Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The off-season is here 

Greetings Yankee Fans. After some time of letting this season’s playoff loss to the hated Red Sox sink in, I’m back. 

This offseason should be very fun. Mission get under the luxury tax has been completed, and it’s time the Yanks go on one of their 4 to 5 year sprees. What a year to do it!!!! With many top tier free agents available, and plenty of trades out there it’s time the Bombers front office and Brian Cashman go to work. The Yanks need to get a a few things done this offseason, most importantly is closing the gap between themselves and the AL’s top 2 teams, the Sox’s and the Astros. In order to do that the Yankees need to upgrade at few everyday positions, while at the same time maintaining their dominant Bullpen, and upgrading the Starting Pitching. Let’s assume Justus Sheffield is not ready for a major league roll till mid season. The Yanks will return Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and that’s all that is guaranteed. Leaving the Yankees 3 starters short. While the Bombers boast a load of young talented arms in the minor leagues, they are unproven. Which leads me to Patrick Corbin, a player they should be signing Corbin had an great season posting 3.15 era with 246 strike outs. Corbin could easily become a prime #2 starter for the Yanks. Re-Sign JA Happ (Sorry C.C.) Happ was phenomenal for the Yankees after being brought in via Trade. That leaves 1 spot and a bunch of question marks to fill it. First thing I would do is look for an Ace, Easing the pressure on Severino, and for that matter Corbin as well. Teams to call? Start with the Giants & go from there, maybe the Mets? May cost a little more but it’ll take either of the 2.  If you can’t get an Ace look for a solid # 4/5 type starter and look for Sheffield to step in sometime mid season. So that will leave the Yanks with either Ace, Severino, Corbin,Tanaka, Happ, or Severino, Corbin,Tanaka, Happ, and a 5th Starter with Sheffield waiting in the wings.  

The bullpen should be pretty straight forward. 

Closer: Aroldis Chapman should remain the teams closer. With Dellin Betances the main setup guy. Resigning both Zach Britton and and David Robertson should be done. Britton may cost the Yanks a little bit more then you would like, but he says he likes being a Yankee so maybe a middle ground can be found. I for one like the 7 man pen a pose to 8 man, that leaves 3 open spots. One of which goes to Chad Green, and in my opinion Jonathan Holder earned a spot as well. The last bullpen option id look into is bringing back Andrew Miller, adding another prime lefty to an already awesome pen. Now moving on it’s time to look at the Starting 9 Position by position. Now before we all start debating between Harper and Machado. 

Remember as the great Daniel Birch wrote.....

“The thing is though, and the thing that a LOT of Yankees fans are missing, is that the Yankees could sign BOTH Machado and Harper, and STILL have money and prospects left over to address the pitching.” So there will be no debate as to which one we should sign during this post. Nor am I going to discuss numbers that’s been done enough.   

Catcher: Gary Sanchez Yes Sanchez had a bad year, no we shouldn’t trade him. One bad year doesn’t make me lose faith in a player with his power and skill set. 

1st Base: Paul Goldschmidt?, Luke Voit, Greg Bird.If the Dbacks are trading him I am all ears. I am not sure how much the Yanks will want to spend here. I am big on free agents in other areas so this comes down to the money.  

However I am trying to compete with the Red Sox this I am making the move. Paul is only signed for 2019 and will be free after that so it’s only for a year anyway. If not Luke Voit earned a chance to show what he can do, and I am still not ready to give up totally on Greg Bird yet. Plus depending on other moves maybe a Voit and Bird combo makes sense.  

We can touch on this later as well.  

2nd Base: Gleyber TorresKeep Torres at 2nd, almost wins rookie of year award if not for a injury, and His teammate. Very amazing player with a huge upside if it’s not broke don’t fix it.  

3rd Base: Miguel AndujarHmmm with Sir Didi being injured this is easy as pie. No position move as of now the Double Machine stays right at the hot corner. Well at least until Didi is back. If the Yanks don’t bring in Goldschmidt via trade Andjuar can possibly cover at 1st base.  

Short Stop: Manny MachadoI wanted Machado before Didi went down. Now Manny is looked at for SS not 3rd. When Sir Didi is back and healthy Andjuar will have to be moved around a lil maybe a lil time in LF ,1b, and even some games still at 3rd. But we need to close the gap between us and the Sox Manny does that. Plus Manny wants to be Yankee, idc if he is not Johnny Hustle that is ok, he is a super talent. 

Left Field: Bryce Harper Super talent ...check 

Harper at Yankee stadium = 50 Hrs? 

Judge ...Harper...Stanton wow what dangerous lineup this can be. That doesn’t even mention anyone else in the lineup.  

Center Field: Aaron HicksHicks finally had the season the Yanks hoped for when they traded for him a few years back.  

He quieted my qualms about trading him. He has earned his spot.   

Right Field: Duh!! Aaron Judge, need I Say any more.  

DH: Giancarlo StantonNo need to freak out I’ll take 38HRs and 100 RBIs but those numbers will be better in 2019. I promise you that.  

The bench keep it simple here don’t need to go crazy or anything like that. The players are 

Already here.  

4th OF: Clint Frazier 

Young, cheap, and a ton of talent. As long as healthily can make a big difference. Dare I Say best 4th Of in baseball? (Guess Not with the Gardner now signed)

Back Up Catcher: Austin Romine 

Proved he can fill in long term if Sanchez is hurt. The pitchers Love him.  

Utl Man: Ronald Torreyes 

Who doesn’t love Toe!? 

25Th man: Greg Bird.  

Assuming Luke Voit is the stater 

And the Yanks don’t get Big Paul from the DBacks, Bird deserves one more shot. I may even consider Bird over Voit if we have Paul G., But that is more for Lefty with power off the bench. 

Well Fans there you have it, my way to early 2019 Yankees. Disclaimer: These opinions will change lol as the off season goes on. They always do! Lol. Have a Great Day my fellow Yankees Fans and Remember.....

G⚾️ Yankees!! I can be reached at JamesCPalma@Yahoo.Com And always look forward to chatting with you.  

