Tuesday, February 23, 2021

New York Yankees 2021 Payroll Tracker

 I can't promise to keep it updated daily, but I will try and keep it updated as often as I can. This information all came via Spotrac, so send them their hate mail if your favorite site has a salary or option number different than what is show here. Thank you for reading. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Opening Soon: Steinbrenner Field...


Ladies & Gentlemen, I’d like to present…Major League Baseball…

Finally, it is the return of America’s favorite pastime. In a matter of days…and…between now and a number of COVID-19 tests, Major League Baseball will make its triumphant return for the 2021 season. Soon, our favorite players will be together again, working out on the fields in and around Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. It’s been a weird off-season…following an even weirder 2020 baseball season…but hopefully some sense of normalcy is waiting for us sometime later this summer as the vaccinations reach out to the mass populations. I am truly looking forward to watching a Major League game while sitting inside a Major League stadium.

Today’s big news if you want to call it that was Jay Bruce’s decision to sign a minor league contract with camp invitation for the only New York pro baseball team he has never played for. 

Photo Credit: Rich Schultz, Getty Images

I think immediately, me included, everyone thought the move might spell the end for Brett Gardner. From a skillset standpoint, Bruce hardly qualifies as a defensive outfielder and he certainly has no ability to play center field so he is not a replacement for Gardy. From my perspective, it is more about money. Bruce stands to make $1.35 million if he makes the team which, barring a complete flop in Tampa, he most likely will. Based on plate appearances, he can pick up an additional $500,000 if he reaches 500 plate appearances. Although it seems like he should be older, Bruce is only 34 (or will be on April 3rd) and can still do some major damage to a baseball. Given the Yankees remain in the market for another reliever and assuming they are roughly $7 million, give or take, under the $210 million luxury tax threshold, it becomes a question of how much can the Yankees offer Gardner to return coupled with how much is he willing to give up to stay?  I suppose that’s a question to be answered over the course of the next few days.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am ready to move on Brett Gardner. He has been a great Yankee and a great leader in recent years.  But there is a time when everything must end. I subscribe heavily to the belief I’d rather give up a player a year too soon than a year too late.  I had really hoped Estevan Florial would have been ready by now, but he’ll just be reaching Triple A this year (despite playing one game for the Yankees last year). A talented younger player (i.e., cheaper) with upside is more appealing to me as a backup when you are talking about the fifth outfielder. Not that I think Mike Tauchman is all that and a bag chips, but he’s younger and can do everything Gardy can (he’s 30 compared to Gardy’s 37…38 in August). So, Tauchman makes more sense as the fourth outfielder unless the Yankees can upgrade the position. I don’t think Gardy would come back for $3 million (could be wrong…stranger things have happened) and it makes no sense at all for the Yankees to spend $7 million to get him to come back.

The man who clearly should be worried about the presence of Jay Bruce is first baseman Mike Ford. 

When I hear the name Montero, I always shudder with disappointment thinking about failed former Yankees top prospect Jesus Montero. I guess I will need to find a cure as the Yankees have signed two unrelated Monteros, both international free agents. According to Baseball America, here are the international players signed by the Yankees (the July 2nd signing date last year had been pushed to January 15th due to the pandemic).

Hans Montero, shortstop, Dominican Republic

Fidel Montero, outfielder, Dominican Republic

Ramiro Altagracia, outfielder, Dominican Republic

Kleiner Delgado, shortstop, Venezuela

Johan Ferreira, third baseman, Dominican Republic

Hans Montero, 17, is 5’10”, 160 lbs. He reportedly signed for $1.6-$1.7 million. In their scouting report, Baseball America indicates Montero is likely to stick at shortstop, “with soft hands, a strong arm, and above-average speed”.

Fidel Montero is viewed as an athletic outfielder “with impressive raw tools who shows up-and-down game performance”. It does make you wonder if the Yankees hit the jackpot if they can iron out the wrinkles in his game. Fidel signed for only $500,000 but appears to carry strong potential. He is also 17 and stands 6’1” and weights 175-180 lbs.  Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media for NJ.com wrote the following quote today by ESPN’s MLB prospect insider Kiley McDaniel, “Some other teams tried to steal him. Some teams thought he was a $2 million talent. He’s just one of those dynamic centerfielders. Above average power potential. He can run. He can kind of do everything.”

Photo Credit: @benbadler (Twitter), Baseball America

I guess there’s hope on the way to remove my negative connotation associated with the name Montero. Sorry, if your name is Montero. It’s not personal. I just expected a little bit more from Jesus or rather I bought into the false hype…or to be nicer…inflated perception of potential. 

Welcome to the Yankees Family, Hans, Fidel, Ramiro, Kleiner & Johan!

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the Yankees were one of the teams talking to former Yankees reliever Justin Wilson, a lefty. I’ve seen a number of people call for the return of Trevor Rosenthal. I think either would be fine although Rosenthal, after a successful 2020 season with the Royals and Padres, figures to command the larger contract. MLB Trade Rumors projected 2 years and $14 million for Rosenthal which would seem to be a bit high for the Yankees. Did I really just say that? I know, it makes no sense. Taxes and penalties do not seem to be impacting the defending World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. But to the Dodgers’ defense, they would be “first-time” offenders above the threshold since they reset penalties in 2018 when the Yankees did but unlike the Yankees, did not go over the threshold last year. 

