The Dawn of the Baseball Winter Meetings…
This week is always the most eventful one of the entire off-season. A flurry of activity followed by relative silence as we head into the holidays.
Credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Before the meetings start later this evening, the Yankees have already lost one option with Houston’s free agent signing of former Yankee Carlos Beltran. I had mixed feelings about his possible return to New York. He was arguably the team’s best hitter last season but he is also 40 years old. For a team that has aggressively gotten younger, adding “old” does not necessarily make sense. There is no guarantee that Beltran will be as good as last year, and it’s a near impossibility that he’d be better. Going with older veterans, I’d rather sign either Matt Holliday or Mike Napoli to a short-term deal that keeps the Yankees on the right path toward World Series contention in 2018 or 2019.
Back in the old days under George Steinbrenner, I am sure that both Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista would be Yankees by now. Of the two, I’d prefer Encarnacion but I don’t feel the Yankees should lock up huge long-term dollars for either player even if it would severely weaken the Toronto Blue Jays in the short run. In a couple of years, they’ll just be over-paid, under-producing aging veterans. We’ve seen enough of those in recent seasons.
Credit: Reuters/Ray Stubblebine
There are unofficial reports that the Los Angeles Dodgers have a deal in place with starter Rich Hill so that’s one less option on the pitching front. A deal with Jason Hammel probably makes the most sense. I like Hammel as a reliable, back of the rotation guy. He would be a good complimentary piece to Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda as the team looks to fill other pitching spots with youth. I would probably take a chance with either C.J. Wilson or Tyson Ross if given the opportunity.
It’s possible that GM Brian Cashman can uncover a quality arm via trade but it’s a virtual certainty the team won’t be involved in the Chris Sale sweepstakes. Sale alone would not make the Yankees an immediate World Series contender and he would cost the best quality of the farm system to acquire. So, the Yankees need to stay the course as they continue to add the pieces for future success.
I was disappointed to see minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson leave the organization. I am happy to see him return to the major leagues as the hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins, however, I thought he would have been a better hitting coach for the Yankees than current hitting coach Alan Cockrell or assistant hitting coach Marcus Thames. When the Yankees had dismissed Jeff Pentland last year, I was hopeful that Rowson would get the job. It was not meant to be. I think he’ll be a good addition to Paul Molitor’s staff in Minneapolis and should help former Yankee and current Twins’ co-catcher John Ryan Murphy to hit again.
I remain hopeful the Yankees re-sign pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Lindgren* as they recover from Tommy John surgery. Granted, neither pitcher will help in 2017 but I would really prefer to see them stay.
Let’s hope this week brings good news for Yankees fans…
*Several hours after this post, the Atlanta Braves announced they’ve signed Lindgren to a one year deal that will allow them to retain rights to Lindgren if they add him to their 40-man roster.
Missing the Pinstripes in October…
I seriously thought the Boston Red Sox would advance to the World Series this year (to play the Chicago Cubs). For some reason, it appeared to be destiny that Theo Epstein, who broke the Curse of the Bambino, would have the opportunity to break the Lovable Losers’ long-standing World Series drought against his former team.
Admittedly, I was not disappointed to see the Cleveland Indians, and in particular manager Tito Francona, upstage Boston with the ALDS series win, sending the Red Sox home. Primarily because of reliever Andrew Miller, I am pulling for the Indians in the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays. Francona has long been one of my favorite managers so it’s an easy team to root for.
Granted, I am still pulling for the Los Angeles Dodgers given they are my favorite NL team, however, I believe this is the year of the Chicago Cubs.
So, at this point, the only team I don’t really want to see in the World Series is the Blue Jays. As a Yankees fan, it is very difficult to root for other AL East teams.
It is interesting that if the Indians and Cubs do meet in the Fall Classic, the two best Yankees relievers at the start of the year will be facing one another. Miller, during his short time in New York, was my favorite Yankee after the retirement of Mariano Rivera. Miller was great in New York, but Francona has found ways to use Miller in superior ways to take full advantage of the pitcher’s greatness. Aroldis Chapman is arguably one of the best closers in baseball and he could very well find himself back in pinstripes at the end of the year. It would be very fun to watch these two brilliant pitchers work their magic in the game’s biggest stage.
Every team remaining in the playoffs has at least one former Yankee on its roster. Cleveland has former Yankees prospect Zach McAllister in addition to Miller. The Cubs have Chapman. The Dodgers have Rich Hill, who was briefly a Yankee a few years ago. Lastly, the Blue Jays have former Yankees catcher Russell Martin. His backup is former Yankees prospect Dioner Navarro. So, at least one ex-Yankee is guaranteed a ring this year.
