Well, it’s all quiet on the Eastern Front, a.k.a. The Bronx…
The winter has seen the arrival of a new second baseman (Starlin Castro) and fourth outfielder (Aaron Hicks). However, the cost included the young backup catcher (John Ryan Murphy) and the ultimate “6th man” (starter/reliever Adam Warren). Another trade sent away the key 7th inning reliever (Justin Wilson) for average prospects.
Now with a weakened bullpen, the starting rotation remains the greatest risk on the team.
There’s no backup at third, the new starting second baseman is the backup shortstop, and despite the youthful acquisitions, the Yankees are old and getting older at first base, right field and DH.
The moves made so far by the Yankees seem to echo the team is looking ahead to 2017 and 2018 when the big ticket contracts finally fall off the books. There’s been nothing done that instills confidence the Yankees can keep up with the Toronto Blue Jays or Boston Red Sox in 2016.
I do think that Castro is an upgrade, but I was fully prepared to go into the season with the combo of Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley. It wasn’t like the Yankees did not have a plan for the position. I get why the organization is not playing in the $150-$200+ million market this winter but standing pat is not going to get the job done. GM Brian Cashman alluded to more moves to come but the last couple of weeks have just been crickets.
After the holidays, teams are starting to get more focused on spring training so I don’t see the potential for any blockbuster trades. If any deals are made, they will probably be the lower key variety for young, unproven players with good upside potential.
I was pessimistic about the Yankees’ chances last off-season, and as it stands now, I’ll be pessimistic again. The Yankees outperformed my expectations last year, but still, at the end, you knew it was a team that was not going to catch fire and tear through the play-offs. The wild card game against the Houston Astros felt like a loss before it happened and it was.
It’s too bad the Yankees can’t find a way to unload some of the dead wood but of course they’d have to send money away to do it. Hal Steinbrenner is a bean counter by trade and this is a bottom line business. I agree with his assessment that you don’t have to have a $200 million payroll to be a champion, but this period of transition in organizational philosophy is painful given the Yankees didn’t have the greatest farm system when the transition began.
Watching the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys flounder with backup QB’s during Tony Romo’s absence is what it will feel like if the Yankees lose any of their starters for extended periods next season. It’s not impossible that we’ll see James Kaprelian pitch at the big league level next season for no other reason than necessity.
Hopefully the Yankees can again outperform my expectations. As they say, time will tell as it often does…
Life as Baseball’s Biggest Spender…
I may not be a fan of the Yankees’ off-season, but it could be worse. They could be the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have lost their manager, arguably their best pitcher last season, and have seen a trade for Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman fall apart. Meanwhile, their rivals in the AL West have beefed up their starting rotations. The Arizona Diamondbacks feature former Dodger Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller as their modern version of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, while the San Francisco Giants have Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto following Madison Bumgarner. The San Diego Padres underperformed last season, but I expect improved play from them this year. The Dodgers have clearly lost ground. They made a good decision with their new manager (Dave Roberts) but their starting rotation after Clayton Kershaw is a far greater risk than even the Yankees’ starting five.
It’s been a crazy off-season when baseball’s two largest market teams sit on the sidelines while the other smaller market teams throw millions at free agents. The Yankees and Dodgers had the deep pockets to withstand bad financial investments. I wonder how that will play out for the teams that are not as deep in cash. Things could get ugly if the latest multi-millionaires begin the downward spiral of their careers too soon. The days of the Yankees and Dodgers stepping in to pick up the remaining balances on bloated contracts are over.
My Christmas wish list for the Yankees is simple. Another starter for the rotation, a sound backup third baseman, and a new reliable 7th inning bridge for the bullpen. Perhaps the latter will be an in-house solution, such as James Pazos or Chasen Shreve, but the other two will need to be acquisitions. I have no clue who they might be, but that is Cashman’s problem to worry about.
SURPRISE ME, SURPRISE ME NOT…
The week has seen much activity on the free agent front even if the Yankees have not been involved (like anyone really expected them to be). It was no surprise to see David Price sign with the Boston Red Sox. Weeks earlier, the club clearly stated its intention to go big game hunting in its search for an ace. It was a given that they’d overpay to get their man and in the end, they did. Price certainly improves the Red Sox rotation but of course he’s only one man. I guess that’s where Craig Kimbrel comes in…to help on the days that Price doesn’t pitch. I am sure the Red Sox still have a move or two to make before Truck Day.
The surprise was Zack Greinke signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The speculation had been that he would sign with either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the San Francisco Giants. I had really expected the Dodgers to step up to keep their “co-ace”. I didn’t see Tony LaRussa and the D-Backs lying in the weeds. It will be interesting to see what the Dodgers do now as they clearly need help in their rotation (beyond just Greinke’s spot).
