Early in the MLB Winter Meetings most of the talk surrounded Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole. Now, with those two off the board the whispers that surrounded potential trades of Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, Corey Kluber, Mookie Betts, David Price, and even Carlos Correa among others will probably turn into a cacophony now. Some of these trades are due to financial constraints that teams have placed on themselves and in a baseball world that is flush with cash right now that is a crime.
The luxury tax threshold for 2020 will be $208 million. That’s a large chunk of change. It is also acting like a de facto salary cap. Yes, even when record contracts were doled out to Strasburg and Cole there are financial constraints and that hurts. Last year we saw teams actively tanking. This offseason the Baltimore Orioles non-tendered second baseman Jonathan Villar, one of their best offensive producers, rather than pay him. That is a problem.
When teams like the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, and Boston Red Sox are talking about clearing money in a time when MLB is practically printing money that is a huge issue. There is a solution. Raise the luxury tax and reward teams for retaining their own free agents by having contracts signed by players originally drafted, or who have spent at least two years in the minor leagues with that team, count as half against the luxury tax.
Teams, and fans, should be rewarded for developing good players. However, as we have seen all too often many teams will allow a player to leave in free agency or trade him to maximize his value and return. That means a team like the Miami Marlins, who might be the poster child for financial limitations, are really only acting as an expensive farm team for the rest of Major League Baseball. The Cleveland Indians, a very good baseball team who should challenge for a playoff spot in 2020, shouldn’t be forced to think about trading Lindor, the face of their franchise, because of finances.
Major League Baseball should be rewarding teams that develop talent and keep that talent. There are only so many rich teams like the Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Angels. There are only 26 roster spots (beginning in 2020) on active MLB rosters and with a luxury tax in place that acts as a de facto salary cap it forces teams to consider trading elite talent and eventually limits subsequent free agents on viable destinations.
By having homegrown players’ contracts only count as half against the luxury tax there should be enough of a reward for teams to keep their own developed talent while still dabbling in the free agent pool. The luxury tax should also be raised by $20 million to encourage the big spending teams to continue to add talent that does hit free agency.
Serious question, do fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, and a few other teams have long-term hope? Some have made the playoffs in recent years but where is the sustained success and hope? Fans of these teams deserve more than a couple of years of contending before another rebuild.
Major League Baseball continues to grow and set records for revenue. According to Statista, MLB took in $9.9 billion dollars. Just ten years ago revenue was $5.82 billion. The game is as healthy as it has ever been despite some in the sport and media looking for ways to speed up games and change certain aspects. Teams have money to spend in most cases. What they don’t have is excess cash to put into a luxury tax. It is time to raise the luxury tax and also reward teams, and the fans who are spending the money, for developing and keeping their own talent.
With the New York Yankees focusing all of their attention on Gerrit Cole early this offseason it is likely they are going to let Didi Gregorius walk. This means there may or may not be room for another infielder on the roster. George King of the New York Post recently wrote on Saturday, December 8th that the Yankees should consider signing Addison Russell who was non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs.
This is a move the Yankees should avoid unless Russell is willing to play for the league minimum, which he won’t. His domestic violence history, while in the past, is negative publicity the Yankees should avoid, especially since they already have Aroldis Chapman and Domingo German on the roster. Chapman hasn’t had an incident since the domestic violence incident that earned him a 30-game suspension which made him the first player suspended under MLB’s domestic violence initiative. German was involved in an incident at the end of last season where an MLB employee saw him striking his girlfriend. German has yet to be suspended by MLB but could face a 40-game suspension. Adding Russell to the mix would just send the wrong signal.
I am a firm believer in second chances and being able to right wrongs. However, the Yankees have already given a second chance to Chapman and presumably will to German. They don’t need to do the same for Russell. In fact, they should avoid Russell at all costs.
Adding Russell would be a terrible public relations move. However, from a pure baseball standpoint it makes no sense. Russell, who will turn 26 in January, has slashed just .242/.312/.392 in 615 games across five seasons. He can certainly improve but the Yankees have better options on their roster and in their organization that will cost less and have as much or more upside than Russell.
