Monday, October 28, 2019

A Tribute to Mike Ford

Image result for Mike ford

Before the postseason started, I tried to come up with a predicted roster for the Yankees. Then the Yankees announced the rosters and they were missing the guy I had in the 5th or 6th spot of my projected lineups. I also think that we could've potential went a little further with this guy in the lineup. Mike Ford was the hottest Yankee in September and was a solid bat in the lineup most of the year. But most importantly, he is a left bat that barely strikes out. He makes contact with the ball and good contact at that. Now I'm not going to go into the saber metrics and the hit probability and stuff like that because you don't even need to look at that to see why he should've been in the middle of the lineup this postseason. The problem with the Yankees' hitters is that they are all similar. They are all big right handed power hitters. The problem with this is lack of contact and a lot of striking out in the postseason. When you send out a almost all righty batting order against Cole, Verlander, and Greinke who are 3 of the best righties in the game, your team is not going to be successful. Mike Ford had 17 walks and only 28 strikeouts this season. He finished the season strong with over 1.000 OPS in the month of September and he got hotter as the month continued. Edwin Encarnacion hit horribly in all but the first two postseason games. He gave the Yankees absolutely nothing after coming back from an oblique injury. Now I'm not blaming him for this because obliques affect every movement and he was not the EE we all know from the past. Luke Voit did not play in the ALDS and was kept off the ALCS roster. Mike Ford could've taken his roster spot in the ALDS and maybe even played against a tough righty instead of EE. He would've been good in the middle of the lineup to split the righties up and provide the Yankees with a hitter who can make contact in a clutch situation.

 Going into spring training if the Yankees leave the infield as is without resigning Didi and without trading for Lindor. The infield will probably be Urshela, Torres, LeMaiheu and then a battle in spring training for first base between Voit and Ford. I am not against this but I would definitely prefer the perennial MVP candidate being Francisco Lindor. Luke Voit is similar to the rest of the Yankees sluggers as he is a righty power hitter who strikes out a lot. So at this very moment, in October, even though I am a huge fan of Louis Linwood Voit IV, I do think Mike Ford is a better player for the current state of the Yankees. Voit along with Andujar, Frazier, Happ and some other depth players could be dealt for a reliever to place Chapman who I don't think the Yankees should retain for monetary purposes, that should be reinvested elsewhere. Or they can deal for a starter. If the Yankees trade for or sign a starter he must be an ace. The Yankees have enough middle to high tier starting pitchers. What the Yankees really need is an Ace or two who can give them long high quality innings in the postseason, not only 3 and let the rest up to the tired bullpen whom the other team already saw 5 times through already the series. My whole point of writing this article is to vouch for Mike Ford and wonder what would've happened in the playoffs if Mike Ford was on the roster.


The Yankees need David Cone

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Is the World Series over yet?...

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
Preparing for the 2019-20 Hot Stove League…

While many continue to watch the World Series, except for an occasional check-in, the 2019 MLB season ended for me last weekend with the ALCS. It’s hard to get enthused about either the Houston Astros or the Washington Nationals. Sure, the Nationals as a first time participant are a nice story but I don’t really care to see either team win the World Series so let’s just get this over so that we can move on to the Hot Stove League.

It’s hard to not wonder what could have been if the Yankees had taken a better hitting approach against the Astros. Oh well, it was not meant to be. Time to move on and hope the Yankees make a stronger run in 2020. The window remains wide open. This is certainly not the last we’ve heard from this core group of Yankees.

