Friday, November 24, 2023

31 Years Later, Brad Ausmus Comes Home...


Brad Ausmus (Photo Credit: Paul Sancya/AP)

Ausmus joins Yanks as new Bench Coach…

I hope everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! As much as I love Thanksgiving, it is always exciting to get past the Turkey Day Weekend so that the MLB Hot Stove League can start boiling over.  Soon, the Baseball Winter Meetings will be upon us, and…perhaps…Juan Soto will be a Yankee. 

With no major player acquisitions so far into November, the Yankees did hire a new bench coach this month when they announced veteran manager (and former Yankees prospect) Brad Ausmus had accepted the position.

Be careful what you ask for without being more specific. I have wanted, literally for years, a veteran manager to sit next to Yankees manager Aaron Boone as his bench coach. I always envisioned a guy like Buck Showalter or Willie Randolph, but the Yankees had other plans. They finally avoided hiring one of Boone’s buddies to sit next to him on the bench (Yay!) and went the route of an ex-manager. They just happened to choose a two-time loser. I know Showalter has been fired multiple times and Willie has received the managerial pink slip, but I cannot say that Brad Ausmus ever crossed my mind as a good, viable candidate. Yet, I am willing to give him a chance. 

I have been as frustrated with Aaron Boone as any Yankees fan, but conversely, I feel there is potential for improvement. I do not place the failure of the 2023 season on Boone. He played the hand he was dealt by General Manager Brian Cashman. The blame for the ‘almost a losing season’ sits squarely at the feet of Cashman and his Front Office staff. Even if I had wanted the Yankees to fire Boone after the season, there are not too many great options available. The Texas Rangers struck gold by hiring acclaimed championship manager Bruce Bochy, but sadly, there are not too many Bochy’s idly sitting by waiting for the phone to ring. I did think the San Francisco Giants snagging Bob Melvin from the San Diego Padres was a solid move, but it is hard to get enthused about any of this off-season’s new managers, such as Carlos Mendoza, Pat Murphy, Stephen Vogt, or Mike Shildt.  Houston’s Joe Espada is probably the most deserving of the new managers, but even with Espada’s history with the Yankees, I would not want an Astro as the Yankees manager. Obviously, Aaron Boone is not going anywhere, so complaining about it serves no useful purpose. 

I do think Brad Ausmus, with his experience, can help Boone make better decisions. No doubt Boone is the final decision maker, but better information leads to better choices which leads to better decisions.  Ausmus has sat in Boone’s seat, and he can offer insight that the prior bench coaches before him (Mendoza and Josh Bard) could not. 

Ausmus managed the Detroit Tigers from 2014 through 2017 and was 314-332 (.486 winning percentage) during his time in Motown. He managed the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2019, leading the Halos to a 72-90 record and a fourth-place finish in the AL West. His overall managerial record is 386-422 (.478 winning percentage). He had replaced a popular Angels manager, Mike Scioscia, and upon Brad’s firing following the 2019 season, the Angels hired Joe Maddon. History showed that Maddon fared no better than Ausmus before his departure from the Angels. The Chicago Cubs’ World Series-winning manager was only 130-148 for the Angels from 2020 until he was fired in 2022.    

Ausmus served as bench coach for the Oakland (soon-to-be Las Vegas) A’s in 2022. He only spent one season in the role before he decided to pursue a front-office position. A year later, with no front office position in hand, Ausmus must have rethought his career strategy when Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman came calling. 

The New York Mets hired former Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons as bench coach for their new manager, Carlos Mendoza, and I saw people posting on social media that the Mets were just copying the Yankees. The Mets are just doing what the Yankees should have done when they first hired Boone.  They recognized that a first-time manager would benefit from a voice of experience on the bench. 

Ausmus is an intelligent guy, and I think he will help Boone. I do not believe he will be a ‘yes’ person for the Front Office or Boone.  No doubt I would have preferred Willie Randolph, but it is what it is. I will never choose negativity over positive outcomes, so I want Ausmus to succeed, and I hope he has the support of the Yankees Universe to help him thrive in the Bronx. Years ago, he was a young prospect in the Yankees organization seeking the path to Yankee Stadium. The Colorado Rockies nixed those dreams when they chose him in the November 1992 MLB Expansion Draft, but life is about second chances. Ausmus gets a second chance to realize his dreams in Pinstripes. 

I am excited to see what Brad and new hitting coach James Rowson can bring to the team next Spring.  They are here to make Aaron Boone and the Yankees better. They are here to help rebuild our faith and trust in the organization. I have nothing against Carlos Mendoza, who is highly respected in the Yankees organization, but I feel the Yankees are better with Ausmus as the bench coach. 

