Saturday, January 29, 2022

Coming Soon: Rizzo & Simmons...


Andrelton Simmons / Photo Credit: Gary A Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports

Keep Your Expectations Low…

As the calendar prepares to turn to February, the MLB Lockout continues. While the two sides met on Monday and Tuesday, the momentum seems to be moving at a snail’s pace. The MLB Owners and MLBPA need to pick up urgency with their negotiations. Lock them in a room until they get this resolved. It is disappointing that Spring Training may be delayed. Not the end of the world considering Spring Training is a bit too long, but the longer it goes, the stronger the chance the regular season will be delayed which would be a travesty and a huge error in judgment by the wealthy MLB Owners.

Once the labor dispute has ended, there will be extremely limited time to prepare for the 2022 season so brace yourself for when the Yankees biggest off-season moves are to add a stopgap shortstop and re-sign Anthony Rizzo. I remain hopeful for at least the free agent signing of Trevor Story to give the Yankees a superior player at shortstop rather than a journeyman to fill the role. I want Matt Olson or Freddie Freeman as much as most Yankees fans, but it feels as though the Steinbrenner Administration will underwhelm us in a few areas under Hal’s economic belief, right or wrong, that it does not take $200 million to field a champion. If we do not get Olson or Freeman, I would not be disappointed if Rizzo returns. We need at least Rizzo as Luke Voit is not the answer. As for shortstop, sorry, I do not want Andrelton Simmons or some cheap fill-in option.

I hope I am wrong. It would be fantastic the Yankees come out the Lockout swinging for the fences. With so many elite players available, the Yankees would be foolish not to try and improve their 2022 chances. The AL East will be incredibly competitive this year (well at least every team that does not play its home games at Camden Yards). I like Anthony Volpe and I am glad he is a Yankees prospect, but we cannot and should not rely on his Major League success until he proves it. When he does, he will find his place on the roster. A short-term fix while we are waiting for Volpe’s 2023 or 2024 arrival does not make sense to me. When you can improve the roster, legitimately make your team better, you do it.

Matt Olson / Photo Credit: Justin Edmonds, Getty Images

In his New York Post column today, Joel Sherman believes there are three avenues for the Yankees. 1) sign Carlos Correa or Trevor Story, 2) Add free agent Freddie Freeman or acquire Matt Olson, and/or 3) Spread the money over multiple areas to improve the roster. He believes the Yankees will choose the third option. The shortstop options referenced are the usual suspects, Andrelton Simmons, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Elvis Andrus and Nick Ahmed. He sees Anthony Rizzo and Simmons as the “simplest solution” for the Yankees. Ugh, I hate to read this even if the realist in me knows that Sherman is most likely correct.

I am so ready for the Lockout to end…

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Carlos Beltran returns to the Yankees Universe. I thought Beltran would be an excellent choice for Aaron Boone’s coaching staff (potential manager-in-waiting…I mean, assistant hitting coach), but congratulations to him for joining the YES Network to help fill the void of David Cone’s reduced schedule and Ken Singleton’s retirement. According to Jack Curry, Beltran will work an estimated thirty-six games, with Cone covering 55-60 games. Good for Carlos. He gets his foot back in the door and should help him find his way back into a Major League dugout at some point if he so chooses.

The first few games with Beltran may be a bit awkward. He does owe the fanbase an apology for his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal. I am willing to forgive but I am hopeful he is remorseful and apologetic. A.J. Hinch and Alex Cora received second chances and Beltran should too. He should not ignore the situation. Make a short apology and move on. Nothing more, nothing less.

It is kind of funny the Yankees now employ the last two managers of the New York Mets even if one never managed a Major League game.

Carlos Beltran / Photo Credit: Rich Schultz, Getty Images

Luis Rojas / Photo Credit: Rich Schultz, Getty Images

I think the first time I heard someone suggest Jonathan Loáisiga as the Yankees closer, I was against it out of concern about his injury history. But the more I think about it, the better I feel. He has the right mental makeup (and arm) to succeed as the successor to Aroldis Chapman. It seems a given that 2022 will be Chappy’s final year in Pinstripes so the transition should start this season (utilization of both men at the end of the games without one being the designated closer). If the situation calls for it, Chappy in the eighth and Loáisiga  to finish it. Aaron Boone gets the chance to be creative with the talent in the bullpen. The key is to keep both men fresh, and not overuse either one.

This is Robinson Cano’s 39th year. He turns 40 in October. It seems like only yesterday he was a newcomer trying to break into a lineup that featured Derek Jeter. Two big IFs…if Cano had never left the Yankees and if he had not toyed with performance enhancing drugs, we would be talking about the potential retirement of #24 instead of wishing banishment to Siberia for the man who currently wears it. I do not wish Cano any ill will. I would not want him back on the Yankees. Not quite sure how the Mets will employ him, but that is their problem. Cano broke my heart when he left, and I will always wonder what could have been. I blame him for Jacoby Ellsbury although that was more about management’s response and less to do with Cano’s decision to stay or go. Yet, although I have no love for the Mets, it would be nice to see Cano write a good comeback story in Queens this season.

The New York Giants got their men with GM Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll. Not that I follow the Giants (I do not) but it seemed like those two were the favorites among Giants fans. I thought both choices were strong, and it provides reason for optimism among the Giants fanbase. 

As for my team, the Minnesota Vikings, they got it right with their GM selection, New Jersey-born Princeton graduate Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. The last couple of days have been exciting for Vikings fans. Adofo-Mensah, with his heavy background in Analytics, is such a contrast to former GM Rick Spielman, a welcome change. My choice for head coach remains Raheem Morris, the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, although I would be just as excited to see DeMeco Ryans, the DC for the San Francisco 49ers, get the job. The two men will be on display in this Sunday’s NFC Championship. Giants DC Patrick Graham has been added to the interview list. I am confident Adofo-Mensah will make the right choice. I was ready for a change from the grouchy sixty-something Mike Zimmer. Zimmer, if he chooses to return to the game, is better suited to be a defensive coordinator than head coach.

I am so ready for baseball to become more relevant than football.

As always, Go Yankees!