Photo Credit: The New York Post
As much as I would like Gerrit Cole leading the Yankees’ starting rotation next season, the reality is it will never happen. Cole’s agent, none other than the infamous Scott Boras, will ensure that his client becomes very wealthy this winter. I just don’t see Hal Steinbrenner’s willingness to write a blank check. It seems as though this will end like the Patrick Corbin negotiations. The Yankees will host Cole for a visit at Yankee Stadium, they’ll toss him a token offer, and he’ll leave empty handed. Some team is going to throw stupid money at him and it won’t be the Yankees. You can talk all day about how the Yankees can afford it, but that’s not the point. The Yankees are not going to devote so many dollars to one player. They have in-house financial decisions to make. Last off-season they locked up Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks. Granted, both players missed considerable time during the regular season so you can question the wisdom of the moves, but in Severino’s case in particular, he still represents the future. An extension for Aaron Judge seems appropriate this off-season.  I feel Gleyber Torres too but I think the Yankees will wait a season or two before securing the long-time services of the young burgeoning superstar. Judge can be a free agent after the 2022 season so the urgency is beginning to develop for him. Torres can’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season.

The Yankees need an ace. I think Sevy can be that guy, but last year showed you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. James Paxton has shown at times he can be an ace but he needs to show sustained excellence over the course of a long season. I think a very strong #1 starter, followed by Sevy, Big Maple, and Masahiro Tanaka would make for a championship caliber rotation. The question is who the #1 starter would be. Names will develop in the coming weeks. I keep seeing Yankee fans pining for Lucas Giolito but there’s no way the Chicago White Sox, with their abundance of blossoming young talent, will part with their young ace. If they did, they’d need quality, major league-ready talent in return, not prospects years away from the Show. I think there’s a better chance the Yankees could get the Cincinnati Reds to part with Luis Castillo, but even then the price tag will be very high. On the free agent front, Madison Bumgarner certainly represents an option. I am intrigued what he could do on a highly competitive team. I really feel the Yankees would re-energize him so I’d be happy if they were able to land him. I don’t know where Cashman’s search for starting pitching will lead. None of us do. Inevitably, he’ll surprise us.  I just don’t want another season of missed opportunity and Cashman’s statements that he tried. Love or hate Houston, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, has shown the willingness to pull the trigger when it matters. He has two World Series appearances in the last three years to show for it. It’s not that I want Brian Cashman to make stupid decisions or saddle the Yankees with another Jacoby Ellsbury contract albatross. But there are times you have to spend more than you want to get what you need.

The news that Aaron Hicks will miss the next 8-10 months due to Tommy John surgery left me wondering why the Yankees ever brought him back for the ALCS. Sure, the home run was great but in the end, it didn’t matter. I would have preferred to have Hicks for the majority of the 2020 season if he could have had the inevitable surgery earlier.  The news about Hicks brought immediate speculation the Yankees have to re-sign Brett Gardner. I felt the Yankees and Gardner would come together on another one-year deal before the Hicks news and I still feel the same, but I don’t think the vision that he’ll be no more than the fourth outfielder has changed. I think Mike Tauchman has a better chance to be the regular starting option in center field with the possibility that it could be someone not currently on the roster. I really wish Estevan Florial was closer to readiness, but he’s not. I am sure the Yankees’ analytics team is at work trying to discover the next Mike Tauchman, a centerfielder who is undervalued in his current organization but blossoming with hidden talent.  

I am not sure what I think about the “reports” that the Yankees could move Giancarlo Stanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers or Angels, if they can find the right mix of dollars to part with the slugger. I like Stanton and I feel he’s received unfair treatment from the Yankees fan base. Maybe there’s some validity to the criticisms he has received, but I still think he has the Dave Winfield-like ability to carry a team on his back. I’d like to see him stay with the Yankees, and have the opportunity to show he’s “the man” in October. I like Mike Tauchman but there’s no way in the World I’d take him over Stanton in left field.  Stanton needs our support, not the unfair hate directed his way. If he does get traded, I’ll be disappointed, but I will enjoy watching baseball in sunny Southern CA with the Angelino kid crushing pitches in front of his hometown fans. 

