Thursday, December 3, 2015

Miami, Barry Bonds and the Path to Forgiveness

Major League Baseball’s all-time home run king has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for a few seasons now but has yet to reach Cooperstown. Why? Steroids. The use and the suspicion, although Bonds has never failed a drug test and all his court cases are closed without being officially charged and sentenced for anything. That’s just the era many of us have grown up in and will have to expect. I have asked, begged almost, for forgiveness for all steroid users pre-testing and I will continue to do so until my final breath simply because it’s the right thing to do. Forgiveness, it’s the path that Bonds is now looking to take.

How does one who played and made his name in the steroid era with the best numbers in the history of the game (in many categories) begin to achieve forgiveness? Well one way is to get a job in the game and Bonds is looking to do just that. News broke this week that Barry Bonds is in discussion with the Miami Marlins to be their hitting coach. The greatest slugger of all-time could be coaching one of the greatest sluggers, Giancarlo Stanton, of current times. Wow.

Remember when Mark McGwire was once vilified for his supposed use of steroids? Well McGwire admitted to using steroids before becoming the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers. McGwire is not in the Hall of Fame but is not the “monster” that many baseball fans and Hall of Fame voters once thought he was. It’s a journey and it’s a long path to forgiveness but you have to start somewhere. This is where it begins for Barry Lamar Bonds.

Good luck.

MyTake on the YES Network Trade Proposals

Lou DiPietro is a good guy. He works for the YES Network but will still take the time to interact with you on Twitter and even did an interview for us here on the blog once. For that we appreciate Lou and have zero issue with showcasing his work on the blog, including his work that came out recently on the YES Network website. Lou, like Mr. DiPietro does every season, threw out a few trade proposals to make the Yankees better and I leave you with those and my take on them for your reading pleasure. Enjoy and CLICK HERE for the original post.

YANKEES receive: SS Starlin Castro and LHP Travis Wood
CUBS receive: OF Brett Gardner, an RP from the "Scranton Shuttle," and a low-level pitcher

Dang it Lou, you had to go there.... I DON'T WANT STARLIN CASTRO. Castro is young but he's an average defender at best, he doesn't steal bases and he isn't even a marginal upgrade over what the team already has. Travis Wood would be a decent addition to an already crowded pitching staff but not at the extent of Brett Gardner. That;s not worth it in my opinion.

YANKEES receive: RHP Matt Cain and C Hector Sanchez
GIANTS receive: LHP CC Sabathia, RHP Bryan Mitchell, and an upper-level lefty-hitting outfielder

Now you're talking Lou. This has me intrigued as ever. Matt Cain is not the Matt Cain you think of from a couple seasons back but neither is CC Sabathia. If Sabathia is willing to go back to the West Coast along with a Mason Williams and Bryan Mitchell for Cain I think I have to pull that trigger. Cain is just 31-years old and would be a buy low after injuries have derailed his last couple of seasons while Sanchez likely gives the team a better version of what they had in John Ryan Murphy. The money for Cain and Sabathia matches up nicely but the Yankees get a younger pitcher and one that has been down due to injuries, not a degenerative knee condition.

YANKEES receive: LHP Aroldis Chapman
REDS receive: RHP Adam Warren, 2B Rob Refsnyder, a shuttle reliever and an upper-level outfielder

Adding Aroldis Chapman to the 8th inning in the Bronx would be an absolute God Send for the Yankees in their search for the super bullpen. Dellin Betances can pitch the 6th and 7th innings while Chapman and Miller finish out the game. That's before you mention Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson or any other relief pitchers the Yankees currently have. Losing Warren is a tough loss and so is Refsnyder, especially for just one season of Chapman, but the deal would be nice. I'm not sure I make it without an extension window or something like that and I'm truly unsure if it makes the team better at this point but Greedy Pinstripers enjoy their big names. Chapman is a big name.

No Traction On Gardner Or Miller Trades? So What?

I sent out a Tweet about this, but I felt like I needed to expand on that a bit.

I really need more than 140 characters.

It was reported yesterday that there is no traction in talks involving trades of either Brett Gardner or Andrew Miller. First of all, I understand reporting on that news. So don't take what I say as a shot to anyone that wrote about it, because that's what bloggers like me or reporters do... report the news, no matter how good or bad that news is. However, with that said, the reports are pretty much meaningless.

Let me ask you a few questions...

Before the Didi Gregorius trade was announced, were there any reports that the Yankees were close to trading away Shane Greene?

