Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Exit January; Enter February and Yankees Baseball...

Sad Goodbyes...

It is being reported that former Yankee Oscar Gamble, 68, has passed away. If true, this is a very sad loss. I thoroughly enjoyed Gamble as a Yankee and, no, it was not because of the 'fro.  He was a very good ball player, in my opinion. He hit 200 home runs over the course of his 17-year career that included stops with the Cubs, Phillies, Indians, White Sox, Padres and Rangers in addition to the Yankees. He finished his career with the White Sox in 1985, and was a .265 lifetime hitter. Certainly not Hall of Fame numbers, but you could always count on Oscar for a homer when you needed it. I loved watching his left-handed swing in the old Yankee Stadium.  

During the winter prior to the 1981 season, I met Gamble in Montgomery, Alabama. He gave me his autograph and I vividly remember our conversation about the upcoming season. He was excited to play with the big free agent that the Yankees had just signed (David Mark Winfield). He came across to me as an incredibly humble and kind man. I was a nobody yet he took the time with me. It's a meeting that I'll never forget, and I am very saddened to hear the news of his passing.

Photo Credit:  NY Daily News (Martin)
It was also sad to see the news about the passing of former Padres and Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers yesterday. During his time in San Diego, he was a frequent trading partner for Yankees GM Brian Cashman and he spent some time in the Yankees front office (2010 season) after his departure from the Padres before getting his next gig in Arizona. Most recently, he had been a special advisor for the Cincinnati Reds.  Towers had been diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer in 2016. The survival rate for this form of cancer is very low so Towers must have known his time was limited. Still, it was a shock to the Baseball world. As they say, Cancer Sucks!  Towers was a great force in Major League Baseball and his loss is significant. May he rest in peace…

Photo Credit: Associated Press (Ross D Franklin)
Maybe it's just me, but it seems like there have been too many deaths already this year.

Baseball Happenings...

On to 'less grim' topics...I'd say positive but that doesn't really seem to apply.   

The Yankees lost a potential upgrade for backup catcher when free agent catcher Alex Avila signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday. Although there were no indications the Yankees were ever connected to Avila, many Yankees fans called for the signing of Avila as an upgrade for the offensively-challenged Austin Romine. Instead, Avila will represent the offensive side of a platoon with defensive-specialist Jeff Mathis in the Sonoran Desert. The D-Backs had a void at catcher when last year’s starter, Chris Iannetta, recently signed a free agent contract with his original team, the Colorado Rockies. Arizona also has Chris Hermann and former Yankee John Ryan Murphy in the catching mix. 

The Yankees added a veteran infielder this week when they signed second baseman/shortstop Danny Espinosa to a minor league contract with a training camp invitation. This was one of those signing that brought a “meh” from me. I didn’t like the way Espinosa expressed his displeasure with the Washington Nationals in December 2016 when the team acquired outfielder Adam Eaton, pushing the young and talented Trea Turner from center field to shortstop, and Espinosa to the bench. The Nats ended up trading Espinosa to the Los Angeles Angels, one of three teams he played for in 2017.  

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Troy Taormina)
Espinosa is a poor hitter. Although he did have 24 home runs in 2016, his batting line was close to the Mendoza Line (.209/.306/.378). He had 174 strikeouts in 516 at-bats (601 plate appearances).  In 2017, his line was worse in 295 plate appearances. He had 6 home runs, batting .173/.245/.278. He was released by all three teams he played for in 2017 (Angels, Seattle Mariners, and Tampa Bay Rays). The final release came a few weeks before the season was over.  
If Espinosa breaks camp as the starting second baseman, it will mean that Plans A and B went horribly wrong. Alright, that might be a bit too strong. I still expect Gleyber Torres to take the position after spending the first few weeks in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. But I strongly prefer the tandem of Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes as the interim solution over Espinosa. I suppose if Wade fails miserably in Tampa over the next couple of months, it is possible that Espinosa partners with Torreyes to cover second until Torres is ready. But Espinosa’s selfish behavior at the end of his time in Washington really soured me on the player.  

While it looks like the Yankees will go to training camp with rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar as the front-runners for second and third base, respectively, I still expect the Yankees to sign a veteran third baseman.  It may not be a starting type, but it will be someone who can act as a safety net for Andujar. Oh boy, here comes Yunel Escobar. Regardless of who the Yankees sign, they will sign somebody. They've added second base bodies (Jace Peterson and the aforementioned Danny Espinosa) so I have no doubts they'll do the same for third base.  Admittedly, my hope for Todd Frazier's return is starting to fade.  

Gladly Accepting Jeter Rejects...

