Saturday, January 9, 2021

Ready, Set, Wait...


 Slow-Moving Off-Season continues…

We are now into the new year, yet it’s been nothing but crickets at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees really are making it tough for bloggers. Throw us bone, please!

Yes, we’ve acquired the speedy Greg Allen (Triple A depth) and journeyman starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin  (who kind of feels like the latest iteration of Gio Gonzalez) on minor league deals. No noteworthy news at the Major League level has been transacted or at least anything of substance. The Yankees Universe continues to wait for news on D.J. LeMahieu who continues to solicit offers from other teams before hopefully allowing the Yankees a chance for their final offer. True or untrue, I heard the Los Angeles Dodgers are unwilling to go a fifth year in their bid for LeMahieu which would seem to aid the Yankees. As much as I like D.J., I’d be unwilling to go a fifth year too if for no other reason than his current age.  Sorry, when it comes to baseball, I do have age discrimination. We simply get old and our athletic performance declines. It sucks but it’s life.  As long as the Yankees can get D.J. on a three or four year deal, I am hopeful and optimistic the two parties can come together on a mutually rewarding contract. 

With the drawn-out process for LeMahieu, I did expect the Yankees to be more aggressive in pursuing alternative plans. Sure, I wanted Francisco Lindor and would have loved to have placed him at short in Yankee Stadium, with the move of Gleyber Torres back to second base. But realistically, I never thought it would happen. I am little bummed the Mets grabbed Lindor to give them another star player but if the Yankees bring back LeMahieu, he (Lindor) simply was not a need. Now that he is no longer an option, I hope more than ever the Yankees can come to an agreement with Le Machine. It’s been my preference all along but it just feels like Plan B is starting to dissipate. LeMahieu or bust. I do wonder if LeMahieu does leave, would the Yankees quickly pivot to bring back fan favorite Didi Gregorius? Love Didi, but it does not feel like an improvement.

I remain convinced, despite his personality, Trevor Bauer can be a force for the Yankees if he were to sign. He has the proven ability to be a solid number two behind Gerrit Cole and represent a strong hedge for the return of Luis Severino at some point next season. I appreciate Trevor’s intensity and he is clearly one of those guys you may hate on other teams, you’d love him on yours. I guess it’s debatable if he could co-exist with Gerrit Cole, but if they are fighting for a common goal, you’d think they could find harmony. The idea of placing your bets on a comeback by Corey Kluber seems like a flawed strategy if the Yankees are waiting to see if he has anything left. His injury history in recent years alone is enough for me to say thanks but no thanks. I am not willing to go the ’lightning in a bottle’ approach with a team that has World Series ambitions.

The Tampa Bay Rays might not be as strong in 2021 as they were in 2020, but that does not mean the Yankees should let up on the gas pedal. There are other teams actively getting better. You must beat them if you want the end prize.

It does kind of suck that after waiting for years to get out from under the heavy contracts of Alex Rodriguez and Jacoby Ellsbury, we are, similarly, now in waiting with Giancarlo Stanton. It is seemingly always one contract that prevents the Yankees from being the best they can be.

I know the Yankees have a plan and I am sure they’ll field a team this year that will be playing in October, but admittedly, my faith and confidence in Brian Cashman is eroding. I do see life after Cash. Not sure who should be the next general manager but it is something I think Hal Steinbrenner needs to consider at some point. In many ways, I think the loss of Hank Steinbrenner was devastating. He may not have been a good “face” for the Yankees like his more diplomatic brother has been, but, with his aggressive, George-like personality, he was a good counter-balance for the conservative, professional bean-counting Hal. You know behind closed doors, Hank and Hal probably had some very spirited conversations. Without Hank’s voice, Hal is free to be as conservative as he wants to be. I doubt the Steinbrenner sisters bring the ghost of their father into a room like Hank did. I don’t know the Steinbrenner family personally, but from the outside looking in, the sisters have never appeared to be very vocal. At least not in public settings I’ve seen.

Not sure what I think about the Gerrit Cole text message issue yet. I need to see more evidence and how this plays out. Cole reportedly sent a text message to fired Angels visiting clubhouse assistant Brian “Bubba” Harkins which stated, “Hey Bubba, it’s Gerrit Cole. I was wondering if you could help me out with this sticky situation (winky face emoji). We don’t see you until May, but we have some road games in April that are cold weather places. The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold…”.  The text was sent in January 2019 while Cole was still a member of the Houston Astros. It certainly doesn’t show Cole in good light, but Harkins is clearly motivated to negatively portray MLB in his battle with the Los Angeles Angels. I am not going easy on Cole just because he is a Yankee. I’d feel the same if Harkins was echoing the same message about star pitchers on other teams. We need to understand all the facts before we pass judgment. No doubt MLB will be investigating the allegations and they’ll take the appropriate action.

I just saw the Washington Nationals have signed Kyle Schwarber. I was indifferent to his possible signing with the Yankees although I thought he could be effective in Yankee Stadium. However, I still want to see Clint Frazier succeed and there was simply no room for Schwarber on the Yankees. Yet, I am sure many Yankee fans will be groaning about another player lost while the Yankees remain inactive.

Lastly, I’d like to say farewell to one of Major League baseball’s greatest legends…former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. I remember how much I disliked Tommy back in the 1977 and 1978 World Series, yet over time, I began to appreciate and love his personality. I have always enjoyed his stories about the great 1988 World Series year for the Dodgers, and other tales from his career. He was good for the game and he remained such a valued treasure in the Dodgers organization. At 93, it was a good run. Many of us will not make it that far. It was a good life, and he can leave proud of his accomplishments. He will be missed. Rest in Peace, Tommy…

As always, Go Yankees!