Category Archives: Mike’s Musings

What would my offer to Judge be?

Like most fans, I was surprised that Texas went to a five year/$185MM deal with Jacob deGrom. I wasn’t surprised that deGrom, the victim of no run support with the Mets for so long, departed. He won back-to-back CYA with a total record of 21-17 despite unreal ERAs. He doesn’t even have 100 wins in his CAREER due to lack of run support. Most predictions had him leaving. But 5 years for a 34-year-old who has been hurt the last couple of seasons seemed and seems too much. Most predictions were in the 3-year range. When healthy, deGrom is one of, if not the best, pitcher in baseball. But he hasn’t been healthy lately.

Which brings me to Aaron Judge. What is he looking for? I don’t like to deal in rumors, but rumors are the Yanks’ initial updated offer is 8 years and $300MM. That is $37.5 MM a year, which would made Judge, by AAV (average annual value) the highest paid position player by $2MM more than Mike Trout. That seems like a fair deal.

But does Judge want a ninth year? Judge turns 31 next spring. It is fair to assume that after 4 or 5 years that his production would decrease. Heck, it may decrease immediately. How does he replicate 2022? So how much $$ and how many years is he looking for?

If someone (looking at YOU, San Francisco) wants to give Judge 10 years, $400MM, the Yankees probably wish Judge well. They can’t go there, especially when you have the contracts of Cole and Stanton to deal with. (I won’t even get into trying to dump Donaldson’s deal).

So, what kind of compromise could be had to keep Judge in the Bronx? Something that would be fair to both sides but take declining ability into account?

Here is what I would propose.

He becomes Yankees’ captain. I don’t know how important that would be to Judge, but to his teammates, it is like he is captain already, so no biggie there.

With the captaincy, comes a no-trade clause. Simple enough, you don’t want to trade your captain, the face of the franchise.

Ok, to the money.

First 3 years. Ages 31-33. $45MM a year. My offer is front-loaded. This enormous amount makes Judge the highest paid player in the game, at least for now, anyway.

Next 3 years. Ages 34-36. $38MM a year. As of now, that would still have his AAV higher than any position player in the game. Things could change in the future, but still…

Last 3 years. Ages 37-39. $30 MM a year. This gives the Yankees some financial flexibility to get pieces around Judge, whose numbers are sure to be significantly lower as he nears the end of his career.

This adds up to 9 years and $339MM, beating out the 8 yr/$300MM offer supposedly on the table. It still has an AAV of $37.66MM over the nine years, still higher than Trout’s, still making Judge the highest paid position player by AAV and front-loaded to a) made Judge the highest paid player in the game as of now and b) give the Yanks some breathing room at the end of the contract.

If Judge doesn’t like that deal, then as much as I want Judge to stay in NY, I would have to move on. I don’t know what Judge wants in terms of ego, years or money. I sincerely hope he stays. Him leaving would be not only a baseball but a marketing blow for the Yankees. It would be like Joe DiMaggio leaving right after WWII or Mickey Mantle leaving around 1960. Devastating.

But how much is too much? There has to be a limit. If I were Hal Steinbrenner, the proposal above is what I would come up with. I think it would be more than fair.

What do you think?

After hopefully signing Judge for that amount, I offer Carlos Rodon a 5 yr deal at $140MM. $28MM a year. I don’t know if Rodon wants $30MM a year. You may need to go 5/$160MM? But a front four of Cole, Rodon, Severino and Cortes (and hope Montas comes around) is a very strong rotation. By the way, of that front four, guess which one of the four had the highest ERA last year? It was Cole.

I also am intrigued by Bryan Reynolds of Pittsburgh asking for a trade. The Yanks do have a CF in Harrison Bader, but I would look into this. Bader or Reynolds could be moved to LF. Although better in CF, I would move Reynolds to LF. Bader is just too good defensively in CF to move him. Reynolds is a switch-hitter. Turns 28 in January. Signed through 2023, arbitration eligible in 2024, free agent 2026. So, he’s locked in for a while. The Yanks have been interested in him in the past. His contract for 2023 is only $6.75MM, which is far less than the Yanks would have to pay to bring back Andrew Benintendi, or go out and get Matasaka Yoshida, Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo. What would it take to get Reynolds? I offer #5 prospect Everson Pereira (who would be without a future in NY if you have a Judge/Bader/Reynolds outfield), #6 prospect Trey Sweeney (the SS would be superfluous in NY since you have Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Cabrera) and because you are giving up your #5 and #6 prospects, and because by losing Reynolds, Pittsburgh needs an OF (besides the prospect in Pereira), I throw Hicks into the deal and eat some of Hicks’ contract. Reynolds, by the way, has a 162-game average of .281-24-79 with an OPS+ of 127. 28, switch-hitter, my only concern is how he’d handle moving to LF in order to keep Bader in CF. But cost-wise? Cheaper than Benintendi, Yoshida, Nimmo or Conforto.

