Friday, December 24, 2021

New Coaches Behind the Locked Door...

Aaron Boone / Credit: ESPN

 Yankees officially announce 2022 coaching staff…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the MLB house, not a creature was stirring, not even a louse (also known as Rob Manfred and Tony Clark).

Per a tweet yesterday by MLB Insider Jeff Passan, “No, there has been no progress on the labor front. Don’t anticipate there will be for a while. Talks will restart in early January. Not much else there.” Not exactly the words we wanted to hear but obviously expected with no meaningful progress this month between the owners and the players union. We can only hope the two sides feel some pressure to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement to ensure Spring Training starts as planned.

The Yankees finally announced their coaching staff for the 2022 season. While I was excited to see the return of Eric Chavez, I was disappointed Carlos Mendoza was retained as the bench coach. I should preface it by saying I do not know Mendy, but he seems too much like Boone to me. He should have been moved to first base and a stronger voice added to occupy the seat next to Boone.

Chavez’s name has been mentioned for possible managerial jobs in recent years, so I was a little surprised that he accepted a role as assistant hitting coach. Then again, you must start somewhere, and Aaron Boone did convey Chavez will be used like a Swiss Army knife so the title may not befit the duties and responsibilities he will be assigned. With more coaching experience, Chavez is the first Yankees coach that I could see as an eventual replacement for Aaron Boone. No disrespect to Luis Rojas who probably deserves another shot at managing at some point down the road. Either way, I am glad Chavez is back in the organization after spending the last five years in Anaheim, California. Since he was a Billy Eppler hire for the Angels, I am probably a little surprised he did not join the Mets in some capacity if he was coming back to New York. Although he is better known as an Oakland Athletic, I am glad the former Yankees third baseman found his way back to the Bronx.

Eric Chavez

The 2022 Yankees Coaching Staff:


Aaron Boone

Bench Coach

Carlos Mendoza

Pitching Coach

Matt Blake

Bullpen Coach

Mike Harkey

Assistant Pitching Coach

Desi Druschel

Hitting Coach

Dillon Lawson

Assistant Hitting Coaches

Eric Chavez

Casey Dykes

Third Base/Outfield Coach

Luis Rojas

First Base/Infield Coach

Travis Chapman

Quality Control/Catching Coach

Tanner Swanson

Brett Weber is also part of the staff as Coaching Assistant/Instant Replay Coordinator.

It did not take long for the ousted Yankees coaches to find new jobs. Phil Nevin, former third base coach, is set to hand off fake footballs to Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani as the new third base coach for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (although the hire has not yet been formally announced). Marcus Thames, former hitting coach, is now Hitting Coach for Donnie Baseball’s staff in Miami, and P.J. Pilittere, former assistant hitting coach, found the same gig on Bud Black’s staff in the Mile High City. Reggie Willits, former first base coach, left on his own to become a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Oklahoma baseball team. Radley Haddad, former coaching assistant, and bullpen catcher is set to become the Game Planning and Strategies Coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

To all the new additions on Aaron Boone’s staff, welcome and we cannot wait for you to get to work. We are tired of chasing World Championship #28 and would like to be prepared to go after #29 when the dust settles in October. Bring a championship back to New York and more specifically, to the Bronx!

GM Brian Cashman, through his usual dumpster diving, continues to collect catchers.

After bringing back Rob Brantly on a minor league deal, he has added David Freitas, a 32-year-old journeyman catcher with limited Major League experience. Freitas ended last season as a member of the Durham Bulls, the top farm team for the dreaded Tampa Bay Rays. Originally selected in the 2020 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals, he has appeared in the Majors with the Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers. He also played for the Kiwoom Heroes of the KBO League (Korea).

David Freitas

Rodolfo Duran was also signed to a minor league contract. Duran, a defensive specialist, is only twenty-three and played for the Phillies Triple A club last season. He was originally signed by the Phillies in 2014 as an international free agent. Duran is the more intriguing catcher to me but none of the catchers added have the potential to unseat Gary Sanchez.

Rodolfo Duran / Credit: Mark Wylie

The Yankees also signed for Blue Jays and White Sox reliever Jimmy Cordero to a minor league deal. Cordero, a 30-year-old right-hander, had Tommy John surgery last March, so we may not see him in 2022 but he has the potential to be a part of the Yankees bullpen in 2023. Time will tell if he can turn out to be another Clay Holmes or Wandy Peralta. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I like the signing. The Yankees will be looking to rebuild their bullpen in 2023 when Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton are gone.

Jimmy Cordero / Credit: Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

Congratulations to Buck Showalter in his new role as manager for the New York Mets. Buck knows a thing or two about working for a rich, egotistic owner who wants to win. I thought new Mets GM Billy Eppler would have gone for a younger, more analytic manager, but there is certainly nothing wrong with the hire of Showalter. I enjoyed having him back in the Yankees organization, sort of, in his role with the YES Network. For as much as some of us would have liked to have Showalter replace Aaron Boone, it was never going to happen. Even if Boone is ultimately ousted, I highly doubted the Yankees would ever bring Buck back for Round Two. So, I am happy for him and his new opportunity. Pretty nice to show up for work and be handed Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and Starling Marte.

Angela & Buck Showalter

We would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season! Please stay safe, healthy, and happy.

Santa Claus

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Lukewarm Stove League...


