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!