Monday, November 21, 2016

Most Popular Article of the Week: Yankees Open to Dealing Gardner, Headley

Here’s a quick hit to end your day and a bit of a hot stove rumor that could be percolating. The New York Yankees are reportedly open to trade either one or both of outfielder Brett Gardner and third baseman Chase Headley. It seems as though the Yankees are at least comfortable with the idea of continuing their youth movement and cost cutting measures, at least temporarily, into this winter while continuing to build a strong farm system.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report that the Yankees would be willing to trade these two veteran players over at Both players are over that 30-year old plateau and both have two years remaining on their current deals which may motivate the Yankees to move them now rather than later. New York has been open about their plans to try and get under the luxury tax threshold after the 2017 season and moving the contracts of Headley and Gardner can only accelerate that plan.

Neither deal has a no-trade clause written into it so moving them will not be the issue, finding a taker who is willing to pay Brian Cashman’s kinds ransom will be though in my opinion. Stay tuned ladies and gents. Stay tuned.

ICYMI: I Have A Plan, A Better Plan, A Yuge Plan

From Bryan Van Dusen... Seen HERE

Only I'm not just going to say I have a plan, I actually have one and will share it with you.

Did any of you seriously think the Yankees were a World Series contender last season?

What about the season before?

Or the season before that?

Before that?

The truth is the Yankees haven't been serious contenders since 2012. Do you realize that CC Sabathia was the only regular that was on that team and is still here, albeit in his final season? The only others that even wore Yankee pinstripes that season were Brett Gardner (was injured for majority of season) and Adam Warren (threw just 2.1 innings).

I know, there are millions of fans out there that have never experienced their team winning the World Series, and I sit here having lived through six of them. But I'm not trying to get you or anybody to say "poor Bryan". What I'm trying to point out is that this is a totally different team, and it's time for us all to accept that and move on.

And it's not just fans that need to move on, Yankee management has to move on too. Stop trying to hold onto past glory and start planning for a future. And none of this half-assed "rebuild on the fly" stuff, either.

It's time to let go of the past and go all-in on the future. That doesn't mean cutting everybody that we don't see as part of the future, as it would be nice to win a few games next season. It just means that the Yankees have to make developing their prospects the #1 priority. Not "1a" or "1b"... just "1".

It's not like the Yankees don't have a good core of players for the future, either. Gary Sanchez looks like a rising star. Aaron Judge, while he had some big-time strikeout issues last season, could very well be the next great power hitter for the Bombers. And then there's Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian, Blake Rutherford... I could go on.

"No, please, keeping going."

Therefore, I wanted to look through the roster and make some decisions on players. First up let's talk about Brian McCann.

I had originally thought the Yankees should hold onto Brian. I believe catchers are, in general, the smartest players on the diamond. They not only call pitches, they have to know their team's pitching staff, and they have to know opposing hitters. They don't just sit in the dugout and think about their next at bat, instead they are oftentimes seen talking with coaches to figure out strategy for the next inning.

Not to mention that McCann just finished his 12th season in Major League Baseball, while having spent a solid chunk of time in both the American and National Leagues.

So who better to help Gary Sanchez, and other young players, learn to play in the Majors? Who would be better to help develop young pitchers like Justus Sheffield?

The one problem I saw in keeping Brian McCann would be his bat. While he was among the better hitting catchers in the league (which isn't saying much), that would mean little next season when he was set to be the primary designated hitter. And the fact is McCann's bat would not play well at DH.

But, like I've said, 2017 should not be about winning as much as it's about building the future.

But my thoughts on McCann are moot now, anyway. Hopefully Austin Romine, who first appeared in MLB in 2012, can help Gary keep working to be better behind the plate. While veterans like Jacoby Ellsbury and CC Sabathia can take it from there (foreshadowing?).

But what about others, who are still part of the New York Yankees? Let's see...

Nathan Eovaldi - Cut

Nathan's not going to be available to pitch next year, due to having his second Tommy John surgery in August of last year. So when it comes to the "Water Pistol", it's about whether or not we believe he can help the team in 2018 and beyond.

I'm not betting on it.

While he was able to lower his hit rate from 9.7 hits per nine innings pitched to 8.9, it wasn't enough for me to breath easier. And it wasn't nice seeing him give up home runs at a higher clip than he ever has (0.6 to 1.7 HR/9IP), although that may be an anomaly.

He simply has not improved like we hoped he would, and looks to be a career bottom of the rotation starter. Which is something the Yankees do not need more of.

Michael Pineda-Keep

Perhaps this is a case of me being masochistic... I'm not sure. But seeing that he was able to make 32 starts last year, he can miss bats (career-best 10.6 K/9 in 2016), he'll only be 28 in January, and he'll only make around $8 million in 2017 (MLB Trade Rumors projects $7.8 million in arbitration), I suppose it's a case of "why not?". 

