Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Brett Gardner WILL Get a Plaque in Monument Park (Opinion)

When I made the above tweet, I had no idea how much discussion and general uproar that it would start among Yankees Twitter. On a lazy Monday night in mid-November when there was no Yankees-related news to really be found, I found myself defending the fact that the New York Yankees will likely give Brett Gardner a plaque inside Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park before it is all said and done. Do I believe that he deserves one? That is up for debate, and something I will try to determine over the course of this post, but whether I believe he deserves one is irrelevant. If history is any indicator of the future, Gardner’s bald head, goofy smile, and #11 uniform number will all be on a plaque inside Yankee Stadium during my lifetime.

Now before the outrage starts and before we start unfollowing me on Twitter, @GreedyStripes for the shameless plug, let me explain my thought process behind this. At one point and time, Monument Park and the subsequent retired numbers that generally came with being a legendary New York Yankee was an exclusive club. Names like Miller Huggins (the first ever inducted into Monument Park, trivia time), Lou Gehrig, Jacob Ruppert, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Joe McCarthy, Casey Stengel, Thurman Munson, Elston Howard, Roger Maris, Phil Rizzuto, Billy Martin, Lefty Gomez, Whitey Ford, Bill Dickey, and Yogi Berra, to name a few, were scattered throughout the center field area of Yankee Stadium, rivaling the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

And then George Steinbrenner and crew came along and kind of watered it down a bit.

When the Boss took over as the owner of the New York Yankees the dilution of the retired uniform numbers, the plaques or monuments inside Monument Park, and the Yankees captaincy, among other things, slowly began to mean less and less. At least in my opinion. Monument Park went from being a shrine to not only the greatest Yankees to ever play or touch the game, but some of the best in the sport to ever leave their mark on the game that we all love. Sure, under George’s tenure the Yankees added plaques or monuments for the likes of Ron Guidry, Allie Reynolds, Bob Sheppard, Red Ruffing, Jackie Robinson, and others… but there were also a few questionable decisions in there as well along the way.

Reggie Jackson played a whopping five years for the New York Yankees, 1977 – 1981. Sure, Reggie won a couple World Series championships with the New York Yankees, and yes, I am well aware that he hit three home runs in three at-bats while doing so, but still. There is no way that Reggie deserves a plaque in Monument Park, let alone his number retired by the club. Not after the “Bronx is Burning” years of feuds with then manager Billy Martin, and not after he dipped town after just one contract with the Yankees. Sure, Reggie had five great seasons in the Bronx averaging a .281/.371/.526/.897 quad slash while averaging around 30 home runs and over 100 RBI per season with a cumulative 17.2 WAR, but is that deserving of having his number retired and having a plaque inside Monument Park? Well, that’s debatable. In my opinion, the answer is no, but I respect if anyone else wants to say yes. I am well aware of the Yankees World Series drought before Reggie arrived on the scene, and if that weighs into the decision more than it should, fine… but what about Phil Rizzuto?

Now while the comparison may not be exactly fair, Rizzuto lost the 1943, 1944, and 1945 seasons to World War II and his service with the US Navy, this may be the closest comparison that we can come up with. Gardner has played in 12 seasons with the Yankees while Rizzuto played in 13 and the stats are pretty similar. Again, not comparing the players... but I am comparing the stats. Gardner never won an MVP like Rizzuto did in 1950, and Gardner never finished second like Scooter did in 1949. I am comparing THE STATS while keeping in mind, again in my opinion, that the requirements for Monument Park have been watered down a bit over the years. 

Gardner career: .260/.342/.401/.743 with 124 HR, 524 RBI, 41.6 WAR, 12.5 dWAR.
Rizzuto career: .273/.351/.355/.706 with 38 HR, 563 RBI, 40.8 WAR, 22.9 dWAR. 

I am in no way saying Gardner is Phil Rizzuto, or even better than the Yankees he is likely to pass in 2020 assuming he comes back and has a productive season (a 1.6 WAR in 2020 would put him past Don Mattingly and Jorge Posada, and within striking distance of Thurman Munson… all who have plaques inside Monument Park), but what I am saying is that I can see the Yankees giving Gardner his spot inside Monument Park before it is all said and done. If you can make a case for Rizzuto being in there, and Reggie Jackson being there, Jorge Posada being there (check the stats… Gardner is right there with Jorgie statistically and in five less seasons), etc., then you can at least make the argument that Gardner will be there as well.

And while we are on the subject, where is Roy White Day and his plaque inside Monument Park? Talk about a travesty.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Missing the New York Yankees...

Off-Season Prep for 2020 is Underway…

I think I can speak for the entire Yankees fanbase when I say that we miss Yankees Baseball. We are in the part of the off-season where there is talk and speculation but not much action. Things should start warming up next week. Not that there will be signings and trades, but the General Manager meetings will be held Monday through Thursday in Scottsdale, Arizona. The groundwork for the future trades could be laid and of course there could be finalization of the new deal for Brett Gardner. When you get all the GM’s together in one place, anything can happen.  Let the alcohol flow! After a couple of shots, maybe Jacoby Ellsbury would look attractive to somebody. I’d love for a rival GM to wake up from a drunken stupor one morning, screaming “WTF! How did we end up with Ellsbury???!!!” Sadly, it won’t be that easy to get rid of Jacoby but I’ll always hold out hope. Fortunately, we are only one season away from the $5 million buyout and the end of Ellsbury’s time in New York. 

The biggest news for the Yankees this week was the appointment of Matt Blake as the new pitching coach, replacing the fired Larry Rothschild. Blake, 33, had been promoted last Tuesday to Director of Pitching Development for the Cleveland Indians. Two days later, he was the newest member of Aaron Boone’s staff.  Blake has been with the Indians for four seasons and was, prior to his promotion, the Assistant Director of Player Development. Before joining the Indians in late 2015, Blake was a pitching coordinator for Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, MA.  He began his career as a pitching coach for a Boston area high school (Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in Sudbury, MA) in 2009. In 2010, he served as an area scout for the Yankees before moving on to Cressey. He served as the pitching coach in 2015 for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, a collegiate summer baseball team in the Cape Cod Baseball League.  

Blake is a native of Concord, New Hampshire and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross with degrees in psychology and philosophy. He was on the Holy Cross baseball team for all four years.