Yankees interested in Jordan Montgomery

Recent reports show the Yankees, among other teams, are interested in free-agent left-hander Jordan Montgomery. While I believe the team that offers the most money will be the victor in signing Gumby, I wonder if he has any hurt feelings over his trade to the St Louis Cardinals at the deadline a couple of years ago. He has always taken the high road, and even if he has hurt feelings, it is nothing that money cannot cure. 

I would love to see the Yankees re-sign Montgomery, but I am not optimistic. I think the Texas Rangers, where Monty just won a World Series ring, hold the inside track. The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex offers great advantages for housing and quality of life, and those factors will certainly come into play. If the Yankees do not re-sign Montgomery, my preference would be for him to stay in Texas or go to a National League club. I do not want to see him sign with the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, or Toronto Blue Jays (or the Baltimore Orioles, for that matter). 

Jordan Montgomery (Photo Credit: Julio Cortez/AP)

Monty has grown as a pitcher since his departure, and I think he can help the starting rotation. Barring any major moves this offseason, Carlos Rodón will once again attempt to become the rotation’s second-best starter after a failed try during his first season. I am unsure what the Yankees will get with Nestor Cortes, Jr. Clarke Schmidt showed improvement, but he seems to be on everybody’s mock trade list for Juan Soto. Michael King will be looking to build upon his early success as a starter.  The only sure thing in the Yankees’ rotation is Gerrit Cole. Jordan Montgomery would be the starting rotation’s great stabilizer.  The Yankees have good, young pitching coming up, and the talent is beginning to surface at Triple-A, which is a short phone call away from New York. I am excited about Drew Thorpe, Chase Hampton, Clayton Better, a healthy Luis Gil, and others, but I love the certainty that a good veteran like Montgomery would bring to the rotation. 

I hope the Yankees can entice Monty to return. I am not optimistic, but I am in favor of his return.  As they say, you can never have too much pitching. If the Yankees are successful in trading for San Diego’s Juan Soto, they WILL lose pitching. It is a foregone conclusion. I want Yoshinobu Yamamoto as well, but my confidence about the Yankees signing him has weakened considerably in the past few weeks. Too much competition, and there is always at least one random MLB owner each offseason who foolishly throws excessive cash at superstar players and potential stars. Hal Steinbrenner will never be anybody’s fool, and he will keep his pennies neatly accounted for. So, if I had my choice, I would take Yamamoto over Montgomery, but realistically, I think Montgomery over Yamamoto is the more likely successful outcome.  To walk away with neither would be a loss. I am not interested in Blake Snell, despite his NL Cy Young Award, and I want no part of Marcus Stroman. Maybe Brian Cashman surprises us, or maybe he does not. I recognize the Yankees are in severe need of roster reconstruction on the playing field, but good pitching is always needed. It cannot be Gerrit Cole and a bunch of question marks if the Yankees expect to contend in 2024. 

Yankees sign Yerry De Los Santos

Even if it is a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, I thought the signing of former Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Yerry De Los Santos was a move worth making. De Los Santos turns 26 next month. The 6’2” righty pitched in 22 games for the Pirates in 2023. He totaled 24 1/3 innings, with 18 strikeouts. He gave up 9 earned runs while facing 104 batters. He allowed only 1 home run but surrendered 17 total hits and 13 walks. 

Yerry De Los Santos (Photo Credit: Pirates Prospects)

If the Yankees see something they can fix, I trust them. Granted, it is hard to have any trust in the Yankees Front Office, but to their credit, they have shown proficiency for uncovering talented pitchers. If De Los Santos is part of the 2024 Yankees Bullpen, this signing will be viewed as a sneaky good move. If he falters, oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.   

De Los Santos does not solve the problem of needing more left-handed relief pitching. There will be more moves, and hopefully, the next great lefty reliever will be a Yankee soon (whoever that may be). So many needs, so little time. De Los Santos is a start. 

Welcome to the Yankees Family, Yerry!

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Yankees Clearing Roster Space...


Jake Bauers (Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin/NY Post)

Wanted: Quality Major League Players…

The Yankees made a trade on Friday even if it was not the one everyone had been waiting for.

First baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers, who was not expected to be part of next year’s club (at least not by the fans), was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers for two prospects.  Something is better than nothing. The two prospects are minor league outfielders Jace Avina and Brian Sánchez. Avina, 20, is the higher-rated prospect (appearing twenty-ninth on the Brewers’ top 30 prospects according to He was drafted by the Brewers in the 14th round of the 2021 First-Year Player Draft. 

