Saturday, November 4, 2023

Moving On from the 2023 MLB Season...


Aaron Judge and wife, Samantha Bracksiek (Photo Credit: Charles  Wenzelberg/NY Post)

The Offseason is now open…

The Texas Rangers did not end the World Series in four games as I had hoped. It was not that I wanted the Rangers to win so much as I wanted closure for the 2023 season so that we can begin looking ahead to 2024. The Rangers were kind enough to end Arizona’s hopes after a brief one-game uprising and closed out the Series in five games so I will forgive them. I am happy for Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi for being part of the championship club. Aroldis Chapman, not so much. There were other guys with Yankee connections, but those three were the main ones. Tough to consider Andrew Heaney a (former) Yankee given how putrid he was in Pinstripes. Former Yank prospects Josh Smith and Ezequiel Duran were non-factors this post-season.  Jon Gray had a nice moment in relief after Max Scherzer’s injury so congrats to him (Gray was once a Yankees draft pick although he never signed and was later drafted by the Colorado Rockies). 

Jordan Montgomery and wfie, Kinzie Dirr Montgomery (Photo Credit: @gumbynation34 via Instagram)

I am sure it was bittersweet for Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to watch their buddies taking the champagne bath to end the season. They probably thought their chances of winning a World Series championship were better in New York than in Arlington, Texas when they first arrived.   

I was glad the Arizona Diamondbacks did not win. I know younger Yankees fans were pulling for the D-Backs, but I will never forget the experience of walking out of Chase Field after Game 6 of the 2001 World Series after the Diamondbacks had trashed Andy Pettitte and the Yankees. I believe it was called Bank One Ballpark back then. I did nothing to provoke D-Back fans, yet the excessively rude behavior of the D-Back fans and how they were taunting Yankee fans will never be forgotten. There will never be a day that I will root for the Diamondbacks.

At any rate, the season is over. The Yankees' record of 82-80, 19 games behind the AL Eastern Division-winning Baltimore Orioles, is in the rear-view mirror.  Onward and upward. 

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Or expiring contracts. Seven Yankees players became free agents on Thursday (by rule, one day after the conclusion of the World Series). It is tough to look at the list of names and feel strongly that any of them should return. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Zach McAllister, Keynan Middleton, Frankie Montas, Wandy Peralta, Luis Severino, and Luke Weaver. I would not be disappointed if the Yankees re-signed IKF and/or Middleton. I thought both played well enough to be a part of the solution in 2024. A one-year, make-good deal for Montas would certainly be acceptable. Yet, if none of the three returns, they can be easily replaced. I do not see any of the other names returning. 

I am sad to see Luis Severino go. I had high hopes for him, and he was one of my favorites when healthy and strong. It is unfortunate the injuries have persisted and have prevented him from reaching his full potential. Maybe he finds the fountain of health at his next stop. I will cheer for him to do well, but his time in New York (unless he goes to the Mets) is over. 

Luis Severino and wife, Rosmaly Severino (Photo Credit: @severino40 via Instagram)

Wandy Peralta was a good Yankee, but replaceable. The money it will take to sign Peralta is not prohibitive, but for the Yankees, it is best spent elsewhere to correct the deficient roster construction. Despite their flaws, the Yankees have shown an expert ability to build an effective bullpen, and I expect this offseason to be no different.  The other names (McAllister and Weaver) get a collective ‘meh’. Weaver was a nice short-term project, but the starters in the upper farm system are nearing readiness for the ‘next call up’. 

Don’t Let the Door Hit You

The Yankees cleared some of the dead weight off their roster this week too. They placed six players on outright waivers, who are expected to become free agents if they go unclaimed. Domingo German, Ryan Weber, Jimmy Cordero, Matt Bowman, Franchy Cordero, and Billy McKinney. German is the most notable name, but I doubt anyone expected him to be a Yankee in 2024. His perfect game will generate interest among other teams to take a flyer, so his career is not over, but thankfully, his Yankees career is. I truly hope he has gotten the help he needs through rehab, and I hope he can find his way.  His family deserves better.    

