Friday, November 30, 2018

Corby, The Day After...

Waiting for Mister Corbin…

Now we wait. Patrick Corbin concluded his visit with the Yankees last night over dinner with team executives. CC Sabathia was apparently on hand at Yankee Stadium yesterday to help lead a tour for Corbin and his wife, Jen.  Aaron Boone was also seen on the premises with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, bullpen coach Mike Harkey and postseason share non-recipient and analyst Zac Fieroh.

Photo Credit: Richard Harbus
Multiple reports indicated there was no formal offer made by the Yankees (yet), but hopefully we’ll see movement in the coming days with the completion of Corbin’s visits to Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York. I am sure he wants to settle the biggest financial decision of his life and move on to enjoying his off-season with his new bride. 

Photo Credit: Richard Harbus
One factor that hasn’t really been discussed much is the impact of Mike Harkey in the Corbin negotiations.  Harkey was the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014 and 2015 which means he was part of the team that directly oversaw Corbin’s Tommy John surgery, rehab and subsequent return. I am sure Harkey learned a great deal about Corbin’s heart and determination during this process. I haven’t really seen anything written to describe their relationship but familiarity is a plus. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Norm Hall)
I fully expect Corbin to become a Yankee. Admittedly, there was a time when I thought Greg Maddux and Cliff Lee were going to be Yankees and we see how that turned out. I remember the heartbreak both times when we lost Maddux and Lee, but like the scales tilted slightly in favor of the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies, respectively, in those cases, I hope it is advantage Yankees with Corbin. All signs seem to indicate they are. Ken Rosenthal reported last night that Corbin’s younger brother gave a best-man speech at Patrick and Jen’s recent wedding and concluded the speech by saying they all hoped the couple would be moving closer to home. The brother donned a Yankees cap as he made the statement. 

Via Twitter
As the Yankees attempt to reel in Corbin, one potential target could be slipping away. There is increasing noise over the last couple of days involving the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cleveland Indians regarding one of the trio of Tribe pitchers, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer. It is speculated a potential deal could involve sending Yasiel Puig to Cleveland. The deal could be expanded to include Indians catcher Yan Gomes since the Dodgers’ primary catcher, Yasmani Grandal, is currently a free agent and not expected back. The Indians most likely would want some of the best Dodger prospects, like outfielder Alex Verdugo and/or catcher Keibert Ruiz (especially if Gomes is moved). 21-year-old righthander Dustin May is the Dodgers top pitching prospect. If the Dodgers and Indians consummate a deal, it presumably would remove the two remaining Indians pitchers from potential trade talks as the Indians remain a playoff contender.

J.A. Happ remains under consideration for the Yankees. While I would not be opposed to Corbin AND Happ, I would be disappointed if the Yankees only get the latter. As they say, you can never have too much starting pitching and we see every year the five starters you open the season with are never the five men left standing by the end of September. I am excited about a rotation that features Corbin-Severino-Paxton-Tanaka-Sabathia.  Severino-Paxton-Tanaka-Happ-Sabathia, not so much. Sorry, J.A., I know you wore the Pinstripes well but I’d prefer to keep the age-challenged member of the staff isolated to CC Sabathia.    

Please end any Hot Stove chatter about a potential deal sending Gary Sanchez to Miami for J.T. Realmuto. Sanchez is not going anywhere, nor should he. I remain in Camp El Gary and I fully expect a rebound season in 2019.  He is a guy I want in the lineup. My confidence in his bat has not wavered and I do believe he’ll improve behind the plate. When he’s right, he is the guy you want in a clutch situation. I think Realmuto is a great catcher but we already have one.

I thought the San Diego Padres made an excellent investment to sign free agent pitcher Garrett Richards.  Richards will miss next season due to Tommy John surgery but he’s a top of the rotation starter when healthy.  I liked him as a good buy low candidate for the Yankees but a two-year deal for $18 million is not exactly buying low.  The Dodgers were in on Richards too but ultimately he chose the Padres and yesterday extended his heartfelt thanks to the Los Angeles Angels organization, calling out GM Billy Eppler by name among others. 

In a bit of irony, the Ronald Torreyes trade eliminated a job for another former Yankee. After the Chicago Cubs acquired Torreyes earlier this week, they traded infielder Tommy La Stella to the Angels. To make room for La Stella, the Angels designated former Yank Jabari Blash for assignment. The Yankees had acquired Blash last off-season in the deal that sent Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell to San Diego, but they subsequently lost Blash on waivers. It’s funny, I saw one ridiculous (aren’t they all?) Twitter tweet saying Torreyes would become the next Jose Altuve with the Cubs. Under that logic, wouldn’t Blash be the next Giancarlo Stanton since he’s 6’6”?  Um, didn’t think so.