While I think we have to recognize that most of us are not qualified to assess who is or is not a good pitching coach, I like the hire. I know everybody wanted the sexy pick of David Cone. Me too. I thought Cone or Andy Pettitte would be good choices, but conversely, I know that just because Cone was a very good pitcher and a great broadcaster does not mean that he would have been a terrific pitching coach. Also, the pitching coach job would have required Cone to take a pay cut. Frankly, I am glad that we’ll continue to hear Coney on YES Network broadcasts with Michael Key. I suppose he could always pursue coaching jobs elsewhere if he is so inclined but for now, I like his presence on my TV screen for games.  

The Yankees have evolved into one of Baseball’s most advanced analytic teams. They’ve sunk huge costs into acquiring some of the best  available analytic minds to support VP, Assistant General Manager Michael Fishman and his team of analysts. The word is Blake is very good at taking analytics and breaking it down into laymen’s terms for pitchers to understand and how to apply them. I know the Yankees didn’t wake up one morning and say ‘hey, let’s steal Blake from the Indians!’. They did their research, and multiple members within the Yankees organization had the opportunity to meet with Blake. The consensus of the greatest minds in the organization was the hiring of Blake as the next pitching coach. That’s good enough for me.  

I do think the Yankees should join the recent trend in MLB to hire an assistant pitching coach. The unknown about Blake is that he has never played or coached at the Major League level. I am not saying he can’t do it, but I think two voices on the coaching staff for the pitchers is smart. I personally like RailRiders pitching coach Tommy Phelps. He has good knowledge and experience with many of the high level prospects and we know that he has done good work with the Major League pitchers sent down for additional instruction, with Chad Green representing the most recent example. Who knows if Green’s rebound was because of Phelps or was based on a plan developed by Larry Rothschild, but I do know that Phelps is highly respected and would make a good partner for Blake.  

Speaking of Larry Rothschild, it didn’t take him long to find new employment. One day after the Yankees hired Blake, the San Diego Padres announced their had re-assigned their pitching coach of 17 years, Darren Balsey, to other duties within the organization and had hired Rothschild to be their next pitching coach. I think everyone expected Larry to follow Joe Girardi to Philadelphia, but all things considered, I think landing in San Diego is an ideal opportunity for him. I was a little surprised when Girardi went with Bryan Price as his pitching coach. Not that I think Price is a bad coach, but as a recent manager, I am sure he has aspirations to manage again, and I can’t help but think there could be potential for conflict with Girardi who we know can be hard-headed at times. Maybe I am reading too much into that, but at this state of his career, Rothschild is content with serving as a pitching coach until retirement calls his name. He’ll now get his opportunity to help break in another rookie manager (Jayce Tingler) and will be charged to help develop one of the best pitching prospects in the game in MacKenzie Gore. I don’t get the hate directed at Rothschild by Yankee fans. While I think it was time for the Yankees and Rothschild to part ways, I realize that Larry did many things right and there was much we were unable to see from the outside looking in. I am appreciative for the years he gave the Yankees. The Padres are a young, analytics-driven team, and they chose to go with experience. Good for Larry. I wish him the best for his new opportunity.  

It was reported the Yankees and Brett Gardner’s camp are talking and it should result in a new deal soon. I am in favor of bringing Gardy back, however, I do not feel the Yankees should spend more than $8-$10 million on a one-year contract.  Maybe throw in some incentives for a couple more million. But to expect Gardy to replicate his 2019 season (enhanced by the alleged juiced baseball) is asking too much. The Yankees need a starting center fielder next year and I hate seeing Gardner’s name automatically written in while Aaron Hicks recovers from Tommy John surgery. The guy will be 37 in August. I think he is best served as the team’s fourth outfielder with random starts rather than every day. The Yankees need to field the best players in 2020, not swim in sentimental waters. I’ve seen some Yankee fans suggest Gardy’s number should be retired when his playing days are finished. Sorry, while he has been a good Yankee for a long-time, he is not a Hall of Fame level player and never has been. I value Gardy’s leadership but I believe he is overrated in the eyes of many fans. I am not sure if the center field should be Mike Tauchman or maybe someone who is not in the organization right now, but I think the Yankees will go with the best man for the job and not simply pay for past performance.  

I know the Yankees will be okay if Didi Gregorius leaves, but I’ll be sad. I like his left-handed bat and I think he’ll rebound for a stronger 2020 season as he gets further away from TJ surgery.  The Yankees are still a championship-level team with Gleyber Torres at short and D.J. LeMahieu at second, but I think Didi still has much left in the tank. I know, I am making these statements after saying the Yankees shouldn’t stay with Gardy for sentimental reasons. But unlike Gardy, I think the best years can still be ahead for Didi. There’s growing speculation that Didi’s original team, the Cincinnati Reds, are interested in bringing him back. I guess if Didi does leave, I’d rather see him go to the National League so the Reds would probably be best-case scenario. But minus his bat, the Yankees will need to find another left-handed hitter to sandwich between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.   I am not sure if lefties like Mike Ford, Mike Tauchman, or (gasp!) Greg Bird can be that guy or if Brian Cashman will have to go for outside help. Also, unless the Yankees sign LeMahieu to an extension, there could be an infield void after next season. I’d hate to go back to rolling out guys like Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew  to fill in at second base like we did when Robinson Cano left. If you say Tyler Wade, then we obviously have differing opinions about the player.   

A much speculated target for shortstop has been Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor. Granted, he is not a left-handed bat but clearly he’s one of the best players in the game today. He is only 25 and would fit nicely into the Yankees lineup as a replacement for Gregorius. If the Indians move Lindor, it will only be for a huge haul so we’d have to expect to lose some very talented and promising players. Another suggestion is Corey Seager if the Los Angeles Dodgers acquire Lindor. I’d be fine with either Lindor or Seager at shortstop (using Aaron Boone’s favorite word, “obviously”). But honestly, I wish the Yankees would just re-sign Gregorius and save the trade bullets for an ace. A package of Lindor and Corey Kluber would be awesome, but the price tag would be outrageous. Nevertheless, I am sure you’ll be able to see Cashman in conversation with Chris Antonetti, Cleveland’s President of Baseball Operations, and/or Mike Chernoff, the Tribe’s GM, next week. You never know what can happen in Baseball.  