I haven't seen his exact title yet, but it appears that the Yankees have added former Miami Marlins VP of Player Development Marc Delpiano to their Scouting department. Delpiano was fired by Derek Jeter (well, Jetes made the outgoing President David Samson deliver the news) when he took over the team.  Delpiano's position was replaced when the Marlins added former Yankees executive Gary Denbo.  Delpiano is a highly respective baseball executive who drew much praise when he was hired by the Marlins a few years ago. He has experience working for both Neal Huntington and Theo Epstein. Good hire by GM Brian Cashman. Welcome to the Yankees family, Marc!

Despite the deathly slow off-season (no pun intended), training camp is almost upon us. We'll soon have the opportunity to see Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton putting on daily home run displays instead of wearing tuxedos...

Photo Credit: Marquee NY (Chris Lavado)
Go Yankees!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

New York Yankees Star Aaron Judge Named Topps Card No. 1 for 2018

New York Yankees Star Aaron Judge Named Topps Card No. 1 for 2018
The Annual Topps® Baseball Card Set Arrives January 31

(New York, N.Y., January 29) – New York Yankees star Aaron Judge continues to earn accolades as the reigning American League Rookie of the Year was voted to be Card No. 1 in 2018 Topps® Baseball Series 1 by thousands of fans as revealed exclusively on MLB Network today.

Baseball fans can get the newest Topps Judge card when the Major League Baseball season kicks off with 2018 Topps Baseball Series 1 hitting the stores on January 31. They can also find rookie cards, autograph cards of their favorite players, and an interactive sweepstakes that will last all baseball season with Home Run Challenge.

Aaron Judge transcended baseball during his record-breaking rookie season,” said David Leiner, Topps Global General Manager. “Fans from across the league were excited to see him play so it comes as no surprise they voted for him to be Card No. 1 for this year’s set. We are thrilled to add him to the list of great players that have been featured on the first card of the year.”

Judge joins players such as Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Mike Piazza and Derek Jeter as those who have claimed Card No. 1. Mike Trout and Kris Bryant were voted to the top spot the last two seasons, respectively, through an online vote.

Topps, the exclusive trading card partner of Major League Baseball, provides an experience unlike any other. Baseball fans and collectors can’t replicate the fun they have when opening a pack of cards.

Collecting and trading baseball cards has become a hobby that crosses generations with longtime collectors and newcomers alike getting in on the action.

Collecting baseball cards is a great family activity from the moment you open a pack to getting your favorite player and then putting them in a binder,” Leiner said. “Baseball cards resonate with fans, which you see at the ballpark with fans asking players to sign their Topps cards or in stores where people get together to share in a special hobby.”

This year’s annual release looks at memorable moments and milestones including Jackie Robinson Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, and special throwback nights depicting unique uniforms worn. Topps is also honoring MLB’s award winners from 2017 with special cards made for the Most Valuable Players, Rookie of the Year award winners, Comeback Player of the Year and more.

Baseball fans can find the newest Topps baseball product in hobby shops, mass retailers and at

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Gleyber Torres is the Second Choice...

Photo Credit:
Will Gleyber-Mania Sweep the Yankees Universe?…

As the gates of Spring Training prepare to open, the Yankees’ 2018 entrant for Rookie of the Year should be Gleyber Torres (with no disrespect to Miguel Andujar, who easily has the talent to walk off with the hardware himself at the end of the year). It would be wonderful to see the Yankees win ROYs in consecutive years, the way the Los Angeles Dodgers used to do it.

Will Gleyber start the year as the starting second baseman or will he spend the first few weeks at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre? Bet on the latter. I’ve seen many say that the Yankees would make Torres the Opening Day starter if he has a tremendous Spring but with literally millions of dollars at stake, I have no doubt the Yankees will delay his MLB service time clock to push potential free agency back one year. With so many young stars, the Yankees will have to spend significant payroll for guys like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorious, Luis Severino, Greg Bird and others in future years. Team Hal is not going to leave dollars on the table when they can send Gleyber to Triple A until mid-April to save money for future payroll. So, the ‘will they or won’t they’ open the season with Gleyber on the Opening Day Roster is moot. We’ll have to wait a couple of weeks.

Ronald Torreyes, Gleyber Torres and Luis Cessa
In the interim, I am fully confident that Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes can fill the void.

Torreyes covered for Didi Gregorius for the first month of last season and did a fine job. It helped solidify his role as the utility player for the team. This came at a time when Torreyes was trying to prove that he belonged in the Major Leagues. He’ll come into the season this year with much greater confidence that he does, in fact, belong. The 25-year-old finished the season last year with 3 home runs and 36 RBIs in 108 games and 336 plate appearances. His batting line with .292/.314/.375, with .689 OPS. There will be many more opportunities for the Toe-Night Show.

Tyler Wade underwhelmed us with his performance in 2017 but everyone expects the 23-year-old to play closer to his minor league numbers this year. In 85 games for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Wade hit 7 home runs with 31 RBIs. His batting line, in 386 plate appearances, was .310/.382/.460, with .842 OPS.  