Monday, October 29, 2018

Brett Gardner’s Future & The Yankees Offseason

I have to admit that I can be a bit reactive and impulsive when it comes to what I consider to be “my” New York Yankees. I know all fans, most fans anyway, get upset when a pitcher gives up a big hit, and I know a lot of fans get upset with a player when they strike out in a big spot offensively, but no fans take this as seriously as the fans of the New York Yankees in my opinion. Many fans want these players gone immediately, either via trade or by a trip down to Scranton that is inconceivable and against every rule Major League Baseball has to protect its players, and no player got more of this treatment this year than Brett Gardner. Now, I have to admit that for much of this season I expected this to be Gardner’s final year in pinstripes, but now I think I am starting to change my mind a little bit.

No, I don’t want or think that Brett Gardner will be the Yankees starting left fielder on Opening Day 2019, but would it be out of the realm of possibilities that he could be on the bench when the season opens up next year? I don’t think so. Now, don’t get me wrong... I love Clint Frazier, but who reading this trusts Frazier to stay healthy and productive for an entire year? Some may, but it is getting harder and harder to do that in my opinion. No, it’s getting damn near impossible. In my opinion, Frazier still has some trade value, where another year in 2019 hampered by injuries and inconsistencies at the Major League level like he had in 2018 his value may be gone. Therefore, I am reluctantly suggesting that the Yankees trade Frazier this offseason in some sort of package for pitching (Madison Bumgarner or equivalent) while bringing back Gardner on a one-year deal.

Gardner made $11.5 million in 2018 and has a $12.5 million team option for the 2019 season with a $2 million buyout. Gardner showed that his bat may be slowing down in 2018 posting a final line of .236/.322/.368/.690 with 12 home runs, 45 RBI and just 16 stolen bases. That doesn’t sound like it is worth $12.5 million to me, that sounds like it is worth about half that in my opinion, and that’s what I would offer him, roughly. The Yankees would spend $2 million to buy out his current contract and should offer him $5 million to be the Yankees 4th outfielder. Having Gardner available in center field off the bench, along with his veteran and clubhouse presence, would be invaluable in my opinion on a one-year deal. Having that also free up Frazier for a trade to fill in the Yankees biggest gap, pitching, also seems ideal to me.

I know a lot of fans don’t want to see Gardner on the team next season, and at the same token I know a lot of fans want him back just because, but right now it makes a lot of sense for him to be back. If the Yankees sign Bryce Harper I’d honestly still feel this way, and if they don’t I would push even harder for his return. He is not the catalyst he once was, but in a limited capacity he could be invaluable with the Yankees in 2019. Get the man one more ring and bring him back on the cheap.  

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Manny Machado vs. Bryce Harper, And The Rest Of The Offseason

"Hey, Bryan, what should I do this offseason?"

Contrary to what you read from some Yankees "fans" all season long, the Yankees are not that far from being a legit World Series title contender. We're not talking about the 2013 Yankees, who finished third in the AL East, 12 games behind the Red Sox. The 2018 Yankees, despite having flaws, still won a hundred games. While the 2013 team had just two guys, who had more than 250 at bats, finish with an OPS+ of 100 or more, the 2018 Yankees had six such players. While the 2013 Yankees had three pitchers, who started ten or more games, with an ERA+ over 100, the 2018 team had four. And as great as Mariano Rivera and David Robertson were in 2013, that team's bullpen was not nearly as good as the bullpen the 2018 Yankees had (9.7 fWAR vs. 3.4).

The offense next season will be without Didi Gregorius for a while, but the Yankees have a good shot at bringing in one of the biggest offensive threats in Major League Baseball. Hell, they may be able to bring in two of them.

The rotation will lose one of those pitchers that had an ERA+ over 100 next year but are the favorites to add a starter that finished 4th among all starting pitchers in fWAR in 2018.

And although the bullpen could lose one of its key members for this past season, there's a very good chance he'll return for 2019 and beyond.

To be completely honest, as high as expectations were before the 2018 season, I believe expectations on the 2019 team are going to be much higher. And for good reason.

While the offseason has yet to start, that doesn't mean there hasn't been some big news.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, who are ready to rebuild, have said they will listen to proposals for Paul Goldschmidt. For Yankees fans, that have been begging for their team to move on from Greg Bird and solidify the first base position, this seems like an excellent opportunity. And as attractive an option as Goldschmidt is, I believe the Yankees should pass. You see, to trade for Paul Goldschmidt would require a very nice package of players/prospects, and while I believe the Yankees could put together a nice enough package, I don't think it's necessary. Especially when you consider that Goldy is set to become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Like I've said, the lineup is already plenty good enough. The Yankees don't need to pay a steep price to acquire a first baseman for what very well could be just one season. All they need is someone that isn't to the offense, what a black hole is to the universe.

Now, it may be pretty hypocritical what I'm about to talk about, seeing as it's about signing a hitter, but there are differences. First of all, unlike Goldschmidt, all Bryce Harper or Manny Machado will cost the Yankees is money. And the Yankees have plenty of money laying around. Secondly, neither Harper nor Machado are going to be Yankees for just one year. And lastly, we're talking about two guys that are only 26 years old, which is actually younger than when the vast majority of baseball players hit their prime.

Machado vs. Harper... a bigger match-up than the Red Sox vs. the Dodgers.

There's just no way the Yankees, or anyone that has the money to spend, can pass up this chance. The only question Brian Cashman and his cronies should be asking themselves is "should we try and sign both of these guys?"

Of course, I don't think they should. Even if Giancarlo Stanton wasn't signed for another nine years (assuming he doesn't opt-out), having two players signed to big money contracts that last 10 or more years is not good for business. Having a lineup with Harper, Machado, Stanton, and Judge would be a dream come true. But it's just so unnecessary. This year's team had neither Bryce nor Manny, but they still finished second in MLB in runs scored. And that was despite the fact the Yankees seemed to fail with runners in scoring position nine out of ten times. So this isn't a case of trying to sign both, it's a case of which to sign.

I went back and forth when it came choosing between Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. On the one hand, Harper's left-handed power bat makes many Yankees fans salivate, and rightfully so. But when it comes to elite hitters like Harper, Machado, Judge, etc., I don't think the side they swing from really matters. And since Harper hasn't played left field since 2014, and isn't an elite defender already, he could end up costing us some runs on defense.