Photo Credit:
Not that I think reunions are in store, but two former Yankees quietly became free agents in recent weeks. Chasen Shreve, part of the deal that brought Luke Voit to New York, is a free agent. Giovanny Gallegos has blossomed in the St Louis Cardinals’ bullpen so I doubt the Cards regret their decision to part with Voit, but I do feel bad it didn’t work out for Shreve. Same in San Diego with former Yankees prospect Bryan Mitchell. He was the prospect attached to Chase Headley in the successful contract unload a few years ago. I always liked Mitchell and had really hoped he would thrive in San Diego. He didn’t, and now he’s a free agent. Both are young enough (28 and 29, respectively) to be reclamation projects. Hopefully, for both, they’ll find better success with their next organizations.

Speaking of former Yanks, it was a surprise to see Joe Girardi land in Philadelphia. Granted, all signs started pointing in that direction over the last week or so, but before the Phillies fired manager Gabe Kapler, I felt strongly that Girardi would be the next manager for either the New York Mets or the Chicago Cubs. I never saw him as a Philly guy. I do think he’ll be better for that team than Kapler (okay, that was a statement of the obvious). It’s cool that his bench coach, Rob Thomson, is already in place. There’s been some speculation if he’ll take any of the current Yankee coaches who served under him (bullpen coach Mike Harkey, a close friend, and pitching coach Larry Rothschild). I think Rothschild gets unfair criticism but I’ve long wanted David Cone as the pitching coach so I’d be okay with Rothschild’s departure if it meant getting Coney back in the pinstripes. My absolute favorite for pitching coach is Andy Pettitte but I am not convinced he is ready to leave Texas yet. A dark horse hope for pitching coach would be former San Francisco Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti. He was the pitching coach for three World Series champions over the past decade and he oversaw Madison Bumgarner’s greatest days as a Giant. Anyway, back to Girardi, I think he’ll do well for the Phillies. He’ll have to learn the NL style of play. I know, he has one year of NL managing under his belt but that was a long time ago. For Girardi’s sake, it is a good thing that his former and future bench coach, Thomson, had a one year head start. I am glad that Girardi avoided the mess known as the Wilpon’s.  

Good hire by the Boston Red Sox when they named former Tampa Bay Rays executive Chaim Bloom as their new head of operations. Assistant GM Brian O’Halloran will be promoted to GM to work under Bloom’s leadership. I wish I could criticize this move by Boston but I think they made the best possible hire if Bloom is allowed to truly run the show. I feel the New York Mets erred when they selected Brodie Van Wagenen as their GM over Bloom last year. It seems as if more and more teams are going the “chief baseball officer” route. I really wish the Yankees would promote Brian Cashman to chief baseball officer, and promote Tim Naehring to GM. Love him or hate him, Cash deserves the promotion in my opinion.

It’s funny. Last season, I could hardly wait for the World Series to be over and for the free agency period to open in November. I won’t hide the fact that I wanted either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper and was so anxious to see if the Yankees would sign one of the talented young superstars, or grab the best free agent starter in Patrick Corbin. It was a long winter that led to none of the above in Pinstripes. This season, I think I am more passive. I am not really looking forward to free agency this year like I was last year. I am very interested in seeing the moves that Brian Cashman and company will make, but not with the same excitement. What will be will be. I was never against the DJ LeMahieu signing (I knew he was better than advertised) but I never dreamed he’d be as valuable to the Yankees as he was. It only shows that we need to allow any moves time to marinate. We don’t need big splashes. We need a clubhouse full of the right mix of players to bring the 28th World Championship to the Bronx.  

As always, Go Yankees!

Predicting The Offseason & 2020 Active Roster

One of my favorite things to write is my predictions for the offseason, along with the following season's active roster. That's not because I'm good at it, although I don't think my ideas are bad, it's just a fun exercise.

There's no need for a long introduction, which you're probably not reading anyway ("Just tell me what you think!"), so here goes...

I'm planning the 2020 season without Domingo German. Even if he's innocent he's going to be suspended for a significant period of time. So when you don't see him listed below don't be like "what the hell?"