DWINDLING ROTATION OPTIONS…
It is becoming less and less likely that the Yankees will be able to snag a Jeff Samardzija. The teams that missed out on the aces will be much more aggressive with the next tier which of course means more overspending. If there are any certainties with the Yankees, it is that Hal Steinbrenner is not going to overspend as long as he is still responsible for the bloated contracts to Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran.
If I owned the Yankees, I would target Samardzija* for the rotation and Jason Heyward for the outfield. Beltran has just one year left on his contract and he is 39. Heyward could represent the future and allow the Yankees to decrease their reliance on Beltran. With all the health risks in the Yankees’ rotation, they need a workhorse. I’ve never been a fan of Johnny Cueto so I’d certainly prefer Samardzija. I am intrigued by Yankees prospect and Micheal Pineda clone Domingo Acevedo but he’s still in development and won’t help in early 2016. Shelby Miller would be nice but it appears the price tag is too much. Last year, I didn’t really know anything about Nathan Eovaldi other than he was one of the worst NL pitchers in 2014. But youth and promise were on his side, and he turned out to be a very good acquisition. Perhaps GM Brian Cashman is targeting another similar project. It certainly helps to have a quality pitching coach like Larry Rothschild.
John Munson/The Star Ledger
The Yankees’ success this past season has reinforced Hal Steinbrenner’s belief that he doesn’t need to spend to build a winner. However, I feel that it will be harder and harder for the older guys to replicate past performances. That’s a statement of the obvious, but last season saw solid performances from A-Rod and Teixeira. It is inevitable that that the day is coming when their performances collapse and they become a shell of their former selves. A-Rod will be 41 and we know that Teixeira likes to get cozy on the DL. If all of the older players regress next season, it will be a very long one. I wonder if the Yankees had finished last like the Red Sox if there would have been a greater sense of urgency in the Bronx. I guess next off-season should be more active if the Yankees do indeed regress, combined with the contracts that will be coming off the books.
BIG “LITTLE” SPENDERS…
It’s funny. For years, it was teams like the Yankees and Dodgers that could spend at will, and could cover up mistakes by spending more money. Now those teams are trying to show fiscal constraint, and the lower market teams, flush with cash from revenue sharing and cable deals, are starting to make the foolish financial decisions.
OH, BY THE WAY…
Congratulations to Don Mattingly and the Miami Marlins for stepping up to hire Barry Bonds as their hitting coach. Say what you will about Bonds, but his hand/eye coordination was among the best in major league history. The all-time home run champion will never see the Hall of Fame but he deserves a chance to continue his career in baseball and try to restore some credibility. It has worked for Mark McGwire, and Bonds deserves the same opportunity. I think he’ll be a very effective hitting coach.
Also congratulations to the Dodgers for their new manager, Dave Roberts. I think it was a tremendous hire, and a much better choice than the in-house candidate, Gabe Kapler. Nothing against Kapler, but I just feel that Roberts has the personality and drive to succeed with the Dodgers. The Dodgers were also wise in prying bench coach Bob Geren from the New York Mets to fill the same role with them. The Dodgers bench is in very strong hands with Roberts and Geren.
AP Photo/NIck Ut
Next week is my favorite week of the Hot Stove League, the Baseball Winter Meetings. I know that it’s unlikely the Yankees will be active participants, but it is a fun week with the flurry of activity. While I don’t expect the Yankees to make any major moves, there’s the part of me that knows there is always the chance. The Yankees didn’t suddenly get poor when the rest of the team became rich. They still sit in the largest market in the country and have revenue streams that other teams can only dream about.
By the way, is it really December already?…
*After writing this post, the reports came out that the San Francisco Giants have signed Samardzija for 5 years/$90 million. At that price, the Yankees should have played. But they didn’t, and I still don’t want Johnny Cueto. Looks like it will be a year of rotation turbulence in the Bronx…
The lull before the storm?…
I like Thanksgiving as much as the next guy (or gal), but from a baseball perspective, this week is generally no fun. Not much trade activity (even if the Astros traded Jed Lowrie to the Athletics) or free agent signings (sorry Alex Avila, you are not a big ticket purchase).
The Yankees struck quickly with the acquisitions of outfielder Aaron Hicks and pitcher Ronald Herrera, but have been very quiet the last couple of weeks (aside from losing pitcher Chase Whitley to the Tampa Bay Rays).
Of the rumors, it was interesting to hear that Robinson Cano wanted to find his way back to New York. True or untrue, that’s an acquisition that would not make sense to me. I liked Cano as the Yankees’ second baseman, and he was arguably the best player on the team in his final years as a Yankee. However, he is now 33 years old, coming off a disappointing year, and still carrying a bloated contract. I would not want to see the Yankees pick up a contract that would take Cano to age 40. Those last few years have the potential to be very, very ugly. I prefer the present scenario which features a platoon with Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley. Part of me keeps hoping that Ackley will finally find the promise he once held, but truly Refsnyder is the key. I want to see him play. Maybe he is a miserable failure, but he deserves the chance to show that he can be a capable second baseman for the New York Yankees.
