Category Archives: The Owner

Hank Steinbrenner, son of George, brother of Hal, dies at 63.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

A shocker.

From the NY Daily News:

Hank Steinbrenner, the co-owner of the New York Yankees, has died after a long illness, sources confirm to the Daily News. He was 63.

Hank, the eldest son of George Steinbrenner, had largely kept out of the spotlight over the last decade. He and his younger brother Hal inherited the team when ‘The Boss’ died in 2010. But Hal became the organization’s managing general partner and the more visible of the two brothers.

Hank Steinbrenner spoke to the Daily News in 2017 about the “Baby Bombers” and how he had no interest in trading away the Yankees’ young talent.

“We’ll never (trade away prospects). I didn’t want to do that in the ’80s. But there was somebody that disagreed with me,” Steinbrenner joked at the time, referring to his father.

His death was not related to the coronavirus, per sources.

 

The luxury tax; the logo; one more year?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From MLBTR.com:

The luxury tax bills for the Red Sox, Cubs and Yankees – the three teams that exceeded the $206MM threshold in 2019 – are now public knowledge. The Red Sox owe $13.4MM, the Cubs will pay $7.6MM and the Yankees must surrender $6.7MM, according to Ronald Blum of The Associated Press. As far as actual payrolls go, Boston checked in at $228MM, the Yankees put a $226MM roster on the field and the Cubs spent $220MM, Blum notes.

Neither the Red Sox nor the Cubs made the playoffs in 2019 despite their elite-level spending, while the Yankees lost to the Astros in the ALCS. Now, with the exception of the Yankees (who’ve already made history this offseason with the nine-year, $324MM contract they awarded right-hander Gerrit Cole), those clubs look as if they’re in salary-cutting mode. The tax limit will climb to $208MM next season, and the Yankees will blow past it in the wake of the Cole signing. Moreover, there’s a decent chance the Yankees will outspend the $208MM mark by $40MM or more, which would lead to a 42.5 percent overage tax next year and would cause their highest draft pick to drop 10 spots.

It seems the Red Sox and Cubs would like to avoid the tax, but it remains to be seen whether either will pull off that feat. As things stand, next year’s Red Sox are projected to go beyond $208MM by almost $30MM, while the Cubs will do so by about $6MM, per Jason Martinez of Roster Resource.

It will be easier for Boston and Chicago to duck the tax 12 months from now if they sell off an expensive star or two, which seems possible. The clubs have former MVPs (outfielder Mookie Betts for the Red Sox and third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant for the Cubs) who have come up in trade rumors. Betts and Bryant aside, there are other well-compensated potential trade chips in both cases. Left-hander David Price and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. come to the fore for the Red Sox, while righty Yu Darvish and first baseman Anthony Rizzo join Bryant among high-priced Cubs who may not be untouchable.


You may have noticed the Nike logo on the Yankees’ uniform Gerrit Cole was wearing yesterday at his press conference. I’m not too happy about it, but according to the NY Post,

the reason the swoosh is now located on the front of the Yankees’ uniform is because of MLB wanting to appeal to younger consumers and, not for nothing, a 10-year deal that was valued at, according to sources, more than $1 billion among MLB, Nike and Fanatics.

Money doesn’t only talk, it screams.


Another thing about the Cole signing. It hurts the team that knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs in three of the past five years. You improve yourself, hurt them.

The deal could be even longer and more expensive. There is an avenue in which Cole’s contract would become a 10-year deal for $360 million. If Cole opts out after five years, the Yankees may void the opt out and extend the contract one more year for $36 million, The Post confirmed.

 

Pettitte instrumental in getting Cole to NY. Now for other moves.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Hal Steinbrenner called Gerrit Cole five times, but someone else apparently was also very instrumental in getting Cole to sign with the Yankees.

Andy Pettitte, who pitched mostly for the Yankees but who also spent a few years with the Astros, discussed the difference between the teams, how much NY meant to him and helped him, and what a postseason experience—as well as WS titles in NY—meant to him and his career. That supposedly helped tip Cole, who grew up a Yankees and Pettitte fan, to NY.

So Andy, a special consultant, really came up huge for the Yanks in these negotiations.

Now the Yanks turn to other needs. After losing Didi Gregorius to the Phillies, will they be able to keep Brett Gardner, Dellin Betances or Austin Romine?

It looks like a deal with Gardner could be hammered out soon. The concern is that Gardner will turn 37 next August. Gardner did hit career highs in HR and RBI this past season, and since Aaron Hicks will miss at least half of 2020, the Yanks do need a CF.

Betances, who pitched only 2/3 of an inning in 2019, is iffy. Would he re-sign for a year to re-establish value?

