTS DEGROM, SNELL IN CY VOTE


Los Angeles – The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) announced the winners in its Cy Young category Wednesday, with the Tampa Bay Rays’ Blake Snell winning the group’s American League prize, and Jacob deGrom, of the New York Mets, being selected in the National League vote.
 
This is the tenth annual election for the IBWAA in the Cy category.
 
Election results are as follows:
 
AL Cy Young:
 
1st Place:                  Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays – 731 points
2nd Place:                 
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros – 462
3rd Place:                  
Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox – 336
4th Place:                 Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians – 298
5th Place:                 Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros – 150
 
NL Cy Young:
 
1st Place:                  Jacob deGrom, New York Mets – 828 points
2nd Place:                 
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals – 564 
3rd Place
:                  Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies – 389
4th Place:                 Kyle Freeland, Colorado Rockies – 155
5th Place:                 Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks – 92
 
Ballot tabulations by Brian Wittig & Associates, using the Borda Method.
 

The IBWAA was established July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Voting for full season awards takes place in September of each year, with selections being announced in November. The IBWAA also holds a Hall of Fame election in December of each year, with results being announced the following January.
 
Among others, IBWAA members include Jim Bowden, Pedro Moura, Ken Rosenthal and Eno Sarris, The Athletic; Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports; Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports Hardball Talk; Bill Chuck, Billy-Ball.com; Chris De Luca, Chicago Sun-Times; Jon Heyman, Fancred; Tyler Kepner, New York Times; Danny Knobler, Bleacher Report; Kevin Kennedy; Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated; Brian Kenny, MLBN; Will Leitch, New York Magazine; Bruce Markusen, Hardball Times; Ross Newhan; Dayn Perry and Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com; Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Times; J.P. Hoornstra Los Angeles Daily News; Tracy Ringolsby, MLB.com; David Schoenfield, ESPN.com; and Bill Arnold.
 
Association membership is open to any and all Internet baseball writers, with a $75 lifetime fee. Discounts for groups and scholarships are available. Members must be 18 years of age to apply.

For more information please visit 
www.ibwaa.com.

Contact:
 
Howard Cole
Founding Director, IBWAA
baseballsavvy@aol.com

2018 World Series Champions: The Boston Red Sox...

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Bob Levey)
Equates to VICTORY for Julia, not me...

I am writing this as a result of a lost bet with a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan named Julia (@werbiefitz). During the recent World Series, I took the side of my favorite National League team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, while Julia stayed with the team she has stood with since her childhood, the Boston Red Sox. The loser of the bet (which turned out to be me) was forced to read a book chosen by the winner. Upon completion of reading the book, the loser was required to write an essay about the ten things they learned from the book. Not a book review, that wasn’t really the point of the exercise, but rather how did the book affect you.  

The Red Sox won the 2018 World Series in five games to cap an incredible season which saw the team win a franchise high 108 games during the regular season. It represented the fourth World Series Championship for Julia since the Curse of the Bambino was broken in 2004. For me, it was a tough post-season. My favorite team, the New York Yankees, won 100 games but were eliminated in the ALDS by the Red Sox. Then, my favorite NL team gave me second life. A renewed opportunity to take down the mighty Red Sox. It was not meant to be and I suffered two heart-breaking series losses to Boston in the same October. Victory to Julia, and some book reading and an essay for me. I also had to change my FaceBook cover photo to one showing the Red Sox celebration for one week upon conclusion of the World Series.

The book Julia chose for me was Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston by Howard Bryant. At first glance, it would be easy to find the negatives in the book about the city of Boston and the Red Sox franchise, but admittedly, I found this a story of redemption.  


I was shocked almost from the start when I found out the Red Sox had the first opportunity in Major League Baseball to sign the great Jackie Robinson on April 16, 1945 but passed due in large part to racism that existed within the fabric of the franchise. I didn’t know former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey but I do know that he hired his drinking buddies to hold key executive positions within the franchise and their racist beliefs prevented potential Red Sox teams that could have featured Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Ted Williams in the same lineup. It’s scary to think what the trio would have been capable of together. They certainly would have had a say in the great Yankees Dynasty of the 1950’s.  

I qualify this book as focused on the Red Sox but to believe that racism did not occur within the halls of other MLB organizations, including the New York Yankees, would be very wrong. Even the Dodgers organization, as the first team to feature a black player on its roster in 1947, was later marred by the racist words of their former General Manager, Al Campanis, who was fired in 1987.  The book briefly mentioned Elston Howard, who was the first and sadly only black player on the Yankee rosters for years during the 1950’s. Howard later played for the Red Sox.  

Tom Yawkey purchased the Red Sox in 1933. Yawkey had admired Eddie Collins, a former second baseman with the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox, and appointed him as the team’s vice president and general manager when he took over control of the team. Collins had been with the White Sox during the infamous Black Sox scandal of 1919 when they threw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds but Collins had been cleared of any wrongdoing. In 1935, Yawkey traded for Washington Nationals shortstop Joe Cronin, developing close friendships with both Collins and Cronin. From basically 1933 through 1958, Collins and/or Cronin controlled all player movement within the Red Sox organization. With these two men, I believe, Yawkey tarnished his legacy. Whether he was racist or not is not really the point, he allowed racism to exist to the detriment of the city and the franchise and that makes him responsible.   

After passing on Jackie Robinson in 1945, the Red Sox had a unique opportunity to sign Willie Mays four years later due to an exclusive lease arrangement that existed between a Red Sox affiliate, the Birmingham Barons, and the Negro League’s Black Barons. Cronin, by that time the GM for the Red Sox, had been tipped off about the incredible talents of the 18-year-old Mays and he sent a reluctant and racist scout to Alabama to watch Mays. According to stories, it rained for three days and the scout sent the Red Sox front office a negative review, perhaps without ever laying eyes on the legendary Say Hey Kid. It was another missed opportunity for the Red Sox, although I am sure the New York/San Francisco Giants didn’t mind.  