None of the other names warrant any mention, although I was amazed that Franchy Cordero stayed in the organization for the entire season. Once the Yankees determined he would never be a serviceable Major League player, they should have cut bait. The fact the Yankees had to rely so much on McKinney is a testament to how bad the season was. I am hoping for better, legitimate left-field options in 2024. Of course, that was last year’s hope and we saw how that one fared. As for Ryan Weber, he will make his way back in some form, I am sure. It would not surprise me to see him get a minor league contract with a camp invite. 

I saw the Pittsburgh Pirates have placed Miguel Andujar on outright waivers, and the Chicago Cubs did the same thing with Clint Frazier. The Yankees’ two “best” trade candidates of a few years ago got the pink slip on the same day. I thought both were headed for the Hall of Fame based on the talent fans were constantly trading them for. 

Gaining Interview Experience

Yankees Bench Coach Carlos Mendoza is making the rounds. He has interviewed for the managerial openings in Cleveland and Flushing Meadow, and there was interest from the Giants before they snagged Padres manager Bob Melvin as their new manager. Now comes word he will interview in San Diego this weekend. I think the Padres would be the best fit for him, even if the Padres must go into seller mode to cut payroll. 

Carlos Mendoza

I hope Mendoza gets the job. Both for him and for us. It would be a tremendous promotional opportunity for him and life in San Diego is sweet when you have the income to afford it. For the Yankees, it would give them a chance to select the right bench coach for Manager Aaron Boone. I have been saying it for years, but the Yankees need a bench coach whose strengths are Boone’s weaknesses. I want Boone to be challenged when making decisions so that he will hopefully make better decisions. Mendy is too much like Boone, and the Yankees desperately need a stronger voice on the bench next to Boone. In other words, he needs to find his Don Zimmer and quit hiring buddies for the job. 

Waiting for Soto

I write that title with a lack of total sincerity. I am not convinced that Juan Soto will be a Yankee until he is. I would love for the Yankees to pull the trigger despite the high cost, yet it remains to be seen if they will. Considering Soto has only one year left until he hits free agency, I am not a proponent of trading multiple high-value prospects for him unless an extension is a certainty. 

I want Cody Bellinger. I think his resurgence in Chicago this year can be sustainable, and he has great diversity with his ability to play all outfield positions and first base. The Yankees must have a strong backup plan at first base as a hedge for the health of Anthony Rizzo, and Cody would ensure that strength. He has the bloodline as the son of a former Yankee, and he has long been one of my favorite players in the game. The struggles in Los Angeles were tough to watch, but the optimist in me was always hopeful he would figure it out. In Chicago, he showed the player he could be moving forward.

Cody Bellinger (Photo Credit:

I was happy to see the news today that Bellinger has declined his mutual option with the Chicago Cubs and has become a free agent. This is the first step on a path that could lead him to Pinstripes. If the decision comes down to Bellinger or Soto, I would be foolish to say go with Cody. Realistically, I think he is a more palatable choice for the conservative Hal Steinbrenner. Cody’s presence would not/should not block any move for Soto. 

Soto would be a huge “get” for the Yankees. Former hitting coach Sean Casey is on record saying, “So for me, when I look at it, man, it would be such a grand slam for them to get a guy like Juan Soto.” As much as I would love to envision Soto in the Yankees lineup, it is hard to get excited about something that may never happen. I guess it is nice that there are strong legs to the ‘Soto to the Yankees’ talk, but on the other hand, it seems the more it is talked about, the less likely it will come to fruition. The Yankees should grab the more easily attainable Bellinger to start the offseason, and then build from there. 

There has not been much to write about with the Yankees. Now that the Hot Stove League 2023-24 has opened, things should change. I want a team that we can get excited about in 2024. They will be led by the soon-to-be-named AL Cy Young Award winner, and the 2022 AL MVP will be back and fully healthy. Put the right guys around them, and the Yankees could reclaim their rightful throne as World Series champions. If the Rangers can go from over a hundred losses to champagne in two years, the Yankees can rebound from this season. 

The Yankees can do better. They must do better. The fans are waiting. 

As always, Go Yankees!

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