I would love for the Yankees to be in on David Price but the realist in me knows that I should not hope for a top shelf signing. I know that George Steinbrenner would be all over either Price or Zack Greinke, but Hal is not his father’s son. Well, maybe he is by blood, but that’s it. I would gladly accept a second tier free agent pitcher, but I am not sure the Yankees are even going there. Based on recent reports, there is much to be excited about prospect pitcher Domingo Acevedo, and perhaps he is next year’s Luis Severino. If the Yankees continue down the path toward youth, I don’t think they’ll be a legitimate World Series threat for a few years.
It’s too bad that the Yankees can’t find a way to unload an older guy like Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira but they’d get too little in return.
It is exciting that Gary Sanchez has a legitimate shot at making the Yankees’ roster next year, although I think that inevitably he’ll be ticketed for AAA with Austin Romine taking the back up job that was held by former Yankee John Ryan Murphy last year.
When I first heard the Yankees connected with free agent outfielder Jason Heyward, I was somewhat lukewarm on the idea. But as time as passed, I really like the potential of adding Heyward and trading Brett Gardner for positions of need. It’s a given that 2016 will be the final year for Carlos Beltran as a Yankee so a 2017 outfield of Heyward, Hicks, and Jacoby Ellsbury looks pretty good to me. It looks even better if Gardner, in combo with prospects, is capable of bringing in an upper tier starting pitcher.
Greg Bird, I really don’t want you to spend 2016 in AAA. Fortunately, it’s an inevitability that Mark Teixeira will be wrapping his arms around the disabled list at some point. Hopefully sooner than later.
I was in favor of acquiring third baseman Chase Headley, but I have to admit that my support is weakening. I think he should be given one more year to prove that the yips are a thing of the past, but admittedly, I am hoping that prospect Eric Jagielo grows by leaps and bounds next year.
The next couple of weeks should be very interesting and will go a long way toward determining how successful the 2016 Yankees will be. Hey Brian Cashman, no pressure…
New York’s a cake walk compared to Los Angeles…
As a Los Angeles resident, I hate that Don Mattingly will not be the manager of the local Dodgers. I’ve been a Donnie Baseball fan since the day he arrived at the major league level with the Yankees. But I do feel that the Dodgers made the best possible decision in choosing San Diego Padres bench coach Dave Roberts as their manager. It wasn’t fun re-living all those stories about how Roberts helped the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series, but he seems to me to be the best man for the job. I like him much better than the previous frontrunner (Gabe Kapler).
If anything is certain, the pressure on Roberts to succeed will be immense.
As for Mattingly, I will definitely pull for the Marlins so long as they are not playing the Yankees or the Dodgers. I remain hopeful that Mattingly will one day find his way back to the Bronx. He is and always will be a Yankee.
Well, time to go get the turkey ready for tomorrow. Let’s hope that Cashman is not serving any turkeys any time soon.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Now the real season begins…
Admittedly, I didn’t watch any of the World Series games. It was hard for me to get excited about either the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets. I was definitely not one of the Yankees fans that jumped on the Mets bandwagon. Congratulations to the Royals for their championship as they truly played like champions to get the title (even if I didn’t see it).
The end of the World Series is good as it signaled the start of the Hot Stove League. Of course, November tends to be a slower month, especially as we get closer to Thanksgiving. But things should be humming this time next month.
Hopefully, the Yankees do not have another off-season of inactivity. The free agent market doesn’t look overly appealing but I doubt the Yankees will be big ticket buyers anyway since no large contracts are coming off the books. Of the possible moves, I would support a move to sign Justin Upton and trade Brett Gardner. When Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are on, they are a dynamite duo. But it happened too infrequently last season due to injuries. As for pitchers, I know the Yankees won’t spend the money for Zack Greinke, but either Jeff Samardzija or Jordan Zimmerman would be good. I have heard the complaints about Samardzija and how he wouldn’t play at Yankee Stadium since he is a flyball pitcher, but he’s an innings eater. With so many health risks in the starting rotation, it would be nice to have dependability in at least one spot (well, two if you consider Luis Severino). Otherwise, the others are almost assured of being part of DL-R-US at some point in the season.
Aside from those guys, there really isn’t much that excites me. I respect Ben Zobrist, but he’s on the wrong side of 30. I understand Rob Refsnyder’s defensive limitations, but I’d still rather go with youth and potential at second over age even if it means sacrifice in the short run. I like Dustin Ackley and keep hoping that he has a resurgence to reach some of the potential he had early in his career. That one might be a pipe dream, but I am fine with Refsnyder and Ackley at second over bringing in a higher cost free agent.