The Red Sox were the last Major League Baseball team to add a black player to its roster. While the rest of the Major League teams were slowly starting to integrate, it would take the Red Sox over a decade before they would finally add a person of color to their team. Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, Jr. was born in Richmond, CA (East Bay near Oakland) in 1935. His brother, Cornell, someone I’ve been aware of since my childhood, was a star defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys. However, I never knew who Pumpsie Green was until reading the book. Fighting through racism within the organization and at the team’s training facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, Green believed that he was going to open the 1959 season as the first black player for the Red Sox. At the eleventh hour, one of the noted racists within the Red Sox organization, manager Mike “Pinky” Higgins demoted Green to the minor leagues. Fortunately, it would prove to be a temporary decision. Higgins was fired 73 games into the ’59 season and replaced by Bill Jurges.  By that time, Eddie Collins was dead and Joe Cronin had left the Red Sox to become President of the American League. Green finally got the call to join the Red Sox later during the summer and on July 21, 1959, Pumpsie became the first African American player to take the field for the Red Sox when he was inserted as a pinch-runner for Vic Wertz and stayed in the game to play shortstop in Boston’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. After the game, Green wept in the clubhouse. I cannot begin to imagine the emotions he must have felt that day.   


On a side note about Pumpsie Green, Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams routinely warmed up with Green before games. It became a superstition for Ted but for Pumpsie, he remembered Williams as one of few who treated him both as a ballplayer and a man. I personally haven’t followed Red Sox history, but the way Williams approached Green gives me newfound respect for the Hall of Famer.  

Photo Credit: AP
Pitcher Earl Wilson might have been the first African American player for the Red Sox if not for a two-year military commitment. Originally drafted as a catcher, Wilson blossomed as a hard-throwing pitcher and roomed with Pumpsie Green for a time. But for Wilson, the Red Sox years were hard ones. After the ’59 season was over, Tom Yawkey fired Billy Jurges and restored the racist Pinky Higgins as manager. As their careers moved into the early 1960’s, Green’s career was quietly coming to a close (the lack of consistent playing time prevented him from realizing his potential) while Wilson was becoming more prominent. In 1962, Wilson (12-8, 3.90 ERA) threw a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Angels. 

Photo Credit: AP
When Yawkey fired Higgins as manager in 1962, Wilson felt Yawkey was finally opening his eyes to what a divisive man Higgins had been. Unfortunately, Yawkey surprised everyone by making Higgins his general manager.  Higgins was the GM in June 1965 when the Red Sox traded Earl Wilson to the Detroit Tigers along with Joe Christopher for Don Demeter and Julio Navarro. Wilson won 22 games for the 1967 Tigers, although the Tigers finished a game behind The Impossible Dream Red Sox that year, and he accumulated 338 victories overall for his career. Although Wilson lost Game 3 of the Series, he celebrated a World Series Championship with the Tigers in 1968. It’s sad that a pitcher primed for tremendous MLB success in Boston saw his greatest days in Detroit.  

In a twist of irony, Tom Yawkey fired Pinky Higgins as GM on September 16, 1965, the same day Red Sox pitcher Dave Morehead tossed a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians. After his firing, while in Louisiana, Higgins drove his car into a group of black highway workers. He killed one man, a white World War II veteran and injured three others. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and sentenced to four years. However, he was paroled after serving only two months in 1969. But just two days after his release, Higgins dropped dead from a heart attack. As Earl Wilson would say while in Detroit when asked to comment on his former manager, “Good things happen to some people”. 

I was appalled to learn that The Elks Club, as recently as the 1980’s, condoned racism. The Elks Club in Winter Haven, FL, the site of Red Sox spring training at the time would issue invitations to white players, but not the blacks. Growing up in the Midwest in the 70's, my step father was an active member of The Elks Club and served as the Exalted Ruler for the local chapter in my hometown in 1978. I was unaware the organization condoned racism and I am deeply saddened to have been connected to such a pitiful organization. I may have been a kid but I feel a responsibility that I should have known better. I only hope that my step-father's chapter did not practice racism like the Winter Haven chapter did. My mother and step-father have passed away so it is not a discussion I can have with them.  

To back up a little, I vividly recall when Jim Rice and Fred Lynn burst onto the Major League scene for Boston in the mid-70's. They were great players from the start.  Living far away in the Midwest, I didn't see how the players were treated differently in their own city. Jim Rice, backed by his superior talent, had the power to be a major voice for the black community but it wasn't his personality.  He was introspective and to the media, he was unfriendly and considered sullen. I know Rice has gotten into tiffs with Derek Jeter and CC Sabathia over the years for whatever reasons, but I am not trying to indict the man. He was an incredible ball player. In a career spent entirely in Boston, Rice hit 382 home runs and drove in 1,451 runs. His career batting average was a healthy .298 and he had 2,452 hits in a career that spanned from 1974 to 1989. He was an eight-time All Star, AL MVP in the Bucky "F**king" Dent year of 1978, a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, three-time AL home run leader, and two-time AL RBI leader. Yet, his number (14) was not retired by the Red Sox until two days after his Hall of Fame induction in July 2009. No one wore the number after his retirement but still, Rice is among the Red Sox Legends and deserved better treatment. Rice was charitable and a humanitarian. I think he is misunderstood because of his personality and I'd like to think he could have done more to help pave the way for black players in Boston, but there is no denying the man was one of the best in the history of the Red Sox to pick up a glove, bat and ball.  Noted baseball columnist Peter Gammons believed history would have been significantly different had Rice taken an active role in voicing his thoughts about the climate and culture of the Red Sox organization. To Rice's defense, I'll use this quote from the book's author: "Had Rice been white, he would have been lauded as a modern-day Gil Hodges: strong, silent, important. Being black, though, meant Rice was moody, arrogant and distant."  These words prove to me that I have absolutely no idea what it was like to walk in Jim Rice's shoes.  