The Yankees do not need an offensive beast at second base. There’s plenty of firepower in other areas of the starting lineup. They just need guys that can get on base. I feel either Torreyes or Wade or a combination of both can hold down the fort until Gleyber…and Hal Steinbrenner’s wallet…are ready for him to make his MLB debut. 

Photo Credit: New York Post (Charles Wenzelberg)
Gleyber David Torres Castro was born in Caracas, Venezuela on December 13, 1996. He was signed by the Chicago Cubs as an international free agent in July 2013 for $1.7 million. Here is the bio from the year he was signed per  “The top player from Venezuela in this year’s class, Gleyber does everything well. He has a smooth compact swing and the ball jumps off his bat. Scouts like that he can spray the ball all over the field with power and believe he has a chance to be a special hitter. A solid defender, Torres has excellent hands, great feet and he’s known to have an accurate arm with above-average strength. He’s impressed scouts with his ability to make all of the routine plays and an occasional great play. He is particularly adept on his glove-hand side and continues to show improvement on all-around defense. Torres isn’t the biggest prospect on the field but he has an athletic build and is strong for his size. Scouts have taken notice of his baseball instincts and his leadership abilities, and he quickly built a reputation as a fundamentally sound player.”

ESPN’s Keith Law recently released his 2018 Top 100 Prospects and rated Torres as the fifth best prospect behind Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves; Vladimir Guerrero, Jr, Toronto Blue Jays; Fernando Tatis, Jr, San Diego Padres; and Victor Robles, Washington Nationals.  That’s pretty good company. Law credits a high batting average and OBP as the potential to make Torres an All-Star caliber player.  

Photo Credit: New York Daily News (Andrew Savulich)
Torres is still very young, having just turned 21 in December. He’ll have a strong support network with the group formerly known as the Baby Bombers. Giancarlo Stanton, the addition that helped restore the Yankees to their reputation as the Evil Empire, made his MLB debut at age 20 and will have plenty of advice to help Torres cope with life in the Major Leagues. One thing is for sure, Gleyber Torres is going to be in the Bronx for a very long time. We will soon see the start of the next great Yankees career, and I am excited about the future and potential for Gleyber. I have seen too many Yankees fans calling for the return of Starlin Castro. Why? Torres is or at least will be a better all-around player than Castro and will soon have the opportunity to prove it on the field.  

Gleyber Torres and Starlin Castro
There are exciting times ahead for the Yankees Universe. Prepare for the Gleyber Torres Show. Gleyber Torres, the starting second baseman for the New York Yankees.

Go Yankees!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Leading the Yankees to Great Success!...

The 2018 New York Yankees Coaching Staff (allegedly)…

The Yankees have yet to officially announce Manager Aaron Boone’s coaching staff but the names are taking hold.

Here’s what we know:

Bench Coach:  Josh Bard
Pitching Coach:  Larry Rothschild
Third Base Coach:  Phil Nevin
First Base Coach:  Reggie Willits
Infield Coach:  Carlos Mendoza
Hitting Coach:  Marcus Thames
Assistant Hitting Coach:  P.J. Pilittere
Bullpen Coach:  Mike Harkey

Josh Bard 
Bard is a first-time bench coach and was a former teammate with Aaron Boone in Cleveland. Last year, he was the bullpen coach for the World Series-losing Los Angeles Dodgers. Bard, 39, played for five teams between 2002 and 2011. He accumulated 586 plate appearances, with 39 home runs, 220 RBIs, and .254 batting average. His most notable accomplishment came in 2006 as a member of the Boston Red Sox when he opened the season with ten passed balls in his first five games, including three passed balls in his first appearance, with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on the mound. Bard was born in Ithaca, New York, but he grew up in Elizabeth, Colorado (just outside of Denver). After retirement, he joined the Dodgers as a special assistant before his appointment as the bullpen coach in 2016 for manager Dave Roberts. 

Larry Rothschild
Larry needs no introduction to Yankees fans as he has been the team’s pitching coach since the 2011 season when he replaced the fired Dave Eiland. Eiland, ironically, will be back in New York this year as the new pitching coach for the Mets. Rothschild, 63, was the original manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now Rays) when they entered the American League, and, a native Chicagoan, he was a long-time pitching coach for the Cubs.  

Phil Nevin
Nevin is remembered as the first pick of the 1992 MLB Draft, the year that Derek Jeter slid to the Yankees at the sixth position. Remembered primarily as the third baseman for the San Diego Padres, Nevin, 47, played for seven teams over 12 MLB seasons. In 1,217 games, Nevin hit 208 home runs and 743 RBIs to go with a .270 batting average. After his playing career, Nevin held a few minor league managerial positions before becoming the third base coach for the San Francisco Giants for the 2017 season. Although he was fired after the season (along with long-time pitching coach Dave Righetti), Nevin was rumored to become the Giants bench coach had the Yankees hired current bench coach Hensley Meulens as their manager. Nevin attend high school (El Dorado High School in Placentia, California) with Aaron Boone’s brother Bret and is a long-time friend of the Boone family. Nevin presently makes his home in Poway, California, near San Diego.

