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.
Credit: Kim Klement, USA Today Sports
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…
The Fat Lady sings…
It’s been a fun ride since the Baby Bombers era began, but alas, all good things must end. The series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox have all but ended any playoff aspirations. Admittedly, I didn’t feel the Yankees would have been successful in October but still, it’s disappointing it will not happen given how close the team came. Probably even more disappointing is how winnable the games on the current losing streak were.
Gary Sanchez has proven he is a bonafide future superstar. There’s no doubt he is the team’s catcher now and in the future. Yogi Berra and Thurman Munson would have been proud.
Credit: Christopher Pastieri, Getty Images
I remain unconvinced that Dellin Betances can be the dominant closer that his predecessors were. His inability to hold runners and the mental aspect of his game can be too challenging. I think he is better served as the primary setup guy. In the off-season, I’d really like to see the Yankees go after pending free agents Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen. Given how frugal the team has become, it’s most probable that the team will keep the status quo. Clearly, the team will need to bring in at least one proven starting pitcher (#3 caliber or better) so it’s unlikely they’d spend big dollars on a closer and go after an ace.
The commitment to youth is great, but the Yankees really need to do more to replace the underachieving veterans on the team. Jacoby Ellsbury has only proven the Yankees were foolish for not spending more to retain former second baseman Robinson Cano. Cano is far more valuable than the duo of Ellsbury and Starlin Castro.
The Yankees probably missed the window to trade Gardner for a quality return.
I know that Brian McCann will most likely be moved in the off-season even if cash is involved to help cover the cost of the contract. It’s too bad the team can’t find a way to move Ellsbury and Chase Headley too.
Good hire by the Blue Jays…
I was disappointed to see Ben Cherington take the VP of Baseball Ops position with the Toronto Blue Jays. I still think the Yankees should promote GM Brian Cashman and hire a new GM. Alex Anthopoulos remains my favorite choice, but Ben Cherington was a very close second. He is a good baseball executive who does not get enough credit for the job he did with the Boston Red Sox.
Whew, I won’t miss that bat…
I am glad to hear that the Yankees will be honoring retiring Red Sox slugger David Ortiz on September 29th. He has been such a great opponent over the years, and I certainly will not miss his walk-off hits against the Yankees. He’s been one of the game’s best for a long time and he certainly leaves behind his mark of excellence.
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Today represents the opening of the new US Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota as the Vikings face their chief rival, the Green Bay Packers, in Sunday night football. The game should also feature the introduction of Sam Bradford as the new starting quarterback. I am ready to see what Bradford can do with a solid supporting cast. Hopefully his ability to throw downfield will open up the running lanes for Adrian Peterson.
Credit: John Autey, Pioneer Press
Although the Vikings lost when they opened their temporary home (TCF Bank Stadium) a couple of years ago, they have not lost when opening a permanent home (winning the inaugural games at both Metropolitan Stadium and the Metrodome). Let’s hope that history repeats itself. Go Vikings!
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…
Save the ammunition for next year…
Friday night’s 8-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles underscored that the 2016 New York Yankees are not a bonafide play-off contender. Yes, they are still in the thick of things regarding the Wild Card chase but legitimately, the team is not ready to be branded as a contender. The youthful infusion into the roster has been great, but there are also growing pains as evidenced by Aaron Judge’s prolonged slump.
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While I have been impressed by the great minor league season performed by reliever Jonathan Holder. The recent four inning save in which he struck out 12 of 13 batters he faced was a huge accomplishment, and he’ll certainly be a factor next spring. Adding Holder to the roster now does not make sense to me. The Yankees had control of him this off-season without placing him on the 40-man roster, but now that he has been called up (and placed on the 40-man roster), he will cost another prospect the opportunity to be protected. I would love to see Holder do well at the major league level and it would be terrific if he is able to rise to the level of a late inning option to bridge to Dellin Betances. But admittedly, I am looking to the future with the Yankees and do not feel that they should expend unnecessary resources this year for a futile chance to grab the last Wild Card slot. Even if they somehow managed to snag the spot, their stay in the play-offs would be very short lived.