Perhaps they should invite him to Old Timer’s Day so that he can continue to terrorize Yankee pitching…
While there was delight in watching the Indians beat the Red Sox, there was sadness watching the end of the brilliant career of David Ortiz. He was such a thorn in the Yankees’ side over the years, but I built up great respect for the player. He ended his career without a noticeable dropoff in ability and production. By comparison, it was clear Alex Rodriguez was done when he left. Ortiz could have stayed in the game a few more years, earning multi-millions of dollars. He should get the call for Cooperstown one day. He earned it. He is one of the very few players that was able to end his career on his terms.
Coming soon to a stadium near you…
Last year in the Arizona Fall League, we were able to get an advance preview of how great catcher Gary Sanchez could be. This year, pitcher James Kaprielian and shortstop Gleyber Torres have stood out in the early days of the AFL. Kaprielian is showing that the Yankees should look inward for help in the starting rotation next spring, and Torres is providing a glimpse of the future when Yankees will be forced to make decisions regarding incumbent starters Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro to make room for Torres and second baseman/shortstop Jorge Mateo.
Credit: Tim Holle/Brevard County Manatees via River Ave Blues
It’s also good to see first baseman Greg Bird, the most probable replacement for the retired Mark Teixeira, back on the field. He does seem a little out of place in the AFL as a bonafide major leaguer among a sea of prospects, but the lost year due to injury makes this a necessity to prepare Bird for next season.
I am anxious for the current season to reach its conclusion so that the Hot Stove League can start to simmer. I am anxious to see what GM Brian Cashman can do to help the Yankees take the first step back to contender status. This was a very promising year after the so-so start. I don’t expect the Yankees to be World Series contenders next year, but I do believe that another championship could be attained within two to three years with the right moves now. I am hopeful that 2017 brings more of what we saw in September with the Baby Bombers.
As the saying goes, time will tell as it often does…
Glad my favorite NFL team is 4-0…
The playoffs have started but it clearly feels as though baseball is over for me this year given the Yankees are home for the holidays. I’ve picked up the mantle for the Los Angeles Dodgers given they are my favorite National League team, but of course, it’s just not the same. Realistically, I don’t think anyone is beating the Chicago Cubs in the NL this year. They seem to be the team of destiny. In our lifetime, we’ve seen the end of the Curse of the Bambino and now it seems the end of the Cubbies’ World Series drought is near.
On the AL side, I thought the Boston Red Sox would emerge as the premier team. But two games into the AL playoffs has shown a short 5 game series is anybody’s to win. The Red Sox are not playing like the team that completely destroyed the Yankees in Boston a few weeks ago. I have no doubt the Red Sox can sweep the next three games to win their series against the Cleveland Indians but obviously they do find themselves in a precarious situation with no room for error. I have been quietly surprised and pleased by Cleveland’s performance. Tito Francona has long been one of my favorite managers (Don Mattingly is the other) and he is showing why in this series against his former team.
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The Texas Rangers quietly had the best year in the AL, but they have absolutely no pitching answer for the devastating bats in the Toronto Blue Jays’ lineup. Right now, the odds are in favor of a Blue Jays-Indians American League Championship Series. I thought we’d be looking at Red Sox-Rangers but I guess that’s why they play the games.
Fortunately, the quick start by the health-challenged Minnesota Vikings gives me something to think about other than baseball and the absence of America’s favorite team.
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Excuse me, can I have that chair?…
With spots on the 40-man roster at a premium, it wasn’t a surprise to see the recent moves to free up space. While Blake Parker and Kirby Yates did well, at times, during the season, they are replaceable parts. It didn’t take the Los Angeles Angels long to snatch up both players. The Yankees also cut ties with Eric Young, Jr but that was no surprise as his only role was speed for September (filling the Rico Noel role from a year earlier). No doubt there are more moves to be made. I am glad to see the Yankees protect young guys like catcher Kyle Higashioka who could have been lost without a spot on the 40-man roster. Tough decisions for GM Brian Cashman.
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When you are trying to protect young talent, the 40-man roster suddenly feels so limiting. I am sure there will be some losses of quality talent in this year’s Rule 5 draft. It is always hard to see lost prospects achieve major league success elsewhere (Jose Quintana of the Chicago White Sox comes to mind). Last year saw the Yankees lose a couple of guys, like outfielder Jake Cave, but fortunately none stuck on their respective major league rosters and were returned. I don’t think they’ll be so lucky this year.