I find it hard to believe that the Yankees will make a serious push for Gerrit Cole, as they have seemed more concerned with saving money than spending it the last few years. It's more likely that they sign someone like Zack Wheeler or Madison Bumgarner, but I can't give up hope. So here are reasons why I think the Yankees will sign Cole (aka "how I'm talking myself into believing they will sign Cole")

1. Thanks to his father, who is from Syracuse, Cole grew up a Yankees fan. I know him being a Yankees fan when he was young means little to nothing, but it's still something to keep in mind. Plus, that photo of him with the sign during Game 7 of the 2001 World Series will be shown over and over again.

2. The Yankees drafted him in 2008, only for him to go to UCLA instead. But they liked Gerrit long before he was a Cy Young candidate.

3. Unlike Corbin, Cole has pitched in and had massive success in the AL... and against them.

4. With the expensive contracts of Tanaka and Ellsbury (by the way, Jacoby's not being traded. Who in their right mind would pay Ellsbury ANYTHING to sit at home?) coming off the books after next season, perhaps the Yankees will be more likely to bit the bullet by having a huge payroll for one season.

The Yankees would probably look to save as much money as possible at this point, so I'm also predicting that they trade JA Happ. While the Yankees would likely have to eat a decent chunk of Happ's $17 million salary, they should be able to save a decent amount. Furthermore, I think the Yankees will not tender contracts to Greg Bird, Tyler Lyons, Luis Cessa, and Jonathan Holder.

Even though I wouldn't want to see Happ starting for the Yankees in 2020, anyway, there's still a rotation spot available. They'll have Cole, Luis Severino, James Paxton, and Masahiro Tanaka. Therefore, I think Cashman trades for one more starter.

Cash has a lot of bullets to choose from, most notably Clint Frazier. And I wouldn't be surprised to see Thairo Estrada used as trade fodder too, seeing as how the Yankees infield looks set for years to come. I took a look at pitchers that may be acquired via trade, who wouldn't cost a ton, and someone that stood out to me was German Marquez. German has a good ground ball rate, good strikeout rate, and throws the ball hard. Not to mention Marquez is just 24 years old and will be entering his first year of arbitration eligibility. The fact he's arbitration-eligible means he won't be cheap, which may be something Colorado likes as they're unlikely to compete before German is a free agent in a few years. German's home run rate is kinda high, but before pitching at Coor's Field (meaning in the minors), he wasn't nearly as prone to the long ball. So hopefully that home run rate comes down in New York.

Since I'm talking about Yankees pitchers I'm sure some people out there are waiting for me to bring up Deivi Garcia. That or they think I've forgot about him. Well, I didn't forget about Deivi. But I don't think he's ready, and could do with a little more time in AAA before possibly taking a rotation spot (Tanaka and Paxton will be free agents after next season) in 2021.

Moving onto run production...

I'm going to start with Cameron Maybin. For the record, I really like the guy, but there's no need for him on the roster. I think he's earned a starting gig somewhere, but it certainly won't be for the Yankees.

It's not easy to let Edwin Encarnacion go, either. But, like Maybin, I just don't see a role for him in New York. I think Edwin's option is too much, especially when the team will be looking to cut payroll to make room for Cole. If Encarnacion hit for a better batting average that might make me think otherwise, but we already have too many guys that depend on the long ball for value.

Then we come to Didi Gregorius. I really like Sir Didi, but the Yankees have to face facts... the guy is an average hitter. Sure, Gregorius plays very good defense, but the Yankees can fill the infield and get good defense without him. The only way I see Didi returning to the Yankees is if he gives them a big discount, and will accept a part-time role. But I can see many teams that would offer him more money and a regular starting gig.

I have to say that I'm not totally sold on Thairo Estrada. If he were to start the season on the bench, in the role as backup middle infielder, I'd be perfectly fine with that. But if he's used as trade fodder, like I mentioned earlier, then the Yankees would probably try to find a diamond like they did last year with DJ LeMahieu. Although I'd like Tyler Wade to get some more playing time in MLB to see for sure what we have, or don't have, in the kid. I would say his lefty bat would be welcome on a righty-heavy roster, but the bench I have in mind already has a couple lefty bats. I guess another wouldn't be bad, though.