Jace Avina (Photo Credit: Carolina Mudcats)

A left-fielder, Avina is 5’11” and 180 lbs. The Nevada native is right-handed and spent 2023 in Single-A.  He had 22 doubles, 14 home runs, 50 runs batted in, 56 walks, and 10 stolen bases but he also had 118 strikeouts in 326 at-bats (399 plate appearances).  He hit .233/.373/.442, with .815 OPS.  Despite his slow start in Single-A, he was named the Brewers Minor League Player of the Month in August. If he is unable to cut down the strikeouts, he will not advance far in the Yankees organization, but if he can, he might be a diamond in the rough. I am okay with lottery tickets for players like Bauers. 

The nineteen-year-old Sánchez, also a left-fielder, signed with the Brewers as an undrafted free agent in February 2023.  The Venezuelan native is 6’3”, 170 lbs. He is a lefty bat and throws right-handed. Playing 33 games for the DSL Brewers 1 (Rookie League), Sánchez batted .297/.414/.446 (.860 OPS). He was 30-for-101, with 7 doubles, 19 RBIs, and 20 walks. He stole 8 bags. 

Bauers had some nice moments as a Yankee, but he is who he is…replaceable.  I had expected the Yankees to release him at some point, so getting a couple of lower-level prospects was a better-than-expected outcome. I wish Bauers the best in Milwaukee. He will get to play for a respected veteran professional/collegiate manager with the new Brewers’ manager Pat Murphy. The team and city are adjusting to being jilted by former manager Craig Counsell, who departed for the “greener” pastures with the Chicago Cubs, and a chunk out of Cubs owner Tom Ricketts’ wallet.   

With the Bauers trade, the Yankees’ 40-man roster was reduced to 39 players. On Friday, the Yankees made several other moves that further reduced the roster to 36 players when they non-tendered RHP Albert Abreu, RHP Lou Trivino, and LHP Anthony Misiewicz. No surprises here. For Abreu, his departure has been overdue. Abreu, Trivino, and Misiewicz are now free agents. Goodbye, and please do not let the door hit you on the way out.

The players who were tendered contracts are 2B Gleyber Torres, RHP Clay Holmes, RHP Jonathan Loáisiga, RHP Michael King, RHP Clarke Schmidt, LHP Nestor Cortes Jr, C Jose Trevino, and C Kyle Higashioka. If there is one of these players that I thought could be non-tendered, it is Higgy. With six catchers currently on the 40-man roster, it seems a given that a few catchers will be moved. I expect Higgy to be one. The early forecast shows Trevino and Austin Wells as the catching tandem for the upcoming season. The Yankees will need to choose who will represent the minor league depth. The other catchers on the 40-man roster, besides Higgy, are Carlos Narvaez, Agustin Ramirez, and Ben Rortvedt. It seems like at least two of these four catchers will find themselves in new homes by next season. 

Other Moves

I was surprised to see the Milwaukee Brewers non-tendered RHP Brandon Woodruff. Woodruff is expected to miss the 2024 season after shoulder surgery. Woodruff only made two starts in 2023 before he was shut down with shoulder tightness. He ended up missing the rest of the season and had surgery last month to repair a sub-scapular strain in his throwing shoulder. I get Milwaukee’s financial constraints and if he had been healthy, Woodruff was expected to make $11.6 million in salary arbitration. Woodruff made $10.8 million this past season. As much as I would like to see the Yankees offer him a two-year contract with an eye toward his return in 2025, there will be competition. Honestly, it would not surprise me if the Chicago Cubs and Woodruff’s former manager were successful in snagging him. Woodruff will be 32 when the 2025 season opens. He is a chance worth taking even if there are durability concerns. Signing Woodruff seems like a better option (higher potential reward) than re-signing Frankie Montas even if the latter will be ready to pitch in 2024.

Brandon Woodruff (Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Colorado Rockies were the successful team in acquiring RHP Cal Quantrill from the Cleveland Guardians (who had designated the pitcher for assignment earlier in the week). A talented but struggling pitcher going to the Mile High City…what could go wrong? I did think the Yankees might try to make a play for Quantrill. It would have been interesting to see if Matt Blake and Sam Briend could help Quantrill recapture his potential. Given the Rockies were able to grab Quantrill for a low-level minor-league catcher, it seems like the Yankees could have done better without much effort.

Among former Yankees, Mike Ford was non-tendered by the Seattle Mariners. His departure from Seattle was expected when he was designated for assignment earlier this week, but the non-tender cuts the veteran first baseman free.  Best of luck to him with his next opportunity. He keeps bouncing to and from the Mariners so it would not surprise me to see him sign a minor league contract with Seattle. 