Owners & Players’ remake of The Big Chill…

I miss Major League Baseball…

As a fan, it is frustrating there is no sense of urgency with MLB owners and players to settle their differences in an expedient manner. The Lockout, in December, applies no pressure on either side since the days leading up to Christmas and the New Year tend to be quiet. The sides are expected to accelerate their talks next month and tackle the core economic issues, but for me, January is perilously close to February which means any extended delays or snags in negotiations could threaten the start of Spring Training.

For once, I wish the MLB owners could put greed aside and do what is right for the good of the game. If MLB owners cannot afford paying higher salaries or do not want to, sell. I do not care if it is a small market team or a large one. There never seems to be shortage of billionaires who want a chance to own a Major League baseball team. It is too bad the fans do not have a seat at the table for these talks because it is our money they are arguing about. If the owners really cared about us, they would be working tirelessly to end this labor dispute.

If February 1st is a soft deadline for resolution, I hope all parties collaborate, compromise, and hammer out mutually beneficial terms for the new collective bargaining agreement before next month ends. Not sure what it will take to motivate the sides to talk other than the loss of revenue, which, if it gets to that point, hurts all of us.

Well, at least for now we have minor league signings. So far this off-season, GM Brian Cashman’s dumpster diving has yielded:

 SS Jose Peraza

SS Wilkerman Garcia

CF Ender Inciarte

CF Blake Perkins

RHP Vinny Nittoli

Of the names, I liked the signing of Inciarte. A few years ago, I would have been thrilled with the move. He has not played at a prominent level since 2018 but he is still only 31 and could play an important depth role if he is able to rebound from his recent history of injuries. He is not going to replace Aaron Hicks, a guy who probably needs to be replaced, but he could support Hicks if the Yankees go out and acquire a starting centerfielder, pushing Hicks to the fourth outfielder role. Unless he really shows something in Spring Training, I cannot see Inciarte making the Opening Day roster.

Ender Inciarte / Credit: Jennifer Stewart, Getty Images

Jose Peraza, once a touted prospect, has bounced around in recent years. Yet, he is still only 27. I do not expect the Yankees to unlock his unfulfilled potential, but as TGP’s Daniel Burch likes to say, there is no such thing as a bad minor league deal®. He only played 36 games for the New York Mets last season and played primarily at second base. Steamer projects Peraza to 31 games for 2022 with 3 homers and .251/.299/.372 batting line including .292 wOBA. Seems like a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre shuttle candidate who would only play in New York if the health of the active roster demanded it.

Jose Peraza / Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports

Wilkerman Garcia is just a sad reminder, to me, of the disappointment from the Yankees’ explosive spending for international talent in 2014 when they signed Dermis Garcia ($3.2 million); Nelson Gomez ($2.25 million); Juan De Leon ($2 million); Jonathan Amundaray ($1.5 million); Miguel Flames ($1.1 million); and Hyo-Joon Park ($1.1 million). Wilkerman received $1.35 million. I had expected the Yankees to hit on at least one of these players. Park did play one game for the Yankees last year, but his biggest contribution was being part of the trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates which netted reliever Clay Holmes. The other Garcia, Dermis, is the one I had really wanted to rise through the organization, but he was unable to progress and left the organization this off-season signing a free agent minor league deal with the Oakland/Possibly Future Las Vegas A’s. Wilkerman, who has not played in two years due to the pandemic and injury, looks to rebound with the Rail Riders next season.

The signing of Blake Perkins is interesting. Not really expecting anything here, but he was once a second-round pick (69th overall) in the 2015 June Amateur Draft by the Washington Nationals. He most recently served in the Kansas City Royals organization and is only 25. He does not seem to be anything more than a no-hit, speedy outfielder but the Yankees have liked those guys in recent years.

Vinny Nittoli is a 30-year-old career minor leaguer who had a very brief cup of coffee with the Seattle Mariners last season. An analytics team reclamation project.

All these signings seem more likely to help Scranton/Wilkes-Barre if anything. If they are playing at the Major League level, they have either sold their souls to the Devil or things have gone horribly wrong in the Bronx. If Inciarte could turn back time and become the player he once was, it would be cool.

 I guess if anything, these guys gave me something to write about. As I said, I miss baseball.

To go off topic, Noah Syndergaard will wear #34 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim next season. While it was his number in Queens, the number has not been worn in Anaheim since the death of former Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart. Syndergaard reportedly was going to seek another number out of respect for Adenhart but was talked into wearing the number by Angels management and more importantly, the Adenhart family. I thought that was very cool and it provides a way for the memory of Adenhart to live on. A classy move by Thor and the Angels, considering they ensured the Adenhart family was part of the decision.

Noah Syndergaard / Credit: Rich Schultz & Kevork Djansezian via Getty Images

I saw that former Yankees shortstop prospect Kyle Holder signed a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies. Good for him. It is too bad his hit tool could never match his superior fielding skills. When you cannot hit, go to Colorado. Makes sense. The other Holder, Jonathan, re-signed with the Chicago Cubs organization.

Joel Sherman of The New York Post has been on a roll with his trade ideas lately:

Jasson Dominguez, Luis Gil and Chad Green for Elvis Andrus and Matt Olson.

 While I do not really endorse trading Dominguez at the risk of sounding like a prospect-hugger, Olson is probably one of the few guys it would be worth it. But honestly, I would rather see the Yankees spend the money to sign Freddie Freeman and keep Dominguez. Andrus is a shortstop solution to keep the position warm for either Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe, but it does not excite me. I want to see the Yankees get better to face the increased competition in the American League. Olson certainly is part of that equation, but Andrus is just a position-filler who does not move this team higher. 