I have seen a few fans wanting the Yankees to re-sign David Robertson. As much as I liked D-Rob during his two stints with the Yankees, the way things ended when he left last time was unsettling. I am not sure if he is the one who denied playoff shares to Yankees Assistant Hitting Coach P.J. Pilittere and others since it would have been a team decision, but Robertson’s voice was instrumental as a players representative. It is unfortunate and maybe a little sad, but I’d rather not see Robertson return. I did see the Mets are shopping Dellin Betances. Sorry, that’s another one I’ll take a pass on. I don’t think he’ll ever be the elite reliever he once was and in recent years, the injury history is just too much. So, for ex-Yankees, give me Wilson or Rosenthal. 

February 17thsoon.

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

The Sound of Baseball in Tampa...


…is being drowned out by NFL Football…

Lots of activity near Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, this evening but unfortunately, it is of the football variety. Oh well, soon, Steinbrenner Field will be humming with the return of all players, new and old. Many of the team’s players are already in Tampa and it will be exciting when we can see player interviews as they arrive for Spring Training 2021. 

Photo Credit: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports

It was a pipe dream the Yankees would sign Trevor Bauer, I know, but there was a part of me that wanted Hal Steinbrenner to bust the budget to ensure a formidable rotation from top to bottom. Alas, he let President of Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Dodger, Andrew Friedman, spend the money of Mark Warner, Chairman & CEO, and his partners, for their title defense. Given how active the San Diego Padres have been this off-season, it was time for the Dodgers to do something. They’ve lost a few of their contributors over the past few years. Joc Pederson signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs, and Enrique “Kik√©” Hernandez now calls the AL East home after inking a deal with the Boston Red Sox. 

With the Yankees obviously trying to stay under the $210 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold, the Dodgers blasted through it. Their payroll is nearly $240 million, and they still need to decide whether they want to spend more to bring back free agent third baseman Justin Turner. Granted, if the Dodgers win the World Series again, I doubt there’s anyone in the organization that would say it wasn’t worth it so it’s hard to criticize them until/unless they fall short of their goal. 

I guess it boils down to whether the Yankees needed to spend more to compete with the Dodgers or the Padres or in-division against the Toronto Blue Jays, the clear up-and comer to replace the Tampa Bay Rays as the Yankees’ chief rival this year. Honestly, as structured, the Yankees stand as much of a chance to win in October as any other team. The Chicago White Sox are vastly improved, with a young core talent base, yet no team has a distinct advantage in the American League this season. Baseball is not always about the best but rather who is playing the best at the end. The Dodgers can pay Bauer $105 million over three years, but it doesn’t really guarantee they’ll be successful. The Yankees, led by Gerrit Cole, will have a top rotation if Corey Kluber can turn the calendar back a couple of years and if Jameson Taillon, with a fire lit under his butt thanks to the trade to a contender, can deliver healthy, productive innings. But setting them aside, Jordan Montgomery is a good option to have at the back end of a rotation, and I do believe we’ll see a breakout of one of the younger pitchers (the most probable, of course, being Clarke Schmidt). But if not Schmidt, I think another will take the opportunity. If we get into the season and Jhoulys Chacin is starting games, then we’ll know it all went horribly wrong. Until then, I will maintain the usual pre-season optimism the Yankees are entering a championship year. If not now, when? They have the team to do it this year.

I still expect the Yankees to announce a deal to bring back outfielder Brett Gardner for at least one more year. I am not really in favor of it, as I’ve said before. I would prefer to keep the money open for other potential in-season deals. As great a Yankee and leader as Gardy has been, they do not need him. Clint Frazier will be the leftfielder and Mike Tauchman is still hanging around as the fourth outfielder.  Not that I am Tauchman’s biggest fan, but it’s time for the Gardy party to end. It’s a bummer Estevan Florial has developed like we once thought he would. This would be his time if he had continued on his path of potential. At this point, he’s starting to seem like the latest Mason Williams even if some still think of him as an up and comer. Last year seems like a lost year in Florial’s development and I can’t say I am optimistic about his chances. Place that one under the category of “I hope I’m wrong”. I’d love to see Florial flourish at the Major League level.

Given the Yankees have yet to announce reliever Darren O’Day, it does seem GM Brian Cashman is working on something to clear some roster space. It doesn’t mean I am expecting something big. Yet, it seems like it would have been too easy to just cut outfielder Greg Allen or reliever Ben Heller so something else must be in play. Or Cashman’s trying and not succeeding in making the moves he has in mind with Allen or Heller ending up on the chopping room floor anyway. 

With the recent flurry of free agent signings as we get closer to Spring Training, I am surprised the Yankees haven’t been more active. The $210 million must be a “hard salary cap” in their eyes. Reset the penalties and then go after it again next year. I only hope we do not miss out during this championship window as a result. I guess this is where I wish the Yankees weren’t saddled with Giancarlo Stanton’s contract. Regardless of who it is, there always seems to be one player contract on the team that is an albatross. Alex Rodriguez’s final years…Jacoby Ellsbury. Stanton is the latest but someone else will take his place one day (just don’t let it be you, Gerrit!).  I don’t usually like salary dumps because you have to include quality prospects to entice other teams, but Stanton is emerging as a strong candidate, in my mind, if the Yankees could only find a taker. Unfortunately, I think they’re stuck with that one.

I like Luke Voit, I really do, but if the Yankees could trade him and acquire Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, sign me up. I’ve never been a big proponent of moving DJ LeMahieu to first base (losing his valuable glove at second base as a result), but, IMO, Gleyber Torres is a better second baseman than he is a shortstop. He has time to fix it, but Story would, pardon the pun, build upon the Yankees’ status of the most storied franchise. I’ve long admired Story and now that Francisco Lindor is no longer an option, he is probably my favorite trade target at the moment…even if he doesn’t bat lefthanded. 