I have my concerns about Chase Headley at third, but he’s not going anywhere. Of course, there’s Mark Teixeira and it is inevitable that 2016 will be broken up by another stint or stints on the DL. I am sure that Greg Bird will be a frequent traveler on the Scranton/Wilkes Barre to NYC Shuttle which is too bad since Bird has proven he can play at this level. Just waiting for Teixeira’s contract to expire…
Nothing against Brian McCann but it’s too bad his contract is so long and that DH is occupied by Alex Rodriguez. Gary Sanchez is starting to show the promise that we’ve known for so many years and it won’t be long until he’s knocking on the door at Yankee Stadium. I like John Ryan Murphy, but Sanchez will push him aside when its time.
It should be a fun off-season.
I had hoped that GM Brian Cashman would go outside the organization to bring in a replacement for Assistant GM Billy Eppler who left to take the GM job with the Los Angeles Angels. However, they stayed in-house and went with Tim Naehring although he won’t get Eppler’s Assistant GM job title. I have no qualms with the choice (even if the guy is a Red Sock), but wish they had brought some new blood into the organization.
I later read the Yankees reached out to former Boston GM Ben Cherington which would have been a good choice. But I understand his reasons for staying out of the game for now.
Speaking of GM’s, I was shocked to see the sudden departure of Alex Anthopoulos. He reinvigorated the Blue Jays with his bold moves. He shouldn’t have a problem getting another gig but the timing wasn’t the best since all of the GM slots are presently filled. Of all the good things I’ve heard about Mark Shapiro (the new president of the Blue Jays), I am surprised that Anthopoulos didn’t stick around at least one year to give it a chance.
Donnie Baseball in South Beach…
Congratulations to Don Mattingly for getting another job so quickly. He’ll see some familiarity with guys like Dee Gordon (a former Dodger) but he’ll find it’s different going from a team that isn’t afraid of spending money to one that routinely shows its frugal ways. But I’d take Giancarlo Stanton over Yasiel Puig any day of the week. I am sure that Mattingly will miss Clayton Kershaw, but he should do well in Miami. It didn’t work out for Joe Girardi and countless others, but Mattingly has the right personality and attitude to make it work.
As a Los Angeles resident, I’ll miss Mattingly heading the local team. As for the Dodgers, it’s anybody’s guess who will be the new manager. If they opt for Nebraska coach Darin Erstad, it would be funny to see an Angel as the Dodgers manager considering the Angels have a Dodger as their manager. I am intrigued with the idea of Kirk Gibson given his history with the Dodgers, and of course, I think Dave Martinez is ready to be a manager and he has strong ties to Andrew Friedman from their days in Tampa. Whomever gets the job will experience the incredible heat that Mattingly endured the last couple of years. It’s funny that the Yankees job would be an easier one than the Dodgers, but times have changed.
End of a run…
Sadly, the 2015 postseason has meant the demise of Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Mattingly was always one of my favorite players so it was easy to cheer for the Dodgers as my second favorite or favorite NL team when I moved to Los Angeles. I didn’t think Mattingly was ready to manage when he was a contender for the Yankees’ managerial position that ultimately went to Joe Girardi when Joe Torre left. But since becoming the Dodgers manager, I felt that Donnie Baseball has grown every year.
The post-season is such a weird, frenetic time. It’s not really about the best team in baseball as the St Louis Cardinals can attest but rather whichever teams are playing the best in October. In shortened one or five game series, anything can happen. For a team with a $300+ million payroll, the Dodgers had too many flaws. A weak starting rotation after the big two of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, short on a few big or clutch bats, and the disadvantage to run into a New York Mets starting pitching staff that jelled at the right time (just ask the Chicago Cubs).
I’d have a very hard time pinning this one on Mattingly. I know that he has not enjoyed playoff success, but his teams effectively compete year after year. His time will come and he will be soaking in the bubbly at some future point.
I am hopeful that Mattingly is a big league manager next year. Not crazy about the thought of the Miami Marlins, but they would be very fortunate to have him.
As a game strategist, I would clearly take Joe Girardi over Don Mattingly. But man for man, the preference is Mattingly. If I owned the Yankees, I could easily fire Girardi to replace him with Mattingly. Of course, I’d also look for a very strong bench coach, but I think Mattingly does a better job of relating to people.
Maybe one day Donnie Baseball can make the return to the Yankees organization, but sadly, that time is not now. So, I’ll cheer for him wherever he lands, wherever that may be.
Sorry, it’s just hard for me to get excited about the upcoming New York Mets-Kansas City Royals World Series. I really have no interest in seeing either team become the latest World Champions. I guess this is one of those years that I’ll have to impatiently await the start of the Hot Stove League.
Let the Bird fly…
I dislike reading the reports that first baseman Greg Bird may have to go back to the minor leagues. He proved that he is major league ready and he’ll only get better. I know that Mark Teixeira is the better defender, but I simply do not trust Teixeira’s ability to stay healthy. I guess that’s part of the logic in sending Bird down. Inevitably, there will be a point in time that he’ll be needed. It’s too bad. I would rather turn the page, and move forward with Bird today. Then, look for a solid backup with good defensive skills. In other words, I am ready for the Mark Teixeira Show to end its run in New York.