Miguel Andujar signed a one-year deal with the Oakland/Las Vegas A’s. The A’s had claimed Andujar on waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this month. Good for Miggy. He gets $1.7 million for 2024 and will head to the Arizona desert for Spring Training for the first time in his career. Hopefully, Miggy has better luck with the A’s than the City of Oakland has in recent years. 

The Cincinnati Reds have non-tendered reliever Reiver Sanmartin. The 27-year-old lefty appeared in only 14 games for the Reds this season, pitching to an unsightly 7.07 ERA by giving up 11 earned runs in 14 innings of work (13 runs overall). Originally drafted by the Texas Rangers, Sanmartin was in the Yankees organization from November 2017 to January 2019. The only reason I mention his name is he was the other player sent to the Reds in the Sonny Gray trade. I guess his post-Yankees career has not gone as successful as Sonny, the runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award this season.   

For moves NOT made, I have no interest in Boston’s Alex Verdugo or Tampa’s Manuel Margot, the most recent rumored trade targets. Even if Verdugo could help the Yankees, it is not worth helping the Red Sox improve. Sending Gleyber Torres to Boston for Verdugo makes no sense to me as Gleyber is the better player. Margot may be talented, but he seems to be a regular on his team’s Injured List and the Yankees have had too many of those kinds of guys in recent years. I am not sure where these rumors come from. The Yankees tend to be a tight-lipped organization, and there is no benefit to the team by spreading those rumors. For a team looking to reinvigorate the fan base and restore their confidence in the team’s direction, leaking the potential for unpopular trades is not exactly a recipe for success.

MLB insider Hector Gómez is reporting the Los Angeles Dodgers will not only be very aggressive in their pursuit of 2023 AL Most Valuable Player, free agent Shohei Ohtani, but they will also be pursuing a trade for Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Trout scares me a little with his recent injury history, but when healthy, he remains one of the best in the game. No doubt the Dodgers would have more success with Ohtani and Trout in their lineup than the Angels did with their ability to surround the duo with much better players.  I am old enough to remember when the Yankees were the most aggressive big-market team. They have been supplanted by the Dodgers and the New York Mets.  Whatever it takes to distract the Dodgers from signing Japanese RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Speaking of Yamamoto, he is expected to be posted on Monday, and his 45-day negotiating period will begin on Tuesday. With so many teams interested in Yamamoto, it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Yankees will be in their pursuit. I guess we will soon find out if Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner is ‘in it to win it’. Signing Yamamoto and acquiring Juan Soto in the same offseason would be huge for the Yankees. The additions would go a long way toward protecting the best years of Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge and reopening the team’s championship window.   

American League Cy Young Award Winner

Congratulations to Gerrit Cole for his unanimous selection as the 2023 AL Cy Young Award winner. Not sure why Sonny Gray’s name kept popping up as a potential surprise winner given Cole had the more dominant season, but in the end, it was Cole as it should have been. 

Gerrit Cole (Photo/Text Credit: NY Post)

Cole becomes the sixth Yankees pitcher to win the award and the first Yankee since Roger Clemens in 2001. The other winners are Bob Turley (1958), Whitey “The Chairman of the Board” Ford (1961), Sparky Lyle (1977), and Ron “Gator” Guidry (1978).

Cole, 32, was 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA. In 209 innings pitched, he struck out 222 batters while walking only 48 batters. After giving up 33 home runs in 2022, Cole reduced the total to 20 homers this season. Admittedly, it is hard to get excited about individual awards in a team-oriented sport, but I am happy for Cole. He met fans’ expectations this season and proved Hal Steinbrenner was right in his decision to sign Cole. Hopefully, the next award Cole wins is a World Series trophy.    

He Said, She Said

There was too much drama with General Manager Brian Cashman and Giancarlo Stanton’s agent, Joel Wolfe this week.

Cashman recently said that injuries seem to be part of Stanton’s game. He is 100% correct, but the words triggered a response from Stanton’s agent.  In a released statement, Wolfe said: “I read the context of the entire interview. I think it’s a good reminder for all free agents considering signing in New York both foreign and domestic that to play for that team you’ve got to be made of Teflon, both mentally and physically because you can never let your guard down even in the offseason.” The words had implied ramifications since Wolfe also represents impending Japanese free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto. 

Wolfe has not retracted his statement, but Cashman subsequently stated that he and Wolfe have spoken to clear the air. Anyone who believes it will adversely affect the Yankees’ ability to sign Wolfe clients is mistaken. Wolfe needs Cashman as much as Cashman needs Wolfe. In the end, Wolfe clients will sign for the most money wherever that may be. 