Photo Credit: Associated Press (Darryl Webb)
Reggie Willits
Willits was an outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels during the course of his MLB playing career from 2006 to 2011. Willits, 36, was named after Yankees great Reggie Jackson. The Oklahoman joined the Yankees organization in 2015 as a minor league outfield and base-running coordinator. This will be his first MLB coaching job. Willits did not hit any home runs during his MLB career (1,014 plate appearances) but he’ll certainly have the opportunity to see MANY guys round first base on their home run trots this year.

Photo Credit: The Oklahoman (Chris Landsberger)
Carlos Mendoza
Mendoza, 43, was primarily a minor league outfielder.  He made it to the Show with the New York Mets in 1997 and the Colorado Rockies in 2000 (total of 28 games). The Venezuelan native has coached or managed in the Yankees minor league system since 2009. As the new infield coach for the Yankees, he’ll be in uniform in the dugout during games. 

Marcus Thames
Last year, Thames served as the assistant hitting coach under Alan Cockrell on Joe Girardi’s staff. This year, he becomes the hitting coach for the new manager.  Thames, 40, came up in the Yankees organization, and the outfielder played for four MLB teams, primarily the Detroit Tigers, from 2002 to 2011. The Yankees traded Thames to the Texas Rangers in the 2003 deal that brought Ruben Sierra to New York. Thames, originally from Mississippi, played in 640 games, batting .246 with 115 home runs and 301 RBIs. He became the Yankees Assistant Hitting Coach for the 2016 season when Cockrell was elevated to Hitting Coach to replace Jeff Pentland. Thames will never forget his first MLB at-bat when he jumped on the first pitch from Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 10, 2002 for a home run.  

P.J. Pilittere
Pilittere, 36, was a former minor league catcher who has spent his entire career in the Yankees organization. He was selected in the 13th round of the 2004 MLB Draft, and advanced as high as Triple A when his playing career ended in 2011. 2017 will be Pilittere’s seventh year coaching in the Yankees organization. The Buffalo, New York native (and die-hard Bills fan) served as hitting coach for then-manager Al Pedrique last year with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Pilittere has strong relationships with current Yankees like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird.  

Asked about his promotion to Assistant Hitting Coach for the big league club, Pilittere told the Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, PA), “The thing that doesn’t change is it’s still about players, and players still want to get better. The good ones and the best ones and the ones on our roster want to get better until the day that the uniform is taken away from them, and I think that is what creates a championship atmosphere and I think that’s what we want to promote around the clubhouse. I know that’s what we want to promote — is always looking to do better and always doing what it takes to help the team. The only thing that I think that slightly might change a little bit is that it still is developing guys at the big-league level and getting the most out of our players, but that only thing that does change is at the end of the day it’s about getting the win a 7 o’clock. It’s, ‘What can we do to win ball games. What can we do to have a championship season in 2018?’”

P.J. Pilittere, holding camera on left
Mike Harkey
Harkey, 51, is expected to return as the Yankees bullpen coach. Harkey, a native of California, is a former MLB pitcher who played for five teams from 1988 through 1997. Over eight years, Harkey pitched in 131 games, including 104 starts. He was 36-36 with 4.49 ERA and 216 strikeouts. He served as the Yankees bullpen coach from 2008 until 2013 when he was hired as the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks. After his dismissal by the D-Backs at the end of the 2015 season, he returned to the Yankees as their bullpen coach the following season.  

Mike Harkey, right (as if the guy on the left is unrecognizable)
Aaron Boone has done a good job bringing diversity to his coaching staff. I would have preferred a veteran bench coach but there’s plenty of experience to be offered by guys like Larry Rothschild and Phil Nevin. Despite the lack of experience as a bench coach, Josh Bard seems to be a manager-in-training and will most likely be leading another team against the Yankees at some point in the not-so-distant future if he proves successful in his current role.  

It’s sad to see the old faces depart. Former bench coach Rob Thomson will serve the same role for first-time manager Gabe Kapler with the Philadelphia Phillies. Third base coach Joe Espada replaced new Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora as the bench coach for the World Champion Houston Astros. Guys like Tony Pena and Alan Cockrell served the Yankees well, and I wish them the best with their coaching careers. Nevertheless, I am excited about the potential of the new coaching staff that Boone has assembled. They’ve been charged with bringing the Yankees, a team that came within a game of reaching the World Series, their 28th World Series championship (and more). No pressure. So, welcome to the Yankees Family, Newcomers and welcome back, Holdovers! We’re happy and excited to see you in Pinstripes in 2018!