Romine is also iffy. Rumors are that the Yanks could be looking at Martin Maldonado, who caught Cole ten times in Houston last year to a 1.57 (!) ERA. Maldonado, 33 and a righty bat, isn’t much of a hitter (.219 career batting average, OPS+ 73) but did win a Gold Glove in 2017 for the Angels. He hit .213-12-27, OPS+ 75 for three teams in 2019. The question about Romine is would he come back to backup Gary Sanchez or does he want to start elsewhere.

Oh yeah, as mentioned in a NY Post article by George A. King III, the Yanks probably won’t be needing that “opener” in 2020 now.


Ken Harrelson, known as the “Hawk”, was selected to the HOF in the broadcasting category—The Ford C. Frick Award. Many may also remember him as a flamboyant 1B/OF for the KC A’s and Boston Red Sox in the 1960s, and in 1968 he led the AL in RBI while finishing third in the MVP voting. He broadcast Chicago White Sox games for many years. He actually broadcast Yankees games in 1987 and 1988.

Yanks get Cole for Christmas

Yankee Stadium Frieze

I have to get ready to go to work, so this will be brief.

The Yankees got their man. Gerrit Cole is a Yankee on a record-breaking deal. 9 years, $324MM. No money deferred, and a no-trade clause. $36MM/yr for 9 years. Cole can opt out after the fifth year of the deal, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.

The Yanks are looking to shop J.A. Happ (see below), so who #5 in the rotation would be next year is up in the air, but the top 4 looks to be Cole, Severino, Paxton and Tanaka. Tanaka as a 4. Sweet. #5 could be Montgomery or German (and we still don’t know what German’s suspension for domestic abuse will be). They also would have Michael King and Deivi Garcia at SWB and Jonathan Loaisiga could be a long man who could start if necessary. There are others, but a front four of Cole, Severino, Paxton and Tanaka is certainly formidable.

From MLB.Com and Bryan Hoch:

The Yankees made Cole their first-round selection (28th overall) in the 2008 MLB Draft, only to see him honor his commitment to UCLA. Selected first overall by the Pirates in ’11, Cole reached the Majors with Pittsburgh in ’13. He was 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA in 127 starts during his time with the Bucs, including selection as a ’15 National League All-Star.

With the Pirates dangling Cole to interested clubs during the 2017-18 offseason, (Yankees’ GM Brian) Cashman again attempted to bring Cole to New York. Cashman balked at including third baseman Miguel Andujar in negotiations, and Pittsburgh ultimately agreed to a four-player package from the Astros.

Cole was 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA in 65 starts for Houston over the past two seasons, earning selection as an American League All-Star both years. He finished second to teammate Justin Verlander in AL Cy Young Award balloting this past season, leading the Majors with 326 strikeouts and a 185 ERA+ while finishing 20-5 with a league-leading 2.50 ERA in 33 starts.

While Cole’s landmark deal will threaten to push payroll past the third luxury-tax threshold of $248 million, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner authorized the outlay understanding that Tanaka, Paxton and possibly Happ could all be free agents after the 2020 season. The Cole signing could increase the Yankees’ efforts to trade Happ, who has been being actively shopped in recent weeks.

 

 

If there is a Plan B, that may need to be changed.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Things have been quiet, and I don’t want to get into rumors, but if the Yankees’ off-season strategy is go after Gerrit Cole, but have a Plan B in case Cole rejects the Yankees offer, Plan B probably needs some alteration.

The top two targets for the Yankees, pitching-wise, are Cole and Stephen Strasburg. The Yanks have met with both, but it is expected that Strasburg will go back to Washington. Cole is a different story.

The Yanks have wanted Cole for a long time. They drafted him out of high school but Cole decided to go to UCLA instead. Then, when the Pirates were shopping him, the Yanks wouldn’t meet the Pirates’ demands (Miguel Andujar for one) and Pittsburgh traded Cole to Houston instead.

Apparently the Yanks told Cole that the money is there. It’s up to Cole, a Southern Californian, to decide if he wants New York.

But if the Yanks can’t get Cole (and it appears, for now, that all their eggs are being placed in that basket), or Strasburg, who is or was the Yankees Plan B?

If it was Zack Wheeler, forget it now. Wheeler signed a 5-yr., $118MM deal with the Phillies yesterday.

Cole Hamels reached a 1-yr., $18MM deal with Atlanta.

There are other Plan B’s out there, like Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Gio Gonzalez, but they aren’t the WOW factor Cole or Strasburg are.

And if these Plan B’s are off the market when Cole decides, and he decides against the Yankees, what then?

