Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Life as a Maytag Repairfan…

Off-season moves or lack thereof…

A new year, but the same quiet off-season in the Bronx despite the acquisitions of Starlin Castro and Aroldis Chapman.  January has introduced names like Kirby Yates, Donovan Solano, and Jonathan Diaz.  Although all three have some major league experience, I can’t really say that I was aware of any of them.

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Yates, as a fly ball pitcher, scares me.  We already have Masahiro Tanaka who loves to give up the long ball.  Granted, Yates is a reliever, but 10 home runs in 20 innings for his 2015 work with the Tampa Bay Rays doesn’t exactly instill confidence.  I know, it has been said that it was an aberration and his minor league numbers reflected much better performance.  I recognize that he is just another body for spring training, and if something shakes out from these low level signings, the Yankees have captured lightning in a bottle.

If any of these guys make the opening day roster, it’s going to be a long season at Yankee Stadium.

I still hold the opinion that Wei-Yin Chen would be a terrific addition.  He would provide a stabilizing force in the starting rotation, and he’s left-handed which makes him a good fit for the hitting friendly Yankee Stadium.  There is no way the quartet of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, and Ivan Nova stays healthy for the duration of the year.  At some point, one or more will be lost for extended periods of time.  Of course Nathan Eovaldi carries some injury risk as well.  With Chen, you could easily slot him for his 200 innings and worry about the other guys.

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Credit:  Joe Nicholson, USA Today Sports

At this point, it doesn’t seem like the Yankees are going to be able to make a trade for a young, controllable pitcher.  The team, as presently constructed, carries much risk in many areas.  If Jacoby Ellsbury and/or Carlos Beltran spend any significant time on the DL, Aaron Hicks and one or more of the young AAA outfielders (like Slade Heathcott or Mason Williams) will be exposed to much playing time.

What if Chase Headley continues his defensive slump?  Who is going to back him up?  If Greg Bird starts the year at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, who spells Mark Teixeira?  If the Yankees need to do anything, they need to limit Teixeira as much as possible.  So perhaps it does make sense to carry Bird on the roster so that he can take the occasional start at first and provide late inning relief.  But sadly, he doesn’t play third.

Starlin Castro rebounded nicely last season after he became the Chicago Cubs starting second baseman but what if he struggles in the American League and shows a return to the player that struggled and was benched?  Dustin Ackley certainly looks to be a key reserve so I am sure he’ll get a lot of time at second during spring, as well as other positions.  Too bad he can’t pitch…

Sounds like we’ll know whether Chapman faces any suspension by spring.  At this point, I have to believe the Yankees are planning to start the season with incumbent closer Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances covering the 8th and 9th innings.  I’d like to see Chasen Shreve step up and into the departed Justin Wilson’s 7th inning role, along with James Pazos.  How the bullpen will look when Chapman returns is a decision for another day.

I seriously doubt the Yankees will be able to trade Ivan Nova.  He’ll need to show something in spring training to represent any type of trade chip.  Of the other players mentioned as possible trade chips, I really do not want to lose Andrew Miller.  I would prefer to see Brett Gardner go if one of them departs.  But that would leave the outfield very thin.  So the best bet is probably for both Miller and Gardner to stay.

Top NL Closers don’t die, they move to the AL East…

While I hate to see Drew Storen join the Toronto Blue Jays (at best, as their closer or at worst, a key setup guy), he is the single player that most needed a change in scenery.  Things got ugly for him last season in Washington after the Nationals acquired closer Jonathan Papelbon.  I think he’s a talented pitcher and he does deserve the opportunity to close again.  I just wish it wasn’t in the AL East.

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Credit:  Joe McDonnell, The Washington Post

Taking their rightful place in the Hall of Fame…

Congratulations to both Ken Griffey Jr and Mike Piazza for making the Hall of Fame.  They are the two players that I had felt were most deserving.  I would like to see Mike Mussina eventually make it, but it’s not his time yet.  Tim Raines most likely set himself up for induction next year with his strong performance in the results.  I admire Piazza’s choice to go into the Hall as a New York Met rather than the team he came up with, the Los Angeles Dodgers.  While Griffey hated the Yankees, I enjoyed him as a player and really wish that we could have seen a healthy Junior when he reached his 30’s.  There’s no telling where his final numbers would have ended up had he stayed healthy.

I have absolutely no problem with the poor support for the PED users, like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.  I don’t know if I would go as far as to say they should never get in, but not today…or tomorrow.