Photo Credit: Boston Globe (Stan Grossfeld)
The next great superstar in the Red Sox organization was slugger Mo Vaughn. He was drafted in Rice's last year in 1989. For an organization that had featured so many outsiders over the years, Vaughn was a New Englander. He was from Norwalk, CT and had frequently visited Boston while growing up.  He was hailed as the first local Red Sox star since Carlton Fisk. As a Yankees fan, I despised Vaughn coming to the plate, much like how I'd later feel about David “Big Papi” Ortiz or more recently, Mookie Betts. These men knew/know how to use Fenway Park to their full advantage. 

Vaughn was the AL Most Valuable Player in 1995.  The city of Boston accepted Vaughn as their own and he was able to transcend the issue of race in his city.  Vaughn loved the city of Boston and wanted to spend his entire career there. The GM at the time, Dan Duquette, brought an era of diversity to the Red Sox. He corrected many of the wrongs committed by previous regimes and reconnected with former black players like Tommy Harper, Dave Henderson, Reggie Smith, and Jim Rice. But for all his positives, Duquette had his faults. He had a reputation of being difficult to work with and he frustrated those who worked for him. The relationship between Duquette and Vaughn became irreparable in 1998 when Vaughn was led to believe that he would be offered four-year contract for approximately $42 million (Peter Gammons believed they had reached agreement). Yet, when the offer came, it was only two years for $17 million. Using the media, the Red Sox orchestrated a smear campaign on the popular Vaughn. Vaughn had put together six monster years for the Red Sox, but on November 25, 1998 as a free agent, he left the team to sign a six-year, $80 million contract with the Anaheim Angels. It was a sad day for Boston and for Baseball in general. Vaughn was not a So-Cal kind of guy. He was a New Englander who should have called Fenway Park home for his entire career. I certainly do not feel that Dan Duquette is a racist but this might have been one of the saddest stories while reading the book.  


On February 22, 2002, the legacy of Tom Yawkey was ended when John Harrington sold the club to an ownership group led by John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino. It brought much needed closure for the Yawkey Era, and it set the Red Sox on a path that has yielded four World Series championships in fourteen years. Before reading the book, I am not sure that I fully understood the huge impact John Henry has had on the Red Sox organization and how he has, through actions and not just words, rebranded the Red Sox organization into an exemplary model of professionalism and class. Well, maybe not for Yankee fans like me, but the current ownership group should be applauded for making a difference.  


As Julia pointed out to me, while the history of the Red Sox organization wasn't always pretty, the other Boston sports franchises were ground-breakers with integration. Willie O'Ree is referred to as the "Jackie Robinson of ice hockey" (the first black player in the NHL). He made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins on January 18, 1958. Chuck Cooper became the first black player drafted in the NBA when he was selected with the first pick in the second round of the 1950 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. Legendary Celtics coach/executive Red Auerbach put together the NBA's first all-black starting five in 1964. In the inaugural American Football League draft in 1960, the Boston Patriots selected running back Ron Burton in the first round as their first-ever pick. Rommie Loudd became the AFL's first black coach when he was named linebackers coach for the Patriots in 1966. Loudd later became the first black top executive in major league sports as the owner of the World Football League's Florida Blazers in 1974.

There is so much more to the book than I've touched on with this short essay. Racism continues to be a big part of our everyday life in 2018 and it must stop. We've made some progress, but we are not where we need to be. We live in a current climate of hatred and blame which allows racism to survive. If I have one wish, it is a hope and prayer I live to see the end of racism as we know it. Even this week, there were reports out of the Seattle Mariners organization that their former Director of High Performance, Dr. Lorena Martin, has made allegations of derogatory comments made by GM Jerry DiPoto, Manager Scott Servais, and Director of Player Development Andy McKay with racial and sexist overtones. Maybe it is a case of a disgruntled former employee, but maybe it is not. Where there's smoke, there's generally fire. If true, this is unacceptable behavior that cannot be tolerated. I think all of us want a better tomorrow for our children and their children. The work to make it happen starts here.  No looking back, the focus should be on now and the future, and how we can help each other be successful and live meaningful, rewarding lives.  As they say, none of us are getting out of here alive.  We should live these days to the best of our ability and to share love and happiness around the World.  


That’s a wrap. While I wish that I had won the bet with Julia, I learned a great deal from the book and hopefully I can be a better person as a result. Enjoy your World Series championship, Julia. Your team earned it. But rest assured, the New York Yankees will be back, stronger than ever in 2019.  Until next time…

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

OFFSEASON RECAP: Welcome Back, Get Caught Up



Hello again Yankees family. This offseason, as I have been doing for a couple offseason’s now, saw me take a bit of a break after the season. Refresh the batteries, keep me sane, whatever. LOL. Either way, you have my apologies for being “pathetic” and for missing five days of rumors, and no real subsequent news of any capacity. Sorry. Let’s get caught back up.

Miguel Andujar finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year Award balloting behind the Angels star Shohei Ohtani. Gleyber Torres finished third. Honestly, I feel like Andujar got robbed and should have won the award, but I don’t mean that to discredit what Ohtani does. When someone can say, for good reason anyway, that this is the first time something has happened since Babe Ruth… I’m sorry, but people take notice. When I submitted by IBWAA awards ballot I had Ohtani third, some called it bias, others called it being a homer, but I called it my opinion. I think if you look at the stats that Ohtani was the third best rookie. If you think differently and want a vote, create a blog or a publication, pay your dues, and apply for an IBWAA membership. One thing I will make mention of, though, is Baseball Reference’s formula for WAR. Ohtani’s 2018 WAR was 3.9 while Andujar’s was 2.2. With Ohtani playing DH a ton and pitching I feel like WAR was the only, and the fairest, way to judge and compare these two players… and that number would explain the landslide in the voting, so I feel like I am not alone here.

