Thursday, October 26, 2023

Is the World Series Over Yet? ...


Gerrit Cole (Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Ready for the Hot Stove League…

Hopefully, the Texas Rangers eliminate the Arizona Diamondbacks in four games so that we can get on to more important matters like the 2023-24 Hot Stove League. As much as I want to see the D-Backs lose, it is hard to get motivated to watch this year’s World Series even if there are a few ex-Yankees on the Rangers roster. Give one of the teams the trophy and let’s move on. I am ready for the start of free agency, finalization of the 40-man rosters in advance of December’s Rule 5 Draft, preparation for the Winter Meetings, etc. The only headlines I want to see are “Yankees acquire…”“Yankees to sign…”, or “Yankees fire…”

I am assuming this will be the Winter of Discontent as Yankees fans will heighten their expectations for a Juan Soto trade in the coming days and weeks (as if they have not already been elevated to unrealistic proportions), only to have the hopes dashed when the San Diego Padres either decide to retain Soto or trade him to a Yankees rival. I will add the usual caveat that I hope the Yankees prove me wrong and grab one of baseball’s brightest talents. Nevertheless, I must take the ‘see it to believe it’ approach with Juan Soto and the Yankees. I refuse to go down that path of disappointment.

Juan Soto (Credit: ClutchPoints)

With speculation that the Yankees will have to trade Kyle Higashioka or Ben Rortvedt now that Austin Wells has proven he is Major League-ready, I do wonder about Jose Trevino. While Trevi was outstanding in 2022, his 2023 season was forgettable. Sure, he played hurt, but so far, he is just a one-season wonder. I am not so sure the decision of whether to keep Trevi or Higashioka should be an easy one. There is an argument to make that Higgy should stay. Rortvedt, even without the hit tool, earned raves for his work with Gerrit Cole.  I think Higgy will be the one to go, either through trade in November or he will be non-tendered, but if the Yankees offloaded Trevino instead, it should not catch anyone by surprise. I have greater hopes and expectations for Wells as the everyday catcher. The Yankees have a strong history of great offensive catchers, and Wells did nothing to show that he is Gary Sanchez behind the plate. In other words, he surprised people with his defensive play (better than expected). The remaining catcher that serves as backup should be the player most capable of being a backup.  As simplistic as it sounds, if Trevino believes he should be the starting catcher, does he let it affect his attitude or does he fully embrace his reduced role, recognizing Wells is the better offensive player? The best place for Trevino could end up being elsewhere depending on how this turns out. Trevi does not strike me as an egotistical player, but the decision of who to keep should not be considered lightly. 

Hopefully, the catching tandem will be decided in short order so that the Yankees can move on to the bigger issues and challenges confronting the team.

Help Wanted: Hitting Coach

I was disappointed to hear the news that Yankees hitting coach Sean Casey has decided he will not return in 2024. I liked his work with the veteran players and thought he brought great energy to the dugout. I totally respect his reasons for leaving. He has two teenage daughters in Pittsburgh and holds joint custody with his ex-wife. He did not want to be away from his girls for eight months out of the year. Casey is not the first, nor will he be the last player or coach to decide family is more important. I respect his work in replacing the fired Dillon Lawson, and I hope the Yankees can find someone who is as passionate about hitting as Casey is. 

Sean Casey (Photo Credit: USATSI)

I have seen some fans suggest Tino Martinez. I like Tino and he was one of my favorite players when he played, but I have mixed feelings about his return as a coach. He resigned as the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins in 2013 after rumors of physical and verbal abuse of players and coaches. I have no idea if there is truth to those rumors, and at this point, I do not really care, but Tino has not received a Major League job since his departure from the Marlins. I would rather see someone who has been consistently connected with the game at the big-league level in the recent past, given how much the game has changed over the last decade. I hope the Yankees do not take the easy road and promote one of the hitting coach assistants, Casey Dykes, or Brad Wilkerson. I would prefer an outsider. Like Casey, the new hitting coach does not need to have ties with the Yankees. I want anyone who can get the MOST out of Giancarlo Stanton and the other Yankees hitters. While 2023 proved that you cannot be solely dependent upon analytics, it does remain an important skill along with the re-discovered old-school baseball acumen. 