Only 40 days until pitchers and catchers report?  Nice…

—Scott

Spelling relief: A-R-O-L-D-I-S…

The Yankees at the end of the year…

On the last day of 2015, we can finally put the one game play-off loss to the Houston Astros in the rear view mirror.  It happened in a prior year; not this year.  It’s time to move into 2016 mode, and hope for the best is yet to come.

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Justin Lane/EPA

I am still trying to fully understand the trade for Aroldis Chapman but I have warmed to it considerably since my initial (poor) reaction.  I still believe in MLB’s investigation of his domestic violence incident back in October, and remain willing to accept whatever punishment MLB deems appropriate.  But the thought of a bullpen featuring Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman is very exciting.

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Getty Images

While I realize the Yankees have not formally named their closer, it’s a virtual certainty that it will be Chapman.  Miller is obviously much better suited (both mentally and physically) to slide back into a setup role.  There is no doubt he has been one of the best setup guys in baseball the last couple of years.  Hopefully, this means less reliance (and as a result, more endurance) on Betances.  With Chapman at the  back end of the bullpen, the trade of Justin Wilson to the Detroit Tigers makes much more sense than it did at the time of the trade.  I do think the Yankees will be able to get more out of Chasen Shreve, James Pazos and/or Jacob Lindgren, and in the long run, they’ll be better off for it.

Both Betances and Miller have opined on the Chapman trade, but I have not seen any comments by Chapman himself.  I am looking forward to hearing his words and thoughts about joining the Yankees.  I think those words will go a long way toward setting the perception of him in New York.  I always remember how rocky Randy Johnson’s start in the Bronx with the media was and it never really got any better.  Chapman would be best served by watching how Alex Rodriguez carried himself in 2015 when the court of public opinion is against you.

I am disappointed that Eric Jagielo’s career with the Yankees didn’t work out.  But the reports of his questionable glove and potential necessary move to first, along with his injury history, made his departure more palatable.  Perhaps he becomes the next great thing at third since, well, Todd Frazier, but it was not meant to be with the Yankees.  I remember having very high hopes for Eric Duncan, but that one never worked out either.  Rookie Davis had a great year in the Yankees’ farm system, and you have to love the name.  But I had not heard of the pitcher prior to this year.  The Yankees were right to package the four prospects into the trade for Chapman.  With prospects, there is no certainty.  With Chapman, he’ll be a force in the bullpen once he’s served any potential suspension.  It was a trade the Yankees had to make.

I still respect the Dodgers for walking away from Chapman, but equally, I do not blame the Yankees for taking a chance.  I believe in redemption, and Chapman deserves the opportunity to prove that the incident in October is not something that will ever repeat itself.

As for Miller, I really hope that he is not moved for a starting pitcher.  As much as I recognize the Yankees need another starter, I am hopeful that it does not require the loss of Miller.  Granted, he’s only been a Yankee for a year, but his attitude is commensurate with his physical ability…and his height (6’7”).

As for a starter, I still think the Yankees should pay the money and go out and sign Wei-Yin Chen.  He’d provide the stabilizing force for the starting rotation, and would be someone that the Yankees can count on to take the ball every 5 days.  He doesn’t carry the injury risk like the other starters, and is a proven veteran pitcher.  He is only 30 years old so it’s not like the team would be paying for a pitcher past his prime.  A young, controllable pitcher would be nice, but it’s not exciting like teams would be crawling other themselves trying to unload young, talented pitchers with amazing upside.

If a player is to be moved, I would probably favor Brett Gardner.  I am optimistic about Aaron Hicks, and feel that he is capable of being more than a fourth outfielder.  Among Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams, and others, I think the Yankees can find their replacement for Chris Young.  As with anybody, I would prefer to see Ellsbury go, but that’s not going to happen with his contract.  So that makes Gardner the makes attractive trade chip.  At some point in 2016, I fully expect Aaron Judge to make his major league debut and begin his stranglehold on right field.  With Judge slated for right in the not-so-distant future, and Ellsbury locked into center, left field is the best spot for Hicks.

In addition to the need for a starting pitcher, I am still concerned about a backup third baseman.  I wonder if Dustin Ackley will play some third in spring training to see if he can make the transition.  With Jagielo gone, there’s not really any immediate help on the way from the farm system.  I would have loved to have seen the Yankees sign the disappointing Will Middlebrooks but he opted for Milwaukee.  If the season starts with Greg Bird in AAA, that means regular third baseman Chase Headley may have to provide some back up for Mark Teixeira at first.  This puts more pressure on the Yankees to find a back up third base solution.  I guess the other option is to begin Brian McCann’s transition to first base as the back up, freeing up catcher for Gary Sanchez for the days that McCann doesn’t catch.

