Saturday, December 15, 2018

Ready, Set, Wait at the Winter Meetings...

Photo Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal (Chase Stevens)
Talk the Talk, but Not Walk the Walk…

All dressed up and nowhere to go. That’s kind of how the Baseball Winter Meetings felt this past week.  Lots of talk, not much action. I know, they say the groundwork laid this week will lead to fruit later. I guess we’ll see. There’s talk they should implement a trading deadline in December to spur action (some sort of moratorium against trades for a certain period of time before spring training). Not so sure I am in agreement, but I would have liked to have seen some high flying wheeling and dealing over the past few days rather than much talk about nothing.  

While I wanted a bigger piece for the starting rotation, I am happy the Yankees at least came away with J.A. Happ on a two-year contract despite the third year option. In the two year deal presumably worth an estimated $34 million, Happ can trigger the third year for $17 million by pitching at least 27 starts or 165 innings in the second year. At the beginning of the off-season, I preferred re-signing Happ over CC Sabathia and wanted an upgrade for the fourth spot in the rotation. Yes, the Yankees got better by adding LHP James Paxton but he brings additional questions to an already question-filled staff. I was looking for more certainty.  Maybe Happ can provide that certainty. He’s been consistent and is a much better pitcher today than he was years ago as a Philadelphia Phillie. We all know how well Happ pitched down the stretch for the Yankees (7-0 with 2.69 ERA in eleven starts). Overall for the season, he was 17-6, 3.65 ERA, 3.4 WAR in thirty-one starts). If the Yankees can get that type of production out of Happ in his age 36 year, I am sure all of us will be pleased. Realistically, I am expecting some regression.  

After missing out on Patrick Corbin and failing to land a top starter among the rumored trades swirling over the last couple of weeks, I was concerned when I saw that Happ was getting close to signing with the Phillies. I didn’t want to be stuck with a guy like Lance Lynn for the open rotation spot. So, when it came out Happ was going to re-sign with the Yankees, I felt a tremendous sense of relief.  

I am hopeful GM Brian Cashman continues to press for a top, front of the rotation  type of starter but at least he is no longer in a position of desperation to fill out the staff.  

I was excited when the rumors circulated about a possible three-way trade with the Mets and Marlins that would have brought Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees. But honestly, I don’t see the Mets trading any of their stars to their cross-town rivals regardless of the return. Maybe it’s a new world order with new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen but last time I checked the Wilpons still own the team. The latest rumors about that potential three-way trade involve the San Diego Padres as the third team instead of the Yankees. Maybe Cashman should cut a side deal with the Padres for Syndergaard if they pull off the trade that would send Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto to the Mets. That’s the only way I could see Thor pulling on the Pinstripes. They won’t get him directly from the Mets.

I really thought we’d see more free agent signing this past week. I guess Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are holding up the market. After the run on relief pitchers last year, the market for firemen has been lukewarm this year. My biggest fear is David Robertson signing with the Red Sox to pitch close to his Rhode Island home. The Sox have lost “Tyler Austin punching bag” Joe Kelly to the Los Angeles Dodgers and free agent closer Craig Kimbrel is not expected to return. Unfortunately, it increases the odds the Red Sox sign a former Yankee (Robertson, Zach Britton or Andrew Miller) for their pen. I hope not.

I think my favorites to sign are Robertson and Adam Ottavino although I would not be disappointed with D-Rob and Miller or Britton or some combination thereof.  

We could see movement with Manny Machado before Christmas. He apparently has visits with up to six teams next week, including the Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and Philadelphia Phillies.  The White Sox acquired Machado’s brother-in-law Yonder Alonso from the Cleveland Indians last night but I don’t think Manny would make a huge financial decision based on where his bro-in-law plays. I’ve been surprised about the number of Yankee fans who want no part of either Machado or Bryce Harper. It’s so rare to get young twenty-something superstars for only money. Yes, it’s a helluva lot of money, no doubt, but the best years are ahead for both players and they’ve already been great. Great but getting better is a combination I like. These are guys who will still be producing at the end of 8-10 year contracts. 

It feels so underwhelming when we hear names like Freddy Galvis as potential infield options to bridge the gap to the return of Didi Gregorius late next summer. I certainly want no part of the risk associated with free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki who was recently let go by the Toronto Blue Jays with $38 million left on his contract. I know Tulo would come cheap for the team that picks him up but the guy can’t stay healthy. That’s not a bet I would want to make for a team with World Series aspirations. I think the San Jose, CA area native should go back to the Bay Area in an attempt to rekindle his career with either the San Francisco Giants or Oakland A’s.  