On the other hand, you have Manny Machado, who would bat in the same spot as Harper would, helping to make an already dangerous heart of the order insane. The thing that really stuck with me when it came to Manny, though, is his defensive ability. Having an infield of Machado and Torres on the left side (yeah, I see Torres at SS, but more on that later) would be great. And I should add that his comments about not being Johnny Hustle do not bother me. The fact he admitted it is a problem makes me believe he's willing to work on that aspect of his game. If he'd simply said he'll likely never be a hustler and left it at that, then I'd be more concerned. But that's not the case. Besides, how often do players reach first base just because they hustled out of the box on a routine ground ball?

And the crotch-grabbing? I could do without things like that, but you'd think the guy was drowning cats or abusing children the way some people have reacted. Seriously. I haven't seen reactions like this since Ray Rice punched his fiance in an elevator, and what Manny has done doesn't come close to what Ray did. Athletes say and do stupid things, but that doesn't necessarily mean they should be blackballed in any way. Bryce Harper tried to choke his closer in the dugout during a game (it was Jonathan Papelbon, so I kind of get it, but still...), Alex Rodriguez knocked the ball out of a fielder's glove (among other dumb things that guy had done both on and off the field), and Aroldis Chapman was accused of domestic violence (I covered why the allegations were questionable). I don't like when these things happen, whether those involved are part of the Yankees organization or not, but they do happen. And as long as they aren't proven to be criminals, then the bottom line is can they help us win?

So back to Harper versus Machado...

The deciding factor in this decision was Miguel Andujar. Andujar's defense at third base is below average, but, as Daniel pointed out, he can improve in that area. And when it came to building the rest of the lineup, having Miggy there was more appealing than any other scenario that I believe is possible (see the thing about signing both Harper and Machado). See, if the Yankees signed Machado I don't think Miguel would be around in 2019. Sure, Andujar could move to first base or left field, but I just don't think that's a good plan. Changing positions like that is not easy. Hell, Miguel already has range issues at third base, imagine if he didn't get a good read on a fly ball to left field? That would absolutely lead to extra bases, while an error at third just leaves a runner at first. And with Andujar being the biggest trade piece not named "Aaron Judge" on the Yankees, I don't see why they wouldn't go after that ace starter they've craved for so long.


Sign Bryce Harper to a deal with an average annual value of $35 million a year for 10 or so years. I could see the deal being front-loaded, along with an opt-out after three to five years, assuring Bryce makes as much money as possible now with the ability to get more guaranteed money should he opt-out down the road. Not to mention doing what we can to keep the average annual value down as much as possible, so the Luxury Tax hit isn't too high.

I am a bit concerned with the fact that Harper has not played left field since 2014, as I mentioned earlier, however his combination of youth and athleticism makes me believe he can be at worst average out there, and more than likely a little better than average.

And for those of you that saw his low batting average this past season (.249), I'd like to point out that since July 1st Harper hit .279. And Bryce's on-base percentage has always been elite, as from July on this past season he got on base 41% of the time. Even when he doesn't drive in runs, Harper is able to put himself in position to be driven in by others. And in the Yankees lineup, where guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar could be hitting directly behind him, that is great.

If you still don't think signing Harper instead of Machado is the way to go, that's fine. Perhaps my other offseason wishes will line up with your own...

Re-Sign Brett Gardner
The team should decline his option for 2019, but work out another contract for less money. Gardy's last contract was worth $13 million a season, which he signed after back-to-back seasons with an OPS+ of 110 and 111. So after being an average to below average hitter the past three years, and being 35 years old, I think a two to three-year deal worth $9 million a season would work. Then again, Gardner could sign for less than that, but I'd rather plan for the worst. Also, I wanted to bring back Gardner due to his history with the Yankees, and more importantly his ability to give Hicks some rest in center field.

Sign CC Sabathia
I would be perfectly fine with J.A. Happ returning instead, but Sabathia's work in New York the past three seasons has been good to very good. Sure, he may not get past the fifth inning, but with the Yankees' bullpen that isn't much of an issue. CC's a leader among the pitching staff and looked up to by everyone in the organization. Plus, management will like his price, as CC's likely to sign another one year deal for around $10 million, while others like Happ will get 2+ years and a higher AAV.

Sign Patrick Corbin 
This would give the Yankees a strong starter at the top of the rotation to go with Luis Severino (no way am I giving up on Sevy being an "ace"). Patrick would also give the Yankees a second lefty in the rotation, balancing things out... particularly in a postseason series. I'd say more about this signing, but there has already been a ton said about the top starting pitcher in free agency already, and will likely be even more. Although I see no need to, as this signing is a no-brainer.

Sign David Robertson
The Yankees need to keep their excellent bullpen going, so re-signing Robertson or Britton is a must. With that said, I don't like Britton as his control is iffy and he doesn't miss bats like David can (7.5 K/9 vs 11.8). D-Rob's velocity is still there and shows no signs of decline. Robertson's never had great control, but his walk rate is no worse than it's been in the past. The fact is, when the Yankees bring Robertson into a game, I feel pretty good.

Sign Justin Wilson
Signing another reliever, preferably a lefty, would be ideal. Justin Wilson has had some control issues the last two seasons, but before that, he wasn't bad in that area. Wilson misses bats well so I can see him being close to the lefty version of Robertson. Justin also played for the Yankees in 2015, so he's familiar with the pressure of wearing pinstripes. Jake Diekman and Andrew Miller are other possibilities, but I like Wilson a bit better. If it wasn't for Britton likely getting a closer role, and a larger contract, from another team I wouldn't be opposed to bringing him back.

Before getting to the rest I want to say that the Yankees need to rid themselves of Jacoby Ellsbury. Do whatever it takes, because the fact is he's a waste of roster space. I honestly don't know who would be interested in him, or what the Yankees would get in return. I'll guess that the Yankees end up paying about half of his salary, or about $11m in 2019 and again in 2020, and get back minor league filler.

I wish you the best in the rest of your career, I just hope it's not with the Yankees.