I often see fans wanting former Yankees greats as the new hitting coach, like Paul O’Neill. Being a great player does not automatically equate to greatness as a coach. I want a great coach without regard to how successful his playing career was. The Yankees need someone who can effectively communicate with the young players as well as the veterans. Someone who can marry analytics into strong professional baseball knowledge, and help the players be the best they can be. I truly hope the Yankees take a patient approach to find the best option for the role. The Yankees cannot afford another season of hitting like the Oakland Athletics. 

We are literally wasting the best years of Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge.

I would like to see Don Mattingly come back, but I doubt he would give up his gig as the bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. After managing the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Miami Marlins, hitting coach seems like too much of a step back. I know he is a beloved Yankee, and you would think the Pinstripes would hold special appeal for him, but it would have to be the right job for his return. I do not feel hitting coach, as much as I would like to see him do it, is the right job for him at this stage of his career. There is also the concern in the back of my mind, justified or not, that I do not want to see a Yankee legend fail in a coaching role. Even though he never won a World Series, I have great memories of Mattingly’s time as a Yankee. I never want those fond memories to fade. 

Don Mattingly

General Manager Brian Cashman and his suspect Front Office have tough decisions ahead. Time to drop the ‘smartest guy in the room’ approach and roll up the sleeves. Winning should be the theme of the 2023-24 offseason. Building a winning team for 2024 AND winning back the alienated Yankees fan base. Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner needs to stand up, take his lumps, and tell us how he is going to improve the New York Yankees. Every move this offseason will be under a microscope. As much as the Yankees like to control the narrative, it is going to write itself based on what the Yankees do or do not accomplish this offseason.

Grab some popcorn.

As always, Go Yankees! 

Saturday, October 21, 2023

The Long Wait for Yankees News...


The Quiet Pinstripes…

I got excited when Jeff Passan tweeted the other day that the Phillies’ Ryan Thompson “yanks a slider” (that Arizona catcher Gabriel Moreno could not handle which allowed Bryce Harper to score) because it was the first time that I got to hear the word “Yanks” in a postseason game this season. Okay, I know, he was not referring to the greatest franchise in MLB history, but it just shows how much I miss the Yankees. 

Since the end of the regular season, the New York Yankees have been extremely quiet. I know, they are waiting for the end of the postseason before making any public comments or moves. I guess we can call this season THE BIG VOID. A void filled only by ex-Yankees playing in the postseason. 

I would like to think Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner is effectively using this time to take his deep dive into the organization although there are reports the self-conducted internal audit will not occur until after the World Series champion is crowned. Who knows what Hal is doing other than counting his money.

Moves we know for sure will NOT happen. Manager Aaron Boone and General Manager Brian Cashman will not be fired. Whatever scenario we craft for the offseason in our speculative moves we feel the Yankees should make, the chances Hal removes his key leaders is about as good as George Steinbrenner rising from the grave to take control of his beloved franchise. It remains to be seen if the Yankees make any adjustments to their analytics division. If there is anyone who should be fired, it is Assistant GM Michael Fishman. I do not care that he has been in the organization for years. Results are more important than tenure. The Yankees have screwed the pooch in how they have analyzed players for the last decade. They may uncover an occasional gem, but the duds are far more frequent.

As far as players, we will have to wait until the Hot Stove League starts next month before we start hearing any real rumors. Although there is no certainty the San Diego Padres will trade Juan Soto, he is clearly the latest number-one target for Yankees fans. I try not to get too wrapped up in Soto speculation. I would be excited if it happened, but why think about it if it may never happen. I wanted Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, and they were there for the Yankees to grab for only money, and Team Steinbrenner let us down by not even joining the chase. Soto will cost quality prospects, in addition to money if they want to retain him. There is nothing about Hal Steinbrenner that leads me to believe he will be an aggressive pursuer of Soto. He should, but will he? I do not like the odds. 

I am even trying to temper any expectations the Yankees will sign Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Although the Yankees have shown public interest in the pitcher, it is not like the Yankees are the only MLB team in search of quality pitching. Hal Steinbrenner may have authorized big money for baseball’s greatest starting pitcher, but I am sure the Carlos Rodón contract is enough to give anyone heartburn about handing out a Brink’s truck to another pitcher. I may be more optimistic about Yamamoto than Soto, but with either one, I am trying to keep expectations low. 

