Thursday, May 24, 2018

SPECULATION: Why the New York Yankees Will NOT Acquire Cole Hamels Before the July 31st Trade Deadline

The New York Yankees fans have been clamoring for a month now for the team to acquire another starting pitcher for the stretch run. As silly as that sounds here at the end of May it is simply what we as Yankees fans have come to expect, and not only expect but demand as well. Yankees fans demand not only excellence, but borderline dominance and perfection as well which was never more evident than on Tuesday night when potential trade target Cole Hamels shut the powerful Yankees offense down in a victory for the Rangers. The discussions regarding Hamels and his potential acquisition by the Yankees were running rampant before the start, and since the discussions have only become more aggressive from the fan base. Unfortunately, I may have some bad news for everyone reading this as I do not believe it will be the New York Yankees who acquire the 34-year old veteran left-hander’s services before the July 31st trade deadline.

The New York Yankees have some wiggle room in terms of payroll flexibility while still maintaining a payroll that stays below the luxury tax threshold, but not as much as say a team like the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are a young and exciting team that are drawing comparisons to the 2017 version of the Baby Bombers. Young and hungry can only take a team so far, though, and the team has obvious holes and needs in their pitching staff. The Yankees and the Braves may be preparing to go head-to-head in a bidding war for Cole’s services, and that is a bidding war that Brian Cashman may not want to get into.

The Braves have a lot more money to spend this season and next than the New York Yankees do, and they have a better farm system as well. The Braves have arguably the best farm system in all of Major League Baseball, but they have something else that may put them ahead of the Yankees in the potential Hamels sweepstakes. The Braves have a GM who is not afraid to pull the trigger on a big deal, top prospects being involved or not. Cashman, and I personally love him for it, has shown a huge reluctance to deal top prospects and the type of prospects that the Rangers would likely demand if a bidding war were to ensue.

It wouldn’t take Gleyber Torres or Justus Sheffield to acquire Hamels, presumably a true rental for the Yankees unless they fancy picking up his huge option for the 2019 season, but it would likely require Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, Estevan Florial, Domingo Acevedo or an equivalent prospect or two in order to bring the lefty to the Bronx. Would Cashman be willing to part with any of them? That’s a tricky question and a question that history would say “no” to, but we know that the Braves would pull the trigger in a heartbeat including any of their top prospects not named Albies or Acuna.

Also, you have to keep in mind that Hamels is 34-years old, soon to be 35. Hamels has one-year left on his deal past the 2018 season, a team option that can be bough out for $6 million. All signs and speculation point to, assuming he was acquired by New York, the Yankees buying out his deal for the 2019 season and giving him his $6 million along with his walking papers next season. The Braves, on the other hand, would likely keep Hamels next season with the hopes of either competing, or with the hopes of getting some prospects back in another July 31st trade if the team cannot replicate their early success from this season to next season. Hamels has a no-trade clause, albeit limited, and will likely weigh all options when being asked to waive it. You have to think at his age his security and future are far more important than chasing a title, especially when he already has a World Series ring under his belt.

Many believe it is a foregone conclusion that Cole Hamels will be the 2018 version of Sonny Gray who was acquired by the Yankees at the 2017 deadline, but I am not so sure. Obviously, the Yankees could pick up Hamels option for the 2019 season and allow him to replace CC Sabathia in the rotation, but that is a huge “if” for Hamels who controls his destiny. The allure of pitching in the Bronx may be a big factor for the left-hander, but the possibility of entering a pitching free agent market beside potential free agents like Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel at age 35 may trump that. Pitching for Atlanta, a National League team with much fewer eyes on the veteran lefty, may make more sense not only for the Braves, but for the future of Hamels as well.

There is a lot that can happen between July 31st and now, and truth be told this is all speculation anyway, but right now I wouldn’t be surprised if the Braves came in and swooped up Hamels before the Yankees could make a deal. A more laid-back atmosphere, “easier” lineups to face, security for the 2019 season, and a young and hungry team with an aggressive GM may be too much for even Brian Cashman to compete with, but then again, they don’t call him the “Ninja” for nothing.

Stay tuned.

Not So Fun Deep in the Heart of Texas...

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Richard Rodriguez)
Yanks lose first series since April…

With leads of 4-0 and later 10-5, you do not really expect to lose, but thanks to multiple pitching failures, the Yankees allowed the Texas Rangers to take the final game, 12-10, and win the series, two games to one. It was the first series the Yankees have lost since the Boston Red Sox took two of three from the Yankees on April 10th through 12th

I keep hearing “don’t blame Sabathia, he is part of the solution, not the problem” but realistically, he’ll be 38 in a couple of months and he is not exactly a physical specimen. Since he held the Cleveland Indians to three hits and no runs over six innings on May 4th, he has averaged slightly under five innings per start (three starts). He has given up 15 runs (13 earned) in 13 1/3 innings pitched including 4 home runs and 7 walks. If CC wants to be part of the solution, he needs to start pitching better. My current confidence level in Sabathia is nowhere near where it was last year.   