The Yankees family has taken a hit over the last couple of days. Yesterday, we received word that George Steinbrenner’s widow, Joan, had passed away in her Tampa, FL home, surrounded by her family. Joan, 83, was Vice Chairperson of the Yankees, along with her two daughters. In a statement released by the Steinbrenner family, “Joan was a compassionate and caring matriarch who profound love for her family and those in the community always inspired us. Her elegance and grace touched everyone around her, and we know her spirit will live on through her legacy of good works. We are grateful to have had her in our lives, and she will be deeply missed.”  May Mrs Boss rest in peace…

Photo Credit: AP (Charlie Neibergall)
I was also surprised and saddened to hear that Catfish Hunter’s daughter, Kim Hunter Daugherty, only 45, had passed away on Thursday at Hertford Grammar School in North Carolina where she was a teacher. She died of complications related to a pulmonary embolism. Her father died in 1999 at the age of 53 of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Very sad to see their lives cut so short.  

I was hopeful the end of this week would have seen some resolution for the Yankees bullpen but it was not to be. Hopefully we’ll have some answers before Santa Claus invades our homes in ten days. I am still looking for that magical gift  or gifts to make the Yankees better. Yes, they’re good now, but there’s so much potential for this team if it can continue to make the right decisions for additional pieces to fill out the roster. I will be happy when I can look at the roster and find the names of Sonny Gray, Luis Cessa and A.J. Cole nowhere to be found.

As always, Go Yankees…

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

What About The Other Side Of The Infield?

This offseason has been all about free agents Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Patrick Corbin. And to a lesser extent free agents J.A. Happ, Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Harrison, Mike Moustakas, Lance Lynn, Adam Ottavino, David Robertson, and Zach Britton. And then there are trade targets Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Robbie Ray, and Noah Syndergaard.

And I get it.

The focus this offseason, from the mouth of Brian Cashman himself, is solidifying the starting rotation. And not just with anybody, but with top starters. And when it comes to offense, while the Yankees are not hurting in that department, you can't dismiss the young elite talent of Harper and Machado.

Then there's the hole left by Didi Gregorius getting Tommy John surgery, which has naturally led people to wonder how the Yankees could fill that hole.

But one position that has been almost entirely ignored is one that I think is a very big question mark... first base.

Greg Bird still hasn't had anything close to a full season in Major League Baseball so it may not be fair to say he's a bust. But at the same time how much longer can we sit back and wait for the guy to get healthy and possibly produce?

Luke Voit was huge for the Yankees last season and a big reason why they were even able to get to the American League Division Series, but how many Yankees fans can seriously say they are confident that he'd be anything better than average for an entire season?

Which is why I talked about acquiring Justin Bour to at least platoon with Luke Voit at first base. Since his first full season in MLB Bour has averaged 117 games a season, with an OPS+ of 124. And while Citizen's Bank Ballpark is not hard on power hitters, Yankee Stadium is better for left-handed power-hitters, meaning Bour could easily swat 25-30 home runs a season there. My only concern about Justin is that awful batting average he put up last season (.227). But seeing that he'd be a cheap option, then banking on him being able to get that batting average back up to the .260-.270 range would not be that hard to swallow.

You know what, though? I'm not married to the idea of Justin Bour. What about Marwin Gonzalez? Gonzalez has been talked about as a way to fill in on the left side of the infield, but we shouldn't forget that he can play first base as well. Or what about the trade route? For the record, I didn't want to pay the high price for Paul Goldschmidt, especially since he's set to be a free agent after next season. I haven't heard of any trade rumors for first baseman outside of Goldy and Jose Abreu (still too expensive, and also a free agent after next season), but I'm sure there is something out there.

The point is that we can't ignore the question marks at first base, and hopefully Brian Cashman already plans on addressing that position. If not, I firmly believe the Yankees are making a mistake leaning on Bird and/or Voit going into 2019.

Is Happ Back? 

Alright so J.A. Happ is about to resign with the Yankees. Personally I do like this move. Happ was awesome for the Yankees down the stretch after they acquired him in a trade with the Blue Jays in late July. He went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 regular-season starts, although he had a rocky postseason outing against the Red Sox, which happens to the best of them. Happ is a solid middle of the rotation stater, who could give you Ace like performances from time to time. Now I’m not saying this should be the last starter added as I don’t believe C.C. Should be counted on as anything more then a 6th starter. At the moment the Yanks will have a rotation of Sevi, Paxton, Tanaka, and the soon to be signed Happ.  

Leaving the staff short the Ace I believe me need. Whether it’s a trade for Kluber or maybe even Thor the Yankees need to add the Ace. However we can be very happy that Happ is back in the fold. Now Mr. Cashman go sign Manny , trade for the Ace we need, and sure up the Pen. 

I can be reached at JamesCPalma@Yahoo.Com Always look forward to hearing from you.    

Changing The Plan Surrounding Miguel Andujar

When writing my postseason plan I had originally written that the Yankees should trade Andujar for a pitcher and sign Manny Machado. But I changed my mind and decided that the lineup with Andujar in it, especially after I said I wanted the Yankees to sign Bryce Harper, was just too good to pass up.