I am cautiously optimistic about Thurman Munson’s presence on the 2020 Modern Era Committee ballot for Hall of Fame consideration. The results will be announced on December 8th. I’ve always said that Jim “Catfish” Hunter is the reason I became a Yankee fan, but it didn’t take long for Thurman to become my favorite player.  The others on the ballot are Don Mattingly, Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons, Lou Whitaker, and former MLBPA head Marvin Miller. Mattingly was my favorite player after Munson. While I think both players are Hall of Fame-worthy, if I had to pick one, I’d say it is time for Thurman to get his deserved recognition as one of the game’s all-time greats. I loved the passion and intensity of that guy.  He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1970 and the AL MVP in 1976. Even though the Yankees were swept in the World Series that year, it was not because of Munson who hit .529 (9 for 17) in the series. He was the heart and soul of two World Series championship teams in 1977 and 1978. Thurman’s death in 1979 remains one of those “I know exactly where I was when I heard the news” moments in my life. I was devastated and it’s sad that we didn’t get to see what Thurman could have done past age 32. I know there was speculation at the time about Thurman’s desire to get closer to home and perhaps sign with the Cleveland Indians, but it would have been hard to see him in anything other than Pinstripes. He was truly one of the Yankee Legends despite his premature departure and deserves his place among the other greats. I hope this is the year.  

As always, Go Yankees! 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Offseason Predictions: Starting Pitching Edition

These are not the Yankees of old. They are not going to spend 300 million dollars this winter on
Cole, Strasburg,and Rendon. Though signing these three guys would probably put the Yankees “over the edge” and bring them their first world series in 11 years, it is not smart for the future. They would end up with obsolete players in their late thirties who don’t even play anymore (Ellsbury, end of a-rod, etc). The way to build a winning team has changed since George was in charge. Bringing up young breakout stars and trading for high ceiling, young, and controllable players from other teams is the new strategy. The Yankees have had a very seamless youth movement. The Baby Bombers have taken over, during the regular season at least. These Baby Bombers will eventually hit arbitration and free agency and the Yankees, even with their big wallet, won’t be able to retain them all. Keeping a balance of veterans and young controllable players is how teams have recently won the world series. This brings us back to this offseason. I already outlined who I would target on the offense trade market. So this brings us now to the pitching side of things.

Through a lot of thought and consideration, I have just about came to a conclusion for my predictions for the Yankees this winter on the pitching side. The Yankees have needed another ace for the last couple years and this would have supposedly made the difference. The Yankees missed on Verlander, Scherzer, Corbin, and trading for Cole, and this is why the Astros and Nationals have a world series win and the Yankees don’t. I don’t believe in saying the Yankees would’ve won the world series with one other guy because there are a lot of other variables that have to be factored in. If the best team on paper always won, then games wouldn’t be played. The Astros would’ve just been handed the world series title. There too much chance and other factors to really predict baseball and that's what's great about it. So all of you guys out there who think the Yankees will sign Cole, don’t get your hopes up. If the Yankees do wind up signing Cole, I would not be disappointed though. I would give it about a 25-30% chance of happening. Who knows, maybe "Ninja Cash" will swoop in last second and strike a deal with Gerrit. Anyways, here's my big predictions. "Expert prediction" if you insist.

This offseason I think the Yankees will sign Zack Wheeler and trade for Robbie Ray.

Zack Wheeler
Zack Wheeler hasn’t exactly had a great career so far, but he looks like a breakout candidate. A lot
of analysts have compared his stuff to Cole, though the naked eye doesn't really show that. He has good velocity, spin rate and low exit velocity. Hopefully the Yankees sign a pitching coach who can help him reach his full potential. Maybe a change of scenery is what he needs. He has the talent, maybe he just needs a change of mindset, maybe a winning mindset. Something he can’t get with the Mets. The Yankees had a lot of interest in him around the trade deadline, but trades between the Mets and Yankees never really come into fruition. He has been roughed up a bunch in his career so he won't be as expensive as a Cole but talent evaluators say he has a lot of talent so he will get a good amount of money. He isn't quite the true ace that the Yankees have supposedly been trying to get but he does bring a good amount of potential to the table.
Wheeler signs with the Yankees for 4 years and $76 Million

Robbie Ray

The Yankees have always been a big fan of Robbie Ray and so have I. He has good velo and good
offspeed pitches. He is another pitcher who hasn’t quite reached his potential yet. The Yankees have
had a lot of interest in him last offseason and near the trade deadline this past season. I think it has
been a matter of the Dbacks thinking they are in postseason contention but they really are not. Don't
let me get into a whole debate about the 2nd wild card messing up the balance of the league and
making for less trade deadline deals because no teams think they are sellers because they think
they can sneak into the second wild card spot. Anyways, Robbie Ray has high strikeouts and plus
stuff he just lacks control sometimes and if the Yankees new pitching coach can help him reach his
potential he could be one of the top starting pitchers in the game. These two moves are going to be
really impacted by whoever the Yankees decide to make their new pitching coach because these are
two potential really good pitchers if the right person is their coach. No pressure Yankees, but you better make the right decision.

Mock Trade:
Yankees Get:
Robbie Ray
Dbacks Get:
Michael King
Albert Abreu
Clarke Schmidt

If you have predictions for who you think the Yankees will get this offseason, let me know who in the comment section below. 

Tracking the Yankees 2020 Payroll

It is probably a good thing that I married an accountant, otherwise these posts would be pretty damn hard to keep up with. I admit it, math was never my favorite or my strongest subject, my only B’s ever in High School were in math, but something just seems to click for me when it comes to tracking the Yankees payroll. I can’t explain it, but it has always interested me, which is weird for a fan who grew up in the George Steinbrenner era of completely disregarding the payroll altogether. All salaries and information here are for informational purposes only, and all credit goes to Baseball Reference, MLB Trade Rumors and Spotrac. Big shout out to those guys and girls over there, thank you! I will try to keep this updated as much as I can throughout the offseason, but no promises.

2020 Guaranteed Contracts

As you can see, the New York Yankees have a huge chunk of money already ties up to these 10 key players going forward. If the Yankees are serious about making a run at a free agent starting pitcher like Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, or even a Zack Wheeler, some of this salary is going to have to come off the books. Stanton has a no-trade clause and has shown zero indication that he wants to play anywhere else, sorry to some of the “fans” out there that want him traded, while New York is stuck with Ellsbury for at least one more season leaving very few options as far as trades go. The only name that pops out to me is a name I have already mentioned trading lately, Happ. New York may have to eat some of that salary to move him for lower level prospects, but the ends may justify the means if they can turn his saved $10 - $12 million into the ace that the team so desperately needs. It is also worth mentioning that New York is very likely to recoup most of the money owed to Hicks and probably all of the money owed to Ellsbury through insurance in 2020, but they will not factor that into their decision making or payroll spending if history is any indicator of the future.

