Saturday, December 12, 2015

Anthony Flynn is Leaving & Ron Dock is Gone, What Exactly is Going On?

Anthony Flynn has been with the New York Yankees for the last 15 seasons but has decided that the 2015 season will be his last with the organization. Flynn has worked in the baseball operations department for the Yankees for the last seven years and spent the last eight years prior as the club’s video coordinator. Now Flynn will leave for XOS Digital where he will be the director of baseball marketing and sales. Good for him, congratulations.

Ron Dock was the organization’s intervention coordinator based in Tampa, Florida where he worked with Yankees employees and players who had addiction problems, family situations, depression problems and legal issued. Dock is not a well-known name, he was more of a behind the scenes type guy, but he was integral to the organization. Ask Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and also Slade Heathcott. Dock worked with anyone and everyone and was well respected inside the organization.

What exactly is going on in New York? All the, for lack of a better term, old timers are leaving and retiring while the new blood presumably is coming in. It remains to be seen whether this will be a good thing or a bad thing. Either way I have a feeling both Dock and Flynn will be missed in the Bronx more than we know, ask CC Sabathia.

Analyzing the Castro for Warren Swap w/ a Level Head

The New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs hooked up at the Winter Meetings in Nashville for a trade that sent Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan to Chicago for second baseman Starlin Castro. That much we do know but with every trade the fans want to know who “won” the trade. That much we don’t know, at least I don’t think we know it yet. The problem with being a Yankees blogger and a Yankees fan is that the lines between the two get blurred sometimes. My fandom, as I like to call it, for both Warren and the now bench/demoted Robert Refsnyder, was absolutely getting in the way of my level headed thinking when the trade was announced Tuesday night. Now that I’ve had a few days to digest the trade I come back with a level head ready to analyze this trade for you all.

With this trade there are going to be a lot of what if’s and projections used and a lot will be left up to interpretation. That’s what happens when you send one young guy to a team for another young guy. New York didn’t trade Andrew Miller or Brett Gardner here for an established veteran piece, we don’t know what either party will receive in 2016. At best, and this may be just my opinion but many things I have read agree with it, Adam Warren is a #3 starter. At worst Warren is a weapon out of the bullpen that can give the Cubs two or three innings on Monday and save a game for them on Friday. Castro, at best, is one of the best offensive second baseman in all of Major League Baseball and at worst he’s yet another .240 hitter with occasional pop and questionable, at best,  defense.

Is a #3 starter worth one of the best offensive second baseman in the league for four seasons? Absolutely, every day of the week. That’s like sending Michael Pineda to the St. Louis Cardinals for Kolten Wong or Matt Carpenter right now straight up. You make that deal every day of the week. Warren is a free agent before the 2019 season after posting a 7-7 record and 3.29 ERA in 17 starts and 26 relief appearances in 2015. Castro, on the other hand, hit .353 after being benched and moved to second base in Chicago while hitting 10 home runs for the Cubs.

At best Robert Refsnyder could be the best Castro that Castro could be. At worst he could be yet another .240 hitter with occasional pop and questionable, at best, defense. Castro projects to be a much better player than Refsnyder and I get that you’re buying his age 26-29 seasons, also known as most of his prime, but the trade seems redundant in my eyes RIGHT NOW. This move could lead towards other moves, moves including Refsnyder, which improve the team. Guess you’ll just have to stay tuned. Right now though I am still on the fence. I think Cashman got good value out of Warren and Ryan, I think he will end up “winning” this trade, but I don’t see it as the humungous upgrade at second base that everyone else is thinking that it is.

New York Was NOT Getting Shelby Miller

The Arizona Diamondbacks are going for it ladies and gentleman. After acquiring Zack Greinke off the free agent market for the largest AAV (average annual value) in MLB history the team also made a trade with the Atlanta Braves for their ace starting pitcher Shelby Miller. The New York Yankees were said to be interested in Miller’s services and depending on who you read and what city you were in the Yankees either did or didn’t offer Luis Severino in the deal. Now that the deal is officially done and we can analyze the trade from both sides this much is obvious, the New York Yankees were in no way, shape or form touching or acquiring Shelby Miller this offseason.