Options for the Yankees include moving Gleyber Torres to shortstop and putting D.J. LeMahieu at second base, his natural position. There is also Tyler Wade who has finally shown some flashes at the big league level and offers more versatility than Russell would. There is also Thairo Estrada who got his first shot at Major League ball last summer and also showed flashes just one year removed from a gunshot wound that cost him most of 2018. Before that, however, Estrada was one of the Yankees’ top prospects. There is also the return of Miguel Andujar who could reclaim his third base job and potentially move Gio Urshela into a super utility role since he does have experience playing shortstop, second, and third.
No matter how you slice it Russell doesn’t fit with the Yankees. He doesn’t fit by cost. He doesn’t fit by production. He doesn’t fit due to the public relations issues. No matter which way you cut it Russell doesn’t fit. For King to suggest he does is just a terrible take.
There are few players as polarizing as Clint Frazier in recent New York Yankees’ history. Frazier, who came to the Yankees as the centerpiece in the trade that sent Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians, slashed .267/.317/.489 with 12 home runs in 69 games this past season. However, controversy, both real and imagined, has followed Frazier from the very beginning of his Yankees career. With that controversy has come debate about whether or not Frazier has a future with the Yankees.
There is no doubt that Frazier helped the Yankees weather the storm of injuries that befell the team. He also had to weather a storm that he helped create with poor defensive play and then refusing to speak to the media after the June 2 loss to the Boston Red Sox. He was sent down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and seemed to be banished from the Bronx. He expressed displeasure with his situation on social media, a move that certainly didn’t endear him to the Yankee brass. Things seemed to go from bad to worse as the season wore on but in the end there is a silver lining.
While down in Triple-A, Frazier worked. He put the time in with Julio Borbon, the Railriders’ defensive coach. He worked away from the media, away from the bright lights. Anyone who watched Frazier play in Triple-A didn’t see the same player who suffered defensive lapses in the Bronx. He was certainly better in left field than right field at both levels. Perhaps it is just a matter of being more comfortable in left field. Perhaps Frazier was just trying to do too much to justify being in the Major Leagues. Only he knows the answer.
What is known, however, is that Frazier was still a productive player at the plate despite the controversies that popped up around him all season. He has produced in New York, even if he has only 123 games under his belt. His ability to ignore the storms around him while he is on the baseball field might actually make him the perfect player for New York and all the pressures that come with it.
No player on the Yankees has been the subject of as many trade rumors or speculation. At least not since Carl Pavano. Frazier isn’t Pavano though. He has dealt with all of that talk in a variety of ways, some of which have caused him more difficulties. He has been offered to other teams in trades but he isn’t unique in that. Still, he is here and the truth is the Yankees are better off with him right now. Their outfield situation is murky and health has been an issue for Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge. Even Brett Gardner, if he is re-signed, comes with issues regarding usage and production. Cameron Maybin is a free agent and might be able to turn his productive season with the Yankees into a contract the Yankees might not be comfortable with offering. Hicks is out for a significant portion of the 2020 season after Tommy John surgery last month.
Whether you like it or not the Yankees need Clint Frazier. Unless they plan on offering a large contract to a player like Marcell Ozuna or Nicholas Castellanos Frazier is the best option for the Yankees in 2020. Now it is up to Frazier to show that he is ready and that he has matured. That should be easier than hitting a fastball.
There is no doubt that until Gerrit Cole inks his name to a contract he will be connected to the New York Yankees. There is also no doubt that the Yankees will look everywhere to upgrade their rotation and starting lineup in hopes that these will be the final adjustments to put them over the hump and get them back into the World Series. For the first time since the 1910s the Yankees didn’t make an appearance in the Fall Classic in the 2010s and that has to be weighing on the front office and ownership regardless of the brave faces they put forward.
Cole would be a no-brainer addition to the Yankees, the team that drafted him out of high school in 2008 only to watch him go off to UCLA and become a first overall pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He will most likely command a record-breaking contract and if recent history is any indication the Yankees might not venture into that territory. That will surely anger some Yankees fans who are tired of almost and waiting for next season. But it might make the most sense.