For a team that has largely been quiet this off-season, the Yankees should be commended for adding a new second baseman (Starlin Castro) and closer (Chapman).  But there is still much work to be done before the team heads to Tampa for spring training.  Hopefully Hal Steinbrenner does not allow GM Brian Cashman to take any vacation time in January because we’re expecting him to be working 24/7 to improve the 2016 Yankees.  If the Yankees expect to compete with Houston, or with the recharged Boston Red Sox, or World Champion Kansas City Royals, or any of the other AL competitors, they’ll need to do more.  The most common phrase that I expect to hear in January in the offices of MLB general managers is, “Brian Cashman on Line 1”.  Now is the time to make the team better.

Have a very Happy and safe New Year!

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—Scott

A Red, Hot Controversy…

Wow…

My first reaction at the news was “I don’t want Aroldis Chapman!”.

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As a Los Angeles resident (and because the team was formerly managed by one of my all-time favorites, Don Mattingly), the Dodgers have been my “second” favorite team or you could say my favorite NL team.  When the Dodgers had the deal in place to acquire flamethrower Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds, I had initially been excited to hear about it.  Well, until the news broke about his domestic violence.  When the deal collapsed as a result, I admired the Dodgers for walking away.

I have been a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan, and have experienced firsthand what it is like to have a star player on the team with domestic violence issues.  I would never condone Adrian Peterson’s behavior, and I supported the punishment he received.  In the end, I did find that the player deserved a chance to redeem himself.  With rumors of possible trades, I didn’t want to see Peterson leave Minnesota.  Peterson served his penalty, and has returned hopefully a better man.

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Andy King, Associated Press

So, maybe it’s in Peterson that I am finally starting to warm to the idea of Chapman in pinstripes.  This isn’t about wanting the player because he is an incredible pitcher.  Well, perhaps a little.  But I do believe in the process.  The MLB is currently investigating the incident with Chapman, and when the time comes, they’ll take the appropriate action.  If it means a suspension of 10 games…or 75 games…so be it.  As they say, if he did the crime, he can do the time.  I am content with a bullpen that features Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller at the backend.  The bridge to them might be suspect but I think GM Brian Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi will figure it out by the end of spring training.

Chapman, like Peterson, deserves a chance for redemption.  I don’t know the player beyond what I saw from afar while he was a Cincinnati Red.  I couldn’t tell you if he is a nice guy or a complete jerk.  Still, he should have the right to amend his wrongs.  As a major league baseball player, there is great responsibility.  Sorry, that sounds similar to a line from Spiderman, but baseball is bigger than any individual.  If you wear the uniform of a major league team, you represent that team, its city and fans, and all of major league baseball.  Your actions are a direct reflection upon the two major leagues.  I hope this incident teaches Chapman that he is not above the game.  Like Peterson, I hope he comes back a better man.

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I don’t know if Chapman is just a short term rental (one year and out via free agency) or a long-term fixture in the Bronx.  Nevertheless, I look forward to the day when he’s served his sentence and is able to resume his professional career.

Welcome to the Bronx, Aroldis Chapman…

—Scott

Life as a “small market” team…

Shopping at Nordy’s Rack…

The latest news about Yankee acquisitions does leave one a bit unfulfilled on this post Christmas day.  Sebastian Valle, Vince Pestano, Jose Rosario, Richard Bleier and Juan Silva are not exactly household names.  They represent the Yankees’ latest minor league signings or fodder for the upper levels of the farm system.  The Yankees also signed former New York Mets prospect RF Cesar Puello.  I am not familiar with Puello, but his status as the only player suspended in the Biogenesis scandal not to play in the major leagues is not exactly awe inspiring.

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John Munson photo, NJ.com

Nothing against these guys but how times have changed.  While all notable major league free agents sign elsewhere, the Yankees are sticking to their new business model (seeking young, controllable players).  I am sure that they are hoping to find a diamond in the rough with the minor league signings.  Someone like Yangervis Solarte who was able to make the opening day roster the year he signed a minor league contract with the Yankees.  A few of these players were once notable prospects with their original teams, such as C Valle with the Philadelphia Phillies.  There’s always a chance they can find that promise they once held, but odds are against it.

