Tag Archives: Romine

Gardy back, Romine gone.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Brett Gardner is back, as expected, especially with Aaron Hicks on the 2020 shelf for half the year or more. Gardy signed a deal where he gets a $2 MM signing bonus for 2020 and a contract of $8MM. 2021 has a $10 MM deal but the Yankees have a $2.5 MM buyout. So he is guaranteed at least $12.5 even if bought out for 2021.

The Yanks have to be careful with his time in 2020 however. Even though he set career highs in HR and RBI in 2019, Gardner will turn 37 next August.

Meanwhile, Austin Romine is gone, going to Detroit on a 1 yr, $4.15MM deal. It gives him the chance to be a starting catcher.

The Yanks could go with Kyle Higashioka as a backup, or they could turn to Martin Maldonado, who played for three teams last season. Maldonado got along well with Gerrit Cole. Cole had a 2.82 ERA under other catchers, but with 10 games with Maldonado, had a 1.57 ERA. Maldonado has a poor batting average in his career, but does have some pop, and did win a Gold Glove two years ago.

I don’t know about these rumors about the Yanks being hot on the trail for Josh Hader. Hader would cost PLENTY. He is a lefty, only turns 26 in April, and is 11-9, 2.42, ERA+ 178 in his brief MLB career with 49 saves. In 204.2 IP, he has 349 K. He would cost PLENTY. (Think Andujar, Frazier, Deivi Garcia, and possibly another top pitching prospect). He would be a FABULOUS addition, but at a very high cost.

The winter meetings ended with the Rule 5 draft and here is who the Yanks lost. The player must stay with the big club for the whole year or they go back. Here are 2019 minor league numbers for each.

Rony Garcia P to Detroit.

The first pick.

From MLB.com:

1. Rony Garcia, RHP, Tigers (from Yankees) 22 next week.
Garcia raised his prospect profile by boosting his stuff in 2019. He now operates with a 91-95 mph fastball that touches 97, an improved low-80s slider that shows flashes of becoming a solid pitch, a new cutter and an effective changeup. He throws strikes but must continue to refine his command in order to succeed as a starter.

He was 4-13, 4.01 High A/AA 24 starts, 1 relief, 130 IP, 129 K.

AAA Phase: Different than with Rony Garcia.

Blue Jays: RHP Hobie Harris (Yankees) , 26. High A. 3-4, 4.62. 1 save. 48.2 IP, 59 K.
White Sox: RHP Will Carter (Yankees) 26, AA/AAA 2-3, 5.45
Red Sox: RHP Raynel Espinal (Yankees), 28, AAA 5-7, 4.32.
Braves: 2B Wendell Rijo (Yankees) 24. Righty bat. A+/AA/AAA combined. .258-13-44. 103 g.

 

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.

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.

Some Yankees’ offseason decisions.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Besides exploring the free agent market (Cole, Strasburg, Bumgarner, Wheeler), the Yanks have decisions to make on their OWN players, some of whom are free agents themselves.

Do they bring back Didi or are they fine with Gleyber at SS and D.J. at 2B?

What about backup C? Romine is a free agent. Meanwhile, Higashioka is out of options. The Yanks say they are fine with Higashioka, but he’ll have to prove he can hit. Higashioka does have some power, but a .164 career batting average. In 146 MLB at bats, Higashioka is .164-6-17, OPS+ just 45. He’s not young. He turns 30 next April.

Romine could start for some teams, and the Yanks could lose him if Romine does want to start. Romine hit .281-8-35 as a backup last year, OPS+ 97 in probably his best season in the majors. He has done much better with the bat the last two seasons. His 162 game average is .239-11-59, OPS+ 73, but the OPS+ the last two seasons have been 93 and 97, so a big improvement from before.

Brian Cashman, as of now, states that the 3B job is Gio Urshela’s to lose after Urshela hit .314-21-74, OPS+ 133 in 2019. But was it a fluke? Urshela’s defense was significantly better than that of Miguel Andujar’s in 2018.