Anthony J. Causi
With so many heavy contracts still on the roster, it appears that the Yankees will be very limited in their ability to create roster flexibility this off-season. I think it would be foolish to expect the same (or better) production from the older guys, like Alex Rodriguez. Somehow, the 2016 Yankees need to be re-constructed knowing that there will be continued regression among the above 30 players. I know, an obvious statement, but not one that’s easy to do. I would expect significant major league contributions at some point next season by Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. But that will mean potential injuries to Carlos Beltran and/or Brian McCann. Injuries break continuity and momentum. I would rather do what it takes to eliminate or at least reduce the odds of injury.
Best of luck to Billy Eppler…
I was disappointed to see Billy Eppler go, but it’s a good opportunity for him to return to his native California as the new GM of the Los Angeles Angels. Time will tell if his run is successful, but he certainly has the tools. I know that I’d love to have Mike Trout as the core player on my team.
I am not sure if GM Brian Cashman has plans to replace Eppler, but if he does, I hope that he brings in new blood from the outside rather than promote from the old guard. The commitment to youth is working, but sustainability is continuing to make the right decisions on players. The Yankees have made a few too many poor player decisions, so this is an area that continually needs improvement.
I wish the Yankees could have found a way to keep Eppler, even if it meant moving Cashman up and out of the GM role. But now that he’s gone, the Yankees need to find that next potential superstar GM to serve as Cashman’s chief lieutenant.
Is the World Series over yet?… ;(
(Not) Takin’ Care of Business…
The last week has been a struggle for the New York Yankees. This team is not playing like one that will enjoy post-season success. It seemed as though they were playing from behind in almost every game against the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. Those deep first inning holes were virtually impossible to overcome, especially when team hitting is in a slump. These are not good signs for Tuesday’s Wild Card game.
I thought Manager Joe Girardi was wrong resting guys during Saturday’s double-header with the Orioles. While I realize it is important to rest guys, it could have cost the Yankees a chance to play their Wild Card game at home. With the Yankees most likely facing the Houston Astros and their ace, Dallas Kuechel, the home field advantage is huge. If the Yankees can’t win Tuesday’s game, what good was the additional rest last Saturday?…
Fortunately, the Yankees have the Arizona Diamondbacks to thank for their season-ending victory over the Astros to give the Yankees home field advantage. But it is the Astros who carry momentum into the winner take all, one game format. Plus, the ace advantage is theirs with Kuechel, with a Yankees offense that can’t seem to hit good (or bad) pitching.
At the beginning of the year, I didn’t feel the Yankees had the team to succeed in October. As the regular reason ends today with the Yankees in the post-season, I still do not believe they can succeed. The season ending series against the Red Sox and Orioles showed that they do not have the clutch hitters (outside of Carlos Beltran) to get the job done. The Yankees can get guys on base…they just can’t bring them home. Now that the pitching will be amplified in the play-offs, it’s only going to get worse from here. The Yankees have showed no heart in September and that doesn’t translate to playoff success. I know, the Yankees lost the last six of the regular season in 2000 and won the World Series. That was a much better team and the 2015 squad does not have the same resiliency.
I still think there were some moves that GM Brian Cashman could have made at the trading deadline without sacrificing the farm to bring in additional strength and energy for the pennant run. It was disappointing then for the Yankees to do nothing, and it hurts even more now as the team struggled at the end of the regular season like a whipped puppy. I know that it would have cost a lot of money, but Max Scherzer would have looked so good in the Yankees rotation. With no sure things in the rotation, Scherzer would have gone to the head of the Class. With him on the mound, I would have liked the chances against the Astros much better.
This has been an agonizing week as a Yankees fan. It was hard to see the team throttled like a bottom feeder by the Red Sox, and then tossed around like a salad by the Orioles.
Probably my biggest fear with the Yankees’ achievement of a Wild Card is that it fuels Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner’s belief that he can rebuild the team exclusively through the farm system. While there are talented guys in the system, it is far from one of the best. They need to supplement the promising prospects with good, smart trades and thoughtful, strategic free agent acquisitions. Paul O’Neill would have never had a Yankees career if the team hadn’t taken a chance on the former Cincinnati Reds outfielder. The Chicago Cubs look masterful for their acquisition of starting pitcher Jake Arrieta who should be the NL Cy Young winner. At the time of the trade with the Orioles, Arrieta was just another miscellaneous transaction and there were no tears shed in Baltimore. How much would the O’s like to have him today? That’s what you pay scouts for and that’s the difference between winners and losers.
The regular season is over. The Yankees now have one game to prove me wrong. They need to bring heart and intensity to Tuesday’s game, and show the World they are not the September pushover they appeared to be. I so want to believe that I am wrong and that this team is capable of much, much more. At least their destiny is in their hands. I am sure the Los Angeles Angels would gladly change positions with the Yankees, along with a few other teams like the Red Sox and O’s.