I am thankful that Alex Rodriguez will not be filling one of those seats this off-season. As much as Brian McCann would like to stay, I think the Yankees need to find a way to move him and his salary. I would prefer a more consistent bat at DH but even if the Yankees don’t go outside for help, they have a plethora of young outfielders. Greg Bird will most likely replace Mark Teixeira at first which means the Yankees need to find a place for Tyler Austin. With so many outfield options, DH might be the best spot for the young slugger who could then spell Bird at times.
With such a youthful roster, guys like Chase Headley are suddenly looking very old.
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I remain hopeful that the Yankees will pursue a proven closer like Aroldis Chapman (my preference) or Kenley Jansen in the off-season. With Dellin Betances moving back into the primary setup role, the Yankees bullpen could return to its status as one of the game’s best which would relieve pressure on the starting rotation. I just don’t see any great starting pitching options available in the trade market which wouldn’t cost multiple top prospects.
As much as I would love to have one of the impending free agent bats in Toronto, I think the cost would be too great for the team at this point in time. I like the strategy of acquiring a young players with upside like Aaron Hicks even if that one didn’t exactly pan out…yet. That’s exactly what the Blue Jays did when they acquired Jose Bautista from the Pittsburgh Pirates and I think that one turned out well for the acquiring team.
I don’t think I’ll be ready to proclaim the Yankees as a World Series contender come Spring, but hopefully the team continues to make the moves to set up the Yankees for a run in 2018 and beyond. A strong base for sustained success is unquestionably the best path over any quick fixes.
Now is the time when Brian Cashman truly earns his paycheck…
Credit: Corey Sipkin, New York Daily News
Saving the best dance for last…
After a ho-hum drive to the trading deadline, it was a fun ride after the Yankees disposed of their top relievers and their best bat. The release of Alex Rodriguez signaled the opening of the youth movement, which had technically already begun with the trades for Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro. Yet, it wasn’t until catcher Gary Sanchez arrived that the magic was re-inserted into Yankee Stadium. With Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Tyler Austin as the opening act in August, the team thrust themselves back into post-season contention. For a time, it seemed as though it might work, but a brutal September schedule brought an end to those aspirations. Still, for the Yankees to be in contention as late as September 29th, it was an improbable ride.
The Baby Bombers gave Yankees fans reason to be optimistic again. Judge’s stay was short-lived due to injury but it gave the Yankees a chance to see other guys like Mason Williams.
I am not foolish enough to believe that Luis Cessa or Chad Green are the next great aces in baseball, but both achieved some success at the major league level and are posed to compete for jobs next spring.
It’s clear that the off-season strategy should involve getting a high caliber bat, a starting pitcher and help for the relief corps. I am not convinced that Dellin Betances can be a frontline closer but as a set up guy, he’s among the best. The Yankees would be wise to re-secure the services of former closer Aroldis Chapman in free agency. I prefer Chapman over Dodgers closer and free agent to be Kenley Jansen because Chapman is just a freak of nature…and he’s shown he can have success in New York. Chapman should be the team’s top target so that they can shorten games and take pressure off the starting rotation.
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I am not sure who’s out there for starting pitching but I’d prefer not to invest big dollars in a 36 year old like Rich Hill who has reinvented himself as a top starter. Young, controllable talent will come at a very steep price, and there’s not really much available through free agency. The Yankees would be wise to see what they could get for Michael Pineda but after his disappointing 6-12 season, the return would be minimal. Actually, the Pittsburgh Pirates should be all in for a Pineda trade. Struggling Yankees pitchers always seem to pitch like aces in Pittsburgh.
The only obvious starters in the rotation for next season are Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia. It could also be the final years as Yankees for both pitchers. Tanaka can opt out of his contract after next season and Sabathia’s long-term and at times onerous contract finally reaches it conclusion.
A year lost to injury probably removes James Kaprielian as a rotation option next year. Hopefully, other guys like Jordan Montgomery and Justus Sheffield will have a chance to show what they can bring.
GM Brian Cashman has his work cut out in trying to restructure the team’s pitching.
As for offense, I am sure that we’ll hear names like Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. But neither name really excites me. I am hopeful that Aaron Judge can play to his potential and that Gary Sanchez shows that his hot start was not a fluke. Greg Bird will be the team’s starting first baseman with the retirement of Mark Teixeira and barring competition from Tyler Austin. It would be nice if the team could find a new third baseman, and perhaps trade Brett Gardner. Moving both Chase Headley and Brian McCann would be a huge win.
The Yankees need to make some off-season moves to put the team in better position for 2017 but it will be difficult without sacrificing some of the quality prospects they acquired over the last couple of months or their own homegrown talent.
I don’t see any obvious answers other than to let Cashman continue to piece together his hope and vision for the coming years.