While I don't see the Yankees having interest in CC Sabathia as a free agent (I'm going to get to him, hold on), I think there's an outside chance that Pineda has a solid season. And by keeping him around, hopefully he'd be willing to return on a more team-friendly contract than most starters are getting these days.

There's a part of me that thought maybe the Yankees should cut Michael, seeing as how they wouldn't be out much money. However, since there's a slim chance of him being a part of the team's future, unlike others, let's just keep him around. Besides, if he's a decent starter, there's a chance the Yankees could trade him to a contender at the deadline this season.

CC Sabathia - Wait & See

This one has been very difficult. On the one hand, I believe the Yankees should cut the guy and move on. Just give his rotation spot to somebody like Luis Cessa or Chad Green, and see what they can do with regular work. See, I do not believe CC is going to finish 2017 with another sub-4.00 ERA. And I'm not sure he'll start more than 25 games, let alone 30 like he did last season.

But on the other hand, the Yankees don't have a ton of depth at starting pitcher. Even if Brian Cashman is able to acquire Rich Hill, or some other starter, losing CC would leave seven guys. Seeing as how nine pitchers made at least five starts last year, that's simply not enough.

And what about what I said earlier in regards to Sabathia helping the development of young starters like Severino and Kaprielian? There is some value there, no?

The decision on CC comes down to options. If the Yankees are able to acquire a couple of starters, then let Sabathia go. But if their options are limited, along with having to fill in some bullpen spots, then keep CC around.

"Very good, CC, that is a baseball."

So what about the offense?

Chase Headley - Keep

I am not a Headley fan. Not that I despise the guy, but in his first two years under contract he's hit just .255/.326/.375. Out of 17 third baseman with at least 1,000 plate appearances over the past two years, Chase ranks dead last in both wOBA and wRC+.

So why in the World would I want to hold onto him? Well, like when it comes to deciding what to do with Sabathia, it comes down to options.

Who else do the Yankees have to play third base in 2017? Ronald Torreyes, he who hit .258/.305/.374? I don't think so. I like Torreyes, but the guy hasn't looked like anything special since 2011 when he played Class A ball for the Dayton Dragons. Miguel Andujar looks like he could be the team's future third baseman, but he's not only a couple years away from MLB, his name has come up in trade talks this offseason.

So it looks like we'll have to deal with Chase Headley for at least one more season. I don't necessarily like it, but I can live with it.

Brett Gardner - Trade

Unlike with Headley, I am a Brett Gardner fan. I've enjoyed watching him play ever since he first broke into the league about six years ago. So saying I'd trade Brett does not mean I don't like him. The thing is I'm a bigger Yankees fan than I am a Brett Gardner fan (that's true of any player, by the way).

But you can't deny that he's not the same player he was as a rookie in 2008. He doesn't steal bases like he used to, his batting average has dipped a bit, his power was nice in 2014 and 2015 but slipped last season, and his defense has gone from extraordinary to merely "good" (don't let Gold Glove awards fool you).

However, he still has value. He can likely still handle any outfield position. And although his bat isn't what it once was, he's certainly above "replacement level". So while he wouldn't fetch a "Clint Frazier" in a trade, we're not looking at receiving a "Dustin Ackley" either.

I guess the biggest issue with Brett Gardner is that he's a bit redundant. And that leads us to this guy...

Jacoby Ellsbury - Keep

Perhaps you've heard of this guy...

Bats around .260, will hit around 10 home runs, can steal around 20 bases a year, plays good but not great defense, and is 33 years old.

No, I'm not talking about Brett Gardner again. I'm talking about Jacoby Ellsbury.

In a vacuum it's a toss-up between keeping Brett Gardner or Ellsbury, but unfortunately MLB isn't played in a vacuum. It's played in an environment where some idiot decided to give Jacoby a seven-year contract worth $153 million. A contract that's all but immovable without basically giving the guy away.

That's why I'm about keeping Ellsbury and trading Gardner. We don't need both of these guys, and since the Yankees can get something out of Gardner, they might as well do it.

Within the next couple years I may be screaming for the Yankees to cut Ellsbury, but for right now I believe they should hold onto him.

That's the grin of a man that knows he's way overpaid.

I'm not going to do a full write-up on anybody else, but I thought I'd give you a few notes on them.

Tyler Austin - I like Tyler, and I can see him being a part of the future Yankees. Unfortunately, I don't see a spot for him on the 25-man roster on Opening Day. He's already spent a couple years in AAA, and I hope another year won't hurt him. However, I could easily see him getting the call back to New York due to the inevitable injury or two.

Bryan Mitchell - I could have very well put Luis Cessa or Chad Green into the starting rotation, but I'd really like to see Mitchell get a real chance there. Out of 123 game appearances in the minors, only five of them came out of the bullpen. And he looked nice in four of his five starts last season, particularly on September 28th against Boston, when he gave up just two hits and zero runs in seven innings of work.