Defining “Injury-Prone”

In reading some comments lately, one thing has been ticking me off. The definition of injury-prone, especially in the case of Aaron Judge, but it applies to other players as well.

It’s one thing to have aches and pains that keep you out of the lineup. Back problems for example. Constant pulled leg muscles, be it calf, groin or hamstring pulls. For pitchers, a sore shoulder or elbow. Some players are constantly on the injured list with these injuries. Heck, Mickey Mantle was injury prone.

But one thing about the criticism of Judge bothers me. Do people look at what the injury was that may have cost someone time and put that person on the injured list? Maybe it wasn’t the player’s fault?

For example, one injury that Judge suffered that cost him playing time in 2018 was when he was hit by a pitch, and it chipped a bone in his right wrist. Now I have to ask how that was Judge’s fault? But people don’t look at the source of things. They only see that the player missed significant time.

It’s one thing to be disappointed at someone who misses considerable time with various muscle pulls. It’s another thing to pin blame on someone for something totally out of his control.

Say a player gets into a car accident and the injuries from that car accident cost the player the second half a season and most of the following season. The car accident was the fault of the other driver. But years later, when the player is up for free agency, fans look at his record and seeing the lack of games, criticize him for being “injury-prone”. The car accident wasn’t his fault.

Context.

Now maybe in the future, Judge will be injury prone. We don’t know. But to hold that 2018 injury against him now and use that as a basis for calling him injury prone, is totally wrong.

Once again, context.

Judge wins AL MVP overwhelmingly.

Over the past few weeks, I was getting a bit ticked at people saying that Shohei Ohtani deserved the MVP over Aaron Judge. For one thing, Ohtani’s Angels finished 33 games behind Houston. It reminded me of what happened when Ralph Kiner went into Branch Rickey’s office asking for a raise. Rickey replied to the future Hall-of-Famer, “We finished last with you, we can finish last without you!”

Taking nothing away from Ohtani or Kiner, but Ohtani didn’t play a meaningful game since what, mid-June? Meanwhile Judge carried his team, keeping them afloat as a 15 1/2 game lead shrunk to 3 1/2. I read something that from the All-Star Game until the end of the season, Judge, who was hitting a respectable .284 at the All-Star break, hit .349 the rest of the way. The rest of the Yankees hit .223. Now THAT is valuable. THAT is carrying a team. Without that, the Yankees may have suffered the worst collapse ever.

To those who say that what Ohtani does hasn’t been done since Babe Ruth, I get it. And I get that he does it so well. But just because he is a unicorn, doing what no one else does, is that alone reason to give him the award? For if that is the case, just retire the award from now on. I mean, if he hit .235 with 10 HR and went 5-6 with an ERA of 4.75, he’s still doing what no one else does, right? I like Ohtani. He’s a great player. But if he and Mike Trout (who finished 8th for the MVP this year) could not lift the Angels to sniffing distance of Houston, then how valuable were they? And Ohtani did have Trout. No other Yankee besides Judge got even so much as a tenth place vote this year.

The voters got it right. Judge got 28 of the 30 first-place votes, easily beating out Ohtani for the award., with the other two first place votes going to Ohtani. Judge led the majors in 8 different categories, and the AL in another, many by wide margins. He hit 16 more HR than the next best guy. His total bases were some 80 or so above the next best guy. His OPS+ of 211, well, it’s rare when someone is over 200. And as for those who think Judge was all HR, he almost won the Triple Crown, hitting .311. He stole 16 bases in 19 attempts, a ratio better than Ohtani’s, who was only 11 for 20. He made ZERO errors despite switching back and forth between CF (78 games) and RF (73 games). That switching back and forth may have cost Judge a deserved Gold Glove but may have made him more valuable. Ohtani may be a good fielder. But we don’t really know because when he isn’t pitching, Ohtani doesn’t play the field. He DH’s, a luxury the Babe never had.