Running Tally: $153,000,000

MLB Trade Rumors Arbitration Predictions

We as a fan base have been talking about this forever and the New York Yankees will get their first real dose of it here in 2020. The thing about building a young core of players it that eventually those players are all going to want to get paid. Now, the Yankees have worked out extensions with Severino and Hicks last offseason and could do the same with a few key names on the list above this offseason, but until that happens, we can only watch and wait. The Yankees won’t announce the real arbitration numbers for a couple months now, so for now we can only go by what MLB Trade Rumors predicts. MLB Trade Rumors has a great track record of getting pretty damn close on the vast majority of their predictions, so I take these numbers as a great indicator of what we will actually see later on in the offseason.

Running Tally: $189,800,000

2020 League Minimum Salaries ($555K?)

This one was a bit harder to calculate only because, as of the time of this writing anyway, we do not have concrete numbers on the league’s minimum salary for the 2020 season. For now, I have used the 2019 league minimum salary of $555,000, but except this number to go up. When it does, we will update our sheet and our post accordingly. For not, the verbiage in the collective bargaining agreement had the 2019 salary at $555,000 with “cost of living increases” for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Those are yet to be determined, so stay tuned for those.

By my unofficial count, the Yankees 40-man roster currently sits at 37… so three more salaries, even at league minimum, will be added to this list.

Running Tally: $198,675,000

2020 Deferred Salaries

Alex Rodriguez - $5,000,000

Why in the world are the Yankees STILL paying Alex Rodriguez $5 million a season? I just don’t have the answer to that. I mean, I do. That is what they agreed to do in order to make him go away, but it just seems foolish to still be paying the guy who hasn’t been on the field for the team in a number of seasons. Oh well, any excuse to put a picture of Jennifer Lopez on the site is a good thing in my opinion.

Running Tally: $203,675,000

2020 Competitive Balance Tax Totals

Competitive Balance Tax Threshold: $208,000,000
Yankees 2020 Total AAV/Payroll: 203,675,000
Estimated Player Benefits: $15,000,000
Estimated Minor League Contracts: $2,500,000
Current Projected Payroll: $221,175,000
Competitive Balance Tax Space: -$13,175,000

The New York Yankees are already an estimated $13.175 million over the luxury tax threshold before they even really open their doors to the offseason. The Yankees are $13.175 million over the luxury tax before they potentially bring back Brett Gardner to man center field while Aaron Hicks is out and they are $13.175 million over the cap before they potentially bring back some of their own like Didi Gregorius, Austin Romine or Dellin Betances. The Yankees are well above the cap before they even entertain the idea of inviting one of the top starting pitchers to the Bronx to tour the Stadium and all its glory. The Yankees are well above the cap before the GM Meetings or the Winter Meetings. If you are a fan of this team and you are expecting the Yankees to be major players in the offseason, you may want to temper your expectations. New York may make a move or a splash, they have a long way to go before hitting the highest tax bracket and penalty outlined by the CBA, but to the fans that are thinking that the Yankees may get both Cole and Strasburg, or one of them and third baseman Anthony Rendon… think again.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Offense Trade Targets

As the offseason begins, there is a feeling of opportunity for the Yankees to improve. We will all be refreshing twitter to see the next big deal unfold. Of course the most important thing to focus on for the Yankees is starting pitching. The Yankees should of course try to sign Cole, Strasburg or trade for a big name ace. That is a topic of discussion for a whole other day. On the offensive side the Yankees should look to acquire at least one of Lindor, Marte, or Bell, and ideally two of the three. All three of these guys are switch hitters which I absolutely love and they make a lot of contact. They also have good power potential but what player didn't in 2019 with the juiced ball. Here are some reasons why to acquire each of the three players stated above.

Francisco Lindor
I don't have to say too terribly much about Francisco Lindor. Signing him would obviously mean an end to Didi Gregorius's time in New York. Lindor is a switch hitting short stop with a lot of pop. He is a perennial MVP candidate and he just won another golden glove. He makes contact with the ball and would be very good for breaking up the big righties in the middle of the Yankees' lineup. 2020 will be his age 26 season as he approaches free agency. He will cost a lot to extend but he is a great player to build around for the future. His personality and smile would flourish in New York and he would be a absolute fan favorite.
Mock Trade:
Yankees Get:
Indians Get:

Ketel Marte
Marte had a breakout year for the Diamondbacks in 2019. He broke out with 32 homeruns, .329 batting average and .981 OPS. He is very versatile playing CF for the Dbacks right now while he played short stop previously. He could fill in for Aaron Hicks in centerfield while he is out and either shift to the infield or to left field when Hicks returns. He would be a good player to bat in the first three in the Yankees lineup to break up the righties. He had only 86 strikeouts last year while taking 53 walks. He puts the ball in play which is super important in the postseason.
Mock Trade:
Yankees Get:
Ketel Marte
Dbacks Get:

Josh Bell
Since Mark Teixeria retired the Yankees have not had a mainstay at first base. There has been a lot of injuries (Greg Bird) and no one has really taken the job and ran with it. To solve this problem the Yankees could get their big lefty bat in the middle of the lineup while getting their first basemen for the long haul. Josh Bell bring huge power and contact to the table and also another switch hitter. Another breakout player in 2019, he became an all star for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had 37 homeruns, walked 74 times, and struck out 118 times. He would finally bring stability and a big left bat to the middle of the Yankees lineup.
Mock Trade:
Yankees Get:
Josh Bell
Pirates Get:
Luke Voit
Luis Gil
Luis Medina

Potential Lineup
1. Lemaiheu 2B
2. Marte CF
3. Judge RF
4. Bell 1B
5. Stanton LF
6. Mike Ford DH
7. Torres SS
8. Sanchez C
9. Urshela 3B

This is a couple of moves the Yankees could potential look into and a few players I would love to see in pinstripes and who would really help. They are similar to Le Machine as they put the ball in play as well as having some home run potential. I'm not a GM so I don't know exactly how the players would work out, If you have any trade ideas, predictions, or trade targets, let us know in the comment section.

The Cuban Missile Fails to Launch…

Photo Credit: Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Chapman Agrees to Extension w/Yanks…

Aroldis Chapman had the right to opt out of his contract on Saturday night but in the end, he agreed to a one-year extension worth $18 million (in addition to the remaining 2 years/$30 million left on his current contract). So, the opt out did not happen and the Cuban Missile, thankfully, did not launch into Free Agency.

As I wrote yesterday, I was prepared for Chapman to leave. I felt the Yankees would be fine with or without him but you can argue the Yankees would be better served by using Chapman’s money toward a frontline starter. Prior to the news of Chapman’s extension, word spread that Washington Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg had opted out of his contract. Strasburg gives the Free Agency Market two top starters and frankly, I’ll be disappointed if the Yankees do not try to sign either Strasburg or Gerrit Cole.

