What A Wonderful Series

That was awesome. Seven games and it came down to the final inning. How amazing was Madison Bumgarner? He has written himself into the baseball book of legends with that performance.

I do have two questions about that final inning. First, am I the only one who thought Gordon would have scored on his eventual “triple” in the 9th? He seemed to have busted it out of the box and with two misplays on the ball I think he would have gotten in there. Alas, we will never know. (I fully admit that would have been a brutal decision for the third base coach)

Second, how does the batter not see Buster Posey practically standing up behind the plate on a high fastball? To me that is a dead giveaway of the pitch location, but I must be missing something. No matter what, that was a great ending to the baseball season.


Watching Madison Bumgarner out there tonight made me think of two things in regards to the 2015 Yankees. First, the Yankees need to make the bets the Giants did on pitchers like Bumgarner. The Giants signed him to a five-year/$35-million deal in 2012 with two additional options for $12-million each, after he had made less than 50 starts in the bigs. That looks like the steal of the century at this point with San Francisco controlling him for the next five years at a total of $52-million, but it was obviously a risk. The Giants know this from the contract they gave Matt Cain, which cost them almost twice as much, but hasn’t come close to providing any value.

Pitchers are inherently unpredictable. But the Yankees would be much, much smarter if they placed their bets on guys earlier in their career than later. The Bumgarner bet cost the Giants a total of $$59-million for seven seasons. The Yankees spent almost three times that amount to lock up Tanaka for seven years. How about approaching Nova and Pineda this offseason and seeing what the cost of a long-term deal would be? Both have risks, but both could be real bargains in the future.

Second, I wonder if Bumgarner showed us a model for the way pitchers in the 21st Century should be handled? I am not suggesting that they pitch 117 pitches on a Sunday and then throw 60-plus on a Wednesday, but considering the cost of pitching, why are throwing days wasted in the bullpen? I don’t know what the exact number is, but maybe a starter could pitch on a Sunday and then throw 20 pitches in a game on Wednesday? Whatever the number, wouldn’t that make more sense than using a guy for 6 innings every five days? I hope the Yankees are smart enough to find out.

Can You Blame Him?

Chili Davis has chosen to be the next Red Sox hitting coach instead of the next Yankees hitting coach. I think it is a very smart move for Chili.

For one thing, the Red Sox actual have some young hitters he can work with. For another, the Yankees just fired a very respected hitting coach for not getting a bunch of 30-plus year olds to hit in 2014. Why would Chili think he could do any better? The Yankees will need to keep looking, and Dave Magadan will not be the choice.

In other news, the Yankees have tapped a former hitting coach, Gary Denbo, to take over as VP of Baseball Operations. The news on Denbo comes along with the news that Pat Roessler, the Director of Player Development is out. These are two encouraging moves as they demonstrate that the Yankees understand they need to fix their minor league system.

The Yankees Fired The Wrong People

The news today is that Brian Cashman has a new three-year contract while Kevin Long and Mick Kelleher have been dropped from Joe Griardi’s coaching staff.

I’ve already said that I would not have given Cashman a new contract, but these moves puzzle me. Yes, the offense was bad this year, but is that Long’s fault? Is it his fault the Yankees are old? Is it his fault Derek Jeter played like he was 40? Wasn’t Long the guy who helped Curtis Granderson have back-to-back 40+ homer years? Wasn’t he the hitting coach when the Yankees scored all of those runs? I would have stuck with him for at least another year.

And I have no idea what Mick Kelleher did. He was the defensive coach, and while the Yankees were not especially good on defense, I can’t see how you blame him. Let’s be honest, the Yankees may have had the worst middle infield defensively in their history this year. Jeter was never a good defender and Brian Roberts didn’t help matters. Kelly Johnson at first, a revolving door at third for the first three months…. When you add it up, I can’t see what Kelleher could have done better.

