Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Baseball Talk During Super Bowl Week...

Who Cares About Tom Brady and the New England Patriots…

Yankee pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training two weeks from today. Finally, the end is in sight for the long, often grueling, off-season. Well, maybe not for the high number of MLB free agents including two “generational talents” but for the rest of us and those players signed, we’ll be hearing the sounds of baseballs popping in catching mitts soon.

I don’t think any of us expected utility man Neil Walker to return but any chance was eliminated last night when it was announced that he had signed with the Miami Marlins. Walker is expected to platoon with former Yankees prospect Peter O’Brien at first base. Not sure where Garrett Cooper is in the mix (maybe the outfield?) but I think he’s healthy now so there should be a few ex-Yankees roaming the training fields with holdovers Starlin Castro and Caleb Smith for Derek Jeter’s team this Spring. I think I’d be hesitant to wear the Number 14 for the Yankees this year. The last two guys who wore it during the regular season now reside in Miami. Personally, I’d prefer to see Tyler Wade wear the number, giving up 12 for Troy Tulowitzki who obviously cannot wear his Number 2 (as worn in Denver and Toronto) for obvious reasons. 

Speaking of numbers, I have no clue what number DJ LeMahieu will wear. If he wants to keep his Colorado Rockies 9 in his number, I suppose he can wear Todd Frazier’s old Number 29. If it were up to me, I’d go with David Robertson’s number (30). James Paxton should wear 65 so that means Domingo German will be part of the number-searching brigade.    

I am surprised that we are at the end of January and neither Bryce Harper nor Manny Machado have signed. It was funny watching the unofficial reports yesterday in Philadelphia that had the Phillies signing Harper. Turned out to be fake news like so many of the Harper-Machado rumors we’ve heard this winter. I think I’ve gotten to the point that if Ken Rosenthal is not talking about it, there’s nothing to it.    

Despite the infield additions, I would still like to see the Yankees bring in another shortstop. I think they need to plan for the ‘what if’…what if Troy Tulowitzki is unable to recapture his past form? No doubt we’ll see DJ LeMahieu starting at second and Gleyber Torres covering short until Didi Gregorius returns (which is the way it should be anyway with the current roster makeup). But I’d like a strong fallback plan for the Tulo experiment. The Yankees lost one option yesterday when Freddy Galvis signed a one-year deal with the division rival Toronto Blue Jays (who will compete with Lourdes Gurriel, Jr for Tulo’s old job). Adeiny Hechevarria remains available and he’s certainly a guy I’d try to bring back. I think the ship has sailed for someone like Marwin Gonzalez but the former Astro fits the roster so well given his versatility. Jose Iglesias is the only other name out there that seems like a decent possibility. As it stands, it seems as though the Yankees will roll with the tandem of Tulo and Gleyber at short, backed by Tyler Wade. If there was ever a time for Wade to step up big, now is it. I wish I had more confidence in his ability to do it. Maybe the Yankees do. We’ll see.   

The Yankees are continuing their search for another starter as a hedge against the health of CC Sabathia which I feel is a very good idea. None of us want to see Luis Cessa starting on a consistent basis. Most likely Jonathan Loaisiga, if he can stay healthy, represents the best in-house insurance backed by Domingo German.  I fully expect to see Chance Adams and Domingo Acevedo given their chances this year. If the Yankees do bring in another starter, I see someone like Brett Anderson, not Dallas Keuchel. 

I was surprised to see the Boston Red Sox sign former Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia to a minors deal. The three-time PED offender who received a lifetime ban a few years ago which was subsequently lifted by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred last summer, gets a fourth chance. The minor-league contract does not include a provision to attend Major League camp but no doubt if Mejia shows anything, he has a chance to make the Red Sox roster at some point this season. Mejia represents a shot in the dark for the Red Sox who have seen their bullpen depleted with the departure of Joe Kelly and the potential Craig Kimbrel does not return. Mejia was once a decent receiver. He’s been away from the game for a long time, yet he is only 29 and could certainly surprise some people. I am sure Boston loves the price tag (Mejia would make $625,000 if he is on the Major League roster) but Mejia’s character is enough for me to pass. Better Boston signs him than the Yankees. Boston fans can stop trashing Alex Rodriguez for his PED use now.