Honestly, the realist in me knows that the Yankees will not sign either Strasburg or Cole, and the Chapman extension has nothing to do with it. But until they sign, I’ll carry hope that one of them is a Yankee before the next season starts. Supposedly, agent Scott Boras and the Nationals are set to begin negotiations today but we’ll see. The Lerner family is capable of making Strasburg a very rich man but the question is will they? I thought they’d do what it takes to keep Bryce Harper last year rather than let him walk away to a division rival but I was wrong. Granted, they didn’t need Harper to win the World Series, but in Strasburg’s case, he is one of the game’s best and as we know too well, pitchers do not grow on trees.  

Photo Credit: Thomas B Shea, USA TODAY Sports
Last year, the Yankees lost out on Patrick Corbin because their offer was blown out of the water by the Nats. It would be very ironic (and poetic) if the Yankees snatched Strasburg away from Washington. Pitcher to pitcher, I’d much rather have Strasburg over Corbin. So it is possible that this could work out to the best possible case scenario for everyone who wanted the Yankees to sign Corbin last year.  

Anyway, sorry for the digression, let’s get back to Aroldis Chapman. I am glad he’s a Yankee today. I don’t blame him for the ALCS exit on the walk-off homer by Jose Altuve. Losses never come down to a single play. There are plenty of other things the Yankees could have done differently to change the outcome. You can’t pin the blame on one guy. Even the great Mariano Rivera was human at times. Chapman turns 32 in February so he’ll be a free agent again at age 35. I suspect that’s when the Yankees and Chapman part ways but for now, he’s the team’s closer and I am happy about the outcome. In a way, I do feel bad for Zack Britton who deserves the opportunity to close but he represents great insurance for the health of Chapman. Chapman, to go with Britton, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, and Chad Green, ensures the Yankees will have a top bullpen in 2020.  

Welcome back, Chappy! We’re glad you decided to stay with us for another run or two or three at October. 

Stephen James Strasburg turns 32 in July. In 2019, he was 18-6 for the Nationals with 3.32 ERA. His K/9 was 10.81, HR/9 1.03, and WAR 5.7. He made 33 starts, good for 209 innings of work. It’s easy to salivate about a potential starting rotation of Strasburg, Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jordan Montgomery (sorry J.A. Happ, don’t let the door hit you on the way out).  

I probably still want Gerrit Cole over Strasburg. He’s a little younger (won’t turn 30 until September). He had a brilliant 2019, going 20-5 with 2.50 ERA which should pay off with the AL Cy Young Award. His K/9 was a career best 13.82, HR/9 1.23 and he had the higher WAR at 7.4. The number of starts and innings were similar to Strasburg’s totals…same number of starts with 3 1/3 more innings. But regardless of whether it is Cole or Strasburg, either would look fantastic in Pinstripes.  

All of this just means that I should probably begin looking for my Zack Wheeler Yankees jersey.

Photo Credit: Twitter via @Wheelerpro45
There’s a name that Bryan Van Dusen of The Greedy Pinstripes has been pushing for months. German Marquez. He’ll only be 25 heading into next season and he has a wealth of talent and potential. He regressed in 2019 (like the entire Rockies team) but remains arguably the best pitcher on Colorado’s starting staff. I’ve long admired Jon Gray but at this point, there’s no question Marquez is the better pitcher.  He was 12-5 last season with 4.06 ERA (give the guy a break, he pitches at Coors Field). His K/9 was 9.05, HR/9 1.50 (again, Coors Field), and WAR 3.4. This guy is on clear path to replicating the numbers produced by Cole and Strasburg, and he’s five years younger than Cole. I didn’t think the Rockies would be willing to part with their young ace, but after a very disappointing season in the Mile High City, they need more than just help in the rotation.  The Yankees have the pieces that could help a Rockies rebuild and Marquez would fit nicely in the Bronx. Rumor has it that former Rockies do very well in the Bronx. If the Yankees do acquire Marquez, Van Dusen deserves much credit for continuing to shout his name. Marquez is one of a select very few number of pitchers that I’d consider giving up Deivi Garcia for. Luis Castillo of the Cincinnati Reds is another.

If the Yankees are looking to add to the bullpen, particularly if Dellin Betances leaves (I hope not), it won’t include Tony Watson, who has long been a Cashman target. Watson exercised his player option with the San Francisco Giants yesterday which will most likely keep him in the City by the Bay for another year.  Granted, he had a disappointing 2019 season but he remains one of the better lefty relievers around. I know, he’s 34 and he’s recovering from a broken wrist suffered in September but he’s a good guy to have in the pen.  

On the same day that Strasburg opted out of his contract, the Nationals dropped the hammer on two guys that helped bring the first World Series championship to Washington since 1924 yesterday (the same day as their victory parade). The team declined the options for first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and catcher Yan Gomes. While Zimmerman was expected (he’s simply not a $20 million/year player anymore), I was a little surprised about Gomes even if he didn’t have a great season statistically-speaking.  I’ve seen more than a few people suggest the Yankees should go after him to back up Gary Sanchez. While I am comfortable going into 2020 with Kyle Higashioka as the backup, I’ll admit that it would be intriguing to have Gomes. He did very well with the great pitching staffs in Cleveland. As much as I want Gary Sanchez to have a healthy, monster season next year, the hard truth is that whomever backs him up will see plenty of playing time. Gomes should be given consideration, in my opinion, if the price is right.

Are the Mets really considering their former manager, Terry Collins, as Carlos Beltran’s bench coach? That’s funny. No disrespect to Collins, who I think is an excellent baseball guy, but it just seems odd that he’d take a coaching position with the Mets after being fired as their manager a couple of years ago. Carlos Beltran recently said that Collins was the best manager he had played for, a group that includes Joe Girardi, Bruce Bochy, and A.J. Hinch.  

The five-day exclusive negotiating period for teams and their own free agents will officially end tomorrow so let the Hot Stove League begin! For Yankee fans, we’ll see the names of Cole and Strasburg ad nauseam until we don’t (meaning they sign somewhere).  

Buckle up, this should be fun.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Baseball is Over...Now What?...

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports
The Hot Stove League is open for business…

The 2019-20 Baseball Off-Season or rather the Hot Stove League has officially begun. While the Washington Nationals and their fans celebrate the World Series championship, the rest of us are left to wonder what could have been. For years, we pointed to 2019 as our championship year.  It’s disappointing it did not happen but on the bright side, the window has not closed and the Yankees will be back in 2020 to make noise in October.  

I don’t have an off-season plan. I’ve already read plenty of great ones so no need for me to develop a fictional wish list that has no bearing on what Brian Cashman will actually do. My views are more what I’d like to see in the coming months.   

