Saturday, October 29, 2022

The Not Ready for Offseason Players...

Anthony Rizzo, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks (Photo Credit: John Minchillo/AP)

Season ends too quickly for the New York Yankees…

“As far as Boone’s concerned, we just signed him and for all the same reasons I listed a year ago,

I believe he is a very good manager. I don’t see a change there.”

 –Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner.

Well, so much for everyone’s offseason plan starting with the firing of Manager Aaron Boone. While I can so easily talk myself into all the right reasons Joe Maddon or Don Mattingly should be the next manager of the New York Yankees, the truth is we are married to Aaron Boone…for better or for worse.

Aaron Boone (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

I personally like Boone. He seems like a fun, lighthearted guy that would be great to have a beer with and talk about the finer details of Major League Baseball. I only question his ability to manage a championship baseball team. He is an intelligent guy who has proven he can win from April to September, but then October happens. Or, in Boone’s case...does not happen. The inconsistency of lineups and the bullpen mismanagement, just to name a few faults…are the things that drive me nuts. I heard “punt lineup” more frequently this season than I ever have before.

Understanding that Boone is the manager of the Yankees for at least the next two years, there must be other changes to improve the team, to make it better when October arrives. Fire or move Bench Coach Carlos Mendoza. By all accounts, Mendy is a nice guy, and he is a knowledgeable coach, but my problem is that he is too much like Boone. Boone needs to be challenged. He does not need a guy sitting next to him always in agreement. Decisions must be challenged. I have been screaming for an experienced bench coach since Boone arrived. First it was a buddy, and now it is a good friend on the coaching staff. I want someone who can make Boone feel uncomfortable. Someone who is not afraid to speak his mind. Last year, before he was hired by the Mets, I thought Buck Showalter would be an ideal bench coach. Granted, he probably would have never taken the position, but someone along those lines. Old school, hard-nosed, opinionated, willing to consider analytics but ultimately making decisions on the strength of knowledge and experience intertwined with the information provided by the nerds.

I feel strongly that a Don Zimmer-like bench coach would make Boone a better manager, just as Zimmer helped usher Joe Torre into the Hall of Fame. Even a guy like Hensley Meulens, already on Boone’s staff as an assistant hitting coach, would be superior to Mendoza. I always thought Ron Washington (currently third base coach for the Atlanta Braves) was a good coach and would certainly fit. Regardless, Boone needs a different and more experienced voice in his ear to help make better decisions.

The Aaron Judge rumors are getting old, and the off-season has not officially started. The Yankees could have avoided this mess by signing Judge to an extension prior to the season. We have heard the San Francisco Giants will not underbid in their attempt to bring the slugger home to California, a story subsequently refuted by the Giants. The talk in Los Angeles about moving Mookie Betts to second base to open right field for Judge in Dodger Stadium. Steve Cohen using his financial might to bring Judge to Queens. There will be many more rumors before Judge signs. Yesterday’s misinformation was a Bleacher Report that Judge had removed the Yankees as a connection on Instagram and Twitter, only later to learn Judge has never had the Yankees as a connection.

I want Aaron Judge to return to the Yankees. I want him to be the next Captain of the team. Like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera before him, he should only wear one uniform in his playing career…the famed Pinstripes. But…what if Judge does not want to stay in New York? We must be open for the possibility that other factors may draw him elsewhere. I will continue to hope for the best, and not try to read too much into the rumors. Hal Steinbrenner understands what Aaron Judge means to the Yankees, the City of New York, and baseball in general. If the Yankees do not use their vast resources to retain one of baseball’s best players, it will be a disappointment for sure. Yet, if he leaves, the sun will still rise the next day and the team will move forward. We will still be Yankee fans, and there will be other players we cheer for. No one player is greater the game.

Aaron, please know we want you back. Always and forever, our friend.

Aaron Judge & Current (and, hopefully, Future) Teammates (Photo Credit:

The Anthony Rizzo opt-out. Rizzo, who has up to five days after the World Series to exercise the opt-out of the second year of his two-year, $32 million contract, is expected to do it. I want him to stay in New York, but only if it makes financial sense. I have seen fans suggesting a four-year, $100 million deal for Rizzo which does not make sense (at least not to me). Rizzo will turn 34 next August. A two- or three-year deal, maybe. I value strong defense at first base, and Rizzo’s leadership in the clubhouse has been vital. The Yankees are better with, than without, him. Hopefully the two sides can reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial for both sides.