Of course, at the time, I thought signing Patrick Corbin was a foregone conclusion. But now that Corbin will pitch for the Nationals, and other free agent pitchers are good but don't really do it for me, I believe the Yankees should go with my first plan.

As I've said, the Yankees would have to bring in Manny Machado if Andujar were traded. The offense is very good, but I do not want to see the offense hurt by replacing Andujar with anyone else. Sure, Mike Moustakas would be interesting as a power-hitting left-handed batter at Yankee Stadium, but the bottom line is the offense would get worse.

So what do you do? Sign Manny Machado before working out a trade involving Andujar, or trade away Andujar and then sign Manny Machado?

I think the answer is clear.

Sure, if the Yankees signed Machado first, I understand that other teams may demand more since Andujar is an obvious trade candidate. But not making sure you have Manny on the team first could create a much bigger, and a very real, problem.

There's no guarantee that Manny would sign with the Yankees after Miguel was dealt. Let's say the Yankees have a backroom deal in place with Machado before the trade for 9 years and $288 million (AAV of $32m). But after the trade, and before Manny officially signs, the Phillies call up Dan Lozano and offer 10 years and $350 million (AAV of $35m). I don't see Machado giving up that extra guaranteed year, as well as $62 million, to live up to a backroom deal. And I wouldn't blame him. Sure, it's kind of a shitty thing to do as you're going back on your word, but that's a huge chunk of change.

Furthermore, I don't buy the argument against signing Machado first, which is that another team would want more as they see Miguel Andujar as expendable. We see it all the time where it's clear a team is willing to trade a player, but the return for said player is still good. In 2016, with Aroldis Chapman set to become a free agent after the season, it was no surprise when the Yankees were willing to trade their closer. But did the fact the Yankees were willing to trade Chapman make them have to accept less? Seeing that Gleyber Torres has become a star, and Billy McKinney was key in trading for J.A. Happ last season, I'd say they still got a pretty good return.

So if this is Brian Cashman's plan then I firmly believe he has to have Manny Machado in the fold before trading Miguel Andujar. Otherwise, while the team's starting rotation would greatly improve, the hit they take on offense could make the overall team worse. Because while the offense will affect every game, a new starter would only directly affect 32 or 33 (his indirect effect on the rotation would certainly not change much about the other 129 or 130 games).

Yankees Re-Sign JA Happ for 3-Years

The Yankees have struck a deal with LHP JA Happ on a three-year deal. Details coming.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The “There’s No Room For Bryce Harper” Rant

Good morning Yankees family, except for you Brian Cashman. Are you kidding me right now? Posturing is one thing, but to come out and say that the reason you aren’t going after Bryce Harper via free agency is because “there’s no room” is not only asinine, but it is also downright ridiculous. No cute introductions here, so let’s get right into this thing.

The Yankees allegedly have six outfielders and cannot make room for Harper on the team. Well, yes and no. The Yankees have Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Brett Gardner, and one of them are going to be playing the designated hitter more times than not this season. Jacoby Ellsbury is not an outfielder and should not be counted on as one. Clint Frazier, until he proves that he is healthy, is not an option and should not be counted on as one. Let’s just say both Ellsbury and Frazier are healthy, neither are better than Harper. Not by a long shot. Brett Gardner isn’t either and should be on the bench for Harper. The fact that he isn’t is insulting.

The Yankees are not a Bryce Harper away from a World Series, some may say, and the focus should be on pitching. A lot of people need to realize and remember that the team can get a Harper or Machado, and still acquire pitching. This is a once-in-a-generation type talent that is hitting free agency at 26-years old. He wants to play for the Yankees, he is a fit (left-handed, big-name star for Hal to pocket more money off of, can play left field, etc.) and he makes the team better no matter what anyone says.

We were sold the idea of getting under the luxury tax threshold last season to reset the penalties levied on the team for spending with the assumption (and maybe that’s on us) that the team would spend in this historic free agent class. Revenue is up, payroll is down. Spend the money or lower the ticket/food/concessions/merchandise/parking/etc. prices.

I’m sick of the frugal Yankees. I want the return of the Greedy Pinstripes. I have sat through lineups with Vernon Wells and Kevin Youkilis, Ichiro Suzuki well past his prime and Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and others anchoring the starting rotation. I paid my dues, we all did. We watched need after need and star after star getting passed over while we got under the luxury tax threshold and now it’s time for the Yankees organization to pay back the fans and give us what we want. Whether that be Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, or whomever becomes available (within reason of course) between then and now. We, the fans, did our part and now it’s time for Cashman, Hal, and company to do theirs.

No excuses, just checks being written.

Can it be TRUE? 

Was crusing Facebook and came across a shared post from a friend of mine who is a very well respected fellow blogger.  Anyway the post he shared reads....... 

🚨 🚨🚨Sources confirmed there is a deal being discussed between Miami, the Mets and Yankees that sends Thor to the Yankees, Realmuto to the Mets and Miami gets major prospects. #27rings 🚨🚨🚨

Let’s G⚾️ Yankees!!!

