Saturday, July 30, 2022

Frankie Montas or Bust...


Frankie Montas / Photo Credit: Chris Carlson, AP

Prized Target Castillo heads to the Upper Northwest…

Time will tell if Luis Castillo is sleepless in Seattle, but the Mariners added firepower to their playoff chances with the acquisition of the pitcher from the Cincinnati Reds. Most Yankee fans had wanted to see Castillo in Pinstripes, and there were times where we felt it might happen but as it usually goes, we never get the top pitching target. Too many of us have been through the days of Greg Maddux, Cliff Lee, and Gerrit Cole (when he was a Pirate), to name a few.

The fans have immediately turned their attention to Frankie Montas of the Oakland A’s who many have rated as second only to Castillo among available pitchers. That is probably debatable, but there is no doubt Brian Cashman, and his herd of analysts have their sights set on certain pitchers (including names that have not made the headlines). We know they have liked Montas in the past, and there are rumors they tried to acquire him during the Spring. GM Brian Cashman will never make the obvious move. The recent Andrew Benintendi is a rare exception. A player long rumored connected to the Yankees who actually ends up there. More than likely, Cash is working on potential pitchers who might surprise us in addition to rekindling his talks with the A’s Billy Beane. I wanted Castillo but I tried to temper my expectations for this exact scenario. I would be pleased to acquire Montas, Pablo Lopez of the Miami Marlins, or, with trust in the front office, any pitcher they deem to be a solid number two to slot in behind Gerrit Cole.

The Mariners paid a high price for their new ace. Four prospects which included three of their top five according to For the Yankees, that would be sending three of Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, Jasson Dominguez, Austin Wells, and Ken Waldichuk. I recognize that the value of a team’s top five varies from team to team and the Yankees were said to have made an offer to the Red that nearly rivaled the Mariners in quality. It would have been wonderful to get Castillo, but it did not happen, and we move on. One starting pitcher is not going to be the reason the Yankees do not win the World Series. There is something special about the 2022 Yankees (despite the lackluster July results) and if they can get quality reinforcements elsewhere, I like the team’s chances in October.

Like Castillo, the Yankees have been long connected to Montas. By Tuesday, we will either have a new starting pitcher or we will not. It is not the end of the world. I have no desire to see Domingo German pitch again even if he was better last time out. I would rather see JP Sears or Ken Waldichuk given a shot before rolling German out there again. Waldichuk, a 24-year-old lefty, is 6-3 in sixteen starts for the Somerset Patriots and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders this season with combined 2.60 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings pitched. He absolutely dominated Double-A after six games which forced his promotion to Triple-A. Waldichuk is a better pitcher than former Yankees prospect Janson Junk who shut out the Kansas City Royals for six innings earlier this week to win his Major League debut with the Los Angeles (Anaheim) Angels. Waldichuk is nearing his time if he is not traded for Montas or another starter.

Ken Waldichuk / Photo Credit: NJ Advance Media for

I remember when fans did not want young prospect Andy Pettitte starting for the Yankees. Everybody must start some time. It is not like you make your Major League debut as a seasoned Major League veteran. Not that I think Waldichuk will be as good as Pettitte, but he deserves a chance to prove who he is or who he can be. I am not trying to go down the path of let’s start Waldichuk over an acquisition of a top starting pitcher, but the point is, have faith in GM Brian Cashman. Regardless of what happens, the Yankees will be okay, and we WILL be playing in October.

Welcome to the Yankees, Andrew Benintendi. I know many fans wanted outfielder Ian Happ of the Chicago Cubs. It would have been nice to pair Happ with his former World Series brother Anthony Rizzo, but since he is not a true rental like Benny, the cost would have been higher than the three pitching prospects who went to Kansas City. I like Benny. It is frustrating to watch Yankee fans who are already turning on him after a couple of games. He needs more time to show who he is. I would never hold the Royals series as the standard for whether he can make it in New York. Players are human and there are emotions involved. He is suddenly thrust into playing against the guys he has gone to war with the last couple of years. He flew on the Royals team plane to New York on Wednesday night thinking he would be playing against the Yankees, not for them. There is pressure to perform well. So many variables that create challenges to a hot start. As he settles in, he will perform, this I am certain.

Andrew Benintendi / Photo Credit: Jason Szenes, NY Post

After five years in Boston, Benny was traded to the Royals in February 2021. He has not faced the Red Sox since the trade. The Yankees head to Boston in a couple of weeks so it will be interesting to see what kind of reception he receives from the Red Sox Nation sporting the Yankees’ gray away uniform. Boston manager Alex Cora had interesting words to say when he was asked about Benny the Yank. “Good for him,” Cora responded when asked about the trade. “He worked hard the last two years to make adjustments and get back to the hitter everybody envisioned in the past: .300 hitter who will get on base and is a good base runner. Defensively, he’s been amazing in Kansas City.” The words within the words read like: ‘He sucked in Boston.’ Cora added, “For the person, I’m very happy. For the player, we’ll leave it at that.” I do not know the reasons that led Boston to trade Benintendi. I was surprised at the time for no other reason than Benny had been a thorn when playing against the Yankees. It is obvious that he has worked hard, making the necessary adjustments to become a better player. The recent All-Star selection is confirmation. Benny does not need to hit homers (he only has three this season), although I would expect him to run into more than three with the short porch in right. If he is getting on base and moving runners, all is good. I am glad that the future of the 2022 Yankees left fielder is not an automatic out at the plate like it has been.