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Photo Credit: Eric Espada/Getty Images)

I am not in favor of bringing Jordan Montgomery back. He has done well since he left the Yankees, but honestly, I would be surprised if Monty wanted to come back to the Yankees after being dealt at the trade deadline a couple of years ago amidst speculation that he did not figure into the Yankees’ postseason plans. He has proven the Yankees were wrong and perhaps he would not have discovered who he could be if he had stayed in New York. Monty will be 31 before the 2024 season. It may not mean that he is over the hill yet, but I think there are better, younger options. I would not be disappointed if Monty returned, but I just do not think it will happen. So, saying I am not in favor of it is probably not accurate, however, I am not going to push for something I think will never happen. Monty should enjoy his post-Yankees renaissance and grab the life-changing money from another team for his next contract. The Texas Rangers would be foolish to let him get away. 

Although the Houston Astros seem to have momentum in the ALCS, I am ready to get the World Series over regardless of which teams are in it or who wins it. 2023 will always be a lost year in my mind. The year the Yankees could have been contenders if Brian Cashman’s moves had not thwarted it. It's time to move on to the 2024 MLB season or at least the preparation for it. Hal Steinbrenner gets to show if his heart is really in it. We shall see. Until then, there is just talk with no action. 

Retiring A-Rod’s Number

The short answer…NO. I am not a fan of Alex Rodriguez. While I appreciate his accomplishments in helping bring a World Series championship to New York in 2009, his desecration of the game far outweighed any positives he made. He is a cheater. He is a liar. He crossed an ethical line of his own volition. 

While I recognize Rodriguez has recaptured some fans with his post-playing career on TV, it does not atone for the damage he did to the game or to the Yankees. 

I think the Yankees have too many retired numbers as it is. There are players with retired numbers who should not be there. Reggie Jackson is one. He may have had big moments as a Yankee, but his stay was brief. He only played five of his twenty-one seasons in New York. Billy Martin is another one. I was not born during his playing days, but I loved every minute of his time(s) as the Yankees manager. I was so excited with every hiring and devastated with every firing. As much as I loved Billy, I do not consider his time worthy of a retired number. He will always remain one of my favorite Yankees managers. On the other side of the coin, Roy White is more deserving of a retired “Yankees” number than A-Rod. His number (6) is retired for Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre. It should be co-retired with White, much like how number 8 is retired for Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra.

Roy White

I do not feel A-Rod should be in the Hall of Fame, and I do not believe his Yankees number should be retired. You may not agree but that is okay. This is not something we need to agree on. You have your opinion and I have mine. 

Speaking of retired numbers, Fresno State will retire Aaron Judge’s number 29 on November 18. A worthy retired number while we wait for the future enshrinement of number 99 in Monument Park. 

Aaron Judge

Looking forward to when we have real Yankees news again.

As always, Go Yankees!

Friday, October 13, 2023

The Yankees Are on The Clock...


Hal Steinbrenner (Photo Credit: New York Post)

Hal Steinbrenner’s Moment to Shine…

At least your team made the playoffs.

I have heard countless Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers fans complaining about the extended days off for MLB teams with the best records (from the end of the regular season to the start of the AL/NL Division Series), delays that the fans feel contributed to their teams’ lackluster play. Considering Major League Baseball, for the most part, has been over since the first of October for Yankees fans, there is no sympathy or pity for their ousters. The cries of the Braves and Dodgers fans are simply an attempt to find excuses. At least their teams made the playoffs. How they performed…poorly… is on the teams, but not by how much rest they were able to get between games. 

I legitimately thought the Braves, armed with this year’s NL MVP (to be), would steamroll the NL contenders and the AL champion en route to a well-earned and deserved World Series championship. It felt like 2023 was their year. Alas, the Philadelphia Phillies thought otherwise and brought their A-game to October. It helps to have one of the best players in the game, Bryce Harper, but the Phillies showed they wanted to win more than the Braves did. Not sure if the Braves fell into the trap of thinking they just had to show up to win, I know it is more complicated than that, however, they go down as just another great team with an early exit. A team that history will soon forget. 