The Arizona Diamondbacks gave up #1 overall draft pick Dansby Swanson in the deal along with outfielder Ender Inciarte and pitching prospect Aaron Blair. I’m sorry Yankees fans but not even Jorge Mateo, the team’s best shortstop prospect, is as valuable as Swanson is to other teams. Swanson hit .289 in 83 at bats this season in Low-A and is already considered to be’s fourth best prospect at his position.

Blair is a 2013 draft pick that is likely to break camp with the team and head to Atlanta with the big league club after going 7-2 with a 3.16 ERA in Triple-A last season. Inciarte is a center fielder with great defense that had a .303 average and 21 stolen bases in 2015, just his second season. Inciarte is under team control for five more seasons and will likely replace Cameron Maybin in center field this season. Blair will replace Miller and Swanson, a Vanderbilt product, will likely not be far behind to replace Andrelton Simmons at shortstop. Miller gives the Diamondbacks a rotation of Zack Greinke, Miller, Patrick Corbin, Rubby De La Rosa and Robbie Ray.

New York could have offered Severino, Mateo, Bird and Judge and maybe (MAYBE) got Miller. That may not have even been enough and it definitely wouldn’t have been worth it. It’s nice to dream but the Braves got an absolute haul for Shelby Miller, a price that I am glad that Brian Cashman was not willing to pay this winter.

If the Cincinnati Reds Keep Selling…

The rebuilding phase for the Cincinnati Reds really began back in July of 2015. The team was never on the brink of contention last season and ended the month of July by trading their two top starting pitchers in Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. Cueto’s haul in terms of prospects was substantial when you figure that Brandon Finnegan came back in the trade from Kansas City while some usable pieces were also sent back to Cincinnati from the San Francisco Giants in the Leake trade. With Aroldis Chapman now heading to Los Angeles for two prospects the Reds now have no excuse not to finish cleaning out their roster and keeping selling.

If the Cincinnati Reds keep selling you have to think that the New York Yankees have to be in the long line of trade partners. With Chapman, Leake and Cueto now gone the team may turn their attentions to trading second baseman Brandon Phillips, first baseman Joey Votto, outfielder Jay Bruce and third baseman Todd Frazier. New York would presumably be interested in both Phillips and Frazier, although my personal preference would be to stay away from Phillips with his declining defense, offense and for my love of Robert Refsnyder, while the Yankees need another left-handed outfielder and first baseman like they need another hole in the head. Well that and the whole Starlin Castro thing although Castro could conceivably play third, Refsnyder play second and Headley be traded to San Diego for James Shields.

Phillips has a full no-trade clause as dies Votto so moving them would be tough, especially Votto with the money and the years left on his mega-deal, but the lure of winning could entice both, especially Phillips. Bruce and Frazier on the other hands could be dealt without their permission as we almost saw last July in the case of Bruce. The Yankees don’t need Bruce but how incredible, and expensive, would it be to land Todd Frazier?

Frazier hits home runs, he is a Jersey boy, plays a great defense at third base, would be ideal in this lineup and would free up the Yankees to move Chase Headley. Moving Headley and that contract not only makes the team more flexible financially but it makes the team younger, more versatile, better defensively and light years better offensively. Frazier, again, would be awfully expensive but he is the kind of trade you move a Jorge Mateo for in my opinion. Young, controllable, cheap and effective.

If the Yankees had to take Phillips in the trade along with Frazier to keep the prospect total down I can’t say I’d be terribly upset. Is it ideal? Well no, but it’s a risk worth taking in my opinion. Even at the, brace yourselves TGP fans, expensive of Mateo AND Robert Refsnyder. 