It's also time to let Austin Romine go. Besides the fact that I think it would be unnecessary to pay for a backup catcher when I believe Kyle Higashioka could do a fine job in that role, I can see some team in the league giving Romine a shot as a starter. Sort of like how Francisco Cervelli was able to land a starting gig in Pittsburgh when he left the Yankees after the 2014 season.

How about batters to sign? Well, this isn't anyone new, but after the news of Aaron Hicks getting Tommy John surgery and being out until August or later, the Yankees pretty much have to bring back Brett Gardner. Some Yankees fans may want the Yankees to spend big on a new centerfielder, be that with money and/or prospects, but it's not happening. They've committed to Aaron Hicks for six more years, and while that contract didn't start off well, they aren't going to abandon that so soon. With that said, I'm not sure Gardy starts the majority of games in centerfield for the Yankees, as I think Mike Tauchman will earn the Opening Day nod there.

Gio Urshela has earned the third base job, not only with the bat (he hit .314/.355.534 in 132 games in 2019), but with his defense as well (the fielding stats don't like him, but the eye test adores him). That leaves Andujar without a position. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as he returns from Tommy John surgery, since his throwing arm can rest. Besides, Miguel wasn't good at the hot corner anyway. I think he could learn to play a solid first base, though. Andujar's used to hard-hit ground balls coming his way, so poorly thrown balls likely wouldn't be that big a concern. However, changing positions isn't easy, so having Voit start there most of the time would be ideal (hopefully he improves his defense, though). But don't be surprised if Andujar is the regular first baseman by the All Star break.

There's one more free agent signing that needs to be made, and it won't come as any surprise to those that paid any attention to the Yankees this season... Dellin Betances.

If it wasn't for suffering multiple injuries this season, and not insignificant ones, bringing Betances back might not have been possible. The guy was in line to get paid to be the closer for somebody, but at this point I have to believe that's no longer the case. For his sake that really sucks, because at 31 years old he's running out of time to cash in. So, for that reason, I can see Dellin taking a one year contract with a player option, that way if he has a healthy season he can test free agency at 32 years old. Otherwise, he can at least get paid for that second season and try again at age 33.

Starting Lineup
1. DJ LeMahieu 2B
2. Aaron Judge RF
3. Gleyber Torres SS
4. Giancarlo Stanton LF
5. Luke Voit 1B
6. Gary Sanchez C
7. Miguel Andujar DH
8. Mike Tauchman* CF
9. Gio Urshela 3B

C Kyle Higashioka
OF Brett Gardner*
IF Thairo Estrada (or Tyler Wade* if Estrada is traded)
1B Mike Ford*
NOTE: It is a very righty heavy lineup, so I see Ford and Gardner getting plenty of starts.

Starting Pitchers
Gerrit Cole
Luis Severino
James Paxton*
Masahiro Tanaka
German Marquez

CL Aroldis Chapman*
SU Zack Britton*
MR Dellin Betances
MR Adam Ottavino
MR Tommy Kahnle
MR Chad Green
LR Jordan Montgomery*
LR Jonathan Loaisiga

* - left-handed hitter or pitcher

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The End of the Road...

Photo Credit: Matt Slocum, AP
Yankees lose another ALCS to Astros…

The end of a baseball season, unless you are the last team standing, always ends in disappointment. Not to take away from so many positives during the season but it’s no fun to suddenly and harshly see the season end on a walk-off two run homer. There’s no doubt the Yankees could have won this series and many will continue to dissect what went wrong in the coming days and weeks, but at this point, the only option is to look ahead.