If the Mariners-Mets trade is concluded today as expected, I can’t say that I’ll be excited to see Robinson Cano in a Mets uniform. It will be a little bittersweet seeing Cano at second and Todd Frazier at third for New York’s second-best team.  But despite the possibility of Cano calling Citi Field home, I would not want that contract even if the Mariners pay down the $120 million left on Cano’s contract by $30 to $40 million. Sure, I think a 36-year-old Cano can help any team, but what will it look like when he is 38 or 39? In the National League, they won’t be able to hide him at DH so any defensive shortcomings caused by age will be magnified. I will be glad to see Cano back in New York City but I am happier he is not a Yankee. 

Did soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee Mariano Rivera really turn 49 yesterday?  How did that happen?! Happy Belated Birthday to Mo!  One of the greatest ever to wear Pinstripes. 

It’s a new day which means a new opportunity this could be the day Sonny Gray leaves Pinstripes. One can only hope. Waiting for Corbin to sign…waiting for Gray to leave.  I know, patience. 

As always, Go Yankees!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Patrick Corbin Day at Yankee Stadium...

Photo Credit: ESPN

Corbin’s Free Agent Tour continues with a stop in NYC…

Today’s the day. Patrick Corbin makes his much-anticipated visit in the Bronx to talk with the Yankees after tours through Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. While it is possible the Yankees extend an offer to Corbin, it’s more probable that he leaves Yankee Stadium with no decisions made. 

This is where I love the mindset and structure of NFL free agency. When a top free agent you desire visits your city, you don’t let him leave without his signature on the dotted line. As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I couldn’t help but think back to when the Vikings signed free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins last off-season. It was a big deal when it was announced Cousins was in Minneapolis and he was spotted at a steakhouse that night with GM Rick Spielman, Head Coach Mike Zimmer and I believe star wide receiver Adam Thielen among others. By the next morning, it was reported that Cousins had agreed to a 3-year, $84 million deal. I loved the rapid-fire sequence of events to land a much needed player. I recognize that you, as a Giants or Jets fan, may not think it was a wise decision by the Vikings but personally I loved it. Later, it was reported that during the Super Bowl last January in Minneapolis, Cousins had been in town and he spent a considerable amount of time checking out the city. It is possible the player picked the city before the team picked him. 

Which leads me back to Patrick Corbin. We’ve all heard how Corbin grew up near Syracuse, New York with a family dominated by Yankee fans. I didn’t grow up in New York, yet I’ve been a lifelong die-hard Yankee fan. I think much of my early admiration of the team was developed through a love of the history and tradition of the Yankees. As a kid, I loved reading books about Yankee greats like Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. Corbin has been exposed to these names and no doubt has a similar admiration for the team’s history. With no offense to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia or Nationals Park in D.C., there is nothing quite walking into the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium. Even though the majority of the Yankee legends played across the street where the old Yankee Stadium once stood, the omnipresent mystique and aura echoes through the halls of the new Yankee Stadium. The legends are alive in the new ballpark and you still feel it today. I can’t help but think Corbin is going to be seduced by the lure of pinstripes. It’s been mentioned Corbin’s camp wants to make a fairly quick decision so hopefully it means he’ll decide by the end of the week. My feeling is the Yankees should strike quickly since they hold the upper hand with other teams based on the player’s sentiments. Make a fair offer that is competitive with the Phillies and Nationals, and all things considered, the scale is tipped to the Yankees’ advantage.

Actor Michael J Fox told a story years ago in an interview. He had wanted to buy a new house in Los Angeles but wanted to play coy to ensure that he find a home at his price. When he walked into the home he liked, he threw down his keys and said something like, “I want this house!”. That’s how I am hoping Corbin plays it with the Yankees. He has a chance to join Baseball's most storied franchise that possesses a team ready to contend for the World Series right now.

I’d give Corbin six years if that’s what it takes. It’s not my money. The fans who scream about the money and years kill me. It’s not their money either. I am sure the Yankees will make a good offer that they are comfortable with and one that fits what they are trying to accomplish this off-season. Face it, it is not really a question of whether they can afford it. We all know they can. Will it be good enough? Time will tell as it often does. 

Ronald Torreyes was a fun guy to have around the Yankees dugout and clubhouse but the anger over his trade to the Chicago Cubs yesterday was a little ridiculous. Suzie Pinstripe, Managing Editor for Bleeding Yankee Blue, wrote a very nice piece about “Our Kind of Guys” or OKG’s. While I do not dismiss the value of Torreyes as ‘our kind of guy’ and the importance to team chemistry, I do not fault the Yankees for their decision. Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues is probably one of my favorites because he simply tells it like it is. This paragraph from a post Axisa did yesterday sums up exactly how I feel about the decision to move Torreyes: “The 26-year-old Torreyes is projected to make $900,000 through arbitration next season and the Yankees are loaded with utility infielder types (Hanser Alberto, Thairo Estrada, Tim Locastro, Tyler Wade), so the most expensive (and least tooled up) of the bunch got the heave-ho when a 40-man roster spot was needed. Sucks, but that’s the business.” Well said, Mike.