To flip the coin, I hate to defend the Red Sox but I’ve seen so many Yankee fans quick to rip Boston about their bullpen and how the Red Sox cannot match last year’s 108 wins due to career years by a few players. The Red Sox have won three consecutive AL East division championships in a row and four overall since the Yankees last won the division. Boston’s bullpen may not match up with the Yankees at the moment but as we’ve seen, relievers can be the most unpredictable in the sport. The Tampa Bay Rays, historically, have been very good at throwing together very effective bullpens with a cast of no-names. Conversely, even the great Yankee relievers are prone to blow a game now and then. The Yankees’ super-pen may look much better on paper right now but there is still time for the Red Sox to re-sign Kimbrel even if his level of play may be slipping. I know there are some young guys coming up in the Red Sox system that can be effective arms and there are a few holdovers that should not be dismissed like Tyler Thornburg, Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes. I don’t think we should be so quick to discount the Red Sox this year. They are the defending World Champions and they made their AL Division Series with the Yankees last October look like a total mismatch. They still have many of the very talented players that made the Los Angeles Dodgers look like a minor league team in the World Series. Based on their first seasons, Alex Cora was a better manager than Aaron Boone. It doesn’t mean that Boone can’t get better but the Red Sox are simply not going away. I see the division as a total dogfight. The Tampa Bay Rays, with their pitching staff, have the potential to be the surprise team of 2019 like the Oakland A’s were last year.  I’ve gotten to the point where I am tired of people saying that Harper and Machado are “luxuries, not necessities”. Until the Yankees can win the division and advance to the World Series to claim the championship, better players are a necessity. The Yankees haven’t won the World Series since 2009 (ten years ago) and have not sat atop the AL East since 2011.  Yes, the 2019 Yankees, with no further additions, are arguably the best team we’ve seen since the 2009 Yankees, I agree. It does not mean that we cannot or should not strive to be better. No team is going to roll over for the Yankees, not even the lowly Baltimore Orioles. If anything, teams play harder, try harder against the Yankees than any other team. With or without Harper or Machado, the Yankees have much to prove before we can start beating our chests.

Congratulations to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for the selection of their new manager, Jay Bell.  Bell, known as a player’s manager and referred to as the GOAT by his teams, has managed in the Yankees’ minor league system since 2017. In two years, he has taken High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton to the playoffs and will be looking to make it to the post-season for the third consecutive season with the RailRiders. I know that Aaron Boone likes ‘smart and confident’ which is the reason he chose Josh Bard, most likely a future manager, as his bench coach, but I can’t help but think Boonie would have benefited from someone like Bell at his side. Nevertheless, Bell is now coaching the guys who are just a phone call (and a bus ride) away from the Bronx and guys he has watched grow and develop over the last few years. The former Arizona Diamondback, who scored the winning run on the World Series-winning walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez in 2001 off legendary Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, is making a huge contribution to the Yankees organization. I guess it’s his payback for breaking our hearts so many years ago although I am sure that he’d gladly step on home plate again to defeat the Yankees if given the opportunity. I think Bell’s promotion from Trenton was an excellent move. Nothing against former RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell but he didn’t really excite me as a manager. Bell does. He seems to have the presence or aura held by former RailRiders manager Al Pedrique, maybe even more so. He’ll do well with the top Yankees farm team and the fruits of his efforts will be highly visible in the Bronx this coming season and for years to come.

The Yankees should be commended for their decision to sign lefty reliever Danny Farquhar to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League camp. Last summer, it appeared Farquhar’s career was over with his brain hemorrhage. He survived the life-threatening ordeal and is pitching again.  It’s a tall order for him to make the Yankees roster but I don’t think anybody is rooting against him. It would be a great story if he does deliver this Spring and finds his moment to step out on the Yankee Stadium turf wearing the famed Pinstripes. 

If I was a Major League player, I think I’d want to know where I’d be reporting in two weeks. It seems like maybe we’ll see a flurry of signings in the coming days. Starting to see reports this morning that reliever/closer Greg Holland has signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks so there’s another relief option off the board for Boston. I really hope the next week or so finally brings closure to the Harper-Machado saga, wherever they may land. It would be great if one (or both) fell into the Yankees’ lap but I am done with them, and just want to move on. 

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

2 1/2 Weeks to Tampa...

The Yankees’ Migration to Florida Begins…

When the calendar page turns next Friday, we will enter a month WITH Yankees baseball for the first time since last October. It may not be “real games” but we’re getting the band together again in Tampa, FL and the Yankees will be playing their first organized exhibition game in less than a month when they travel to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers on Saturday, February 23rd to take on the bullpen-challenged Boston Red Sox.