Congratulations to the NL West Champions…
Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers for winning the NL West and securing home field advantage against their first round play-off foe, the New York Mets. Like the Yankees, the Dodgers hit a slight bump in September but they recovered and won the games they needed to win. At one point, it seemed improbable they would catch the Mets for a better record. Yet, they persevered and did exactly that.
The National League will be very hard to win with the presence of the St Louis Cardinals, but I thought Manager Don Mattingly did a good job this year. It helps when you have All-World players like Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but he had to manage around disappointing seasons for Yasiel Puig and Joc Pedersen. The arrival of Corey Seager is exciting even if it likely means the end of the short Dodgers career for Jimmy Rollins. I fully expect the Dodgers to advance to the NLCS to take on the Cardinals. Nothing against the Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates or Chicago Cubs, but I feel that the NL World Series representative will be either the Cardinals or Dodgers. I can’t say that I’d be disappointed if the Cubs advanced to the World Series, but I think they are still a year away.
Well, time for us to find out who will be this October’s heroes…
Sadly, it’s finally over…
The Yankees’ drive for the 2015 postseason took a brief interlude this week with the departure of Yankees Legend Yogi Berra. Perhaps the greatest living Yankee, Berra’s passing touched so many people as his charm and persona transcended baseball. The Yogi-isms are part of our every day lives and will endure. But there was only one Yogi.
For all those years he stayed away from Yankee Stadium after his dismissal as manager, the team was unable to win. The winning tradition didn’t return until George Steinbrenner finally apologized and Berra returned to the Bronx. I am so grateful the reconciliation occurred before we lost the two men.
Writers were quick to anoint Whitey Ford as the latest greatest living Yankee. While I do not disagree that the Chairman of the Board is deserving of the honor, I feel that Mariano Rivera is in the same conversation, along with others such as Don Mattingly or Derek Jeter.
Yogi Berra lived a long life that had such a huge impact on so many people. I am sure that life was not the same for him after the passing of his wife, Carmen, last year. Not many of us will make it to 90 years of age. He should proud that he had a life that he was able to live his way. He will forever be immortalized at Yankee Stadium, long after all of us are gone. It’s sad that #8 will no longer make an appearance at the Stadium, but it’s a number that will stay dear to our hearts for years to come.
So long, Yogi. Thanks for the memories.
Fading AL East Hopes…
Due to their inability to beat the Toronto Blue Jays this season, the Yankees will most likely participate in the Wild Card one game play-off. If they could have just played .500 competition with the Blue Jays, the Yankees would actually be the AL East Leaders. It’s amazing how things can come down to such few games over the course of a 162 game schedule. I still wonder what this season would have been like if the Yankees had paid the money to sign Max Scherzer. Perhaps it would have prevented the emergence of Luis Severino. We’ll never really know, but it’s easy to second guess the decision now. With the trouble the Yankees have had in the rotation (primarily due to health), they could have used a frontline ace. It may have been the difference maker with the Blue Jays who seemed to catapult into World Series contender status with the July arrival of ace David Price.
If the season ended right now, the Yankees would be playing the one game playoff with the Houston Astros in New York. But there’s still a chance for the Los Angeles Angels to catch the Astros so it should be an interesting final week. The Yankees have never matched up well against the Angels, but the Astros have grown into a solid contender and have the pitchers to shut down the Yankees’ offense. Anything can happen in one game and time will tell if that’s good or bad for us.
At the beginning of the year, I didn’t feel the Yankees had the players to thrive in October. Admittedly, I still do not as the offense struggles to generate runs at times. The volume is turned up on good pitching in the playoffs and the old saying is good pitching beats good hitting. So if that’s the case, good pitching destroys marginal hitting.
I would love nothing more than for the Yankees to advance past the Wild Card game. But the team will have to prove me wrong as I do not like their chances. On the bright side, the playoffs will not include the Detroit Tigers, a team the Yankees can never beat in October.
Angels GM Frontrunner…
With Billy Eppler’s name constantly linked to the Los Angeles Angels for their vacant GM post, I can’t help but wonder why the Yankees do not make a move to keep him in the organization. I’ve never been a big fan of President Randy Levine. Why not promote GM Brian Cashman to the position that Theo Epstein and Dave Dombrowski both hold with their respective clubs, President of Baseball Operations. Then promote Eppler to General Manager. I know that technically Eppler is outranked as an assistant general manager by Jean Afterman, but I feel that Eppler will be a great GM.
I recognize that Eppler is a Southern California guy so perhaps it’s his home roots that are pulling him back to the West Coast. If he leaves, it will be a huge loss for the Yankees.