There's one more move I want to make before taking a final look at the Opening Day Active Roster. Before getting into it, though, I will admit that a big-time trade like this would be tough. However, I think it makes sense for both sides. So here it is...

Trade Sonny Gray, Clint Frazier, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Tyler Wade, to the Philadelphia Phillies for Nick Pivetta, Justin Bour, and Cesar Hernandez.

As for reasons the Phillies would be on board:

1. Cesar Hernandez will become a high-priced bench player as he's set to make just under $9 million in his final season of being arbitration eligible. Scott Kingery will enter into the second season of a six-year deal, and JP Crawford is considered a big part of the Phillies' future. So there's no doubt the Phillies would like to deal away Hernandez for something useful.

2. With Carlos Santana making big money (he's entering year two of a three-year contract worth $60 million), he'll certainly continue to be the starting 1B for the Phillies. Sure, the Phillies would love to get that deal off the books as they look to rebuild, but I'm going to bet the Phillies don't find a taker (although I can see another team dealing for Carlos at the trade deadline). That leaves Justin Bour (set to make over $5 million in arbitration) who, like Hernandez, would be another expensive bench player.

3. The Phillies are loaded with young pitching, so while losing Pivetta is probably not ideal for them, they can afford to lose him thanks to already having Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, and now Sonny Gray, to go along with even more strong pitching prospects.

4. With bullpens becoming so important to the game, I could see the Phillies very interested in adding Loaisiga. None of their current top relievers went more than 2.1 innings in a game last season, which could Loaisiga a nice addition to their bullpen. And there's still a good chance Johnny Lasagna becomes a starter.

For the Yankees, we already know Cashman is looking to trade away Sonny Gray. Meanwhile, Clint Frazier has no spot on the team after they sign Harper. Loaisiga could have a future as a starter or long reliever for the Yanks, but the team can surely deal with that loss. And with Torres, Andujar, and the high likelihood the Yankees extend Gregorius, Wade has no starting role on the team and is not needed as a backup thanks to Torreyes. 

For those of you that don't know much about the Phillies or Nick Pivetta, Nick will turn 26 soon, has less than 300 MLB innings on his arm, and has never had any serious injuries.

Pivetta is 6'5", and weighs roughly 220 pounds, which is the body type the Yankees are known to covet. Nick did have a high ERA last season (4.77), but his FIP of 3.80 tells a much different story, as the Phillies had one of the worst defenses in all of MLB last season. Nick also struck out 10.3 batters per nine innings in 2018, to go along with a solid walk rate of 2.8 per nine innings. Furthermore, Nick's ground ball rate was very good (35th out of 128 pitchers that threw at least 100 innings in 2018). In my opinion, he would fit into the Yankees perfectly.

Some have speculated that Pivetta would be better served out of the Phillies' bullpen, due to him having trouble the second time through the opponent's lineup during the second half of this season. But as young as he is, and with so few innings in MLB, I think that would be a mistake. None-the-less, that is why I'm not only offering a starter to help solidify the Philadelphia rotation (Gray), but also another pitcher that could fill a starting or long relief spot (Loaisiga).

And one thing that Hal Steinbrenner will certainly like... Pivetta isn't even arbitration eligible until 2021.

"Guys, I'm not that cheap."

Keep in mind that Jordan Montgomery is set to return sometime in 2019, along with youngsters Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, and Mike King knocking on the door to MLB. So even if they have to deal with an injury or two, like every team nearly every season, the Yankees starting rotation should be perfectly okay. Even if they end up needing a top starter at the trade deadline, the return of Didi would allow the Yankees to shop Cesar Hernadez along with others.

Well, there's what I'd like to see the Yankees do this offseason. Before I wrap this up by showing the full 2019 Active Roster as I'd like to see it, I wanted to say that trade proposals like my own are unlikely to happen. So even if that big trade doesn't happen, I would still like to see the team trade for a lefty-hitting first baseman (I really like Justin Bour), a young starter with high upside like Nick Pivetta, and a second baseman or shortstop like Cesar Hernandez (his switch-hitting ability would be sweet).

Also, I decided not to talk about contract extensions. As you'll see at the end of this post, there's plenty of room in team salary to extend guys such as Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, and Aaron Judge. I'm sure to talk about that later, but for right now just know that I want to see them in pinstripes again in 2019 and beyond.

So here is the Opening Day Active Roster as I'd like to see it, which includes the player's salaries and total team payroll on Opening Day (note that I used actual salaries, which do not necessarily equate to the salaries used for Luxury Tax purposes).

2019 Opening Day Active Roster 
Note: 2019 salary/projected arbitration salary (provided by MLBTradeRumors)/projected pre-arbitration salary in parenthesis

*=left-handed hitter/pitcher

Starting Lineup
1. Aaron Hicks# - CF ($6.2m)
2. Aaron Judge - RF ($.8m)
3. Bryce Harper* - LF ($35m)
4. Giancarlo Stanton - DH ($25m)
5. Miguel Andujar - 3B ($.6m)
6. Justin Bour* - 1B ($5.2m)
7. Gary Sanchez - C ($.7m)
8. Cesar Hernandez# - 2B ($8.9m)
9. Gleyber Torres - SS ($.6m)

Brett Gardner* OF ($9m)
Ronald Torreyes 2B, SS, 3B ($.9m)
Luke Voit 1B ($.6m)
Austin Romine C ($2m)

Starting Rotation
Luis Severino ($5.1m)
Patrick Corbin* ($20m)
Masahiro Tanaka ($22m)
CC Sabathia* ($10)
Nick Pivetta ($.6m)

Relief Pitchers
Aroldis Chapman* ($17.2)
Dellin Betances ($6.4m)
David Robertson ($11m)
Justin Wilson* ($9m)
Chad Green ($.6m)
Jonathan Holder ($.6m)
Stephen Tarpley* ($.6m)

Jacoby Ellsbury - portion of salary paid for by the Yankees ($11m)

Total 25-Man Opening Day Payroll - $209.6 million 
Note: Last season's 25-Man Opening Day Payroll was $166.1m. For comparison, the Boston Red Sox 25-Man Opening Day payroll in 2018 was $233.8m (both figures courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts).