General manager Brian Cashman has a history of making moves under the cloak of darkness. Last season the Yankees were linked with Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Patrick Corbin. Instead, Cashman walked away with James Paxton, Adam Ottavino, and D.J. LeMahieu. The year prior nobody could have envisioned reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton joining the Yankees for what amounted to spare parts. Cashman has let the media speculate away without telegraphing his moves publicly. It has worked to his advantage so far as prices aren’t driven up through the roof. Why would he deviate now?
The Yankees will certainly entertain Cole and will probably make him an offer. They might do the same with Stephen Strasburg. However, the Yankees might not come away with either one. The Yankees set a price on a player and refuse to budge. Gone are the days of bidding against themselves as they did with Alex Rodriguez. Gone are the days of panicked moves that resulted in Jacoby Ellsbury being given $20 million per year.
Cashman will shoot his shot with Cole and probably Strasburg and if nothing moves on that front he will easily pivot towards a Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, or a trade for a starter like Jon Gray, Corey Kluber, or Robbie Ray. He also might feel perfectly comfortable going into 2020 with a rotation of Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery, and J.A. Happ with prospects like Jonathan Loaisiga, Michael King, Deivi Garcia, Chance Adams, and Clarke Schmidt knocking on the door. The trade deadline might be kinder to Cashman this time around.
No matter what, the New York Yankees are World Series contenders as currently constructed. Health will obviously play a major role as they can’t go through another year where 31 players hit the injured list. The Yankees had set the MLB record for most players on the injured list by August 30th last season and there is no way that can happen again.
Can the Yankees use Gerrit Cole? What team in baseball couldn’t? Are they good enough to win without him? Certainly. Odds right now are Cashman will add to this roster and try again to get that World Series ring. The good news is that the Yankees’ core is still young and mathematically it is almost impossible to repeat the bad luck they had with injuries last year. Now it’s time for Yankees fans to relax and let Cashman do his job and trust he knows what he is doing.
It is time for the New York Yankees, and more specifically Brian Cashman, to come to terms with reality. That reality is that it is now August 29, soon to be August 30, and the Yankees are no closer to having Aaron Judge back in the lineup than they were on July 31.
Judge’s wrist is still hurting. He still hasn’t picked up a bat. If we are being honest, it might be another month before Judge even comes close to being normal. Wrist injuries are like that. He might not be close to his old self this year and the Yankees need to prepare for that.
As it stands right now, the Yankees have the second best record in baseball. The World Series isn’t out of the question at all. Judge would be a huge part of that final stretch but it isn’t clear he will be there. Cashman owes it to the team and the fans to get a better outfielder than Shane Robinson.
Curtis Granderson and Andrew McCutchen come to mind first because both have already passed waivers. They should be additions Cashman looks to make. So far, the Yankees have passed. The time is fast approaching for Cashman to reverse that and get another outfielder.
If the Yankees want to pretend Neil Walker is an outfielder then they should at least upgrade first base. Greg Bird is looking like a lost cause. His bat is slow, his defense is mediocre at best, and the shines that he once had is quickly wearing off.
To be honest, the Yankees can’t carry a Shane Robinson and Greg Bird on the same team and in the same lineup. Cashman must upgrade one or both positions.
The New York Mets sometimes can’t even get out of their own way. The latest issue is with top prospect Pete Alonso who, the Mets announced, will not be getting called up.
Since then, Alonso’s agents, Adam Karon and Tripper Johnson, have gone public stating they are disappointed in the Mets. One has to search high and low to find a minor leaguer’s agents calling out the Major League club. It just doesn’t happen much, if at all.
Acting GM John Ricco said, “He has had an unbelievable season, he has done everything we have asked. He has a great year in Double-A, moving up to Triple-A, he’s having a real good year, but the way we see it, the lack of playing time is a big factor. We are going to have Dom Smith, Jay Bruce and we’ll have Wilmer [Flores] all playing some first base and to have Pete come up and just sit when we looked at it didn’t make a lot of sense.”