Credit the Los Angeles Dodgers for contending every year, but their lack of October success (setting aside the COVID-shortened year of 2020) is startling. The Dodgers have a strong farm system, but letting quality players walk like Corey Seager, Trea Turner, Cody Bellinger, and Justin Turner was eventually going to catch up with them. I get the need to plug in younger, cheaper talent, but as Bryce Harper showed this week, some guys know how to win. Corey Seager has it and so does Trea Turner.  You need a strong mix of veterans and youth. The Dodgers' problem was pitching so maybe letting hitters leave in their primes (well, Justin Turner might be outside of that range) was not the cause for their demise. For all his flaws, Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski showed he knows how to build a team for October. Meanwhile, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman showed that while he is better at analytics than the Yankees, his efforts prove futile when the calendar turns to October.  Old School Baseball 1, Analytics 0. I know that is not an accurate statement, but it is a general perception of Dombrowski versus Friedman. 

For all the changes fans want the Yankees to make, they will have hard competition from other teams trying to figure out how to do better. 

As for the Yankees making changes, I will have to see it to believe it. I am not convinced they will make a concerted effort to build a team capable of challenging the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. Everyone likes to say just make it in the playoffs, and worry about the rest later, but the Yankees, at least over the past decade have not shown an ability to create October excitement outside of Joe Girardi’s final ride in 2017 that shortened by banging trash cans. I always want to win the division first and foremost. A Wild Card spot is a nice consolation prize if Plan A does not work out, but I will never look at a Wild Card as a goal.

There has been much talk about firing General Manager Brian Cashman or canning Manager Aaron Boone, but the man on the spot is Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner.

Mike Axisa included this paragraph in his RAB Thoughts post today on Patreon:

“Hal’s priority is keeping his investors happy and his loyalty is to his 29 business partners. As long as the Yankees are making money and reasonably competitive, he’s happy. Winning a World Series would be icing on the cake, but clearly, it’s not the No. 1 priority. It hasn’t been in some time. I think Cashman has lost his fastball, but I also think he’s gone along with Hal because hey, if the boss wants to lower expectations and make my life easier, who am I to argue?

Note: If you do not subscribe to RAB Thoughts (for only $3 per month), you are missing out. Mike Axisa is absolutely one of the best. His work is consistently elite. 

RAB Thoughts | IndependentYankees analysis (formerly: | Patreon

Getting back to Hal Steinbrenner, I have always questioned Hal’s commitment to the Yankees. It was so obvious when he was younger, that he was not interested in the Yankees (at least from an outside observation from afar). Hearing people complain today about George Steinbrenner’s grandchildren getting into the family business, most notably, Steve Swindal, Jr., I am excited the younger Steinbrenner relatives have interests in the team. They are the organization's future assuming the Steinbrenner Family never sells the team. I do not see Hal Steinbrenner wanting to deal with the Yankees when he is in his 60s or 70s. He will be ready to turn the team over to more interested, younger hands at some point. I want the younger Steinbrenner’s to get as much experience as they can, and if they can bring along their grandfather’s competitive spirit, all the better. 

Axisa’s comment about Hal’s desire to keep his business partners happy rings so true. Profitability is the goal, not the World Series championships. Championships are a nice byproduct, and one would think championships would create greater profitability, but in Hal’s view, you start with the money first.  Controlled results. Hal has shown a willingness to spend (see Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge) but conversely, he has allowed poor contracts that prevent the team from making better moves. The most recent example was Brian Cashman’s acquisition of the downward-trending Josh Donaldson and his excessive contract under the belief there was something still in the tank.  I would be upset if I paid California gas prices only to find the tank empty. Hal’s strength is his loyalty to his workers. His weakness is his loyalty to his workers. Both can be true. He needs to find the right balance and make hard decisions when appropriate. The Yankees Front Office must be held accountable. Why is it that every Cashman move lately seems like they backfire? He has had his successes, but the failures clearly outweigh them. Something is broken in the Yankees organization, and Hal Steinbrenner needs to fix it. It goes back to General George S Patton's quote: “Lead me, follow me, or get the hell out of my way.”

There have been calls for Manager Aaron Boone to get tougher. That’s wrong. Hal Steinbrenner needs to get tougher. It starts at the top, and the effective changes must originate from Hal’s office. Grabbing a free-agent Japanese pitcher or a free-agent outfielder who spent a year in Chicago is not the effective change the team needs. Those players can be part of the plan, but the Yankees need to change how they view players and how those players collectively fit into the larger puzzle. The 2023 Phillies, much like the 2017 Yankees, show a team camaraderie that was made possible by bringing in the right mix of personalities and talent. Donaldson evidenced the Yankees have not valued character as part of their decision-making process. 