I don’t know about you but I am ready to see the guys at Steinbrenner Field and watching the navy blue spring jerseys in full force.  

Before pitchers and catchers report to camp in roughly two and a half weeks, I’d really like to see the Yankees formally introduce their off-season acquisitions in a press conference at Yankee Stadium. It doesn’t appear it is going to happen but I always loved it when the Yankees held press conferences at the Stadium followed by photo sessions down on the often snow-covered field. It seems like ages ago when the Yankees acquired James Paxton, yet we’ve only heard his voice in interviews. Most of us have yet to see the smile on his face and the Big Maple tattoo on his arm as he talks about the excitement of being a Yankee.

Photo Credit: The Seattle Times (Ken Lambert)
If I owned the Yankees, I’d pull Paxton, Troy Tulowitzki, DJ LeMahieu, and Adam Ottavino to New York before they head to Tampa. Heck, Ottavino is already there so it would save Hal Steinbrenner some money.  

Nice post yesterday by Bryan Van Dusen entitled “Bryce Harper Will Be a Yankee”.  It’s worth checking out if you haven’t already done so. The way the market is playing out seems to be opening the possibility that Harper could find his way to Yankee Stadium. While I’ve long been a Manny Machado guy, I don’t really see the fit with Manny anymore given the infield acquisitions and the optimism Didi Gregorious could be back sooner than expected. Will there be a mid-summer “acquisition” better than Didi? I don’t think so. But as Bryan outlined yesterday, Harper fits the Yankees so many ways. I am sure they’ve heard the words of the newest Yankees talk about the reasons they joined the team. The theme of of an organization that wants to win every year resonates as does the lifelong dreams of wearing the famed Pinstripes. We know Bryce desires to be a Yankee. Hal Steinbrenner can make it happen and provide Yankee fans with one of the greatest young players in the game today (to go with our collection of other great young players).  

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
The Boston Red Sox are seemingly hamstrung by their payroll. Not that I want the Yankees to be in a similar position, but the time to strike is now. Show no mercy. I want a roster that ensures the Red Sox are the team battling for Wild Card position this season and not the Yankees. The weakest position on the team, in my opinion, is left field. Brett Gardner is simply no longer the player he once was. Getting old sucks. I have no trust in Clint Frazier’s ability to stay healthy until he proves that he can. Jacoby Ellsbury? Please. Bring Bryce Harper to New York. His presence would help the other guys in the lineup and he’d deflect pressure off guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez. 

If the market moves in the Yankees’ favor and they do sign Harper for less than original estimates, it will be one of Brian Cashman’s best moves in his Yankees career. Bryce Harper, New York Yankees. It sounds so right (or should I say ‘so lefty’?). Works for me. Let J.A. Happ pick out a new number. I hope he has that problem.  

Staying with the “it’s just money” theme, the Yankees got a good idea what it might take to retain CF Aaron Hicks when the Los Angeles Dodgers signed oft-injured CF A.J. Pollock to a five-year, $60 million contract this week. Hicks, if he can stay healthy this season, figures to command an equal if not greater deal. I probably wish Estevan Florial was closer to The Show but the Yankees will have some tough choices next off-season with Hicks, Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances.  

It’s great to see the finalization of Adam Ottavino’s three-year contract. I am really excited about his presence on this year’s team. I wanted Ottavino to wear Number 0 but I understood the concerns of those who didn’t want the Yankees to issue a number that has never been worn in the history of the franchise. In the end, I am glad the Yankees made the decision to allow Otto to wear his number. I know many wanted Number 2 to be the last single digit worn but there’s no disrespect with Otto continuing the tradition of single digits. I was a little surprised when the Yankees retired Joe Torre’s Number 6. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the manager and I loved the championships he brought to the organization, but it’s not like he played on the field with number 6 and it’s not necessarily a number we strongly associate with him. I get retiring Casey Stengel’s number but honestly I think retiring numbers should be reserved for players, especially when the organization has so many retired numbers. Aaron Boone managed 162 regular season games last year plus the Wild Card game and ALDS, yet we could probably count on one hand the number of times we actually saw his number. Boone could win the next five consecutive World Series but I wouldn’t retire Number 17. The recognition should be for the players, not the coaching staff. Players have a greater effect on the success of a manager than the manager has on the players. The point is, Number 6 should still be in circulation, and Otto’s number 0 should not be the last single digit.