James C Palma 

Monday, December 10, 2018

BREAKING: Sonny Gray Traded

We have been talking about it for most of the afternoon on twitter, but my source has finally come through and confirmed that Sonny Gray is on the move. I don't know where yet, or who is acquiring him just yet, but when I do I will have it here first.

Friday, December 7, 2018

New York Yankees 2019 Spring Training Schedule

Mr Corbin Goes to Washington...

Photo Credit: Associated Press (Matt York)
Yankees Search for Another Starter Continues…

I was probably leading the parade for Patrick Corbin and there’s no doubt I was disappointed when the Washington Nationals signed him earlier this week. After days and weeks of anticipation, it is a letdown when a player you thought you could get goes with another team but I am not going to rip Corbin. He had to make the best decision for his family. So many people posted that the Yankees whiffed out on Corbin or that he snubbed the team. Neither of these are true.

God Bless the Washington Nationals for giving Corbin $140 million over six years. Pay him like he is an elite pitcher even though he isn’t.  His family is set for the rest of their lives.  It’s been reported the Yankees were willing to go 5 years and $100 million, maybe slightly more if they had felt the player was seriously considering them, but no formal offer was ever made. Not quite sure how that means the Yankees “whiffed” or that by accepting $40 million more dollars, Corbin “snubbed” the team. No offense to the Yankees but if another team offered to pay me $1 million to be their fan, I’m gone. $1 million times 40? Where do I sign? I’ll drive to you. 

The Corbin ordeal shows that we, as fans, placed greater value on Corbin than the Yankees, and their analytics department, did. I am not sure it was the “shiny new toy” that has been described. I liked the idea of inserting Corbin and James Paxton into the starting rotation with Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia. Quality lefty who induces groundballs would have been a nice fit in Yankee Stadium. But I also know Red Sox fans were excited about potentially feasting on Corbin if he came to the AL East so there are differing opinions for how he would have fared in the competitive AL East. So, Corbin goes to Washington, I lose out on the guy I wanted most, and life moves on.

I like J.A. Happ and I thought he did a very fine job for the Yankees down the stretch, but I am not in favor of giving him a three-year deal at age 36. If he can get three years from the Philadelphia Phillies, one of his former teams, good for him. Let him go hang out at the Liberty Bell.  For a promising young team like the Yankees, adding another aging veteran with no real upside at this point does not appeal to me. We have CC Sabathia so I’d prefer to keep only one rotation spot for an age-challenged pitcher. I am not trying to discriminate against the elderly, but the fact is Happ has already been the best he is ever going to be. At this point, he’ll only get worse with age. He brings consistency but there’s a greater chance he begins the downward slide that comes with age. Maybe he is the thin version of Bartolo Colon and can keep going like the Energizer Bunny. But for me, there are still too many other (and better options) available.

Photo Credit: New York Post (Paul J Bereswill)

Another pitcher the Yankees apparently “whiffed” on was former Yank Nathan Eovaldi who signed a four-year deal for $68 million with the Boston Red Sox. How do you whiff if you never take a swing? By all accounts, there was no way the Yankees were going to offer Eovaldi four years. I am glad they did not. I like Nasty Nate and, overall, I enjoyed his time with the Yankees. But for a guy who has had two Tommy John surgeries and throws with maximum velocity, the risk is too great for the arm to blow out again. Maybe he stays healthy for Boston over the next four years. Fine, I hope he plays out best case scenario for them. Not that I want Boston to win more championships, but I am not going to wish any ill will toward Eovaldi. Nevertheless, I am glad the risk is on the Red Sox and not the Yankees. It’s like Jacoby Ellsbury in reverse. Let the injury risk reside in Boston this time around.   

At the moment, the best free agent options appear to Happ, Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel. If the Yankees are unsuccessful in trading for another starting pitcher, I suppose that’s the order I would rank them for my preference. Now that the Cleveland Indians have locked up Carlos Carrasco on an extension, the talk they will trade either Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer is escalating again. There’s no doubt either Kluber or Bauer would be better options than Happ, Morton or Keuchel. Kluber would give the Yankees a top of the rotation ace but he’s a little older (will be 33 in early April). Bauer will be 28 next month and really took his game to the next level last season before a comebacker fractured his leg.  For Bauer, there’s no doubt his best years are ahead. There’s also something about the mental toughness of Bauer that I like which would probably make him my preference even though Kluber is the more accomplished pitcher of the two at this moment in time. But regardless, if the Yankees can get either Kluber or Bauer, they WILL be a better team. I really hope GM Brian Cashman can put together a package with Cleveland to grab one of their aces. No prospect hugging for me.  If it takes Estevan Florial, among other highly rated prospects, to make this happen, do it. I’d move quickly to extend Aaron Hicks as a result but there are options. Hey, we have Jacoby Ellsbury coming back for center field, right? Yikes! Throw that one away, but seriously, how fantastic would a rotation of Severino, Kluber/Bauer, Paxton, Tanaka, and Sabathia look? World Series-quality to me. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

