Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Fall of the Kraken...

Photo Credit: J Conrad Williams, Jr / Newsday

Gary Sanchez’s days may be numbered…

Mid-November and we continue to wait for the baseball off-season to kick it into gear. I know, nothing ever really happens until after Thanksgiving and often not until the Baseball Winter Meetings in early December. It’s always fun for something to happen in November if for no other reason than to give us something to write about. I don’t really care about the Chicago White Sox hiring a geriatric manager with DUI issues (other than the safety of others when he is on the road).

With word the Yankees are listening to offers for Gary Sanchez, the realism that he is never going to reach his potential is starting to set in with me. I know many of you gave up long ago, but I always held out the slight hope that the way he burst onto the scene in 2017 was going to set the standard for years to come. I think I was a little overly optimistic on that one. I am still not 100% ready to shut the door on El Gary. I don’t want Kyle Higashioka, sorry, as the starting catcher, Austin Wells (who should be the future) is still a few years away, and I don’t see the Yankees paying the bucks it will take to get J.T. Realmuto to sign on the dotted line. I hope there’s NO fire to the Yadier Molina rumors. I respect Yadi and he’s most likely headed for the Hall of Fame as the best of the Molina brothers. At 38, Yadi has seen his better days. He has had a tremendous career in St Louis. Yet, I do not see him as a potential bridge to Austin Wells. If Brian Cashman does trade Sanchez, he’s going to have to get us a younger catcher with more upside.

I also have no interest in shortstop Andrelton Simmons. A wizard with the glove, sure, but signing Simmons, to me, is a clear signal D.J. LeMahieu will not return. I’d rather have D.J. or if the Yankees do feel strongly about moving Gleyber Torres back to second, then go all-in for an elite shortstop like Francisco Lindor. The Yankees have the pieces to get a deal done. While you could argue Simmons is a better shortstop, I’d probably prefer a reunion with Didi Gregorius on a one-year deal. Yes, a sentimental choice, but I have always felt Didi has as much value in a clubhouse as he does on the field. You cannot underestimate the intangibles Didi brings with his personality, talent, and charm.  I’ve always felt Didi was a team player and not a “me” player. Then, after the 2021 season, go after one of the premium shortstops who will be free agents, including Lindor and Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Photo Credit: Josh Lefkowitz / Getty Images

Back up the truck, Hal, and sign Trevor Bauer. I’d do it if I owned the Yankees. I think he’d be an outstanding #2 behind Gerrit Cole, and would help form an incredibly strong trio when Luis Severino returns next summer.  World Series can be won when you have three elite starters.  I still want the Yankees to re-sign Masahiro Tanaka but as long as he is on the open market, we have to be prepared for anything to happen. The Yankees may have the money but they’ve proven to play hard ball in contract negotiations as we all know too well. They never seem to go after their own free agents with Gerrit Cole-like fervor. If Derek Jeter had taken his late career contract negotiations personally, there is a real chance that he would not have finished his career as a Yankee and that would have been a major disappointment.

Speaking of Jeter, congratulations for the hire of former Yankees assistant GM Kim Ng as the new general manager of the Miami Marlins. I have long felt Kim was the most qualified general manager candidate, male or female, in the game. I had been a proponent to elevate Brian Cashman to President of Baseball Operations, and hire Kim as the Yankees general manager. I am very excited about the move and I think it was a brilliant hire by Derek. He obviously knows Kim from their time together with the Yankees but I know this hire is about the best candidate and not about hiring the first female or first Asian-American general manager.

Photo Credit: Marcelo Maragni / MLB Photos via Getty Images

I am tremendously excited for the NL Manager of the Year Don Mattingly who did a terrific job last season with young talent. Kim will be charged with helping get more talent to Mattingly and that will be so very fun to watch. Mattingly was my favorite Yankee during the Donnie Baseball years, and he has retained my respect in his post-Yankees career. I kind of wonder what the last decade would have been like if the Yankees had hired Mattingly over Joe Girardi after Joe Torre. I know Mattingly’s inexperience worked against him at the time, but he’s grown every year as a manager and continues to get better. I thought the Dodgers were too quick to give him the hook but I get Donnie was not their guy (he preceded the current Dodgers ownership and front office).  I have no qualms with Dave Roberts, fresh off a World Series championship, and perhaps Mattingly is better off with the Marlins for the long term. When Mattingly first joined the Marlins, I had my doubts (the team, not him) and then the previous ownership stripped the team, selling off the All-Star outfield and others after the tragic and untimely death of the great Jose Fernandez. But after Jeter and the current ownership group acquired the Marlins, raided the Yankees of front office talent, they have the team pointed in the right direction. It’s a good time to be a Marlins fan even if I am not. 

But back to the original point, congratulations to Kim Ng! I am so very happy for her and I look forward to the stamp she’ll put on the greatest sport in the world. The NL East may have a new billionaire owner sitting in Queens, a great Yankees manager in Philly, a one year removed World Series champion in Donald Trump’s soon to be former neighborhood, but I like the Marlins’ chances on a go-forward basis. Derek Jeter always did kinda like playing in October.

It is looking like former Yankees prospect Caleb Cotham may be close to getting a new job with his first MLB manager, Joe Girardi. Girardi, the Philadelphia Phillies manager (did I really need to tell you that?) lost his pitching coach when Bryan Price retired after the season. Cotham retired after playing with the Cincinnati Reds a few years ago. Cotham is apparently the favorite to land the job as Price’s replacement. Good for him. It’s always wonderful to see former Yankees get good opportunities. I half expected the Yankees to lose bullpen coach Mike Harkey, a good friend of Girardi, so Cotham’s hire would be a nice block to keep Harkey with the Yankees. 

I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe.

As always, Go Yankees!