I’d love to have another stopper in the bullpen but hopefully one of the young guys can bust through. I am holding out hope it is Nick Nelson who proves he can be a difference maker. It feels like the Yankees will sign another reliever before training camp, but I am keeping expectations low. For all intents and purposes, the pitchers, catchers and position players showing up in Tampa are those on the roster or in camp on minor league deals with training camp invitations. No “OMG, he’s a Yankee??!!!” moments coming up soon. I guess this is to be continued in July.

I am glad we’ll have a full 162-game schedule. I had prepared myself for a shortened schedule and delayed start to the season, but I am happy we can soon watch some baseball. I am hopeful the health and safety protocols will be sufficient to ensure uninterrupted play this season. Watching the Super Bowl with a packed stadium is kind of scary but I look forward to packed baseball stadiums in the not-so-distant future. Once it is healthy and safe to do so, of course. I would hate to go through another entire season with cardboard cut-outs in the stands. I miss the real sound and energy of a crowd and the ability to attend a game in person. I am nearing a year living within walking distance of a Major League baseball stadium and I’ve not been to a game. That is so wrong and not what I expected when I moved to the area.

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Spring Training, So Close Yet So Far Away...


Camps open in a couple of weeks, I think…

The final day of January means, generally speaking, we close the book on the last month without baseball (hopefully) until after the World Series. It has been an eventful January, all things considered, in the Yankees Universe. The official additions of Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon (“TIE-own”), the unofficial addition of Darren O’Day, the re-signing of hitting machine D.J. LeMahieu, and the sad farewell to Masahiro Tanaka.

When the Yankees didn’t aggressively pursue Tanaka after the season and then made the plays for Kluber and Taillon, it was fairly obvious there would be no return to Pinstripes for Tanaka. With some talk about the Toronto Blue Jays having interest in Tanaka, it was best case scenario for his return to Japan (if the Yankees weren’t going to bring him back). I am surprised more teams didn’t publicly express interest in Tanaka. He would make almost any rotation better. I get that he is no longer the pitcher, at age 32, he was at 25. The home runs could get annoying at times, but it was clear he loved New York and he loved the Yankees. When he had his opt-out a couple of years ago, I know the market conditions dictated his decision to some degree (or all of it), but I was proud of his choice not to opt-out. Time and again, we see players take the money and run (see Robinson Cano). Tanaka showed loyalty but sadly it didn’t really mean anything when it came time for the Yankees to make a business decision. 

Personally, I held out hope the Yankees would bring Masa back until the news of the official announcement of his two-year contract with Japan’s Rakuten Eagles. Suspecting his return was unlikely, I did try to hold some hope for the impossible.  For most of the off-season, I had said that I wanted one of Tanaka or James Paxton back. Now that Tanaka is gone, I can say I am not really interested in a reunion with Paxton. I like the guy and I think he’s a talented pitcher, but the first inning struggles last year wore on me and of course the injury cloud that seems to follow him is not very appealing.  Knowing that Jordan Montgomery is the team’s fourth starter behind Gerrit Cole, Kluber and Taillon, I’d rather see one of Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia, or Domingo German (or even Luis Medina) take the fifth spot over a more expensive Paxton. So, I thank the Big Maple for his time in Pinstripes and wish him the best for good health in his future opportunities with other teams. It would be great to see him put together a healthy, productive season with no injured list stints. I’d hate to see him go to Toronto to do it, so I am hopeful he’ll find a new home outside of the AL East. 

Another player I am ready to say goodbye to is Brett Gardner. I know he has been a loyal, productive soldier for the Yankees, but I think it is time for the younger guys. Left field clearly goes to Clint Frazier, and with Mike Tauchman on the roster, there really isn’t any need for Gardy at this point. Not that I am all that enamored with Tauchman, the Yankees need to open opportunities for younger guys. At this point, I’d rather see the Yankees protect the checkbook and reserve more funds for potential July trades when they can better assess their needs. Not that I care how much Hal Steinbrenner spends, but it is clear the team is intent on resetting the luxury tax penalties again. 

I like the pickup of former Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves reliever Darren O’Day. After the trade of Adam Ottavino to the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees clearly had a need and O’Day should prove to be an upgrade. That’s tough to say because I had really wanted Ottavino to succeed as a Yankee. There’s always a sting when a former Yankee goes to Boston, especially when that player is a native New Yorker, and it probably added some salt to the wound that it was the Yankees who sent him there. I could be wrong, but I think his stay in Beantown will only last the duration of his current contract (more probable even less when the July trade deadline rolls round if the Red Sox, as expected, are toiling at or near the AL East cellar). I don’t think he’s a Red Sock beyond the 2021 season. Stranger things have happened, and Ottavino has a connection to Boston, having played college ball at Northeastern University. 

MLB made a proposal to the Players Association today for a delayed start to the 2021 season with a modified 154-game schedule. If the proposal is accepted, spring training would not start until late March so scratch what I said at the top of this post. I do feel the players need to be guaranteed of full pay regardless of what happens, but setting that aside, as much as I want baseball to return, I think a delayed start might be for the best as we try to move forward with the pandemic. With each passing month, we get closer to broader distribution of the vaccines. I know I don’t want any disruptions during the season, so I’d rather have caution at the start to ensure the enjoyment of a full and uninterrupted schedule. Given baseball used to only play 154 games, it’s not like sacred tradition is being broken.  The cream is still going to rise to the top with 154-game schedule. But conversely, the major downside is players are preparing for mid-February arrival and the delay could adversely impact preparation. We saw a number of players last year that didn’t have the years we expected and there’s no question in my mind the delays were a common denominator among the root causes. Not solely, of course, but the delays played a part and there were players who were not at their best from a physical conditioning standpoint.

