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.