Luis Gil and Oswald Peraza for Ketel Marte.

 I would hate to lose Peraza but if the Yankees sign, say, Trevor Story, Marte would be a nice addition. He can play center field even if he is a stronger second baseman, but versatility is good. It does seem like the Yankee would need to trade either Gleyber Torres or DJ LeMahieu if Marte is added, so I would probably not want to see this trade. 

Joey Gallo, Luis Gil, Chad Green, Gleyber Torres and Luke Voit for Trent Grisham, Austin Nola, and Jurickson Profar.

 I like the idea of Grisham in center field and Nola would provide a solution for those who would prefer to see Gary Sanchez wearing a different uniform next season. The Yankees would need to ensure they find their new first baseman (Olson, Freeman or Anthony Rizzo) but I am not opposed to moving Torres in a deal that improves the team. It would free second base for LeMahieu and Profar could be the super sub.

Austin Nola and Trent Grisham / Credit: Associated Press

I do not think any of these trade ideas will come to fruition, but they are fun to talk about. In a separate article, Joel Sherman pitched Carlos Rodon or Sean Manaea as possible fits for the Yankees starting rotation. I like either of these ideas as both carry strong upside potential. For as much fun as Nestor Cortes was last season, I would prefer to see him fill the role of spot starter/long man rather than one of the five cogs in the primary rotation. Luis Severino is a question mark until he proves he can be a top starter again. I am confident he will but until he does, there is doubt. Taillon will be delayed due to off-season surgery so the Yankees need another starter who can provide consistency as well as Jordan Montgomery or better. Rodon, on a short-term deal, or Manaea as part of a Matt Olson trade would be great. It is more likely Brian Cashman trades for a pitcher none of us are talking about and who their analytics team has fallen in love with.

For the record, I do want to see Aaron Hicks stay healthy and if healthy, he is a particularly skillful player for the Yankees. I wish I were more confident in his ability to stay healthy which is the only reason I am open to center field improvements.

I am reluctant to part with Gary Sanchez even if I feel he has worn out his welcome in the Bronx for no other reason than there are no in-house options to replace him. The best prospects, like Austin Wells, remain a couple of years away. Kyle Higashioka is not a Major League starter and never will be. A reunion with Austin Romine would not be the answer. Unless the Yankees can acquire a legitimate Major League starting catcher, we have no chance but to support Sanchez.

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

All I Want For Christmas Is Baseball...


MLB Lockout with no end in sight…

If life were fair, we would have been analyzing the free agent signings and trades of the last week during Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings. But alas, no meetings this year thanks to the greedy MLB owners. They live up to the name of The Greedy Pinstripes blog but for all the wrong reasons.

I think if there is one singular topic, I would like to see resolved is the pay inequity between the superstars (the clear minority of professional baseball players), who get their money and then some, and the minor leaguers and others trying to find their way while living on peanuts. The superstars will always get paid, but Major League teams should be more financially responsible for the care of the younger players in their organization. Obviously, there are multiple other prominent issues that require resolution, and I am not trying to marginalize any of them. It just stands out to me that while owners pocket billions, there is room to help everyone in the game, especially those who struggle to live the dream.

Nearly two weeks into the MLB Lockout, it feels like there has been no progress. It is unfortunate to me that we are heading into 2022 without resolution which most likely means the standoff will be present in February when it is normally time for pitchers and catchers to report for Spring Training. Why cannot grown men lock themselves into a room and settle their differences? For the good the game, they need to work harder to find compromise, and re-open the sport for its fans. The best Christmas present would be a surprise announcement the two sides have been secretly meeting and have come to a fair and mutually beneficial agreement to present to the owners and players for final approval. Yeah, that is not happening.

MLB, please get your shit together. Love, the Fans.

December and the biggest Yankees news is the free-agent minor league re-signing of catcher Rob Brantly. With teams actively signing minor league contracts, maybe the Yankees should sign Carlos Correa to a $350 million minor league deal. Okay, I jest but I am concerned about how much time the Yankees will have to improve their roster once the Lockout ends. Also, on a side note, I have cooled to the idea of handing out $350 million to Correa, an incredibly talented player, when you can sign a gifted Trevor Story and improve other areas of the rosters for less money. I think a stopgap shortstop would be a mistake since it does nothing to improve the roster, but Story would be a good enhancement. Corey Seager would have been a better fit, but Story plus a potential trade for first baseman Matt Olson or re-signing Anthony Rizzo makes more sense at this point. I try not to think about Freddie Freeman as I still think he will go back to Atlanta or at least he should for how much he means to that organization. Would I take Freeman if I had the opportunity? Yes, in a New York minute.

Freddie Freeman, Photo Credit: Carmen Mandato, Getty Images

I respect both CC Sabathia and Jeff Nelson, two former great Yankees, for speaking out this week against the immature comments made by former Yankee Clint Frazier. Nellie’s tweet (@NYnellie43) on December 9th read: “Here is something for you. You can talk the talk but, you have not walked the walk. Love the confidence but, you have to do something on the field.” My feeling about Frazier is simply that he needs to turn the page. I wish him no ill will and hope he finds the success that has eluded him in Chicago. He needs to focus on his new team and opportunity and take the high road when he looks back on his failed time with the Yankees. I am tired of the infamous attention Frazier has received and feel it is time everyone moves on.

