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 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!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)