Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Men of No Emotion...

Photo Credit: Getty Images, Corey Sipkin (via NY Post)

Yankees sign LeMahieu and Kluber… 

Hey, Cashman woke me up from my nap. C’mon, man… 

After months of crickets, last Friday turned out to be a very productive day in the Yankees Universe. Getting out of bed on Friday morning, I saw the reports the Yankees and D.J. LeMahieu were nearing a deal. A pleasant way to wake up.  Sure enough, it came to fruition in the form of a 6-year, $90 million deal. Some fans were freaked out about the length of the contract, but there’s no doubt the Yankees are looking at this as a four-year deal and the extra two only served to lower the average annual value. As much as I love LeMahieu and as happy as I am he’s back, there is no way LeMahieu is still a Yankee by Year Six. Well, unless he keeps on hitting like a machine. I think the Yankees probably feel anything they get in the last two years is gravy. If not, they’ll just cut bait and move on.    

I had hoped the Yankees and LeMahieu could find common ground because it certainly seemed like both sides like each other. I did have my fears he’d take his trade across town to join Francisco Lindor and the New York Mets or even head north of the border to play for the looming beast of a team that is beginning to take shape in Toronto. The Los Angeles Dodgers also loomed as a threat and I am sure D.J. entertained thoughts about what it would be like to play in Colorado every year wearing enemy gear. 

The news later in the day that the Yankees had reached agreement on a one-year, $11 million contract with Corey Kluber was hardly a surprise. Given how much the Yankees have coveted Kluber in the past, despite his recent run of injury problems, it seemed like they always had a leg up on everybody else if for no other reason than pitching coach Matt Blake (from their time together in Cleveland) and his long-time history of working with Yankees’ director of player health and performance, Eric Cressey. There are reports Kluber had offers for more money but he chose the Yankees. 

Regardless of how he got here, I am glad Kluber is a Yankee. But it does come at a cost, there are now reports the Yankees are unlikely to re-sign Masahiro Tanaka. That makes me sad. He’s been a good Yankee. Sure, he can be frustrating at times and it was evident in the playoffs last year the Yankees didn’t trust him at that point. Yet, I would have gladly accepted his return to be a third or fourth starter.  It kind of sucks to think he’ll most likely be pulling on a different uniform this year. I only hope that he does not sign with an AL East rival. I’d probably feel better if Kluber was a sure thing but he’s not. The Texas Rangers made the investment in Kluber and got almost nothing to show for it other than a few pics of Kluber wearing different versions of Rangers jerseys. I know Tanaka is always a bad pitch away from Tommy John surgery, but he does seem like a healthier option than Kluber at the moment. This of course could change if Kluber shows he is still Klubot.  

After word of Kluber’s signing circulated (hasn’t been officially announced yet), Yankee fans almost immediately began clamoring for Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo. Yes, I’d love to have Castillo in the rotation with Gerrit Cole and Kluber (and eventually Luis Severino), but I’ve learned whenever there is this much noise about a player and the Yankees, it almost never comes to fruition.  Brian Cashman just doesn’t work that way. He strikes quickly and quietly as we know so well. So, the more people talk about a possible Castillo trade, the less likely I see it really happening. 

I do think The Greedy Pinstripes’ Daniel Burch is onto something with his campaign to bring Trevor Bauer to the Bronx. Unlike Kluber, you can count on Bauer to give you innings. He’ll also be one of the better pitchers in the league which positions him nicely to be the #2 rather than Kluber. I doubt the Yankees spend the money, but they need more than one superstar, a roll of the dice with a former Cy Young Award winner and a bunch of kids.  Sorry, Monty, I know you’re not a kid but…we need more. Which is EXACTLY why we need Kluber's former (future?) teammate.

Photo Credit: AP

It was so fun having certainty in one rotation spot last year. I know, Cole is going to lose from time to time and yes, he’ll give up the dingers like anybody else, but when he was on the mound, you felt confident about the Yankees’ chances. It’s been a very long time since I had that feeling. It would be nice to have the same feeling about two spots in the rotation. So, Hal, please sign Trevor Bauer. It’s only money and you’ll earn it back with the next championship.  Get Greedy! 

I suppose that if it is unlikely Tanaka will be back, there’s a snow ball’s chance in hell that we’ll see James Paxton again. SNY reported earlier today that Tanaka is seeking a one-year deal in the range of $15 to $20 million. If he does sign for that level of money, then it is probably best the Yankees decided to part ways. I personally don’t think he’ll get it, not in this depressed market…I just don’t want to see him sign for an unusually low amount that the Yankees could have easily matched.  

I think the Yankees are not done yet, even if I don’t believe there’s any traction for a Luis Castillo trade. I think Cashman recognizes the team has holes, and there are other teams that have gotten substantially better. I don’t exactly remember how the quote goes, but it’s akin to being unrealistic if you expect a different result when you do keep doing the same thing over and over. The Yankees proved they couldn’t win last October and they do need to do something different to change the outcome. Betting on Corey Kluber is not the smart play. Hence, my belief that Cashman is getting ready to pull his magic act again.  

I’ve seen a few articles predicting a major breakout this year by Clarke Schmidt. While I recognize it could happen, I remain in the ‘I’ll have to see it to believe it’ category. Not trying to diss Schmidt and I certainly feel he can be a dominant pitcher, but he hasn’t done it yet. Until he does, I will carry some skepticism (or maybe realism). I’d love to see him explode in 2021 like nothing we’ve seen since the Summer of ’78. He’ll certainly have his opportunities this year and I truly hope he makes the most of them. 

As always, Go Yankees!