It’s been funny following the suggestions for the home run call that Yankees radio play-by-play announcer John Sterling will use for Giancarlo Stanton. I don’t recall who made the suggestion, but I really like “Giancarlo dropped the Mike”. There have been some great suggestions, but it will be interesting to hear what Sterling actually uses when Stanton goes yard for the first-time as a Yankee. I am sure that he’ll come up with something that none of us have heard before.  

Photo Credit: YES Network (E.H. Wallop)
We only have two more weekends beyond this one until pitchers and catchers report to Tampa. Players and coaches have already begun their migration to the Sunshine State. Soon, very soon…

Go Yankees!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Turning My Attention To The Trade Deadline

Remain calm! All is well!

It's been said that the Yankees will want to leave about $10 million available for possible mid-season acquisitions, which tells me two things...

1. The team would be willing to spend around $12 million before Opening Day.

2. They have their eyes on somebody that may cost up to $10 million if he were acquired at mid-season. Which means that, due to the fact that the acquiring team would only pay said player's pro-rated salary, the player to deal for currently makes about $20 million a season.

As for the first point... the Yankees are not going to spend on a pitcher.

Yu Darvish is not going to sign for less than $20 million, especially since I believe there are a handful of teams that are willing to go significantly higher than that (at this point I think it's the years that are holding things up, not so much the money).

As for other top of the rotation free agent starters, Jake Arrieta is unlikely to come cheap as I'm sure all the teams that don't get Darvish will offer Jake $20+ million a season to come their way. Alex Cobb would also be a nice get, but he will likely be offered a contract paying him just under $20 million a season... or just a bit too rich for the Yankees.

Furthermore, the Yankees are not going to sign a pitcher that would accept a deal worth just $12 million a season.

For proof, look at things one year ago. Back then the Miami Marlins signed Edinson Volquez to a two-year deal that paid him $11 million a season. That was after Volquez threw to a 5.37 ERA. Also, during the last offseason, the Atlanta Braves signed Bartolo Colon to a one-year deal that paid him $12.5 million, and that was after Bartolo's age 43 season. Volquez looked like someone the Marlins could count on to throw 190-200 innings (sadly, that didn't quite happen), while Colon could also throw around 190 innings with solid production (that also did not happen).

However, the Yankees already have enough starters to fill innings, so they don't have to sign an "Edinson Volquez" or "Bartolo Colon". Should anyone currently seen as a starter go down they have Luis Cessa and Domingo German that are already on the 40-man roster, or Chance Adams is ready for the call. Would you feel better about someone like Edinson Volquez starting instead of Cessa, German, or Adams?

Taking things further, I don't believe the Yankees will use that $12 million to sign someone to play third or second base, either. There's nobody out there that should get Cashman and Company excited enough to hold back Miguel Andujar or Gleyber Torres, or avoid playing the Tylers or Torreyes. I seriously think they will give Andujar the third base job on Opening Day, and fill second base with one of Tyler Wade or Ronald Torreyes until Gleyber Torres is promoted to the big leagues after a month or two in AAA.

Sure, I've talked about Todd Frazier returning to the Yankees, but I'm at a point in which I think "why?" Todd could give the team league-average production, and I see no reason why Andujar couldn't at least do the same. The key part of that being "at least". The Yankees aren't the only ones that are very high on Miguel, therefore I see no way they let an average player stop them from finding out just what Andujar can do for them.

"Thanks, bro!"

So onto the second point...

The Yankees may not spend the entire $10 million they set aside on a pitcher. Greg Bird could get hurt... again, making them want a first baseman. Gleyber Torres may aggravate his elbow and not be there to help the team out this season, making them want a second baseman. I could go on and on with possible position player needs. The point is that the team may want to make more than one move at mid-season, which makes holding onto that other $12 million a smart move.

With that said I will talk about infield targets later should the need arise, but since the Yankees seem keen on a starter at some point, how about we look at possible mid-season targets?

EDIT: I don't mean to step on Daniel's toes, who has brought up Trade Deadline targets. I just wanted to add a few ideas is all.

Jeff Samardzija
The Yankees have been connected to Samardzija many times over the years, so it's not "out there" to guess he would be on their radar yet again. Jeff signed a contract with the San Francisco Giants for five years at $90 million, making his pro-rated salary at the mid-point of the season a shade under $10 million. Personally, I'm not a big fan of Samardzija. I mean, he's not a bad pitcher, but if the Yankees have to depend on him to start a game in a postseason series, we're in a tough spot.