I like Giancarlo Stanton, and I am impressed at how he has handled playing in baseball’s largest market after spending years in low-pressure Miami. Yet, if the Yankees could convince Stanton to waive his no-trade clause, I would be in favor of moving the player to another team. If he remains a Yankee, I am hopeful that new hitting coach James Rowson can help G rebound from his disastrous 2023 season. 

Is Juan Soto a Yankee yet?

As always, Go Yankees! 

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Yankees: Hiding in Plain Sight...


Brian Cashman (Photo Credit: Matt York/AP)

Steinbrenner and Cashman hold forgettable pressers…

My expectations for the year-ending press conference by Yankees ownership and leadership representatives were apparently too lofty. I thought the Yankees would open the doors of Yankee Stadium for a formal, professional post-season press conference under the scrutiny of New York and national baseball media. Standing on the front lines in the Bronx and answering the hard-hitting questions about what went wrong in 2023. Leadership taking accountability for the vast mistakes that were made in constructing the 2023 Major League Roster. Instead, Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner tucked behind his Zoom camera and General Manager Brian Cashman gave a profanity-laced huddle with a few media representatives in faraway Arizona while attending this week’s annual GM Meetings.

Hal Steinbrenner (Photo Credit: SNY)

Neither man was willing to stand in the fire to answer the questions that needed to be addressed. Neither man gave a clear vision of what the organization can do to get better. As usual, the organization’s disregard for its fan base was evident. I should correct that, the organization loves the fans’ money, they just do not really care about the individuals holding the wallets or bank accounts that formerly housed said currency so long as the money stream is alive. I am certain the corporate sponsors get far more love from the organization than any of its individual fans. 

I am disappointed. I am sure I am not alone. 

To fail so miserably while holding baseball’s best pitcher, soon to be AL Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole, and 2022 AL Most Valuable Player, Aaron Judge, is so pathetic.

This did not need to be a losing season and I do not buy that it was just one of those years. Cashman’s bad decisions (I will lump all the organization’s decisions on Cashman because he is the team’s lead representative) turned what could have been a promising year into a Red Sox-like disaster. The team’s play in September, after the team finally gave up on Josh Donaldson and other scrap-heap players to bring up the kids, brought winning back for the team. A day late and a dollar short, but it was a step in the right direction. We may never know what motivated Cashman to stand with his flawed cards, waiting until it was too late to make the necessary changes. I guess when he writes his memoir after his Yankees career is over, maybe we will get a peak into the inner-workings of the organization over the last quarter-century and Cashman’s thought process throughout his tenure. 

One of Hal’s best attributes is that unlike his father, he is loyal and supportive of his employees. Hal’s worst attribute is that he is loyal and supportive of his employees when he should not be. These can be mutually exclusive because not all employees are worthy of the support. Sports is results-oriented, and when the results fall below expectations, there are times when new voices, new visions are needed. Watching the Yankees in recent years shows that something needs to change. When most of the decisions are poor, it is time to relook at the decision-making process and the people making the decisions.  There is no room for ifs and buts. I feel bad that Aaron Judge suffered a toe injury that derailed what could have been an exceptionally strong follow-up year to his MVP campaign, but the deficient fence at Dodger Stadium is not the reason the Yankees failed in 2023. 

The Yankees have much work to do if they plan to restore the faith and confidence of the fan base. Sure, we are spoiled. The Yankees have a long history of tradition and success, and they have revenues that dwarf most franchises.  The team can be limited by payroll when trying to avoid luxury tax thresholds and penalties, but resources can be redirected to other areas to help the team. There is no reason the Yankees cannot have the best analytic group in baseball, yet they have been lapped by a few organizations. It is mind-blowing to think how successful the Tampa Bay Rays and their analytic group could be if they had the Yankees’ vast resources. No question that their group of nerds is “smarter” than Michael Fishman and his cast of cohorts. 

Over the last few years, I have wanted Hal Steinbrenner to “excite the fan base”. He can do it in so many ways. It is not just a huge superstar free agent signing or a trade for a generational talent. He can do the things that show he is as passionate about winning as his father was. He will never be as demonstrative or as quick-tempered as the Boss, but in his own way, he can deliver a message that is equally effective. I want Hal to take full accountability for the team’s failures and do the things necessary to ensure the Yankees can successfully compete while their window is open. Put the team in the best possible position to win.  Give the fan base a product that they can rally around. I will never go down the ‘I wish Joe Girardi was manager’ road but 2017 was the last time I can think of when we loved the players on the team individually and together as an entire group. The Yankees can have fun winning again if they make the right moves, the right decisions, and commit to settling for nothing less than the best they can possibly do.  These are easy words to say, but not so easy to put into practice. 