I really hope the Yankees can find the elusive ace in the upcoming off-season. It remains to be seen if the Yankees will pay for a top free agent pitcher like Gerrit Cole or acquire one through trade. If Cole has a successful World Series, I am sure it will boost his already sky-rocketing value as the best available pitcher. Regardless of whether the Yankees sign Cole or if they go in another direction to save some pain on Hal Steinbrenner’s wallet, they need “the guy” who puts fear in the opposition. Maybe Luis Severino can be that guy next year. This season was lost for him due to injury, and his October version was just a fraction of what he is and can be. James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka had some fantastic October moments, but neither pitcher is going to strike fear in the hearts of the opposition. I had my hopes up for Patrick Corbin last season, only to see the disappointment of watching him sign with the Washington Nationals. For Corbin, it was the perfect scenario. He got the most money and a trip to the World Series.  I am not sure he would have been a difference maker for the Yankees, but it only underscores the need for a better starting rotation. It’s amazing the Yankees were once considered the frontrunners for the services of multiple 2019 World Series pitchers (Cole, Corbin, and Max Scherzer). We’ll never know but just one of those pitchers in Pinstripes could have ensured the continuance of the Yankees’ 2019 season.  

It’s not a coincidence that the two teams in the World Series have the game’s best pitching staffs.  I’ll give the edge to the Astros, but it would not surprise me if the Nationals shut down the high-flying ‘Stros. The Nationals are riding great momentum right now and they can give Houston a fight. I am sure their pitchers were watching how the Yankee pitchers, for the most part, kept Astros hitters off-balance. If they can avoid the Yankees’ mistakes, the Nats could be soon sipping champagne.  

So, the primary goal for Brian Cashman should be to get an ace (finally) and make Luis Severino and James Paxton the second and third starters.  

I was a little disappointed with the lack of support of certain players by the Yankees fan base over the last few weeks. You certainly cannot blame Giancarlo Stanton for the injuries that derailed his season and left him largely ineffective and often sitting out games in the playoffs. I think he’ll be back stronger than ever in 2020. Why criticize the man? He’s here for the long haul and we need to support the man and help him become the best he can be, not tear him down. Love him or hate him, the man wants to win for the Yankees. Other players often criticized were Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Luke Voit, and lately, Adam Ottavino. For me, I want all of these guys on the 2020 roster when the Yankees attempt to make a deeper October run.  

Admittedly, I shut off Twitter for much of the last week. I was tired of the negativity and I wanted to focus on the Yankees, keeping an open and positive mind about the players.  

It’s sad that CC Sabathia had to say goodbye by walking off the mound in ALCS Game 5 after a shoulder injury brought his Hall of Fame career to an end. There was no Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter moment for him, but I know that I appreciate his efforts just as much. He may not be the first ballot Hall of Famer like Mo or Jeter, but he’ll join them soon enough. There’s no doubt in my mind CC deserves a spot in Cooperstown.

Photo Credit: AP
I really hope the Yankees find a way to keep Sabathia in the organization in a non-playing position. Not a token consultant role, but a more meaningful capacity to keep his presence, attitude and leadership around the Yankees. Maybe not a coach, but I am sure there’s a beneficial spot for Sabathia that would be mutually rewarding for all of us. A great baseball pitcher, and an even better man. Thanks, CC, for everything you’ve done for the Yankees.

Aroldis Chapman will take a lot of heat for giving up the fateful walk-off homer to Jose Altuve last night, but I am not going to criticize him. Even the great Mariano Rivera had a couple of October moments like that. Yet, if Chapman does decide to opt out of his contract this off-season, I am prepared for the Yankees to walk away. I do not feel they should attempt to re-sign him to a new deal. Closers have a short shelf life. Rivera was an aberration. I think the Yankees would be better served using Chapman’s money to make a starting rotation upgrade. The Astros proved you don’t have to spend top dollar to have a very successful bullpen. Last night didn’t factor into my feeling that the Yankees should let Chappy walk if he opts out. I felt that way before the game and have for the last couple of months. I think Zack Britton is more than capable of being a championship caliber closer.   

When I look at the 40-man roster, I think these guys are gone or should be gone.

Chance Adams
Enough is enough…time for a change of scenery.

Jake Barrett
Presently on the 60-day IL, there’s no way the Yankees open a spot on the 40-man roster for Barrett with the need to protect certain prospects in advance of December’s Rule 5 Draft. 