Scott Kazmir
Kazmir missed all of 2017 due to injury, but he's in the last season of a three-year deal that pays him $16 million a season, and I'm sure the Braves will look to get something for him before he becomes a free agent. He was a good to very good starter for the Oakland A's in 2014 and 2015, and before he was dealt to the Braves he was okay for the Dodgers last season. If he has a good first half of 2018 then we're likely to hear his name quite a bit in trade rumors.

Danny Duffy
I talked about Duffy earlier this offseason as somebody the Yankees could acquire now. Danny just signed a five year contract worth $65 million, which is a bargain for somebody as good as Duffy is. There should be no question about Duffy's effectiveness, as can be seen by his career ERA of 3.73. The question here is in regards to his durability. 2017 was his first season as a starter only, having been a starter and reliever the previous three years, but he did go on the disabled list twice for an oblique strain and elbow impingement in his pitching elbow. I don't anticipate the Royals selling somebody under control for three more years at below-market money, but if they will listen Brian Cashman should be calling.

Wei-Yin Chen
Let's get this out of the way... Chen was diagnosed with a partial UCL tear last year, which in many cases leads to Tommy John surgery. However, his doctor said he'd only need a PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injection, and would be ready by Spring Training. If he is healthy by mid-season there's no doubt he will be talked about in trade rumors as he currently plays for the Miami Marlins, who seem to be shedding payroll as much as possible, and would certainly want to avoid Chen picking up his player options for $42 million over the 2019 and 2020 seasons. By the way, when he's healthy, Chen can be a good to very good pitcher, as seen by his career ERA of 3.90. And while those last couple of years would be a little expensive (there is a vesting option for 2021 based on health, too), his deal being worth $16 million a season puts him under that $10 million mark at mid-season.

In order to trade for a top starter mid-season it's not going to be cheap, especially since the Yankees are probably not going to be the only team looking. Which is why I think Cashman decided weeks ago to keep trade bullets like Clint Frazier. I've said it dozens of times before, and I'll say it again... prospects like Frazier are to be dealt for a team's need, not a team's want. And the fact is the Yankees don't need a starter right now. But since that may change by mid-season, it's imperative to hold onto as many trade bullets as Cashman can.

We have to get it out of our heads that a lack of news is a bad thing. I see so many fans clamoring for a trade, or to sign Darvish, and it's not necessary. If we acquired Giancarlo Stanton last month I'm sure nobody would mind going into Opening Day as is. But the lack of moves/news has people going insane. And the last thing the Yankees, who are World Series contenders, need to do is something insane.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ok, Guys. New Plan. Don’t Get Greedy JUST YET! Part 2

Earlier we went over some of the potential trade targets for the New York Yankees at the July 31st trading deadline when I realized that this post was going to be really, REALLY long. In hopes of avoiding some of those “too long, didn’t read” comments that just make a writer and content creator cringe I decided to split this up into two posts, this one covering the National League teams and potential targets. One post, two posts or ten the plan hasn’t changed. Be complacent for now, get greedy later.

National League:

Atlanta Braves:

The Braves have a young and developing core of positional players that they are unlikely to trade if the team once again finds itself at the bottom of the National League East but one thing the team does have is young pitching. The headliner of this young Braves staff is Julio Teheran, and he could be a target for the Yankees in July if the team needs starting pitching help. Teheran does walk a few more batters than you would like, and he has been prone to the home run more than you may be comfortable with as he would be heading into Yankee Stadium, but the right-hander is just 27-years old and would come equipped with all the talent and all the raw essentials a starting pitcher needs that cannot be taught. It is worth mentioning that Teheran did pitch to a 4.49 ERA in what is considered to be a hitter-friendly park down in Atlanta, and that may scare a few away, but there is still enough to like about Teheran to peak the Yankees interest if he were to become available. Teheran is signed for two more seasons and $19 million total with an option for a third season at $12 million so it would take a ton to acquire him, but he might just be worth the cost for the Yankees.

Brandon McCarthy may be another arm that could be on the move, and would be a more realistic and conceivable acquisition for New York due to the fact that McCarthy is a veteran on a young, rebuilding team. McCarthy will make just $11.5 million in 2018 with the Los Angeles Dodgers being on the hook for $4.5 million of that. McCarthy has pitched in the Bronx before and did well, but that was quite a few years ago now. If McCarthy could fill the role of a CC Sabathia though, an innings eater that can keep his team into games and give them a chance to win, he could be a huge pickup for a team sprinting towards the playoffs down the stretch.

New York Mets:

It is very unlikely that those spiteful executives with the New York Mets would ever help the New York Yankees in any way, they basically said as much and proved that last season with the Jay Bruce debacle, but let’s pretend that the two rival New York executives kiss and make up. Would the Mets have anything the Yankees would find useful? Nope. (Well yes, but two can play the whole spiteful game, now can’t we?) Why? Because the Mets suck! I’d take Dominic Smith or some of that pitching though, just saying.