For as mad as Yankee fans were when the Yankees traded outfielder Mike Tauchman, it is funny the guy the Yankees acquired, Wandy Peralta, is the only current Major Leaguer involved in the April 2021 trade. Tauchman started his Giants career with a bang (a homer and four RBIs in his fourth game with San Francisco), but it was all downhill from there as he eventually found himself off the 40-man roster by the end of July. Tauchman has signed a $1 million contract ($300K bonus and $700 salary) with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization. For his sake, I hope it is a path that will lead Tauchman back to the Major Leagues although I do not pine for his return to the Yankees.

Welcome to the new newest members of the Yankees organization. During last week’s Minor League Rule 5 Draft, they selected 49-year-old outfielder…checks notes…sorry…22-year-old RHP Manny Ramirez from the Astros organization and 22-year-old RHP Steven Jennings from the Pirates organization. The only loss was 27-year-old RHP Brian Keller. He was chosen by the Boston Red Sox as they attempt to find gold in the Yankees organization like they did last year with Garrett Whitlock. Even though Keller is not the prospect Whitlock was, I hate the continued poaching by the Red Sox.

Congratulations to the former players who were elected to the MLB Hall of Fame by the Early Baseball Era Committee. All the names were HOF-worthy…Gil Hodges, Minnie MiƱoso, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat, Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil. Kaat, a one-time Yank, was nice but I am most excited for the late John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil, Jr.

O’Neil was a special player and manager in the Negro Leagues. He was a first baseman for the Kansas City Monarchs for 10 years and managed them for 8 years. He was a two-time Negro American League batting champ and won four Negro American League titles as manager from 1948 to 1955. He became the first black coach for the Chicago Cubs in 1962. He was later a scout for the Cubs and the Kansas City Royals. His career in baseball spanned 70 years. Famed Big Red Machine second baseman, the late Joe Morgan, once said “Buck was similar to Jackie Robinson. There was more to him than just baseball.” Morgan also said, “He was probably the greatest ambassador the Negro Leagues had ever had.”

O’Neil is credited for scouting former Yankee Oscar Gamble while working for the Chicago Cubs organization in 1968. I never had the opportunity to meet O’Neil, but I did meet Gamble earlier in my life, and it remains one of the greatest baseball memories of my lifetime (all made possible because O’Neil saw the talent in Gamble). Gamble remains one of the kindest and most genuine players I have ever met, and I can only imagine O’Neil was even more so. O’Neil is credited for scouting Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Lou Brock, Lee Smith, and Joe Carter.

For years, I have felt O’Neil deserved a place in the Hall of Fame. Like many, I became aware of O’Neil through Ken Burns’ baseball documentary in 1994. Honestly, it saddens me that it took that long to discover the legend the O’Neil. O’Neil passed away in 2006 at the age of ninety-four. It is unfortunate he did not live to see his induction into Cooperstown, but we will never forget his greatness and enormous impact on the game of baseball.

Buck O'Neil, Photo Credit: Associated Press

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Silent Days and Nights...


MLB Lockout begins but when will it end?...

November was so much fun with the flurry of free agent signings, even if the Yankees chose not to participate, but then, thud, it all ended with the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the subsequent lockout unanimously imposed by MLB owners.

As a fan, this really sucks. I know the fun of the free agent signings in November would not have happened without the impending lockout, however, my favorite time of the MLB off-season is the Baseball Winter Meetings which were cancelled this year. The Rule 5 Draft was also postponed so catcher Josh Breaux stays in the organization a little bit longer.

It sounds as though the labor dispute will extend into 2022 and perhaps even into time allotted for Spring Training. The gap between the greedy owners and the players seems so wide. To an outside observer, there have been no signs, at least to me, that the two sides are willing to compromise. After the lost revenues of 2020, it seems almost unconscionable the owners would risk harm to their game rather than negotiate in good faith with the players. Even though the fans pay for the sport, we are the least represented party in this dispute. Everybody wants our money and more of it, and we have no voice except not to pay.

I am hopeful there is progress before the end of the year, but time will tell.

Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reported yesterday the Yankees have promoted Minor League Hitting Coordinator Dillon Lawson to Hitting Coach on Manager Aaron Boone’s staff, replacing the fired Marcus Thames, now hitting coach for Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins. This is the move I had expected the Yankees to make with their commitment to analytics and the rebounding success of hitting in the Yankees’ farm system this past year. As time moved on, I thought maybe they were looking at guys like Tim Hyers, the former Red Sox hitting coach who joined the Texas Rangers last month, or Brian Snitker’s son, Troy, the Houston Astros hitting coach. With Eric Chavez’s name on the rumor mill, I thought he might be a possibility, but at the end of the day, Lawson makes the most sense to me. The Yankees, due to the MLB Lockout, have not confirmed the promotion but I trust Lindsey and fully expect the formal announcement when MLB business resumes.

Photo Credit: Quad City Times

There is no word about the two assistant hitting coaches the Yankees plan to add, but I remain convinced Rachel Balkovec would be a brilliant and inspired addition. Her connection to Lawson, who brought her into the organization, makes it a natural choice.

Photo Credit: New York Yankees

To assist Pitching Coach Matt Blake, the Yankees, per Adler, will promote Minor League Manager of Pitch Development Desi Druschel to assistant pitching coach. As a native Iowan, I like Druschel’s connection to the University of Iowa. He served the University for five years ending in 2019 as, first, director of baseball operations, and, later, as pitching coach. Go Hawkeyes!

