24 Years

Since getting swept in Tampa, which allowed the Yankees to finish their sell off, the club has run off a 13-9 streak. That puts them at four games over .500 again, the best they have been all season, and leaves them 16 wins short of another season at .500 or better.

You have to go back to the 1992 Yankees to find the last time they finished below .500. That was the 4th year of a brutal stretch of baseball- the 1989 to 1992 Yankees were really bad. They lost 90 games twice in that stretch, something the franchise had only done twice before since 1912. But 1992 marked the turning point. Buck Showalter was hired. Bernie Williams came up from the minors and things got better from there. It’s a fun walk back in history for me to look at that team after so many years. I remember going to Opening Day that year and sitting with the guy from the other side of this blog as the Yankees beat the Red Sox. I had to listen for hours to how Phil Plantier was going to be the next great Red Sox after he hit a homer. (Nice call Andy!)

It’s a good time to look back at that team for some of the names that held such promise then, but didn’t pan out. Sam Militello was a top pitching prospect, but injuries derailed him. Pat Kelly had hit the cover off the ball at Columbus and was considered the second baseman of the future. Hensley Muelens, Bam Bam, never hit at all. One day we will look back at this 2016 team and I wonder which guys will be the Bernies and which guys will be the Kellys? Time will tell.

Thinking About The Next Trade

The Yankees have clearly fully committed to the youth movement over the past few weeks and it makes me wonder which veteran will be traded next? The popular idea is to trade Brian McCann because Gary Sanchez clearly seems ready to catch and to hit, so what’s the point of keeping McCann around? I couldn’t disagree more.

Now, I will preface the following argument with the caveat that if a team wants to seriously overpay for McCann, by all means the Yankees should let them. But, assuming rational trading partners, the Yankees have no reason to give McCann away or pay a cent of his salary right now for three reasons.

1- McCann is still a good defensive catcher.

2- McCann still hits RHP well.

3- You need some veterans around the team to show the younger guys how to survive in this league.

Having McCann as a DH against RHP and backup catcher in 2017 isn’t a bad thing. The Yankees will be overpaying him for that role, but they should get solid production. For the first time in years, they don’t have a guy who is an obvious DH every day type, so why not let McCann take the bulk of the AB’s there, at least against RHP, and catch 1 game a week? Additionally, consider that the almost all of the guys the Yankees are bringing up right now are righties. Lefty hitters are going to be a rarity in the 2017 lineup.

Furthermore, the logjam the Yankees are facing defensively really lies in the outfield. Judge is clearly the right fielder of the future. I believe Frazier will be the left fielder of the future. Austin is a guy who can play the corners. Hicks can play all three spots. You also have Mason Williams and Ben Gamel lurking in the minors. That leaves Gardner and Ellsbury as the two guys who it would benefit the Yankees the most to trade. The problem is Ellsbury is untradeable at this point with about $90-million and four-plus years left on his deal. So Gardner is the guy who has to go.

That would clear the way for the eventual promotion of Frazier- sometime in 2017, but also allow the Yankees to get long looks at guys like Austin, Gamel, Williams and even Jake Cave to see what they have. I suspect Gardner passed through waivers, so the Yankees should try and make this happen now, before August 31st and the second trade deadline. That would put them in a position to field an every day lineup with six-of-nine guys under 30 in 2017. How’s that for a change?

An Opportunity

Nathan Eovaldi announced today that he will need Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of this season and most likely all of 2017.

It’s awful news for him and bad news for the 2017 Yankees. They were hoping that Eovaldi would provide them with a solid rotation presence next year. In the immediate future it probably means that both Green and Cessa will be in the rotation. In the future, it may mean Adam Warren will be part of the 2017 rotation.

The question is can the Yankees and Eovaldi find a future together?  The easiest thing for the Yankees would be to non-tender Eovaldi at the end of the season and get out of his contract. But instead of doing that, I think the Yankees should offer him a three-year, incentive-laden deal. Pay him a minimal salary next year and then give him a chance to make significant money, health permitting, in 2018 and 2019.

For the Yankees, they get a pitcher besides Severino under contract beyond 2018. For Eovaldi, he gets a big league contract for next year and a chance to rehab in a place he knows. That seems like a good opportunity for both sides.

Youth Movement

Alex is gone and the Yankees have called up Austin and Judge. It’s pretty exciting and even more so is the lineup for today’s game which features both of them and only two players over 30.

48 Hours

Two more days. That’s all we have left of A-Rod and it won’t be a quiet two more days thanks to a mistake Joe Girardi made on Sunday and the NY media.

Sunday Girardi said A-Rod could play in all three games at Fenway if he wanted. Tuesday he didn’t follow through, admitting he made a mistake and was human. That’s not good enough for the media and they are going to absurd lengths to portray A-Rod as a victim.