With his MVP award joining his 2017 Rookie of the Year Award, Judge becomes only the second Yankee to win both awards, the other being Thurman Munson (1970 ROY and 1976 MVP). The ROY was first given out in 1947, which explains why Joe DiMaggio isn’t on that list.

Ohtani is a great player. But 2022 was Judge’s year, and the voters got it right.

The Yankees have made a new offer to Judge. There are no details. We can only imagine what it is. But hopefully a deal is done soon, and the newest Yankees’ MVP remains in the Bronx. Many years from now, we hope #99 joins numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (twice), 9, 10, 15, 16, 20, 21, 23, 32, 37, 42, 44, 46, 49 and 51 in Monument Park.

Notes from Boone/Cashman press conference




Since I’ve been out on disability for a while, I was able to watch the Boone/Cashman press conference yesterday. Here are a few takes from it.

Since everything revolves around Aaron Judge, they would like a deal sooner rather than later. Nothing would be as bad as being scorned and then having no backups to fall back on. Cashman denied any friction with Judge from this spring’s negotiations.

Neither thinks a drastic retool is necessary. They think the Yankees would have been far more competitive in the ALCS vs. Houston if LeMahieu, Benintendi and Carpenter were healthy. I can agree there. Judging by their comments about Benintendi’s and Carpenter’s injuries, it appears that they will be reaching out to both of them to see if they can get both back.

One thing that concerned me was their defense of Josh Donaldson. Now if anyone were on the trading block, neither Boone nor Cashman would be tipping their hand on that. But to state that Donaldson, 37 next month, underachieved offensively but still has something in the tank goes against everything we saw this year. He looked cooked. But with Donaldson’s contract being horrible, I guess they have to hope. They did think Donaldson deserved to be among the three Gold Glove finalists at 3B, though.

SS appears to be a competition next spring training. IKF could still be there but will be pushed by Peraza and possibly Volpe. Oswaldo Cabrera figures in here too. Peraza was described as impressive in his short 18 game stint at the end of the season. Other terms used for him was that he needed to improve and develop last year (done) hence not an earlier callup. Jack Curry, on the YES network, mentioned that IKF was a polarizing figure to the Yankees fanbase much as Sanchez was. Boone and Cashman were defending IKF at the presser, stating that IKF (as a bridge) did everything that was expected from him.

They would like Anthony Rizzo back. Rizzo will opt out of his $16MM deal, but the question is will he accept a qualifying offer of $19.65MM or go for more? Or accept more years at less than the qualifying offer? (2 yr/$18MM per). But the Yanks hope to work something out with him.

To no surprise, the Yanks WILL pick up Severino’s $15MM team option. One more rotation piece could be in play. It could be retaining Taillon (a free agent) or going elsewhere. After the front three of Cole, Cortes and Severino, there still is Schmidt, Montas and German even if Taillon goes, but you know what they say…. you NEVER have enough pitching.

The feeling is that Stanton was playing through something at the end of the year. I feel the same way. His batting average after June 1 was Gallo-like.

Cashman’s contract actually expired October 1. He wants to return, and Hal wants him back, so it is like Cashman is working pro bono as of now. But you figure something will be worked out soon there.

I wrote down notes haphazardly while the conferences were going on, but there is a quick synopsis for you.

UPDATE: One thing I didn’t like: From the NY Post: In other bits of info from Cashman’s press conference, he said he wouldn’t discuss trading players but noted that outfielder Aaron Hicks would be back and that the team felt he still had something to offer. Really? Ugh. But then, if he is on the market, they don’t want to say anything hurting Hicks’ trade value (which is probably low enough already).

Other things I came across:

A sad state of affairs. Graig Nettles states that the Yanks stopped inviting him to Old-Timer’s games and events some five years ago and he doesn’t know why. It’s a shame. Nettles should have a plaque in Monument Park (#9 is already retired for Roger Maris and I don’t think Nettles deserves that honor, but a plaque? Definitely). Apparently, someone in the front office has it in for Nettles, but who?