Besides the pursuit of Cole, the Yanks also have to see about re-signing or letting go some of their own—Brett Gardner (most likely will be back what with Hicks going to miss most of 2020), Didi Gregorius (most likely gone), Austin Romine and Dellin Betances.

Of course, Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner may look to the trade market. If that is the case, Clint Frazier and/or Andujar could be names (among others) dangled.

ALDS Game 2: Yanks up 2-0 after Didi slams, Tanaka tames Twins, 8-2.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

One thing about the postseason. A player can be struggling at the end of the regular season, then one postseason at bat can make him a hero.

Such is the case with Didi Gregorius in Game 2 of the ALDS. Didi, who was struggling badly at the end of the regular season, and also in Game 1, hit a grand slam that broke Game 2 open, and the Yanks beat the Twins 8-2 to take a two games to none lead into Minnesota on Monday for Game 3 of the best-of-five series.

Masahiro Tanaka continued to be a postseason force, improving his record to 4-2, 1.54 in the postseason. The YES network showed a graph of people with postseason ERAs under Tanaka’s (minimum five starts). That list was headed by Sandy Koufax, Christy Mathewson and Eddie Plank (although the YES network screwed up. The picture shown was of Lefty Grove, not Eddie Plank). Wild Bill Hallahan was in there too. Koufax, Mathewson and Plank are all hall-of-famers.

The Twins made a curious decision, starting a rookie, Randy Dobnak, making only his SIXTH start in the majors, and who had only 28 1/3 innings of major league experience. This, in Game 2 of the ALDS, in a game you NEED to win to avoid going down 0-2 in a best of five series. Strange decision indeed.

Not only that, the kid got married last Saturday. So his focus lately hasn’t been 100% on baseball.

Tanaka got out of a jam in first, being the back end of a nifty 3-6-1 DP to end the inning. Tanaka helps himself out when he pitches by holding runners on well and also by fielding his position well. Here his fielding helped him out.

The Yanks got to Dobnak early, scoring one run in the first. D.J. LeMahieu led off with a double and Aaron Judge walked. A flyout by Brett Gardner moved D.J. to third. Edwin Encarnacion, looking hot and nothing like a guy just off the IL, singled to make it 1-0 Yanks.

Then came the third inning. The Yankees tied their postseason record by scoring seven runs in the inning.

Judge led off with a single and Gardner walked. Encarnacion singled to load the bases and Giancarlo Stanton hit a SF to make it 2-0. Gleyber Torres singled in a run, 3-0. Gary Sanchez was HBP to reload the bases and then Didi hit his grand slam. 7-0. After Gio Urshela struck out, D.J. walked and Judge singled. Gardner singled to make it 8-0, and the game was basically over.

Tanaka did give up a run in the fourth, and the Twins also got a run off of Jonathan Loaisiga in the ninth.

Judge 2 hits, 2 walks
Encarnacion 2 hits, RBI
Gregorius 2 hits, 4 RBI. Grand slam. (1st by Yankee in postseason since Robbie Cano 2011)
Urshela 2 hits.

 

Tanaka (WINNER) 5 IP,  1 R, 3 H, 1 W, 7 K.  Brilliant.
Kahnle 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K.
Ottavino 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Lyons 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K.
Loaisiga 1 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 W, 2 K.

Yankees’ pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts. Meanwhile, besides getting 11 hits, the Yankees drew 8 walks.

 


No offense to other good teams in the AL, like Oakland, Tampa Bay and Cleveland (who didn’t make the playoffs despite winning over 90 games) or the Twins, but for months it has appeared that, unless there is an upset, that the ALCS would be the Yankees vs. the Astros.

That possibility became even more of a certainty Saturday night when Houston beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to go up two games to none in their series. Gerrit Cole struck out 15 in 7 2/3 innings. The only pitchers to strike out more in a postseason game were Bob Gibson and Kevin Brown (yeah, I still wretch when I think of Kevin Brown). Houston pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts and Alex Bregman hit a HR.

Cole is a free agent after the season. The Yanks drafted him in 2008 but he went to college instead. The Yanks tried to trade for him but wouldn’t give up Miguel Andujar in the deal.  So the interest is clearly there. Cole went 20-5, 2.50 with 326 K this season. He led the AL in ERA and the majors in strikeouts. You can guess how much I want Hal Steinbrenner to break open the piggy bank and sign Cole (who, obviously, won’t come cheap) in this upcoming offseason. Not only to help the Yanks but to hurt Houston.

Can you imagine a rotation of Cole, Severino, Tanaka, Paxton and Happ (sorry to the youngsters).