Yesterday’s game was a microcosm of the problems with both the starting pitching and the bullpen. Losing the 4-0 lead was bad enough, but there was no reason to blow the subsequent five-run lead. David Robertson did not look good. I have been a huge D-Rob fan but he’s pitching his way out of the Bronx right now. If these struggles continue throughout the season, there’s no doubt the Yankees will let him walk away at the end of the year. Of course, it’s all about cause and effect. Sabathia’s early departures put added and unnecessary pressure on the bullpen.   

I am not sure why Aaron Boone tries to get more than one inning out of Dellin Betances. It seems like the second inning for Betances never works out in our favor regardless of how sharp he looks in the first inning of relief. Overall, I’ve liked the job Boone has done, but he hasn’t shown the ability to work the bullpen like Joe Girardi did. Girardi had his critics about his handling of the pen but the results were much better or at least I had more confidence in Joe’s ability. I think Boonie will get there and I am certainly not trying to go down a ‘we should have stayed with Joe’ path. I support Boone and like him as the Yankees manager. I was proud of his use of the f-bomb a few times the other night when he was thrown out of his first game as manager. 

There were positives in the Texas series.  Namely, Gleyber Torres is a stud. There is literally nothing that the guy cannot do. He may not be the speediest guy on the team but I swear he wears an “S” on his shirt under the uniform.  

It was hard to watch Robinson Cano leave after the 2013 season via free agency. He had been the Yankees best player and it was great to have such a strong player at second base. Then we had to deal with a series of interim players like Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew.  With no disrespect to Starlin Castro, Torres gives us our first legitimate young superstar at the position since Cano left.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Richard Rodriguez)
Giancarlo Stanton’s numbers may be coming around, but I still trust Aaron Judge more. 

Neil Walker keeps showing why he should not be the sacrificial lamb when Greg Bird returns. While I’d like the first base pairing of Bird and Tyler Austin, I still feel that it makes more sense to option to Austin to Triple A.  He’ll be needed again at some point. 

Glad to see that Didi Gregorius is starting to warm up again. His slump was the worst of his career following his All-World performance and Player of the Month honors in April. The Yankees need Didi if they expect to contend in October. 

I try to keep up with the Yankees farm system but I have to say that I was shocked when reliever Ryan Bollinger was added to the 25-man roster yesterday. My first reaction was ‘who?’. I hadn’t really paid much attention to his minor league free agent signing or the stellar work he has done for the Trenton Thunder this year. Since he is not really a “prospect” anymore at the stage of his career (he is 27 after all), I just viewed him as depth for the minor leagues. Honestly, I do not expect him to stay in the Bronx long, not with the impending returns of Tommy Kahnle and Adam Warren. I like what I’ve seen out of A.J. Cole and want him to stick around so it would seem Bollinger will be the odd man out in a few days and a potential DFA candidate if the Yankees need his 40-man roster spot. As for Cole, I’d probably give him a spot start over Domingo German to see what he can do.

Maybe it was because the Yankees were in Dallas, but the past week has brought so much speculation of Cole Hamels to the Yankees at the trading deadline. I do not see it. I like Hamels and I wouldn’t squawk about his presence on the roster.  There are a few guys in the starting rotation that he’d leapfrog. But, realistically, it makes no sense to me. Unless the Rangers are willing to pay significant dollars to pay down his contract, the Yankees would be responsible for the prorated portion of his $22.5 million 2018 salary. The contract has an option for $20 million in 2019. The option becomes guaranteed if Hamels has 400 IP in 2017-18 (he is presently at 206 2/3 innings so he’s unlikely to reach the milestone). The buyout for 2019 is $6 million.  Hamels also has a limited no trade clause that includes the Yankees. So, in order to get the Rangers to pay any dollars toward the contract, the Yankees would have to up the ante in terms of premium prospects. There would be more dollars involved to get Hamels to waive the no-trade. I don’t see how a few months of Hamels would justify the elimination of the majority of the cap space under the luxury tax threshold and the quality prospects that would be lost. Sure, if the Yankees win the World Series as a result, it would be worth it but I just don’t see Hamels as the difference-maker. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images (Joe Robbins)
I keep hoping the Seattle Mariners start losing now that they’ve lost Robinson Cano and Dee Gordon, but all they’ve done since is win. The M’s are currently riding a five-game winning streak and sit just two games behind the AL West leading Houston Astros. My desire to see the M’s lose is to open their willingness to move James Paxton. However, if they keep winning, there’s no chance. 