I am thankful the Yankees gave us a few months of excitement after the up and down start. I feel better about the team as it enters this off-season than I did last year. It’s unfortunate that the team was unable to make the playoffs but realistically, this team was not ready for October success. Hopefully the current Cashman path has the Yankees on a collision course for next October. Time will tell. It should be an interesting off-season.
Farewell to #16…
A week ago, I woke up on Sunday morning to the dreadful news that Miami Marlins’ ace Jose Fernandez had perished in a boating accident. At first, I didn’t want to believe and had hoped it was just another internet hoax. But sadly, it was true. When I thought of pitchers the Yankees should try to trade for, I always thought of Fernandez. Aside from being one of the best pitchers in baseball, his enthusiasm and team spirit were always at the forefront. His personality would have captured New York.
Credit: Getty Images
It was probably unlikely the Yankees ever could have secured Fernandez as the price tag would have been very high but it was fun to think about. Now, we’re left only with thoughts of what could have been. For his short time in the majors, he made a mark. When the Marlins made the decision to retire his number even though he had only been in the majors a few years, it was the right thing to do. If Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball, Fernandez was in the same room.
Watching Marlins manager Don Mattingly break down while talking about Fernandez was hard to see. Sometimes life doesn’t seem fair, and the world would have been a much better place had Fernandez been able to take the field for his scheduled start last Monday against the New York Mets. He will be missed. His loss is felt all across Major League Baseball, and he will not be forgotten. In various parts around the world, there are young boys who idolized Fernandez. Undoubtedly, some of those young men will one day make their MLB dreams come true. Through them, Fernandez will continue to live on.
Rest in peace, Jose…
Knocking on the door in September…
I am surprised. Pleasantly surprised, but what a ride it has been since Alex Rodriguez was released. All season, I have been pessimistic about the 2016 Yankees. The inconsistent, uninspired play leading up to the July trading deadline gave me no reason for optimism. The Yankees had arguably the best bullpen in baseball, but it didn’t matter because the offense couldn’t consistently produce.
Credit: Associated Press
The trading deadline found the Yankees to be sellers as they moved Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova for prospects. The youth movement had begun. Through those trades, the only notable veteran acquired was reliever Adam Warren. The subsequent release of Rodriguez allowed the Yankees to bring up catcher Gary Sanchez, first baseman/outfielder Tyler Austin, and outfielder Aaron Judge. The trade of Nova opened the rotation for Chad Green and Luis Cessa. Green has subsequently been lost for the season, and starter Nathan Eovaldi is out for 12-18 months due to Tommy John surgery. Cessa has shown signs of brilliance with his multiple pitches and is a bright spot for the future. The latest entrant into the starting rotation, Bryan Mitchell, excelled in his first major league appearance this year following his recovery from a spring training injury.
You’d think that losing the top relievers in your bullpen, a starter in the rotation, and your best offensive player without equal or better major league replacements would mean further regression in performance. Instead, the Yankees have become a more exciting team to watch. The youthful attitudes of the rookies have energized the team and the city. Suddenly, the Yankees are mentioned as a play-off contender. As I type this, they are only one game out for the second wild card slot.
Seriously, I still do not expect this year’s team to be a World Series contender or to have success in the play-offs if they do miraculously nail that last Wild Card. But who would have thought the Yankees would be in the conversation in mid-September. The last month has given so much hope for future success. Sanchez, Austin, and Judge will be so much stronger next spring for this experience, and 2017 will see the potential infusion of the continued youth movement through the possible call-ups of outfielder Clint Frazier, pitchers Jordan Montgomery and Justus Sheffield and others.
Brian McCann has been a solid Yankee, but Gary Sanchez has quickly become one of the league’s best through his combination of professional hitting and highlight reel worthy defense. Even if Sanchez is slumping with the bat, he has made himself an invaluable piece of the starting lineup with his stellar defensive play.
Credit: Wendell Cruz, USA Today Sports
Tyler Austin starting with a bang (home run in his first at-bat) but followed it up with a prolong slump. But recently, he’s turned it around and hit a home run on his recent birthday and again the other night with a walk-off to beat the Tampa Bay Rays. He has shown that he knows what he is doing with a bat in his hands, and clearly has a plan with each at-bat. It is assumed that Greg Bird will become the starting first baseman next year, but Austin is showing that there may be spring training competition for the job.
It’s fun to be excited about the Yankees again. Win or lose, the latest version of the Pinstripers has shown they are a team to be reckoned with in future years. This is so much better than being an old team in decay. While I greatly miss guys like Andrew Miller, the team is better because of those July trades. The returns may not bear fruit until future seasons, but it opened the door for the organization’s existing top farmhands.