The reality is, Alonso isn’t on the 40-man roster. To add him now would accelerate his free agency by a year and push up his arbitration years. The reasoning Ricco gave doesn’t fly. At all. They want to see what Bruce and Flores offer at first? Why? I can see playing Dom Smith there as much as possible but the other two nobody cares about. To say that there isn’t enough playing time for Alonso is kind of silly considering the Triple-A season for the Las Vegas 51s ends on Saturday. Where is Alonso going to get the playing time then?
Nothing the Mets do makes any sense or turns out the way they want, or anybody wants for that matter. Their failed promotions, the Yoenis Cespedes stuff with his injuries, the refusal to trade Jose Bautista before the non-waiver deadline because he is too good at that moment, Tim Tebow, Pete Alonso, and the failed free agent signings from this past offseason. You can’t make this stuff up. The list goes on and on.
There was a chance here to show Mets fans that the front office is serious about fielding the best possible team next year. There was a chance to inject some enthusiasm into the fan base that feels like it has been kicked in the gut for years. There was a chance to let Alonso come up, split some time with Smith at first, and show fans that penny pinching is over in Flushing.
Nothing has changed in Queens. Nothing will it seems. This isn’t just an ownership problem, though the Wilpons are explicit in allowing their business to be so shoddily run. This problem is cultural. Maybe Citi Field is built on sacred burial grounds but then that doesn’t explain the mishaps at Shea. There is no answer. It is a comedy of Shakespearean proportions and a tragedy that would make the Greeks cringe.
Alonso could have been a good faith show, to both player and fans. Instead, the Mets made both mad, created a terrible excuse, and are once again groping blindly in the dark for something to grab onto. The Mets couldn’t have created a worse excuse for not promoting Alonso. He wouldn’t have playing time? What playing time is available when the season is over? Maybe Alonso will get that in-game experience playing stickball in Flatbush.
Everyone knows the reason the Mets aren’t promoting Alonso. It is about money, just like everything else in their decision making. They don’t want to start his clock before they have to. The Mets can’t even lie well. When you spend more energy looking after every cent than you do in trying to win you get the New York Mets.
The New York Yankees are the most popular franchise in Major League Baseball. Millions of people love them. Millions more hate them. Putting on the pinstripes is a fairly big deal and baseball fans, regardless of their allegiance to the Yankees will most likely know who you are. However, sometimes there are players that don the pinstripes but do so for a fleeting moment or are forgotten because of a hundred different reasons. These are the players you forgot were Yankees.
Dave Kingman – The ornery outfielder played 1941 games across 16 seasons. He could amaze fans and media with his mammoth home runs and his insane attitude. Kingman would play for seven teams and clobber 442 home runs during his career. He would appear in just eight games with the Yankees in 1977. He did hit four home runs across those eight games which is a pretty nice ratio. He would only have six hits as a Yankee but it only cost the Yankees Randy Stein and cash to get Kingman from the then California Angels on September 15, 1977. He was granted free agency in November and went on to sign with the Chicago Cubs. It would have been really interesting to see Reggie Jackson and Kingman paired up in the lineup every day.
Robin Roberts – The Hall of Fame pitcher is known for his tenure with the Philadelphia Phillies with whom he won 234 games across 14 seasons. However, on October 16, 1961 the Yankees purchased Roberts from the Phillies. He would go to Spring Training with the Yankees the next season but would get released on May 21, 1962 without ever having appeared in a regular season game. Roberts would catch on with the Baltimore Orioles and would actually fair pretty well with them, posting a 42-36 record with 3.09 ERA and 1.145 WHIP. Roberts would last in the Major Leagues until 1966 when he retired from the game after an 11 game stint with the Cubs.
Mike Lowell – The third baseman is known for his time with the Boston Red Sox and, prior to that, the Florida Marlins. However, the four-time All-Star was once the Yankees’ third baseman of the future and might be Brian Cashman’s all-time worst trade. The year was 1998, a magical year in the Bronx. Lowell seemed poised to take over the hot corner from Scott Brosius who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Kenny Rogers as a stopgap solution. The 24-year-old Lowell did appear in eight games with the 1998 Yankees, had 15 at-bats and collected four singles while posting the amazing slash line of .267/.267/.267. Still, Lowell had superstar potential. Then Brosius had a monster year in 1998 and won the World Series MVP. Cashman signed Brosius to an extension and shipped Lowell off to the Marlins for pitchers Ed Yarnall, Todd Noel, and Mark Johnson. Noel would never make it out of Single-A. Johnson appeared in nine games, three starts, with the 2000 Detroit Tigers. Yarnall, the big fish Cashman thought he caught, was a top prospect. He was once considered the top lefty pitching prospect in baseball. Yarnall appeared in seven games, three starts, with the Yankees and posted a 5.40 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, walked 13 in 20 innings and struck out 14. Pretty sure Cashman wishes he could do this one over again.