I was disappointed to see Chad Green suffer an arm injury in Friday’s game. Hopefully it isn’t too serious but we should know something soon. In the interim, I’d probably prefer to see Bryan Mitchell elevated to take his place in the starting rotation over the disappointing Luis Severino. I feel that Severino needs work before he is ready to become a viable starter again and is probably better suited for the bullpen for the duration of the year.
This was supposed to have been Mitchell’s year to perform but an injury suffered in spring training cost him the majority of the season. He was labeled as the new Adam Warren, but of course Adam Warren has returned to become the new/old Adam Warren. Still, I’d like to see Mitchell have success as a Yankee and this might be his opportunity.
Credit: Bill Kostroun, AP
There are other intriguing young arms (Jordan Montgomery and Justus Sheffield, among others) but for the same reason I don’t think Holder should have been added to the 40-man roster, the same holds true for these young arms. Mitchell is already on the 40-man roster so he makes the most sense to me.
A Bird in hand…
I was glad to hear that first baseman Greg Bird will be participating in the Arizona Fall League. It’s been a lost year for Bird with his injury, but the AFL will be a good spring board to training camp next year when Bird will most likely be the Yankees’ new starting first baseman (barring a trade for a more proven veteran).
I wish Bird the best as he continues his comeback. I am hopeful that he can recapture the promise and potential that he held last September.
Optimism deflated faster than Tom Brady footballs…
Speaking of injuries, it was devastating to hear that the Minnesota Vikings lost starting QB Teddy Bridgewater for the season due to a non-contact knee injury. The injury was horrific as it has been mentioned that the medical crew onsite not only saved his career but potentially his life. I am hopeful that Teddy is able to make a full recovery to resume his career with the Vikings. It’s fortunate that he has youth on his side. This type of injury to an aging QB would most likely be career-ending.
Credit: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune
Clearly, the Vikings had to do something about the QB position. After capturing the NFC North title from the Green Bay Packers last year, the Vikings are a team on the rise, led by a terrific defense that Head Coach Mike Zimmer has built. Bridgewater was set to make the step to the next level, and of course, he had numerous weapons at his disposal, including RB Adrian Peterson, WRs Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell, and others. Suddenly, with the loss of Bridgewater, the excitement and promise of a terrific 2016 season evaporated.
Journeyman QB Shaun Hill, a career backup, was thrust into the starting role. Last year’s third string QB Taylor Heinicke injured himself earlier this summer in a non-football related incident so he is not available as an option. The only other QB’s on the roster were free agent rookie Joel Stave and former Chargers backup Brad Sorensen (who has since been released).
As I listened the news reports of the various options, a trade for AJ McCarron of the Cincinnati Bengals or Mike Glennon of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the most sense to me. I did not like the thought of a trade for Mark Sanchez of the Denver Broncos or Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers. A free agent signing of Michael Vick also was not appealing to me. The Kansas City Chiefs released backup Aaron Murray so he is intriguing but the Dallas Cowboys, with a similar need at QB, have a higher waiver priority. So, I suppose that the announcement of today’s acquisition of Sam Bradford makes the most sense. The cost is very high (a first round pick in 2017 and a fourth-round pick in 2018) and Bradford is always an injury-risk as injuries have slowed the development of the player who was once the first pick of the overall 2010 NFL Draft.
Credit: FOX Sports
The Vikings had to do something. They needed a QB capable of not being a detriment to the success of the team for this year and potentially next year dependent upon how Bridgewater’s recovery and rehabilitation goes. The Vikings also had no leverage in trade talks so their only options were to rummage through the late roster cuts in the coming days as teams pare down to 53 players or pay a King’s ransom for a proven QB.
This is not the first time that Bradford has been on the same roster as RB Adrian Peterson. They were teammates for a year when Bradford was a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. That will help hasten the rapport between Bradford and Peterson. It also helps that the Vikings have a coach with an extended history with Bradford. Tight Ends coach Pat Shurmur spent time with Bradford in both St Louis and Philadelphia.
Wearing #7, Bradford can’t be any worse than the last guy to wear the jersey (Christian Ponder). I think the Vikings should still explore other potential backup options even if Heinicke is due back in a few weeks. I am hopeful that Bradford can stay injury-free during his time with the Vikings. The success of the team’s immediate future now rests in his hands. No pressure…
Credit: Ann Heisenfelt, AP
It’s hard to believe that it is September now. The Yankees will only be playing for 30 or so more games, and the Vikings will be kicking off the new season in a week. I may not be as excited about the Vikings’ chances this year as I was just a few weeks ago, but I do feel much better than I did yesterday. Similarly, I remain hopeful and optimistic about the Yankees’ chances in 2017.