I wish Toe the very best in Chicago. Given the uncertainty with their starting shortstop, Addison Russell, his prospects for playing time at Wrigley Field are much greater than they would have been with the Yankees. Team chemistry is different every year. Familiar faces leave, new ones arrive. The synergy of new personalities meshing with the current players. After a couple of weeks next season, Torreyes will be nothing but a past memory and we’ll be relishing the interaction and play of the current roster.

I am a little tired of David Robertson taking so much heat for the team decision to exclude Assistant Hitting Coach P.J. Pilittere and a traveling member of the analytics team, Zac Fieroh, from postseason shares of playoff ticket sales. The player pool for the Yankees turned out to be $2.866 million. The value of one share was slightly more than $43,000. The team issued 45 full shares, plus 21.47 partial shares and a couple of cash awards, but both Pilittere and Fieroh were excluded. Bill Madden of the New York Daily News also reported the team did not award any shares to the entire support staff, trainers, clubhouse attendants and batting practice pitchers. Blame has single-handedly been placed on D-Rob as the leader who organized the vote. Regardless of whether he led the vote, Robertson had one vote. While it seems unfair that deserving guys were unfairly omitted, it was a team decision. Other players didn’t cast their votes based on what Robertson told them to do. They made their own decisions. So, if you’re going to blame Robertson, blame beloved Yankees like Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Luis Severino too. They were part of the vote. I am probably more pissed that Jacoby Ellsbury got a full share. I’ve seen so many Yankee fans say the team should not re-sign D-Rob because of the postseason shares which makes absolutely no sense to me. The Yankee should re-sign D-Rob, and I wish they’d hurry up and get it over with so that we can focus on the big ticket items. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Jim McIsaac)

I said it before the latest hullabaloo about Robinson Cano but I’ll say it again: I want no part of his contract. Love the player but 5 years and $120 million for a 36-year-old does not look good today, let alone what it would look like in 2-3 years. Even if it was a way to unload Jacoby Ellsbury (someone I’ve wanted gone from this team for a long time), I wouldn’t do it. If the Mets want to take on Cano’s contract, even if Seattle is willing to send suitcases full of cash with him as well as their closer, Edwin Diaz, that’s fine. Let the Mets have him. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have Edwin Diaz on my team but not at that cost. Cano is on the fast track to becoming a full-time DH. Last time I checked, the Yankees had one of those and I’ve heard he does a fairly good job (well, outside of Yankee Twitter of course). 

By the way, I haven’t had a chance to welcome Parker Bridwell to the Yankees yet. His stats do not amaze me despite a solid 2017 season but he has a great attitude and is excited about being a Yankee. I can’t find fault with those points. There’s always a chance the Yankees see something they can correct to make Bridwell a quality Major League pitcher, whether it is spot starting or long relief. At this point, I’d gladly prefer to give him a shot over guys like Luis Cessa and A.J. Cole. So, welcome to the Yankees family, Parker!

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Winslow Townson)
It’s Corbin Day. Very exciting for Yankee fans. Let’s see what this day has in store for us. 

As always, Go Yankees!

The 2019 Offseason and What it Means for the 2020 Offseason

The New York Yankees may not want to spend heavily during the offseason before the 2019 season, but they just might have to. You may be asking yourself why, and the answer is simple. The offseason before the 2020 season, and the subsequent players that free agency after the 2019 season, is looking to be bleak, old, and not so promising.

Let’s take a quick look at the potential list of Yankees free agents after the 2019 season, barring any trades, extensions, etc.

CC Sabathia – LHP
Brett Gardner – LF
Austin Romine – C
Dellin Betances – RP
Sonny Gray – RHP
Didi Gregorius – SS
Aaron Hicks – CF
Cody Asche – LF

Now, the Yankees may potentially have to replace their starting shortstop, their starting center fielder, their starting left fielder (or a huge bench piece), an even huger part of their bullpen, and at least one or two of their starting pitchers. What do the free agency lists look like for those particular positions you may be asking?

Xander Bogaerts would be an interesting pull for the shortstop position, both in terms of hurting the Boston Red Sox and in the likelihood that he could adequately replace Gregorius. The problem is that Bogaerts is likely going to be one of the best free agents out there before 2020, assuming he isn’t extended, meaning he will be extremely expensive. The Yankees could always extend Gregorius, which seemed likely before his Tommy John surgery, or they could opt for a lesser hit to their rivals by signing Brock Holt, but right now the options just aren’t there. New York could always slide Gleyber Torres back to shortstop and sign a second baseman also, but a 39-year old Ben Zobrist, 36-year old Howie Kendrick, Eduardo Nunez, etc. just don’t intrigue me much. Scooter Gennett will also be a free agent, as will Jonathan Schoop, but in a weak market I would think that New York would have to overpay for a “solid” player and pay them like they are “great” players, and I’m just not comfortable doing that. It could be argued that Bogaerts may be on the same level as say a Manny Machado, but then again some could say that Bogaerts may command a comparable, or higher, contract next season. These free agent prices aren’t going to come down, it is only up from here.