I suspect Brian Cashman has been working hard behind the scenes and we’ll soon see the fruits of his labor. So many people have ripped the Yankees for their off-season work so far despite the acquisition of one of the American League’s best lefties but we really need to see how this month plays out. By Christmas, we should have a solid handle on what the 2019 Yankees will look like. Another starter, a couple of late inning bullpen options to help Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman, and a solution to cover the months we’ll be missing Didi Gregorius as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. All of these questions should be answered over the course of the next couple of weeks.  Dammit Hal, GET GREEDY!  Now is the time to strike!

I was saddened to wake up to the news that former Major Leaguers Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo were killed overnight in a car accident in Venezuela. It was just a couple of years ago I thought Valbuena would have been a great third base option for the Yankees (back during the frustrating Chase Headley days). Valbuena was released by the Los Angeles Angels in August, but at 33, he still had time to find his way back. I am sorry for the loss of both men and the devastating effect it will have on their families. May they rest in peace.

I think the Minnesota Twins have figured out if you can’t beat them, join them. By joining “them”, I mean adding former Yankee players to their team in the on-going attempt to find a way to finally beat the Yankees. Yesterday, when news broke the Twins had signed a one-year deal with former Baltimore/Milwaukee second baseman Jonathan Schoop, it was almost immediately announced they had also signed former Yankee utilityman Ronald Torreyes. Aaron Judge’s little buddy was recently non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs shortly after his acquisition from the Yankees. Toe should have opportunities for playing time in Minnesota. Good for him.  He’ll join a variety of former Yankees…Michael Pineda, Tyler Austin and Jake Cave. Former Yankee prospect Zack Littell, acquired last year in the deal that brought Jaime Garcia to New York, is also on Minnesota’s 40-man roster. 

Congratulations to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders!  The Yankees’ top affiliate, in conjunction of the International and Pacific Coast Leagues, announced last night that they will host the 2020 Triple-A All Star Game at PNC Field in Moosic, PA. The game will be played on July 15, 2020.   

Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins announced their coaching staff for 2019 under manager, and former Yankee great, Don Mattingly.  There are clearly a few very strong Yankee connections on the staff.  Mike Pagliarulo returns as the team’s hitting coach and he’ll be assisted by Jeff Livesey, son of former Yankee executive and scout Bill Livesey. Trey Hillman, a former minor league manager in the Yankees farm system and a member of Joe Torre’s staff in 2004, was named the First Base/Infield Coach. The pitching coach will be Mel Stottlemyre, Jr., son of the former Yankee pitcher and later pitching coach under Joe Torre. 

It’s hard to believe the Winter Meetings are almost upon us. Everybody has been waiting for the action to start.  We’ve certainly seen it this week with the Corbin and Eovaldi signings, along with a couple others, and the trade of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the St Louis Cardinals but the party is just getting started. It looks like we are in for one helluva ride in the coming days. Who wants to be a Yankee?  Let’s do this.

As always, Go Yankees!

They Got away...but it’s OK! 

I wake up Thursday morning log in to my MLB news app which is set to The New York Yankees. (Even our blog goes here) Yes that’s right more ways to view The Greedy Pinstripes. πŸ‘πŸΌ. Any way a few outlets including the NY Post headlines read Yankees Whiff Again, this is in regards to Nathan Eovaldi resigning with the Red Sox. Maybe it’s the Red Sox that whiffed, or maybe even the Nationals. Yes Corbin, and Evo are two of the top 3 or 4 Free Agents this year, but that doesn’t mean the Bombers whiffed. Maybe just maybe the are right for not over spending on what they didn’t need. Don’t get me wrong everybody needs good pitching, but the Yanks need a Ace. Corbin and Evo while good are not Aces. I applaud Brian Cashman for not going overboard in signing either one of the two. 

Yes I was big on Corbin but not at 140 mil for 6 years. Evo would have been nice, but I think the Sox over paid. Now it’s up to Cash to go get what we Ace!!! Trade Trade Trade ....... stay tuned more to come after I get back from my vacation in Maine. 


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How Do The Yankees Move On From Patrick Corbin?

How could you turn your back on the Yankees and your family?

Going into the offseason I thought Patrick Corbin being a Yankee was a foregone conclusion. Even with all the chatter of other teams getting involved, my belief never wavered. With that said you might think the news of Corbin signing with the Nationals yesterday would have devastated me, but that's not true.

Sure, it stinks that Corbin (understandably) took more money to go somewhere else. A lefty with good strikeout numbers, who could reasonably be leaned on to start 30+ games, would have been a perfect fit with the Yankees.

Thankfully, not only is there a lot of offseason left, Patrick was not the only good to great starter that's available via free agency or trade. Hell, he wasn't even the best pitcher available.