I want to feel good about the Yankees again. I miss that feeling. I am happy that Cole and Judge are Yankees, but it is tough to go much deeper than that. This is not a diss on Anthony Volpe. I think he did a fine job as a rookie shortstop, and I expect him to continue his growth and improvement. The main point is recapturing the confidence in the team collectively, and knowing that if one man goes down, a capable replacement is waiting. The Yankees may not have won it all in 2017 but we loved the team to the end. It can happen again (except maybe win the last game of the post-season next time). It is cliché, but the team cannot continue to do what they have always done, expecting different results. 

Can Hal and Brian change? They must if the Yankees want to succeed. Other organizations are getting better, smarter, and more adaptive to our changing times. It is weird that the Yankees need to play catch-up but that is where we are at.  How Hal Steinbrenner navigates the waters in the coming seasons will define his legacy as Yankees owner. Hal does not strike me as an owner who will hold team control until he expires. In my uninformed opinion, it seems like he has another good ten years before he decides to cede control to younger Steinbrenner blood.  I could be wrong, but I have always questioned Hal’s passion for the Yankees since he did not display it when he was younger. He always seemed like he would rather be doing something else. I am sure his legacy is important to him and hopefully he makes the hard decisions…the right decisions…that need to be made in the coming days, weeks, and months.

The Yankees Universe is waiting.

Gleyber Torres is a Yankee

Until he is not. I am not a proponent of trading Gleyber but it does seem to be the flavor of the month. I get that he is entering his final year of control and will be a free agent after the 2024 season. The Yankees have a glut of infield talent in the organization, and they can trade Gleyber to help fill other areas of need. With that said, why trade the team’s second-best hitter? Gleyber has his faults, but he is a good player. There is no such thing as a perfect player although some are more perfect than others. I would prefer to keep Gleyber, and potentially trade Oswald Peraza. Peraza is talented and perhaps he will be a great shortstop or second baseman one day. But we know that Gleyber is a good Major League second baseman now. Why rock the boat? I would stay with the proven commodity. There is the argument that Peraza is cheaper and under more years of control, allowing the Yankees to spend higher elsewhere on the roster. I get the financial aspect, but if all decisions are made in a vacuum for the cheapest options, the product will suffer. 

Trading Gleyber would put pressure on the Yankees to make a trade to bring elite talent to other spots on the roster to compensate for the loss of Gleyber’s production.  If you told me that we can get Juan Soto, but we must move Gleyber first, I would totally get it.  But as a move by itself, trading Gleyber does not seem to be the best solution.  Other moves will change the light but as it stands today, yet, right now, I want to see Gleyber remain in Pinstripes.

The latest Gleyber trade rumors involve the Boston Red Sox and outfielder Alex Verdugo. I want no part of Verdugo. I do not care that he fits the Yankees roster. I am not a fan of the player, and helping the Red Sox improve to fill a need is counter-productive in my opinion. I did not like Josh Donaldson when he was a Yankee, and I would feel the same way about Verdugo. Maybe Verdugo is one of those guys you love when he is on your team, but all things considered, I would rather not find out. The Yankees can find other guys who can fit the Yankees roster equally or better than Verdugo. 

Carlos Mendoza to the Mets

With no disrespect to former Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza, I was surprised when the New York Mets announced him as their new manager. Like many people, I had expected new Mets President of Baseball Operations to sign his former Brewers manager Craig Counsell as Buck Showalter’s replacement. Even with the surprise announcement that Counsell had decided to join the Chicago Cubs, I thought the Mets would go bigger than a coach off Aaron Boone’s staff. 

Nevertheless, I am happy for Mendoza, and I am glad he was able to secure one of the few available MLB managerial gigs after interviewing with multiple teams. I thought the San Diego Padres would have been a better fit for him, but now he gets the backing of the wealthiest MLB owner for his first stop as a Major League skipper. I wish him well, but never when the Mets play the Yankees.

For the Cubs to hire Counsell while still employing David Ross as manager was an awful way to treat Ross after he had done a respectable job for the Cubbies. Then again, the Cubs have a history of hiring new managers before ousting the current ones. Former Cubs manager Rick Renteria was actively holding the job when the Cubs hired Joe Maddon a few years ago.

If Ross does not get another managerial job, I would like to see him as Mendy’s replacement on the Yankees bench next to Boone. The Yankees have a chance to hire someone who can help make Aaron Boone better. I am tired of Boone hiring his buddies. He needs someone who will push him to be better, to make stronger choices, and to get better consistency with lineups. I want a bench coach who is not afraid of second-guessing Boone’s choices and offering potentially more successful options even if Boone is the final decision maker. I am not Ross or bust, but someone like him would be invaluable. The Yankees are not going to fire Boone so the next best option is to get a bench coach like Ross or Willie Randolph who can help Boone become a better manager.