As a GM, it would be nice to have Mike Trout to build around…
Old Fashioned Beatdown…
As I write this, the Yankees have fallen from AL East contenders to the precarious leader of the Wild Card standings. They are closer to losing a play-off spot than they are to winning the division. With this weekend’s series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees had a chance to make it a dogfight in the division. Instead, the Blue Jays have simply crushed Yankee pitching and have made the bullpen look like a cast of misfits. A few players have hit, but collectively, the Yankees have not been an offensive force in this series at all. Too little, too late is probably a good description.
Robert Sabo, New York Daily News
I can’t help but wonder where’d we be if GM Brian Cashman had made some move at the trading deadline to help energize the team. I am not saying they should have sold the farm to bring in David Price, but I really felt they needed to do something to help propel the early season success. Instead the Yankees stand pat, while the Blue Jays made big moves for both pitching and offense. The latter’s moves have turned them into a legitimate World Series contender and a team capable of unseating the Kansas City Royals for the AL Championship.
The Yankees are only left to wonder what could have been…
I don’t like the Yankees’ chances in a one game play-off. Most likely, Masahiro Tanaka would get the start, but he’s making a habit of giving up home runs at the wrong time. With the intensity of a one game set, one pitch can determine a season. If the Yankees were to face the Texas Rangers and Cole Hamels, the odds would probably favor the Rangers with a strong edge in Hamels’ post-season experience.
Regardless of what happens, this has been a successful year for the Yankees. They outperformed expectations. While they could have done more, the organization seems satisfied to let the minor league prospects mature for a run in 2017 or 2018. Things have clearly changed since the days of George Steinbrenner.
I know the season is not over and anything could happen, but the Yankees do not have the look and feel of a successful October participant right now. As always, I hope they prove me wrong.
Stick a fork in him, he’s done…
And just like that came word that Mark Teixeira has a fractured leg and will not return this season. While he returned to being the offensive force that he once was, I know that I am ready to turn the page and move on to a new first baseman. My preference would be to trade Teixeira, even if you have to subsidize the remaining dollars on his contract, and give the job to rookie Greg Bird.
At this point in his career, it is just too hard to depend upon Teixeira.
While Bird has had his struggles at the major league level, it’s clear that he is a professional hitter and he’ll only get better. I remember when Don Mattingly first came up and had been labeled a singles hitter. He proved he was so much more. I am anxious to see the potential of Greg Bird, and no longer have an interest in seeing the final years of the Teixeira contract.
That guy in glasses looks familiar…
Speaking of Don Mattingly, I am excited to see that he’ll make an appearance at Yankee Stadium next year when the Los Angeles Dodgers play the Yankees in the Bronx. As a Los Angeles resident, I would have preferred the series to be at Dodger Stadium but for Donnie Baseball, I am glad he’ll be back in the Bronx. Of course, that’s assuming the Dodgers do not underachieve this post-season causing Management to make a managerial change. I think they’d be foolish to part with Mattingly, but stranger things have happened.
Richard Mackson, USA Today Sports
When Joe Torre left, I wanted Mattingly as the Yankees manager over Joe Girardi and I still have a preference for Mattingly. He has learned to become a very good manager even if some decisions still get questioned. Lord knows that Girardi makes plenty of those types of decisions.
As a fan of Mattingly, it’s nice to live in the same city that he manages in. There are plenty of opportunities to watch Dodger games both in person and on TV. I have always considered him a class act, and I know that when he steps on the field at Yankee Stadium, win or lose, he’ll be cheered.
Is it really mid-September already?…
In recognition of two Yankee greats…
The Yankees continue to hold first place in the AL East by a slim margin (one game). Losing the first two games of the Cleveland series didn’t help, but at least the Yankees captured Luis Severino’s first major league win in the third game. Today, Andy Pettitte Day, will be the fourth game so hopefully the Yankees can at least even the series before moving on.
With Jorge Posada Day yesterday and now Andy’s day, the number selection for future Yankees keeps getting smaller. Personally, I always thought #77 would be a cool number (double Mickey Mantle!). Both Jorge and Andy deserve the recognition. They were great Yankees in the current era, and the success they achieved certainly rivaled the 1950’s Yankees.
With an improved CC Sabathia recently giving credit to Andy for a talk they had earlier in the season, it’s tremendous to see the positive impact that Andy continues to have on the team. I wish we would not have lost him for those three years to the Houston Astros, but conversely, it did give him the short opportunity to play at home before realizing that his baseball “home” was in the Bronx.
Jorge’s time with the team ended sooner than he would have liked, but I am glad to see the organization and the former player reunite.
Taking off like a Bird…
I have really enjoyed watching the success of rookie first baseman Greg Bird. While Mark Teixeira is having a great season, Bird has been a very capable replacement during his recent absence due to injury. Bird also gives a glimpse of the future when Teixeira’s contract comes to an end. It’s nice to know the Yankees won’t have to trade for or sign a free agent first baseman when the time comes.