Monday, October 22, 2018

Sonny Gray, Danny Duffy, and My Crap for Your Crap

The title of the post is meant to show sarcasm, but the general ideology behind the title remains the same. Your struggling starter for my struggling starter, and maybe a prospect to sweeten the deal? This may not work as the Kansas City Royals are presumably going to move into a rebuilding phase this winter, but what do you think about a Sonny Gray for Danny Duffy trade?

Duffy is a left-handed starter that the Yankees have coveted for quite a number of years. Now, this trade would be dependent on whether the Yankees bring back a CC Sabathia, or equivalent, to pitch out of the 5th starter spot. If the team brings back Sabathia on another one-year deal, and honestly, I think that they should, then this post becomes moot. If they don’t, however, Duffy may be able to offer some value out of the 5th slot for New York. Now, before we completely trash the idea based on his 2018 stats alone, let’s remember the stats for Duffy from the 2012-2017 seasons. Before Duffy posted an 8-12 record and 4.88 ERA in 155 innings pitched in 2018, the lefty pitched to a 3.43 ERA from 2012-2017. Duffy has two more years left on his contract, although the money owed is probably more than the Yankees are comfortable with. Duffy is set to make $15.250 million in 2019 and 2020, followed by a slight raise to $15.5 million in 2021. That’s quite the undertaking, but Sonny Gray’s salary would offset a lot of that for the 2019 season.

Would Kansas City be willing to take on Sonny Gray’s contract and maybe a few million dollars of the salary to make the trade work with New York? The Yankees could add a prospect or two, no one special or game changing, to sweeten the pot for the Royals, if necessary. This seems like a deal that the Yankees could at least explore, although again this is dependent on what New York does with CC Sabathia in their fifth starter slot.

Moves like this don’t win a World Series for you, but sometimes they go a long way. If the Yankees could have a durable lefty at the back end of the rotation that can keep the team in games every fifth day, that’s a victory in my eyes. If Duffy could pitch in 2019 like he did from 2012 to 2017, that’s a huge victory for New York. His trade value is at its lowest, and the Royals are presumably entering a total rebuild, so the deal makes sense. It is just whether the Yankees and Kansas City can work out the financials that may keep a deal from happening.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

World Series: Dodgers vs Red Sox...

LA wins NLCS to advance to Fall Classic…

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been my favorite National League team and now they represent my final hope for ending Boston’s season without a championship. The Yankees couldn’t stop the Red Sox and neither could the defending Champion Houston Astros. I wasn’t too confident heading into Game 7 of the NLCS, especially with the game being played in Milwaukee, but the Dodgers showed the resiliency they’ve had all season to win the game in convincing fashion and propel themselves into the World Series for the second consecutive year.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Nothing against the Milwaukee Brewers. I think they’re a fine baseball team and I have much respect for former Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich and former Yankees Erik Kratz and Curtis Granderson, but as a Minnesota Vikings fan, the thought of a World Series between the fan bases for both the Red Sox and Green Bay Packers was a bit too much for me. I am glad the Dodgers bailed me out. I guess I should also thank former Yankee Clay Bellinger and his wife for giving birth to Cody and setting the stage for young Bellinger’s go-ahead two-run homer last night.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Stacy Revere)

I wish the Dodgers had a more formidable bullpen outside of closer Kenley Jansen but the Red Sox proved you don’t need a great bullpen to make it to the World Series. I doubt we’ll see Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw closing out games in the World Series like he did Game 7 of the NLCS. But down the stretch, the Dodgers pen performed about as well as you could so I think I’ll take my chances with Dodger Blue over the course of the next four to seven games. The Dodgers have the bats to get into Boston’s bullpen and I think that will finally be the Achilles Heel for the Red Sox.  

It will be fun to see Manny Machado back in Boston. Like Manny’s response last night while celebrating when asked if the win was sweet after the boos from the crowd. He said “what do you think?” and took a swig of champagne. Perfect! There is no love lost between Machado and the Red Sox from his days in Baltimore, and I am sure much will be written in the coming days about his villainess in the city. No doubt the boo birds will show up in full force on Tuesday night. I’d love to see Machado to emerge as one of the heroes of this World Series. It makes a nice segue for his future as a Yankee.   

As previously written on this blog, I have finalized the wager with my long-time friend, Boston-area native/resident and die-hard Red Sox fan, Julia (@werbiefitz on Twitter). We have had numerous wagers over the years involving the Yankees and Red Sox. It was not meant to be (for me) this year so I am jumping on the Dodgers bandwagon for the latest wager. Well, it’s not really ‘bandwagon jumping’ since the Dodgers have long been my NL team and that wouldn’t have changed even if they had lost 115 games this year like the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees are still my primary team, but for the rest of October, I am bleeding Dodger Blue.  

For our wager, the loser must change her (okay, his/her) cover photo on FaceBook to a picture of the winning team celebrating their World Series championship for seven days at the conclusion of the 2018 World Series. The loser must also read a book chosen by the winner, and then post a minimum 500-word essay about the ten things they learned reading the book. Not a book review, but rather information that he/she did not previously know about the winning organization. The essay must then be posted on Social Media for all to see.   

For Julia, since the Dodgers are going to win, I’ve chosen Brothers in Arms:  Koufax, Kershaw and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition by Jon Weisman.

Should I lose, which is obviously not going to happen, Julia has chosen Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston by Howard Bryant.

We’ve had fun with these wagers over the years. I’ve had to take pics of myself wearing Red Sox hats, including a pink one, and Julia, a Red Sox fan from birth, has had to wear a Yankee hat…in public…in Boston. Since I don’t live in the New York City area, I’ve been fortunate I haven’t had to wear a Red Sox cap in the Bronx, but I am sure it is inevitable if we keep up these wagers.  

Game On, Julia! I am ready. My beloved Yankees may not have been able to take down the Red Sox this year, but I get a second chance with the Dodgers. 2018 has been a year of resiliency for the Dodgers who were once ten games below .500 (16-26) during the regular season.  They’ve battled back a few times, with their backs to the wall, and have always prevailed. They may have lost the 2017 World Series to the Houston Astros but this is a year of redemption. You’ll always have your 108 regular season wins, but sorry, my friend, your season will end on a down note. You may want to go ahead and buy the book in advance so that you are ready to start reading.