Gaylord Perry – Perry is best known for his doctoring of pitches, winning a ton of games, 314 to be exact, and his Hall of Fame career that was born from his stints with the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, and a little with the San Diego Padres. However, on August 14, 1980 the Yankees acquired Perry from the Texas Rangers for Ken Clay and Marv Thompson. Perry was 41 and not exactly a stud anymore. Still, the Yankees hoped for some veteran presence down the stretch. Perry went 4-4 with a 4.44 ERA, and 1.63 WHIP in 10 games, eight of which were starts. Amazingly, Perry would bounce around a few more years before finally retiring from the game in 1983.
Mark Wohlers – Wohlers holds a special place in Yankees’ history but as the closer who gave up the game—tying home run to Jim Leyritz in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series when Wohlers was a member of the Atlanta Braves. However, Wohlers would join the Yankees on July 1, 2001 from the Cincinnati Reds as Cashman searched for a pitcher to bridge the gap to Mariano Rivera. It didn’t work. Wohlers would post a 4.54 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and just wasn’t consistent. He appeared in one playoff game that year, against the Seattle Mariners in the ALCS and gave up a home run and three runs (one earned) in just two-thirds of an inning. See, Cashman’s love affair with obtaining closers and using them as set-up men goes back a long time. Wohlers would play one more season, with the Cleveland Indians, before hanging them up at age 33.
Lee Smith – Smith once held the record for most saves in a career. That was, of course, before Mariano Rivera. However, for many years, Smith was closing games out for the Cubs, Red Sox, and St. Louis Cardinals. Then, on August 31, 1993, the Cardinals dealt Smith to the Bronx for Rich Batchelor. Smith would appear in eight games, save three, strike out 11 and walk five in eight innings. Smith, 35 at the time, would move on as a free agent to the Orioles, lead the league in saves with 33 in the strike-shortened 1994 season before saving another 37 games in 1995. Smith probably should be in the Hall of Fame [he has since been elected] but he played when the bias against relief pitchers was real. Still, he probably should get in one day.
Jeff Reardon – There was a time that Reardon was a premier closer, maybe THE closer in baseball when he was with the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins. He would accumulate 365 saves before joining the Yankees prior to the 1994 season. Reardon was expected to give the Yankees a veteran presence at the back of the bullpen. That wasn’t to be. He posted an 8.38 ERA in 11 games with two saves, a 2.069 WHIP and gave up three home runs. He was released in May of 1994 and retired shortly after.
Bob Ojeda – Ojeda is known for his long stint with the New York Mets from 1986 through 1990 that saw him go 51-40 with a 3.12 ERA. He was instrumental in helping the Mets win the World Series in 1986. After leaving the Mets he was a serviceable back-end starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers before moving on to the Cleveland Indians in 1993. Ojeda would be seriously injured in a boating accident that killed Tim Crews and Steve Olin in Spring Training. He would only appear in nine games for the Indians that year. George Steinbrenner was never afraid of adding a former Mets player with a past history of success and he signed Ojeda for the 1994 season. Ojeda would only appear in two games for the Yankees, both starts, and give up eight runs on 11 hits and six walks. That’s an ERA of 24.00 and a FIP of 11.46 and a WHIP of 5.667. He was released from the Yankees on May 5th and with the strike looming he became a forgotten Yankee in a forgotten season.