Start with their attempt to equate A-Rod not playing to Jeter hitting second in his final season. Yes, Jeter should not have hit second, but think about the differences between Jeter and Alex for a minute. Never, and I mean never, did Jeter do anything to embarrass the Yankees. By contrast A-Rod has done plenty and also sued the club a few seasons back. Girardi didn’t want to embarrass Jeter and while it wasn’t his best move, it was an understandable one. Alex doesn’t deserve that benefit of the doubt and Girardi can’t pretend he is trying to win games and use Alex as a regular this week. That’s the bottom line there.

Next go to this notion that the Yankees owe A-Rod something. They owe him the remainder of his contract, about $26-million, that’s it. They will have paid him almost $400-million for his 13 years in the Bronx. They don’t owe him a majestic farewell or a spot in the lineup, but they are going to give him that tomorrow. That’s fine, but its also enough. These same writers defending A-Rod will be the first to attack him when he signs with another club next spring. You can count on that. Let’s get that distraction out of the way now. Alex doesn’t owe the Yankees anything either. He played and they determined he wasn’t useful anymore so they cut him. That gives him the right to go and find another team to play for and he should not be criticized for a lack of loyalty if he does that.

Finally, let me add my own conspiracy theory to what happened this week. Yankee management is not thrilled with having to cut A-Rod, but they know it is the right move for the future of the franchise. They orchestrated the Friday sendoff to sell a few more tickets instead of doing it on Sunday like they should have. They also realized that the less they let Alex play this week, the more he will want to play for someone else in the future. While it won’t cut the bill they owe him by much, a season on another team’s roster means $500,000 the Yankees save. I would bet they would be happy to save it.

The circus closes in 48 hours. I won’t miss it.

Thoughts on A-Rod

If you had told me back in 2004 that Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees would go to only 1 World Series together, I would have bet you anything that you were wrong. The Yankees had just lost the 2003 World Series, but it was their sixth appearance in the last eight Fall Classics. Adding the best player on the planet seemed like a guarantee for plenty of more Octobers in the Bronx.

But we didn’t know that baseball was changing and A-Rod was a major jerk. Team like the Red Sox were better than the Yankees at exploring new ways to win. A-Rod alienated most of his teammates immediately by doing things like requiring the clubhouse attendants to put the toothpaste on his toothbrush. Those Yankee teams of the mid-2000’s were more talented than the results they produced and I think that has a lot to do with how divided they were.

Alex kept making himself look bad while putting up enormous numbers. He preened and pressed for attention and then committed the cardinal baseball sin of trying to upstage the 2007 World Series by opting out of his deal during the final game. Yet all was forgiven when the Yankees weeks later not only took him back, but gave him a raise. His ten-year contract guaranteed him $275-million and additional money for the milestone home runs he was going to hit as he pursued the record.

Brian Cashman was absolutely right yesterday when he said that the Yankees don’t win the 2009 World Series without Alex, but that was a heck of a price to pay for the 13 years he was under contract. Some people feel sorry for Alex which is hard for me to fathom. He became fabulously wealthy playing baseball, yet cheated the very sport he professed to love multiple times. He was benched because he simply didn’t add any value to the team, not because of some vendetta by management against him. Give credit to Hal for not only swallowing a big check in releasing Alex, but taking the high road. It would have been very easy for the Yankees to simply cut him yesterday without another thought. Instead, they gave Alex a way to leave with some dignity.

I hope Alex takes advantage of the opportunity. He can head back to Miami next weekend and then pour his efforts into helping younger players grow. If I were him, I would play the long game doing everything I could to bolster my image for a shot at the Hall of Fame. Alex could follow Mark McGwires path and coach, staying involved in the game he loves and helping other player succeed.

But I don’t think that will happen.  I suspect he will start working out and leaking stories about it. He will work out at first base to gain some competency there and Loria and the Marlins, looking for another gate attraction after Ichiro, will bring him into camp next March. So think of this only as a good-bye to the Yankees, not baseball.


With the subtractions of A-Rod and Beltran, the Yankees no longer have a permanent DH. This has big implications for the future.

First off it means that Brian McCann stays a Yankee unless someone absolutely backs up a truck for him. (Remember he has the most home runs as a catcher since 2014 and is still very good defensively). The Yankees can shuttle him and Sanchez between DH and catcher, giving Sanchez a chance to grow into the job while learning from a really good source.

Second it means that someone else is going to come up and play. I suspect it will be Tyler Austin and the Yankees will give him every chance to show what he can do, but Aaron Judge won’t be far behind. And if Austin and Judge show they are ready over the final months of the season, you can bet that the Yankees trade Gardner or, if they somehow could, Ellsbury, this offseason.

The A-Rod Press Conference

A few minutes before the start and nothing has leaked. The only possible hint of what might be coming is the news that Tyler Austin isn’t in the Scranton lineup today. If Alex as being removed from the roster, Austin would make a lot of sense as his replacement. I’ll update as events progress

11:01- Jack Curry who usually has a great read on the inner workings of the team says this is going to be some form of good-bye but he expects Alex to stay in an advisory capacity

11:02-The Yankees have scooped themselves, issuing a press release stating that Alex will play his final game on August 12th and then become a special advisor to the club through 2017

11:04- Alex will be reporting directly to Hal Steinbrenner under his advisory contract

11:05- Alex can barely speak while holding back the tears.

