Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Did the Yankees Miss the Boat w/ Todd Frazier?

The biggest struggle for me right now in this slow free agent market as a writer is differentiating in my posts my opinions as a rabid fan that wants the Yankees to “Get Greedy” and my opinions as the sensible sports fan that I believe myself to be. I want the Yankees to get greedy and I want the Yankees to make the big splash, but I also want the Yankees to make the under-the-radar type signings as well that solidify the team for years to come. The moves like the David Ortiz signing by the Boston Red Sox come to mind, I can remember being a huge advocate for signing him and I can also remember being in the minority on the topic. I felt like I was in the minority as well when I stated that I would like Todd Frazier back with the Yankees, and that I didn’t mind it even if it was on a two-year deal so obviously I was none-to-pleased when the Toddfather signed with the crosstown New York Mets on a two-year deal worth $17 million.

Before I get too far into the Todd Frazier signing I will say this, I was one of the first to say that I was completely comfortable with heading into spring training camp with both rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar competing for the second base and third base jobs respectively. I still stand by that, but I did also state that I wanted the Yankees to do their due diligence and try to find a veteran stop gap for one of the two positions as well, and Frazier was a name that I mentioned more times than not. Frazier makes sense for a lot of reasons to the Yankees which was why I was so comfortable with going to a two-year deal for the Toms River, New Jersey native. Frazier thrived in New York and in the American League East last season, albeit in a small sample size, and seemingly loved the atmosphere and the team. I know this isn’t something that is really quantifiable, but in my opinion, you cannot put a price tag, a number or a stat on the comfort level of a player in a big city like New York and you cannot put a price tag on someone who actually WANTS to be a New York Yankee. Frazier wants to be a New York Yankee, and it showed in my opinion on and off the field last season in the Bronx.

Frazier signed a two-year deal with the New York Mets worth $17 million with the right-handed third baseman making $8 million in 2018 and $9 million in 2019. With the Yankees ultimate goal of getting under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and with reportedly $20 million left to spend for New York and Brian Cashman signing a player like Frazier would have fit into the budget perfectly for New York. Having Frazier on the team to mentor young players like Andujar and Torres would make Frazier worth the $8 million he would make this season alone, that is before any production on the field. Frazier could be a stop gap until Andujar is considered to be ready defensively splitting time with Miguel there at third base, with Greg Bird at first base as a right-handed compliment to Bird’s left-handed bat, and the designated hitter position. Frazier would have gotten enough opportunities and at-bats to make it worth bringing him onto the team this season in my opinion, especially considering the lack of a true backup first baseman currently on the 40-man roster.

While Frazier makes a lot of sense for the Yankees I can see both sides of the argument. Many people will say that Frazier blocks Andujar and that Andujar doesn’t need two years of seasoning to get his defense up to snuff, and those people are right. Andujar doesn’t need two seasons, again I said I would be fine with Andujar being the Opening Day starting third baseman and I said that immediately after Chase Headley was shipped off to the San Diego Padres in a salary-clearing trade earlier this offeason, but I also don’t think it would be counter-productive either to give him a little more time in Triple-A this season either. So, what do you do with Frazier once Andujar is deemed ready? You have multiple options actually including the plan I outlined earlier letting him split time at three different positions including third base, first base and DH. The ability to trade Frazier wouldn’t be out of the question either as I highly doubt, although at the time of this writing it hadn’t been reported either way, the third baseman received a no-trade clause. What contending team or team on the bubble, a team like the New York Yankees in 2017, wouldn’t take on a veteran presence like Frazier for a year-and-a-half at basically $11 million total? Frazier would be an incredible trade asset in June or July given the fact that the likes of Bird, Andujar and Torres are healthy and contributing.

I won’t lie, I am extremely disappointed in the fact that Frazier went to the New York Mets. The fan in me hates the fact that Frazier went to the New York Mets specifically, and the fan in me hates the fact that Frazier went anywhere else other than the Bronx in general. I hate the fact that he was the perfect match for this team budget wise, player personnel wise on the field, and personality/clubhouse wise off the field. I don’t like this, and I’m not happy about it. I am still comfortable with having both Andujar and Torres (after 20 games) on either side of Didi Gregorius in 2018, I just hope that the team didn’t miss out on a potentially important asset because of one year on a contract in an extremely slow market. This is my opinion, what’s yours? Leave it below in the comments section.