Cole is 29. A three-time All-Star who will get CYA consideration for the third time this offseason (and who may win it, unless he loses to teammate Justin Verlander). His 162 g. average is 17-7, 3.22, ERA+ 127.

Look at that rotation again. You can buy Happ out after 2020 and maybe a youngster like Deivi Garcia is ready in 2021 (and I didn’t even mention Jordan Montgomery).

8 years, $250 million?

It isn’t my money, obviously. But I can dream about spending Hal’s, can’t I?

Trade deadline. No major move done by the Yanks. Thoughts.

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The Yanks did not make a major move at the trade deadline.

They only made a minor one, trading rookie RHP Joe Harvey (1-0, 4.50 in nine games this year for the Yanks) to Colorado for LHP Alfredo Garcia. Per the NY Post: Garcia, 20, has pitched for Single-A Asheville and Boise this season. With the two teams, he’s combined for a 3-10 record and 6.00 ERA in 22 starts.

They apparently were looking at LHP Robbie Ray of Arizona but Arizona wanted OF Clint Frazier, RHP Clarke Schmidt (the Yanks’ #1 draft pick in 2017, who is now pitching at High A Tampa) and two other prospects. The Yanks thought that price was too steep.

Arizona did trade Zack Greinke to Houston (they made other moves as well). Now Houston is really scary with Justin Verlander, Greinke, Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley.

Greinke never would have come to the Yankees. He has a no-trade to the Yanks, and with his problems with depression and anxiety early in his career (2005/2006) NY wouldn’t be right for him at all.

That is the situation at the trade deadline. Some teams are asking too much of you, like the teams that wanted Gleyber Torres for a pitcher that other teams say is an ace but you know they are middle to back end of the rotation caliber. And Torres shouldn’t be going anywhere. He is not even 23 yet, a 2x All-Star, and someone with 20+ HR in both of his seasons in the majors. Torres for Matthew Boyd of Detroit (6-8, 3.94 now, career 28-43, 4.82)? Please. Spare me.

Some players, like Greinke and Madison Bumgarner, have no-trade clauses. Whether Bumgarner would have waived his to go to the Yankees, who knows. But we also don’t know what SF would have wanted for him.

Some teams, like the Mets, won’t deal with the Yankees. I can see that with the Red Sox not dealing with the Yankees, but the Mets are in a different league. But the Mets have the fear of looking bad in a deal with the Yanks, and don’t want the Yanks to “take over the city” or is it “Citi”? LOL. But the Yankeephobia the Mets’ front office has hurts them if they are making trades with other teams and getting less return from them than in what the Yankees would give them for say, Wheeler or Syndegaard—and neither Wheeler or Syndegaard went anywhere.

So the Yankees don’t get a starter that could have helped them. No Minor, Bumgarner, Wheeler, Ray, Stroman, Boyd, Bauer, Roark, Leake, etc. Most, as I stated, don’t fall into the “ace” category.

They didn’t get relief help either. Shane Greene and Mark Melancon (both former Yankees, by the way) both went from their respective teams (Tigers and Giants) to the Braves.

By the way, ex-Yankee (twice) David Robertson, who went to the Phillies last offseason as a free agent, and who has barely pitched this year, is headed for elbow surgery that could include TJ surgery. If TJ (Tommy John) surgery, then he misses ALL of 2020.

So the Yankees have to hope some, or all of the following, get healthy enough to contribute soon: Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga and Dellin Betances. Loaisiga had a rehab stint (2 innings for AA Trenton last night). The others haven’t pitched yet in a game for any rehab assignment yet.

Either that or some pitchers need to pick up the slack and pitch better than they have so far this season (Happ/Paxton, even Tanaka).

I don’t know if I would call the Yanks’ efforts at the trade deadline here a failure. If you DO want to point any blame for not improving the rotation, I don’t think it is now, but things that happened BEFORE getting to this point.

For example, the free agent market. I didn’t mind bringing back Happ at the time (and that may be a mistake, given what he’s done this year and that he has a couple years left on the contract). But Happ wasn’t my first option. He was a fallback option. I think that the Yanks felt as I did. Getting Patrick Corbin being the top priority, with Happ as a fallback. But Corbin wanted more than the four years that the Yanks were offering, and got six from Washington where he is 9-5, 3.23. The Yanks sure could use that now.

Then there was Gio Gonzalez. The Yanks signed him at the end of spring training to a minor league deal, one that Gonzalez opted out of a few weeks later when it was obvious, at that time, that there was no place in the rotation for him. He is 2-1, 3.48 for Milwaukee right now.