Dallas Keuchel will shave his beard to be a Yankee. Cool. I guess this is one of the rumors I missed and declined to talk about, because this site has always kind of done it their own way and refused to simply recycle the same garbage as everyone else does. That’s likely what drew you here, but for some reason… now it’s different.


Bryce Harper turned down 10-years and $300 million from the Nationals before the end of the season. Okay. Maybe he wanted to test free agency? Maybe he doesn’t want to play in Washington? Maybe Scott Boras made him? It’s not news, it’s speculation, and it has no bearing on his free agency goals this winter until we hear from either him, another team with actual information, or his agent otherwise. Not news. Neither was the fact that he got offered to the Houston Astros in a trade last July. The Yankees say there is no chance he will sign here, but neither would Johnny Damon, Bubba Crosby is out starting center fielder, blah blah blah. Why would Brian Cashman show his hand now? Why would he bid against himself? I’ll answer that, he wouldn’t.

The Yankees requested medicals on Manny Machado as well as backgrounds information. That’s news. I bet they did on Patrick Corbin, Adam Ottavino, Bryce Harper, and a slew of others… but that never made the news. It doesn’t mean a signing is imminent, it means that Cashman is doing his due diligence, and his job. WHEN it becomes more than that, I will be here to speak on it. Trust me.


News on Patrick Corbin and the Yankees, aside from Cashman mentioning his agent by name (still not news, hence why it wasn’t reported… because I don’t feel the need to post garbage just for views and clicks), has been hard to come by. Isn’t that kind of Cashman’s thing? When all is quiet on the western front, that is when the players are generally signed or acquired. I expect Corbin to be with the Yankees before, or during, the Winter Meetings.

The Yankees are interested in James Paxton. Awesome. This is an arm that Cashman has coveted since the lefty broke into the league, or that’s the way it feels anyway. Would I give up a top 3 prospect for him? I’d personally be reluctant to do so, but I would get it if the Yankees did. I would just hate to give up on Justus Sheffield while he is on the cusp of the Major League level for a Major League starter that would come with less control and more dollars attached to him. Especially if we got similar or comparable production. That’s why I wouldn’t trade Sheffield for a guy like Paxton, Madison Bumgarner, etc., but I would ship him up myself for someone with team control like Carlos Carrasco and Jacob deGrom. Paxton is great, don’t get me wrong, but his injuries, and a potential bidding war with the Houston Astros, scares me.

Sonny Gray is still a Yankee.


Corey Kluber also scares me, his velocity is down, and his walks are up and all the other stuff you have read all over the internet while I was being pathetic. The thing is though, the window to win in the Bronx is now (it is wider than just now, but the team is expected to win in 2019… no more excuses), and Kluber helps the Yankees win now. Kluber helps the Yankees win next year. Kluber likely helps the Yankees win throughout the remainder of his contract. As a prospect humper I suggest trading a top prospect or two for Kluber. Sheffield and Florial? Reluctantly, I’d do it. Loaisiga and Florial? I’d wrap a bow around them myself and welcome Kluber in with open arms. These types of trades hurt, but that is because they generally work for the better. Oh, and the Indians don’t need a third baseman… so please stop offering Miguel Andujar in the trade (or in any trade, but I digress). Stop offering up Giancarlo Stanton in trades as well. He has never said he would or that he wanted to go to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he ultimately controls his fate. He came here because he wanted to be here, and one year in the Bronx is not likely to change that.

I’m sure I missed something, but that will do for now. Love you guys, and I have missed you terribly. Now, let’s get to work.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Bidding for James Paxton Begins...

Photo Credit: The Canadian Press (Fred Thornhill)
Will Paxton join Gerrit Cole in Houston?…

Last year, the Yankees missed an opportunity to acquire top starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Houston Astros swooped in to grab the talented righty. It’s possible that the Yankees could be outdone by the Astros for the second consecutive year. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeted this morning that Houston is in on the potential trade  talks for James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners along with the Yankees and other clubs.  


I wanted Cole last winter although a number of Yankee fans did not. Honestly, it’s unlikely Cole would have pitched as well in the Bronx as he did in Houston so perhaps the opposing fans were right. This is a new year, and now the trade speculation is on Paxton, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. My initial desire is to place Kluber at the top of the list, but the more you think about it, the less likely you feel the Cleveland Indians would actually move their aces. The Indians remain a contending team so unless it is a serious overpay, the Tribe is not going to part with Kluber or Carrasco. So it leaves Paxton as potentially the best available trade target assuming the Mariners decide to move him. Seattle GM Jerry DiPoto is, of course, very unpredictable but the Yankees and Mariners have matched up for lesser deals in recent years so there is history of successful negotiations. I have no doubt DiPoto would trade within division for the right mix of players so Houston is a serious threat for the Yankees if they identify Paxton as the guy they want. The Astros may lose Charlie Morton to free agency and they’ve already lost Lance McCullers, Jr for the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery. So the Astros are just as motivated to add top starters as the Yankees.  

As much as I like Paxton, he is not someone I would trade Miguel Andujar for (or Estevan Florial or Justus Sheffield for that matter).  Kluber or Carrasco, yes, but not Paxton. Paxton carries much greater risk with his inability to stay healthy. So, as much as I would hate to get punked by the Astros again and as much as I’d like Paxton on the staff, there is a price I’d draw a line. If Houston wants to overpay, let them.  If GM Brian Cashman can get Paxton at his price, great. I’ll be excited to see Paxton join the Yankees starting rotation…with Miguel Andujar continuing to field grounders at third in Yankee Stadium.  