Cody Gearrin
I thought Gearrin did a decent job overall, but he gets squeezed out in the 40-man roster crunch.

J.A. Happ
This probably falls more into the ‘should be gone’ category as I don’t believe he’s going anywhere with another year on his contract (and an option for 2021). I really hope Brian Cashman is able to make a move to send Happ elsewhere. It’s his spot in the rotation that direly needs to be upgraded. You could say Jordan Montgomery is that man, but I think of Montgomery as Sabathia’s replacement. Monty, as a fifth starter, should be as effective as Sabathia was in recent years, if not potentially better. He’ll never be a frontline pitcher like Sabathia, and that’s okay. Happ’s spot is the one that HAS TO BE better. Michael King and Deivi Garcia represent hope but the Yankees need a true ace and Happ, at this point in his career, is a liability.  

Jonathan Holder
I always liked Holder but no doubt 2019 was a major disappointment with performance and injuries. If Holder goes, it is purely the roster crunch that forces the move. I’d like to have Holder back but I am not certain it will happen.  

Tyler Lyons
Tyler did fine in limited appearances but ultimately his 40-man spot is too valuable to hold him. I don’t see him as a long term option and never did. He is just a journeyman pitcher that will be searching for his next team in the off-season.

Austin Romine
I don’t think that Romine should go, but I think as a free agent, he’ll get offers that potentially include the ability to compete for a starting job. He’s done everything anyone could ask of a backup catcher and he’ll help a team in 2020. I just don’t think it will be with the Yankees. I do think Kyle Higashioka is ready to step in as the backup for Gary Sanchez which helps ease the loss of Romine.

Greg Bird
Presently on the 60-day IL, the Yankees will have to open a spot on the 40-man for him. In light of years of injuries and unfulfilled promise, I think it’s time to cut bait.  If there’s a guy I would love to prove me wrong, it’s Bird. But he’s had so many chances and here we are…the proverbial fork in the road. Instead of more chances, I think the Yankees simply move on.

Edwin Encarnacion
The Parrott Ride was fun while it lasted and it’s too bad that Edwin didn’t make much noise in the ALCS, but there was never a chance the Yankees are going to pick up his $20 million option for 2020. The Yankees need that money to make other upgrades. Regardless of what just happened, the Steinbrenner Family is not suddenly going to go on a spending spree. Assuming that 2019 was not fluke for Gio Urshela’s hitting ability, I think he’ll be the starting third baseman heading into next season. The Yankees have to make room for Miguel Andujar and I think he takes Edwin’s roster spot, and competes for time at first base, third base, DH, and potentially, if he works on it during Spring Training, some corner outfield play.  

Didi Gregorius 
I want to be clear that I love Didi as a Yankee. I love his attitude and his play, both offensively and defensively. I know that 2019 was not a stellar offensive campaign for him but c’mon, the dude just came off Tommy John surgery last off-season. If the Yankees sign the impending free agent to a new contract, I think he’ll be more like the Didi of old in 2020. But that’s the question. Do the Yankees sign him to a new contract with Gleyber Torres able to man shortstop at an All-Star level, making DJ LeMahieu the starting second baseman instead of an infield rover. No doubt Hal Steinbrenner watches the bottom line very closely and unfortunately I think Didi could be an off-season casualty. If so, I will miss him greatly. He’s been an excellent Yankee.  

Jacoby Ellsbury
If ‘enough is enough’ is the case for Chance Adams, Ellsbury has proven that time and again. Everyone knows the only reason that Ellsbury is still technically a Yankee is his contract and the financial assistance offered by insurance to help mitigate the cost for the years he has been unable to play. Currently on the 60-man IL, I wouldn’t give Ellsbury a spot on the 40-man roster. Ellsbury has one year left on his contract ($21,142,857) and a team option for 2021 that will no doubt be bought out for $5 million. I think this is the end for Ellsbury. Time for the Yankees to move on, and take the financial hit. The 40-man roster spot is too valuable to waste it on Ellsbury.