So, this winter is about more than acquiring a few players that you think can push the Yankees to a few more wins. There needs to be a philosophical change in the organization and how they determine a player’s worth.  Fire Brian Cashman…do not fire Brian Cashman. That is not really the point. I am not happy with Cashman, but the Yankees’ problems go deeper than Cashman. Fix the root causes of what led to the downward spiral.

Realistically, the Yankees should be as successful in the regular season as the Dodgers. They have the resources. I get that you do not need a $300 million payroll to win a World Series, but why is it so wrong for fans to question the dollars spent? The Yankees have made bad financial decisions. They need to own those decisions and ensure they do not happen again. If Hal is unable to control his business partners, he will never win. So, his first step would be to unite the ownership group to move the franchise forward. Identify the flaws in the organization and create a master plan for success. Hal should evaluate everyone, including himself. Who is part of the future and who is holding it back?

I am not convinced the Yankees will contend in 2024 but I want Hal Steinbrenner to make me, to make us, believe in the Yankees again. On its current path, the team will be an AL East bottom feeder for the foreseeable future. Nothing like wasting the best years of Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge. I want to be excited about the Yankees again. Hal, your move.

As always, Go Yankees!

P.S. Please be sure to check out Bryan Van Dusen's 2024 Offseason Plan!

Thursday, October 12, 2023

2024 Offseason Plan

I put together my offseason plan and I didn't think it was different enough. I mean, we've heard a lot about the Yankees re-evaluating things this offseason and looking different next year. Well, I just don't believe it. Sure, they may make some internal changes, but when it comes to roster construction I don't see anything crazy happening. 

That doesn't mean they will have another boring offseason, though. I do expect a couple of big things to happen. I mean, after looking at the 2023 Yankees "big" things have to happen. The Yankees offense was 20th in MLB in fWAR, Yankees starters ranked 20th in fWAR, and Yankees relievers ranked 16th in MLB in fWAR. The only part of the team you could call "good" was their defense, where the team ranked 10th in defensive runs saved*.

*Other than LF and RF, the team was one of the better defensive teams in baseball. Giancarlo Stanton and Jake Bauers are really bad defenders, and they accounted for 459 innings in RF. Furthermore, Franchy Cordero... merely a bad defender... accounted for another 127 innings in right. That's 42% of the total innings played out there by bad to really bad defenders. As far as LF, the only player I have on the team for 2024 to play there last season is on the bench (Oswaldo Cabrera and I'm not counting Stanton as I have him... elsewhere).

Let's start with the major transactions I would do...

1. Trade Clarke Schmidt, Everson Pereira, and another minor leaguer for Juan Soto and Matt Carpenter

I just talked about defense and now I'm talking about bringing in Juan Soto, who was 31st in outs of average among qualified LFers last season. I guess I'm overlooking Soto's horrible range in LF, and counting on a much stronger performance in RF, to bring the Yankees' overall defense firmly within the top 10 of MLB. I should note that I specifically called out Juan's range in LF, as he has a very good arm. And that doesn't get into how huge an upgrade his bat is over anyone that the Yankees had in LF in 2023.

That "another minor leaguer" might have to be someone of substance, rather than a "toss-in", but that's perfectly okay with me to get a generational talent like Soto.

By the way, having Carpenter (a beloved Yankee) and that perfect swing for Yankee Stadium would be great as a weapon off the bench. 

I should note that it's been reported that the Padres very much want to get payroll done next year, and this move would clear up nearly $40 million. It would be impossible to improve after losing Soto, but his availability is certainly possible. 
2. Sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto for 8 years $200 million

I took care of the offense with Soto, now it's time to address the starting rotation. What better way than to bring in the best non-Ohtani starter available this offseason (ignoring the fact that Shohei is unlikely to pitch in 2024)? I'd like someone with a track record in MLB, but from everything I read on Yoshinobu he should at least be a very good #3 starter, and probably better than that. 

3. Sign Kevin Kiermaier for two years and $25 million 

I've seen a lot about the Yankees signing Cody Bellinger, but with a likely extension coming Soto's way (and a very expensive one at that), along with Jasson Dominguez returning around the All Star break, I see no way Hal okays spending big on Cody. Not that I think Cashman would be fine with handing centerfield over to someone like Everson Pereira (assuming Cashman would have found someone else to add to that Soto trade), as Everson was awful with the bat in 2023. 