One tweet on Twitter accuses the Yanks of being more of a corporation than anything else, including a baseball organization. Looking at how they have the YES network, are involved with an Italian soccer team, have the Pinstripe Bowl, were in negotiations to play regular season games in France (and remember they played in England recently, also Japan) I have to wonder if that person is correct, and if so, that could be a scary thing. After all, I remember the CBS years, where the Yanks were not the priority of a corporation, but just part of it. You would like it to be 100% baseball. Does this explain the fan base’s exasperation with the owner and the front office? Or some of the postseason failures of recent times? After all, Hal is more corporate than the old man was as far as divesting his interests (or so it appears). And the last time the Yanks won, or even went to the WS, the old man was still alive (although much diminished in capacity). Hal’s track record does seem more corporate and bottom line than baseball oriented, and is that a problem and a cause of the postseason disappointments?

Finally, another Japanese player few have heard of to keep an eye on. Yesterday I mentioned RHP Koudai Senga.

Now, Masataka Yoshida. If the Yanks are not able to bring back Benintendi, Yoshida has many of the same skill sets as Benintendi. He is a lefty hitter. He turns 30 next July. He hit .336 with 21 HR and 89 RBI in Japan this season. His power would probably drop in the USA but then again, Benintendi only had five HR this season. Like Benintendi, a contact hitter. Benintendi had 52 walks and 77 strikeouts while hitting .304. Yoshida had 82 walks and only 42 strikeouts. Yoshida has hit .326 in Japan and has 427 walks to 307 strikeouts. He has had four seasons of 20 or more HR (which would be what here? 12-15?). If you take Yoshida’s career stats in Japan and divide by five, his average season in Japan comes out to something like .326-27-95 over 156 games. Taking into account the tougher MLB competition, could he hit .280-15-70 here? Be Benintendi-like for a cheaper price? Be a backup consideration if the Yanks can’t sign Benintendi? Just throwing his name out here because until recently, I hadn’t heard of Yoshida (or Senga) either. But most of us haven’t heard of these Japanese stars who could be MLB-bound. So just passing his name out there and informing you (and me).

Who is Koudai Senga?

With free agency set to begin soon after the World Series ends either Saturday or Sunday, we will know who is out there and see the frenzy. The big names, like Aaron Judge, Jake DeGrom, and Trea Turner we know.

But there is one name that will be out there that many won’t know, because he has played in Japan. Koudai Senga. So just a FYI.

Senga will be 30 in January. He is a RHP who has gone 104-51 with a 2.42 ERA in Japan in 11 seasons. This year he was 11-6, 1.94. Of course, how this translates to MLB who knows. We’ve seen successes (Tanaka, Nomo, Darvish) and failures (Igawa, Irabu) in Japanese pitchers coming over.

Obviously, I don’t have much of a scouting report on the guy, so I will copy some things I have read from various sources. Three All-Star nominations, five Japan Series championships, and the pitching Triple Crown are evidence of how effective he can be.

Senga should be able to slide right into a contending rotation and waste no time making his mark on the league.

Could be a quality No. 3 or 4 starter for the next half-decade.

99 MPH fastball, 84 slider. Split (seems that all Japanese pitchers throw that). Could use more work on the changeup?

Despite a thin frame, Senga’s fastball sits in the upper 90s and regularly exceeds 100 miles per hour. When paired with a sharp forkball and a sweeping slider, Senga’s mix of pitches is going to get MLB hitters out if he can control them. Senga keeps the ball in the ballpark, as he has allowed just nine home runs in the last two seasons.

DeGrom, Verlander and Rodon (my choice) are out there, but Senga could be a fallback option, especially if the Yanks lose Taillon to free agency. Since Senga has pitched in Japan, and few of us have heard of him, just wanted to inform you about him.

Larsen gets company! 4 Astro pitchers no-hit Phils to even WS.

On October 8, 1956, my father, an uncle and at least one of their friends were at Yankee Stadium as Don Larsen threw a perfect game in Game 5 of the World Series that year. The win put the Yanks up 3 games to 2 in a WS they would win in 7.

I don’t know who was there at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia last night that I would know personally, as four Astros pitchers (Cristian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly) combined to no-hit the Phillies in a 5-0 victory that evened the WS at two games apiece.

On June 25 of this year, I, along with about 40 other members of the Lehigh Valley Yankees Fan Club, were at Yankee Stadium when the Astros threw a combined no-hitter and no-hit the Yankees in a 3-0 Houston win. The pitchers then were Javier, Hector Neris, and Pressley.

I wondered about using Javier instead of Verlander in Game 4. Guess I was wrong. Now the Astros have the upper hand (it appears) since Game 5 tonight will feather the Phils’ Noah Syndergaard vs. Houston ace and future HOF Justin Verlander.