My prediction:  Dodgers in Six (with hat tip to former Yankees and Dodgers manager Joe Torre).

My apologies, I now return you to Yankees Baseball…

After celebrating Mickey Mantle’s birthday yesterday, today’s “Birthday Boy” is alive and well at age 90.  Happy Birthday to the Chairman of the Board, Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford!

Whitey was born on October 21, 1928 in New York City. A lifetime Yankee, Whitey pitched for the Pinstripers in 1950, served two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War (thank you for your service!), and resumed his career in the Bronx from 1953 through 1967. Ford was 236-106, 2.75 ERA, and had 1,956 strikeouts for the Yankees. He was a ten-time MLB All-Star and he won six World Series championships. In 1961, he was the AL Cy Young Award winner and World Series MVP. Andy Pettitte may have surpassed Ford for most wins by a lefty in franchise history if not for Andy’s three years in Houston. Pettitte, who won 256 games overall, finished 17 wins behind Ford while wearing the famed Pinstripes. It is very appropriate for Ford to remain at the top of the list, closely followed by Pettitte, another former Yankee I hold in very high regard.   

I get excited to see Whitey Ford every year on Old Timer’s Day. His health is in decay (I know, it happens to the best of us) and there will be a day when he is no longer able to take part in the Yankee Stadium festivities. Like Mantle, he was a great, great Yankee, and perhaps the greatest living one. I am so proud he is among the greatest of Yankee Legends.  

I’ve seen a few Yankee fans say the team should sign Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ, and Nathan Eovaldi for the starting rotation next year. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo wrote this morning in his Sunday Baseball Notes that Eovaldi, currently part of Boston’s World Series roster, should command a deal comparable to the one that Alex Cobb signed late last off-season with the Baltimore Orioles (4 years at $57 million). If the Yankees are successful in signing Corbin and retaining Happ, that’s probably too much for the Yankees to sign Eovaldi as well, especially with young guys like Justus Sheffield, Jonathan Loaisiga, Albert Abreu and Domingo German waiting in the wings. If the Yanks lose out on Happ, I’d have no problem with an Eovaldi reunion but I am not really expecting it to happen.  

As for Corbin, Cafardo notes the Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Atlanta Braves will also be vying for his services. Here’s hoping “blood” is thicker than water. Assuming all dollars are fairly equal, I hope Corbin chooses his Yankee family roots. While Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado would be nice free agent signings (or in the words of TGP’s Daniel Burch, “luxuries”), Corbin is clearly the one I want and the one the team needs. Patrick, we’re waiting for ya, bud! Come join the Party in the Bronx! We will be spilling champagne in 2019!

After previously withdrawing his name from consideration for the managerial gig with the Cincinnati Reds, Joe Girardi has withdrawn his name from consideration in Texas for the Rangers job. I am a little surprised but I have always felt Girardi’s dream job is with the Chicago Cubs. I can’t see Joe Maddon staying with the Cubs too many more years so maybe that’s what Girardi is waiting for. Who knows. Maybe he is starting to understand the reasons he is no longer Yankees manager. As for the Reds, they’ll name David Bell as their new manager on Monday. Bell, like Yankees manager Aaron Boone, comes from a baseball family.  His grandfather, Gus, and his father, Buddy, were both Major Leaguers. Boonie is creating a new trend…analytics AND baseball in the blood. 

Lastly, a shout out to Didi Gregorius! He was sharing his million-dollar smile last night at the Knicks game. It didn’t help the Knicks win (they lost by two to Boston) but the pic put a smile on my face. It was a reality check to see his heavily wrapped elbow but the dude can light up any room with his effervescent personality. I can’t wait to see him back on the playing field, starting at shortstop, next summer.  

As always, Go Yankees!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Happy Birthday to Mickey Mantle!...

Photo Credit: Associated Press
Yankees Legend would have turned 87 today…

Mickey Mantle was born October 20, 1931 in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, a town with a population of 437 (according to 2010 census) in Northeast OK. He died August 13, 1995 in Dallas, Texas at the age of 63. Mickey was taken from us too soon but he’ll never be forgotten. I remember following the news of his liver cancer and other ailments, subsequent transplant, and finally his death, and even attended his funeral in Dallas. My earliest memories of Mantle were late in his career so I didn’t get to see the great Yankees Legend at his best but you didn’t have to be there to know that he was one of the finest Yankees in the history of the organization. He had his faults, but that’s true of us all. Mantle, the  baseball player, was one of the greatest to ever play the game.  

Photo Credit: Associated Press

A funny thing happened to the Los Angeles Dodgers on their way to the World Series. I’ll have to give Game 6 of the NLCS to the Milwaukee Brewers and especially their fans for getting inside the heads of the Dodgers and Manny Machado. Many on Social Media were referring to the fans as the Milwaukee Booers and there’s no doubt it played a huge role. It will be interesting to see how the Dodgers rebound today for their final chance to win a trip to Boston, Massachusetts to play the Red Sox starting Tuesday night. If the Dodgers lose, I am finished with baseball for 2018 as I have no interest in Brewers/Red Sox even if there are a few former Yankees involved.

I was surprised to see Joe Girardi remove his name from consideration for the Cincinnati Reds managerial vacancy. Girardi apparently had been a frontrunner for the job, in competition with former Detroit Tigers manager, current Los Angeles Angels special assistant and one-time Yankees prospect Brad Ausmus and David Bell, currently VP/Player Development for the San Francisco Giants. I wonder if Girardi has a preference for the American League or if he wants to hold out for a Chicago job should one of the jobs open within the next year or so. Girardi is apparently still under consideration for the job with the Texas Rangers. With no offense to Cincinnatians, I know that I’d prefer to call Dallas/Fort Worth home but that’s me. For now, Girardi will continue his work with The MLB Network. Regardless of what he does, I suspect he doesn’t have to worry about where his next meal is coming from.