I saw a couple of people call Keirmaier a left-handed version of Harrison Bader, and that's fine for a guy that I see playing all over the outfield in the second half of the season in order to make sure guys like Judge and Soto are 100% for the postseason.

4. Trade Ben Rice and Jerad Serna for Tanner Scott

I thought about bringing back Wandy Peralta, as I'd want two good to really good lefties in the bullpen, but the cost of bringing Wandy back just didn't make sense. Not when the Yankees could deal for another reliever, along with their ability to build good ones. Now, do I think the bullpen could be good without making this trade? Yes. But it's past time to say "good enough". Go get another good reliever.

I should also mention that Miami has a good pitching squad... starting and relieving, and since Scott is entering his last year of arbitration (MLB Trade Rumors projects a salary in 2024 of $5.8 million) I think Miami would be perfectly fine moving him.

That may be a bit much for Scott (Serna is #20 and Rice is #23 in MLB's list of Yankees prospects), as Tanner broke out in 2023 rather than built on any other very good season. But if he can keep that home run rate down (it's gone down in each of the past two years), while also keeping up the better control he showed last year, then I think this could be a very good way to get another strong arm in the bullpen.

Here is a list of the players that could either be involved in smaller deals to help the Yankees create depth in the minor leagues, or simply be non-tendered, as they are eligible for arbitration next season...

Kyle Higashioka - With Austin Wells, Jose Trevino, and Ben Rortvedt (who I see in AAA to at least start 2024) around I see zero reason to possibly offer Kyle a MLB contract.
Albert Abreu - Although he'll only make a little more than the league minimum in arbitration, I think it would be better to save a couple hundred thousand dollars and give that roster spot to someone else.
Matt Bowman - he didn't "kill it" in AAA, and was not good in MLB, last season. No thanks.
Ryan Weber - he can't throw the ball past hitters and got hit around in AAA. Pass
Billy McKinney - I thought about McKinney for the bench, but I like the acquisition of Carpenter that leaves no room for Billy.
Jake Bauers - while he does bat lefty, corner outfielders are too easy to find.
Jimmy Cordero - He's not bad, but not good enough to bother with. Especially when he's about to turn 32. But hey... we do share a birthday.
Lou Trivino - he killed it when the Yankees acquired him during the 2022 season, but a 32-year-old returning from Tommy John surgery sometime DURING the 2024 season? Nah.
Domingo German - maybe if he'd shown something as a reliever (only 54 innings out of the bullpen in his MLB career), but as a starter there's no way.
Franchy Cordero - a corner outfielder who can't hit? LOL... nope.

Take the approximate $19 million those players will make in 2024 and say "thank you, but goodbye".

I wanted to discuss a few players that we've heard others talk about trading, or have discussed doing that ourselves....

I don't like the idea of leaning on Oswald Peraza on Opening Day, therefore I'm not trading away Gleyber Torres or DJ LeMahieu. I believe Oswald will end up a solid to better Major League player, which is why I want to keep him around as he could very well be the starting second or third baseman in 2025. However, for a team with championship aspirations going into 2024, I want someone who hit better than .191/.267/.272 last season. Plus, you don't know how Anthony Rizzo will be after his concussion, so I'd rather keep DJ around since he plays a good 1B.

I don't see the point in paying Giancarlo Stanton to play elsewhere by DFAing him, and I can't imagine anyone trading for him and taking on much money without a good prospect attached (that's a hard "no" from me). Oh, and that's assuming he'd waive his no-trade clause, which he doesn't seem keen on doing as he loves being a Yankee.

So finally, we come to my active roster for the 2024 New York Yankees, which includes each player's salary per the Luxury Tax (arbitration salary estimates come from MLB Trade Rumors). By the way, I put the position players in order I'd bat them, but feel free to disagree with that... I don't really care.