As for Andujar, his defense hurts what is a solid bat. He finished runnerup for ROY in 2018, hitting .297-27-92, OPS+ 130, but 2019 was wasted because of an injury. In 12 games he was 6 for 47. Where will Andujar be in 2020? Did he get “Wally Pipp”ed and lose his job to Urshela? There are rumors that the Yanks may try him at 1B and maybe LF to try to make him versatile and keep his bat in the lineup.

He also may be trade bait. He and Clint Frazier, and both because of their defense. Frazier hit .267-12-38 in 69 games last season, OPS+ 111 and in his career has 16 HR in 393 at bats with a .254 batting average.

Frazier is 25. Andujar will be 25 in March. Both are not sure things to start the season with the Yanks because of their defensive liabilities and also a crowded roster. They could be traded —one, or both— in a deal for a starting pitcher if the Yanks feel the price tags on Cole, Strasburg, Bumgarner and/or Wheeler are too high.

Then there is Dellin Betances, who hurt his value by only pitching 2/3 of an inning this year (shoulder) and getting hurt again (Achilles) at the end of the year. He is a free agent.

Decisions, decisions. …. It’ll be an interesting offseason.

Yanks hire new catching coach. CC getting in Cole’s ear.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From the NY Post:

The Yanks have hired a new catching coach, Taylor Swanson. Swanson was the minor-league catching coordinator for the Twins this past season.

Whether Austin Romine is one of them remains to be seen. The free agent may decide he wants to start for another team rather than backup Gary Sanchez on the Yankees.


CC Sabathia may be retired, but he is doing his best to try to get one heck of a replacement for himself on the Yankees. The recently retired Yankees hurler said he has spoken “many times” with Gerrit Cole, trying to put a bug in his ear and sell him on the NY experience. Both are West Coast guys.

Initial rumors of what Cole, this year’s top free agent, could go for are 8 years, and anywhere from $250 to $280 million. Could it even hit $300 million with a ninth year?

 

No Q.O. for Didi. John, Munson, Mattingly on Modern Baseball Era ballot for HOF consideration. Boone up for MOY.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yankees did not extend a qualifying offer of $17.8MM to Didi Gregorius. If he leaves as a free agent, the Yanks receive no compensation.

It could be that the Yanks want him back, but at less than that figure. But Didi now can talk to anyone.

Didi made $11.75MM last season, when he missed a significant amount of time recovering from TJ surgery. He played in 82 games, and despite hitting 16 HR and driving in 61 runs, only hit .238 with an OPS+ of 87. It was his worst OPS+ since his first year with the Yanks in 2015.

One other problem is that Didi didn’t walk much. His OBP was just .276.

As such, the Yanks probably didn’t think a raise from $11.75MM to $17.8MM was warranted or deserved. IF the Yanks want him back, it probably would be for less than $17.8MM.

Didi hopes to return. We will see.


From MLB.com:

Gregorius was one of seven Yankees to hit free agency on Halloween, following right-hander Dellin Betances, outfielder Brett Gardner, right-hander Cory Gearrin (who I don’t expect back), outfielder Cameron Maybin (questionable), catcher Austin Romine (would he come back as a backup or does he want to start elsewhere) and retired left-hander CC Sabathia.

As you know, the Yankees declined a $20 million option on first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, instead paying him a $5 million buyout.

Of that group, the Yankees seem most likely to pursue a reunion with Gardner, who could man center field in the wake of Aaron Hicks’ Tommy John surgery.

The Yankees announced the following roster moves on Monday:

• Reinstated 3B Miguel Andújar, 1B Greg Bird, OF Jacoby Ellsbury and RHP Jonathan Holder from the 60-day injured list.

• Reinstated RHP Jake Barrett from the 60-day IL and outrighted him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

• LHP Tyler Lyons has elected free agency in lieu of accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.


BBWAA awards:

Aaron Boone has been named as one of three finalists for AL Mgr. of the Year.

D.J. LeMahieu may get consideration for MVP, but he won’t be in the top 3. The top 3 are Bregman, Trout and Semien but the order won’t be revealed until Nov. 14.


Also from MLB.com:

The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced 10 candidates under consideration for induction as part of the 2020 Modern Baseball Era ballot: Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Marvin Miller, Thurman Munson, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and Lou Whitaker.