Druschel, right / Photo Credit: Brian Ray,

Note: With today’s Big Ten Championship looming between the Michigan Wolverines and the Hawkeyes, I had to find a way for a shameless plug of my favorite college football team.

There is no word who will fill the first base coach vacancy, although I will be disappointed if current bench coach Carlos Mendoza is not moved to the position to allow for a more seasoned veteran bench coach to aid Aaron Boone. Some of the names are probably holding out to see who gets the Mets managerial gig. As much as I would hate to see it, Buck Showalter makes the most sense to me. Whomever gets the job is going to benefit from the billionaire owner’s passionate desire to raise his club to greatness. Gee, I wish we had one of those kind of owners…

I get there was no reason for the Yankees to make splashy moves in November, and there are plenty of reasons why the Yankees should not have paid the exorbitant sums of money to the players who were signed. Yet, I was hoping for at least one move that could give us good feelings during this lockout. Sorry, shortstop Jose Peraza is not that guy. Fortunately, there are still plenty of unsigned players who could make the 2022 Yankees better so not all is lost.

My personal feelings about a stopgap shortstop are that it would do nothing to improve the Yankees, currently looking like the fourth best team in the AL East. Carlos Correa is going to cost a lot of money, but he brings greatness to both sides of the ball and would clearly improve the Yankees. He is young with heavy championship experience (regardless of your thoughts about how he got it) and would not be intimidated by New York. He makes the most sense to me, although I remain of the opinion that I would be incredibly happy to see Trevor Story as a Yankee. Either way, the Yankees need one of them. The whole idea of keeping the position warm for the young prospects (Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe) seems ridiculous. They are probably five years from potentially becoming what Correa and Story are today. For a win-now team, we need the best possible players now.

If the Yankees make the long-rumored trade with the Oakland A’s to acquire first baseman Matt Olson, it is pretty much a given Oswald Peraza would be included as part of the package. Everybody is getting excited about the rumors possibly linking Freddie Freeman to the Yankees, but I am skeptical on that one for no other reason than I feel he should and probably will stay in Atlanta.

I do not blame Masahiro Tanaka for declining to exercise the opt-out in his two-year contract with the Rakuten Eagles considering the MLB Lockout, but there was a little sadness when I saw it. I will admit there was a part of me hoping for a reunion with the Yankees. I would love to see Tanaka win a championship with the Yankees. With so much uncertainty surrounding Major League Baseball, Tanaka would have been foolish to opt out of a sure thing. I wish him the best of luck in 2022. Kind of funny that former Yankees first baseman Chris Gittens, released last month to play in Japan, will be Tanaka’s Rakuten teammate.

All I want for Christmas is Major League Baseball. Rob Manfred and Tony Clark, please man up and make it happen. For once in your lives, please think of the fans.

As always, Go Yankees!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Turkey Day, Yankee Fans...


Happy Thanksgiving to the Yankees and their fans everywhere…

Wishing you and your families a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday weekend!

Another quiet week in the Yankees Universe aside from the trade of speedy Tyler Wade to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the releases of Clint Frazier and Rougned Odor. One week to a potential lockout in MLB baseball, and all’s quiet…too quiet…on the Bronx front.

It is kind of funny that there are no true shortstops on the Yankees roster with Major League experience (sorry Gio, you are a third baseman). Everybody expects the Yankees to solve the shortstop vacancy one way or another (of course), but for now, it is a need. The Angels, meanwhile, have collected both Wade and Andrew Velazquez. For Wade, it is a homecoming for the Southern California native who grew up in Murrieta, California, which is close to Orange County. Murrieta is next to Temecula, which has some great wineries. No more cross-country commutes for Wade to attend Spring Training.

Photo Credit: Rob Carr, Getty Images

The loss of Wade was the direct cost for signing lefty reliever Joely Rodriguez so quickly after he was released earlier in the month. I think the Yankees should have either waited to sign Rodriguez or simply went after someone else with comparable skills after the deadline to set the 40-man rosters to keep an open spot for Wade. I get Wade was out of options and as the last man on the bench, the Yankees like the flexibility of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle. Oh well, I wish him the best in Anaheim. I am sure it is exciting for him to play in front of family and friends, and have Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon and Noah Syndergaard as his teammates. I hear his manager, Joe Maddon, likes versatile players. I am hopeful and optimistic that Oswaldo Cabrera is ready to become the next Tyler Wade on the Yankees roster.

For Clint Frazier, I wish him a full return to good health and the ability to resume his Major League career. It did not work out in New York, but he has the power to rewrite the story elsewhere. This time last year I had genuinely thought Frazier’s time in the Bronx had finally arrived. It turned out to be the road to the end. It will always be disappointing that he was unable to fulfill his early promise in Yankee pinstripes. Even though I am hopeful he can achieve his MLB dreams, it was clear a change of scenery is needed.

As for Rougie, this makes it twice that Joey Gallo has lost his friend as a teammate through release. First, when the Texas Rangers cut Odor and now. I enjoyed Odor’s home runs and the energy he brought to the team but overall, he is just not a good player. But you must believe someone will take a shot on him since the Texas Rangers are paying the majority of his 2022 salary. I would drop to see Rougie drop the need for power and focus on the finer art of hitting.

With teams continuing to appoint new coaches, I wonder when the Yankees will announce the additions to Aaron Boone’s coaching staff. I keep seeing other teams name new hitting coaches, yet it is still a vacancy for us. If the Yankees have offers out, what is taking so long? I know the unsettled managerial vacancy in Queens might be part of the delay as potential candidates (like Eric Chavez) may be under consideration. So much to do, yet so little time with the looming lockout.