I guess more than anything, I am trying to say I am ready for baseball to start in a couple of weeks but if it is delayed, I am not going to scream. A mutual decision must be made between MLB and the Players Association and I’ll respect said decision regardless of the outcome. 

I do really want baseball back. Yet, the greater priority is the health of players and fans. 

I feel bad Colorado Rockies fans. After living among them for the four years (before moving to Los Angeles last year), I know how much they love their team and its players. I am sure it was very difficult for them to hear the new the Rockies were putting the final touches on a trade to send star third baseman Nolan Arenado (and $50 million in cash) to the St Louis Cardinals. I have to credit Daniel Kramer, a Seattle-based MLB reporter, on Twitter (@DKramer_) with the best tweet analysis of the Rockies organization: “Let’s review: The $70M Ian Desmond Experiment. The $106M in 3 bullpen arms that they all eventually released. Inadequately evaluating DJLM and letting him turn into an MVP elsewhere. Signing Dan Murphy for same $ as DJ. Paying $50M to get rid of your franchise star.” Well, I am okay with their inadequate evaluation of DJLM. Yankee fans continue to salivate over German Marquez and Trevor Story, sensing a fire sale in The Mile High City. The talk is they’ll use Nolan’s money to lock up Story, but it’s hard to see him staying in Denver for the long term. Todd Helton was a rare exception. It seems that most Colorado superstars eventually move on to other cities to make their mark.

Congratulations to Didi Gregorius on his new two-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies recently signed another former Yankee to play for manager Joe Girardi when they gave a non-roster invitation to Ivan Nova. Ronald Torreyes will also be in Phillies camp on a non-roster invite.

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Yankees Tai One On...

Photo Credit: Gene J Puskar, AP

Welcome to New York, Jameson Taillon…

While we continue to wait for the Yankees to make room on the active roster for D.J. LeMahieu and Corey Kluber, former Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jameson Taillon nudged his way to the first spot that opened, thanks to the trade of four prospects, including two cardholders for the 40-man roster, to the Pirates. 

My first reaction was disappointment. I am not trying to be negative about Taillon. I agree he is a very talented pitcher and I’ve admired him for a few years, but he’s had his share of setbacks which includes two Tommy John surgeries. I admire his courage and perseverance through surgery for testicular cancer so that’s certainly not viewed as a negative from my perspective. My hesitation about Taillon is only the risk, the injury risk. Yet, as the trade sank in, I think Cashman made a good trade to pick up a starting pitcher with high upside without giving up any top ten prospects. RHP Miguel Yajure, ranked at 15, was the highest rated prospect. Yajure is talented and many fans liked him but he’s replaceable. The other prospects were RHP Roansy Contreras, infielder Maikol Escotto and outfielder Canaan Smith.

I’ve heard fans say Cashman fleeced the Pirates. I don’t know that I would go that far. I think there is strong potential with a few of the prospects the Yankees gave up and it could very well be the trade works out more in the favor of the Pirates. But for a win-now team, it is a good trade for the Yankees. If the Yankees win a World Series with Taillon’s help, the trade will have been worth it regardless of how the quartet of former Yankees prospects do in the Steel City. I’ve seen some prospect-huggers lament the loss of Yajure and Contreras, but it takes quality to get quality. The Yankees weren’t the only team knocking at the door of Pirates GM Ben Cherington and they had to put together a package to entice the former Red Sox GM to make a deal over others. 

I think my disappointment was higher expectations. I wanted a very strong number two starting pitcher to slot in behind Gerrit Cole. Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon both have the potential to be strong numbers two’s and so does Luis Severino when he returns later this summer, but it’s the dreaded injury label attached to each pitcher. I get it, there are no certainties and a player who has been completely healthy over the course of his career is not guaranteed of future health. I think reading some of Gerrit Cole’s comments about Taillon and his resiliency to overcome challenges strikes a chord. Taillon has the attitude and the talent to succeed in New York. He has emerged from each setback with greater fire and determination. 

Photo Credit: Gene J Puskar, AP

My desire for the Yankees to sign free agent pitcher Trevor Bauer, the best available starter on the open market, was flawed. There was no chance the Yankees were going to make the financial commitment it would take to sign Bauer for the obvious luxury cap implications. I was hopeful the Yankees would bring back one of Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton despite their respective injury concerns. For Tanaka, it’s always been a matter of that little tear in his elbow. For Paxton, he’s just a talented guy who can’t stay healthy. I think both Tanaka and Paxton loved their time in Pinstripes and that does matter. I respect guys who see it as more than just a paycheck.  I suppose the additions of Kluber, and Taillon officially close the book on the Yankee careers of the two free agent pitchers. I thought Tanaka was a good Yankee. There were times of frustrations but when isn’t that true about any player. We’re passionate fans who care about the team and its success.  If this is the end for Tanaka, I do wish him the very best, whether it is a continued career in MLB or if he heads back to Japan to play. I enjoyed his time as a Yankee. Until he’s officially gone, I will hold out hope for a return, but the glimmer of possibility seems to be fading.

Another way to look at the Taillon trade is the Yankees remain stocked with strong upper-level prospects, meaning they have the trade chips to tweak the team in July. Luis Castillo, anyone?

It saddens me but I think another soon to be ex-Yankee is Adam Ottavino. The reason is obviously money. Heading into the final year of the three-year deal he signed with the Yankees, he counts $9 million toward the luxury cap. Eliminating the salary and going with younger cost-controlled pitchers certainly helps the Yankees stay at or below the luxury cap threshold.