Did Brian Cashman look at these other options and think "yeah, that would be a good plan b"? Thus saving money that would otherwise go to Corbin in order to go all-in on Harper and/or Machado? I like to think so. Of course, the Phillies are in the same boat, so my prediction is only one of those two will be playing for the Yankees next season. But that's been my prediction this whole time, anyway. This way the Yankees will save more money, which is something Hal has wanted to do for years.

But before I go over those pitchers, I want to reiterate something...

If you can't see the guy starting a game in the postseason, then he's not the pitcher we're looking for. That doesn't mean we need a game one or game two starter (we already have Severino and Paxton), or even a game three starter (Tanaka has been stellar in the postseason), but it's very possible we need this other pitcher to give us a start in a seven-game series.

Not that Cashman shouldn't aim higher, but I wanted to give you an idea of what the needs and wants of the Yankees are.

So let's start with those starters in free agency that may pique your interest...

Dallas Keuchel (LHP)
Dallas is a sinkerball pitcher, but last year he just wasn't getting as many swings and misses as before. The spin rate and velocity of the pitch have been pretty similar to years past, but he did throw it more in 2018 than 2017 (note: Keuchel's sinker was thrown in the strike zone more often than not in 2016, which likely led a bad season). I know some people are down on Keuchel, but I'm a little intrigued.

Drew Pomeranz (LHP) 
Drew might come cheap due to a poor 2018 season, which I believe is attributed to the flexor strain he suffered at the beginning of the season along with the left biceps tendinitis in June. Drew lacks a strong third pitch, as he mainly relies on his fastball and curveball, but he does have a cut fastball that could make him a good bet.

Lance Lynn (RHP)
His strikeout rate improved last year, but unfortunately, his walk rate took a step back. That could be attributed to him using his fastball more and his sinker less. I should note that according to spin rates and whiff percentage, both pitches are still effective. I'm not 100% sold that he could get back to the pitcher he was in St. Louis, but it wouldn't be a bad bet.

Nathan Eovaldi (RHP) 
Eovaldi is familiar with New York, having pitched there in 2015 and 2016. That doesn't make him a no-brainer here, but it is something to take into account. Now, it's hard to evaluate Nathan since he's a different pitcher than he was before missing the 2017 season after his second Tommy John surgery. Eovaldi used a cut fastball quite a bit in 2018, after having first learned the pitch while with the Yankees, which has allowed his four-seamer to be more effective than ever. I don't know if it's Nathan's previous stint with the Yankees that gives me pause, but I can't say I'd be comfortable penciling Eovaldi in as a starter for 2019.

J.A. Happ (LHP) 
Last season he started using his fastball much more and using his sinker much less. However, when Happ did throw his sinker last year it was more effective than in year's past. So while the spin rate on his fastball and sinker has gone down it looks like he's done the smart thing and used them differently to remain an overall effective pitcher. He's clearly not as good as Corbin would have been, but as the #4 starter behind Severino, Paxton, and Tanaka I would feel good.

Free agency is not the only place a pitcher could come from, as some very good names have already been talked about in trades this offseason, and the three biggest happen to currently pitch for the same team.

Although the Cleveland Indians won 91 games last season, and could very well repeat as AL Central champions next season, they've made it clear they are willing to trade away one of their top starters. I'm guessing that they would trade one of them to build up a poor farm system while adding top prospect Tristan McKenzie and/or one of those free agent starters to their rotation. The Indians would surely love to have a guy like Estevan Florial as they have nothing good coming up to fill in center field, a spot they got little to no production out of last season.

You might think the Indians would demand Miguel Andujar in a package, but I could see them not pushing that. Although some scouts see him being moved to right field eventually, the Indians do have a good third base prospect in Nolan Jones.

However, I could see Cleveland being interested in Tyler Wade for second base, especially if they can get the Yankees or another team to take on Jason Kipnis.

Therefore, I believe the Yankees would have to offer a package consisting of Estevan Florial, Tyler Wade, and Jonathan Loaisiga (of course we'd have to give up a pitching prospect), plus other smaller pieces to get a deal done.

Take note that due to losing Florial, I think it's imperative that Brian Cashman extends or re-signs Aaron Hicks to continue in center field.

To be honest, I don't see the Yankees pulling off another big trade this offseason. The package of Florial, Wade, and Loaisiga is very good, but I can't help but think another team will swoop in and offer Cleveland more, or at least a package that fills their needs or wants better. So although my heart is with the trade, I think we'll see Cashman signing J.A. Happ, and Yankees Universe will bitch and moan that he paid too much.

