Thoughts on Moncada

Before I get to Yoan Moncada, a recap of some events.

First, some passings. Legendary UNC college basketball coach Dean Smith passed away at age 83. Golfer Billy Casper, who won 3 majors, passed away also, as did the “Jackie Robinson of golf”, Charlie Sifford. Sifford was the first black on the PGA tour.

Continuing with golf for a moment, does anyone still think Tiger Woods will win another major? Maybe even another tournament? How the mighty have fallen.

Ok, on to the 19-year-old Moncada, a five-tool prospect who everyone thinks is just about major league ready. A switch-hitting prospect who would be a young stud in the way of a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper (ok, Harper has disappointed a bit so far).

But if the Yanks sign Moncada, they pay double because by signing something like 12 of the top 30 International Free Agents, they have a penalty. Not only that, but they are seriously restricted in the international free agent market for the next two years.

So the Yanks have to decide if Moncada is worth it. That worth, I think, would not only be on the diamond, but OFF it.

For who is the face of the Yankees now? (Please don’t say A-Rod). The Core Four is gone, and players like Teix, Beltran, Ellsbury, and McCann made their mark with other teams.

Gardner?

What I am saying is this. Moncada is young, talented, and could be the next Jeter, Rivera, Bernie or Posada, meaning someone who is a Yankee at a young age, stays with the Yankees his whole career, helps them win titles, is (like Jeter) a magnet for the girls, and becomes the face of the franchise.

That face of the franchise translates into marketability. For who do the Yankees market now? Tanaka? Betances? Who is their most marketable player now that the Core Four are gone?

That is why developing players like Severino, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and possibly winning the Yoan Moncada derby may be important—for success OFF the field (marketing a new core group of players) as well as ON the field.

For who is the face of the Yankees now? Who would YOU market?

Seattle blows SB 49, 28-24.

Yes, as I mentioned before, I hate the Roman Numerals. And sorry, Patriots fans, but Seattle blew it more than the Patriots won it. I mean, 27 seconds left, you are one yard away from a SB winning touchdown and you have a beast in the backfield along the likes of a Jim Brown, Jim Taylor, Larry Csonka, Emmitt Smith, Franco Harris, John Riggins,…. you get the drift. And you THROW the ball? Really? The late Ohio State coach Woody Hayes said that three things can happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad. And one of the bad things happened. New England picked off the pass to preserve their 28-24 come from behind lead and win the game. The Patriots were down 24-14 at one point. But Marshawn Lynch is in your backfield, you have 2nd and goal from the one. There are three things you CANNOT do. Fumble the ball away is one, get picked off is another (the third is to get hit with a penalty, making Lynch’s job harder). But you have one of the best backs in the game, an absolute bruiser who, with 27 seconds left and your team still owning a couple of time outs, you don’t just give him the ball three times to get 36 inches? Really? The Seahawks benefitted just moments before from what looked at the time to be deja vu. David Tyree part 2 if you will. An unbelievable catch to set up Seattle to win the game in the closing seconds. Then Seattle just gave the game away. More games are lost by the losing team than won by the winners. Here is Case #1. Unbe-friggin-lievable. Pete Carroll and his offensive assistants, and some players, better buy a lot of Sominex, for there will be plenty of sleepless nights ahead. For Brady, his 3rd MVP, tying Montana. For Belichick, his 4th SB win, tying Chuck Noll. Brady ties Bradshaw with 4 SB wins. For Seattle, a whole offseason of wanting a do-over of the stupidest call in SB history.

International market, $$$ allocation, Moncada

An article as we await the Super Bowl.

Last year, the Yanks spent a lot on free agents Ellsbury, McCann, Beltran and Tanaka. This year, not so much. Drew, Headley… some “dumpster diving” for players like Baker… trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

But it doesn’t mean they haven’t been spending. The thing is, what are they spending on.

(Parts copied from today’s NY Post).

The Yanks splurged on the international market last July and they are already in the top penalty range for the year. Because of that, they are banned from spending more than $300,000 in the next two signing periods. The current signing period ends on June 15.

The Yanks have signed something like 12 of the top 30 free agents on the international market this year. 

Which brings us to 19 year old infielder Yoan Moncada, a switch-hitter most project as a 2B or 3B. Presently the Yanks have Headley at 3B (4 yr. deal), who could slide to 1B in two years when Teix’s deal runs out. You have Drew at 2B but only on a one-year deal. Refsnyder and Pirela are in the wings at 2B. Maybe Refsnyder or Pirela move to a corner OF position. Aaron Judge and Greg Bird are players to watch for. That’s just position players.

Moncada, should he sign with the Yanks (who had a private workout for him), would automatically surpass RHP Luis Severino and C Gary Sanchez as the Yanks’ #1 prospect in the eyes of many.

Working out a deal may take a while for the Cuban phenom. Maybe things are easier in the future what with the relations between the U.S. and Cuba changing, maybe not. But that deadline does loom.

And if the Yanks CAN land Moncada, maybe a coup. Maybe he can be a youngster the Yanks can build upon, much like Jeter in the mid-1990s. Maybe some of the other international free agents form a new “core four.” Yankees fans can only hope.

It isn’t too early to look toward 2020.

Maybe in 2020, that 20-20 hindsight (sorry, couldn’t resist) will prove that the vision of today was very clear indeed.

Just because $$$ wasn’t allocated to the MLB free agent market doesn’t mean it wasn’t allocated. It just may have been allocated a different way—instead of to MLB free agents on the downside, to youngsters on the upside, whose upside is several years away, and who would then be under team control salary-wise for a while.