A pic of a shaved Dallas Keuchel has been floating the Internet with talk about how the “beardless” one would look in the Bronx.  


With no offense to Keuchel, I don’t really want to see him in the Bronx. I know he’s been tough on the Yankees over the years but I cannot find myself with the desire to root for him.  Keuchel will only be 31 when the season begins, however, I think Keuchel and Patrick Corbin are on opposite trajectories for their 30’s. Corbin, like fine wine, stands a much better chance of aging well. If the Yankees miss out on Corbin and others, it is possible they have to make a run at Keuchel but I really hope that’s a potential option which never comes to fruition. Bring me Corbin and J.A. Happ and I’ll be happy.

Trying to brace myself for the possibility the Yankees pass on the big ticket purchases this winter, I think Marwin Gonzalez and Jurickson Profar represent the best options for the infield to help cover for the loss of Didi Gregorius. I’ve liked Daniel Murphy in the past but I don’t feel he really fits the Yankees at this stage in his career. Both Gonzalez and Profar have positional diversity which makes them very valuable with the current group of Yankees. Who knows, maybe this is the year Tyler Wade puts it together to launch his Major League career in full force. It’s not really a bet I’d make but it is not my team or my money. Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner is on record that he is tired of lining the pockets of other owners and it’s his right to make the financial decisions in the best interests of the Steinbrenner Family. I think most of us thought the Yankees were positioning themselves for a big splash into the 2018-19 free agent market but the reality is that we need to be prepared for Team Fiscal Restraint. I am hopeful Hal sees the potential salary relief when guys like Jacoby Ellsbury come off the books in just a couple of years but we’ll see.  

It was tough in years past to see the Yankees pass on the big name free agents. Max Scherzer stands out as one. At the time of his free agency, the Yankees were cited as one of the favorites to sign him. They didn’t and Scherzer moved from Detroit to Washington and has continued to pitch at an elite level. Even if the Yankees weren’t ready to add an elite pitcher at the time of Scherzer’s availability, he’d certainly look fantastic in the starting rotation today. The price would have meant the inability to bring payroll under the luxury tax threshold this year so the decision to pass on Scherzer remains debatable. It’s amazing how the decision to sign Jacoby Ellsbury has haunted the Yankees for so many years. I guess that’s a strong argument for not going hog wild in the current free agent market.  



Before I close, I’d like to send out our prayers and thoughts to all those affected by the wildfires in Northern and Southern California. For some, there will never be recovery. I hope the fires are brought under control soon and we suffer no further loss of life. For those of you in California, please stay safe.

View of Malibu from Santa Monica Pier

Lastly, Happy Veteran’s Day! We can never forget those who served and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to maintain our freedom. Today, and every day, we honor you.


As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Looking Forward to St Patrick's Day...

Photo Credit: AP (Rick Scuteri)
Patrick Corbin should be at the forefront for the Yankees…

So many possibilities, where do the Yankees go? November is always a tough month for the Hot Stove League. Lots of talk but not really much action. There’s always the chance for a major trade but we generally have to get much closer to the Baseball Winter Meetings in December for the flurry of activity, then the quietness returns until the start of training camp. I don’t expect this year to be any different.  

No doubt GM Brian Cashman is laying the groundwork for potential trades. He’s talked with the Cleveland Indians, he’s reached out to the Seattle Mariners, and has surely had talks with teams we’ve heard nothing about. The talks now will hopefully yield fruit later, but rest assured, if the Yankees are successful in obtaining Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or James Paxton, it WILL hurt. For a team on the cusp of a championship, now is not the time to “prospect-hug”. The team must be prepared to pay the price, whatever it may be, to bring in a top of the rotation arm.  

Of the names mentioned, I probably like Kluber the best. He would immediately became the team’s ace, which we clearly need, and his presence would help take pressure off Luis Severino. Less pressure on Sevy would only enhance the chances for him to become the best he can be. But if the Yanks can’t get Kluber, Carrasco would be a welcome addition. I really like James Paxton and I think his name has been mentioned frequently in the past by TGP’s Daniel Burch. My only concern, like many others, is health. Paxton has not proven to be a durable pitcher. But if the team has the opportunity to add Paxton and the price is reasonable, they should do it.  

Photo Credit: USATSI

Regardless of how the trade market plays out, I hope the Yankees do not lose sight of free agent starter Patrick Corbin. He will be costly but I am very fascinated with how his left arm and pitching arsenal would play in Yankee Stadium. He grew up as a Yankees fan and wore #46 in Arizona out of respect for Andy Pettitte. He is a ground ball pitcher with five legitimate pitches although his deadly combinations are the slider, four-seam fastball, and sinker. He’s been praised for his work ethic and the signs show he will be an elite pitcher in his 30’s. Corbin might slot into the third or fourth spot in the rotation depending upon what the Yankees do on the trade market, but he’d ensure the starting rotation is a strength in 2019 compared to its achilles heel in 2018.  

Despite the rumors of so many names, Corbin remains my number one target this off-season.  I hope the Yankees see it the same way. Paired with an ace acquired via trade, or added along with the return of a guy like J.A. Happ or Nathan Eovaldi, the starting rotation will be better next year with Corbin in it. 

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports (Mark J Rebilas)

The Bryce Harper/Manny Machado talk has reached absurd levels. I am anxious for the guys to get their $300 million plus contracts to end the excessive chatter about the two young superstars. I think the Yankees would be foolish to pass on at least one of the rare “young” superstars but it’s not my money. I see the advantage of Bryce’s left-handed bat in the Yankees lineup and I see Manny’s role in bridging the gap at short and eventually providing a superior defender at third. My personal preference may be Machado as I’ve long admired the player but I would shed no tears with the signing of Harper. Still, the Yankees can win without either so if they go big with the starting rotation and bring in a guy like Marwin Gonzalez or Daniel Murphy to help the infield, it will not be the end of the world. I like the chances better with Harper or Machado, but the 2019 Yankees will contend for the World Series regardless of how this plays out. “Go big or go home” applies now more than ever.  