Lastly, Dallas Keuchel. The Yanks wouldn’t go an extra mile to land him, lost him to the Braves, and Keuchel is 3-4, 3.86 right now.

Any of those three would not have cost players, just money. Now the question is why the Yankees were not more proactive towards those three? And that may not be the fault of Cashman, but of Hal Steinbrenner, who, let’s face it, is more frugal than his dad. Hal may have set a certain price that he wouldn’t allow Cashman to exceed, and if a deal then wasn’t made, the blame falls on Hal then, not Cashman.

If there is something to gripe about, I feel as if it isn’t because of what wasn’t done today at the trade deadline, but what wasn’t done BEFORE—namely, Corbin, Gonzalez and/or Keuchel. For those three have/had better potential and results than almost all of what was out there today.

One more thing. I wasn’t too keen this offseason about bringing back CC. He hasn’t been bad this year, but you are getting what you expected you’d get from a guy who just turned 39. Two trips to the injured list. Not much length in his starts. He has not recorded a “W” in more than a month. Yes, having him retire as a Yankee is nice. It’s his final season. But sentiment doesn’t win titles. You think with your head, not your heart.

Being a clubhouse presence and a great teammate is great. But you also have to do it between the lines, and of course, CC isn’t what he used to be.

So we hope now for help from within. Severino, Montgomery, Loaisiga, Betances. Maybe Deivi Garcia, but I doubt it. I’d be surprised. At 20, he probably needs a full season of AAA, so maybe 2021 for him (or late 2020?)

And after this season is over, don’t mess up on the free agent market. For example, Gerrit Cole of Houston, who the Yanks once drafted (he didn’t sign) and later coveted (traded by Pittsburgh to Houston because the Yanks wouldn’t give the Pirates Miguel Andujar) is a free agent after this season. He is 12-5. 2.94 for Houston now. He was 15-5, 2.88 for them last season. He struck out 276 last year and leads the majors with 212 strikeouts right now. Houston is one of your top competitors right now for AL supremacy. You can improve yourself and hurt Houston after this season in one move. Are you listening, Hal? Cash?

 

 

Game 15. Yanks “slammed”. Lose 5-2.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The heavily depleted Yanks lost to Chicago 5-2 today to fall to 6-9 on the season.

Unfortunately, the lineup now looks like a spring training lineup with a lot of guys in it who really, if not for the injuries, would not be in the majors right now.

It’s good the Boss, George, isn’t alive right now, for it was at this time in the season (1982) when Bob Lemon got the axe (6-10), and in 1985 when Yogi (6-8) got canned.

This isn’t to say that Boone should get fired, but just giving some historical perspective. There’s not much Boone can do right now but hope to keep the ship afloat.

The Yanks did have an early 2-0 lead, but in the fifth, Tanaka gave up a grand slam and that was it.

The Yanks only got four hits.

Tanaka (L, 1-1, 3.22) 4 + IP, 5 R, 7 H, 3 W, 6 K. Gave up grand slam.
Cessa 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 1 K. 1.08
Kahnle 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.  3.86
Ottavino 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 2 W, 2 K.  1.13
Harvey 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 2 K.  0.00
Green 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 2 K.  9.95

One disturbing thing. It’s coming out that Paxton was probably tipping pitches against Houston? Severino apparently tipping pitches at the end of last year?

The pitching coaches need to see and realize this before it becomes an issue. This is on Harkey and Rothschild.

 

Extensions galore.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

You wonder what future free agent classes will look like.

Maybe not that hot.

Recently we’ve seen extensions given out to Severino, Hicks, Trout, Verlander, Sale, DeGrom, Snell, Nola, Goldschmidt, ….

More probably to come, but like I said, you wonder how poor future free agent classes will look like.

Recent passings:

Randy Jackson, 2x All Star 3B for the Cubs in the mid=1950s. A .261 hitter, OPS+ 94, he hit 21 HR for the 1955 Cubs (19 in 1953 and also in 1954) and was an All-Star in 1954 and 1955. Cubs 1950-1955, Dodgers 1956-1958, Indians 1958-1959, back with the Cubs 1959. Played in the 1956 WS with the Dodgers. He was 93.

Chuck Harmon, a utility player for the Reds (1954-1956), Cardinals (1956-1957) and Phillies 1957. Hit .238 in 289 games, OPS+ 62.

 

Posada to work for Marlins and Jeter. Yanks’ pitchers and catchers report today.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Jorge Posada will be working for Derek Jeter and the Marlins. The former Yankees’ great will work as a special adviser to CEO Jeter. Just like with Jeter last year, it’ll feel funny to see a Yankees’ great working for another team.

Pitchers and catchers report today for the Yanks.