Well, since Number 6 is retired, I do think they should honor Roy White and give him equal credit for the number in the way Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra share the retirement of Number 8. Roy White was such a huge and consistent part of the Yankees in the early years of my fandom. The lifetime Yank deserves his day in the sun at Yankee Stadium, and recognition with a plaque in Monument Park. White played 15 years for the Yankees from 1965 through 1979. He was always overshadowed by the bigger names but he was the consummate professional and the glue on so many of those great Yankee teams. Maybe his numbers did not warrant the sole retirement of his number but he deserves credit for it as much as Joe Torre in a shared capacity, in my opinion.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Speaking of retired numbers, it will be interesting to see if the Yankees take Number 35 out of circulation now that Mike Mussina has been elected to the Hall of Fame. I was pleased to see Mussina make the HOF but he was never a lock to make it in my opinion. There are certainly a number of players who are equally deserving, or maybe even more so, that have never gotten the call. Nevertheless, I am proud of Mussina’s accomplishment. I had felt he should go into the Hall of Fame with his Orioles cap but I was pleased with his decision to go in with no logo like fellow Hall of Famer Roy “Doc” Halladay who was equally great on two teams (same as Moose).  

Mariano Rivera. What else can you say? The first man unanimously selected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame. There is no one better deserving of the honor and recognition.  We were privileged to see one of the game’s greatest and the best to ever play his position for so many years at Yankee Stadium. Growing up, I always thought how cool it would have been to see Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle (in his prime) play. As it stands today, I am glad I was able to see guys like Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, and the Sandman. It makes up for never having seen the earlier legends. Congratulations Mo! You were one of a kind and we may never see someone of your greatness again. It was our pleasure to watch you.

Lastly, I was disappointed to see Al Leiter’s departure from the YES Network. I get his reasons for stepping down (to spend more time with his family and mentor his 18-year-old son Jack who will most likely be seen on Major League mounds in about a half decade or so). I was glad to hear Al will continue to appear on MLB Network but his voice will be sorely missed in the YES Network broadcast booth.  

I am excited that Baseball is right around the corner. After next weekend (the Super Bowl), all eyes will turn to America’s greatest game. Well, maybe not basketball fans and March Madness, but for the rest of us, the dawn of the 2019 season is on the horizon. Can’t wait.

As always, Go Yankees!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Bryce Harper Will Be A Yankee

Note: This is a prediction... not a report.

Before I get into things after that headline I want to once again address something that many Yankee fans are still clamoring for... Manny Machado.

If you've read my stuff before, here or on Twitter, then you can skip this part as you've heard me say it over and over again.

The Yankees do not need Manny Machado. I don't really understand why they would want him, other than the fact he's an elite hitter at such a young age. Their infield (at least outside of first base, where Manny will not be playing) looks very good with Miguel Andujar, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, and Didi Gregorius. You can point out that Manny allows the team to let Didi go after this season, but no way would they pay the guy $11.75 million if they planned on letting him go after a partial season.

And then there's the fact that the Yankees are already an extremely right-hand hitting lineup. They could absolutely use a strong left-handed batter, and that's not Machado.

Harper also fits into the lineup much better than Machado would, due to the fact that as of right now it looks like Brett Gardner would get the majority of playing time in left field. And that's not something they should do. Hell, they traded for Andrew McCutchen last season, which showed me they weren't comfortable with having Gardner out there every day. It's not like Brett got better in the offseason.

Now here I am making that bold prediction. So what led me there? Well, I never thought you'd ask...

After what we saw in free agency last offseason, nobody should be surprised that players are not getting offers like they used to. Nor are they getting offers that they really want. Although, to be honest, the fact that Patrick Corbin actually got what he wanted makes this thought moot. Outside of that signing, though, players the past two offseasons have been settling for less money and/or years.

With that in mind here are a few more things that popped into my head...

1. Harper is not going to have to settle for a one year deal, sort of like when a player takes a smaller deal in order to build up his value for the next offseason. While it's possible that we have yet to see Bryce's peak, I don't think his value is going to get any higher than it is now. So waiting for next offseason is pointless. If the new CBA would be enacted for next season, and there wasn't another elite hitter set to be a free agent (Nolan Arenado), then I would perhaps entertain the idea. But that's not the case. Bryce Harper will sign for at least 7 years before Spring Training in 2019.