I want the Yankees to end the reign of the Boston Red Sox next season so I am in favor of whatever moves the team has to make to improve. I’d hate to see Miguel Andujar, Estevan Florial, Justus Sheffield, or Albert Abreu leave, but if it improves the team, so be it. Championship windows do not remain open for extended periods of time. You have to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves. I am ready for the pain for the greater glory. In Cashman we trust…

Photo Credit: AP (Gregory Bull)

For those keeping score, the Yankees have made some moves this off-season. They’ve re-signed Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia to one-year deals. They re-signed minor league free agent third baseman and defensive-whiz Giovanny Urshela and they signed a minor league deal with former Pirates catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Lavarnway was once a heralded top prospect for the Red Sox, although, now in his 30’s, he has settled into a journeyman role.  He provides much needed catching depth at the upper levels of the farm system. Lavarnway is one of those guys I hope the Yankees don’t need to use but he’s there to help if it becomes necessary. Milwaukee’s Erik Kratz has proven it is never too late to make a significant contribution.  Welcome to the Yankees Family, Ryan!

Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Matt Freed)

The end is within sight for Jacoby Ellsbury. He only has two more years on his contract before the Yankees can exercise their buyout. Ellsbury is owed $42,285,174 for the next two seasons, and the Yankees can then buyout his contract for an additional $5 million. Realistically, I don’t expect Ellsbury to wear the pinstripes again or at least I hope not, but I am glad we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve seen some suggest the Yankees should trade Ellsbury for another dead contract (like Miami’s Wei-Yin Chen, owed $58 million for the next three years, or Seattle’s Robinson Cano, owed $120 million over the next five years). No, thanks. I don’t think the Yankees should take on more money to rid themselves of Ellsbury. I like Cano and he might help but financially it makes absolutely no sense. He is clearly on the downhill slide and he’s entering the really ugly side of his ridiculous contract. If the Yankees can finally move Ellsbury even if they have to pay the bulk of his remaining contract, that’s the way to go. If I was a GM for another team and I was convinced that Ellsbury was finally healthy, I’d take a chance on him for no more than a $5 million per year commitment. That’s a lot of money for the Yankees to eat, but it would be worth the investment (addition by subtraction). I am done with Ellsbury and don’t want to see him pull on the pinstripes again.

Yesterday saw two notable names in the game announce their plans to retire. Hats off to Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins and Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers for long, distinguished careers. Both are names I’d like to see stay in the game in some capacity. I am not sure what their plans are for the future but I wish both the very best as they enter the next phase of their lives. Mauer’s departure certainly opens an opportunity at first base for former Yankee Tyler Austin unless they decide to go in a different direction for new manager Rocco Baldelli. 

Is Sonny Gray still a Yankee? Count me among those who think Cashman will bring a better than expected return for the failed Yankee. I am certain he’ll get at least a strong prospect with upside. We’ll see. Hopefully Gray’s Yankee career is over by this time next month. It would  be great if he could take Luis Cessa and A.J. Cole with him.

As always, Go Yankees!

Monday, November 5, 2018

More Ways To Close The Gap 

The Yankees have several holes we all know. 

The other day I wrote a post detailing what I would do to catch up to the Red Sox and Astros, however as always there is always other ways to do it. Here we will start to look at other ways the Bombers can make up the needed ground, without Manny and Bryce. That being said let’s take a look at what was one of the Yanks biggest holes all season, 1st Base. The Yankees had some of the worst overall production out of the guys manning 1st all season long. Luke Voit stepped in after a late season trade, and torn the cover off the ball. .333 Avg 15 Hrs and 33 RBIs in 132 PA. However no one can be sure he can keep up that production. Greg Bird finally was able to stay on the field and off the DL, but to be nice was horrible. Now I’m not ready to fully give up on Bird just yet. His career numbers albeit over 3 seasons actually add up to one very good season minus the BA. .214 with 97 RBIs and 31 Homers in 569 PA.  The problem for Greg had been staying on the field. So maybe with a full off season of work Bird can turn in to the player everyone expected after his good rookie year. Still with that all being said the Yankees need to close the gap between them and the Top Feeders. (After winning 100 Games, that sounds weird) In Order to do that they need solid and consistent play out of their 1st Baseman all year long. Now we shall take a look at a few options that should be available to them. One thing to keep in mind is the available free agent 1st baseman are not the type of player we would be looking for. Joe Mauer, Matt Adams, Lucas Duda, Chris Carter(yuck), Pedro Alvarez, Tommy Joseph, Chris Parmelee, and Steve Pearce the MVP of the World Series. A real quick look at these guys....Most likely goes like this...... Joe Mauer.....Not leaving Twins unless he retires. Matt Adams.....To inconsistent for me. Lucas Duda, Chris Carter, Pedro Alvarez, Tommy Joesph, Chris Parmelee all big No Thank You!!!! Steve Pearce I would only consider to stick it to the Red Sox other wise I’m also staying say away here. I don’t believe this was some type Of turn around his career type season, rather just him hitting a high. We need more then that. Looks like we need to make a trade stay in house, or have a player switch positions which leads me to the following......

The trade market this is always a crap shoot because who knows how is actually available but the word on the street is Paul Goldschmidt can be had for the right offer. Big Paul has been one of the most productive 1st baseman for sometime now. A career .297 Avg 209 homers and 710 RBIs over 8 seasons.  In 2018 he hit .290 with 33 Jacks and 83 RBIs.  