I am happy Benny is a Yankee. I wanted him even if Alex Cora did not. I saw the benefit of Ian Happ, but I like the retention of top prospects for a possible acquisition of a top starting pitcher. I was hoping those prospects could be used for Castillo as stated earlier, but there are other options that might not have existed if the Yankees had moved top prospects for Happ. Also, while I do not expect the Yankees to acquire Juan Soto, you can never say never until Ken Rosenthal, Jack Curry or Jeff Passan are reporting that he has been traded elsewhere. My take all along has been get a top starting pitcher and a lesser outfielder (than Soto). We have the outfielder, now we need the pitcher. If we get Soto too, great. I will run out to buy my new Soto Yankees jersey. If we do not, I am sorry, but we move on as we always have.

If Benintendi performs well in Pinstripes, I would like to see the Yankees try to bring him back this off-season when he hits free agency. The Yankees will be focused on re-signing Aaron Judge (as they should, as they must) and there are times it seems like the Yankees can only focus on one thing at a time so time will tell if Benny’s Yankee career can be measured in years or only in months. I wish him well and hope he succeeds as a New York Yankee.

Rotating relief pitchers. Ryan Weber has had an interesting Yankees career. Signed to a minor league contract, added to the Major League roster, designated for assignment, refusal of outright assignment, and re-signed to a new minor league contract. Rinse and repeat. He has now done this about three or four times. Shane Greene just completed his first cycle and is back with the RailRiders, along with Weber, on his second minor league contract. They await the next call, so does former Pittsburgh Pirates/Atlanta Braves reliever Richard Rodriguez.

Richard Rodriguez / Photo Credit:

It will be a surprise if the Yankees do not acquire a strong reliever between now and Tuesday. David Robertson seems to be the reliever most discussed which, of course, means it probably will not happen. It does seem like there is a better chance D-Rob winds up in Queens. Losing Michael King hurt, although I think Clarke Schmidt can step up and has already. Aroldis Chapman is pitching better, and I continue to have faith in an improved Jonathan Loaisiga. The Yankees need to quit rolling at Wandy Peralta at the end of games. It worked out last night but with a six-run lead, it was not exactly a pressurized moment. Wandy is better in the middle innings. Keep him there.

Aaron Judge, MVP. I seriously hope we are not watching the end of Aaron Judge’s Yankee career. It is bittersweet with every home run that this could be it for his time in New York. He is New York. He should be a Yankee for life, and he should be Captain of the New York Yankees. It would be beautiful to see the Yankees re-sign him to a long, mutually beneficial contract, with Hall of Famer and former Captain Derek Jeter performing a ceremony at home plate to anoint Judge as the team’s next Captain.

Aaron Judge w/Meredith Marakovits / Photo Credit:

When Judge hits the free agent market, if the San Francisco Giants were to offer Judge the same dollars and years as the Yankees, would he stay with his loyalty to the team or would he head home to the West Coast to play for the team he cheered as a child. The Yankee players who were fans as children always get attention. It would be tough seeing Giants fans capturing one of their own. I want Judge to stay. It will be devastating to watch him leave. Like anything, we would survive but it would be painful. I think if another team steals Judge away from the Yankees (and there are plenty of crazy owners who could do it), it would make an apparent inability to acquire Juan Soto that much more hurtful. While I get not giving up the players it would take to acquire Soto, the Yankees must keep Judge. Hal, please hear our words and loosen your death grip on your wallet.

Lastly, be kind to Joey Gallo. I am tired of the harsh words about Gallo. Lindsey Adler wrote a beautiful piece about Gallo in The Athletic this week, and I agree with her thoughts. Joey Gallo has worked hard to become a better player, but it has not worked out in New York. The team recognizes it, or they would not have acquired Andrew Benintendi. It is probable when the sun rises on Wednesday morning, Gallo is no longer a Yankee. I liked the guy and I genuinely wanted it to work. It did not work but you can never say it was not for the lack of trying. He wanted to succeed. Gallo is a good man, a great clubhouse influence, and a wonderful teammate. I am convinced he will thrive in a market without the heavy expectations of New York.

Joey Gallo / Photo Credit: @TheAthleticMLB on Twitter

I thank Joey for trying and wish him the best wherever he lands in the coming days.

As always, Go Yankees!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)