It’s always good to have reason for optimism…
The Changing of the Guard…
The title of this post is a line by Captain James T. Kirk in the original TV Series Star Trek, but it holds true for the Yankees.
Who knows if the youth transfusion in the Bronx will be enough to push the Yankees into the play-offs this year. But at the moment, they are only 2.5 games behind for the last Wild Card slot, but with four team to leap frog. Regardless of what happens, baseball in the Bronx has become exciting again. I don’t think the Yankees will pull it out this year, but I am very excited for the future.
The Gary Sanchez Era has begun with the most legendary start in baseball history. Yesterday, he became the fastest player to reach 11 home runs at the start of a career. I’ve always remembered how beautiful it was to watch Darryl Strawberry hit home runs, and Sanchez has one of those swings that I love to watch the follow through. He may be young, but he is a professional hitter with the potential for long term sustained success in pinstripes. Before he is done, his name will be mentioned among the greats in Yankees history. Just like center field has long been a position of legends (current starter excluded), the Yankees have a deep history with legendary catchers. Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson, and Jorge Posada represent rich tradition. If Sanchez stays healthy, he’ll join those names one day.
Credit: Ray Stubblebine, The New York Post
It is amazing that Sanchez is only 23. It seems like he has been a Yankees prospect for so many years, having signed at age 16.
Brian McCann is still a very good major league catcher, but he lost the position through no fault of his own. I hope the Yankees to the right thing and trade McCann to a team that can use his skills, even if it involves paying part of the contract. I personally would like to see him have the opportunity to return to Atlanta since he is a Georgia native. Even without McCann, the battle for the backup catching position will still be competitive next spring with Austin Romine and AAA catcher Kyle Higaskioka (assuming the latter is tendered a contract in the off-season).
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The other young players, such as 1B Tyler Austin and RF Aaron Judge, have under-performed since their dramatic back to back homers in their first major league at-bats. But I know that Judge will figure it out. He struggled in AAA last year before dominating this year. Austin will most certainly yield 1B to the returning Greg Bird next spring, but I also think that he’ll figure it out. He would slot nicely on the team as the backup first baseman, but someone who could also see time in a corner outfield role and DH. While their bats have been quiet in recent days, their youthful presence on the formerly aged Yankees roster has been huge. They have helped restore excitement in the Bronx.
I can’t say enough about how well Luis Cessa and Chad Green have been for the starting rotation. Like everyone else, I was dismayed when lefty reliever Justin Wilson was shipped to the Detroit Tigers last off-season for two minor league prospects. While neither Cessa nor Green carry the potential for elite stuff, they’ve been exactly what the team needed after losing Nathan Eovaldi and trading away Ivan Nova. Andy Pettitte proved long ago that you don’t need elite stuff to be a very successful major league pitcher. I am not saying that either Cessa or Green will ever be the pitcher that Pettitte was, but it’s good to see young pitchers succeed. I can still remember when Al Leiter first came up and had some early success. But he also struggled, and the team had no patience under the George Steinbrenner regime so Leiter was traded away. He went on to have a very successful major league career. Under Hal Steinbrenner, Cessa and Green will be given every opportunity…and the time…to prove they belong to stay.
Training camp next spring should bring a renewed enthusiasm for young players. Now is not the time to be an aging veteran on the Yankees’ roster. It would be great if the Yankees could figure out a way to unload veterans like Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley, but sadly, they’ll probably be stuck with those contracts to the end. I am already looking forward to the day that Clint Frazier takes over center field. 3B prospect Miguel Andujar looks like the eventual successor to third, barring any trades, but he’s still a few years away.
I have full confidence that GM Brian Cashman will continue to make the right moves to restore the winning tradition in Yankee Stadium. Excitement and optimism can be contagious, and Cashman has started something special for the future.
It’s a good time to be a Yankees fan!
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.
Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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.
Credit: Jason Miller, Getty Images
Is it 2017 yet?…