Excellent job by GM Brian Cashman to recapture the mystique and aura for Yankee Stadium.
The Hired Gun…
I have had a week to digest the news that Sam Bradford is the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings. He may not be the starter in Game 1 (tomorrow against the Tennessee Titans) but there’s no doubt it is only a matter of time. From afar, I’ve always looked at Bradford with disappointment given his injury history and unfulfilled promise. But here we are. I do think the talent and potential still reside with Bradford and the Vikings represent his best supporting cast yet. He has the ability to show that he was once worthy of being the first overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Credit: Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images
I feel so much better about the Vikings’ quarterback situation today than I did the days immediately following Teddy Bridgewater’s devastating non-contact knee injury. The oddsmakers obviously do too as they have restored the Vikings chances this year to the pre-Bridgewater injury level.
I had really felt that this was going to be Bridgewater’s breakout year. He had a tremendous pre-season, and the Vikings have done a good job in finding talented playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Nothing against veteran QB Shaun HIll, but the thought of Hill as the starting quarterback was disappointing at best.
It is a bit scary that the Vikings go into the regular season carrying only two quarterbacks on the active roster. QB Taylor Heinicke is still a few weeks from returning due to injury, and practice squad QB Joel Stave has shown that he is not ready for this level. I really felt that the Vikings should have added a third quarterback with potential. I thought the Denver Broncos did a good job in adding former Rams quarterback Austin Davis as their third-stringer and thought Minnesota should have added someone like that.
While I expect Shaun Hill to be named the starter for the Titans game, I do anticipate the entry of Bradford into the game at some point. I am glad that he chose to go with his Rams number of 8 as opposed to the number 7 he wore with the Philadelphia Eagles. Not that a number really matters in the grand scheme of things, but I know that I still associate #7 with underachievement and poor play thanks to former Viking Christian Ponder.
It’s tough having a new playbook thrown at the quarterback a week before the start of the regular season, but I expect Bradford to progress quickly. May good health be his…
The future is bright…
This was a difficult week. For months if not years, I have wanted Alex Rodriguez to go away. He may have said and did the right thing after the year-long suspension, but there have been too many indiscretions and lies for me to be willing to move forward with the player. Yet, for his final game, I was sad. I was and am ready for the Yankees to turn the page, but for one night, it was good to see A-Rod smash the RBI double and to watch him play third base for one out before walking off the field to the ovation of the fans.
I do not argue that he is among the all-time greats. But I will always wonder what could have been if not for the lies and PEDs. I think he would have still been among the greats without illegal performance enhancement. But we’ll never know. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of A-Rod on the playing field, but obviously, his career in pinstripes is over.
Credit: John Munson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
With A-Rod’s departure, I was very excited to see the arrival of slugging first baseman Tyler Austin and outfielder Aaron Judge. As Mark Teixeira plays his final games, it is time to look to the future. I prefer filling the first base vacancy in-house versus trade or free agency. It was tough to lose top candidate Greg Bird for the season, but Tyler Austin has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. It should be a great competition next spring between Bird and Austin. Bird probably still has the leg up but it remains to be seen how he responds as he returns from injury.
The Yankees have been fortunate to have a string of successful first basemen. From Don Mattingly to Tino Martinez to Jason Giambi to Teixeira, the Yankees have been spoiled even if there have been some down years by the latter two. But of these great players, only Mattingly was raised through the Yankees farm system. I remember in the early 80’s when Steve Balboni was the heralded first base prospect, but you kept hearing about this young kid from Evansville, Indiana that could hit. Greg Bird has received similar accolades for his hitting ability. I don’t know if Bird can ever be the player that Mattingly was but I am excited that the fight for first base is among two top Yankees prospects.
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Saturday, August 13th will be remembered as the day Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge arrived at Yankee Stadium. They became the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bat’s when they hit back to back homers in a win over the Tampa Bay Rays. The homers were a signal that the future is bright.
Credit: John Munson, AP
Gary Sanchez has already positioned himself as the future at catcher. He continues a long lineage of great catchers (Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson, and Jorge Posada to name a few). He has yet to prove that he belongs in their company, but he does have the talent and potential to be. Sanchez’s arrival will almost certainly lead to the departure of Brian McCann. Even if they have to include cash, I still expect the Yankees to move McCann…either by the end of this month or in the off-season. Austin Romine has proven that he is a very capable backup catcher for the foreseeable future.