Miami Marlins:

Do the Miami Marlins have anything left that might strike the Yankees fancy? I mean, maybe. The team still has Starlin Castro, although I find it likely that he and his hefty salary is traded before the start of the season along with Christian Yelich, but if Castro is still a Marlin by July I would have zero issue with a reunion. I would even bet that you might be able to get Mr. December Derek Jeter to pay down some of his salary to facilitate a trade. It is just what Jeter does for his former club, allegedly.

Philadelphia Phillies:

The Phillies are an interesting team because they have been rebuilding for what feels like forever. I truly believe that the team is on the cusp of competing again either this season or next, but with the Washington Nationals presumed stranglehold on the division and the impending free agency of Bryce Harper and others the Phillies may decide that 2019 is the season they “go for it.” If that is their line of thinking, then the Yankees could potentially take a waiver on some of their bullpen arms including a veteran like Luis Garcia. Garcia is 30-years old and on a team friendly contract, but Philadelphia likely doesn’t know if the 2017 version of Garcia (2.65 ERA and 1.22 WHIP) is what the team has to look forward to in 2018 or if the four years prior (ERA around 5.00 with a WHIP pushing 2.00) are more of an indicator of the future. With a strong first half on a team that is struggling the Phillies may roll the dice and trade him in hopes of getting something good before a hypothetical fall off. If Garcia was pitching in July like he had last season with the Phillies that is a roll of the dice I would be willing to take if I were the Yankees, sometimes pitchers just figure it out later on in their careers than others. You never know.

Milwaukee Brewers:

I have given up on the notion that the Milwaukee Brewers will trade Travis Shaw or sign Mike Moustakas to a one-year deal unfortunately, but honestly, he is probably the only piece that the Brew Crew have that could likely interest New York. The Brewers have a ton of outfielders and the team presumably needs to trade at least one or two of them, but the Yankees have an outfield logjam of their own to deal with. If it isn’t Travis Shaw I don’t see the Yankees and Brewers matching up very well in a trade this July.  

Pittsburgh Pirates:

The Pittsburgh Pirates are reloading and re-tooling for the 2018 season the only way that this organization knows how, by rebuilding. Excuse the little tongue-in-cheek moment for me there but I have to admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Pittsburgh Pirates become relevant again and I absolute hate the fact that the team is likely going to fall back into mediocrity again starting in 2018.  The Pirates loss, well if we are being honest the Pirates fan base’s loss, can very well be the Yankees gain before the July 31st trading deadline. As of right now, but honestly not for long, Josh Harrison is in a Pittsburgh uniform and he is not happy about it after the trades that sent centerpieces Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen to the Houston Astros and San Francisco Giants respectively. Everything that can be said about Harrison and how he can match up with the Yankees needs either at second base or third base have already been well-documented all over the Yankees blogosphere so I won’t reiterate all that here. He is a fit and it is probably the money that is keeping him from wearing pinstripes and shaving as we speak, but the money won’t be an obstacle in July when almost half his contract has already been paid by Pittsburgh. Harrison hits free agency after the season which could give the Yankees a huge boost for the 2018 season while also giving Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar a year to learn and breathe easy before both take over full-time responsibilities in 2019.

Half the Pirates 40-man roster is compiled up of former Yankees anyway, what’s a few more. By half I mean Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova, Nik Turley, and George Kontos. If I had written this a little earlier we could have added Johnny Barbato to that list as well, plus countless in their minor league system that are not on their 40-man roster.

St. Louis Cardinals:

The St. Louis Cardinals are expected to compete in 2018 so why are they on the list? Because when you’re a small market team you have to trade from your strengths to fill in the gaps with your weaknesses since you are not afforded the same luxuries as other GREEDY teams I know and love. The Cardinals have a strong farm system that is loaded down with starting pitchers which means that the likes of Michael Wacha could be moved at the deadline for a bat. Wacha comes with two seasons of team control, his final two seasons of arbitration, and could be an impact arm for any team down the stretch if traded. Is it unlikely that the Cardinals move Wacha? Yeah, probably, but it isn’t completely out of the realm of possibilities either in my opinion. The team actively tried to move Lance Lynn last trade deadline for the same reasons, although I will admit that Lynn was one-year away from free agency where Wacha is two which is a huge difference in the thought process, and I wouldn’t put it past them to have to try it again here in 2018 if they are close enough to competing.

Cincinnati Reds:

Rebuild time in Cincinnati! What does a team trade when they rebuild, you ask? Veterans. What veterans do the Reds have that could interest the Yankees you ask? Joey Votto is about the only one left. I guess if the Yankees needed another option at first base in the wake of a Greg Bird injury they could be interested in Votto, and don’t get me wrong I would love to have that monster, yet patient, bat in the Yankees lineup, but I doubt that the Reds first baseman would want to waive his no-trade clause to come to the Bronx. Maybe he is a ring chaser, I don’t know for sure, but I just don’t get that vibe from him whatsoever. Votto has six-years left on his deal though at $25 million a season plus a $20 million team option in 2024 making any deal with the Yankees, at least this season, unlikely.