The 1996 Team All Over Again 20 Years Later

The 1996 New York Yankees team was a team of destiny and a team that sparked a dynasty. That 1996 squad was extremely special and never laid down and died or let another team beat them down without knowing that they were in a fight. The 1996 team was fresh off a devastating loss in the Wild Card Round the year prior that marked the first time in quite a few years the team made the postseason. The 2015 version of the Yankees also broke a streak of non-playoff seasons, although it was just a two-year absence, and also lost in the Wild Card Round. The similarities do not stop there.

That team did not spend heavily on the free agent market the offseason before but the team did make the smart signings or trades, something Brian Cashman is currently trying to do. The 1996 squad went into the season with David Cone as their biggest free agent signing followed by a reclamation project in Dwight Gooden and a young gun named Andy Pettitte anchoring the rotation. New York doesn’t have a huge free agent signing this winter as of yet but Luis Severino could be the next Andy Pettitte to take the rotation, and the league, by storm. Mariano Duncan was also signed by the Yankees that winter and while, again, not a huge pickup it was a smart pickup. Duncan’s defense and ability to play small ball played into the hands of the Yankees and Joe Torre perfectly that season. Could that be Starlin Castro?

The Yankees were very active in the trade market that offseason as well pulling off a major trade and a minor notable trade. The major trade saw Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock head to Seattle for reliever Jeff Nelson, first baseman Tino Martinez and Jim Mecir. The minor trade was a player to be named later trade that brought Tim “Rock” Raines to the Bronx. New York may already have their minor trade of the offseason, Aaron Hicks for John Ryan Murphy, but the major trade is yet to come.

The final and most glaring similarity is a rookie and the lack of confidence from upper management in the middle infield. In 1996 it was Derek Jeter who George Steinbrenner didn’t think was ready for the show, especially defensively, while it’s Hal and Brian Cashman who lack the confidence in Robert Refsnyder heading into 2016. The stars are aligning, give the kid a shot.

I am in no way comparing the two teams, that 1996 team was built to win for a long time prior to that season, but the similarities are too glaring to ignore.

New York Won’t "Bury" Aaron Hicks, Says Paul Molitor

The New York Yankees currently have their four outfielders set heading into the 2016 season. Brett Gardner will be in left barring a trade, Jacoby Ellsbury will be in center, Carlos Beltran will be in right field and recently acquired Aaron Hicks will be on the bench after coming over from Minnesota. Many of us Yankees fans don’t know what to expect from Hicks, most of us haven’t seen him unless he’s playing against New York, but his former manager Paul Molitor feels confident that not only will Hicks handle the pressure in the Bronx but he will also thrive.

Molitor was Hicks’ manager in 2015 with Minnesota and was a coach with the ball club in 2014 so he knows Hicks probably better than any of us writing or reading this. Molitor feels good about Hicks and his chances of “making it” in New York. Molitor calls Hicks a “cool character” and wished him well in the Bronx with his new club.

This is important because not everyone is cut out for the limelight of New York. Randy Johnson wasn’t, Zack Greinke probably wouldn’t be and David Price (cheap, yet respectful jab incoming) never could be comfortable here. Welcome to the Bronx Mr. Hicks, I’m now even more excited about your arrival to the family.

This Day In New York Yankees History 12/12: Robbie Cano, Don't Ya Go!

It was on this dark and gloomy day in 2013 that the New York Yankees learned that Robinson Cano was leaving to sign a lucrative deal with the Seattle Mariners. Cano landed a 10 year deal worth $240 million which was the third largest in Major League Baseball history. Cano was 32 years old at the time.

Also on this day in 2008 I became the happiest Yankee fan on the planet when we followed up our CC Sabathia signing with an AJ Burnett signing. AJ would receive a five year deal worth $82.5 million finally bringing my favorite pitcher home to the Yankees, for a few seasons anyway.

Finally on this day in 1998 Joe DiMaggio, after being given the worst news you can be given by doctors, makes an amazing recovery defying doctors. Joe D would go home in mid January after a 99 day stay in the hospital after a long battle with lung cancer. DiMaggio would die on March 8th of 1999.