The Yankees don’t “need” an outfielder to replace Brett Gardner, but it seems likely that they would to potentially replace Aaron Hicks. With names like Matt Kemp (35-years old) and Alex Gordon (36), along with younger options like Marcell Ozuna, Billy Hamilton, Yasiel Puig, Nick Castellanos, and Avisail Garcia at least somewhat tempting, the Yankees could conceivably replace both via free agency, but again I believe the prices for these players could get expensive. Billy Hamilton, the only name listed capable of playing center field at the Major League level, will only be 29-years old at the time of his free agency and will likely be on the same level as a Xander Bogaerts in terms of years and dollars commanded in what is widely considered to be a weak free agent class. I’ll say this though, no one here mentioned is even on the same stratosphere as Bryce Harper.

The Yankees don’t necessarily need to replace Austin Romine, many would argue that backup catchers are a dime a dozen, but let’s just have fun and look at the class of catchers anyway. Russell Martin is a free agent and so is Francisco Cervelli, but both would likely want a full-time starting job (and pay). You can also add Jason Castro to that list, but a couple of intriguing names are listed as potential backups for the Yankees if they decide to move away from Romine. Alex Avila was suggested as a potential landing spot for the Yankees last offseason while Brian McCann only signed a one-year deal with Atlanta for $2 million and will hit the market once again before the 2020 season (although I predict that he retires after the year). In all honesty the Yankees will likely re-sign (or possibly extend this offseason) Romine before this decision needs to be made, but there are at least a few suitable replacements for him if it came down to that. Let me say this, let me say it again, and let me say it forever. Gary Sanchez is, and will be, the Yankees starting catcher for a long, long time. Deal with it.

I know a first baseman is not listed in the grouping above, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the first base class for next offseason, just in case Luke Voit turns out to be Shane Spencer or Kevin Maas as I have predicted. Mitch Moreland is set to be a free agent, as is Justin Smoak, Jose Abreu and Paul Goldschmidt. This is a strong class for first baseman, which makes it less likely that the Yankees give up a top prospect like Estevan Florial for Goldschmidt now this season. Just my two cents.

The final aspect to look at for the future is pitching, both in terms of starters and relief pitchers. It is all but a foregone conclusion that CC Sabathia will retire after the season (he said he would, but he liable to change his mind). It is also a foregone conclusion that Sonny Gray will be traded this offseason (Brian Cashman has all but said it) so, theoretically, both will have to be replaced along with Dellin Betances. What does the pitching market look like for the 2020 offseason? Justin Verlander hits the free agent market, but he is 37, while Felix Hernandez (34-years old, but injury prone and not effective lately), Cole Hamels (36), Hyun-Jin Ryu (33), Rich Hill (40), Brian Duensing (37), Adam Wainwright (38) join Rick Porcello (31), Madison Bumgarner (30), Michael Pineda (31, still recovering from Tommy John surgery), Chris Sale (31), Shelby Miller (29), Gerrit Cole (29), Zack Wheeler (30), Alex Wood (29), Tanner Roark (33), Jake Odorizzi (30), and Kyle Gibson (32) to name a few starters in what looks to be a strong pitching field to choose from. On the relief side of things, the Yankees could potentially choose one or more from Arodys Vizcaino (29), Liam Hendriks (31), Fernando Rodney (43), Brandon Kintzler (35), and Anthony Swarzak (34) to name a few in what looks to be a weak market for relievers. It may be worth the Yankees making a splash or two now by signing Adam Ottavino, David Robertson, Zach Britton, etc. to not only solidify the pen for the 2019 season, but for the 2020 season as well. Also, as crazy as this sounds, it may make it sting a little less for New York if they are to lose out on Patrick Corbin this offseason as they could potentially replace him with a cheaper, shorter-term option like JA Happ for now before dipping their toes back into the free agent starters pool in 2020. Corbin should be the priority, but I am merely speaking of a Plan B scenario if the Phillies were to offer him a dumb amount of money and years this offseason.

In closing, just because it may not make sense to some to spend on some of these players listed here in 2019, it doesn’t mean it won’t make sense for the 2020 season. Think ahead, plan long term, and sign some of these once-in-a-generation type talents now, before you wish you did one-year from today.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Comparing Patrick Corbin to Cliff Lee

When it was reported yesterday that top free agent starter Patrick Corbin was meeting with the Philadelphia Phillies, I admittedly didn’t think much of it at first. The Phillies are expected to spend a ton of money, even if it means spending it foolishly, this winter and it just makes sense to potentially spend some of that money on pitching. Corbin is the top pitcher available, so the match is there. When I saw that the Phillies had a photoshopped picture of Corbin on their big screen inside Citizens Bank Park with the lefty wearing a Phillies hat and uniform, I admittedly panicked. Had the Phillies signed Corbin right under the Yankees noses? Were the Yankees about to get spurned by the Phillies for yet another left-handed starting pitcher? I went to bed last night hoping to not wake up this morning to the news of Corbin signing with Philadelphia.