But first, I’d like to extend a birthday wish to Daniel Burch, the Co-Founder and Head Writer of The Greedy Pinstripes blog. Happy Birthday, Daniel! I hope it’s a tremendous day for you, KariAnn, and your family. Enjoy, my friend! Speaking of Daniel, if you haven’t already, you should read his response to Hal Steinbrenner’s recent remarks and his off-season plan that was posted yesterday. It’s an excellent read and right on point. It followed a great off-season plan presented by the other Co-Founder of The Greedy Pinstripes, Bryan Van Dusen.   

Now back to baseball. I always head into the off-season with great anticipation and optimism. It’s the chance to add enhancements to the team for its run next year. I do not believe in complacency and feel that you should constantly be looking for ways to improve the roster. We saw what complacency delivered for the Boston Red Sox last year. Granted, a number of their guys had career years the year before so a fall was inevitable but it certainly didn’t help that they made no effort to better their defense of their championship. It resulted in a disappointing, lost year for Boston. Not that I didn’t enjoy seeing Boston down and their fans quiet, but my point is simply that complacency never wins.  

I know that going into 2020, I do not want a staff of starters capable of only going five or six innings, with a few bullpen games mixed in. We saw the results of a tired pen in October, even with the rest they were given in the regular season’s final month. Like many fans, I want the Yankees to sign Gerrit Cole (or Stephen Strasburg if he opts out). But realistically, I doubt the Yankees sign either. Unlike last year, when I was very hopeful the Yankees would sign either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, I do not hold the same belief about this year’s premier free agents.  Not that I don’t want them, just rather I think the Yankees stick to their current business model and show financial constraint. As a Plan B, I’ve certainly warmed to the idea of someone like Zack Wheeler. I’ve long admired Madison Bumgarner but I share the belief that he’ll probably end up with the Atlanta Braves. I think someone like Hyun-Jin Ryu would be a tremendous addition but I can’t believe the Los Angeles Dodgers will let him get away. But then again, I never thought former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda would finish his MLB career as a Yankee.  

Regardless of who the Yankees add to the starting rotation (correction, IF they add), there’s no room for J.A. Happ in my opinion. If there’s a move I am very hopeful for, it’s the ability to trade Happ and his contract, even if the team has to cover part of the salary and attach a prospect or two, to another team before the season starts. Last year was a very disappointing one for Happ and at 37 years old, he’s not going to get any better. The Yankees also cannot rely upon Domingo German, who remains on administrative leave for domestic violence. It’s likely he’ll serve a significant suspension next season and even then, I am not so sure I want the man, if the domestic violence accusations are true, on the roster regardless of his 18 wins. I reserve judgment until we know more about his case but at this point, German does not have my support. I know, I was able to forgive Aroldis Chapman and maybe that turns out to be the case with German once we know more. We’ll see but he’s not someone we can count on as we know it today.  

I think it is more probable the Yankees will acquire another starter in trade rather than through free agency. I don’t know who they should target. I’ve certainly seen the name of Lucas Giolito come up plenty and I’d be glad to have him, but we’ll have to see how this plays out over the course of the off-season. Personally, I think the Chicago White Sox would be foolish to part with their young ace given the burgeoning young talent in their system. No doubt Brian Cashman and his analytics team have uncovered multiple names they’d love to target.  

Photo Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast, AP
As of this writing, the following Yankees are free agents: Edwin Encarnacion, Austin Romine, Didi Gregorius, Cory Gearrin, Dellin Betances, CC Sabathia (retired), Brett Gardner and Cameron Maybin.  

I’ve seen many people say that Dellin will be back. While I don’t think he’ll let the ridiculous words of Yankees President Randy Levine from a few years ago influence his decision, the fact remains as long as he is free to choose, it’s very possible that he goes elsewhere. I’d hate to see the Bronx native leave and he’s been such a huge part of the bullpen in recent years despite the lost 2019 season. I had assumed he’d sign a one- or two-year deal with the Yankees to rebuild value, but that may not be the case if another team offers him the right amount of money. This morning, Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com made his predictions for likely landing spots and he has Betances signing with the Houston Astros. Honestly, that makes me sick to the stomach. I really do not want to see Dellin in Houston or Boston. I suppose if he must leave, I’d prefer he goes to Philly to join up with Joe Girardi. But of the above-listed free agents, the one I want back the most is Dellin. I hope he and the Yankees are able to come together on a deal to keep him at home in the Bronx.  

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images
I think Brett Gardner will be back on another one-year deal. At this point in his career, he’s not getting anything more than one-year deals from the Yankees. If another team were to offer him a multi-year contract, I’d support the Yankees’ decision to let him walk away. I don’t want to de-value what Gardy meant to the Yankees in 2019, but my stance on all players is that I’d rather cut bait a year early than a year too late. But none of it really matters as I expect Gardy to be back in 2020.

Didi Gregorius is a tough one. I love the guy. His personality matches his strong defensive ability and I think, a year removed from Tommy John surgery, his bat will rebound next season to its previous form. It’s hard to envision Didi not with the Yankees. He has meant so much to them since Derek Jeter retired. However, I can easily see the Yankees making Gleyber Torres the everyday shortstop and giving D.J. LeMahieu a permanent spot at second base, his strongest position.  It would allow the Yankees to reallocate the money it would take to re-sign Didi to other needs. If the money is re-directed to sign a guy like Gerrit Cole, it would be hard to argue keeping Gregorius in Pinstripes. If he leaves to sign with the rumored favorites, the Milwaukee Brewers or Cincinnati Reds, I’ll be sad but life goes on. Didi has been a great Yankee and as they say, change is inevitable and nothing lasts forever.  

Randy Miller has Austin Romine going to the Los Angeles Angels. I can easily see that one coming true. It makes sense for the Southern CA native to go home, and there’s some excitement building in Orange County with Joe Maddon’s appointment as the team’s manager. If the Angels can sign Gerrit Cole and GM Billy Eppler is able to make a few other moves to bring in more talent to support Mike Trout, there’s some reason for optimism for the Angels. I don’t expect the Angels to be competing for the World Series next year, but they’ll be a fun team. I’ll hate to lose Romine but his loss is inevitable, especially if he is given the opportunity to start elsewhere. I’ve enjoyed Romine as the backup catcher but I don’t see him coming back under any circumstances. It’s a great opportunity for Kyle Higashioka and hopefully he’s doing everything possible this winter to prepare himself for the backup role behind Gary Sanchez. Eventually Anthony Siegler and Josh Breaux will be making noise, but for now, Higgy is the best option.  