Speaking of the Mets, Steve Cohen’s overreaction to the last-minute overnight decision of former Mets starter Steven Matz to sign with the St Louis Cardinals was priceless. Is this what it was like for Mets fans to watch the irrational antics of late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner? Matz owed the Mets nothing, and as a free agent, Matz had to make the decision he felt with in his best interests. Handshake agreements mean nothing. David Wells can attest to that. Nothing is official until the ink has dried on the contract. I have no issue with Matz deciding not to give his former club a chance to match the offer. I will not miss Matz in Toronto and I am glad he is back in the National League. The Yankees could further weaken Toronto’s starting rotation by signing Robbie Ray. Just sayin’…

Marcus Stroman seems like the perfect anti-hero to end up in Boston. I do not dispute his talent, but I have lost respect for the man personally. I would welcome his return to the AL East as a Yankees adversary. To be the best, you must beat the best, so Stroman does not scare me. Maybe the Angels will sign Stroman. They seem to be using the Mets pipeline to rebuild their pitching staff with the additions of Thor and reliver Aaron Loup.

Daniel Burch of The Greedy Pinstripes had this post yesterday about free agent starter Jon Gray. I have long admired Gray and I would like to see Matt Blake and the Yankees pitching instructors work with Gray at sea level. The 30-year-old Oklahoman was a Yankees draft pick in 2011 (10th round) but he did not sign, opting to attend the University of Oklahoma. Daniel is right, if the Yankees could get Gray on a four-year deal with the $11 million average annual value, they should do it.

Tuesday, November 30th, looms as a big day for MLB. The non-tender deadline was moved from December 2nd due to the impending lockout. I fully expect the Yankees to tender a new contract to Gary Sanchez regardless of how many fans are finished with him. There are no great catching options available, and Kyle Higashioka is a backup at best. Even if the Yankees have identified a strong potential alternative, Gary has trade value, which is greatly enhanced if the National League, as expected, adopts the designated hitter rule. I would be incredibly surprised if the Yankees non-tendered him, making him a free agent. It would simply be a bad business decision.

There could be a flurry of activity next week…then silence if a lockout happens. I am hopeful the Yankees can fill at least a need or two before any potential shutdown. Who knows how long a lockout may last? For as exciting as it was to see fans return to baseball stadiums this year, the labor dispute is such a downer for the sport. I wish the two sides were more proactive in settling their differences rather than forcing a lockout to provide the necessary pressure. Greed reigns supreme for all concerned.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Frazier, Odor, and Wade, You're Fired! ...


Trio designated for assignment, while Nelson and Sands head to Philly…

With so much buildup and anticipation among the Yankees Fan Base, yesterday’s Rule 5 40-man roster deadline was a bit underwhelming.

I think while many of us expected potentially huge deals to clear roster space, none came to fruition for the Yankees or anybody else. Trades can still happen, but the upcoming week (Thanksgiving) tends to be fairly quiet due to the holiday. The following week brings the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement and, as most experts predict, a lockout by the MLB owners. So, potentially, there may not be any major trades for the Yankees until a new CBA is in place. If the two sides cannot come to agreement until next Spring, it makes you wonder how much time the Yankees will have for roster construction.

For me, I would like to see resolution of the shortstop vacancy prior to any lockout. There is so much to do, yet so little time. I guess we will have to be patient and wait to see how GM Brian Cashman can bring more athleticism and diversity to the team despite the upcoming challenges and roadblocks.

The players cut were Clint Frazier, Rougned Odor and Tyler Wade. Wade probably surprised me the most. As one of the few shortstops on the roster, it seemed he was safe. Speed and diversity are generally strong traits for roster protection. As we have learned with Cashman over the years, no move is made without an eye toward another deal, so he most likely made the decision to part with Wade with a future deal or two in mind.

I wanted Clint Frazier to succeed in New York. When he was announced as the starting left fielder last season, it felt like he had finally arrived. Unfortunately, it turned out to be another lost year, and the concussion issues continued to play a huge part in his inability to get back on the field. A polarizing player, I now feel he will benefit playing in a lesser pressurized environment if he is able to overcome his health challenges. It is tough to see what his future holds. He could become a consistent MLB player, or he may be facing the end of the road. With such extremes, there was no point in saving a 40-man roster space for him. It is clear his time as a Yankee had ended. I am hopeful the Yankees can get something, anything…like a low-level minor-league prospect…for Frazier rather than an outright release. Same with Wade.

While designating Odor for assignment makes all the sense in the world, I will miss the energy he brought to the team. It is always nice to have that ‘Nick Swisher’ type of guy on the team, in terms of outgoing personalities. Considering the Texas Rangers will continue to pay Odor’s large salary in 2022 except for MLB’s minimum salary, you would have thought Hal Steinbrenner would have been a huge proponent to keep the Odor in the Yankees Clubhouse.

I half expected the Yankees to cut LHP Zack Britton since 2022 will be a lost year due to Tommy John surgery, much like the way the Yankees parted ways with Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda. There is some belief that Britton could be back by the end of the year. Not sure if that saved him or the impending free agency of Aroldis Chapman next off-season. If I had to guess 2022 will be Chapman’s final year with the Yankees.