• - bats or throws left-handed
# - switch-hitter

2B Gleyber Torres $15.3m
RF Aaron Judge $40m
LF Juan Soto* $33m (assuming no extension)
3B DJ LeMahieu $15m
1B Anthony Rizzo* $20m
DH Giancarlo Stanton $22m (includes $3m from MIA)
CF Kevin Kiermaier* $12.5m
SS Anthony Volpe $.8m
C Austin Wells* $.75m

BE Jose Trevino C $2.7m
BE Oswaldo Cabrera# UT $.8m
BE Oswald Peraza IF $.8m
BE Matt Carpenter* 1B $5.5m

SP1 Gerrit Cole $36m
SP2 Carlos Rodon* $27m
SP3 Yoshinobu Yamamoto $25m
SP4 Nestor Cortes* $3.9m
SP5 Michael King $2.6m

RP Clay Holmes $6m
RP Tanner Scott* $5.8m
RP Jonathan Loaisiga $2.5m
RP Tommy Kahnle $5.75m
RP Nick Ramirez* $.8m
RP Ian Hamilton $.9m
RP Scott Effross $.8m
RP Ron Marinaccio $.8m

Miscellaneous Expenses
Aaron Hicks - $10m (assuming he doesn't play anywhere in 2024, but if so you can take $.74m away from the Yankees obligation)
0-3 yr bonus - $1.667m
40-man players in minors - $2.25m
Estimated Player Benefits - $17m

Total Opening Day Payroll - $317.817 million (2023 year-end payroll was $298,518,065 vs. $376,420,466 for the Mets)

Note, I see Jasson Dominguez taking over CF when he returns from the injured list sometime after the All Star break, making Kiermaier a great way to give everyone in the outfield enough rest to be as fresh as possible going into the postseason.

There it is... another offseason plan on the books. Let me know what you think either here or on TWITTER (screw Elon). 

Have a good one!

Friday, October 6, 2023

Impatiently Waiting for the Offseason Rebuild...


DJ LeMahieu & Aaron Judge (Photo Credit: Chris Young)

I miss the words, “The Yankees”…

The Major League Playoff Season is exciting for many fans, particularly those in Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Phoenix, and Philadelphia. The fans in Houston and Los Angeles are just waiting for the later rounds before they get excited since they do this every year. Meanwhile, the playoffs are a roadblock for the improvement of baseball’s greatest team, the New York Yankees. No step toward the betterment of the Pinstriped Product will happen until the Atlanta Braves walk off the field with the World Series Championship.

I am ready for changes.

Other teams have already jumpstarted their offseason game plans. The New York Mets, proving they might no longer be the New York Mess, quickly made the decision to jettison respected, experienced manager Buck Showalter after hiring David Stearns as the team’s new President of Baseball Operations.  I kept wondering when GM Billy Eppler would get his walking papers, so it was no surprise when he stepped down this week. Credit Eppler. He may not be a great general manager, but he does know how to read writing on the wall. There was a time I thought the Yankees should have promoted Eppler to GM when he was Brian Cashman’s assistant general manager, but Eppler proved me wrong.  Sometimes the best moves are the moves never made although I would never apply that to my desire to see Cashman replaced. 

I expect the Mets to be better in 2024 which of course places the pressure on the Yankees to improve, or at least it should.  I have no desire to see Buck Showalter as the Yankees manager. I saw many of those posts on social media after Showalter announced his departure from the Mets. Like Joe Girardi, we have been there, and done that, and I have no wish to travel down either of those roads again. I want to see Buck return to studio work for the YES Network. He offers great insight, and he is a valuable resource. The Yankees need a stronger bench coach, but I wonder if Buck would be interested in that type of role.

In the last couple of days, I have seen posts that say the Yankees expect Aaron Boone to be “tougher” in 2024. Boone is who he is. He is not going to change. If he starts acting like Mister Tough Guy in the clubhouse, players are just going to laugh at him. When I saw that the Cleveland Guardians were interested in talking with Bench Coach Carlos Mendoza about their vacant managerial seat (due to Terry Francona’s retirement), I was excited and hopeful that he would get the job. Mendy is a trusted coach who has the respect of the players, but the Yankees can do so much better for the vital bench coach role.  I keep saying it, but Boone needs someone who is not afraid to question him, to challenge him. Boone may be the decision-maker, but he needs to make better decisions. A strong bench coach can improve him if Boone fully commits to the chosen individual. Boone seems like a fair, open-minded guy. I am sure he wants to improve. All of us like to be surrounded by people who make us better. Boone is no different.    

Aaron Boone (Photo Credit: Gene J Puskar/AP)

I have accepted that Aaron Boone will be the Yankees manager in 2024. There are no indications that he will be fired. I blame most, if not all, of last season’s disaster (technically, it is still this season, but I have already moved on) on Brian Cashman and the Front Office. The roster construction was horrific, and they failed to adapt to the elimination of the shift.  Everything that went wrong, outside of the players injuring themselves, can be traced to the Front Office. If the Yankees roll out the same bodies in the same front-office positions in 2024, I fully expect more of the same disappointing results. If the Yankees cannot improve, they should expect to be a doormat for the Orioles for the next few years. 

