Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year to the Yankees Universe! ...


Will the New Year bring Labor Peace?...

Now that we are nearly through the holidays, here is to the cautiously optimistic hope that MLB Owners and the MLB Players Association can sit down in earnest and begin tackling the core issues that divide the parties. Hopefully, they will find the motivation to aggressively seek resolution of their differing opinions and reach an agreement for a new collective bargaining agreement that will be mutually beneficial for all concerned. The owners and the players owe it to the fans to find common ground and bring Major League Baseball activity back into our lives.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens always start strong in the Hall of Fame balloting before losing their hold on candidacy as the later and final votes trickle in. This year is no different. Through 103 public and seven anonymous ballots as of 12/31/21, as reported by Ryan Thibodeaux’s 2022 BBHOF Tracker, Bonds has eighty-nine votes (80.9%), and Clemens has eighty-eight votes (80.00%). The leader is David Ortiz with ninety-one votes (82.7%). Former Yankee Alex Rodriguez only has fifty-one votes (46.4%).

Ortiz has a particularly good chance for success. Suspected of PED use, it was never proven or confirmed despite the allegations, and Ortiz has denied it. Yet, if Ortiz makes the Hall, I do feel it is time to consider the known PED users. Both Bonds and Clemens were talented players, with or without the aid of the performance enhancing drugs at various points of their respective careers. If the Hall of Fame has a high standard for its code of ethics, there are probably more than a few Hall of Famers who should be removed. I have softened on my stance with Bonds and Clemens as I once felt they did not deserve the honor. Time heals all wounds. Before other known (or suspected) PED users make the Hall of Fame, I feel Bonds and Clemens should be the first entrants. I will never forgive Bonds and Clemens for their indiscretions, but you do not have to like someone personally to respect them professionally.

Barry Bonds & Roger Clemens / Photo Credit: AP and Getty Images

Although I think he should eventually get in, I do not feel that Alex Rodriguez should be a first year HOF entrant. The early voters apparently feel the same way. Andy Pettitte, in his fourth year of eligibility, currently has only thirteen votes (11.8%) and is unlikely to ever make the Hall. He will always be a great Yankee in my mind, but I recognize he will never have a date to visit Cooperstown unless he buys a ticket to see a friend’s induction.

If the Yankees want to trade for Oakland’s Matt Chapman to play third base, it is fine by me, but I did not like Buster Olney’s report on the Michael Kay Show this week that the Yankees have had some internal discussions about acquiring Chapman to play shortstop. Chapman is an elite third baseman, and while I am sure he has the athleticism to make a position switch, the question is why? He is better than Gio Urshela and last year’s move of Gleyber Torres to shortstop did not work out. It does not mean Chapman would not be successful but clearly, Chapman is a terrific third baseman who should stay there. I personally think the Los Angeles Dodgers should consider trading for Chapman. Justin Turner is on the downside of a distinguished career and might be better suited for DH if the position is adopted for the National League. Matt Olson remains the Athletic that I most want to see in Pinstripes although I do want the Yankees to pivot quickly to Anthony Rizzo before he signs elsewhere if there are any snags in a potential deal with Oakland.

I remain fearful that Andrelton Simmons will be the shortstop answer (he is not). I love the potential of Anthony Volpe as much as anybody but until he proves it at the Major League level, it is just potential. Plus, the rise to elite status is not generally an overnight proposition. It literally takes years. The Yankees have championship aspirations if they make the right moves once the MLB lockout ends. If they settle for trying to fill the areas of need with stopgap solutions, they will spend the summer chasing the Rays, Blue Jays and Red Sox. I do not really expect Boston to over-achieve again next year but, so far, the Yankees have done nothing to close the gap with the team that sent them packing last October.

I do not want to lose Volpe in any trades. When he is ready the Show, opportunity will open for him. Let him force the day the Yankees must make the tough decisions rather than trying to make the decisions now with the hope the player fulfills his destiny. We have the best years of Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton at stake.

Although he is not a starting shortstop solution, I am anxious to see what Oswaldo Cabrera can do this year as the new and improved Tyler Wade. I guess we will see if he is an active and viable bench solution with his versatility and speed or if he is a regular rider on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle, but it is fun to see a young prospect on the cusp of making the Major League team. Primarily a second baseman, Cabrera, 23, has played third base and shortstop.

Oswaldo Cabrera / Photo Credit: Michael Reaves, Getty Images

It was a tough week with the loss of legendary NFL coach and TV analyst John Madden. I remember how disappointed I was during the 1977 Super Bowl when Madden and the Oakland Raiders crushed the Minnesota Vikings with total domination from start to finish. The image of Vikings running back Chuck Foreman sitting on his helmet at the end of the game in sadness is burned into my memory. I so disliked Madden back then, but he won me over with his success and the brilliance he brought to the broadcast booth after his premature retirement as a coach. My wife once met Madden in a Livermore Valley, California winery, and her recollection is “Big guy!” He was big…not only in physical stature, but with the impact and imprint he made on professional football. I am very saddened to see his departure. He will be missed. Rest in Peace, Coach!

John Madden / Photo Credit: Chris Zuppa, AP

As always, Go Yankees!