Clint Frazier
The guy is just not a Yankee. I think he can be a good player, but not for the Yankees. If the Yankees re-sign Brett Gardner to another one year deal, there’s no way Frazier sticks around with the more versatile Mike Tauchman on the roster. It’s almost laughable the Yankees probably could have had Gerrit Cole a couple of years ago for Frazier, Adams and another top prospect or two. What a difference that would have made (with the benefit of hindsight, of course)!  

Brett Gardner
Despite Brett’s highly successful 2019 season, there’s still question whether the Yankees re-sign the longtime Yankee. Nothing against Brett, but age is a factor. At some point, the younger guys have to play. Gardy will be forced out at some point in the future, and it could very well be this off-season. I am all for bringing him back to be the fourth or fifth outfielder (active rosters expand from 25 to 26 next season), but I think there is reasonable doubt about whether or not the Yankees bring him back so it is very possible we’ve seen the last of Gardy in Pinstripes. He’s wore the Pinstripes very proudly and I’ll cherish his time as a Yankee. 

Cameron Maybin
I like Cameron but he was just a 2019 ‘fill-in’ due to the massive number of injuries. He wasn’t brought in to be part of the future. Purely a “now” in-season acquisition, I don’t think he’ll be back.

Larry Rothschild
I hate to be critical of pitching coach Larry Rothschild because we do not see him “behind the scenes” and how truly valuable he has been for the Yankees, but if the Yankees could get someone like David Cone as pitching coach, you have to do it. I also like Andy Pettitte. I think both Cone and Pettitte would be better pitching coaches from the outside, looking in. I think Cone is the more likely option as Pettitte seems to be enjoying the low-stress life in Texas with family and high school coaching. Like Don Mattingly before him, he’ll eventually get the itch to get back into the game but I don’t think we’re quite there yet with him. So, David Cone would be my choice for pitching coach. I think he’d be tremendous in the role and would help the pitching staff to over-achieve.  

Strength & Conditioning Team
You’re all fired!  

This season has been so much fun for the Yankees and their fans (well, up until this past week and last night in particular). We’ll forever remember it as the Year of the Savages and the entire #NextManUp attitude. I was really hoping for CC Sabathia to leave with “book end” championships for his Yankees career, but it wasn’t meant to be. Hard to believe that we’ve completed the first decade of no Yankees appearances in the World Series for the past century. Hopefully the streak starts again when the new decade rolls in. I think the younger players on the team will take the current disappointment to fuel greater heights next year. Get ready for the constant “he’s only 23” for Gleyber Torres. This is not the closure of a window but rather the upward pressure on raising the window. We have every reason to believe the Yankees will win in 2020. The pressure is on Brian Cashman to make the right moves this off-season to enhance the team’s chances as we move forward. No doubt he saw what we saw and he’ll make the right moves. We just have to be patient for the next 3-4 months. Let’s see how this plays out. I have faith and confidence in the Yankees pursuit of a championship.  

As for baseball, I am done. I am not interested in a Nationals-Astros World Series. At this point, I just want the World Series to be over so that we can begin the latest off-season, with the usual excitement and anticipation for possible enhancements to the roster. I hope the Yankees can sign DJ LeMahieu to an extension with just one year left on his contract. I am sure the Yankees will be looking for another addition that can have the type of impact on the team like LeMahieu did this year. A great under-the-radar signing that yields tremendous fruit. I don’t know who or what position, but the quest every year is to ensure the best possible player or pitcher at every position. Team chemistry plays very strongly into the equation so it’s up to Cashman and his analytics team to show why they are considered among the best in the game. Attitude and talent, the formula is simple. Finding the ingredients is difficult but the Yankees have a great, still young core. The recipe doesn’t need to be changed, just the garnishments. Just like I was disappointed after the 1995 season, the future is bright. There is hope for 2020 and I am very excited about the future. We’ve not heard the last from this team. They’ll be back and stronger than ever.

Photo Credit: EPA  
As always, Go Yankees!