Aaron Judge might not be the Yankees’ top prospect, but his arrival is very exciting. There has been a vacancy in right field since Carlos Beltran was traded to the Texas Rangers. There was no doubt that right field would belong to Judge in 2017, even if he did struggle somewhat in AAA last year. But this year for the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders, Judge has been a man among boys. He gives the Yankees a legitimate power threat in right, and his mammoth home runs will ensure that he is a fan favorite. For a team that has been void of true superstars, the Yankees are starting to show the glimmer of possibilities as we move forward.
GM Brian Cashman has already said that we won’t see top prospect OF Clint Frazier, but he’ll make his first appearance in spring training. He clearly has the potential (and fire) to make Brett Gardner an ex-Yankee. Sadly, Jacoby Ellsbury is not going anywhere thanks to his excessive contract, but still, an outfield of Judge, Frazier, and Ellsbury is very exciting.
SS Gleyber Torres and SS/2B Jorge Mateo are a couple more faces that we’ll see next spring.
Credit: Tim Holle, Brevard County Manatees (via NJ.com)
If only Luis Severino, currently 1-7 (with the only win coming in a relief appearance), could deliver upon the promise that he showed last September. But soon, names like James Kaprelian, Justus Sheffield and Ian Clarkin will be making noise for big league roles.
For a team that was old with a barren farm system just a few years, the future is indeed bright.
I am very excited and anxious to see what the new generation of Yankees can do. The path to World Championship #28 seems much clearer these days…
And then there was 24…
It could be the name of a highly successful TV series starring Kiefer Sutherland, it could be former Yankees great Constantino Martinez, or it could be new and future catcher Gary Sanchez. But today, the meaning is singular. The Yankees’ roster has essentially been running at 24 for the last few weeks with Alex Rodriguez sitting idle on the bench. But now, it’s official.
The roster action will be delayed but Friday, August 12th represents the final day with A-Rod in pinstripes. After the game on Friday, Alex will be unconditionally released and will sign an agreement with the Yankees to serve as a special advisor and instructor through December 31, 2017.
Obviously, the roster will stand at 24 only momentarily as the 25th spot will quickly be filled by someone like Aaron Judge or Tyler Austin. I suspect that it will be the latter as the Yankees will want to test one of the prime candidates to be Mark Teixeira’s replacement next year. Aaron Judge’s ascent to right field in the Bronx is a clearer path than the one Austin faces given the competition presented by Greg Bird and Rob Refsnyder.
I have not been a supporter of A-Rod and have actively wanted him off the roster for a few years now. I do recognize that when he came back after serving the year long suspension, he was a model citizen. He did not exhibit the narcissist behavior that had been such a part of his persona and infamy. Still, I have been ready to turn the page.
With the ascent of Gary Sanchez to the major leagues and the first few games showing that he is ready, it signaled the turning of the page. The sell-off at the trading deadline showed that Team Hal was ready to move forward and look to the future. Sanchez proving that he is ready to be the next great Yankees catcher, it has accelerated the plans to make Brian McCann either a first baseman or the full-time DH. The transition to the latter would make more sense. Of course, that would eliminate any chance of A-Rod getting any further at-bats. I still hold up hope the Yankees will pay some cash to move McCann back to the Atlanta Braves. But it’s actually good that the DH slot has been opened up as it will allow guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to cycle through the slot.
Back to A-Rod, I do think that he should pursue a role in the broadcasting booth in the fall play-offs. He showed that he had great value last year, and I do think he has a bright future in his post-playing career. The way he enjoys working with young players also shows that coaching is a strong possibility even if A-Rod says otherwise. Regardless, A-Rod has no shortage of future possibilities. I am thankful for his contributions to the New York Yankees, but I am glad this day has arrived. I will look forward to the August 12th game and will watch it with great interest. I will enjoy each A-Rod at-bat, and I will appreciate his final farewell.
Credit: Corey Sipkin, New York Daily News
So long, A-Rod…
Going, going, gone!…
My wish was answered. I had been a huge proponent of being a seller at the trading deadline, and in the end, Team Hal saw the view of the world the same as I. Without any doubt, it was an incredibly painful experience. I loved having the three-headed beast in the back end of the bullpen, and Andrew Miller was easily my favorite Yankee. But as I played over and over in my head, having the greatest bullpen in the history of baseball means nothing if you don’t have a supporting cast.
Credit: Thomas A. Ferrara, Newsday
I thought that GM Brian Cashman did very well with his trades. It instantly catapulted the Yankees to the upper echelon of premier farm systems when it wasn’t that long ago we were closer to the bottom. The end of the latest Yankees dynasty came because the team didn’t pay proper attention to the farm system until it was too late. Now, as the cream of the crop make their way to Yankee Stadium, the team will be in a much better position to add additional pieces to improve the talent and quality of the major league roster. The bullpen may be more suspect, but the supporting cast will be much, much stronger, and in the end, it will bring more wins.