Before the Nathan Eovaldi trade was announced, were there any reports that the Yankees were close to trading away Martin Prado or David Phelps?

Before the Aaron Hicks trade was announced, were there any reports that the Yankees were close to trading away John Ryan Murphy?

The answer to the all those questions is "no". I'm not saying there weren't people that could see any of those players being dealt, however the same can currently be said about Gardner and/or Miller. If either or both of those players gets dealt, nobody will be surprised by it. But when it comes to news of an actual trade happening we're probably not going to see it coming.

Brian Cashman didn't earn the "ninja" moniker for nothing.

Kenta Maeda and the New York Yankees

The next great thing from Japan may be headed to the United States and the New York Yankees may be one of the teams involved in his services. Whether Maeda will be the next Masahiro Tanaka or Kei Igawa remains to be seen, and so does whether the Yankees will even be involved in his potential bidding or not, but with this post we hope to at least come closer to a decision on both fronts. Should the New York Yankees pursue Kenta Maeda this offseason and add him to the stable of young starting pitchers vying for just five starting rotation spots? 

First and foremost Maeda will not command a Jordan Zimmermann-esque free agent deal worth five-years and $110 million ($22 million AAV) so the Japanese-born righty has that going for him. If the Hiroshima Carp grant his wish to post him, and that’s a big “if” since Hiroshima has denied his request in previous seasons, the starting pitching market would gain a 27-year old right-handed starting pitcher who pitched to a 97-67 record with a 2.39 ERA in eight seasons in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League. Last season Maeda posted a 15-8 record with a 2.09 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 ratios in 206.1 innings pitched. Maeda has nice stats but does not figure or project to be the next Tanaka or Yu Darvish in the Major Leagues, although he is expected to be more competitive than Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa. 

If the Yankees were to sign Maeda they would be getting a workhorse that I truly think at least compares to Wei-Yin Chen without the loss of the 22nd overall draft pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. Also Maeda would come at the cost of a $20 million maximum posting fee plus his contract instead of giving up big time prospects in a potential trade, another plus for New York. That’s the “good” about Maeda but the “bad” has Maeda, a small framed pitcher at just 6’0” and 160 lbs., throwing just 87-93 MPH on his fastball. Also Maeda’s 7.4 K/9 ratio probably dips at least a full point if not more in the Major Leagues, likely more.  

Maeda isn’t an ace and he isn’t bringing a trip to the Canyon of Heroes with him but if the Yankees are hell bent on adding a starting pitcher this winter Maeda may make the most sense. Sure he’s a risk, any pitcher is, but his contract will likely be shorter than the better free agents on the market and a whole lot cheaper. Maeda could fit into the role Ivan Nova was meant to be in, middle of the rotation type starter that can keep the team in games and give the club over 200 innings every season of the contract. A lot has to happen, Nova being traded is one of them, for Maeda to come to the Bronx but he does make a lot of sense for the club. Hold onto the draft pick and either go big on a David Price or go economical and get a Maeda. Either way is okay with me. 

Who Would Actually Be Interested in Ivan Nova?

The New York Yankees are going to be aggressive this winter, at least all signs point to that statement being true, and GM Brian Cashman is willing and ready to trade anything and everything not tied down. All winter long we’ve heard or come up with our own Brett Gardner trade rumors or Andrew Miller trade proposals but one name may be more intriguing than both of them, Ivan Nova. Yes Gardner had a great first half and I am fully aware that Miller won the Mariano Rivera Award for the best relief pitcher in the American League but young and controllable starting pitching is hard to find. That’s what Cashman is banking on when he dangled Ivan Nova’s name out there in trade rumors, who would actually be interested in him though?

Nova himself had a down season in 2015 after missing much of 2014 with Tommy John surgery. We all know that command is the last component to come back after a UCL replacement surgery and we all know that the second year removed is always the true indicator of how well a pitcher will respond. Nova will be in his second year removed from the surgery in 2016 making him the ultimate buy low candidate for many teams. It also doesn’t hurt that Nova is relatively cheap, he shouldn’t make more than $6 million through arbitration, and it also doesn’t hurt that he’s under team control for not only the 2016 season but the 2017 season as well. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Nova alone is not going to bring back a haul for New York but in the right package, maybe a package with Gardner for example, a deal could be struck that benefits both sides in the long run.

You can obviously count out anyone in the AL East because it’s doubtful that Cashman trades within the division but there aren’t many other teams that you can 100% cross off the list at this point. The New York Mets come to mind as a team not interested in Nova but what about the Washington Nationals? They could use all of Gardner, Miller and Nova in 2016. Could a mega deal happen?