2. If a player is going to settle for less money, I would imagine they would at least play for a team that they want. Hell, that type of thinking could go for anyone.

Say you're job hunting. You want a certain amount of money, but for whatever reason you can't find a job that will pay that much. But it's getting to crunch time and you have to get a job, so what are you going to do? I'm betting you're going to at least take a job that you will like, rather than one you don't that pays the same.

It's well known that Bryce has always wanted to be a Yankee. So if he's going to get paid less then it makes sense that he'd at least wear pinstripes.

3. There aren't many teams that can afford to pay a player $30+ million a year, especially if that player is on the downside of his career. And let's be honest, although Harper will likely be a very good player in his mid-30s, it's hard to imagine him still being a perrenial MVP candidate at that point.

As for teams that either can, or are willing to, spend that much you have the Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals, and Yankees.

The Red Sox weren't even willing to spend for a closer, which they need after the loss of Craig Kimbrel, so there's no way they spend nearly twice what they would have on Kimbrel, and for more years.

The Dodgers seem to be set with their outfield after the signing of AJ Pollock. Although it wouldn't totally surprise me to see them swoop in and sign Bryce anyway.

If anyone other than the Yankees sign Harper my guess is he goes to the north side of Chicago. The Cubs have shown the willingness to spend, and like the Dodgers I don't think they'd have a difficult time finding a spot in their outfield for them.

With all the money they've spent on pitching (Corbin became the third starter on their team to receive a contract worth at least $140 million) I don't believe Washington would bring back Harper. Especially since their outfield already looks pretty good. Sure, they apparently offered Bryce a huge deal before, but that was before signing Corbin. I suppose they could surprise me still, but I'm not betting on it.

Other than having the money to do so, and being able to squeeze him into their outfield, the one thing the Yankees have over the Dodgers, Cubs, and Nationals is the designated hitter. Neither LA, Chicago, nor Washington have that extra spot in the batting lineup to shuffle players around in, which is not only a positive for next season but could be integral down the road. Especially when we're talking about a player that isn't going to win any Gold Gloves for his defense.

The way things have gone for me this offseason chances are Bryce signs with another team, and one I didn't even mention here, tomorrow. I suppose that's a good thing no matter what, because the Yankees are still going to be a very strong team in 2019, the "where is Harper going to end up" craziness will end, and that could lead to Manny Machado finally signing soon too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019



Los Angeles – In its tenth annual Hall of Fame election announced Tuesday, the IBWAA added two players to its digital Hall of Fame.

Mariano Rivera was the top vote-getter, with 173 out of 174 ballots cast (99.43%). Roy Halladay received 161 votes (92.53%). A 75% threshold is required for election. Complete election results below.
Barry Bonds (2018), Rogers Clemens (2018), Edgar Martinez (2016) and Mike Mussina (2018) did not appear on the 2019 IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot because they have already been elected in previous years.

With those exceptions, the IBWAA ballot was identical to the one used by the BBWAA. All voting is done electronically.
Per a group decision in January, 2014, the IBWAA allows members to vote for up to 15 players, instead of the previous 10, beginning with the 2015 election. In the 2019 election, 62 members voted for 10 or more candidates. Seven members voted for 15 candidates. The average vote per member was 8.25.
Complete voting results are as follows:
Ballot tabulations by Brian Wittig & Associates.
The IBWAA was established July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Voting for full season awards takes place in September of each year, with selections being announced in November. The IBWAA also holds a Hall of Fame election in December of each year, with results being announced the following January.
In 2010, the IBWAA began voting in its own relief pitcher category, establishing the Rollie Fingers American League Relief Pitcher of the Year and the Hoyt Wilhelm National League Relief Pitcher of the Year Awards.

Among others, IBWAA members include Jim Bowden, Pedro Moura, Ken Rosenthal and Eno Sarris, The Athletic; Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports; Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports Hardball Talk; Bill Chuck,; Chris De Luca, Chicago Sun-Times; Jon Heyman, Fancred; Tyler Kepner, New York Times; Danny Knobler, Bleacher Report; Kevin Kennedy; Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated; Brian Kenny, MLBN; Will Leitch, New York Magazine; Bruce Markusen, Hardball Times; Ross Newhan; Dayn Perry and Matt Snyder,; Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Times; J.P. Hoornstra Los Angeles Daily News; Tracy Ringolsby,; David Schoenfield,; and Bill Arnold.
Association membership is open to any and all Internet baseball writers, with a $75 lifetime fee. Discounts for groups and scholarships are available. Members must be 18 years of age to apply.