In contradiction to some fans, I don’t think it’s a matter of being “luxury tax champions” for the Yankees. At the end of the day, Major League Baseball is a business, and the owners want to make money like anyone else. We love it when owners go all in for a championship but trying to be objective, it is not a sound financial strategy. I come down on Hal from time to time, but he has to be concerned with the future of the brand and the financial stability for his family. I can’t imagine the pressure associated with owning the most storied franchise in baseball history and its high expectations. I think fans, which includes me, are getting impatient to win a championship, but you can’t draw a direct correlation to amount of money spent versus the increased likelihood of success. You have to make the right personnel decisions and sometimes it involves the ‘low cost, high upside’ approach. It is simply not possible to put All-Stars, tried and true elite players, at every position. So, I’ll back off and let Team Cashman continue their roster adjustments as the Yankees prepare for the 2021 season. The proof is in the pudding. If the Yankees have a successful year (meaning championship), Cashman and Company deserve the accolades. If they fail, then we’ll cross the bridge at that time. Every year without a championship increases my desire for front office change. But until then, I hope, I pray, Cashman can field a team capable of being the last team standing in October.

The wildcard with a rotation featuring Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, Luis Severino (when he returns), and Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, Domingo German among others, is Clarke Schmidt. If he has a breakout year in 2021 and the rest of the guys can stay healthy, the Yankees do have a championship caliber rotation.  Ifs and buts…I know…but I do believe in Schmidt’s talent and the day of “arrival” is coming soon. 

For as often as former Yankee catchers end up in Pittsburgh, I am sure there were more than a few fans hoping Gary Sanchez would become a Pirate today. I am glad he didn’t. I remain hopeful that he’ll fulfill the promise he showed us several seasons ago. Austin Wells will be ready within a few years, so I am going to be patient with Sanchez. It’s hard for me to criticize a player on the 2020 season simply because 2020 was such a nightmare of a year all the way around. I continue to believe Sanchez will continue to mature and evolve into the catcher we hope he can be.  Until Wells is ready, it’s not like we really have any other options at the moment. Kyle Higashioka is not the answer. I am hopeful and optimistic for a better year in 2021 for Sanchez. I do believe if he continues to struggle, the Yankees and Sanchez might be on track for a change of scenery, but I’ll hold out hope it does not happen. 

I was sorry to see the passing of baseball legend Henry “Hank” Aaron. I can remember when he was an active player, but it was at the very end and I don’t think I was able to fully understand or comprehend, at my then-young age, the magnitude of his contributions to the game of baseball and to the game of life. Some players are great…elite…above all others, yet they are even better human beings. Derek Jeter is one, so is the late Kobe Bryant who passed a year ago this month.  I am sorry that I was never able to see Hank Aaron play. I always thought it was cool that the baseball announcer who made the iconic call for Aaron’s history making home run was the late Milo Hamilton “Here’s the pitch by Downing. Swinging. There’s a drive into left-center field. That ball is going to be out of here! IT’S GONE! IT’S 715! There’s a new home run champion of all-time! And it’s Henry Aaron!” Hamilton was born and raised in my hometown, Fairfield, Iowa, a small farming community in southeastern Iowa. Although I never met Hamilton, he was a bit of a local celebrity. Hank Aaron, we are glad you were here. We will carry the memories of your greatness always and we’ll remember the lessons you taught us about life forevermore.   

Photo Credit: AP

As always, Go Yankees!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Men of No Emotion...

Photo Credit: Getty Images, Corey Sipkin (via NY Post)

Yankees sign LeMahieu and Kluber… 

Hey, Cashman woke me up from my nap. C’mon, man… 

After months of crickets, last Friday turned out to be a very productive day in the Yankees Universe. Getting out of bed on Friday morning, I saw the reports the Yankees and D.J. LeMahieu were nearing a deal. A pleasant way to wake up.  Sure enough, it came to fruition in the form of a 6-year, $90 million deal. Some fans were freaked out about the length of the contract, but there’s no doubt the Yankees are looking at this as a four-year deal and the extra two only served to lower the average annual value. As much as I love LeMahieu and as happy as I am he’s back, there is no way LeMahieu is still a Yankee by Year Six. Well, unless he keeps on hitting like a machine. I think the Yankees probably feel anything they get in the last two years is gravy. If not, they’ll just cut bait and move on.    

I had hoped the Yankees and LeMahieu could find common ground because it certainly seemed like both sides like each other. I did have my fears he’d take his trade across town to join Francisco Lindor and the New York Mets or even head north of the border to play for the looming beast of a team that is beginning to take shape in Toronto. The Los Angeles Dodgers also loomed as a threat and I am sure D.J. entertained thoughts about what it would be like to play in Colorado every year wearing enemy gear. 

The news later in the day that the Yankees had reached agreement on a one-year, $11 million contract with Corey Kluber was hardly a surprise. Given how much the Yankees have coveted Kluber in the past, despite his recent run of injury problems, it seemed like they always had a leg up on everybody else if for no other reason than pitching coach Matt Blake (from their time together in Cleveland) and his long-time history of working with Yankees’ director of player health and performance, Eric Cressey. There are reports Kluber had offers for more money but he chose the Yankees. 

Regardless of how he got here, I am glad Kluber is a Yankee. But it does come at a cost, there are now reports the Yankees are unlikely to re-sign Masahiro Tanaka. That makes me sad. He’s been a good Yankee. Sure, he can be frustrating at times and it was evident in the playoffs last year the Yankees didn’t trust him at that point. Yet, I would have gladly accepted his return to be a third or fourth starter.  It kind of sucks to think he’ll most likely be pulling on a different uniform this year. I only hope that he does not sign with an AL East rival. I’d probably feel better if Kluber was a sure thing but he’s not. The Texas Rangers made the investment in Kluber and got almost nothing to show for it other than a few pics of Kluber wearing different versions of Rangers jerseys. I know Tanaka is always a bad pitch away from Tommy John surgery, but he does seem like a healthier option than Kluber at the moment. This of course could change if Kluber shows he is still Klubot.  