Anthony Rizzo (Photo Credit: @Yankees via

The other free agents. The Yankees would be foolish not to exercise the club option on Luis Severino so to see his name on free agent lists seems premature. We can easily say that Luis Severino will be a Yankee in 2023. His 2023 contract calls for $15 million and carries a $2.75 million buyout if the Yankees do not pick up the club option. There is no chance they will not.

I would like to see Andrew Benintendi return to play left field. With his ability to get on-base (a sorely needed ingredient a couple of weeks ago), he fits the roster and makes the team better. I get the fans’ love of impending free agent Brandon Nimmo, and he would be a great add but I can easily “settle” for Benny’s return. Speaking of Mets/ex-Mets, Michael Conforto has been cited as a possible replacement for Aaron Judge. If Nimmo and Conforto are Yankees next year, something went horribly wrong. Not trying to disrespect Conforto, whom I think is a good ball player, but rather the circumstances that could potentially place both Nimmo and Conforto on the Yankees.

While I would love to see the Yankees and Zack Britton come together for a short-term deal, it seems more probable his Yankee playing days are over. I appreciate his attempt to comeback late in the season after his recovery from Tommy John surgery even if it proved unsuccessful. I have enjoyed Britton on the roster, and he is a great spokesperson for the team. It seems more probable he will pitching elsewhere next season. I appreciate his time with the Yankees and wish the ending could have been better for all concerned.

I never liked Chad Green, the starter, but Chad Green, the reliever, was a force in the Yankees bullpen. Unfortunately, he had been trending downward in recent seasons, and now he is lost for the majority of the 2023 season after Tommy John surgery earlier this year. It seems unlikely to me that the Yankees will re-sign him. He will depart the same way Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, and Tommy Kahnle did before him. Another team, like the Dodgers or Rays, will sign him to a two-year deal, hoping for the best in the second season.

Jameson Taillon seems like a goner. There were times I loved Jamo and times I could not stand him. I think if I had my choice, I would keep him on the roster, but it seems the Yankees will go in other directions. For the regular season, he was 14-5 with a 3.91 ERA. He started 32 games and had 151 strikeouts. If you believe Clarke Schmidt is ready to be part of the rotation, Taillon’s spot seems to the one. With Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes Jr, Luis Severino (club option will be picked up), and Frankie Montas locked in for next year, Schmidt will battle Domingo German for the vacancy unless the Yankees pursue another starter for the rotation. It seems unlikely Taillon will be the choice.

I enjoyed Matt Carpenter’s time with the Yankees, and it is unfortunate the broken foot ended his magical run with the team. I would not bring him back in 2023. There are younger, better options. The Yankees caught lightening in a bottle with Carpenter and I am not sure he can replicate that success next season. His final years in St Louis ended on a down note (in terms of production). The odds are he plays closer to the 2020/2021 version of himself than the magical 2022 run. The Yankees need to get younger, and Carpenter’s spot is one that can be “youth-anized” (I know, that is not a word). So, thanks for the memories, Matty Moustache. Next.

The Yankees will not re-sign Miguel Castro, Marwin Gonzalez, or Aroldis Chapman. Castro is replaceable. If the Yankees re-sign him, meh, if he leaves, meh. Marwin is a versatile player, but Oswaldo Cabrera proved he is the most valuable super utility in both the infield and outfield positions despite his relative inexperience with the latter. I think he will continue to work this off-season and next Spring to become even better. So, Oswaldo makes Marwin irrelevant. Aroldis Chapman. What a disgraceful end for the former elite closer. There was absolutely no way the Yankees were going to re-sign him BEFORE he went AWOL on the team prior to the playoffs. Goodbye, good riddance.

The players who must go. Who goes first? I do not necessarily think the Yankees should trade him, but it is time for the Isiah Kiner-Falefa experiment at shortstop to end. Whether the Yankees give the job to Oswald Peraza (or Anthony Volpe sometime later next season), or in a move that would shock all of us…sign one from the latest group of elite free agent shortstops, IKF cannot be the Yankees’ starting shortstop in 2023. IKF should join Cabrera as the strength of the bench. I would love to see the Yankees sign Trea Turner, who apparently has expressed a desire to return to the East Coast. It would really suck to see the Baltimore Orioles, and not the Yankees, pony up for the extremely talented shortstop. It just does not seem probable that Hal Steinbrenner would open his wallet for what it will take to sign Turner if he is aggressively trying to bring back Aaron Judge. Or even if he was not. Would Michael Conforto in right field and Trea Turner at shortstop make the Yankees a better team than Aaron Judge in right field and a continued stopgap at short? It is a fair question, but I do not think the Yankees will go in that direction. Regardless, a new shortstop for 2023 is a must.