For more information please visit

Howard Cole
Founding Director, IBWAA

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Sonny Gray Seige Finally Ends...

Photo Credit: New York Post (Paul J Bereswill)
Trade to Cincinnati is finally confirmed...

Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal (two sources!) brought great news to the Yankees Universe this afternoon with word the Sonny Gray trade with the Cincinnati Reds has been finalized.  Hallelujah!

LHP Reiver Sanmartin will accompany Gray to Cincinnati as part of the trade.  Martin was acquired from the Texas Rangers in November 2017 in a minor trade that sent RHP Ronald Herrera to the Rangers.  Martin was most recently with the Double A Tampa Tarpons.

As expected, the Yankees receive second baseman Shed Long and a competitive balance draft pick.  For more information on Shed Long, please see the Meet A Prospect posted earlier today by Daniel Burch.

Oops, scratch that.  Passan is reporting the Seattle Mariners are involved in the trade which will send Long to the Great Northwest.  Centerfield prospect Josh Stowers, currently rated as the Number 10 prospect for the Mariners by, will head to the Bronx.  The 21-year-old Stowers spent last season with the Everett (WA) AquaSox (A Short).  He played 58 games, hitting 5 homers and 28 RBIs in 200 at-bats.  His batting line was .260/.380/.410 with .790 OPS. Stowers was Seattle's 2nd round pick (54th overall) in last year's MLB Draft.

Photo Credit: (Shari Sommerfield)
If true, this does free up a spot on the 40-man roster as Adam Ottavino, once his signing is official, will simply take Gray's spot.  While Long was on Cincinnati's 40-man roster, Stowers is a couple of years away before he needs to be protected.  Luis Cessa lives to see another day.

Per Rosenthal, Gray's extension with the Reds is for three years at $30.5 million.  He was already scheduled to receive $7.5 million for the upcoming season so the extension kicks in with the 2020 season, essentially giving the Reds four years of control.  The extension includes a club option for 2023 at $12 million.  Rosenthal indicated all salaries can grow based on numerous escalators.  There is also an incentive of $500,000 per year if Gray reaches a minimum number of innings pitched in each given year.

I think this is a great deal for Sonny Gray and his family.  He has financial security and will not have to face the gloomy free agent market next fall.  He gets to play in a lower-pressurized environment and he has a very good chance to rebuild his image through better performance.

I am so thankful the Sonny Gray Era has ended.  We can finally move on with our lives.

Sonny Gray Trade? Hold, Please...

And We Continue to Wait for Gray’s Departure…

I had two wishes for Sunday and neither one materialized for me. Sonny Gray is still a Yankee and the New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl. Some sports days really suck. Well, I guess it could be worse. It wouldn’t be fun to be a New Orleans Saints fan today but aside from their pain, yesterday was quite forgettable all things considered. Nevertheless, today is a new day and another opportunity to rip the Pinstripes off Sonny Douglas Gray. Please, Brian Cashman, work your magic and make it happen.

The hang up with the Cincinnati Reds appears to be their desire to sign Sonny, a free agent after the season, to an extension. Reports indicate the Reds have until later today (the conclusion of a 72-hour window) to see if they can get Sonny to put pen to paper.’s Bryan Hoch is reporting the deadline is sometime this evening.  Until the deal is finalized, there is a chance it could break down and the Yankees would need to pivot to other opportunities to unload young Mr Gray. 

Jon Heyman’s tweet yesterday that ended with “…or keep him” was rather jarring to me. Look, I want Sonny Gray to do well at his next destination. I hope the dude recaptures the luster he once had in Oakland and puts himself into Cy Young consideration in future years. But, and that’s a very BIG but, I do not want him on the 2019 New York Yankees. I’ve seen enough shades of Gray at Yankee Stadium. 

Photo Credit: AP (Julie Jacobson)
Despite Great American Park not being known as a pitcher’s park, Cincinnati seems to have everything that would appeal to Sonny. It’s approximately 275 miles from his home in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a young team that has added some interesting pieces this off-season with Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. They have Joey Votto and a sound closer in Raisel Iglesias. A quick check of the current Reds roster shows that his old Oakland number and the number previously worn in Cincinnati by Aroldis Chapman (54) is available. The pitching coach is Derek Johnson who happened to be Sonny’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt. Cincinnati is considered a less-pressurized small market but a team with some history and tradition. I am sure that Yankees manager Aaron Boone could give some great insight into life in Cincinnati. Oh, wait a minute, Sonny has not heard from the Yankees since the off-season began. Scratch a talk with Boonie. The Reds offer a rotation that would not put any undue pressure on Gray.  He could be the best starter or he could be the worst. It’s really up to him and I think Reds fans will be more forgiving than us. 