Luckily for me, Corbin is still a free agent and the New York Yankees still have a shot at his services, but I just cannot shake the feeling that the Phillies are either going to make this really expensive for Brian Cashman and company, or they are going to make Corbin an offer he simply cannot refuse. I began my morning routing this morning checking Twitter when I saw a tweet that sent that feeling deep down in the pit of my stomach again. It was a tweet that was comparing the stats of Patrick Corbin to the last left-handed pitcher that chose the Philadelphia Phillies over the New York Yankees, even though everyone and their mother thought that he was coming to the Bronx. Cliff Lee. Is this de ja vu all over again?

Her tweet got cut off, but Cliff Lee's ERA+ is 105.Shout out to @LttleGel on Twitter. She is a great follow on Twitter and a huge Yankees fan, so go give her a follow. You won’t regret it.

I love this tweet because I have seen many Yankees fans wondering how Corbin would translate from the NL West to the AL East Division. I have also seen many others question why the Yankees would want him after just “one good year.” The stats don’t lie, Corbin has been underrated over the last six-to-seven years.  

Corbin broke into the league in 2012 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and pitched in 22 games, 17 of them starts, posting 107 innings pitched and a 0.5 WAR. Corbin has been durable aside from his Tommy John surgery that stopped his 2014 season and shortened his 2015 campaign, but he pitched 36 games in 2016 (24 starts), 33 games in 2017 (32 starts) and 33 starts in 2018. From 2002 – 2008 Cliff Lee was one of the best pitchers in the American League with the Cleveland Indians. Lee won the 2008 American League Cy Young Award with a 22-3 season while he also finished 4th in the AL Cy Young vote in 2005 with an 18-5 record. Lee was well on his way to another great individual season in 2009 before the Indians ultimately traded him (along with outfielder Ben Francisco) to the Cleveland Indians for Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson and Jason Knapp.

Lee, like Corbin, was just entering his prime and beginning to find himself at the time of the trade. Lee pitched the Phillies to the World Series in 2009, a loss to the New York Yankees, before returning to the American League for the 2010 season. This is a great comparison of two similar players in two similar scenarios, and I believe this may give us a general idea of what we can truly expect from Corbin going forward if he were to sign with New York.

Six more years of Cliff Lee and the opportunity to right a wrong by signing Corbin for just money? Yes, please. Every day of the damn week.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

BREAKING: Patrick Corbin May Have Signed w/ Phillies

Nothing is confirmed but this is an actual photo of Patrick Corbin in a Phillies hat and uniform on the big screen at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Has the left-hander signed with the Phillies? Stay tuned.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Yankees Claim Parker Bridwell, Designate Ronald Torreyes

In a bit of a head scratcher the New York Yankees have claimed RHP Parker Bridwell from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In a corresponding roster move the team has designated Ronald Torreyes for assignment.

Brian Cashman and his scouts must see something in Bridwell that the rest of us don't, or else I don't get this deal. Maybe Bridwell will be packaged along with Sonny Gray? Maybe Torreyes agreed to come back to the club on a new minor league deal?

Stay tuned.

Comparing Jacoby Ellsbury to Robinson Cano

Yankees fans are at it again, and this time they are jumping up and down because news was reported that the Yankees and the Seattle Mariners supposedly discussed a trade involving second baseman Robinson Cano for Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. First and foremost, the conversation could have went like this, see below, and reporters, who want nothing more than views and could give two shits about reporting actual news, could make this post with a clear conscience.

Seattle GM: Hey, what do you think about Jacoby Ellsbury for Robinson Cano?

Brian Cashman: Nope. *click*

Just for fun, because we are all bored, let’s take a look at comparing these two players and their contracts and see why Seattle would want this trade, and why the Yankees would want this trade.

The Yankees would rid themselves of Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract that includes two guaranteed years at $21,142,857 annually plus a third year of either $21 million (team option) or a $5 million buyout. That sounds great until you remember that Cano has five years left at $24 million annually. Ouch. Ellsbury is currently 35-years old and his current contract, assuming the team option is not triggered, would take him through his age 36-season and to 37-years old. Cano is 36-years old and would be under contract until he was (practically) 40-years old. This seems like the kind of contract and such that the Yankees are fighting so hard to get away from, so I am confused as to why anyone believes that New York would seriously consider this deal.

Yes, Cano plays second base, a position of need for the Yankees, but that contract would cripple the Yankees for years to come. Not as much as many teams, but still. Sure, he could play first base after Didi Gregorius comes back, but why? Cano isn’t a need, and he shouldn’t be a “want” either. He is fresh off a failed PED test, his attitude is lackluster and so is his hustle. He left for greener pastures, let him enjoy them in Seattle, or anywhere but here.