Hip, hip Jorge?…

When Baseball Prospectus recently named SS Jorge Mateo as the Yankees’ top prospect.  I was a little surprised.  I agree that Mateo has the potential to be a great player, but he is still only 20 and far from a sure thing.  I would have thought RF Aaron Judge would have been the top prospect.  2016 will be a very critical year for Judge.  If he plays his cards right, he can supplant Carlos Beltran in right field at some point in 2016, whether it is through injury or simply the given fact that Beltran has become a defensive liability in right, thanks to age.  If Judge is not ready, it will make the transition more challenging.  I am sure that Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams will be doing everything they can to find a place in the outfield so Judge will not be handed right field.  His job is to take it, and the sooner, the better.

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Corey Sipkin, NY Daily News

As for Mateo, it makes me wonder how long Didi Gregorius will be a Yankee.  It’s inevitable that Mateo will one day be the starting shortstop.  But will it be with the Yankees or for another team like the Miami Marlins?  Time will tell.  I am sure that GM Brian Cashman likes the #1 prospect tag as it makes the player seemingly more valuable.  Under the former Steinbrenner regime, I would have almost guaranteed that Mateo would play elsewhere.  But under Team Hal, the odds are Gregorius is a Yankee only until he starts to get expensive, and then Mateo slides into his spot.

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MiLB.com

Taking one on the Chen…

Clearly, the Yankees need a frontline starter.  They passed on the mid range free agent starters like Mike Leake although I suppose Wei-Yin Chen is still available.  I think Chen would be a good fit, but of all the teams that have been linked to Chen, the Yankees are not one of them.  Still, it would be a good opportunity for the Yankees to strengthen their rotation and protect it against injury to the other starters and weaken a chief AL East rival.  In my opinion, it would be a good investment even for a team that no longer wants to spend money.

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Rob Carr, Getty Images North America

Too much ink talking about 2018…

I dislike the stories indicating the Yankees are waiting for the 2018 free agent market when Bryce Harper tops the inventory.  Every team will be making a run at players like Harper.  The Yankees cannot outspend a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers, and based on their recent history, they won’t.  So, 2018 is not the great savior year for the Yankees.  Perhaps they do ultimately end up with Harper, but that’s not the ‘be all, end all’.  Too many factors need to fall the Yankees’ way for Harper to pull on the pinstripes and it is certainly not a given.  So making moves today to set up the free agent signing of Harper in 2018 is a flawed business plan for a team that is seeking to eliminate excessive long-term contracts.

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Where do we go from here?…

With so many young players being added to the team, the Yankees do need to keep or add veterans who simply know how to win.  The Chicago Cubs did a great job in adding the versatile Ben Zobrist as their new second baseman as the guy is a winner.  The Yankees need a few players like that instead of the ‘me first’ guys like Mark Teixeira.  1998 was such a great year for the Yankees because it felt like a “team”.  That is the culture I am hopeful Brian Cashman is able to re-create.

I am worried about third base.  I always thought that Chase Headley would be a good fit for the Yankees during his years with the San Diego Padres.  He did a great job in 2014 when he was acquired by the Yankees.  His defensive play was a notable upgrade, and going into 2015, the Yankees looked to be set defensively-speaking on the left side of the infield.  Then, Headley proceeded to have one of his worst years on both sides of the ball.  Will 2016 see a continuation of 2015 or will he recapture the magic he flashed in 2014?  Probably somewhere in between, but at some point, the Yankees will need to find a replacement.  Here’s hoping that minor league 3B Eric Jagielo can make great strides next season.

I am not sure who I would prefer to see backup Brian McCann next season.  The popular choice is Gary Sanchez, however, I feel that he’ll need meaningful at-bats.  Given that DH is clogged with Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira, I am not sure that it would be in the best interests of the development of Sanchez to not play every day.  Therefore, Austin Romine might be the better player suited for the backup role.  Player to player, Sanchez is clearly the better catcher, but the Yankees need to ensure he’s built to be a key cog for the next decade.  Sitting on the bench in 2016 is not the best use of the player.  On the other hand, if the Yankees do go with Sanchez, Austin Romine’s time with the Yankees will almost certainly come to an end.  The Yankees have had good luck in flipping the last couple of catching backups for talent in other areas so I’d prefer to see Romine make the roster in an attempt to boost his trade value.  And then turn to Sanchez in 2017 when he can begin to take the catcher’s role away from McCann (the obvious DH of the future).

