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!