Brian Cashman isn’t going to take on that contract. Not unless Seattle takes on all of Ellsbury’s contract and around $43 million of the Cano contract (which would pay for the extra two years minus the $5 million buyout for Ellsbury so that, if necessary, Cano could be designated for assignment without financial burden). When Seattle is willing to do that, call me. Until then, this is just another rumor that will never come to fruition.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

It's the Turkey Day Rebound...

Thanksgiving is over, Winter Meetings ahead…

Thanksgiving is behind us and soon the holiday weekend will be finished. It will be time for baseball activity to begin re-percolating in advance of next month’s Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada.  

This year’s meetings figure to be very explosive compared to prior years with two superstar-level free agents in their mid-20’s, prized by so many teams, as opposed to the usual thirty-something players that are available on the free agent market. Many teams feel they are just a player or two away, while others are looking to the next decade for success which creates the potential for a very active market.  

Look, I want either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado like most other Yankee fans. Hey, signing both premier players would be great but realistically that would never happen. I probably want Bryce more simply because of his left-handed bat and I know he has a love and passion for the Pinstripes. The dude knows the Hall of Fame is eventually within his grasp and there is nothing better than blazing your way into Cooperstown wearing Pinstripes. It is a perfect fit for his legacy. The Yankees need a dynamic lefty bat in their lineup and Harper, in a classic case of stating the obvious, would excel in the heart of the order.  

Photo: USA TODAY Sports
Position-wise, to me, Machado is the better fit. He can play shortstop for the months we are without Didi Gregorius, allowing Gleyber Torres to stay at second and continue to perfect the nuances of the position. Then, when Didi returns, Machado can slide to third, which would either push Miguel Andujar to left to compete with Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier or to first base to disrupt the duo of Greg Bird and Luke Voit. Didi is a free agent after next season so Machado would be a hedge in the event Didi leaves. I really hope the Yankees find a way to lock up Sir Didi but until he signs the dotted line, there’s a risk he is not part of the long-term future.  

Speaking of chances, it is possible the Yankees do not sign either player. I don’t really expect the Yankees to overpay and realistically only see Harper or Machado signing with the Yankees if it fits Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner’s budget. I think the Yankees will exceed the luxury tax threshold if necessary but I don’t think they’ll go hog wild. Hal will authorize a huge sum but there’s no doubt it would have to be on his terms.    

Recently, TGP’s own Bryan Van Dusen suggested the Yankees trade for Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez. I thought it was a brilliant idea then and still do.  If the Phillies sign Machado, GM Brian Cashman should immediately get on the phone to Phillies GM Matt Klentak to discuss what it would take to get Hernandez. Scooter Gennett of the Cincinnati Reds is another strong option. His name has been mentioned in a possible trade involving Sonny Gray. It would take much more than Gray to snare Gennett, but he’d bring a lethal left-handed bat to the lineup. Probably the thing that scares me the most about bringing in an All-Star level second baseman is the potential to permanently move Gleyber Torres back to his natural position at short, thereby increasing the likelihood the Yankees part ways with Didi Gregorius. I love having Didi on this team and I’d prefer to see a plan that opens short for #18 when he is healthy and ready to return.  

Photo: Julie Jacobson, AP
I am not excited about options for bringing in Neil Walker or Daniel Murphy in to play second while Torres temporarily slides to short. For a team that had its defensive challenges in 2018, Walker or Murphy would not help. If the Yankees sign Bryce Harper to play left (I don’t really like the talk about the move to first base because you don’t pay a guy $300 to $400 million under the assumption he can make such a significant position change), I think it allows the Yankees to go with a glove-first option at short. Re-sign Adeiny Hechavarria or sign Detroit’s free agent shortstop Julio Iglesias. Under that scenario, Miguel Andujar could stay at third but the Yankees would need a good backup defensive-minded third baseman. I expect Andujar to get better defensively-speaking but let’s face it, he’ll never be Brooks Robinson…or Graig Nettles…with a glove.

Patrick Corbin continues to be my favorite for the open spot in the starting rotation.   I will be disappointed if the Yankees do not get him. I am fearful the longer this goes on, the less likely the Yankees re-sign J.A. Happ. I’d hate to lose out on the top available starters AND Happ. I don’t really expect Happ to wait to see what the Yankees do. He has too many suitors. Someone will offer him the right deal and he’ll take it. You can’t blame him for doing what’s right for his family. Of trade acquisitions, I’ve long admired Madison Bumgarner but I feel Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco is a much safer option. I’d love Corey Kluber but I don’t think the Indians will trade him or if they do, they’ll want a huge return. Maybe the same applies to Carrasco. He certainly has the talent even if he doesn’t quite have the same name value as Kluber yet. Count me among those who want no part of Arizona’s Zach Greinke. I don’t want his contract and I don’t want the potential for a Bronx meltdown like Sonny Gray. I’d rather see the Yankees only give up money for the last spot in the rotation and keep their prospects in-house. So, where can I buy my Patrick Corbin Yankees jersey? 