The best possibility for the starting rotation might be our own Justus Sheffield. He came off the disabled list to pitch four innings of scoreless three-hit ball against the Pawtucket Red Sox yesterday. He struck out five and walked only one batter. Tommy Kahnle may have gotten the win in the 7-1 victory but it was a great limited outing for Sheffield’s return. I personally don’t think we’ll see Sheffield in the Bronx until August or September (if at all this year) but the power to accelerate the time table is certainly within his control. I probably shouldn’t read too much into Sheffield’s fine performance.  Chance Adams threw a one-hitter last week to go with ten strikeouts (to raise my excitement level), yet he followed it up with a stinker against Pawtucket on Tuesday (five runs and three walks in three innings of work). 

With last night’s disappointing loss, the Yankees have fallen 1 ½ games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Boston wraps up their series with the Tampa Bay Rays today, so they could hold a two-game advantage entering play on Friday. The first half schedule for the Red Sox has been so generous for them. 

For the Yankees, I am glad to see the road trip end. With the washout of the games in Washington, they finished the trip with a 3-3 record despite hitting three home runs or more in five straight games for the first time in franchise history. The road trip also included extended flight delays and sleeping at airports. Their flight last night was delayed for mechanical reasons and they didn’t get off the ground this morning until about 5:30 am Eastern. Fortunately, today is an off day, but they’ve certainly dealt with more than their share of adversity this trip. Hopefully, the Yankees will be rested and ready to play when they meet the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium tomorrow night.

Go Yankees!

I’m Hungry: Yankee Stadium Food

Good morning everyone. Am I the only one that woke up hungry as hell today? I doubt it, but really. I’m hungry and the food at Yankee Stadium this season looks absolutely amazing. Let’s take advantage of the off day today as the Yankees travel back to the Bronx and hit the high spots in terms of food choices inside Yankee Stadium III.

Put away the peanuts, stay away from the Cracker Jacks, and popcorn is a waste of goof stomach space here in the Bronx. Especially when you consider that section 127 has hand rolled taquitos in a plastic Yankees cup! I love taquitos, and I won’t apologize for it either. The three taquitos are sitting in a helping of chili con queso and pico de gallo. Black bean and chicken are your protein options.

Bacon cheeseburger crispy dumpling. Enough said, right? The Noodle Bowl Stand in section 127 sells ground beef, bacon and cheese wrapped in a dumpling before being fried and serves them with Thousand island dressing and a stadium-made pickle.

Adobo Bao can be found in the Toyota Terrace and is a Filipino-style pulled chicken thigh and garlic aioli sauce topped with crispy pork cracklings in a steamed bun. If this is how they eat in the Philippines, count me in.

The Rotisserie Chicken and Steak Stand in section is where you need to go for all the meat you could ever dream of. The rotisserie chickens are all organic and cooked there right on the spot, served in halves with fries. The steak is a 10-ounce flatiron steak that is also served with fries.

Of course, you can always stop by Jersey Mike’s sub sandwiches, Mighty Quinn’s BBQ, Papa John’s Pizza (gross), Ben & Jerry’s, Nathan’s Famous (a must), Bacon on a Stick, Tater Kegs and so much more. Come hungry.

Hello… Another Off Day

Good morning everyone and Happy Thursday to you all. Friday eve, and six more days and counting. The weekend is almost here, and the New York Yankees are off today, enjoy the day. The team heads home to play host to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over the weekend which could include a Masahiro Tanaka vs. Shohei Otani pitching matchup in the Bronx on Sunday afternoon. Stay tuned for that because that will be a good one worth watching in my opinion. I hope you all have a great day.

And hey you. Chin up, six more days. I love you.

This Day In New York Yankees History 5/24: Bernie Williams Day 2015

On this day in 2015 the New York Yankees honored former center fielder Bernie Williams with Bernie Williams Day at Yankee Stadium.

Also on this day in 1986 a drunk Billy Martin was fired as the co-host on Saturday Night Live after slurring his lines during a skit. The former Yankee manager sets fire to his dressing room at the end of show, the season finale for SNL.

Also on this day in 1956 Mickey Mantle went off at the plate going 505 with an intentional walk in an 11-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Mantle would hit a home run and four singles in the game to go with his walk.

Finally on this day in 1936 the Yankees Tony Lazzeri becomes the first player in major league history to hit two grand slams in the same game when the Yankees beat up on the A's 25-2. The future Hall of Famer also established a new American League record in the game with 11 RBI's.