But Verlander is 0-6, 6.07 in WS play (even the great ones have bad postseasons). This is his chance to finally redeem himself.

But also wondering…. if this goes to a Game 7, will it be Nola vs. Javier again, each on 3 days rest?

How will the Phils bounce back? After all, I have always thought that the most OVERRATED HR in history was Carlton Fisk’s HR in Game 6 of the 1975 WS. After all, Boston then lost Game 7.This no-hitter is a wonderful and historic feat, but if the Phils win the WS, it, in the long run, won’t mean as much.

The other postseason no-no came via the Phils’ Roy Halladay, who no-hit the Reds in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS, and that also was at Citizens’ Bank Park in Philadelphia. I do know a couple of people who were at that one.

Trevino, LeMahieu Gold Glove winners.

Jose Trevino and D.J. LeMahieu were named winners of the Gold Glove Award for defensive excellence yesterday. For catcher Trevino, it is his first. For LeMahieu, his fourth, but first in a newly created category for utility men.

Nominated for the award but losing out were Yankee P Jameson Taillon, 1B Anthony Rizzo and LF Andrew Benintendi. Why OF Aaron Judge, an excellent defender as well as slugger, wasn’t nominated, escapes me.

Trevino was also up for, but lost out on, the Roberto Clemente Award for community service. That was won by Justin Turner of the Dodgers.

A couple of guys with Yankees’ ties were interviewed for, but didn’t get, managerial positions. One was current Yankees’ bench coach Carlos Mendoza, another was former Yankees coach Joe Espada, and another was former Yankees 2B Miguel Cairo. Cairo took over as interim manager for the White Sox when 76-year-old Tony LaRussa’s health failed him and forced him to retire again. Instead, the White Sox went with Pedro Grifol and the Royals have chosen Matt Quataro. These follow Texas’ choice to bring Bruce Bochy out of retirement.

The Astros got hammered by the Phillies in Game 3 of the WS last night 7-0. The Phils hit five HR, and before one of them, Bryce Harper, who had homered, was giving advice to Alec Bohm, who then homered. Could Harper have seen something that Astro starter Lance McCullers, Jr. was tipping pitches? McCullers denies doing so of course, but you have to wonder.

The Phils took a two-games-to one lead in the Series, and the decisions of both managers regarding their rotations now are a factor. With the rainout, Phillies’ manager Rob Thomson (a former Yankees coach) switched off of Game 3 scheduled starter Noah Syndergaard to Ranger Suarez, keeping Aaron Nola on his regular rest for Game 4. Suarez rewarded the Phils with shutout pitching. Meanwhile, Astros’ manager Dusty Baker kept his rotation the same, starting McCullers, who got rocked, and instead of bringing back Justin Verlander for Game 4, appears to be sticking with Cristian Javier. Javier better come through, because if the Phils win Game 4 to go up three games to one, Philadelphia will REALLY be rocking for Game 5. Of course, Verlander has been surprisingly bad in WS play, going 0-6, 6.07. But you think sooner or later he’d pitch a good one, right? But the choice of whether to switch after the rainout (Thomson did) or not (Baker) could play a huge part as far as the Series is concerned.





Baseball Thoughts.

Game 3 of the WS was postponed last night and will be played tonight, weather permitting. The series is tied at a game apiece.

So, a few thoughts in the meantime.

First off, I won’t post anything regarding free agency until it happens or there is a great certainty that it will happen. Reading all this conjecture about Aaron Judge going to SF, the Dodgers, staying with the Yankees, is all bullshit. When you read predictions about who is going where and for how much each year, what percentage of those predictions is actually accurate? Answer: Not many. So, until something happens, I will do my best not to spread unfounded rumors.

Justin Turner of the Dodgers won the Roberto Clemente Award for community service. The Yankees’ nominee was Jose Trevino.

A couple of managerial decisions have been made, with the biggest surprise probably being Bruce Bochy (3 WS rings, future HOF) coming out of retirement to manage Texas.

The Yanks will be keeping Aaron Boone as manager, and most likely Brain Cashman as GM as well. I think the retention of Cashman (and by retaining him, he’d retain Boone) is tied into the Judge situation. You don’t want a novice GM trying to work out the details of trying to re-sign Judge, whose contract could be not only very expensive, but also very involved and intricate.

Should we just call it the MLB tournament?