I’ve wondered if the Yankees should go after Japan’s Yusei Kikuchi. I don’t know a great deal about the Japanese pitcher but he is expected to be posted in early December. The downside is that Kikuchi will be represented by agent Scott Boras.  Kikuchi was 14-4, with 3.08 ERA, for the Seibu Lions this past season. The 27-year-old lefty struck out 153 batters in 163 2/3 innings, and has a career 2.77 ERA in Nippon Professional Baseball. The posting period opens December 5th and teams will have 30 days to sign Kikuchi. I’d probably prefer MLB-proven alternatives for a team that is on the cusp of a World Series championship but Kikuchi certainly beats rolling out a series of minor leaguers like last year.   

Jordan Montgomery should be back by late summer but honestly I do not feel that we’ll see a meaningful contribution from him this year. I think it will be 2020 before he rounds back into form, making him the man most likely to replace CC Sabathia in the starting rotation unless age regression or injuries force an earlier decision.

I feel bad for Robinson Cano. There’s no way I’d want any part of his contract so I am not preaching for his return to Pinstripes. But he’s 36 and running out of opportunities for another World Championship. Training camp hasn’t even started yet his current team, the Seattle Mariners, have already thrown in the white towel. I am sure it is tough for him to listen to his former teammate, James Paxton, talk about how excited he is to join a team that expects to win every year. Cano knows first-hand what that feels like, even if it is a distant memory. I still like Cano and I am sorry that he has to take part in a rebuild at this stage of his career. I guess he has millions of reasons for why he won’t lose any sleep. I hope it’s enough.

Photo: AP

As always, Go Yankees!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Football, Turkey, Family and the Yankees...

Much Love to the Yankees Universe…

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! 

We are thankful for the Yankees and a step further, we are thankful and grateful you are part of the Yankees Universe. These are exciting times for Baseball’s greatest franchise and we are hopeful next season will bring the 28th World Series Championship to the Bronx. To you and yours, enjoy the day and give your loved ones an extra hug from all of us.

Credit: @Yankees on Twitter
Unless you are a football fan, there’s probably not going to be much happening today sports-wise. I’ve seen the tweets on Twitter that it would be very much a Brian Cashman move of Brian Cashman to announce a major trade today. I doubt we’ll see any breaking news today but who knows. There’s nothing in the rule book saying trades and signings cannot happen today.  

With Wednesday’s acquisition of another utility-type (speedy infielder/outfielder Tim Locastro from the Los Angeles Dodgers), the 40-man roster is full. The Yankees are just getting started with the off-season enhancement of its championship-quality roster so we know there are a few tenuous spots on the roster. Given the Yankees’ need for another high-end starter, a couple of bullpen replacement pieces for free agents David Robertson and Zach Britton, and possibly a strong option for the infield to help with the temporary absence of Didi Gregorius, there appears to be at least five roster spots that will need to be vacated.

Reviewing the roster, I see the following players at risk.

Luis Cessa - I think most of us have seen enough of Cessa and are ready to move on. There are teams that value him as a reliever so I think he’ll be moved. I know I have no trust in Cessa after hitters have seen him once or twice in a game. I just don’t see a long-term future in pinstripes for Cessa. He is simply a pedestrian starter in my eyes, and there are better options for the bullpen.

A.J. Cole - Thank you, next.

Sonny Gray - We know this is one spot that will be vacated. It is only a matter of time until Gray joins the ranks of ex-Yankees. For most of us, the sooner, the better. I’ve seen a few people on Yankees Twitter predicting a rebound season for Gray in pinstripes next year. Please, been there, done that. Like Cessa, we’ve seen enough to know Gray is not going to magically become a frontline ace for the Yankees. It is time to move on.

Domingo German - German represents insurance for the rotation, but I think Jonathan Loaisiga is a better option and the Yankees have to give Chance Adams a “chance” (sorry, had to do it). I feel Adams is better served in the bullpen but for now, he remains a starter and should be given every opportunity to succeed. My favorite pitching prospect is Albert Abreu but I don’t think he’ll be Major League ready by next season. He is on the 40-man roster so there’s always the opportunity for a late season call-up. Domingo Acevedo is also on the 40-man so I see it as a numbers game for German, and place him at the greatest risk of losing his spot among these names.

Ronald Torreyes - I know everybody loves Toe, but the Yankees seem to be bringing in other utility types (Hanser Alberto and the aforementioned Locastro). I am sure Yankees VP, Assistant General Manager Michael Fishman and his analytics team have very strong opinions about the players that will best serve the Yankees in the utility role. Thairo Estrada will be healthy and the bullet in his hip has finally been removed. Estrada, Alberto and Locastro will battle Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes, and I simply see Torreyes as the loser, making him a strong candidate to be non-tendered.  