Rebuilding teams like the Phillies, Braves, Reds, Brewers, Rockies, Athletics and White Sox are unlikely to pursue Nova while teams currently re-tooling like the Padres, Cubs, Mariners, Rangers, Nationals, Twins, Pirates, and even the Dodgers would likely have varying degrees of interest. There will be no shortage of interest on Nova, the question will be whether the package the Yankees get back is worth it or not. One thing is for sure though, there’s no reason to simply give away the 28-year old Nova. 

Jordan Zimmermann is Why New York Won’t Sign a Starting Pitcher

The New York Yankees, no matter what the current makeup of the roster is currently, are always in on starting pitching on the free agent market. Whether they really are interested in these guys or if guys like Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman are just including them to get the biggest fan base in Major League Baseball to click on their articles remains to be seen but history would indicate that the latter is the more likely scenario. That brings me to this offseason and the Yankees “need” for a starting pitcher despite having six or seven options already inked on the roster. Sure the Yankees could get better via free agency, almost every team would have a better pitching staff with David Price leading it, but if the Yankees had any inkling of interest in any starting pitching this winter they may as well forget it. After Jordan Zimmermann got a $22 million AAV for drastically declining numbers that are sure to only get worse after a switch from the National League (in a division with three of the worst teams in Major League Baseball mind you) to the American League.

If the starting price for Zimmermann is $22 million annually, and by the way I love the fact that it was only a five year deal and I think that was a great move by Detroit in that aspect, can you imagine what the cost for Johnny Cueto is going to be? Or David Price? Cueto may get $25 million annually and Price may have a higher AAV than Clayton Kershaw, baseball’s highest paid pitcher. This is about to get out of control and these players are about to get very, very expensive. Zimmermann is a $22 million #2 pitcher behind Justin Verlander, not that Detroit has been shy about stockpiling pitching at any cost.

Zimmermann posted career-highs, although still solid numbers, in ERA (3.66), WHIP (1.20), hits allowed (204) and home runs allowed (24). Again, and this is worth reiterating, Zimmermann did this facing off against three of the worst teams in MLB almost 20 times each in the Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves.

Zimmermann will cost Detroit their second round pick since the Tigers first pick, ninth overall, is protected. It’s a good deal but the Tigers and it’s a great deal for Zimmermann, it just sucks for the rest of the league that may have been interested in a deal or two on the free agent starting pitching market. That’s not happening anymore. 

Yankees Could Release CC Sabathia This Offseason?

The New York Yankees are doing something that a lot of other teams do, they aren’t letting contracts dictate playing time and their space on the 40 man roster. This is a sight for sore eyes if you ask me, especially when you consider the youth infusion that we see currently on the squad. It would truly irk me as a fan to see someone like Adam Warren or Luis Severino not getting their fair shake in the Bronx while someone like CC Sabathia, who I respect the hell out of but the back of his baseball card doesn’t show him as being one of the best five or six starting rotation options right now, struggles and keeps the team down. With that said I’m not sure how reliable the Latin Post is but they have an article, SEEN HERE, which made me turn my head. The article showcases a scenario where the New York Yankees actually cut or designate CC for assignment this winter and get him off the roster all together.

CC is a fiery clubhouse leader and veteran but his 9-14 record and 4.85 ERA over the past two seasons may not be enough to justify keeping him on the roster, especially with all his injuries that keep on piling up. Sabathia is owed $25 million for each of the 2016 and 2017 seasons, assuming he does not spend too much time or end the season on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury, before finally coming off the books before the 2018 season. With the likelihood of putting Sabathia into the bullpen about as likely as the Yankees signing a David Price or Johnny Cueto this winter Sabathia may be stuck between a rock, a hard place and unemployment.

The Yankees youth movement is well underway with Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino and Adam Warren all under 28-years old with Severino entering just his age 21 season. Sabathia does not fit into this movement. That doesn’t mean he’s going to be cut, designated for assignment or even traded. That’s all up to Hal Steinbrenner I guess. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 12/3: Enter McCann & Ellsbury

On this day in 2013 the New York Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven year deal worth $153 million. The team also made the Brian McCann signing official by signing the catcher to the richest contract ever for a catcher with a five year deal worth $85 million.

Also on this day in 2013 the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inducted three more members by the pre-integration panel. The list includes former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, longtime umpire Hank O'Day, and Deacon White who made his debut as a barehanded catcher in 1871. These three would bring the total of players in the hall to an even 300 members.