A few thoughts on last night’s WS Game 1, then a deeper observation. The Phillies last night overcame a 5-0 deficit to beat the Astros 6-5 in 10 innings. It was Houston’s first loss of the postseason. A home run by J.T. Realmuto in the top of the tenth was the deciding blow, but a great catch by Nick Castellanos, who is NOT a good defensive outfielder, saved the game for the Phils in the bottom of the ninth. You never know. As great as Willie Mays’ catch was in the 1954 WS, I contend that the greatest WS catch ever was not by Mays, who was one of, if not the greatest CF ever, but by someone else not known for his glove. Ron Swoboda in the 1969 WS. You never know.

Another one for the you never know department. Of all the pitchers who have 30 or more WS innings under their belt, guess who has the worst ERA at 6.07? And an 0-6 record on top of it? It’s Justin Verlander. Yup. 2 (and going to get a 3rd) CYA, 3 no-hitter Justin Verlander, who couldn’t protect a 5-0 lead last night. Go figure.

The 19-game difference between the 87-win Phillies and the 106-win Astros is one of the biggest in WS history. But here is where I want to discuss the playoff format. I don’t like it. I can barely remember (due to when I was born) but CAN remember when there was no Division Series or LCS. Before 1969, there were no divisions. The best teams in each league played in the World Series. The 1942 Dodgers were 104-50. The 1954 Yankees 101-53. The 1961 Tigers 101-61. They all went HOME after the season because they didn’t finish first. There were no wild cards then.

When MLB was divided into divisions in 1969, there was an east and west. Now you had an LCS, in which the Eastern Champ played the Western Champ for the pennant. Still, you still had the 1978 99-63 Red Sox, the 1980 100-62 Baltimore Orioles, and the 1993 103-59 San Francisco Giants, who all went home because they finished second. There are more examples, I am just listing a few.

With more expansion came the wild card. Ok, I didn’t mind three divisions with one wild card. But baseball has taken it too far. First a second wild card. Now a third. The NLCS this year featured the fifth best team in the league playing the sixth best team. That sixth best team (the Phillies) are in the World Series. Had this been any other year previous, the Phillies, who finished third in their division, 14 games back, would not have made the playoffs.

This is not to take anything away from the Phils, who got hot at the right time and who could pull off a major upset. But baseball has become like the NFL or like the NCAA tournament. The best team doesn’t always win. As a Steelers’ fan, I benefitted from this myself, when one year the Steelers got hot and won the Super Bowl as the #6 seed.

Now the playoffs won’t revert back to the way I’d like it, sadly. There is too much money involved. Phillies’ President Dave Dombrowski likes the new system, and why shouldn’t he? After all, his team is benefitting the most by it right now. But when does it get too watered down?

Maybe that explains the mindset of Hal Steinbrenner and/or Brian Cashman. Are they disappointed that the Yankees haven’t been in the World Series since 2009? Yes. Was this postseason embarrassing because of the four-game sweep by Houston? Yes. Did the Yanks peak too early and play mediocre baseball from July 8 on (going 41-46, including the postseason)? Yes. Do Yankees fans have a right to be let down and feel disappointed and mad at the outcome? Yes.

But maybe Hal and Cashman realize that the postseason has become a crapshoot. That because of the watered-down structure, that the best team doesn’t win, but the hottest team.

For example, Mike Krzyzewski coached Duke basketball for 42 years. He won 5 national championships and was one of the greatest college basketball coaches ever. But over those 42 years, how many times did he possibly have the best team? I would argue many more than five times. John Wooden won 7 titles in a row and 10 in 12 years for UCLA from 1964-1975, but there were far less teams in the NCAA tournament then. Had there been 68 teams with a shot, like today, who is to say that a couple upsets wouldn’t have happened to reduce the number of Wooden’s titles? Or conversely, if Coach K coached and the NCAA Tournament was only 16 teams, that he’d have a dozen or more titles? Or, turning to baseball, who is to say that if today’s playoff structure were in effect in the 1940’s or 1950’s, that some team wouldn’t have upset Joe D., Yogi, Mickey, etc. in the LDS or LCS? After all, just look at the Pirates in the 1960 WS.