Raul Mondesi – Mondesi began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and won Rookie of the Year in 1994. He followed that up with an All-Star appearance and Gold Glove in 1995. The future was bright. Well, sometimes baseball can be a cruel mistress. Mondesi had a good career but he was far from the megastar many predicted of him. In November of 1999 Mondesi was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for Shawn Green. He had a couple of good years with Toronto before he was traded to the Yankees as part of a salary dump on July 1, 2002. The Yankees were looking for a replacement for Paul O’Neill and while Mondesi wasn’t exactly great he wasn’t bad either. In 169 games he hit 27 home runs, 41 doubles, three triples, scored 95 runs, and drove in 92 runs while slashing .250/.323/.453. He was dealt to the Diamondbacks on July 29, 2003 for David Dellucci, Bret Prinz, and Jon-Mark Sprowl. The Yankees might have gotten the last decent season from Mondesi as he would bounce around a bit before leaving baseball in 2005 at age 34.
Rocky Colavito – Colavito, a native of the Bronx who was a Yankees fan growing up, was a power hitting outfielder who played mostly for the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers between 1955 and 1968. He would club 374 home runs, including leading the league in homers in 1959. He would also finish in the Top 10 in MVP voting four times during his career, three of which were Top 5 finishes. In 1965 he became the first outfielder to complete the season with a 1.000 fielding percentage while playing in all 162 games. In 1968, Colavito was purchased from the Chicago White Sox by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was released by the Dodgers on July 11, 1968 and was signed by the Yankees four days later. He would last until September 30, 1968 with the Yankees before being released and calling it a career at just 34. With the Yankees he hit just .220/.330/.451 with five home runs in 91 at bats. In his first home game with the team he hit a three-run home run. In an August 25th game he pitched 2.2 innings. He allowed only one hit over that span and picked up the win. Colavito would go on to become a broadcaster and coach. His stint with the Yankees might have been short but it was a dream come true to the kid who grew up idolizing Joe DiMaggio.
When Mike Rizzo took over the job as Washington Nationals general manager in 2009 there weren’t a lot of reasons to be an optimistic fan. The team would win just 59 games in 2009, Mike Rizzo was a rookie general manager tasked with overhauling a roster that fielded just three players that hit more than 10 home runs and a pitching staff led by John Lannan. Over the next few years, with the help of some bad teams, the Nationals rebuilt their roster with the help of a couple of top picks and some astute free agent signings and trades. Mike Rizzo took the Nationals from nothing to World Series contender. He has also now seen them fall back to earth.
The Nationals are in danger of losing Bryce Harper this coming offseason as a free agent and the only legacy he will have left behind is one MVP award and the knowledge that the Nationals never won a playoff series during his time with the team. That won’t be Bryce Harper’s fault, however. That blame should rest at the feet of the very man who made the Nationals relevant, Mike Rizzo.
Since Harper broke into Major League Baseball in 2012 the Nationals, and Rizzo, have gone through four managers. Two of those managers, Davey Johnson and Matt Williams won Manager of the Year Awards. Three of the four won their division with Dusty Baker winning it twice in 2016 and 2017. However, the only thing that mattered to Rizzo was winning in the playoffs and none of the managers he hired did that.
The question really must be who is at fault for the Nationals falling short? Ultimately it lies at the feet of the one who wears the crown, Rizzo. He built a team up from nothing but never took it that extra step. There was always something lacking with the Nationals teams he built. Whether it was a lock-down bullpen arm or a leadoff hitter and center fielder something was always seemingly at the top of the shopping list and would be all but ignored by Rizzo until it was too late.
For as much respect Rizzo deserves for completely turning around the culture in Washington, he also deserves the backlash for never accomplishing anything. Making the playoffs wasn’t enough after 2012. The World Series became the goal especially with a rotation led by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg and an offense powered by 2015 NL MVP Harper. That goal might never be realized at this point with this current roster.
Rizzo, for several years, was able to deflect most of the blame by shifting it onto the manager. After all it was Davey Johnson who brought in Drew Storen who would give up the four runs in the ninth inning and take a 7-5 Nationals’ lead and turn it into a 9-7 defeat. To be fair, Johnson was never a long-term solution on the bench but he did lead some really good Nationals’ teams in 2012 and 2013. He would be replaced by Matt Williams, a rookie manager without a game of experience. Williams would watch his team fall apart and start fighting itself in the dugout. The culture in the clubhouse was allowed to rot and to be honest, it never really recovered.