I can see Cameron Maybin coming back on a reasonable, cost-effective deal. I doubt the Yankees try to bring back Cody Gearrin or Edwin Encarnacion (after paying the $5 million buyout rather than $20 million salary for next season). CC, as we all know, is now content to wait for the call to the Hall of Fame.  

I had assumed the Yankees would try to sign D.J. LeMahieu to an extension this off-season but upon further thought, I agree with the assessment that LeMahieu holds the overwhelming advantage in negotiations after his brilliant 2019 debut in Pinstripes. The Yankees are better off waiting to see how he performs in 2020. The risk is that he’ll be a free agent after the season but the current Yankees business model looks at the long-term view and will not overpay players like they once did with Jacoby Ellsbury. I know I’d like to see LeMahieu stay in Pinstripes beyond next season but for now, we’ll have to wait.  

I don’t think the Yankees need to lock up Gleyber Torres on an extension this off-season but it should be a priority in the next couple of off-seasons. The prime extension target this off-season should be Aaron Judge. Do what it takes. Keep this man in Pinstripes for the duration of his career. Say what you will about the injuries but when healthy, the guy is one of the best in the game.  

Today is the day we find out whether or not Aroldis Chapman opts out of his contract. It is assumed that he’ll opt out if he and the Yankees are unable to agree upon an extension. I’ve said all along that I am prepared for Chapman to leave. I’d love to have him back as the team’s closer next year but the Yankees are paying him top dollar. If it is not good enough and they are unable to agree on the dollars for additional year(s), then let him go. Zack Britton is certainly a capable closer who has proven to be the best in the game when fully healthy. I’d have no reservations about him being the Yankees’ closer.  The Yankees would need to add other parts to the bullpen, like signing free agent reliever Will Smith, but I am confident the Yankees will be fine with or without Chappy.  

Congratulations to Carlos Beltran. For as much as I hated to see him leave his job as a special advisor for the Yankees, I am happy he’ll get his first managerial gig with the New York Mets. Granted, not crazy it’s the Mets, but there are only so many managerial jobs and you have to start somewhere. I had hoped the San Francisco Giants, one of his former teams, would show interest, but it’s clear Beltran has an East Coast preference for family reasons. It’s kind of funny that Beltran will be butting heads with Don Mattingly and Joe Girardi in the NL East. When Beltran didn’t get the manager job with the Yankees, I had hoped he would be a part of the coaching staff. It obviously didn’t happen but Beltran was still able to bring his influence to the team. I wish him the best of luck in Queens and I hope everything works out for him despite the Wilpon family.  

I miss Yankees baseball. Is it February yet?…

As always, Go Yankees!

Friday, November 1, 2019

My Response to Hal Steinbrenner and My Plan for the 2020 Offseason

Hello Yankees fans. It has been a while since we last spoke on blog form, although I have stayed active on Twitter @GreedyStripes, but my response to Hal Steinbrenner’s “State of the Yankees” type response this week just couldn’t be contained to 280-ish characters. Hal Steinbrenner discussed with Dan Martin of the New York Post where the New York Yankees go from here, and honestly… his plan and responses infuriated me.

“The failure in October, however, does not erase the accomplishments and successes of the season as a whole.” I agree with this statement, Hal. Carry on. “Winning the division for the first time since 2012, for one. I am proud of the team for many reasons, and we will most certainly be in the thick of things next year.” Okay, stop. First of all, I genuinely dislike the whole “World Series or bust” mantra that has been put on the team by the fans and the media. When George Steinbrenner ran the team, and when the entire thought process and attitude was created, the game and the atmosphere around Major League Baseball were entirely different. The Yankees could outspend the league with zero regard for the consequences. George could outspend his mistakes and gather up all the talent that the league, and the world for that matter, could muster. What a lot of fans aren’t remembering about that, though, is that it was the foolish spending and tactics that led to the environment that we are currently residing in today as baseball fans. Back then, it was pretty much George’s vision of the YES Network as a major television network and that was about it. Nowadays almost every team has a national television network, and the subsequent revenue that comes along with it. Back then, the talent level that existed in the game now just didn’t exist. Sure, there were great players spread across the league, but there weren’t players like Ronald Acuna, Juan Soto, and Gleyber Torres tearing up the league before they could barely legally purchase a drink at a bar. It just didn’t happen, but now it is. No longer can the Yankees simply buy up all the international talent that is out there and trade away their prospects for proven veteran talent. The league’s spending caps on international free agents, the potential draft pick and monetary compensation that you lose for spending over your cap as well as the spending limitations that come along in future years, and the absolute influx of talent that leaves plenty to go around make it impossible for the old ways to be prevalent here in 2019. Period. So, while the “World Series or bust” mindset should die, it absolutely should not and cannot be replaced with the “Well, at least we won the division” mindset. That’s just lazy and irresponsible and it’s not going to cut it in the Bronx. Not now, not then, and not ever.

“If the 2020 season was to start tomorrow, I would feel considerably more confident than I did a year ago at this time. We will have both Severino and Montgomery back. We now know that Domingo German can pitch effectively at this level. And we know James Paxton can be the guy that we were hoping for when we made that trade. We have Masahiro Tanaka, JA Happ, Jonathan Loaisiga, and perhaps Deivi Garcia at some point. A very good rotation.” Let me stop you again. While I am teetering on the desire to agree with you, I think we ultimately see things a little differently. While Hal Steinbrenner see’s this as a very good rotation, I ultimately think this will be his cop out for not wanting to get seriously involved in the bidding for Gerrit Cole, potentially Stephen Strasburg, etc. I don’t know why, whether it’s intuition or a bit of pessimism, but I feel like that said all we needed to know as fans about what to expect this winter. First and foremost, we won’t see Deivi before the end of July. That’s fine, the Yankees did something similar with Luis Severino back in 2015 when the 21-year old made his debut on August 5th of that season, but I truly don’t think that the Yankees can simply lean on that and depend on that kind of production out of Deivi. Furthermore, divisions and trips to the postseason cannot be won or achieved between the months of March and July or August, but they can damn sure be lost along the way. You can’t predict baseball, Suzyn, and if the 2019 Yankees showed us anything, you can’t predict injuries either. Relying on this rotation as it is currently constituted and assembled is risky, and using this current rotation as an excuse to not do everything in your power to sign a guy like Cole, Strasburg, etc., then in my opinion that is a complete slap in the face to the fans, the fan base, and all 25 (26 next season) players in that dugout. Steinbrenner can spout quotes like “Our payroll the last 10-plus years are a testament to that,” when discussing the possibility of signing off on any potential free agent signing that Brian Cashman and his crew puts on Hal’s desk, but we have all seen and ranted about the revenue to payroll reports that are public record by now. The Yankees spend the lowest percentage of payroll to revenue in all of Major League Baseball. I couldn’t care less about how many other expenditures you have that aren’t reported in these graphs and percentages. What I do care about is spending an exorbitant amount of money on tickets, merchandise, YES Network subscriptions, parking, food, etc. in 2020 only to watch Tyler Wade (no disrespect intended to Mr. Wade) man left field while an aging Brett Gardner tries to hold down center field until Aaron Hicks returns from Tommy John surgery. The Yankees make the most money, and the Yankees fans pay the most money (or damn near close to it), so it only makes sense for the ends to justify the means. The fans were not only loyal, but patient, while Hal and company got under and stayed under the luxury tax. The fans were also patient, for the most part anyway, while New York passed on the likes of Patrick Corbin, Manny Machado, and Bryce Harper last offseason, deciding to trust the process while DJ LeMahieu grew on us all. The Yankees fan base has put in their time, and in my very bias yet humble opinion it’s time for Hal to throw them a bone.

