Get Off My Lawn!

Cranky old guys are a fact of life. Dealing with them can be a challenge and the Yankees tried and failed repeatedly, in attempting to deal with their cranky old guy, Goose Gossage. They tried to get him to tone down his criticism and comments but he wouldn’t and so they didn’t invite him as a guest instructor this spring. Predictably and sadly, he didn’t handle it well.

These comments are not worthy of much analysis. They are stupid and vile and I hope Gossage reflects on them and apologizes. I get his anger at how the game has changed, closers don’t throw multiple innings anymore on a regular basis. But he ignores some of the changes in the game since he played. Batters can watch hours of video showing every pitch a pitcher has. Statistics are everywhere and hitters know what pitches they are more likely to face in certain situations. It doesn’t mean the game is better than it was in the 70’s, but you simply cannot claim it is easier.

Gossage was great in his day and made the Hall of Fame. It would have been nice if he could have enjoyed that and not felt the need to denigrate a guy like Mariano Rivera. Unfortunately he couldn’t and you can’t blame the Yankees for not wanting a guy like that around this team.

Frazier To The Mets

Todd Frazier has found a way off the sinking free agency boat and inked a two-year deal with the Mets for a bargain price of $8.5-million a year. Back in November, FanGraphs estimated Frazier would receive three years at $4-million per, so this is a steep discount and reflective of the market as a whole.

And if you click on that link, you will see how many big free agents are still out there. Darvish, Martinez, Arrieta, and plenty more. Jon Heyman put together a hypothetical team with all the available players and it’s a pretty good squad.

At this point in the cycle, it is pointless to speculate what will happen with all of these free agents, but logic would suggest that more players will settle like Frazier did and grab the best deal they can get. Pitchers and catchers report next week, Opening Day is 50-days from today. It is not an exaggeration to say time is running out for some of these guys.

What I do suspect is that the Yankees will jump back into the market at some point and get a guy who can help in the infield. Specifically, a guy like Neil Walker or Eduardo Nunez who can play multiple positions, but only on a one-year deal. That would protect them in the event that Andujar or Torres, or both are not ready, and allow them to keep them both in the minors for the first two weeks of season like the Cubs did with Kris Bryant a few years ago. By doing that, the Yankees would get an extra year of club control, a smart move in this economic environment.

The Hall of Fame is…UPDATED

The HOF just announced that…

Chipper Jones
Vladimir Guerrero
Jim Thome
Trevor Hoffman

…made the Hall today.

They will be joined by Jack Morris and Alan Trammell who were elected earlier by the veterans committee

Some random thoughts….

1- How does Billy Wagner barely crack 10% of the vote and Hoffman get in? Wagner had a lower ERA and WHIP. He had more K’s and a winning record compared to Hoffman. Their WAR is almost identical (0.3 difference). But I’m sure the old school guys focused on the save numbers and that was the reason. That’s a shame.

2- Steroids are still a no-no. Clemens and Bonds are stuck in the 50’s and Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa lost support.

3- Edgar cracked 70% so he should get in next year. Messina jumped 12% to 63% over all, so keep an eye on him.

4- Chipper got 97% so Mariano still has a chance at the first guy to make 100%.
Chipper actually got a higher percentage than Babe Ruth which tells you that the voting process has been messed up for a long time.

Maybe this will break the free agent logjam?

$20-Million

The Yankees had eight arbitration cases and they settled all of them. From Chasen Shreve getting 800k to Didi getting ten-times that, the payroll is ow set. The final number is a little over $20-million under the luxury tax threshold.

So what happens now? Barring another trade of salary, the Yankees probably only want to spend a portion of that figure. They will want to leave room for possible in-season trades. That probably means they won’t be players for any of the big name free agents. Remember that it is the annual average value of a contract that is used for luxury tax calculations, so signing a player and backloading the contract doesn’t make a difference. I suspect it will allow Todd Frazier to return on a one-year deal if he is agreeable to that.

Five Weeks

After two weeks of brutal cold here in the Northeast, I hope it warms you a bit to know that we are just thirty-five days away from pitchers and catchers starting their workouts. And that should mean the “hot”stove will finally switch on and all these free agents will find homes, right? I wouldn’t count on it.

While I remember years where top free agents waited until the new year to sign, I can’t remember a year with so many unsigned in January. It depends which list you use, but generally out of the top-50 free agents, less than 20 have been signed at this point. Technically, the biggest contract in dollars was Justin Upton who chose not to opt-out of his current four-year/$88-million deal with the addition of one year at $18-million. It counts as an $106-million deal, but really isn’t. Carlos Sanatan’s three-year/$60-million deal with the Phillies is currently the biggest in dollars and AAV.

At this point, management has time on its side. Smart teams are going to wait and see if the market will come to them. I suspect guys like Hosmer will still get big paydays, but a lot of guys are going to have to scramble to find a job and take one-year deals.

For the Yankees, patience is perfect. There is no point in giving up prospects for a starting pitcher when there are many pitchers out there on the market. Likewise, it make sense to watch the infield market and see if a one-year bargain falls in your lap before spring training. The only trade I would want to see them make at this time would be a salary dump of Ellsbury. If the market suddenly picks up, go back to discussing trades, but don’t give up three good prospects for Gerrit Cole.

CC’s Coming Back

The Yankees have agreed to a one-year deal with CC Sabathia for $10-million. There are apparently some performance bonuses available on top of that.