Baker was brought in to help restore some credibility in the clubhouse, to give the Nationals a professional air about them and give the fairly young team some leadership. Baker was let go after last season because he couldn’t get the Nationals out of the first round in 2016 or 2017. So, what does Rizzo do? Does he go out and fortify the bullpen? No. Things are left as is for the most part with only middling arms brought in during the offseason.
Teams around the league are stockpiling arms in their bullpens and the Nationals are content with their mostly mediocre bullpen. The Nationals finished 23rd last season in bullpen ERA with a 4.41 mark. This season they are currently 12th with a bullpen ERA of 3.90.
Rizzo has watched teams time and again pass the Nationals by for services of elite relievers. Sure, Rizzo has addressed some issues but they always seem to be band-aids instead of long-term solutions. It also seems to be every year. The manager gets the blame though. Baker was let go despite stabilizing the clubhouse. Rookie manager Dave Martinez was brought in. It almost seemed like Rizzo was daring the baseball gods here, as if to say that the Williams years weren’t on him but rather the fault of the manager. Well, the clubhouse is under scrutiny again. Shawn Kelley was shipped off the team for throwing a mitt down during a blowout win over the New York Mets. Scherzer and Strasburg were seen yelling at each other in the dugout before going to the clubhouse together.
The immaturity seems to be back. The Nationals are falling well short of expectations and were the longest of long shots to make a playoff run this season. Still, Rizzo stood pat at the July 31st trade deadline. He didn’t commit one way or another and lost out on the opportunity to quickly reload his team. Now, on August 21, he is shipping off Daniel Murphy to the Chicago Cubs for Andruw Monasterio and letting the St. Louis Cardinals take Matt Adams away for nothing but the waiver claim. Murphy would have been arguably the best hitter on the market during the non-waiver deadline and could have fetched a decent prospect or two. Missed opportunity. That seems to be the modus operandi of Rizzo.
The blame can’t be laid at the feet of Martinez. It can’t be laid at the feet of the players. Though both certainly deserve some blame. The majority of the blame rest right on the shoulders of Rizzo and it is time for him to pay the piper.
It is no secret the New York Yankees are trying to win a World Series this year. It is also no secret that the dog days of summer are taking their toll on the Bronx Bombers with Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and Aaron Judge all on the sidelines. The wrist injury to Judge is really concerning at this point because it is a wrist injury and any wrist injury is something to be concerned over. They can take a long time for a hitter to recover from. This is why the Yankees need to pull the trigger on an Andrew McCutchen trade.
McCutchen was placed on waivers yesterday and it is widely believed that the San Francisco Giants will allow McCutchen to go to a team with a chance to make a postseason run. He will be owed approximately $3 million for the remainder of the year and that should fit into the Yankees’ budget.
Leading up to the July 31st trade deadline this move might not have made much sense but the Yankees could use the outfield depth and McCutchen might be the best player available right now. He is far from the MVP he was in 2013, or the guy who had two Top 5 finishes in the NL MVP in 2014 and 2015. Instead, McCutchen is a veteran leader who could bring a fairly decent on-base percentage, it stands at .354 right now, and some pop, 14 home runs. He could fall right into the mix with Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Giancarlo Stanton. He would also provide some depth when Judge does get back while offering a right-handed bat to spell Gardner against lefties.
The Yankees are very close to watching this season slip away to disabled list stints. Granted, they aren’t the only team dealing with injuries but the injuries to the Yankees’ players could prevent them going on another October run.
With Gregorius being placed on the DL the Yankees have recalled the immortal Luke Voit and still have Shane Robinson playing significant innings. Those are two gaping holes in a lineup that can ill afford them at this point. The Yankees can sit back, do nothing, and hope that Judge’s wrist heals perfectly and that Clint Frazier’s head clears up overnight. They can hope Brett Gardner’s body can hold up over the stretch. Crossing your fingers and hoping doesn’t do any good. Brian Cashman needs to be proactive here. He needs to get a bat.