The Face of The Yankees

The Yankees have had various characters as the face of their franchise through the years. Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle weren’t saints. Lou Gehrig might have been. Reggie Jackson was a narcissist. Derek Jeter and Joe DiMaggio were intensely private. And while the “job” is open again, it is about to be filled by Alex Rodriguez. Short of the Yankees bringing Mike Trout to the Bronx before the start of next season, and that is absolutely not happening, Alex will become the face of the Yankees. He will be the person most associated with the team and that is one of the  reasons the Yankees should cut him outright instead of letting him be reinstated at the conclusion of the World Series.

Let’s start with the obvious reason. Alex is a disgrace. He has been exposed as a massive cheat and refused to take the stand at his own arbitration hearing claiming the process was rigged and his lawsuits would prove it. Yet, he quietly dropped those lawsuits on a Friday in February and disappeared for the 2014 season. Opposing teams’ fans will obviously boo him, but Yankees fans should too. Management know that and the only reason the Yankees are even thinking of letting him in the front door is because they owe him $61-million.

Tradition matters to the Yankees. Perhaps it matters to them more than any team in baseball. They constantly market it. They are the only team that still has an Old Timers’ Day. They practically shove it down your throat at times. It has been a big part of the reason why the Yankees are the most valuable brand in sports. Fobres estimates that the Yankee brand is worth $521 million alone. That is a valuable asset and one that the Yankees should protect. Letting Alex return to the team will only reduce the value of the club. Maybe it won’t be $61-million of damage, but it will be damage and the Yankees could take a stand here and show that they value their principals more than their wallets.

But here’s the thing. Even if they won’t. Even if they desperately want to earn something off of that $61-million can they? Alex is about to be 40 and hasn’t played since 2013. He has missed at least 20 games every season since 2008, and was just slightly above average with the bat in 2013. Is a 2015 season where he hits .260 with say 15-20 homers really worth all the distractions his presence will create or the logjam at DH?

So, I hope the Yankees wake up to the reality that it is time to close the door on Alex. Sadly, I don’t think they will.


The Price of Qualifying

MLB has announced that a qualifying offer will cost $15.3 million this year. Only players who are free agents and have played the entire past season with a club may have an offer extended. If an offer is extended and rejected by the player, a club signing that player will forfeit its first draft pick in next June’s draft. If the offer is accepted, the player is signed for a one-year deal of $15.3 million.

This news gives the Yankees an interesting decision as they have two players who could get qualifying offers- Kuroda and Robertson. While it is a lot of money, I would absolutely give Robertson a qualifying offer. While it is a much bigger salary than he would otherwise get, it is a one year deal. And, if he rejects it, the Yankees pick up a draft pick. (They could theoretically also work out a longer deal with him, but that’s a different topic)  If Robertson accepts a qualifying offer, the Yankees will have their 1-2 punch in the bullpen back for another year.

As for Kuroda, I wouldn’t extend an offer. Kuroda has been a great addition to the Yankees and remarkably consistent during his time here, but he is going to be 40 next season. The Yankees need to get younger and the rotation is the one place where it is obvious that they can do so. Imagine a rotation next year of Tanaka, Pineda, Sabathia, Phelps and Greene with Nova working his way back in and Bryan Mitchell and Manny Banuelos waiting in the wings. Sabathia is the only guy in that group over 30, and he is only 33. Not everyone will work out in that group, but the Yankees have enough arms around that they can put together a reasonably strong rotation internally, and there are some other arms in the system that could help out  very soon.

Teams have until five days after the end of the World Series to make a qualifying offer.

That’s Why You Play The Games

I am sure I am not alone in admitting that on July 31st I had the ALCS as a matchup between the Tigers and the A’s. I figured with the additions of Price and Lester both teams would cruise to the playoffs and end up playing each other for the right to go to the World Series. Whoops! Oakland staggered into the playoffs and lost the wild card game. Detroit barely eked out the AL Central crown and just got swept out of the playoffs by Baltimore. It’s funny how that always seems to happen.

And I will bet that very few people had the Royals doing much in the playoffs, yet they are a game away from joining Baltimore in the ALCS.