The future started this week with the call-up of top catching prospect Gary Sanchez. It’s only been a few games but it feels like the changing of the guard. I have to believe that it is virtual certainty the Yankees will try to move Brian McCann at the end of the season if not sooner. Backup catcher Austin Romine holds better long-term value than McCann so I think the Yankees should throw in cash to entice the Atlanta Braves to take their former All-Star catcher.
The next call up should be outfielder Aaron Judge, although I really want to see what first baseman Tyler Austin can do in September.
Credit: Martin Griff
The DL is going to miss Mark Teixeira…
Today, Mark Teixeira announced he is retiring at the end of the year. This was the right move. With his injury history in recent years, no team was going to pay him to be their starting first baseman next year. There was no real chance that the Yankees would re-sign him. It is time. Teixeira now gets the opportunity to walk away as a Yankee.
Credit: Brad Rempel, USA Today Sports
I did not realize that Teixeira had hit nearly half of his career home runs as a Yankee. It’s been eight years and is the longest time Tex has spent with any team including his original team, the Texas Rangers.
I saw a stat today that said the Yankees have only had four first basemen since 1983. Don Mattingly, Tino Martinez, Jason Giambi, and Teixeira. Unfortunately, that’s probably the order in which I liked them the best too. Does this mean I will like the next first baseman even less? Possibly, but the next first baseman should be the first homegrown Yankee since Mattingly. The aforementioned Tyler Austin and the injured Greg Bird will enter spring training next year as the favorites for the position, along with Rob Refsnyder. I like Bird, but I am very intrigued by Austin. He responded very well to the position change to first this year and re-established himself as one of the top prospects in the organization.
I will be happy with either Austin or Bird, but I do hope that one of them takes the position by stranglehold and that it’s not just a process of elimination. No offense to Refsnyder but he just doesn’t have the power to intrigue me as the regular first baseman.
Tex has had a great career. I don’t know if it will lead to the Hall of Fame but he’s certainly put up numbers to be proud of. He is one of the primary reasons the Yankees won the 2009 World Series. Although I never fully embraced Teixeira, he was an excellent defensive first baseman and when healthy, one of the best power hitters in the game. Sadly, the latter was an infrequent occurrence.
Still, I wish Tex nothing but the best as he moves on to his second career.
I hope it’s not Miller Time…
I am writing this post as the Yankees play the Cleveland Indians. This is a very tough series to watch knowing that Cleveland has the premier closer on their roster. Hopefully he doesn’t factor into tonight’s game. But when he does appear, I hope he receives a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd.
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Is it 2017 yet?…
What if the Yankees had traded Mariano Rivera in a deadline deal?…
It’s tough. I’ve been preaching the Yankees need to sell and I still believe it. Yet, it was very hard to watch Aroldis Chapman and his 105 mph fastball move to Chicago. I know, it was the right thing to do. The Yankees got a player (SS Gleyber Torres) that knocked #1 prospect SS Jorge Mateo off his perch. They also got promising talent with two other minor leaguers, and the bonus included former Yankee Adam Warren, the perfect spot starter/long reliever. He should slot nicely into the 7th inning role departed by Dellin Betances when he was promoted to the 8th inning with the trade.
Credit: Barton Silverman/New York Times
Andrew Miller is my favorite Yankee. Going back, my favorite Yankees have been long-term affairs. I became a Yankees fan in 1974 when P Jim “Catfish” Hunter signed with the Yankees as a free agent. But it didn’t take long for me to jump to C Thurman Munson as my favorite. There was a short stint with P Rich “Goose” Gossage, but then 1B Don Mattingly became my favorite. When Mattingly retired, Mariano Rivera, then an 8th inning set up reliever for closer John Wetteland became my favorite Yankee. So, from 1983 to 2013, there were two players that were my favorite. When Andrew Miller joined the Yankees, he became my favorite due to his unselfish, total team approach. He’s been great at whatever role he’s held with the Yankees and has never complained. He is now the closer again with Chapman joining the Cubbies. Yet, with several days to the trade deadline, Miller could still soon be an ex-Yankee.
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There was a report today that the Washington Nationals might be willing to part with pitcher Lucas Giolito for Miller. A subsequent report indicated the Yankees would not take Giolito for Miller. Realistically and considering he is my favorite Yankee, that’s a trade that I would do with no questions asked. I think Giolito has a very promising future. There are no guarantees for anyone unless your name is Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. Pitchers are very fickle. The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best pitcher in baseball with Clayton Kershaw yet he is on the DL and there’s no word when he’ll be returning. The Yankees need a New York Mets-like starting rotation and I feel that Giolito could be a cornerstone. I would hate to lose Miller, and I would be very sad to see him go even if Giolito is the compensation. Yet, I feel the Yankees would be better off long-term with a potential ace in the rotation and Dellin Betances as the closer.