Aroldis Chapman - I'm not sure if I'd rather the Yankees sign him or Kenley Jansen, but at this point it looks like it'll be Chapman. And I think that's the right decision, as we know what he can do in New York/American League, while Jansen has spent all of his 6+ years in the National League. Although Kenley has pitched just as well in interleague play. Oh well. Whatever. Just get one of them.

Mason Williams - Although he may not be long for New York due to Clint Frazier not being far away, and Jorge Mateo possibly getting moved to centerfield, Mason looks like the outfielder most ready to step into a regular role for the Yankees in 2017. I'm not his biggest fan, but I'd like to see what he could do with regular playing time. Will he hit .300 like he has in AAA? Probably not. But if there's a time to see what a guy can do, and not worry too much about the results, 2017 is the time to do it.

The Designated Hitter - I'm not sure what the Yankees will do, but I will tell you that I don't want them to commit a large contract here. For example, Edwin Encarnacion is a heck of a hitter, but he's in line to get a contract of 4-5 years. That's too much in my opinion. At least for the Yankees. Whereas Carlos Beltran could sign for one year, seeing as how he's about to turn 40 years-old.

The Bench - I not only looked at how good or bad a player was, but also at their versatility. For example, I went with Aaron Hicks because he can not only play everywhere in the outfield, but he's a switch-hitter as well. That versatility is one reason why Tyler Austin is not there, while Ronald Torreyes is.

Those decisions would leave the Yankees with the following Active Roster...

Starting Pitchers
Masahiro Tanaka
Michael Pineda
Luis Severino
CC Sabathia
Bryan Mitchell

Relief Pitchers
Aroldis Chapman
Dellin Betances
Adam Warren
Chad Green
Luis Cessa
Jacob Lindren
Chasen Shreve

Starting Batters
C - Gary Sanchez
1B - Greg Bird
2B - Starlin Castro
3B - Chase Headley
SS - Didi Gregorius
LF - Mason Williams
CF - Jacoby Ellsbury
RF - Aaron Judge
DH - ???

Bench Hitters
C - Austin Romine
1B, 2B, RF - Rob Refsnyder
3B, 2B, SS - Ronald Torreyes
RF, CF, LF - Aaron Hicks

So what do you think? Am I a genius? Am I an idiot? Should I go back into hiding, or perhaps stop writing entirely?  Although it's nice to feel inspired to write again, so I'd rather not give it up.

Either way, thanks for reading.

Cespedes and Encarnacion? No and No! Please?

Jim Bowden is talking and apparently all of the New York Yankees fan base is listening. According to Bowden he predicts that the New York Yankees will sign one or both of free agents Edwin Encarnacion and Yoenis Cespedes. Why and why? And no and no. No, this does not fit into the Yankees current plans nor do they fit into the future plans as well. No and no and here's why.

Sure, Encarnacion can play first base and he can also fill the now vacant DH spot for the Yankees but what Encarnacion cannot do is continue to make the Yankees younger, more versatile and cheaper. Encarnacion is now 33-years old and will be 34-years old by the time the 2017 season begins. Encarnacion is attached to a qualifying offer which means the Yankees would have to surrender a mid-first round draft pick to sign the former Toronto Blue Jays slugger and likely much more in terms of cash than the $10 million he made in 2016. You might have to double that or go even higher with this weak free agent market. How many years is Encarnacion going to sign for? Four? Five? No thank you. The last thing the Yankees need is a four-or-five year deal for a player leaving his prime at or around $100 million. No thank you.

You can basically say the exact same thing about Cespedes, the former New York Mets and Boston Red Sox (among others) product. Cespedes is just 31-years old and will be until he turns 32-years old in the 2017 playoffs but he made $27.5 million in guaranteed salary in 2016 and walked away from that. You really think he is going to take much less to sign a deal this offseason? Even if it does guarantee more years I can't see him going much less than that, and that is too expensive for the Yankees. Again, no thank you.

The Yankees need to see this plan all the way to the end. If you're going young, more versatile and cheap then do it. If you want to blow prospects and cash to compete in 2017 and get into another pickle here in a few years, then do it. There can't be any sort of indecision and there is no in-between.

Weekly AFL Check In: Greg Bird

The Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions has officially come to an end as has the season for the Yankees first base prospect Greg Bird. Let's check out his final line of the season before the long, cold winter ahead.

This Day in New York Yankees History 11/21: Enter Pascual Perez & Joe DiMaggio

On this day in 1989 the New York Yankees signed Pascual Perez to a three year deal worth $5.7 million in one of the worst Yankees signings in their history, see Carl Pavano for reference. The starting pitcher would spend a total of 150 weeks on the disabled list and would be suspended for the entire 1992 season after failing yet another drug test.

Also on this day in 1934 the New York Yankees purchased the contract of Joe DiMaggio from San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. The son of an Italian immigrant will be the first of three DiMaggio brothers to play in the Major Leagues.