The Yankees Plan B for Patrick Corbin May Include an Indians Starter and Jason Kipnis

The New York Yankees missed out on the top free agent starting pitcher this winter in Patrick Corbin after the left-hander agreed to a six-year deal worth $140 million with the Washington Nationals, but that does not mean that the Yankees will be without another frontline starter this winter. Instead of acquiring another arm off the free agent market the New York Yankees may be forced back into the trade market, and back to the Cleveland Indians. The New York Yankees have already tried to acquire one of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or Trevor Bauer this winter, but were unwilling to meet the high asking price for any of their starters, but with recent news being released that may have all changed.

The Cleveland Indians are seemingly in a bit of a rebuilt, much like the Seattle Mariners this winter, and are looking to unload some salary in these trades. According to MLB Trade Rumors and Buster Olney the Indians may ask a potential trade partner to take on Jason Kipnis and the remaining money on his deal ($14,666,667 in 2019 and a $16.5 million team option for 2020 including a $2.5 million buyout) in order to trade for one of the three aforementioned starters. Uh, yes please?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not a fan of Kipnis and I do not think he solves a lot of the Yankees problems, but he, nor his contract, are enough of an albatross to make hiding him on the roster for the 2019 season out of the realms of possibilities. Kipnis bats left-handed, something the Yankees need with the loss of Didi Gregorius, and he plays second base, which allows the Yankees to move Gleyber Torres to shortstop until Didi returns from his Tommy John surgery. Kipnis won’t hit for average (he hit .230 in 2018 and is a career .263 hitter), but he could hit for power in the Bronx (he hit 18 home runs in 2018 with Cleveland) and could benefit from the short porch in right field. Kipnis takes his walks, his OBP is almost 100 points higher than his batting average, and his defense is still considered, at the very least, average at second base. Kipnis has also dabbled in center field (14 appearances in 2018) which adds a bit of versatility and flexibility to his resume for the Yankees.

You would think that adding the contract of Kipnis would bring the asking price from the Cleveland Indians down, which may allow the Yankees to keep the “untouchable” Estevan Florial while still acquiring the ace that they so desperately need and want. Jonathan Loasiga/Albert Abreu, plus, plus, for Kluber/Carrasco/Bauer and Kipnis and his salary is definitely a possibility, assuming the accuracy of the report from Buster Olney.

Make it happen, Cashman.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Patrick Corbin Signs w/ Washington Nationals

UPDATE: 3:56 pm ET

Six-years and $126 million $140 million

More to come as the news is released...




Please make your selections either by highlighting the names of your choice in yellow, or with a big X, whichever you prefer. A simple list in the body of an email is fine too. Send to Howard Cole, at no later than Monday, December 31, 2018, 9:00 p.m. PST.


  1. Each name is linked to that particular player's page.
  2. Asterisk (*) for first-time candidates
  3. You may vote for up to 15 candidates.
  4. 75% required for election.
  5. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina have already been honored in previous IBWAA elections, which is why you don’t see their names listed here.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Eight Days to Las Vegas...

Around the corner, the Winter Meetings...

Happy December!

Soon, the insanity and rush to acquire and trade players will be upon us. The MLB Baseball Winter Meetings begin next Sunday, December 9th, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada (which of course happens to be Bryce Harper’s hometown). No doubt Vegas will be rocking when the hometown kid hoists a new uniform for the media. The meetings conclude on the morning of Thursday, December 13th, with the Rule 5 Draft.  

Patrick Corbin is expected to make a decision before the Winter Meetings so hopefully something breaks in the next few days. He remains my top target. Until the Cleveland Indians actually trade one of their starters, I will be skeptical. I’d gladly take Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco and call the rotation complete.  Same with San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner. But I really like Corbin and at 30, he is one of baseball’s better pitchers and he has upside. J.A. Happ did a fine job for the Yankees last year but he’s been the best he is ever going to be. At 36, it’s only downhill from here. Realistically, I was never fearful of Happ on the mound when he was wearing a Blue Jays uniform. I am sure AL East opponents feel the same way. Despite winning 20 games a couple of seasons ago, Happ has never been considered an elite pitcher and certainly never will be at this stage of his career. Corbin, on the other hand, can be (in my opinion).  

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Christian Petersen)

More free agents became available yesterday with the non-tender deadline. Yankee fans seemed surprised to see the Chicago Cubs non-tender Ronald Torreyes. When I saw the Cubs decision to tender a contract to beleaguered shortstop Addison Russell, I figured the odds were against Toe. It was clear the Cubs had picked him up as infield insurance. There’s no reason to believe the Cubs won’t try to re-sign Toe for less money which is what I expect them to do. For the reasons the Yankees traded Toe (younger, cheaper options with better tools available), I don’t think they should make a play to bring Toe back regardless of his clubhouse popularity.