Starlin Castro may never be the player that Robinson Cano is or was, but I still prefer the 26 year old Castro over the 30-something $240 million Mariner.  At this point, with Team Frugal, I am glad that they don’t have the albatross of Cano’s contract hanging over their heads as the bloated contracts of Rodriguez, Teixeira, and CC Sabathia expire.

The Yankees have much to do between now and spring training.  Granted, there will be no splashy moves, but I anticipate a Nathan Eovaldi type of trade looming on the horizon.  Not a trade sending Eovaldi away, but rather a trade to bring a young, cost-controlled player/pitcher with significant upside to the Bronx.

So, we remain waiting for those additional moves that Brian Cashman alluded to.

Hey Cash, your move…

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—Scott

Hot Stove League starting to simmer…

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.

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AP

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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NBC Sports

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.

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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?…

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—Scott

*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…

Let’s get this party started…

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).

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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.

Rob Refsnyder, Hanley Ramirez

Boston Red Sox’s Hanley Ramirez is forced out at second base as New York Yankees’ Rob Refsnyder turns the double play on Mike Napoli during the second inning of a baseball game in Boston, Saturday, July 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

MLB.com

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…

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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).

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MLB.com

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!

HappyThanksgiving2-0001516

—Scott

 

Well, that didn’t turn out as planned…

Be careful what you ask for…

In my last post, I stated my preference for Masahiro Tanaka to be named the Opening Day starter.  This, of course, was before Joe Girardi announced that Tanaka, in fact, would be the starter.  So of course, Tanaka promptly bombed as the Yankees were throttled by the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-1.

The start didn’t change my opinion that Tanaka was the best choice.  Michael Pineda is the next best starter on the staff, but he didn’t deserve the nod over Tanaka.  CC Sabathia may have been the sentimental choice if for no other reason than the consecutive years he has been the starter.  But his performance last season (injuries combined with the continued gradual decline) didn’t warrant the start either.  Nathan Eovaldi wasn’t going to get it, and neither was Adam Warren.  The right choice was made by Girardi even if the results indicated otherwise.

My concern, more than anything, is the health of Tanaka’s arm.  Yes, it was only one start and one start does not a season make.  But going to last year after he returned from the DL, the results of not been great.  If Tanaka has to learn to be a different pitcher at age 26 to lessen the strain on the elbow ligament, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be successful.  A solid outing would certainly help allay some of the concerns, but inevitably, I do feel this road leads to Tommy John surgery.  The sad part is that if he undergoes the surgery at any point this season, we most likely would not see him again until 2017, with 2018 being the target for a full return to health.

It’s too bad the Yankees do not have the quality starters to go six deep.  I’d rather lessen the load on Tanaka by spreading the distance between his starts.

Tanaka’s health certainly increases the spotlight on Adam Warren, as he’ll need to be the man to bridge the gap.  Today he is covering for Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova, but later in the summer, it could very well be for Tanaka.

Larry Rothschild is certainly earning his paycheck.  Earlier in the year, I didn’t think we’d see Luis Severino in the major leagues this year.  Now, it appears to be only a matter of time.

Another prospect lost…

It is hard not to get excited about certain prospects, and that certainly held true for catcher Austin Romine who was once billed as one of the organization’s best catching prospects along with since traded Jesus Montero.  Romine has the bloodline (his father Kevin played for the Boston Red Sox among other teams and his brother Andrew plays for the Detroit Tigers).  I was hopeful that Romine would use spring training to show the team that he belongs in New York.  It didn’t happen with a sub .200 batting average.  Perhaps the odds were against him since he was out of options and John Ryan Murphy, his competition for the back-up catching spot, is the better hitter.  Still, it was sad when the team announced just before the start of the season that it had designated Romine for assignment.  Maybe there’s a chance that he stays in the organization, but it seems inevitable that a trade is the more probable outcome as there isn’t much of a chance Romine could slide through waivers (teams need catching help too much, just ask Boston).  Romine has been an outstanding team guy and he’ll serve some organization well when/if he finally gets his chance at the Show.

A-Rod…

I am still not an A-Rod fan but I have to admit that he carried himself well in spring training and has done everything the team has asked.  If the Yankees suddenly found a way to rid themselves of A-Rod, I’d be all in favor.  But since that’s not going to happen, I’ll have to give A-Rod credit for not rocking the boat.

I still can’t bring myself to cheer for A-Rod but he’s effectively shut me up from booing for now.