Jacoby Ellsbury - I place this name here only for my continued hope that Brian Cashman finally pulls a rabbit out of his hat to move Ellsbury. When healthy, I know, he’s a decent player. But I am done with DL’s-bury and ready to move on. If healthy, I think the Yankees should cut bait. There’s only two years left on his deal.  It’s an expensive decision to let go, but I see Ellsbury as addition by subtraction. If he is not ready to go by Spring Training, the best financial decision is to place him on the disabled list for continued insurance payments, but seriously, I just want to move on.  

There are other players on the roster that could be moved in trades, but the above players are the ones that I see most at risk.  

I was watching a replay yesterday of the Seattle Mariners game at Yankee Stadium on June 21, 2018 when James Paxton took the mound in his now “home” stadium against Luis Severino. The Yankees had two two-run homers in the first inning by Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar, narrowly missing a third home run when Seattle’s Mitch Haniger  leaped to rob Giancarlo Stanton of a long fly ball to the center field fence. Paxton settled down and chalked up nine strikeouts before he departed in the Yankees’ 4-3 victory. Here’s hoping his next Yankee Stadium start gets off to a better start. It was thrilling to watch the Yankees’ best two starting pitchers going at each other. I never really noticed it before but Paxton has very intense eyes when he is pitching. I also didn’t realize that he was such an Andy Pettitte fan growing up. The guy is clearly a competitor with an intensity that kind of reminds me of the heart of Lance Lynn (except Paxton has the arm to match the intensity). I don’t think we’ll have to worry about any ‘Sonny Gray-like’ meltdowns from Paxton.  Sure, he’ll have his clunkers like any other pitcher, but he seems to be a warrior to me. Paul O’Neill will be proud.

The deeper we get into the off-season, the more I want to see David Robertson return. I am so hopeful the Yankees and D-Rob can come to an agreement to allow Houdini to continue his “path in Pinstripes”. I get fired up every time I see D-Rob run off the mound at the conclusion of an inning. For the other reliever spot, I really want to see the Yankees sign Adam Ottavino but I wouldn’t be disappointed with the return of either Zach Britton or Andrew Miller. I just think Ottavino represents the safest choice. Well, actually Britton would the safest, but I think his desire for closer’s money will price him out of the Yankees’ reach.   

I’ve seen some Yankee fans say the team should sign Boston’s Joe Kelly, currently a free agent. No, Hell NO! I don’t want to see that guy anywhere near Yankee Stadium in a home uniform. I prefer to see Yankees either teeing off on his pitches or slugging his face in with their fists. Sorry, I am not a proponent of violence but I do not want to see that guy on my team. He could be the greatest reliever in the history of baseball and I’d still want no part of him. I know, Mariano Rivera is the greatest reliever in history but my point is I don’t care what Kelly is capable of, I don’t like the guy.  

Lastly, I hope this is the year Mike Mussina gets into the Hall of Fame but I suspect he’ll fall short. He deserves his spot in Cooperstown so I hope he eventually gets there. As they say, time will tell. Meanwhile, Mariano Rivera should be a shoo-in.  There will be voters who leave Mo off their ballot for whatever reasons (which makes no sense to me), but I think he’ll come in with at least 95% of the vote. I can’t wait for the Hall of Fame inductions next year with a smiling Rivera present at the festivities. One of my all-time favorite Yankees.

Photo by Jim McIsaac, Getty Images
Thanks for your continued support of The Greedy Pinstripes. We’re nothing without you. Daniel Burch and Bryan Van Dusen created something special when they built this blog and we look forward to sharing our thoughts about America’s favorite baseball team in the years to come. Be safe, be happy, be well. We’re glad you are here.

As always, Go Yankees!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Yanks and Dodgers Trade 

The Yankees and Dodgers have made a trade that sends outfielder Tim Locastro to the Bronx in exchange for minor-league righty Drew Finley and supposedly cash. Brian Cashman didn't leave the office early for the Thanksgiving weekend instead they acquired a speedy utility man making the Yankees' 40-man roster is now at its max. Don’t worry this can and will be changed. Locastro, 26, was a Blue Jays 13th-round pick out of Ithaca College in 2013. 

He appeared in just 18 games this season for the Dodgers and in 3 in 2017. However while listed as an Outfielder he has played 2nd and SS as well. In the majors he has been only and Outfielder. He has stolen 20,34,and 41 bases in the minors. Anyway the Yanks needed a Outfielder for Triple A and have seen to found one that may have some upside with speed we shall see. Not a bad move at all. 


Wishing You all.....

Greeting Yankee Fans. James C Palma here (Yes that’s a pic of me, you can now put a face to the words) sending out Love on this holiday week. 

I want to say thank you to all the fans that follow me and The Greedy Pinstripes It is very much appreciated and I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my words with all of you.