San Diego Padres:

The Padres have a pair of former Yankees on their team that could be moved at the July 31st trade deadline, reunion time? I can’t see Chase Headley staying on the Padres roster all season long due to his contract and could be moved in July along with ultra-versatile Jose Pirela. Pirela is more likely to stay than Headley because of his age and contract but I have seen GM AJ Preller do some weird things in recent seasons out in San Diego, so you never know.

Clayton Richard does not have impressive stats for what San Diego considers to be their ace, but he has been durable and effective at times nonetheless. With two years remaining on his deal worth just $3 million annually the left-hander may just pique the interest of the Yankees if they are looking for a solid 4th or 5th starter, nothing more. For that price the Yankees could easily put him in their bullpen at some point down the stretch as well and get true value out of him, assuming San Diego makes him available.

San Diego also has Carter Capps and his weird, and borderline illegal, pitching motion but the right-hander underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October and has yet to live up to the hype that followed him in 2016 with the Miami Marlins. He would be an interesting one to keep an eye on though if New York were to need a bullpen arm down the stretch this season.

San Francisco Giants:

The San Francisco Giants don’t want, nor do they need, Jacoby Ellsbury but does the team have anything that the Yankees need? I mentioned earlier this offseason trying to pry Joe Panik away from San Francisco, but that was with a shiny new toy like Clint Frazier dangled in their face. Now that the Giants don’t need an outfielder after acquiring Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates and after signing Austin Jackson to a free-agent contract that possibility may have passed. New York could dangle someone like Jordan Montgomery in their face, assuming that one of Justus Sheffield or Chance Adams are ready by July, but I find it unlikely now that the Giants will move Panik in any move here in 2018.

Mark Melancon reunion? Maybe. Melancon does come with a hefty price tag of $15 million in 2018 and $19 million in each of the 2019 and 2020 seasons but the interesting aspect of his contract is the opt-out clause written into it that the right-hander can exercise after the 2018 season. Do the Yankees roll the dice if Melancon were to say that he intends to opt-out after the season publicly? Maybe, because an arm like Melancon’s for a prorated $15 million would be an awesome, yet very greedy, addition to a team marching towards the postseason.

Colorado Rockies:

The Rockies, under no circumstances, are trading Nolan Arenado this season. Next season, before he hits free agency in 2020, is a possibility but right now it just isn’t. Get that thought out of your head. What could happen though is that the Rockies could start moving some of their “super bullpen” the organization has amassed this offseason if the team begins the season struggling out of the gate. Wade Davis, Mike Dunn, Bryan Shaw, Adam Ottavino, and Jake McGee look great on paper, but it will, and always has, come down to the starters in Colorado. If the starters struggle, the team struggles. Period. If the team struggles expect to see a move or two made to bring in some youth.

Also, I saw the idea of the Yankees acquiring Ian Desmond floated around earlier this offseason as a third base option. I, personally, am not a fan of this deal but the Yankees may be. Who knows? Stay tuned for that one.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

Just say no to Zack Grienke. Paul Goldschmidt would be nice, but this isn’t MLB The Show. Brandon Drury and Patrick Corbin were linked to the Yankees earlier this offseason in a potential trade and could be again in July if second base and starting pitching were still needs for New York, although Corbin would be a true rental as he prepares for free agency in 2019.

All of these players could be available depending on whether their teams are deemed contenders or sellers at the July 31st trade deadline. It is entirely possible that some of these teams will be in contention and trying to add pieces with the addition of the second Wild Card spot in each league. This is all based on how these teams project to be and stack up on paper. The game isn’t played on paper and you can’t predict baseball, no one knows that more than me, so keep that in mind before filling my inbox and Twitter with hate mail. I know my “trade proposal sucks” so I intentionally left my trade proposals out of this, but you would have to think one of Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams and Albert Abreu would be available in July as all three names have at least been discussed or asked for this winter as well as Clint Frazier, Mr. Red Thunder.

Not trading for Gerrit Cole and putting all their prospect eggs in one basket may have been the best thing the Yankees could have done this offseason. Sure, the Astros look better with Cole and look like a strong foe this season, but the games aren’t won and lost in December and January. They aren’t won and lost in July either but what happens in July usually has a big bearing on what happens in October. It isn’t always the best team that wins the World Series, sometimes it is the deepest and the hottest. With my plan the Yankees can be all three, and that is when you truly GET GREEDY.

Leave comments below in the comments section and @GreedyStripes on Twitter with your thoughts. Thank you in advance.

Daniel Burch

Owner of the Complacent Pinstripes