After word of Kluber’s signing circulated (hasn’t been officially announced yet), Yankee fans almost immediately began clamoring for Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo. Yes, I’d love to have Castillo in the rotation with Gerrit Cole and Kluber (and eventually Luis Severino), but I’ve learned whenever there is this much noise about a player and the Yankees, it almost never comes to fruition.  Brian Cashman just doesn’t work that way. He strikes quickly and quietly as we know so well. So, the more people talk about a possible Castillo trade, the less likely I see it really happening. 

I do think The Greedy Pinstripes’ Daniel Burch is onto something with his campaign to bring Trevor Bauer to the Bronx. Unlike Kluber, you can count on Bauer to give you innings. He’ll also be one of the better pitchers in the league which positions him nicely to be the #2 rather than Kluber. I doubt the Yankees spend the money, but they need more than one superstar, a roll of the dice with a former Cy Young Award winner and a bunch of kids.  Sorry, Monty, I know you’re not a kid but…we need more. Which is EXACTLY why we need Kluber's former (future?) teammate.

Photo Credit: AP

It was so fun having certainty in one rotation spot last year. I know, Cole is going to lose from time to time and yes, he’ll give up the dingers like anybody else, but when he was on the mound, you felt confident about the Yankees’ chances. It’s been a very long time since I had that feeling. It would be nice to have the same feeling about two spots in the rotation. So, Hal, please sign Trevor Bauer. It’s only money and you’ll earn it back with the next championship.  Get Greedy! 

I suppose that if it is unlikely Tanaka will be back, there’s a snow ball’s chance in hell that we’ll see James Paxton again. SNY reported earlier today that Tanaka is seeking a one-year deal in the range of $15 to $20 million. If he does sign for that level of money, then it is probably best the Yankees decided to part ways. I personally don’t think he’ll get it, not in this depressed market…I just don’t want to see him sign for an unusually low amount that the Yankees could have easily matched.  

I think the Yankees are not done yet, even if I don’t believe there’s any traction for a Luis Castillo trade. I think Cashman recognizes the team has holes, and there are other teams that have gotten substantially better. I don’t exactly remember how the quote goes, but it’s akin to being unrealistic if you expect a different result when you do keep doing the same thing over and over. The Yankees proved they couldn’t win last October and they do need to do something different to change the outcome. Betting on Corey Kluber is not the smart play. Hence, my belief that Cashman is getting ready to pull his magic act again.  

I’ve seen a few articles predicting a major breakout this year by Clarke Schmidt. While I recognize it could happen, I remain in the ‘I’ll have to see it to believe it’ category. Not trying to diss Schmidt and I certainly feel he can be a dominant pitcher, but he hasn’t done it yet. Until he does, I will carry some skepticism (or maybe realism). I’d love to see him explode in 2021 like nothing we’ve seen since the Summer of ’78. He’ll certainly have his opportunities this year and I truly hope he makes the most of them. 

As always, Go Yankees!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Dissecting Trevor Bauer’s Free Agency Wants & Needs


Trevor Bauer is the top available free agent starting pitcher on the market and has vowed to do things differently this offseason in his approach to his own free agency. Rather than doing things like most/every free agent available before him, Trevor and his agent Rachel Luba are trying to control more of the flow of information themselves rather than letting rumors and “fake news” dictate the narrative. Personally, I love this approach because through his social media platforms, Twitter and YouTube specifically, Trevor can engage the fans and keep them in the loop. It is also fun to watch him and Luba replying to Jon Heyman calling out his inaccuracies and falsehoods because who doesn’t like to see that? To take that one step further, who wouldn’t enjoy watching Heyman having to credit me with breaking the news on where Bauer signs, and for how much? You want to do things different, then be different. Chris Cotillo breaking the Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals was different, watching all the national Baseball writers having to credit a High School kid was different. Selling yourself on YouTube and creating your brand is also different, but which one is more different? I guess that’s Trevor’s decision, Day 14 of me asking him to allow me to break his news comes tomorrow on Twitter regardless though.


Bauer released a video on his YouTube channel last night outlining what was important to him in his free agency search, as well as what may not be as important as much to him. I took notes and will cover as much as I can here in this article, but I encourage you to check out the video below and I encourage you to subscribe to his channel, even if he doesn’t end up signing with your favorite team. It’s a great follow and it’s the inside information and content that I think we, the MLB fans, have been clamoring for forever.


First of all, Trevor wearing a shirt that says “Spin Rate” with a spinning top in the middle was the perfect shirt for the video and the perfect way to get his brand out there a little more, in my opinion. I’m an analytical and advanced metrics guy, plus I make t-shirts on the side, so this one touched me personally as a fan. It made me want to buy one, whether he comes to the Bronx or not, and that, in a nutshell, is what Bauer wants to accomplish with his brand. Kudos to him, it’s working.