To clear space, the Yankees also traded RHP Nick Nelson and C Donny Sands to Club Joe Girardi for a couple of not-highly-regarded, low level prospects (3B T.J. Rumfield and LHP Joel Valdez). Losing Nelson did not surprise me, but Sands did. As a recent addition to the 40-man roster, he seemed primed to fill the Triple A shuttle depth behind Yankees backup catcher Kyle Higashioka after a breakout season. Now, he gets a chance to fill a Major League role behind Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Many fans were surprised the Yankees protected Miguel Andujar, but his trade value may benefit if the NL adopts the designated hitter rule. While he certainly would not be a centerpiece, first baseman Chris Gittens could be a player in a potential trade to Oakland for first baseman Matt Olson. Or if Luke Voit is traded, he would become the backup depending on how the off-season plays out.

The Rule 5 eligible prospects added to the 40-man roster were SS Oswaldo Cabrera (who potentially becomes the new Tyler Wade); OF Everson Pereira (who almost went to Texas in the Joey Gallo trade); RHP Stephen Ridings; RHP Ron Marinaccio; and LHP JP Sears. Of the players, only Cabrera (eighth) ranks among the Yankees’ top ten prospects according to Baseball America. Cabrera only ranks 16th on the Yankees’ Top 30 list of prospects, according to Pereira is 13th on the list.

The biggest surprises of players not protected were C Josh Breaux (18th best prospect, according to and OF Brandon Lockridge (19th). You can probably add RHP Matt Sauer (27th) to this list.

Yankee prospects are chosen in the Rule 5 Draft every year and this year, if there is Rule 5 draft, should prove to be no different. The odds of sticking with another MLB club are low. The Garrett Whitlock success stories are exceedingly rare, but I always fear the teams that decide to tank and have open roster spots to fill. If MLB passes a minimum salary floor to protect against tanking, maybe it will help. I would hate to lose Breaux. I know he has not performed as expected and remains a project at age 24, but catching depth is important. At this point, 20-year-old Antonio Gomez is probably more important than Breaux, but he has not played above A ball. Anthony Siegler, drafted ahead of Breaux, has really fallen off the map. Maybe 2022 is the year the 22-year-old can re-establish some prominence in the Yankees’ farm system. I guess like pitching, you can never have too much catching, especially when the big-league starter is a disappointment.

It has been reported that the Yankees offered RHP Justin Verlander a one-year, $25 million deal (according to Jon Heyman of Verlander subsequently got the second year from the Astros which lead to his return to Houston. I am glad he did not take Hal’s money. I am sure that Verlander will make a successful return from Tommy John surgery despite his age, but c’mon, there are simply some players who should never wear the famed Pinstripes. If Verlander is not at the top of the list of guys who should not pull-on MLB’s greatest jersey, he is near the top. The Yankees need another strong starting pitcher, but there are other, better options.

Despite all Yankee fans love of Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo, this will probably be another one of those years where GM Brian Cashman goes with an under-the-radar trade to bring in young, talented starter on the verge of blossoming.

I wish former Angels GM and Yankees Assistant GM Billy Eppler all the best in his new role as general manager for the New York Mets. For as many people who passed on the job, the Mets did surprisingly good with hiring Eppler. I always liked Eppler and before he left the Yankees, I had really wanted the team to promote Brian Cashman to President of Baseball Operations and make Eppler the GM. Kind of makes me wonder if that is how it plays out in Flushing Meadow after Cashman’s contact expires after the 2022 season. I fully expect Hal Steinbrenner to bring Cashman back, but if the 2022 season does not meet minimum expectations, you never know what might happen.

As always, Go Yankees! 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Correa, Seager or Bust...


Yankees Fans impatiently wait…

Contrary to the title of this post, there is a very real possibility the Yankees get neither Carlos Correa nor Corey Seager. So, whether you feel the Yankees sign Correa, despite his history with trash cans, or Seager, despite his lesser defensive skills (than Correa) and the need for a position switch to third within the next couple of years, it is not our God-given right that we are going to get either one.

I could see a scenario where Correa goes to Detroit to be united with his former manager, A.J. Hinch, and Seager signs with the Texas Rangers, who are this year’s team with “stupid money” to spend. While it seems obvious the Houston Astros will not be players for Correa (based on their low-ball offer), you can never count the Los Angeles Dodgers out for Seager. He is a popular player with the Dodgers fan base, and a talented player on the field. The current third baseman, Justin Turner, will be 37 years old in ten days. Turner played 151 games last season, only the second time he has reached that number in his career, and the likelihood is that his numbers will start to trend downward. Turner will make $20 million in 2022 (counts $17 million toward the luxury tax threshold). His option for $16 million in 2023 can be bought out for $2 million. I can easily see the Dodgers deciding to move on from Turner if he shows signs of slippage in 2022. It makes sense to retain Seager to replace Turner and begin the transition next season, particularly if the universal DH is adopted in the National League. Trea Turner becomes the shortstop and insert Gavin Lux at second base. The Dodgers have the cash to make this work.

I am not trying to be a downer, but we need to set realistic expectations. If the Yankees sign Correa or Seager, I will be ecstatic. I am willing to forgive Correa if he joins the Yankees, and I think Aaron Judge would accept him, as one of the game’s best shortstops, in the Yankees clubhouse. While we will never forgive the sins of the Houston Astros as an organization, the players can seek redemption. I will never like Alex Bregman or Jose Altuve, as I viewed them as leaders in the scandal, but the other players were, to a small degree, victims of circumstances. They were part of a team and while we can say they should have blown the whistle; it is simply not as easy as that. How do you rat out your teammates? Or if you do, what kind of man are you? Some would say a great man, but others would say he is untrustworthy and unsupportive of his teammates. The latter tag would be exceedingly difficult to shake in clubhouses. It took an ex-Astro to step forward. I am not trying to defend Correa, but I do view it as a complicated situation for him. If the Yankees have the chance to sign a 27-year-old all-around great shortstop, they should.