While I would have liked for the Yankees to have made a trading deadline deal last month to strengthen the team, there’s no arguing that the contributions made by Luis Severino and Bird are as valuable as any deadline deal could have provided. I am optimistic to see what September has to offer when Aaron Judge and Rob Refsnyder join the team after rosters expand. I had hoped that Refsnyder would have stuck in July but it was not meant to be. Hopefully, he’s continued to work on his defense and will be ready for the Show the next time the call comes.
With so many young players nearing major league readiness, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do with some of the older players in the off-season.
Yankees no more…
I feel bad for a guy like Garrett Jones. When he was cut and then returned to the team, he sounded so thankful and grateful to be a Yankee again. Then, after a few days of not playing, he was cut again and has now been released. I always appreciate the guys who respected the Yankees uniform and Jones did his part despite the lack of playing time. Hopefully, he’ll get picked up by a team that can afford him more at-bats. Same with Chris Capuano. Cut three times, he returned after the first two. The latest may be the death knell of his short Yankees career. But you can’t argue with the Yankees’ preference to go with younger, fresher arms. Plus, it didn’t help being a lefty in a pen filled with lefties.
Utley in Blue…
I was kind of hoping that the Yankees would try to make a trade for second baseman Chase Utley. But clearly Utley wanted to play on the West Coast if he left Philadelphia so the Los Angeles Dodgers were a better fit. It will be interesting to see what happens when Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick is healthy. Utley’s Dodger career looks like it may be a short one if he doesn’t have a chance to start long-term. Utley’s first game as a Dodger didn’t exactly go as planned as the Dodgers were no-hit by the Houston Astros and Mike Fiers. I guess that means Utley has seen both sides of a no hitter this season considering the one thrown in July by then Phillie Cole Hamels (although Utley was on the DL for that game).
It seems strange seeing both Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley in the Dodgers’ lineup, but then again, it’s not 2008 anymore. With Corey Seager nearing his MLB arrival, it’s possible that neither Rollins nor Utley will be in Dodger Blue next season. I only hope that the Dodgers recent struggles do not threaten the job security for manager Don Mattingly. If the team underperforms, it will put a lot of pressure on management to make a change regardless of how much they may like Mattingly.
The final weeks of the 2015 season should be fun…
Feeling like Ned Stark as head of the kingdom…
The Yankees have lost the first two games of a very important divisional series with the Toronto Blue Jays, and batting practice is underway for the third and final game of the series. I read a post that said it felt like the Yankees were chasing the Blue Jays even though the Yankees had held a 5 1/2 game lead at the start of the series. I immediately knew what the writer was trying to say. It simply “feels” like the Blue Jays have a powerhouse after their deadline deals which brought shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and ace pitcher David Price to Toronto.
Nathan Denette / The Canadien Press
Meanwhile, the Yankees did nothing despite their shortcomings. No attempt was made to strengthen weaknesses and in the end, it may very well cost them a cost at making the play-offs. Their philosophy may prove fruitful for 2016 or 2017 but this is a win now league and you have to go for it when you have the opportunity. If the Yankees do lose out, it will feel like the let the opportunity slip through their fingers without trying (the front office, not the existing players on the team).
It’s very possible that Luis Severino brings the team as much as a frontline pitcher would have, but to continue to roll out Stephen Drew or a backup every day at second base is clearly a mistake. With as much stress as the starting staff is putting on the bullpen, a trade for a proven reliever like Craig Kimbrel or Carter Capps made so much sense but the Yankees couldn’t pull it off.
We’ll most likely see Aaron Judge and Rob Refsnyder in September but can they help? It may be too little, too late. At a time like this, proven play-off experience is invaluable. I’ve seen a few articles mention Chase Utley’s name and they usually draw the conclusion that he would not be an upgrade since his batting average and production is comparable to Drew’s. But I’d say it would be a huge advantage given Utley’s role as a leader on championship clubs.
Twitter.com/ashncrash217 (via Busted Coverage)
It’s been difficult watching so many teams make little moves here and there to improve their clubs while the Yankees do nothing. Their only deadline acquisition (second baseman/outfielder Dustin Ackley) won’t play until September at the earliest after he landed on the DL. I guess riding the pine was too much for him.
The Texas Rangers made the move for pitcher Cole Hamels saying they were playing for 2016 when they can pair Hamels with Yu Darvish. But now, after a recent hot streak and the acquisition of Mike Napoli, they’re showing they are in it this year and could catch and pass the Yankees for a play-off spot if the Yankees lost the division.
The Yankees players have done their part to energize the fan base, but I cannot say the front office has. Instead of putting blind faith in a flawed group of players, the ownership and front office need to show they are trying to make this team better.
Still, the Yankees are in a better place than I thought they would be. I am thankful that they’ve provided excitement this year. In the pre-season, everyone was forecasting a division championship for the Boston Red Sox. So all things considered, it could be worse.