Trevor wants to build a partnership with his next team. Trevor wants a team that is willing to let Trevor be Trevor, but he also wants a team that is willing to listen to him to garner ideas, philosophies, etc. because he thinks he can bring a lot to any team that he signs with. How can you disagree with that given his history, which is something he also specifically touched on in his video. His performance, his durability, his increase in spin rate, etc. were all specifically touched on in the video, as well as his ability to grow his brand, to be able to vlog to his fans, to be able to help people through charities (HOPE WEEK for the win, am I right?), and to help his teammates get the recognition that they deserve. Trevor used being an inspiration for kids and getting his teammates to their favorite concerts as examples of this. Trevor wants to be a great teammate and grow with everyone, which spits in the face of the narrative that he and former teammate Gerrit Cole being on the same causing a ruckus in the Bronx. Trevor has stated multiple times that he has no issues with Cole and that playing on the same team as the Yankees workhorse would not be an issue for him, or for the rest of the team. Trevor is a genuine guy and I believe him. Could he just be saying that to keep the dream alive that the Yankees and their checkbook are still in the fold potentially? Sure, but again… Trevor seems like a genuine guy. If he had an issue with Cole I don’t think he would go out of the way to trash him, but at the same time I think his responses would have been much different when asked as well.


Trevor outlined what is important to him, and what isn’t so important to him, in the video, but stated that he didn’t want his “important” list to be construed as a demand list. Trevor mentioned multiple times that it was a preference of his but continued to stress that this would be a partnership between him and his new team. What isn’t so important to Trevor is geography and the size of the media market that he would be entering via free agency. Trevor knows he can build his brand on Twitter and YouTube whether he pitched in the Bronx or whether he pitched in Bismarck, North Dakota. Trevor has proven this, we are all sitting here talking about him this winter after being drafted by a small market team in the Arizona Diamondbacks before making a name for himself in equally smaller markets in Cleveland and Cincinnati.


What is important to Trevor is his happiness. Trevor stated that he has spent a lot of time, both his personal life and his baseball life, unhappy and that he doesn’t want to waste more of his time staying that way. Kudos to him. Life is short, way too short, and every second you spend unhappy is a second that you won’t get back. Trevor also wants a team that is willing to accept the way Trevor goes about himself and the way he goes about getting ready for the game. Trevor mentioned how he was told he shouldn’t throw weighted balls by the Diamondbacks because he would throw his arm out, and how that now most pitchers throw with weighted balls. Bauer wanted to emphasize that this didn’t mean that he was necessarily un-coachable, but instead emphasized the partnership with any potential team he signed with. Bauer is open to ideas from his next pitching coach and organization but wants it to be a two-way revolving door with the organization and pitching coach also willing to listen and potentially implement some of his ideas. I think this is where the Yankees may gain a slight advantage, given that former Indians pitching coach and current Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake know Bauer very well.


Trevor knows he has a finite number of years to play at the MLB level and he wants the opportunity to not only compete for a World Series every year, which he would get in the Bronx, but he also wants to win a World Series. In my opinion, the Yankees window to win the World Series is two years, subject to change. After two years the contracts of Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, etc. begin getting expensive through arbitration and that will dictate how long the window stays open. Adding Bauer, depending on the length of the contract of course, potentially extends that window accordingly.


Bauer also wants to at least have a discussion about pitching every fourth day, stating that he tracks everything about his body and his performance. Bauer thinks he can be even better pitching every fourth day, which in a lot of ways would work best for the New York Yankees. The Yankees need innings and Bauer pitching every fourth day instead of every fifth day could solve a lot of problems in the Bronx. Bauer specifically touched on how him pitching every fourth day could potentially allow a pitcher who pitches better on five- or six-days rest (check Masahiro Tanaka’s stats with the extra day of rest for an example. We all know he prefers to come back here and could presumably be had for “cheap”) or a pitcher on a team-imposed innings limit (Clarke Schmidt, Domingo German, Deivi Garcia, and eventually Luis Severino come to mind immediately) could benefit from having Bauer pitch more often.


What it will come down to is money. Bauer has a pretty good idea what he is worth, and he wants to be compensated fairly for it, not only for his projections into 2021 and beyond, but from his past as well. Bauer noted and recognized that he has had good seasons and down seasons, but his durability and uptick in spin rate, etc. This is where I believe it gets dicey for the Yankees, specifically. Is the mandate to get under the $210 million luxury tax threshold posturing, or is it a real mandate? I am leaning towards the former and not the latter, but unfortunately, I know just as much (or as little) as the rest of us. I do know one thing though, if the Yankees want him here and if Bauer wants to pitch for this club, they can get creative and work something out. Defer money, whatever needs to be done.


We learned a lot by listening to Bauer, more than we ever learned from Jon Heyman tweets this offseason, so I compiled them into a PROS and CONS list specifically linked to my favorite team, the New York Yankees.




  • Yankees HOPE WEEK
  • A seemingly fun, young(er) clubhouse based on the love of the game and unity.
  • A media market and fan base that would embrace Trevor’s ideologies on the game in terms of social media, analytics, and the desire to win a World Series every single year.
  • Former Indians pitching coach Matt Blake is the pitching coach in the Bronx




  • I don’t think the Yankees will meet the fiscal needs of Trevor outlined in his video so that he can continue to grow his brand. The $210 million mandate is real, whether they say it out loud or not.


Will the Yankees sign Trevor Bauer this offseason? In my opinion, the only thing keeping them from signing him will be his fiscal demands. I think given a two-year championship window that the tax shouldn’t be a concern, especially with the new CBA presumably coming after this season (and all the fiscal unknowns that come with it), but I am not in those war room discussions. I personally would buy a Bauer shirt/jersey day one if he signed in the Bronx and I think a ton of others would, but none of us know what’s going on inside the mind of Hal Steinbrenner. One thing I think we all know for a fact, though, is that the Yankees need pitching and Bauer is the best pitcher available. Bauer would make every single player on that team better and he would make every decision that Matt Blake, manager Aaron Boone, and GM Brian Cashman makes that much easier. It is the perfect storm, and the storm is here, now it’s up to the Yankees to walk into the eye of that storm and grab the most coveted piece on the free agent market… you know, like George would have done.


Get Greedy, Get Bauer.