Adding McCutchen gives the Yankees a veteran presence in the lineup and a much more capable bat than Robinson. He might not be an MVP candidate anymore but he is currently hitting a fairly healthy .257/.354/.414 with 14 home runs, 26 doubles, two triples, and 61 runs scored. He could be a shot in the arm to the Yankees as he tries to get his first World Series ring.
A month ago McCutchen didn’t fit on the Yankees’ roster. Today he not only fits but fills a huge void and would improve the Yankees’ bench when everyone gets healthy. If everyone gets healthy. Right now, he is the best of the bunch and if he falls to the Yankees on the waiver wire or clears altogether the Yankees have to try and pull the trigger. Their season could count on it.
While the New York Yankees sit with the second best record in baseball in 2018, as a Yankee fan you can never not think about what could happen in the near future. Especially when in the near future is the 2018 off season loaded with talents like outfielder Bryce Harper and infielder Manny Machado both of whom have expressed interests in playing for the Yankees at some point in their careers. If the Yankees have their choice in the off season they should go with Harper.
The first reason the Yankees should go with Harper is because he is a left handed power bat which would compliment the right handed power of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. While its true the Yankees are getting above average production from the likes of Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorious from the left side, you really can’t qualify either one as a power threat. There is also the fact that Aaron Hicks hasn’t been the epitome of health and Didi Gregorious before coming to New York was a failed prospect. Meanwhile the power bat the Yankees thought they had from the left side in Greg Bird putting it mildly hasn’t quite lived up to what the Yankees envisioned him being. If the Yankees can add Harper in the off season it would give them that power left handed bat complimenting their right handed heavy power hitting lineup.
The second reason the Yankees should go with Harper is because they already have a future all star third baseman in rookie Miguel Andujar who is well on his way to becoming the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year. While its true the Yankees can use an upgrade defensively at third base, there’s no reason to think Andujar who is only 23 can’t improve his defense there. Not to long ago, another rookie by the name of Derek Jeter, started his Yankees career makin 26 errors at short stop and playing less than average defense. It would appear he turned out pretty well there. While he will never be Manny Machado at the hot corner, Andujar’s all star level bat will surely make up for his defense.
The Yankees once considered to have outfield depth galore are now playing Shane Robinson in 90% of the games due to injuries to Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, and a balky hamstring to Giancarlo Stanton who is now being forced to DH. The Yankees depth evaporated quick when they traded away outfielders like Billy McKinney, Dustin Fowler and others to upgrade other areas or for future assets. There’s an old saying in baseball that you can never have enough pitching. Well in the Yankees case this year it appears you can never have enough outfielders. While the Yankees at one point envisioned Clint Frazier taking over LF after Brett Gardner, the injury history of Frazier has to make them somewhat hesitant to hand him the starting job in 2019. The thought of Bryce Harper taking over for Brett Gardner in left field sounds better than Manny Machado taking over for Miguel Andujar at third base. The Yankees will get far more production in Left field from Gardner to Harper than they will Andujar to Machado at the hot corner; not to mention having to shift their infield around on the off chance that Andujar could be a better 1st baseman. Furthermore, the Yankees signing Bryce Harper would then give them the options of trading a Clint Frazier or Estevan Florial for a deal for starting pitching.
The final reason is one Hal Steinbrenner will love, the idea of Bryce Harper playing left field in Yankee Stadium will be too tempting for him to pass on. This is the guy that wears the number 34 because the two numbers together adds up to 7 because of his idol Mickey Mantle. His favorite player when he was growing up was former Yankees captain Derek Jeter. It has always been a dream of Harper to represent the pinstripes. If the Yankees sign Harper, think of the merchandise sales from his jersey, or the ticket sales to see a lineup that includes not only Bryce Harper but Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, talk about a real murderers row. Above all Hal Steinbrenner is a business man, and Bryce Harper adds more business, money and revenue to the Yankees than Manny Machado will.
The Yankees will continue to play baseball in 2018 and attempt to finish out the season on a high note going for their 28th World Series championship, but as a fan of the team its still hard not to think of what could be if the Yankees do end up signing Bryce Harper after the season is over. The Yankees need pitching first and foremost and will address that, but if the Yankees have their choice of Harper or Machado in the off season, it will be Bryce Harper.