*    *     *

I am glad that the baseball season is back but it would have been more exciting to open the season with a victory.  It was tougher to see the loss combined with a convincing Red Sox win on Opening Day.  Red Sox always gloat in victory so Opening Day was no exception.

I do feel more confident with Michael Pineda on the mound Wednesday, however, the team offense needs to step up their game.

Let’s Go, Yankees!

–Scott

I know the Fat Lady is not singing but…

So close, yet so far away…

The Yankees may only be 3 games back in the Wild Card chase as they enter play this evening, but trailing three teams for two spots sounds a bit daunting.  Particularly when two of those teams are perhaps the best in the American League with the Oakland A’s and the Detroit Tigers.  At the end of play last night, Oakland, Detroit and the Seattle Mariners were tied.  While I think the Yankees could catch the Mariners, the odds are against them when it comes to the A’s (or Angels) or the Tigers (or Royals).

Much larger leads have fallen in the past, but I think the superiority of the A’s and Tigers will win out.  If they take their divisions, the Angels and Royals both field superior teams to the Yankees.  I don’t think there are any waiver deals at the deadline that can be made to improve this year’s Yankees.  As with the non-waiver deadline in July, I didn’t want the Yankees to part with prospects nor do I now.  If I legitimately felt that the team had a chance in October, perhaps I’d feel differently.  But the 2014 Yankees, even if they landed a Wild Card spot, would be destined for a one game Wild Card loss or if they prevailed, they’d be bounced in the first round. 

It’s disappointing as a Yankees fan as it doesn’t feel like championship hopes can be restored in the short term.  The Yankees are 11 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox, and yet, the outlook for the 2015 Red Sox is far more promising. 

Huh, I didn’t know he was available?…

When I heard that the Yankees had signed Chris Young to a minor league deal, my first thought was when did the Seattle Mariners get rid of their starting pitcher who is 12-6 with a 3.16 ERA on the season?  But then I heard the talk about him playing the outfield and realized they were talking about the other one.  I don’t know much about OF Chris Young but it seems like he was once a promising Arizona Diamondback who had a disappointing 2013, signed with the Mets and continued to underwhelm until his release.  Given the Yanks success with ex-Diamondbacks (i.e., Martin Prado and Brandon McCarthy) perhaps Young will revert to his old form under the tutelage of the Pinstripes.  Not sure if the Yankees will call him up before or after September 1st but he seems like a good replacement for Ichiro Suzuki if he is successful.

A little early to look to next year but…

With the success of Shane Greene and Brandon McCarthy in the starting rotation, it will be interesting next year.  While CC Sabathia will be returning, I honestly do not know what the Yankees will be getting and if it will be an upgrade over Greene or McCarthy.  Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka are obvious locks, although Ivan Nova might be delayed since he’s coming off Tommy John surgery.  I think this is the final year in the United States for Hiroki Kuroda before he heads back to Japan permanently.  Still, even if the starting rotation projects to be Tanaka-Pineda-Sabathia-McCarthy-Greene, I fully expect the Yankees to go after a free agent pitcher like Jon Lester.  Lester, partnered with a healthy Tanaka, at the head of the rotation would be huge. 

Lester was my favorite pitcher when he played for Boston so having him on the Yankees would be ideal. 

There will be lots of interesting decisions to be made by Manager Joe Girardi and company.  And oh yeah, we’ll have to deal with the return of he who shall remain nameless at third and DH. 

–Scott

 

What Dreams May Come…

The end of days…

The realist in me understands that these are the end of days for the New York Yankees.  It is merely a time formality for them to be mathematically eliminated.  A recent 5-game skid has almost assured the Baseball Gods and those twin sisters at Yankee Stadium, Mystique and Aura, that there will be no October baseball in the Bronx.  Realistically, I do not  believe the Yankees have a chance to catch the Detroit Tigers or Kansas City Royals as either one of those teams should capture the second Wild Card behind the Los Angeles Angels. 

What does this mean?  Honestly, I think that Brian Cashman’s tenure as GM has reached its conclusion.  While I’ve enjoyed Cashman as GM, I recognize that it is time for change.  Assistant GM Billy Eppler, a finalist for the San Diego Padres GM job that he lost to A.J. Preller, is a top candidate and my personal choice as a successor.  I would prefer Eppler, who knows and understands the inner workings of the Yankees kingdom, as opposed to an outsider that would have a learning curve.  Eppler is respected and he’ll have the support of the Steinbrenners from Day 1 given his history with them. 