Jonathan Schoop is an interesting option. He was (expectedly) non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday with GM David Stearns acknowledging it had been a “bad deal” to acquire Schoop. Schoop’s 2018 season, which started with the Baltimore Orioles and ended with the playoff-contending Brewers after a deadline trade, was soundly a disappointment and he couldn’t find regular playing time by the time October rolled around. Yet, he is only a season removed from his breakout  year in 2017 when he hit 32 homers and drove in 105 runs for the O’s with a batting line of .293/.338/.503 and .841 OPS. Maybe 2017 was a fluke, but the Curacao-native (like Didi Gregorius) is only 27. I’d take a chance on him.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Another interesting name is Wilmer Flores, non-tendered by the New York Mets. He may not have Schoop’s offensive potential but he can move around the infield, playing both corner positions and shortstop. I saw someone post yesterday that it would be funny if the Yankees signed Flores and he outperformed the Mets’ soon-to-be starting second baseman Robinson Cano. I would have no objection to Bill Flowers joining the Yankees. The role of infield help is only an interim plan until the Yankees can get Didi Gregorius back on the ground in late summer so it’s not like we are trying to find a shortstop or second baseman that will be cemented to the spot for the foreseeable future. The Yankees have plenty of offense so I am sure they’ll be fine whatever they decide to do. Ideally, I’d like to keep Gleyber Torres at second base to continue his growth and development at the position, rather than temporarily shift him back to short. I’d be happy re-signing Adeiny Hechavarria to play short until Didi’s return so long as the Yankees fill out the bench with the right players. The elephant in the room is, of course, Manny Machado, but until he signs, the Yankees need to keep all options open. There is still a very good chance Manny goes to Philadelphia since they have an abundance of “stupid money” available.

Another name that jumped out at me for utility-type, infield diversity is Arizona’s decision to non-tender infielder Chris Owings. Oakland non-tendered Giancarlo Stanton antagonist Mike Fiers which I thought was funny. I sure don’t want the Yankees to sign Fiers but I don’t mind seeing him join the ranks of the unemployed.  

George A King III had a column in The New York Post this morning saying the Yankees could see David Robertson and Zach Britton go to the Boston Red Sox. I really hope it does not happen. Of the two, it would probably be hardest to see D-Rob put on that ugly “B” cap but it wouldn’t be fun to see Britton in the uniform either. I wish the Yankees would hurry up and re-sign D-Rob to remove one of the current holes in the bullpen. As for Britton, I expect him to get closer’s money so my preference would be for him to end up with a non-AL East team. The St Louis Cardinals sound like a great destination to me.  

As much as my head keeps telling me Manny Machado is the best fit for the Yankees, my heart keeps telling me that Bryce Harper would be a great, great Yankee. Giancarlo Stanton was not exactly a need for the Yankees when they acquired him last year, yet he fit seamlessly into the team lineup as the primary DH and occasional left-fielder. With more experience in left, I think Stanton will field the position better in 2019. Still, I’d have no problem keeping Stanton as the full-time DH and putting Harper in left along with the occasional experiment at first base. I know the Yankees have Brett Gardner but if we’re expecting him to be part of the starting outfield next year, we’re not as smart as we should be. Drop Harper into the lineup with his left-handed bat and I couldn’t really care less about the interim offensive solution at shortstop/second baseman, so long as the player brings solid defense, until Didi returns. Bryce was made for Pinstripes and it would be a shame for the Yankees to miss this tremendous opportunity to acquire a superstar just entering his prime.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Rob Tringali)

I was glad to see the Yankees tender contracts to all of their arbitration and pre-arbitration eligible players. There had been some speculation the Yankees would non-tender Gregorius since 2019 is primarily a lost year and he’ll be a free agent after the season, but I am glad they did not. I remain hopeful they’ll come to an agreement to cover the next couple of seasons to place Didi in position for a more lucrative contract after he has proven his successful return from Tommy John surgery. I am not ready to see Didi leave today or a year from today.  

I like Nathan Eovaldi but let the Red Sox or Houston Astros sign him. I am not interested in a return to the Bronx. As a two-time Tommy John recipient who throws extremely hard, I think the risk is too great. Great guy and I wish him the best.  

Listening to CC Sabathia’s podcast this week, I was a little surprised that he views Jonathan Loaisiga as a potential top of the rotation talent. I know the young smallish right-hander is rated as the Yankees’ highest pitching prospect by and second overall prospect behind Estevan Florial but I guess I hadn’t thought of him that highly. Maybe I should rethink my position. I know I am more intrigued with Loaisiga than Domingo German and there’s no doubt he’ll be called upon to help the Yankees rotation at some point next season. There’s no way the Yankees’ top five stays healthy to make every start. Loaisiga also represents an option if the Yankees occasionally decide to go with a six-man rotation. I kind of like the idea of signing both Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ with provide starting depth, but Loaisiga represents good insurance if the Yankees are successful in adding only one more starter.

The next couple of weeks should be very eventful. This is the pinnacle of the Hot Stove League. Once we get through the next fourteen days, it should be fairly quiet until pitchers and catchers report in mid-February or one would think so anyway. Brace yourself. It should a helluva ride for the next two weeks.

As always, Go Yankees!