I know the Yankees don’t need a superstar at every position (yeah, I am talking to you, Ken Reed). Erik Kratz is proving that you can be one game away from the World Series with a marginal catcher. But the more I think about it, why wouldn’t you want to drop Bryce Harper in the Yankees lineup between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton? I know, money. But I am confident money is not an issue for the Yankees organization. Sure, I believe you don’t need to spend $200 million to win a World Series, but I also believe in putting the best players on the field. TGP’s Bryan Van Dusen made a great correlation earlier this year about how success = money for those who think Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner doesn’t want to spend money. I don’t just want to beat the Boston Red Sox next year, I want to crush them.  Having Judge-Harper-Stanton in the heart of the Yankees order, with so many great bats elsewhere in the lineup, would truly be the modern Murderer’s Row. Harper can’t pitch, it’s true, but I fully expect the Yankees to bring in reinforcements to help Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka in the starting rotation regardless of any run for Harper.  

The Yankees are apparently going to buy back controlling interest in the YES Network according to reports. The Yankees sold 80% of the network, retaining 20%, in separate deals completed in 2014 to 21st Century Fox.  The YES Network, at the time, was valued at $3.8 billion. If the Yankees have the money to buy back the YES Network, they have the money to sign Bryce Harper. Another superstar for YES Network subscribers? Makes sense to me. Remember, Success = Money.

Photo Credit:  New York Daily News Illustration

If the Yankees were headed for the World Series, non-Yankee fans would be in an uproar about how they are the best team money can buy, yet nobody is saying a word about the nearly $240 million payroll-bloated Red Sox.  

After a lost season for Yankees prospect Thairo Estrada (he was shot in the hip during a robbery attempt in Venezuela in late January, missed Spring Training, and then was lost for the season in June due to the hip and a back injury), it’s good to see his participation in the Arizona Fall League. The numbers aren’t there (4-for-25, with no extra base hits and a lone RBI) but at least he’s back on the playing field. Here’s hoping 2019 will be much more productive for the talented shortstop. He still has the bullet lodged in his hip but hopefully he is back stronger than ever next year.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Didi Gregorius.  As most of us know, he had successful Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Wednesday morning in Manhattan. At this point, we don’t know when we’ll see Sir Didi again as some reports say he may be out until August, but I wish him much success and a quick return to good health with his post-surgery rehabilitation. I really hope the Yankees move to lock up Didi long-term and don’t allow the surgery, and subsequent lost time, as a reason to non-tender the player. I’d prefer to see the Yankees find shortstop alternatives to hold them over until Didi’s return, keeping Gleyber Torres at second, rather than moving Torres back to his natural shortstop position and bringing in a name second baseman like Joe Panik or D.J. LeMahieu. I love having Didi Gregorius as this team’s shortstop and I don’t want that to change anytime soon. Get well, Didi!

I am anxious to get the playoffs and World Series over so that we can begin the Hot Stove League season. I am excited to see what presents Santa Cashman has in store for us this year. Fans of the Red Sox, Brewers and Dodgers may think differently, but I am ready to begin building the 2019 New York Yankees and starting their run for the Championship. Pinstripes for you, Pinstripes for everyone. Climb aboard the 2019 Victory Train!

Go Yankees!

Friday, October 19, 2018

But, But, But, We Need Pitching, not Machado or Harper!!!

Someone call the damn waaaaambulance, because New York Yankees fans are at it again (just a joke, having some fun with it). This week I have touched on two main topics, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. I have detailed why both players are luxuries in the 2019 Yankees lineup, but I have explained in depth why both would help the Yankees going forward on the field. The responses have been great on Twitter, Facebook and on the blog, but some of the responses have just been downright ignorant. Now, before you get your panties in a bunch go look up the definition of the word ignorant. It is not and was not meant as an insult, but it really annoys me when 2/3 of the comments say, “Don’t sign Machado/Harper, we need pitching.” Or this gem, “Can Haper/Machado pitch? I’ll wait.” Well, Mr. condescending Yankees fan, they probably could… Austin Romine did, and did quite well actually. The thing is though, and the thing that a LOT of Yankees fans are missing, is that the Yankees could sign BOTH Machado and Harper, and STILL have money and prospects left over to address the pitching.

As it stands right now, pre-free agency and pre-arbitration, the Yankees have $86,342,857 in total payroll for the 2019 season. Alex Rodriguez’s deferred payments eat up $4 million of that while Giancarlo Stanton ($26 million), Masahiro Tanaka ($22 million), Jacoby Ellsbury ($21,142,857 million), and Aroldis Chapman ($15 million in salary, $2.2 million signing bonus) use up the rest. That leaves roughly $114 million in salary before the team even goes over the luxury tax threshold, something the team did not do in 2018, thus resetting any penalties for going over in 2019.

Now, of course the Yankees have an expensive arbitration period coming up this winter with nine players eligible for arbitration this season. Those nine include Didi Gregorius ($12.4 million), Sonny Gray ($9.1 million), Dellin Betances ($6.4 million), Aaron Hicks ($6.2 million), Luis Severino ($5.1 million), Austin Romine ($2.0 million), Tommy Kahnle ($1.5 million), Greg Bird ($1.5 million), and Ronald Torreyes ($900K). Using the MLB Trade Rumors projected salaries in parenthesis, which are usually scarily spot on, the Yankees would end up spending $45.1 million, bringing their grand total to $131,442,857. Adding in pre-arbitration players like Miguel Andujar, Luis Cessa, AJ Cole, Clint Frazier, Domingo German, Chad Green, Ben Heller, Kyle Higashioka, Aaron Judge, Jordan Montgomery, Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit and Tyler Wade and that brings the total up another $7.215 million, totaling $138,657,857.

Let’s just throw a number out there and say that Bryce Harper gets $30 million a season for however long. That would bring the Yankees salary to $168 million and change. Adding Patrick Corbin for another $20 million a season (I don’t think he will cost that much, but it’s just a number to throw out there) brings the total to $188 million.

The Yankees, according to reports, would have another $20 million to spend on one or more of JA Happ, Matt Harvey, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zach Britton, David Robertson, Adam Warren, and a slew of other relievers. That’s before mentioning the possibility of, although all are extremely unlikely, players like Clayton Kershaw, David Price (LOL), Carlos Carrasco, Cole Hamels, Jason Hammel, Ervin Santana, and James Shields joining the free agent frenzy.