 

New York Post/Charles Wenzelberg

This Yankees team is old and I don’t know what they can do in the short run to turn things around.  In many ways, they should have been sellers at the trading deadline to bring an infusion of youth into the organization.  The Yankees have talent at the lower levels of the minor leagues (man, am I looking forward to the day that OF Aaron Judge takes the field) but the higher level prospects have largely been a disappointment.  While I am hopeful that 2B Rob Refsnyder gets a sniff of Yankee Stadium in September, it is P Manny Banuelos that I am most interested in.  Once touted as the top pitching prospect in the organization, I still think Banuelos can deliver the goods now that he is healthy.  Hopefully, he is able to make a statement in September to convince the team that he is ready for 2015.

 What does it mean? The return of CC Sabathia leaves little to be excited about as he showed nothing to disprove he is aging fast prior to his injury.  Hiroki Kuroda will finally head for the shores of Japan, whether it is to retire or to play one last season in the Japanese leagues.  So, the Yankees will enter 2015 with plenty of questions in the rotation.  Masahiro Tanaka should be the opening day starter, but he’s still just an elbow blowout from Tommy John surgery.  Shane Greene has proven he belongs so I am confident that he’ll be part of the rotation.  Michael Pineda is in the ‘show me’ stage of his career.  It’s time for him to stay healthy and produce.  If he is capable of doing that, he’ll be at the upper echelon of the starting rotation.  If not, he’ll go by the wayside, ala Carl Pavano.  Ivan Nova, I have no clue.

What really makes this down season so bad is that next spring will be met by Alex Rodriguez.  I really hope that the Yankees find a way to sever ties and ensure that A-Rod never wears pinstripes again.

Matt Slocum 

“Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish, and think of me. Make your life spectacular.” – Jack

I know that this is a sports blog but I’d be remiss for not acknowledging the tremendous impact that Robin Williams had on me during the course of my life.  From Mork and Mindy to the many movies that Robin starred in, he made a difference.  His comic genius was unlike any other, and he took to any role and embraced it.  For someone who brought so much joy and happiness into so many lives, it is unfortunate that he was unable to do so for himself.  This has been a tough year with celebrity losses, with actress Lauren Bacall being the latest example, but Robin Williams is a star that will continue to shine brightly.  I hope that he found what he was seeking in his fatal decision, but it’s a given that he’ll never be forgotten.  Thanks Robin, we appreciate you, we love you, and hope that you’re the life of the party at the divine afterlife. 

 

–Scott

 

You win some, you lose some, i.e., 2014 Yankees…

Mediocrity continues…

Realistically, there was no way the Yankees could have been players at the trading deadline.  Despite the usual rumors tying the Yankees to David Price, Tampa Bay was not going to trade their prized pitcher to New York, only to have him haunt them for years.  It was potentially an opportunity for the Rays to strip the Yankees cupboards bare but that would have been foolish on the Yankees’ part.

Ditto for the Boston Red Sox.  If there was the slightest possibility the Rays would have considered moving Price to New York, there was none when it came to Boston.  There is no circumstance that would allow their pride to part with one of their core players to the hated Yankees.  Yes, the Yankees were able to pick up Stephen Drew, but he has not been a vital part of the success of the Red Sox in recent years.

Boston Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew can't make

AP

Interestingly enough, Boston’s trade of Lester to the Oakland A’s increases the possibility that he becomes a Yankee next year in my opinion.  Oakland will not pony up the necessary dollars and I am not sure that Boston would get any hometown discount (if there ever would have been one to begin with).  I am sure that the Los Angeles Dodgers will make a play for Lester and I would not underestimate the Seattle Mariners since Lester is a Northwest native.

If, by chance, Lester does return to Boston in the off-season as a free agent, it would be quite a coup to land Yoenis Cespedes for a two month rental of Lester to the A’s.

Back to the Yankees, there really wasn’t a blockbuster deal in the cards for them.  The pitchers they were linked to (most notably John Danks) all have their own question marks and the Yankees would still have had to overpay.  So, all things considered, losing C/1B prospect Peter O’Brien (in the deal to acquire Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks) was a small price to pay.  The Yankees have no shortage of replacement prospects for O’Brien (he wasn’t going to be a catcher and his departure allowed the Yankees to promote 1B Greg Bird to AA).  Kelly Johnson for Stephen Drew made sense as Johnson wasn’t really being used by the Yankees, and Stephen Drew gets an audition as a potential 2015 replacement for the retiring Derek Jeter even if he’ll be out of position (2B instead of SS) for the next two months.