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Ready, Set, Wait...


 Slow-Moving Off-Season continues…

We are now into the new year, yet it’s been nothing but crickets at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees really are making it tough for bloggers. Throw us bone, please!

Yes, we’ve acquired the speedy Greg Allen (Triple A depth) and journeyman starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin  (who kind of feels like the latest iteration of Gio Gonzalez) on minor league deals. No noteworthy news at the Major League level has been transacted or at least anything of substance. The Yankees Universe continues to wait for news on D.J. LeMahieu who continues to solicit offers from other teams before hopefully allowing the Yankees a chance for their final offer. True or untrue, I heard the Los Angeles Dodgers are unwilling to go a fifth year in their bid for LeMahieu which would seem to aid the Yankees. As much as I like D.J., I’d be unwilling to go a fifth year too if for no other reason than his current age.  Sorry, when it comes to baseball, I do have age discrimination. We simply get old and our athletic performance declines. It sucks but it’s life.  As long as the Yankees can get D.J. on a three or four year deal, I am hopeful and optimistic the two parties can come together on a mutually rewarding contract. 

With the drawn-out process for LeMahieu, I did expect the Yankees to be more aggressive in pursuing alternative plans. Sure, I wanted Francisco Lindor and would have loved to have placed him at short in Yankee Stadium, with the move of Gleyber Torres back to second base. But realistically, I never thought it would happen. I am little bummed the Mets grabbed Lindor to give them another star player but if the Yankees bring back LeMahieu, he (Lindor) simply was not a need. Now that he is no longer an option, I hope more than ever the Yankees can come to an agreement with Le Machine. It’s been my preference all along but it just feels like Plan B is starting to dissipate. LeMahieu or bust. I do wonder if LeMahieu does leave, would the Yankees quickly pivot to bring back fan favorite Didi Gregorius? Love Didi, but it does not feel like an improvement.

I remain convinced, despite his personality, Trevor Bauer can be a force for the Yankees if he were to sign. He has the proven ability to be a solid number two behind Gerrit Cole and represent a strong hedge for the return of Luis Severino at some point next season. I appreciate Trevor’s intensity and he is clearly one of those guys you may hate on other teams, you’d love him on yours. I guess it’s debatable if he could co-exist with Gerrit Cole, but if they are fighting for a common goal, you’d think they could find harmony. The idea of placing your bets on a comeback by Corey Kluber seems like a flawed strategy if the Yankees are waiting to see if he has anything left. His injury history in recent years alone is enough for me to say thanks but no thanks. I am not willing to go the ’lightning in a bottle’ approach with a team that has World Series ambitions.

The Tampa Bay Rays might not be as strong in 2021 as they were in 2020, but that does not mean the Yankees should let up on the gas pedal. There are other teams actively getting better. You must beat them if you want the end prize.

It does kind of suck that after waiting for years to get out from under the heavy contracts of Alex Rodriguez and Jacoby Ellsbury, we are, similarly, now in waiting with Giancarlo Stanton. It is seemingly always one contract that prevents the Yankees from being the best they can be.

I know the Yankees have a plan and I am sure they’ll field a team this year that will be playing in October, but admittedly, my faith and confidence in Brian Cashman is eroding. I do see life after Cash. Not sure who should be the next general manager but it is something I think Hal Steinbrenner needs to consider at some point. In many ways, I think the loss of Hank Steinbrenner was devastating. He may not have been a good “face” for the Yankees like his more diplomatic brother has been, but, with his aggressive, George-like personality, he was a good counter-balance for the conservative, professional bean-counting Hal. You know behind closed doors, Hank and Hal probably had some very spirited conversations. Without Hank’s voice, Hal is free to be as conservative as he wants to be. I doubt the Steinbrenner sisters bring the ghost of their father into a room like Hank did. I don’t know the Steinbrenner family personally, but from the outside looking in, the sisters have never appeared to be very vocal. At least not in public settings I’ve seen.

Not sure what I think about the Gerrit Cole text message issue yet. I need to see more evidence and how this plays out. Cole reportedly sent a text message to fired Angels visiting clubhouse assistant Brian “Bubba” Harkins which stated, “Hey Bubba, it’s Gerrit Cole. I was wondering if you could help me out with this sticky situation (winky face emoji). We don’t see you until May, but we have some road games in April that are cold weather places. The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold…”.  The text was sent in January 2019 while Cole was still a member of the Houston Astros. It certainly doesn’t show Cole in good light, but Harkins is clearly motivated to negatively portray MLB in his battle with the Los Angeles Angels. I am not going easy on Cole just because he is a Yankee. I’d feel the same if Harkins was echoing the same message about star pitchers on other teams. We need to understand all the facts before we pass judgment. No doubt MLB will be investigating the allegations and they’ll take the appropriate action.

I just saw the Washington Nationals have signed Kyle Schwarber. I was indifferent to his possible signing with the Yankees although I thought he could be effective in Yankee Stadium. However, I still want to see Clint Frazier succeed and there was simply no room for Schwarber on the Yankees. Yet, I am sure many Yankee fans will be groaning about another player lost while the Yankees remain inactive.

Lastly, I’d like to say farewell to one of Major League baseball’s greatest legends…former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. I remember how much I disliked Tommy back in the 1977 and 1978 World Series, yet over time, I began to appreciate and love his personality. I have always enjoyed his stories about the great 1988 World Series year for the Dodgers, and other tales from his career. He was good for the game and he remained such a valued treasure in the Dodgers organization. At 93, it was a good run. Many of us will not make it that far. It was a good life, and he can leave proud of his accomplishments. He will be missed. Rest in Peace, Tommy…

As always, Go Yankees!