The Yankees have played better of late but realistically this is not a World Series team. The Yankees really need to make decisions now to influence the 2017 roster. That means they need to move guys like Ivan Nova and Carlos Beltran. Get prospects rather than see the players depart at the end of the year. I am prepared to cut bait with Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia. I’d try to move C Brian McCann and 3B Chase Headley. I’d also check to see if there was any value for LF Brett Gardner. I wouldn’t trade P Masahiro Tanaka but I’d seriously have to consider moving Michael Pineda and/or Nathan Eovaldi in the right deal.
The influx of additional young talent could allow the Yankees to make a deal for a guy like P Chris Sale or another impact player.
Owner Hal Steinbrenner and President Randy Levine still believe in the 2016 Yankees but they are definitely in the minority. The Yankees, behind GM Brian Cashman, need to be forward-thinking. The next couple of days will be crucial to the future of the franchise.
As painful as it is, please sell…
Glass is half empty…
When the Yankees split the recent series with the Texas Rangers by taking back-to-back walk-off wins, there was talk if those games were the momentum changers that the Yankees needed to propel them upward in the standings. Off to San Diego to play the lowly Padres, and the Yankees have only continued their disappointing and at times frustrating play.
When you can say that Ivan Nova held the opponent to one run with seven strikeouts, it should be a sign of optimism. But in the standings, it was just another loss as the Padres’ Drew Pomeranz threw a superior game. Is Pomeranz really that good or is it just the miserable Yankee bats? Probably somewhere in between.
Every fan has known for several years that the Yankees need another top starter to go with Masahiro Tanaka. There was hope and optimism that Michael Pineda and/or Luis Severino would step up but it hasn’t happened and there was always the potential for this to be the case. Neither is a surefire option. I still think the Yankees should have gone after Max Scherzer a couple of seasons ago, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Credit: Geoff Burke, USA Today Sports
Regardless of what happens in the coming days, I think it is time to move pending free agent Carlos Beltran. Yes, he’s been the best offensive force on the team, but face it, the Yankees aren’t going to win the World Series this year. Beltran will walk at the end of the year as the Yankees have no desire to re-sign the player. They may as well sell at this point to get something of value in return. The day for Aaron Judge’s arrival is drawing closer. Even if Judge isn’t ready, there are guys like Jake Cave who deserve an opportunity. The Yankees should commit to youth for the good of the organization going forward.
Credit: Corey Sipkin, New York Daily News
I would also sell high on CC Sabathia. The guy was untradeable in the not so distant past. Now, the Yankees could actually get something in return even if they have to pay some of the salary. A great Yankee but it’s time to move on. I’d rather begin to develop guys like Chad Green and Luis Cessa as long time parts for the starting rotation.
I’d sign Cuban free agent third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and unload Chase Headley.
Credit: Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
There’s no doubt I’d walk away from Alex Rodriguez, and take the remaining dollars as a loss on the contract as the cost of doing business. I would also move on from Mark Teixeira despite no readily apparent back up in place. These guys have been huge drains on the team’s offense, and perhaps they’d flourish elsewhere with the change of scenery but I don’t see either player powering the team to its 28th World Championship.
If Brett Gardner got caught in one of the moves to unload one or more of the above players, then so be it.
The Yankees need to develop a stronger base foundation so that they can enhance the team in the off-season through other trades or possible free agent signings. I know that the free agent market doesn’t appear to be very attractive this year, but the Yankees need to do something to remove the “past-their-prime” players.
As for youth, I was hoping for more from Aaron Hicks. I really thought that he might flourish in the Bronx and give the Yankees stronger reason to move Brett Gardner. But he hasn’t hit either. Maybe the Yankees should consider adding former Twins outfielder Torii Hunter as a roving instructor. Hicks blossomed last year under his tutelage. I still think that Hicks can succeed, but it is rapidly becoming apparent it won’t be this year.
It was frustrating in the off-season to watch the Yankees be so inactive in improving the roster. We’re now seeing the uneven play of the team as a result. I think the fans knew that was the more likely outcome than management did. It doesn’t mean the fans are more educated, but clearly this was a roster full of holes that needed everything to go right.
Today, Chad Green is the starting pitcher as the Yankees try to salvage at least one game from the San Diego Padres and avoid a sweep. Hopefully it is the sign of the future, and the first step toward “roster improvement”.
Yankees, just win…