Drew’s arrival (a surprise given that it involved an infrequent trade with Boston) spelled the end of the line for former Baltimore Orioles great Brian Roberts.  Roberts seemed like a good guy but the Yankees needed more at 2B.  Drew, even though he had never played 2B at the major league level, was still an upgrade at a position that has been sorely lacking since the day Robinson Cano signed in Seattle.  I wish that Drew had a stronger bat, but his athleticism seems to play well on defense.

Prado is a great all purpose guy but not exactly what I had envisioned for right field.  Yet, he’s an improvement over the aging Ichiro Suzuki.  I heard the Yankees had tried to acquire Dustin Ackley from the Seattle Mariners before they turned their sights on Prado.  Apparently, Seattle’s request for minor league pitcher Bryan Mitchell was a deal breaker.  That’s too bad because I’ve long thought that Ackley would fit well with the Yankees.  Personally, I would have given up Mitchell to get Ackley.

The Yankees did need help on offense and even if they weren’t flashy moves, the additions of Drew and Prado were upgrades.  But I had really hoped the Yankees would have been able to secure an additional arm for the rotation which didn’t happen.  But I never wanted to see a deal that involved losing top prospects so perhaps it was best that nothing happened.  Clearly, the Yankees are not going to win a World Series this year unless they get ridiculously lucky in the next couple of months.  As it stands, they’d be easily dismissed by either Oakland or Detroit.

It’s possible the Yankees made a waiver deal or two this month, but I seriously doubt there will be any major additions.  Win or lose, this is the 2014 Yankees.

Chasing A-Rod…

It is early in Chase Headley’s Yankee career, however, I really like what I’ve seen so far.  Granted, he doesn’t bring a monster bat, but his defensive plays have been something that has been missing from Yankee Stadium for many years.  There’s no doubt I prefer Headley over Alex Rodriguez and I hope the Yankees decide to bring Headley back next year.

New Yankee Chase Headley belts game-winning single in 14th

Getty Images

Considering that Yangervis Solarte has been hitting with consistency since he arrived in San Diego, the Headley trade is one of those that seems to have worked out well for both teams involved.

Friendships revisited…

With the acquisitions of Drew and Prado, it was interesting how it reunited former teammates.  For Drew, it was a reunion with former Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and lefty specialist Matt Thornton.  He was traded for a close friend, Kelly Johnson, a former teammate when they were both in Arizona.  Ironically, I read that Drew and Johnson were together in Drew’s home when news of the trade broke.  I am sure that probably hasn’t happened too often.

For Prado, he was teammates in Atlanta with catcher Brian McCann and first baseman Mark Teixeira.

AP/John Bazemore

Even Carlos Beltran was able to catch up with old friends, even though they are playing in the opposing dugout with former Cardinals teammates Allen Craig and Joe Kelly.  It wasn’t that long ago Beltran, Craig and Kelly were playing in the World Series, along with now Boston reliever Edward Mujica, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Assimilating with a new team…

When Wednesday’s games were over, I am sure that Stephen Drew’s mind was on the upcoming series against the Yankees.  So, when Thursday’s trade put him in the opposite dugout, I wonder how long it takes to drop the loyalty to the former team.  Not that I would think Drew would do anything to hurt the Yankees’ chances to beat the Red Sox but I wonder if there is a part of you that quietly roots for your former teammates.  When you are used to cheering the home team at Fenway, does that feeling automatically leave because you are suddenly wearing a different uniform?  For Drew, when he played second base for the Yankees on Friday night, he had much deeper and more meaningful relationships with the Red Sox than he did with his own teammates.  He’ll develop those friendships on the team in time, but it just seems to me that it would be very difficult to change loyalties at the drop of a hat.

I watched a little of Jon Lester’s debut with the Oakland A’s on Saturday.  Admittedly, Lester looked a little strange in Oakland’s uniform.  Jeff Samardzija looked more at ease than Lester did during their respective debuts, but it didn’t show up in Lester’s performance as he beat the Kansas City Royals while the Red Sox were losing to the Yankees.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Oakland Athletics

USA Today Sports

David Price’s debut as a Detroit Tiger takes place this week against the Yankees.  As if they didn’t see Price enough while he was with the Rays.  Oh well, to be the best, you have to beat the best or so they say…

–Scott

 

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