Cash, get the Gray trade closed! We have faith in you.

I still don’t get why there is resistance among the fanbase for Adam Ottavino to be the first Yankee to wear the number 0. I am not sure if it is because “0” is not really a number, the fact no Yankee has ever worn the number or a preference for Derek Jeter to be the one to last wear a single digit number. Maybe there are other reasons but I really have no reason to believe Otto should not wear the number. Give it to the man. He’s a native New Yorker and he’s going to wear the Pinstripes proud. 

Emily Waldon of The Athletic recently reported the Yankees will attend a showcase for RHP Rookie Davis and LHP Adam Libertore on January 31st. Libertore, a 31-year-old former Dodgers reliever who was cut last August, does not really interest me, but I’d like to see the Yankees bring back Davis for an opportunity to kick start his career again. Davis was part of the deal that originally brought Aroldis Chapman to New York. Davis was one of four Yankees who went to Cincinnati, and he probably had the most success which really isn’t saying much since none of them panned out for the Reds. Davis underwent hip surgery in October 2017 and missed most of 2018 on the disabled list.  Davis appeared in seven games for the Reds in 2017 with six starts. The numbers were awful: 1-3, 8.63 ERA, giving up 38 hits, 23 earned runs, and 7 homers in 24 innings pitched. However, he was once a bright prospect and will only be 26 in late April.  Not sure if anything is there, but why not. I wouldn’t bring him in on a Major League deal but a minor league contract to allow him to rebuild value works for me assuming it works for him. 

Photo Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer (Zach Buchanan)

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr Day so let’s honor and remember one of the greatest men in American history. He may be gone but his voice is heard loudly today and will continue to resonate through many tomorrows to come.


As always, Go Yankees!

Meet a Prospect: Shed Long

The New York Yankees made a trade with the Cincinnati Reds this week that sent right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray to Cincinnati, while 2B prospect Shed Long, a draft pick, and a player to be named later returned to New York. Long was considered the Reds 6th or 7th best prospect in a great farm system, depending on what list you check, and could be a considerable talent for the New York Yankees going forward in their farm system… so let’s meet him. This is Meet a Prospect: The Shed Long Edition.

Shedric Bernard Long was born on August 22, 1995 and attended High School at Jacksonville High School in Jacksonville, Alabama. While attending he played baseball for the school’s team and caught the attention of the Cincinnati Reds who drafted the then catcher in the 12th round of the 2013 MLB First Year Players Draft. Long made his professional debut with the Arizona League Reds almost immediately after signing and finished his first pro season with a .256 batting average with one home run and eight RBI in 24 games played. Long played behind the plate again during the 2014 season before the Reds moved him to second base before the 2015 season with the Dayton Dragons. Long continued to work his way up the Reds organizational ladder until he was added to Cincinnati’s 40-man roster after the 2017 season. Shed spent the 2018 season in Double-A with the Pensacola Wahoo’s where he hit .261 with 12 home runs and 56 RBI in 126 games.

Long is just 5’8” and 180 lbs. Long hits from the left-side but throws from the right in the field at second base. Long has shown surprising power in the minor leagues and has even drawn praise from a Hall of Fame player in Barry Larkin. Larkin, in an interview with, said of Long, “Certainly, talent wise, he has big-league talent, no doubt about it.” Larkin went on to mention that Long has to work on the mental aspect of the game, but honestly that could probably be said about any minor league player, especially one that was drafted out of High School.

Here is a short clip from Bobby Nightengale, son of Bob Nightengale, showcasing Shed Long smacking a two-run single in the 3rd inning of an Arizona Fall League game.

And here are some stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Register Batting
2016202 Teams132548478691403051575214120.293.371.471.842
2017212 Teams1044393885010922316509494.281.358.477.834
All All All 476192916932374598816502195720418.271.352.431.783
With that said, welcome to the organization, Shed, and welcome to the Yankees family! (pending an extension with Sonny Gray for Cincinnati)