Trade Aaron Hicks. I am so over having Hicks on the team, and I am ready for his time to end. With Harrison Bader clearly locked in as the team’s center fielder, there is no need for Hicks and his unreliability. Not interested in moving him to left field or allowing him to remain as the fourth (or fifth) outfielder.

If the Yankees’ Front Office can find a way to unload Josh Donaldson’s contract, it will utterly amaze me. It seems more probable JD will open the 2023 as the team’s starting third baseman. The best-case scenario is finding a trade partner without having to give up a top prospect and make DJ LeMahieu the starter. Of course, if the Yankees trade Gleyber Torres as some speculate, LeMahieu would be needed at second base, at least until Anthony Volpe is ready to ascend to the throne (if he moves from short to second as many expect). Regardless, as with Hicks, I am so over Donaldson. I did not like the guy before he was a Yankee, and his time as a Yankee has not changed the perception. A great defender, the decline of his offensive production is too much of a burden for a team that struggled to hit a few weeks ago. I am not expecting a resurgence in 2023. Unfortunately, this may be an albatross until the Yankees decide it is time to cut him. If Anthony Volpe proves he is ready for the Major Leagues sometime next season, it would certainly increase the potential for the Yankees to cut bait with Donaldson. I am hoping for an earlier departure. We will see.

Jose Trevino should be a Yankee in 2023 but the same cannot be said for his catching partner, Kyle Higashioka. Does Ben Rortvedt step up? It is possible. Do the Yankees make a trade for a strong catcher like Sean Murphy? Less likely, but possible. The Willson Contreras rumors have been around forever and a day. Hey, Gary Sanchez is a free agent. Okay, I will pass on that one. Regardless, I think the Yankees will find a better partner than Higgy for Trevi.

I think most fans want the Yankees to trade Gleyber Torres. I guess I am indifferent. I continue to hope he works harder to become a better player, to find the consistency, to play harder and smarter, and avoid the mental lapses. Maybe I am too optimistic. Volpe’s development, of course, is the momentum for possible change. I would embrace Gleyber’s return in 2023, but I am not going to lose any sleep if he is traded away. If he could help, as part of a larger package, to bring in talented pitching, I am all for it. Getting rid of Hicks and Donaldson are greater priorities than eliminating Gleyber.

Final notes…

I expect the Yankees to announce the signing of General Manager Brian Cashman to a new deal, perhaps as soon as next week during an off day for the World Series. I totally understand those who believe that Cashman’s time must end. @realBoShek wrote a very compelling argument for why Cashman’s time must end on the Old SchoolYanks blog site. Beautifully written and a great perspective for why change makes sense. Joel Sherman wrote a strong piece, behind the pay wall at The New York Post, for why keeping Cashman makes the most sense. I find myself agreeing, in parts, with both points of view.

I guess my hill to die on is the Yankees should promote Cashman to President of Baseball Operations, shifting President Randy Levine to the business side of the house (or put him out for the River Ave trash pickup), and hire a new general manager to bring a new, fresh voice and decision-maker into the organization. I am not in favor of promoting one of the current assistant GMs to the role. My understanding is Jean Afterman is comfortable in her present role and enjoys works remotely from the wine region of Sonoma/Napa Valley, California. Michael Fishman is not the right choice, and a convincing argument can be made that the Yankees need a new nerd to head the Analytics Department. Bring in a younger, analytics-driven executive who equally understands the game of baseball. Easier said than done, but the Yankees have the resources to find the right talent to bring into the room.

I have never been one for offseason plans, so I will refer you to two great presentations I read this week. One of The Greedy Pinstripes’ founders, Bryan Van Dusen (@Bryan_TGP on Twitter) wrote his annual, and very enthusiastic, Offseason Plan and he presents an extraordinarily persuasive case for how to improve the 2023 Yankees. Kudos to Bryan for his excellent work. I always envision him locked away in some room with no windows with all these ideas furiously bouncing off the walls while he aggressively and passionately pens his well-informed thoughts and ideas about how the team can be better. The other terrific piece is written by someone I am not familiar with…at least not until now, Seth Warner (@Seth_W19 on Twitter). His 2023 New York Yankees Mock Offseason is tremendous and a must-read for any Yankees fan. Nice work, guys!

I wish the 2022 Yankees, in the ALCS, would have shown the heart of the Philadelphia Phillies who last night overcame a 5-0 deficit against the Houston Astros to take Game 1 of the World Series, 6-5 in 10 innings. The Phillies proved the Astros are not invincible…contrary to how the Yankees treated them. Nice to see David Robertson close out the win. Revenge for the 2017 Yankees against the cheaters.

As always, Go Yankees! 

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