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!

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