Personally, I would have the three division winners and only ONE wild card. I would keep everything the same except for ONE exception. To honor the integrity of the 162-game season, the team with best record in the league gets all ALDS or NLDS games against the wild card at home. The wild card doesn’t get a home game unless it makes it into the LCS. Of course, that won’t happen. Owners are not going to give up that playoff home game with the revenues (tickets, food, beverage, parking, souvenirs) that would come with it. But for integrity’s sake …

Which means the next time the Yankees to make the World Series may be like the Phillies this year. Or maybe like the Yankees in 1996 …. when you least expect it. When they surprisingly sneak into the postseason and get hot at the right time.

Like what almost happened in 2017.

UPDATE: About two hours after finishing this, I thought of something else. It’s not just sports, but a whole reflection of our society. Since when did being the best not matter? It seems like everything is a “participation trophy” now, with the best example of it being expanded playoffs as a reflection of a watered-down society which has lowered expectations. Until we get back to the old mindset, of not watering things down, and of being the best and not just “everyone gets in”, everything in society deteriorates. It’s a sad state of affairs that we accept second-best… or worse.





Reports are that Boone & Cashman will return.

Remember in the Godfather series that Tom, the character played by Robert Duvall, was an adopted son who was the Corleone family’s consigliore? As long as he didn’t go against the family (like Fredo) … he was in.

It seems like Brian Cashman is the Steinbrenner family’s “Tom”. Despite a long track record of playoff appearances but no WS appearances (can’t take the next step), it appears as if Cashman will be back. As for Aaron Boone, Hal Steinbrenner has indicated he will be returning also. Boone just finished the first year of a three-year extension.

We will see what kind of changes happen this offseason. What kind of changes there are start with whether Aaron Judge will be back or not.

But organizational changes? The way of thinking? Structure and organization? Things not reliant on whether a player stays or leaves? That doesn’t seem to be changing, and that is a problem. After an embarrassing sweep by Houston, in which the Yanks didn’t look competitive (and they didn’t look competitive all year vs Houston), you keep things the same? Ugh. You can look at other years in which the Yanks were swept. Some that come to mind are 1922, 1963, 1976, 2012 and how they looked outclassed in each one. In some (1922, 1976) the Yanks rebounded to win the WS the next year. In others, it was a sign of an aging, deteriorating team (1963, 2012) that soon wouldn’t make the postseason at all.

The Yanks have to look at which way they are going. Two Yankees’ legends, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, differed in their opinions. Rivera thought Boone should be let go. Jeter was happy Boone was returning. Of course, maybe Derek was just being nice. But then, Jeter never fired a manager, retaining Donnie Baseball during his whole tenure as Marlins’ CEO.

It has been written that if Boone were let go, other teams would jump at him. True. He has led all five of his teams to the postseason. But it seems that he is only the third best manager in his own division, maybe even worse than that. The postseason is a different breed than the regular season, and Boone’s postseason decisions have been questionable.

The Yanks started 2022 61-23. They finished 38-40, then were 3-6 in the postseason. So, after 61-23, including the postseason, they went 41-46. Under .500. Not for a month. But for 87 games. That is not a blip on the radar. That is the sign of a deeper problem.

Which makes people wary about the retention of Cashman and Boone. The gap between the Yanks and Houston has widened, but it appears that cosmetic, and not major (of course, if Judge departs, that would be major change) changes would occur because of retention. It also appears that Hal doesn’t want to take any risks necessary to make the Yanks better. We’ve known that he is more of a bottom-line kind of guy. Does he have the gravitas to go outside the box?

We are spoiled as Yankees fans, I admit that. Other teams would be happy with making the postseason some 90% of the time over the last twenty years with a WS title. Maybe Hal is content with just having a good team. We want titles.

But as mentioned on Michael Kay’s show, the Dodgers spend a lot but since 1988 have ONE title, and that was in the Covid-shortened 60-game season of 2020. 111 wins this year meant nothing to them. The postseason has become a crapshoot tournament, watered down by MLB.

One thing the Yanks can do is to cut BACK on the analytics. Paralysis by analysis, as was also said on Michael Kay’s show. Some is good, but is there too much? Based on some decisions made, yes. Go by what you see. Go by your experience and your gut. You are overanalyzing.

But this retention reeks of same old, same old. And we know what Einstein said about doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

One last note: A couple players declared free agency, but these were the AAAA types at SWB like Ron Guzman, Josh Bard, Tyler Wade and Jacob Barnes.

UPDATE: and whoever it was that came up with the bright idea of showing 2004 Red Sox clips to “motivate” the Yanks into coming back from an 0-3 hole needs to be fired. Members of that 2004 team were disgusted and sickened (like Jeter).