Thumbs Down for the Todd Frazier News...

End of Short Yankees Reign for the Toddfather…

I know, we need to embrace the new era and accept that Miguel Andujar will be the starting third baseman this year. It’s been said that the Yankees are very high on Andujar and the Yankees apparently resisted including Andujar in the failed talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Gerrit Cole, who was subsequently dealt to the Houston Astros.

My concerns with Andujar echo the sentiments of other fans who feel that Andujar’s glove is not quite Major League ready and that he’ll be an average defender at best with improvement. I am not opposed to Andujar at third, but I wanted a strong backup plan. That’s why it was a gut punch for me yesterday when Todd Frazier signed a two year deal with the New York Mets. What’s worse is that the contract he signed is team-friendly (2 years for $17 million) which the Yankees could have matched without impairing their current salary position and objective to keep 2018 total payroll under the $197 million threshold for luxury tax purposes.  

It made me sick to see Noah Syndergaard using the Yankees-themed ‘thumbs down’ emoji on Twitter in reaction to Frazier’s signing.  

I guess part of my frustration is that the Yankees will make a run at Manny Machado this fall when he becomes a free agent. Machado, regardless of the Baltimore Orioles plan to play him at short this year, would be the team’s starting third baseman if the Yankees are successful in signing him. So, Andujar would be a one season experiment at the position, learning on the job at the Major League level. For one year, I’d rather have a strong experienced third baseman who is a clubhouse leader. Frazier helped solidify team chemistry after last year’s trading deadline and he was a fan favorite.  

Maybe Andujar takes the job and runs with it, becoming a candidate for this year’s Rookie of the Year. Great for him (and us) if it happens. It is certainly within the realm of possibility. But it doesn’t mean that I have to like the fact that Todd Frazier is a Met.  

I saw someone post that the Yankees’ apparent lack of interest in Frazier to be a sign that the team is either fully committed to Andujar or that GM Brian Cashman has something else up his sleeve. There’s no way the Yankees sign free agent Mike Moustakas. Aside from the cost it would take sign the former Royals third sacker, the Yankees would forfeit their second-highest and fifth-highest draft picks in this summer’s MLB Draft plus $1 million in international bonus pool money since Moustakas received a qualifying offer from Kansas City and the Yankees are a competitive balance tax payor. Neil Walker, who can play second or third, is certainly an alternative that has been discussed by some. Walker wouldn’t block the younger kids so he might be the best case scenario. Otherwise, we could be trotting out the no-bat Danny Espinosa when the season opens.  

I wish Todd Frazier the very best with his new team. I am glad that he achieved his goal of staying in New York even if he now calls the wrong stadium home. The Mets are getting a great guy for their team.  

Move over, Mystique and Aura, here comes Smart and Confident…

The Yankees made Aaron Boone’s coaching staff official yesterday. The names are exactly as we expected:

Bench Coach:  Josh Bard
Pitching Coach:  Larry Rothschild
Bullpen Pitching Coach:  Mike Harkey
Hitting Coach:  Marcus Thames
Assistant Hitting Coach:  P.J. Pilittere
Third Base Coach:  Phil Nevin
First Base Coach/Outfield Instructor:  Reggie Willits
Major League Quality Control Coach/Infield Instructor:  Carlos Mendoza

Also, the following supporting roles:

Catching Coach:  Jason Brown
Coaching Assistant/Bullpen Catcher:  Radley Haddad
Coaching Assistant/Instant Replay Coordinator:  Brett Weber

It’s great to hear that guys like Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Gleyber Torres and Ronald Torreyes are already in Tampa and working out at Steinbrenner Field. The sound of Spring is nearly upon us.  

First-time World Champions:  Philadelphia Eagles…

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles for winning the 2018 Super Bowl. I am sure that there are a lot of disappointed New York Giants fans, but for me, I am glad that the team from Boston was not successful. I am sure that Aaron Boone and Tommy Kahnle, avowed Eagles fans, were very happy. I am hoping they experience the joy of championships from beginning to end this year.   

Go Yankees!