Here is hoping the Yanks sign Moncada, and he becomes a star along with some other of those players from this year’s spending on the international market.

 

Low risk, high reward again.

The Yanks signed RHP Scott Baker, 33, to a minor league contract. Baker will make $1.5 MM if he makes the major league team. It’s another low-risk, high -reward signing by the Yanks. Trying to catch lightning in a bottle, so to speak.

Baker has a career record of 66-52, 4.25, ERA+ 99. Average. His 162 g. average is 32 starts, 4 relief appearances, 12-10, 4.25 with that average ERA+ of 99. One problem—a propensity to give up the long ball.

Baker was 38-22, 4.11 from 2008-2010, ERA+ 103 for the Twins. He won 15 games in 2009. In 2011, he was 8-6, 3.14 when he injured his elbow and required TJ surgery. he missed all of 2012, started 3 games in 2013 for the Cubs, and spent 2014 with Texas. He was 3-4, 5.47, ERA+ 71 in 25 games, 8 of them starts.

We’ll see what he has in spring training if he makes the team. Odds are that he either goes to AAA for pitching depth in case of an injury to a rotation member or gets released.

But a low risk, high reward signing.

Yankees fighting A-Rod incentives, Bill Monbouquette dies at 78.

A-Rod is supposed to get $6MM when he ties Willie Mays mark of 660 HR. A-Rod is 6 HR short right now. As I wrote earlier, if A-Rod does it while I am there May 24th, I won’t be applauding #660* or #661*.

The Yanks apparently won’t be applauding either. They apparently are seeking to negate that clause in the contract where they would pay A-Rod his incentive $$, claiming it was done under false pretenses (the steroids). I have to side with the Yankees, here.

Bill Monbouquette, an early 1960s Red Sox ace who played with the Yanks for a short time, died at the age of 78. “Monbo”, as he was known by, pitched for Boston from 1958-1965, and was integral in the Red Sox accepting Pumpsie Green onto the team. The Red Sox were the last of the original 16 teams to integrate, and Green was the first black player on Boston—-in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Monbouquette had a lifetime record of 114-112, ERA 3.68, ERA+ 104. Slightly better than average. He was a 3x All-Star who was a 20-game winner in 1963. He led the AL in losses in 1965 when he went 10-18, 3.70. He spent 1966 and part of 1967 with the Tigers, and was a Yankee for 1967 and 1968. In 1967 he was 6-5, 2.36 with the Yanks as a spot starter and long reliever. Overall that year he was 6-5, 2.33, ERA+ 134. In 1968, his final season, he was 5-7, 4.43 for the Yanks, then was 0-1, 3.75 for the Giants. Overall, 5-8, 4.35, ERA+ 67. He pitched a no-no in 1962.

Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, dies at 83.

Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, died at the age of 83. He would have turned 84 on January 31st.

Banks hit 512 HR in his career, all with the Chicago Cubs, that lasted from 1953-1971. He has the record for most games played without ever playing in the postseason. From 1953-1966, Banks played on only one team that had a winning record, and that team was 82-80.

Nevertheless, Banks became the first NL player to win back-to-back MVPs when he did so in 1958 and 1959. While mostly known as a SS, Banks moved to 1B in 1961 and played more games at 1B than SS.

Banks hit 40 HR or more in five of the six seasons from 1955-1960. He led the majors in HR in 1958 and 1960 and in RBI in 1958 and 1959.

Meanwhile, a couple Yankee-related news items. Eury Perez, DFA’d by the Yanks, signed with Atlanta. He had a “cup of tea” with the Yanks last year, going 2 for 10.

Ichiro Suzuki, 41, signed a one-year deal with the Marlins to be a backup OF.

Santana, Moncado, $$$ and what is old is new again.

Apparently the Yanks are still interested in Johan Santana as a low-risk, high-reward option. Santana is scheduled to start a game in the Venezuelan league soon and the Yankees are said to be one of six teams interested. Santana has pitched in the majors in just one season since 2010, and that was 2012. The 2x CYA winner will be 36 next year and would be seen as a back-of-the-rotation option. Who knows if there is anything left. In his only season since 2012, Santana was 6-9, 4.85 for the Mets. He did throw the only no-no in Mets history that year, although it was tainted. A ball ruled foul was really a fair ball. The batter? Carlos Beltran.

The Yanks are very interested, and had a workout for, 19 year old infielder Yoan Moncado. He profiles at 2B or 3B but could be moved to the outfield. The Cuban defector is a switch-hitter and estimates in order to sign him go at $30MM. Keep an eye on this development.

The Yanks traded recently DFA’d Gonzalez Germen to Texas for cash. Germen was made available when the Yanks picked up Chris Martin from Colorado for $$$.

Finally, what is old is new again. The Yanks non-Cable (non-YES) games will not be on My9 this year, but are moving…. to WPIX, Channel 11. Many of us grew up with the Yanks and Channel 11. Now the Mets are there as well, but apparently the 25 Mets games and 21 Yankees games will not be overlapping. If only we could get back the Scooter, Bill White and Frank Messer. Only White, at 80, is still alive.

What is more interesting, is that my cable company wanted to can WPIX for other stations just a month ago. Due to protests, they kept WPIX, Channel 11 from NY. Had they canned them, and then THIS development happened, the protests that just occurred would have been a drop in the bucket to the protests that WOULD have occurred.