New Hitting Coach?

No word on a new hitting coach yet, but there were rumors that the Yankees had offered the job to James Rowson, currently an assistant hitting coach for the Detroit Tigers. Rowson has history with the Yankees, serving six years as the minor league hitting coordinator. He served as MLB hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins following his departure from the Yankees organization. 

Nothing against Rowson, but it seems like an uninspired choice if true. I guess I was (am) expecting more as the replacement for interim hitting coach Sean Casey who elected not to return for family reasons. If Rowson is hired, I will support him. Maybe he can do the job that former hitting coach Dillon Lawson could not. It just seems like the Yankees can get a better option. 

Like bench coach, the Yankees need to make a strong choice for their new hitting coach. These are critical coaching positions that need much improvement over recent seasons.  Coaches who can place the players in the best possible position to win. 

Hiring Rowson because Aaron Judge likes him is not a reason for his hire. Hiring him because he is the best hitting instructor available is. If that is the Yankees’ determination, so be it. The Yankees cannot go into 2024 hitting like the Oakland A’s again. Improvement is expected, improvement is demanded. Yankees, please do not blow this opportunity to get a GREAT hitting coach, whomever that may be.

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Moving On from the 2023 MLB Season...


Aaron Judge and wife, Samantha Bracksiek (Photo Credit: Charles  Wenzelberg/NY Post)

The Offseason is now open…

The Texas Rangers did not end the World Series in four games as I had hoped. It was not that I wanted the Rangers to win so much as I wanted closure for the 2023 season so that we can begin looking ahead to 2024. The Rangers were kind enough to end Arizona’s hopes after a brief one-game uprising and closed out the Series in five games so I will forgive them. I am happy for Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi for being part of the championship club. Aroldis Chapman, not so much. There were other guys with Yankee connections, but those three were the main ones. Tough to consider Andrew Heaney a (former) Yankee given how putrid he was in Pinstripes. Former Yank prospects Josh Smith and Ezequiel Duran were non-factors this post-season.  Jon Gray had a nice moment in relief after Max Scherzer’s injury so congrats to him (Gray was once a Yankees draft pick although he never signed and was later drafted by the Colorado Rockies). 

Jordan Montgomery and wfie, Kinzie Dirr Montgomery (Photo Credit: @gumbynation34 via Instagram)

I am sure it was bittersweet for Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to watch their buddies taking the champagne bath to end the season. They probably thought their chances of winning a World Series championship were better in New York than in Arlington, Texas when they first arrived.   

I was glad the Arizona Diamondbacks did not win. I know younger Yankees fans were pulling for the D-Backs, but I will never forget the experience of walking out of Chase Field after Game 6 of the 2001 World Series after the Diamondbacks had trashed Andy Pettitte and the Yankees. I believe it was called Bank One Ballpark back then. I did nothing to provoke D-Back fans, yet the excessively rude behavior of the D-Back fans and how they were taunting Yankee fans will never be forgotten. There will never be a day that I will root for the Diamondbacks.

At any rate, the season is over. The Yankees' record of 82-80, 19 games behind the AL Eastern Division-winning Baltimore Orioles, is in the rear-view mirror.  Onward and upward. 

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Or expiring contracts. Seven Yankees players became free agents on Thursday (by rule, one day after the conclusion of the World Series). It is tough to look at the list of names and feel strongly that any of them should return. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Zach McAllister, Keynan Middleton, Frankie Montas, Wandy Peralta, Luis Severino, and Luke Weaver. I would not be disappointed if the Yankees re-signed IKF and/or Middleton. I thought both played well enough to be a part of the solution in 2024. A one-year, make-good deal for Montas would certainly be acceptable. Yet, if none of the three returns, they can be easily replaced. I do not see any of the other names returning. 

I am sad to see Luis Severino go. I had high hopes for him, and he was one of my favorites when healthy and strong. It is unfortunate the injuries have persisted and have prevented him from reaching his full potential. Maybe he finds the fountain of health at his next stop. I will cheer for him to do well, but his time in New York (unless he goes to the Mets) is over. 

Luis Severino and wife, Rosmaly Severino (Photo Credit: @severino40 via Instagram)

Wandy Peralta was a good Yankee, but replaceable. The money it will take to sign Peralta is not prohibitive, but for the Yankees, it is best spent elsewhere to correct the deficient roster construction. Despite their flaws, the Yankees have shown an expert ability to build an effective bullpen, and I expect this offseason to be no different.  The other names (McAllister and Weaver) get a collective ‘meh’. Weaver was a nice short-term project, but the starters in the upper farm system are nearing readiness for the ‘next call up’. 