While I keep going back and forth, there is no doubt I would love to have Corey Seager wear pinstripes. I am on board with a plan to eventually move Seager to third base to open shortstop for Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe when they are ready. It is likely if the Yankees are successful in trading for Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson, one of the young shortstops (probably Peraza) could be lost in the trade, but Volpe shows signs of being something special regardless of the talk he may need to be moved to second. In that scenario, sign a fill-in shortstop when the time comes to move Seager, and wait for a young stud like Trey Sweeney. The Yankees have options to keep Seager’s powerful bat in the lineup regardless of the position he plays.

But, if the Yankees are unsuccessful in their runs for either Correa or Seager, it is not the end of the world. I have long respected Trevor Story. I get the fears of Mile-High induced stats, but if you have seen the guy play, you know he is among the better players in the game. Like his former teammate, DJ LeMahieu, succeeded in New York, Story can do the same. Toronto’s Marcus Semien has the knack for coming up big in the brightest moments. He may be older, but he buys time for Peraza and Volpe. I know I would be disappointed if the Yankees do not get at least Story, but I would feel good with Semien playing shortstop in the Bronx next season.

Photo Credit: Michael Reaves, Getty Images

If the off-season shortstop acquisition is Andrelton Simmons, then we will know all plans went to hell.

It is sad that minor league free agent Kyle Holder’s offensive game could never match his sterling glove. If he could have hit, his timing for Major League readiness would have been now.

As other teams quickly move to make coaching staff changes, I wonder when the Yankees will announce Aaron Boone’s 2022 coaching staff. Based on GM Brian Cashman’s recent words, it sounded as though candidates were being vetted so it seems some announcements could be made soon. I saw the Minnesota Twins hired former Padres manager Jayce Tingler as their bench coach. Tingler may not have been a great manager for the loaded but uninspired Padres, but he is the type of hire I would like to see for Yankees bench coach. Not him specifically, but someone with his type of resume. Former Yankee coach Trey Hillman, most recently on Donnie Baseball’s staff in Miami, seems like a logical choice. He is valued by the front office and obviously knows the organization. I would move current bench coach Carlos Mendoza to first base. For third, former Mets manager Luis Rojas has been mentioned. Like Tingler, he did not prove to be a great manager, but I would have no trouble sliding him into the third base box as Phil Nevin’s replacement. It would be a good mutual fit for Rojas as it could position him for his next managerial job which could prove more successful for him.

I was surprised the Yankees re-signed LHP Joely Rodriguez so quickly. Granted, I thought he did an excellent job after his acquisition from Texas last July at the trading deadline, but realistically, he is easily replaceable. Why waste a valuable 40-man roster spot with him? I know the Yankees saved money. By declining the team option for $3 million, the Texas Rangers were on the hook for the $500,000 buyout. Putting Rodriguez’s John Hancock on a piece of paper three days later for $2 million technically saved the Yankees $1 million. I think I would have waited, even if it had meant losing Rodriguez, to keep the roster spot open. As it stands, the Yankees need to clear roster space (currently full) between now and next weekend to make room for valuable Rule 5 eligible prospects. I would hate to see another Garrett Whitlock situation where a talented prospect is grabbed by a rival and flourishes at the Major League level. The deadline to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 Draft is Friday, November 19th, so it is a given there will be activity on the Yankees’ transaction wire this week. A wonderful time to send multiple players to Oakland for Matt Olson.

Speaking of Olson, it is tough. I really enjoyed Anthony Rizzo as a Yankee. I truly feel that if he had not contracted COVID-19, his time in Pinstripes could have embodied the brilliance of his first several weeks before becoming ill. I know he is an older player, and Olson is so much younger and better, but I would hate to lose Rizzo while chasing a potentially unsuccessful run for Olson. If the Yankees do grab Olson, I will not give it a second thought and will be incredibly happy for the team’s latest first baseman. I am hopeful if the Yankees cannot pry Olson from the A’s, they can quickly pivot back to Rizzo.

The Yankees should sign Aaron Judge to an extension.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The next critical date for the Yankees is December 1st for the non-tender deadline. This is the date we will know the fates of guys like Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier. A few years ago, it would have seemed so improbable they would be non-tendered, but here we are. It seems a given that Frazier is gone. Not sure how much value Andujar has right now, but it still seems a trade for a low-level lottery ticket would make more sense. I do not see the Yankees letting Sanchez go but I also recognize his time as a starting catcher for the Yankees may be over. There is a part of me that still holds out hope Sanchez can be the player we once thought he was going to be. If not, I would rather see him traded so the Yankees can control his destination rather than simply allow him to hit the open market and land with a rival, only to find success with his new team. I am glad that Brian Cashman, and not me, must make these decisions.

December 1st also represents the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement so the next day could bring a lockout. There is growing pessimism that a new deal can be struck before the CBA expires, yet it seems so foolish for both sides to allow a stoppage that could disrupt, at a minimum, the off-season. All parties stand to make incredible sums of money in 2022 if they can collaborate and compromise. A lockout, in my opinion, would do more harm than good for the game.

As always, Go Yankees!