Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Countdown to Spring Training...


Yankees Captain Aaron Judge

Steinbrenner Field awaits old and new friends…

'Twas the month before Spring Training, when all thro’ the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…

The Yankees made some big executive hires at the beginning of the month when they brought in Brian Sabean and Omar Minaya, but it has been nothing but crickets for the past few weeks. We are now closer to Spring Training than we are from the number of days since New Year’s Day. Seemingly, the guys on the 40-man roster plus a few top prospects, and those with minor league contracts including Spring Training invitations are the faces we will see in a few weeks down in Tampa, Florida.

The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported this week that the Yankees have talked with the agents for free agent outfielders Jurickson Profar and David Peralta, however, nothing is imminent as the Yankees seem unwilling to cross the Steve Cohen luxury tax threshold of $293 million. Neither of those guys would move the needle in terms of improving the team’s chances against the Houston Astros or the upstart Toronto Blue Jays. 

So, for now, we await the Spring Training battle between Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Cabrera, Estevan Florial, and a bevy of non-roster invites, including Willie Calhoun, Rafael Ortega, and Billy McKinney.

Estevan Florial

Mike Axisa brought up a good point this week about Hicks. He will accrue sufficient service time to gain 10-and-5 rights later in the season (August) which allows a player to veto any trade proposals. Based on this fact, it seems likely the clock is running out on Hicks and he will be an ex-Yankee by this summer’s trade deadline. It is tough enough thinking about Hicks on the Opening Day Roster…being married to him for the next three seasons would be abysmal.

Despite GM Brian Cashman’s recent words on MLB Network Radio about Hicks, “I suspect he will be the guy that emerges, because he’s still really talented and everything’s there”, everything the Yankees have done in the past couple of years shows they would love to move on. There is no way Cashman would bash a player he is actively trying to trade so I take his words with a grain of salt. 

I keep hoping for a Zack Britton signing before he ends up somewhere like Boston. I would like to have his experience in the pen as a hedge for Closer Clay Holmes. I know Jonathan Loaisiga or Tommy Kahnle could potentially step up if necessary so the desire for Britton is probably more sentimental than anything despite his health challenges. 

An infield glut has led to talk the Yankees will make a trade before Opening Day. I am not a proponent of trading Gleyber Torres but recognize that if both Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe make the roster, Torres is the most valuable trading chip. My excitement will be if Josh Donaldson and/or Isiah Kiner-Falefa is included in any potential trade regardless of the return.

As much as I respect Donaldson’s glove, I want a healthy DJ LeMahieu as the starting third baseman. This is why I believe so strongly the Yankees need a left fielder other than Oswaldo Cabrera so that Cabrera can be the guy to move around to different positions in the infield and not LeMahieu. I am quietly hoping Andres Chaparro or Trey Sweeney can eventually take the position within the next few years.  Well, Manny Machado would look good there, but I am not going to hold my breath on that one.

Oh well, a few more weeks before pitchers and catchers report.

Scott Rolen to the Hall of Fame

I do not begrudge Scott Rolen for making the Hall of Fame. He was a great player, but I find it humorous that I cannot identify him specifically with one team. He started with the Philadelphia Phillies but spent significant time in St Louis and Cincinnati. Is he a Phillie, a Cardinal, or a Red? I am so confused. I had forgotten he had even spent some time as a Blue Jay north of the border. He seems like one of those guys like Mike Mussina did, who should go into the HOF with no team insignia.

Scott Rolen (Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

I keep seeing people say if Rolen is in the HOF, Don Mattingly should be there. I guess it is not my desire to compare one to the other. Regardless of whether we believe Mattingly should be in the Hall of Fame, Scott Rolen’s presence has nothing to do with it. I accept his election because he received more than seventy-five percent of the vote. We can talk all day about the flawed voting process and the narcissistic writers involved but until a better solution is implemented, it is what it is.

Maybe Mattingly will be voted in one day by the veterans’ committee…maybe not. I will be happy if it happens, but frankly, I will not lose any sleep if it does not. Maybe that is just my pettiness about a guy who is the Toronto Blue Jays bench coach and is paid to beat the Yankees.

MLB Top 100 Prospects

MLB announced their top 100 prospects and three Yankees made the list. The top Yankee is everybody’s favorite prospect, Anthony Volpe, who is ranked fifth. Volpe will be in camp to battle Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Oswald Peraza for starting shortstop, but he is expected to start the year in Triple-A. Regardless of whether Volpe is on the Opening Day Roster or if he makes his Major League debut later in the season, it is nearly Volpe Time in the Bronx.

Anthony Volpe

Jasson Dominguez was ranked forty-seventh, and Oswald Peraza, who should be the Yankees’ starting shortstop this season, was fifty-second. 

Former Yankees Ken Waldichuk (Athletics) and Kevin Alcantara (Cubs) also made the list. They were seventy-sixth and eighty-seventh, respectively.

I thought Austin Wells might make an appearance on the list, but he did not make it. To his credit, making the list has nothing to do with future success. Austin Wells can hit, and he will be a very good Yankee when he is ready for his ascent to the Major Leagues.

Ex-Yankees in the News

There may be no news about current Yankees, but a few former ones were making headlines this week.

Jackson Frazier, the bumbling outfielder formally known as Clint, has resurfaced from his trip to the Winter Dominican Leagues to sign a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers. It includes an invitation to Spring Training. Frazier had been released by the Cubs last fall. 

Two former top Yankees prospects were designated for assignment. The Seattle Mariners DFA’d Justus Sheffield, while the Pittsburgh Pirates did the same with Miguel Andújar. In both cases, the players passed through waivers and were assigned outright to Triple-A. I thought some team might take a flyer on Sheffield’s potential, but I was wrong. It is sad how far both men have fallen. Hopefully, there is a rebound in store for one or both.

Justus Sheffield (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Aroldis Chapman found a new home in Kansas City. Given Chapman’s aversion to October, he seems right at home with the Royals since they will be taking October off this year. It is a one-year contract worth $3.75 million although Chappy can pick up $4 million more in performance incentives. I am grateful he will no longer make appearances for the Yankees, but it will sicken me if he gets to make that ugly stare at the end of a Yankees-Royals game in KC. I hope the Yankees can hit him as hard as the Yankees’ opponents did last season, if not harder.

I thought Chapman might sign with the Miami Marlins since he lives in the area, but apparently, they only offered $2 million. 

I am ready for Yankees baseball…

As always, Go Yankees!


No comments:

Post a Comment

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