Goldschmidt Plays a awesome defense as well. He Would add a consistent bat into the Yankees offense, and is only signed for the 2019 season thus the cost shouldn’t be as high. Let’s say one of Luke Voit or Greg Bird, Chance Adams, Kyle Holder, and 1 or 2 lower level prospects? I’d make the deal. Prefer to keep Bird over Voit only because Paul is a Righty as is Voit, so keep Bird who can help keep a balance. Plus as I’ve said I think Bird still has a lot of potential. 

Keeping with the trade market...... Jose Abreu is a player I have always liked and may also be available at a cheep cost. Coming off a season of a .265 avg with 22 bombs and 78 RBIs, is what I view as a down year for him. Would add the production that could help close the GAP.The White Sox totally sucked and looks like they will for a while so they could look to clear house and start anew. I wouldn’t give the farm for this guy, but maybe Chance Adams and a lower level prospect might get the deal done. Cash if you can’t land Big Paul from the Dbacks make a call and see what the White Sox think.  

In house options are sticking with Luke Voit and seeing if we found a diamond in the rough or was this season just another Shane Spencer type years? Going back to Greg Bird who should finally have a normal off seasons and this can show he is what the Yankee’s brass all expected him to be. However the other option is the one I would be interested in seeing. Well that is if we sign Manny and Didi comes back healthy.........Moving Andjuar off the hot corner and seeing if he could play on the other side of the diamond. Thus keeping the doubles Machine in the line up while adding Machado & Then inserting Didi when he is back. That might give the Bombers the best left side of the infield in the majors. The Bronx Bombers could also look at other free agent infielders and see if they would be willing to move to 1st that is if they feel Miguel can get past his defensive struggles at the hot corner. (Again keep in mind for this post we are avoiding Harper and Machado) one name that comes to mind is...... Josh Donaldson – Who turns 33 in December, presents a potential impact bat on a short-term deal maybe only 1 year. Gives him a chance to build up his value again after a up and down season. He’s a late bloomer who played the hot corner and became a star while playing for the A’s in 2013, won the AL MVP award in 2015 after he was traded to the Blue Jays. Josh missed significant time due to a calf injury in 2017, but hit 22 home runs over the final two months of the 2017 season. Donaldson landed on the DL this year in April with right shoulder inflammation and then went on the shelf again May for his calf, that then landed him on the 60-day DL, Donaldson was traded to the Indians before he was activated.  Josh did make a brief but promising return to action late in 2018. With that said, he may be better served to take a one-year pact and re-establish his health and prove he is still the same old Josh. The Yankees should explore this option.   

Also Cash and company could look to another free agent......Mike Moustakas – Royals.  After hitting a Royals-record 38 home runs in 2017, Moustakas’ free agency went terribly for him. Even with a qualifying offer attached, MLBTR predicted a five-year, $85MM contract. That contract never came, instead the third baseman wound up back with the Royals for 1 year at $6.5MM. Moose is a big power low OBP guy, however the OBP May rise in a better lineup. Mike can most likely be had on a 1-2 year deal right now for I’d say 8-10 million per. If all else fails this might just be a guy for the Yanks to look at. Left handed bat power bat in the Bronx could lead to a huge season for the Moose and make Brian Cashman and company look really smart. Anyway you slice it the Bombers need more production from their 1st Baseman in 2019, here’s hoping one way or another they find it.   

As always I can be reached at JamesCPalma@Yahoo.Com 

Let’s G⚾️ Yankees!! 


Saturday, November 3, 2018

No Doubt Today's a "Work Day" for Brian Cashman...


Let the Dialing for Dollars Begin…

Free Agency has officially begun as the team-exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents expired yesterday and the rumors are running rampant. I am never quite sure why they even allow teams a window to talk to their free agents since it almost never results in any pre-open free agency signings. This year, there was more activity with guys renegotiating new contracts due to opt-outs and buyouts. 

Before I get started, I wanted to give a shout-out to Bryan Van Dusen last week for his post entitled Manny Machado vs. Bryce Harper, and The Rest Of The Offseason. Bryan put a great deal of time and thought into his post and of the many, many posts out there about the Yankees off-season and what the team should do, Bryan’s piece is one of the most thorough, logical, and reasonable. It represents a great blueprint for how the Yankees can win the 2019 World Series Championship. Nice job, Bryan!

Well, the World Series didn’t exactly go to plan. Pulling for the Los Angeles Dodgers, I lost a bet with my good friend Julia (@werbiefitz), a lifelong die-hard Red Sox fan. As a result, my FaceBook cover photo has shown a picture of the Red Sox celebrating their championship for the last week. I can’t take it down until a full seven days have elapsed from the end of the World Series. Needless to say, I’ve been staying away from FaceBook lately. I am also reading a Red Sox-related book chosen by Julia. Upon completion, I have to write a 500-word essay about the ten things I’ve learned from reading the book. My goal is to have this finished before Thanksgiving.


Obviously, it is not fun to know the Red Sox have won four championships this century. But if there is any positive about this year’s Boston champagne party at the conclusion of the World Series, it will be so much sweeter when the Yankees snatch the trophy away from them next year.  

Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com (John Munson)

The Yankees’ off-season got started quickly this year when the Yankees, as expected, declined the $12.5 million option on Brett Gardner’s contract.  After paying the $2 million buyout, the parties quickly announced a new one-year deal for $7.5 million. TGP’s Daniel Burch had pitched bringing back Gardy for $6.5 million so he was very close to the team’s line of thinking. I thought it was a bit of an overpay, but I had mentally prepared myself to move on from Gardner due to the crowded outfield. But upon reflection, I agree Clint Frazier is a huge question mark/uncertainty heading into next year and Jacoby Ellsbury, despite reports of good health, is just buying time until his next DL stint. Regardless of whether or not I think the Yankees should bring CC Sabathia back, I honestly do not feel they will. Certainly things could change, but I think CC gets put on the back burner as the Yankees pursue other pitching opportunities. It increases the likelihood another team, such as the Oakland A’s or Los Angeles Angels, could pitch him an incentive-laden one year deal to return to his home state of California before he rides off into the sunset. Without Sabathia in the clubhouse, Brett Gardner becomes the senior voice and mentor for the younger guys. He may not be the player he once was, but his influence on this team is invaluable so welcome back, Brett!