Brian Cashman is not going to be fired either although I think it is a mistake. Inevitably, there is nothing we can do about it short of not buying tickets and merchandise. We may be frustrated but we are still Yankee fans, and we will support our team. Brian Cashman is the Yankees' General Manager until he is not.

So, for now, we will wait. We hope the disastrous results of the 2023 season are weighing heavily on Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner’s mind, and it will spur him to act. Hal will never have his father’s passion for the Yankees' success. Their definitions of success are vastly different. Yet, even Hal’s conservative, analytical mind can recognize success on the field drives the profits off it. Give the Braves their damn trophy so that we can get started on the offseason rebuild.

The Gang of 17

MLB Trade Rumors posted projected arbitration salaries for 2024 for all MLB teams today. The MLBTR projections were created by Matt Swartz.  The MLBTR post is titled Projected Arbitration Salaries For 2024.  

The Yankees have 17 arbitration-eligible players. Here are the projections with names and estimated salaries for 2024. Further information about service time and various implications can be found in the MLBTR post.

 Lou Trivino, $4.1 million

Gleyber Torres, $15.3 million

Clay Holmes, $6.0 million

Jonathan Loaisiga, $2.5 million

Kyle Higashioka, $2.3 million

Franchy Cordero, $1.6 million

Domingo German, $4.4 million

Nestor Cortes, Jr, $3.9 million

Jose Trevino, $2.7 million

Matt Bowman, $1.0 million

Michael King, $2.6 million

Ryan Weber, $990K

Billy McKinney, $1.2 million

Jake Bauers, $1.7 million

Jimmy Cordero, $900K

Clarke Schmidt, $2.6 million

Albert Abreu, $900K

I look at this list and see a whole lot of future ex-Yankees. Realistically, the only players who should return in 2024, barring any trades, are Gleyber Torres, Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes, Jose Trevino, Michael King, and Clarke Schmidt. You can make an argument against Loaisiga based on his injury history. Otherwise, I have no trouble moving on from the other players. Kyle Higashioka may be the longest-tenured Yankee, but it is a numbers game, and the future has arrived for Austin Wells. Brian Cashman will always be dumpster diving and I am sure he will have new fringe players in camp on non-roster invitations next Spring. Players equal to or better than the fringe players above can be found.

I have not been in favor of trading Gleyber Torres, however, an expected salary of $15.3 million does give one reason to ponder. It seems clear Torres is not in the Yankees’ long-term plans. They would be fine with Anthony Volpe at second base next year, with Oswald Peraza and his better arm taking shortstop. I expect the Yankees to make up for the offense in other areas. Or at least, I hope. If the Yankees can use Torres as a trade chip to help improve the roster, go for it. I was tired of how much Josh Donaldson’s season salary prevented the Yankees from making smart moves. Torres offers production, which Donaldson did not, but building a team is about putting your dollars in the right places. The Yankees are deep in middle infield talent in the minor league system, and the high dollars for Torres are better used in building a diverse, adaptable, resilient roster capable of sustained success.  We have seen what happens when holes in the roster are left unattended. 

Clarke Schmidt did exactly what I had hoped he would do this season. He learned, he adjusted, and he got better. Granted, he may have positioned himself as trade bait, especially with the terrific starting performances by Michael King late in the season, but he was a joy to watch after a frustrating start. I would like to see Schmidt’s return unless his departure means the arrival of a guy like Juan Soto.  Any deal involving Schmidt needs to be a significant acquisition, otherwise, I would rather see the Yankees hang onto him. There should be no Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader type of trades for Schmidt.


Clarke Schmidt (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

I included Holmes as a guy to keep although I would prefer to see him replaced as the team’s closer. He is a good reliever, just not the guy I want at the back end of games. Nestor Cortes has much to prove next year. He needs to show that 2022 was not an aberration and, just as importantly, he can stay healthy. 

I am anxious for the offseason to start. The next few weeks are going to be a sludge. When the final out of the World Series is recorded, we can turn the page on 2023 and go all-in for 2024. Braves, go ahead and run the table. Just get this thing over. The Yankees have work to do.

As always, Go Yankees!