I, unlike most, won’t just sit here and gripe about things that haven’t been done. Instead, I’d rather throw out my own plan and build upon it as the winter drags on. While we stand here on November 1st, my plan is not complete (please remember this before ripping it, and me, to shreds in the comments section and on Twitter), but here it is in all its glory. I haven’t fully made up my mind on what New York should do with Didi Gregorius and his impending free agency, but for whatever reason every ounce of me is leaning towards letting him hit free agency. In all honesty, I see the Yankees bringing him back on a three-or-four-year deal at a reasonable price (I am thinking $12 - $15 million AAV), but I think that money could be better spent elsewhere. Having LeMahieu play every day at second base, his best and natural position, while sliding Gleyber Torres over to shortstop just makes sense to me. This gives the Yankees their best infield defense while it also opens the door for New York to sign Yoshitomo Tsutsugo out of Japan. While we don’t know a lot about Tsutsugo, but when do we ever with these Japanese imports, I think we know enough to make an intelligent decision to sign him. First and foremost, Tsutsugo is only 27-years old, he will be 28-years old when the 2020 season begins and would add a lot to the 2020 Yankees that I think they may have missed in 2019. Tsutsugo can play left field, third base, and first base while batting from the left side and throwing from the right side. Gio Urshela needs a day off? Easy, let Tsutsugo play third. Voit and his reverse splits need to sit in a day game after a night game? No problem, Yoshitomo can easily man and platoon at first. Giancarlo Stanton cannot play left field every day, but Tsutsugo could if he had to as he has been extremely durable throughout his career in the Japanese Central League. Tsutsugo is a power hitting bat that would salivate while looking down at the short porch inside Yankee Stadium, and even if his power didn’t exactly translate from Japan to the states, those home runs would at least be doubles here in the Bronx… and that works too. In 10 seasons in Japan, Tsutsugo has hovered around a .300 batting average with an extra .100 points consistently added on top of that with his on-base percentage. Tsutsugo could add a lot of versatility to the team while presumably not breaking the bank either. A bench of Tsutsugo, Tyler Wade, and Austin Romine (I am assuming he comes back) allows the Yankees to carry both 13 pitchers and potentially Miguel Andujar on the bench.

Now that last line probably infuriated a ton but let me explain. Remember, the offseason plan is not complete. If the Yankees decide to trade Andujar in a deal that makes sense, a deal like a potential (albeit unlikely) deal for Lucas Giolito of the Chicago White Sox for instance, then you absolutely do that. At the same time, though, I am not exactly giving away Andujar either. Gio Urshela was great in 2019, and I honestly think he could be again in 2020, but this is most definitely not a Wally Pipp situation in my eyes. The extra roster space and the expansion of the 25-man roster to a 26-man roster allows the Yankees to do that, even if they also carry Giancarlo Stanton on the roster as well. There will be plenty of at-bats, injuries, and situations to go around that everyone will get their fair share, trust me.

The pitching is where the Yankees can get super creative. Having a healthy Jordan Mongtomery is great, but that should absolutely not keep you from going after a generational talent like Cole or Strasburg. Montgomery got a whopping 4.0 IP in 2019 and 27.1 IP in 2018, so despite his 155.1 IP in 2017 and his arm strength that was built up in the Minor League’s prior to his callup in 2017, the arm strength will just not be there for the 162-game grind that will be the 2020 season. Sending Montgomery down to AAA to start the 2020 campaign, or even the bullpen, would not be the worst thing in the world for Gumby, nor the Yankees. He is just a phone call away if and when he is needed. The same can be said for Jonathan Loaisiga and others, neither should keep the Yankees from making a run at a top starter. The one man that could, though, is JA Happ. Happ is not likely going to the bullpen and he cannot be stashed down at AAA like the aforementioned Loaisiga and Montgomery. The Yankees are going to have either ride it out with him or move him. Before anyone jumps up and down about the money he is owed and the crap show that he portrayed on the mound in 2019, let me remind you of a few things. Down the stretch, Happ was great. Also, the Yankees did the same thing with AJ Burnett not all that long ago when they sent him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a pair of prospects and salary relief. At the time the deal was described as AJ Burnett for salary relief and a pair of lottery tickets, and a similar deal could be worked out for Happ if New York makes the money look right. Happ is due to make $17 million in 2020 and has a vesting option for another $17 million in 2021 if he pitches at least 165 innings or makes 27 starts in 2020. I don’t know who would be willing to take on Happ and around $12 million, the Yankees of course eating the $5 million or more, but with the market ever evolving it wouldn’t surprise me to see someone bite on Happ for a couple prospects no one has ever heard of down in A-Ball.

Adding another bullpen piece could be another discussion to have for another day, but I will wait until the Yankees do whatever they are going to do with Aroldis Chapman, his request for an extension, and his potential opt-out of the Bronx. Right now, this is my focus for the Yankees this offseason, and I think this is a plan that Hal can get behind. I haven’t crunched the numbers, but the subtraction of Happ ($12-ish million), CC Sabathia ($8 million), Gardner as of today ($7.5 million plus $2 million buyout), Didi ($11.75 million), Dellin Betances as of today ($7.25 million)etc. that would more than clear enough capital to sign Cole at or around $35 million AAV and still have the Yankees under what they spent in 2019, pre-arbitration, and BETTER than they were in 2019.

Will Hal listen? I guess we will just have to stay tuned and find out.