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Nick Turchiaro)

Every year, I look forward to MLB Trade Rumors and their predictions for the top free agents (teams and contracts). Tim Dierkes is one of the best and I have a great deal of respect for him, but I have to admit that I about fell off my chair when I read his latest offering. He has Bryce Harper going to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 14 years (Yikes!) and, gulp!, $420 million. I am not sure we’ll see a contract break the $400 million mark this year, but if that’s the price tag, the Yankees shouldn’t play. I’d love to have Bryce on the Yankees, but I’d rather spread the money around for the best possible club. Dierkes has Manny Machado going to the Philadelphia Phillies for almost as much (13 years at $390 million). I think most Yankee fans want the team to sign at least one of those guys (with a few ready to spend a billion dollars to sign both as if that would ever happen). If Dierkes is right and Machado and Harper sign elsewhere, I would prefer to see them go to National League clubs. I know, the Yankees don’t need either guy. But it is not often that 26-year-old superstars are available for nothing more than money. So, count me among those who want to come away with at least one. Nonetheless, we need to be prepared the Yankees may not be in play for either.

Third on Dierkes’ list is Patrick Corbin. I saw one writer this week predicting an ‘out of nowhere’ signing of Corbin by the San Diego Padres, but Dierkes stayed with the majority to project Corbin to the Yankees on a 6-year deal for $129 million. Sign me up. If there is one guy I want in this year’s free agency, it is Corbin. He may not be a frontline ace, but he is a very sound option for the starting rotation and would place right behind Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka to give the team a formidable front three. Yesterday, news broke that the Cleveland Indians may be willing to trade veterans so immediate speculation went to a trade to bring Corey Kluber to the Bronx. Regardless of whether or not the Yankees go after Kluber, I’d still sign the left-handed Corbin. He seems like an excellent fit for Yankee Stadium.  Honestly, I think the Indians would be foolish to trade Kluber but if it did happen, he is one of few that are as good as Boston’s Chris Sale. The Yankees should be “all-in” if Cleveland is truly willing to deal, but conversely, it should not stall plans to go hard after Corbin. Getting both would be “greedy”, sure, but losing out on both would hurt.  

Dierkes has Andrew Miller going to the Red Sox and Zach Britton to the Astros. I have resigned myself to the loss of Britton and dread the thought he’ll sign with either the Red Sox or Astros. Miller scares me a bit with his recent injury history, but I loved the guy as a Yankee and I would like to see him come back if the Yankees do not resign Britton or David Robertson. Miller has an infectious team-first mentality that rubs off on others and the talent to match.  

Photo Credit: SI.com

Friday was an active day as teams had to make decisions regarding qualifying offers. The Arizona Diamondbacks, as expected, issued a qualifying offer to Patrick Corbin. The one that surprised me was the decision by the Houston Astros not to extend the qualifying offer to Charlie Morton. As such, he represents another option for the Yankees should they lose out on Corbin or simply decide not to pursue him for whatever reasons. If Morton is the best the Yankees can get this off-season, it will be a huge disappointment. Sorry, Charlie. C’mon, I had to do that! With the recent rule changes, the Yankees won’t lose their first round draft pick should they sign Corbin since it’s protected. They would lose their second highest draft pick in next year’s MLB Draft plus a half-million in international bonus pool money. Morton would not cost anything but money but seriously I hope the Yankees can do better.

With the heavy roster activity by MLB teams yesterday, the Yankees picked up a minor league infielder claimed on waivers from the Texas Rangers. Hanser Alberto is a 26-year old shortstop with an ability to play multiple infield positions and even logged some time in the outfield. He hasn’t done much in limited big league opportunities with the Rangers, but he has strong minor league numbers. Last year, in Triple A, he hit .330/.346/.452, with .797 OPS, in 361 at-bats. He doesn’t have much power, but he did drive in 58 runs last year for Round Rock. It remains to be seen if he’ll stick on the 40-man roster this winter. One Rangers blog predicted the Yankees will try to slip him through waivers so that they can outright him to the minors (Alberto is out of options), giving the Rangers an opportunity to grab him back. We’ll find out within the next couple of weeks as the team prepares to finalize its 40-man roster in advance of December’s Rule 5 Draft. I am not really expecting Alberto to stick around.  

I was glad to see Clayton Kershaw sign an extension to remain with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I know he’s struggled with injuries the last couple of years, but I see him as a lifetime Dodger. I know some Yankee fans were hopeful that he’d reach free agency, but I didn’t think the Yankees would have been in play. Knowing Kershaw and how important family is to him, I think he would have returned to his home state of Texas if things didn’t work out with the Dodgers or at the most, would have gone somewhere in the Midwest. There was never a chance he was going to come to the East Coast, in my opinion.  

Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward lost his competition last off-season with Aaron Boone for the Yankees’ managerial gig, but now he’ll get a chance to compete with Boone again as the new manager for the Texas Rangers. The Yankees certainly hold high regard for Woodward given their consideration of him last year. I wish him the best in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.   

Lastly, before I go, I want to say that I am on Team Sanchez. So many Yankee fans have wanted the team to trade Gary Sanchez to the Miami Marlins for J.T. Realmuto. I am not questioning Realmuto is a great catcher, but I am not ready to give up on El Gary. 2018 was not a good year for him but I think he’ll be much better in 2019 with room to improve. If the Yankees are going to give up good, young prospects, it should be for their biggest weaknesses, like the starting rotation for one. Selling Gary low would be a huge mistake in my humble opinion.  

As always, Go Yankees!