11:08- Choking up multiple times, A-Rod thanks a number of people

11:10-Hal apparently reached out to A-Rod to facilitate this

Reading between the lines Hal gave A-Rod a choice: do this or we will cut you

11:14- Alex asked Hal for the chance to play one last game in front of the fans and his family

11:24- Alex has been told he will have a few at bats on Friday, but nothing has been guaranteed beyond that

11:28- Cashman says he wasn’t part of the conversation in regards to this deal.

11:33- Cashman says Alex will get everything he is owed money wise.

Tex Is Retiring

Buster Olney is reporting that Mark Teixeira will announce his retirement today, effective at the end of the season.

It makes sense, he has been hobbled by injuries. The question now is does he want to go out a Yankee, or would he accept a trade to a contending team? (IF a contending team wanted him).

Out With The Old!

I know that most of us would like to see the Yankees give all the playing time to young guys now. But, that simply isn’t realistic. While the Yankees have done good work moving out some of the road blocks for younger guys, more remain. The problem is that most of the older players, who aren’t playing well, are still due substantial salaries. And while I would like the Yankees to cut A-Rod and Sabathia right now, I can’t expect that they would cut over $50-million of remaining payroll. You also have to remember that 30 of the Yankees remaining 58 games will be played under September roster rules, so they will have plenty of chances to sit some of the older guys extensively. Here’s what I think should happen with a number of the big names

A-Rod- If you listened to the GM last night, he was not kind about Alex’s play. I still don’t think that will equal his release as the Yankees don’t want to pay him the $27-million they still owe him for nothing. But, I also think the idea that A-Rod would walk away for a cent less is foolish. He is going to get paid, the Yankees just have to figure out how to do it. I suspect something like this will happen. A-Rod will continue to play sparingly and at some point in the near future, he will get “hurt” running out a ground ball. His DL trip will last until September when he will be activated and not play much at all. Before the final week of the season, the Yankees will announce he is retiring and becoming a special assistant to Brian Cashman. That will be the cover they use to give him some dignity while they pay him $20-million next year. Maybe it doesn’t happen exactly like that, but Alex isn’t going to be back in 2017.

Teixeira- I bet the Yankees have already put him on waivers and if a team is so bold as to claim him, he will be gone tomorrow. Assuming that doesn’t happen, I suspect he stays and plays pretty frequently until September 1st. The reason for that is that the Yankees could conceivably trade him once he is through waivers and if a playoff team suddenly needed a first baseman, they might be interested. If that doesn’t work, he is mostly a bench player on September 1st and a memory after the season ends.

Sabathia- Barring a miracle shoulder injury in the next few weeks, he will be under contract next year at $25-million. However, his last six starts have been bad and unless he turns it around, he will be a bullpen piece by September 1st. And if that happens, I suspect the Yankees will talk to him about allowing a trade where they will pay almost all of his salary to get him out of here before the 2017 season starts.

Some other names of note. McCann is above-average offensively and good defensively. Sanchez looks like a real find, but with Byrd coming back from injury and no set DH, McCann could easily fit in as a C/DH/1B next year depending on need. Gardner is probably the most likely to go as he is relatively cheap and the outfield could get crowded fast. The Yankees would gladly let Ellsbury go on a waiver claim, but no team would be dumb enough to claim him I think. Headley has been great since May 1st and of all the positions, third is the one with no obvious successor right now. The remaining rotation is all under contract for next year, and I suspect the Yankees will spend the rest of this one trying to decide if they want to keep Eovaldi or Pineda around past 2017.


It’s A New Day

Over the last seven days the Yankees have formalized a new vision that their previous actions hinted at. Consider the 2014-15 offseason. The Yankees handed out two free agent contracts- four years each to Miller and Headley, but avoided the entanglements that they have jumped at in years past. They also traded for youth, bringing in Eovaldi and Didi to try to remake the roster. Connect those dots to last year’s trade deadline where their “big” move was acquiring Dustin Ackley, a young guy with promise and a bad track record. Then they became the only team in MLB not to sign a major-league free agent this offseason. All of these developments suggested to me that the Yankees were changing the way they did business, but this past week has confirmed it. The Yankees aren’t going to try to spend their way to success. They are going to look to develop talent and then supplement that with free agency. That’s a welcome change

The Yankees did some of their best work in ages this past week. They got a high-end shortstop prospect and a projected middle of the rotation guy for Chapman plus Adam Warren. They turned Andrew Miller into their potential left fielder of the future, a piece of the rotation and picked up two very promising bullpen arms. They got the #4-pick overall in the draft from last year for Beltran.

But there is more work to do. The Yankees now have just over 1/3rd of the season left to see what some of their younger guys can do. That means Severino goes back into the rotation. It means Green and Cessna get some pitching chances. It means that Refsnyder and Hicks get regular at bats, but also guys like Sanchez get a shot to show some things.  That’s going to cause some changes with some of the older players, lets scope that out tomorrow.