Oh, and did we mention that the Yankees still have all their top prospects at their disposal in any trade this winter? Not to mention the fact that Justus Sheffield and others could also make their way to the 25-man roster this season at any point.

The Yankees could, and will certainly look to, trade away the salaries of Sonny Gray and at least some of Jacoby Ellsbury’s current salary, thus opening up more money, while the team could also, although I personally advise against it, non-tender Didi Gregorius after his Tommy John surgery and sign him to a new deal. Didi being non-tendered is unlikely, but it is still a possibility if his rehab from the ulnar collateral ligament surgery does not go according to plan. If the Yankees keep trading away salaries they could easily make more money to add a player like Machado, if they wanted.

The payroll is wide open right now for the Yankees, and signing either Harper or Machado, or both, will not prevent the Yankees from solidifying their starting rotation and pitching needs. So, stop saying it, and stop waiting to hear if Machado and Harper can pitch. It doesn’t matter.

Yet Another Unofficial World Series...

Red Sox Advance to Fall Classic to Play Dodgers or Brewers…

Sadly, the Boston Red Sox are returning to the World Series. I was hopeful that the defending champion Houston Astros would end their season, but unfortunately, the Astros were a no-show. I still feel the Yankees and the Astros were the better teams, but for whatever reason(s), fate sided with Boston. The Red Sox, from April forward, have consistently found ways to win, en route to 108 victories over the course of the long season. They are not in the World Series by some fluke. Growing up as a kid with the Curse of the Bambino alive and well, it does kind of suck that the Red Sox have played in and have won more World Series than the Yankees this century. 

Speaking of my childhood, I have never forgotten an illustrator for The Des Moines (Iowa) Register by the name of Frank Miller who used to say that it wasn’t an official World Series if the Yankees weren’t playing in it.  I know it’s something that I’ve mentioned on this site before, but I think about it every year so my apologies for the regression.

I am already lining up a wager with a long-time friend and die-hard Red Sox fan. We’ve had numerous wagers over the years involving the Yankees and the Red Sox, but this year, since the Yankees are home for the holidays, I am riding the Los Angeles Dodgers (assuming they can get past the Milwaukee Brewers, of course). If the Dodgers make it to the World Series, the bet is on. The loser must post a picture of the winning team’s celebration as their cover photo on Facebook for seven days following the World Series, and the loser must read a book about the winning organization (as selected by the winner) and write a 500-word essay about the ten things they learned about the winning organization they did not know before. The essay must be posted on Social Media.  For my friend, I have chosen Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition by Jon Weisman should the Dodgers win the World Series.  

My friend will choose a Red Sox book for me to read if Boston wins the World Series. Of course, if the Dodgers stumble in Milwaukee and end their season prematurely, the wager is moot. I have no interest in a Brewers-Red Sox World Series and my baseball season will be officially done.  I wanted to pick a Yankees book for my friend to read, but Boston beat the Yankees fair and square in the ALDS, proving that, for this year anyway, they are the better team. Dodgers, please do not let me down. You’re my last hope for bringing down the mighty Red Sox.

I know that Manny Machado has taken much heat over the past week for not hustling and dirty play but I have not wavered in my desire for the Yankees to sign him in free agency after the season. He remains a young, special and talented superstar player who will help any team that he plays for. He has a desire to play in New York and he can handle New York.  He’s hated in Boston which is perfectly fine by me. Nothing Machado has done has deterred my wish for seeing him in Pinstripes. If the Yankees go after Bryce Harper instead, that’s fine.  I’d be stoked to have Harper as a Yankee. If Cashman and Company decide neither player is worth the investment, then so be it. Clearly, the greatest need is finding help for the starting rotation and filling in the potential holes in the bullpen. If the Yankees do nothing in the off-season but focus on pitching, I’m fine with it. But regardless, I wanted to get it out there that I continue to support Manny Machado and he’ll continue to be one of my favorite players next season, no matter what uniform he is wearing. Well, if he signs with Boston, that might hurt.

Photo Credit: AP (Matt Slocum)
I really wish the Yankees could find a way to unload Jacoby Ellsbury. I am dreading the thought of his presence at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL next Spring. I know, when healthy, he’s a decent player.  But his history has proven he cannot be relied upon. He may be healthy in March, but, no doubt, it will not be an injury-free year. The certainties of life…death, taxes, and Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list. I am tired of the guy and I wish he’d resume his career elsewhere. 

Has Sonny Gray been traded yet? Another player that I am anxiously awaiting to see place the word “former” in front of “Yankee”. I like the suggestions of Gray to Arizona in a package to get Arizona’s Robbie Ray or Paul Goldschmidt or to San Francisco for second baseman Joe Panik. I am sure that Gray will prosper in a less pressurized environment and I am confident GM Brian Cashman will get the best possible return despite Gray’s struggles in the Big Apple. Now if he could just do something about Ellsbury, too. 

For those who say that Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez fits in with the Yankees, I agree. If the Yankees decide to pass on the big ticket purchases in free agency, I think Gonzalez could help this team. Or even if they do sign Machado or Harper, I think Gonzalez would be a good Yankee. I don’t like the Astros but I do like Marwin and his versatility. I know 2018 was a bit of a down year for him, or maybe it is his norm and 2017 was an unusual year, but either way, I like the character of the guy and the winning attitude he exudes. He certainly helps fill some holes with the ability to play first base, shortstop and left field. 

Photo Credit: AP (David J Phillip)

Here’s hoping the Dodgers take care of business tonight in Milwaukee. Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3, 1.97 ERA in 15 regular season games), one of the Dodgers’ best starters down the stretch, gets the ball.  He’ll be opposed by the resurgent one-time Red Sock Wade Miley (5-2, 2.57 ERA). Miley lost 15 games for the Baltimore Orioles last season and now he’s charged with extending the post-season for the Brewers, probably throwing to former Yankee Erik Kratz. Life is funny. No offense to those guys, but I hope their season ends tonight. The Dodgers have a date with the Red Sox and I don’t want anything to mess it up.

Tonight (and possibly tomorrow), it’s Go Dodgers.  

But as always (and a lot more), Go Yankees!