Don’t Let the Door Hit You

The Yankees cleared some of the dead weight off their roster this week too. They placed six players on outright waivers, who are expected to become free agents if they go unclaimed. Domingo German, Ryan Weber, Jimmy Cordero, Matt Bowman, Franchy Cordero, and Billy McKinney. German is the most notable name, but I doubt anyone expected him to be a Yankee in 2024. His perfect game will generate interest among other teams to take a flyer, so his career is not over, but thankfully, his Yankees career is. I truly hope he has gotten the help he needs through rehab, and I hope he can find his way.  His family deserves better.    

None of the other names warrant any mention, although I was amazed that Franchy Cordero stayed in the organization for the entire season. Once the Yankees determined he would never be a serviceable Major League player, they should have cut bait. The fact the Yankees had to rely so much on McKinney is a testament to how bad the season was. I am hoping for better, legitimate left-field options in 2024. Of course, that was last year’s hope and we saw how that one fared. As for Ryan Weber, he will make his way back in some form, I am sure. It would not surprise me to see him get a minor league contract with a camp invite. 

I saw the Pittsburgh Pirates have placed Miguel Andujar on outright waivers, and the Chicago Cubs did the same thing with Clint Frazier. The Yankees’ two “best” trade candidates of a few years ago got the pink slip on the same day. I thought both were headed for the Hall of Fame based on the talent fans were constantly trading them for. 

Gaining Interview Experience

Yankees Bench Coach Carlos Mendoza is making the rounds. He has interviewed for the managerial openings in Cleveland and Flushing Meadow, and there was interest from the Giants before they snagged Padres manager Bob Melvin as their new manager. Now comes word he will interview in San Diego this weekend. I think the Padres would be the best fit for him, even if the Padres must go into seller mode to cut payroll. 

Carlos Mendoza

I hope Mendoza gets the job. Both for him and for us. It would be a tremendous promotional opportunity for him and life in San Diego is sweet when you have the income to afford it. For the Yankees, it would give them a chance to select the right bench coach for Manager Aaron Boone. I have been saying it for years, but the Yankees need a bench coach whose strengths are Boone’s weaknesses. I want Boone to be challenged when making decisions so that he will hopefully make better decisions. Mendy is too much like Boone, and the Yankees desperately need a stronger voice on the bench next to Boone. In other words, he needs to find his Don Zimmer and quit hiring buddies for the job. 

Waiting for Soto

I write that title with a lack of total sincerity. I am not convinced that Juan Soto will be a Yankee until he is. I would love for the Yankees to pull the trigger despite the high cost, yet it remains to be seen if they will. Considering Soto has only one year left until he hits free agency, I am not a proponent of trading multiple high-value prospects for him unless an extension is a certainty. 

I want Cody Bellinger. I think his resurgence in Chicago this year can be sustainable, and he has great diversity with his ability to play all outfield positions and first base. The Yankees must have a strong backup plan at first base as a hedge for the health of Anthony Rizzo, and Cody would ensure that strength. He has the bloodline as the son of a former Yankee, and he has long been one of my favorite players in the game. The struggles in Los Angeles were tough to watch, but the optimist in me was always hopeful he would figure it out. In Chicago, he showed the player he could be moving forward.

Cody Bellinger (Photo Credit:

I was happy to see the news today that Bellinger has declined his mutual option with the Chicago Cubs and has become a free agent. This is the first step on a path that could lead him to Pinstripes. If the decision comes down to Bellinger or Soto, I would be foolish to say go with Cody. Realistically, I think he is a more palatable choice for the conservative Hal Steinbrenner. Cody’s presence would not/should not block any move for Soto. 

Soto would be a huge “get” for the Yankees. Former hitting coach Sean Casey is on record saying, “So for me, when I look at it, man, it would be such a grand slam for them to get a guy like Juan Soto.” As much as I would love to envision Soto in the Yankees lineup, it is hard to get excited about something that may never happen. I guess it is nice that there are strong legs to the ‘Soto to the Yankees’ talk, but on the other hand, it seems the more it is talked about, the less likely it will come to fruition. The Yankees should grab the more easily attainable Bellinger to start the offseason, and then build from there. 

There has not been much to write about with the Yankees. Now that the Hot Stove League 2023-24 has opened, things should change. I want a team that we can get excited about in 2024. They will be led by the soon-to-be-named AL Cy Young Award winner, and the 2022 AL MVP will be back and fully healthy. Put the right guys around them, and the Yankees could reclaim their rightful throne as World Series champions. If the Rangers can go from over a hundred losses to champagne in two years, the Yankees can rebound from this season. 

The Yankees can do better. They must do better. The fans are waiting. 

As always, Go Yankees!