This makes a ton of sense for the Yankees, and I hope they don’t stop there. Severino threw a lot of innings last year. Montgomery did as well. Tanaka has his partial UCL tear. Adding one more arm would make a lot of sense unless the Yankees are positive that Chance Adams is ready.

A Salary Dump

The Yankees have traded Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell to San Diego for Jabari Blash. Blash is a big righty outfielder who is 27 and has an astounding 100 strikeouts in 265 big league at bats. I would be shocked if he stayed on the Yankees roster for any length of time.

This trade is clearly about getting out from the remaining year on Headley’s contract and freeing up $13-million. What’s really interesting about it is that it signals another move is coming. Before this trade, the Yankees probably had about $14-million in room under the luxury tax threshold. They’ve now doubled that. I bet we find out why they did that fairly soon.

Marvin Miller Screwed Again

MLB just announced that Allan Trammel and Jack Morris are going into the Hall of Fame. That’s great and rights an injustice, but I can’t understand how Marvin Miller was snubbed again.

Two of the worst commissioners in the game, Bud Selig and Bowie Kuhn are in the HOF. Racists are in the HOF. Steroid users are in the HOF. But the guy who created the modern salary system isn’t. That’s a joke.

At this point the only way Miller gets in is if a player forces the issue. Imagine how quickly Miller would be in if someone like Mariano Rivera refused to participate in the induction ceremonies because Miller wasn’t a member of the Club.

I don’t think any player will ever take that stand and that’s too bad. Miller has to be in the Hall of Fame, or it is simply an exercise in favoritism.

Can a Trade be Good and Dumb?

Adding Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees for Starlin Castro and two guys a long ways away from the majors is an insult to baseball. It is ridiculous that the Yankees gave up so little for the reigning MVP and MLB should be ashamed for allowing the new ownership in Miami buy a team that they clearly couldn’t afford. The Marlins have esssnetially given away the face of their franchise for the salary relief it provides them. If the fans of Miami never attend another Marlins game, no one should blame them. No one should ever dare to criticize those fans for whatever support they give in the future. They have been completely betrayed by their ownership.

But while this is an absolute steal talent-wise for the Yankees, it’s not necessarily a smart deal. Here are my three concerns.

1- Can Stanton handle New York? This is the biggest mystery to me in this trade. He grew up in the LA area, so he has seen big media markets up close, but playing in Miami and playing in NY is night and day.

2- Who is in right? Judge is a better outfielder according to advanced stats, so he should stay. Does that mean Stanton is left? And if so, what happens to Gardner?

3-Does this mean financial restraints are done? The amazing thing is that thanks to the way the luxury tax is calculated, this only adds $13.5-million to the payroll for next year meaning they can still easily go below the $197-million threshold. But, it is a ten-year commitment for big money. The Yankees simply can’t go back to that model with multiple players. This contract they can absolutely handle, but it can’t become the norm.

I suspect Brian Cashman looked at it this way. This trade allows him to do two huge things.

1- Add a major name who will sell tickets at a much lower price than someone like Bryce Harper will cost next offseason.

2- Clear a path for their top prospect to hit his way onto the team Opening Day.

We can’t discount either one of those. The Yankees charge premium prices for their seats and they need stars to fill them. Judge looks like one, so does Sanchez, but Stanton already is one. That’s a business consideration you have to factor into this.

Now Gleybar Torres has a clear path to the bigs, but the Yankees also have other choices in Torreyes and Wade starting there if he isn’t ready yet. It also makes me think that the Yankees really like Andujar as his path to third base just became very clear.

So I get their thinking and I see the value, I just don’t agree with the move. I know it’s a steal, but it’s unecessary. We also don’t know if Stanton is ready to handle New York and it is a huge financial commitment to make. Just because something is a bargain doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

Stanton?

The Yankees and Marlins have apparently agreed on a trade for Giancarlo Stanton. Details are scarce, but it is being reported that Starlin Castro and “low level” prospects will be going back to Miami.

It’s hard to evaluate a trade when you don’t know all the pieces involved, so I won’t attempt to. But there are a few things we can say generally.

1- This trade clearly doesn’t need address a problem. The Yankees already had major righty power in their lineup. They also had a pretty good rightfielder. And I’m not sure that Stanton will automatically waive his no-trade clause when the Yankees can’t play him in right every game.

2- No matter what the final package ends up being, this will be compared to the A-Rod trade. It is worth remembering two things about that trade. Before he opted out, A-Rod was exactly as advertised a killer on the field. The Yankees have no regrets about the first four years of that deal, the mistake was chasing him after he opted out. Stanton can opt out after 2020.

3- South Florida fans deserve better. How does MLB allow an ownership group buy a team they can’t afford to run?

I’ll update or post again as more news comes out.

12PM Update- Stanton is reportedly on his way to NY, so he probably is waiving his no-trade clause.

12:30PM Update- Ken Rosenthal reports the Yankees will assume $265-million of the remaining $295 left on Stanton’s salary.

1PM Update- Joel Sherman reports the trade is Castro, Jorge Guzman, and Jose Denver’s, for Stanton and $30-million, if Stanton doesn’t opt out. Guzman was acquired in the McCann trade while Devers is 18 and has a cousin Red Sox fans may be familiar with. In other words, this is a negligible cost in prospects.

1:10 Update- I’m not sure how the conditional $30-million payment works for the luxury tax, but Stanton costs $25-million towards it while Castro costs about $8.5, so the Yankees add a net of $16.5-million to the 2018 payroll.