What happened? How to rectify? Mistakes made?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Ok, for what could be the third year in a row, the Yanks get knocked out by the WS Champs (that is, if Houston beats Washington this year in the World Series). And, it might be said, for the third year in a row, the Yanks could be the second best team in baseball, with the Dodgers of the last two years disagreeing. Maybe the Yanks would have beaten the Dodgers in 2017 and 2018, maybe not. Maybe the Yanks would beat Washington this year, maybe not.

Joel Sherman has a post suggesting moves the Yanks could make. But the one thing he compares the Yanks to could be telling. Are the Yanks in danger of being the Patrick Ewing Knicks to the Michael Jordan Bulls. Good but not good enough to get over that one team (be in 2017/2019 Astros or 2018 Red Sox) standing in their way to a WS Championship?

Let’s take a look at some things that went wrong against the Astros in the ALCS and some things that went wrong prior to that. It’s ok to disagree. I’ve disagreed with some recently about my opinions.

Let’s start with the starting pitching. It would have been nice to have Domingo German, their winning-est pitcher on the Yankees this year (18-4, 4.03), starting a game, maybe especially Game 6 instead of a bullpen game (Chad Green starting), wouldn’t it?

Except that German was forced onto administrative leave by MLB for a domestic abuse incident. That helped hurt the Yanks. Couldn’t have seen that coming. Ouch.

Also hurting was that J.A. Happ didn’t start Game 6 because he had a bad year (12-8, 4.91) and lost the trust of his manager and coaching staff. With CC Sabathia’s condition (we’ll get to CC in a bit) adding onto the loss of German and Happ’s ineffectiveness, that left a rotation of Tanaka, Paxton, Severino—and Severino was just coming off an injury that cost him almost the entire season—and the opener, in this case, Green.

As for Sabathia, I wasn’t in favor of bringing him back. I admire his courage and applaud what he did for the Yanks. But you think with your head, not your heart. Last off-season, did you expect a lot from CC? More than what he gave this year? I didn’t. Bad knee, the stent put in, turned 39 in July. CC’s last win was on June 24. Think about that for a moment. His last winning decision was JUNE 24. His ERA was 4.95. He’s on and off the injured list. You couldn’t rely on him to take the mound. He would if he COULD, but a lot of times he COULD NOT. And in the ALCS, his arm gave out. A more reliable #5 would have helped more. You can’t make decisions on sentiment. It’s a cruel business.

Speaking of injuries, I feel the Yanks made a mistake keeping Stanton on the roster. Yes, if you take him off, he doesn’t play in the WS. But you cannot think about the World Series. You have to think about, and win, the ROUND YOU ARE CURRENTLY IN. He didn’t play in Games 2, 3, and 4 although Manager Aaron Boone said he could pinch-hit, which he didn’t. Nor did he play in Game 6. So for four games, even though Stanton was available, in reality it was like the Yanks were playing a man short.

They could have replaced him with Mike Ford. Replacing him with Ford (.259-12-25 in 143 at bats this year) would have put another lefty bat in the lineup against a team (Houston) that had NO lefty pitchers on its postseason roster. NONE. It also would have enabled Boone to bench Edwin Encarnacion (1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts in the series) for Ford.

Joe Torre said that Don Zimmer told him you can’t be patient in the postseason. True. You can let a guy ride out a slump in the regular season, but there is no time for that in the postseason. You can be a player’s manager in the regular season, but in the postseason who have to be a hard-ass. If a guy goes 1 for 9 in a ALDS sweep, and you win anyway, but that same guy starts the ALCS 0 for 12 and is killing your team, you have to pull the trigger. You have to sit him if you can.

Which leads me to Gary Sanchez. (I will get back to the starting pitching soon). Sanchez was 3 for 23, 12 strikeouts (1 HR, 3 RBI) against the Astros. He didn’t fare well against the Twins in the ALDS either. Later, his defense suffered too. Passed balls in two straight games.

I would have sat him for Austin Romine for at least one game. Romine doesn’t have the power Sanchez has, but maybe Romine would at least make contact instead of striking out half the time? The Yanks have to figure out what they have in Sanchez. He missed about 40 games in 2018 but still hit 18 HR. This year, he missed about 25 games and still hit 34 HR. He’s a 2x All-Star. But despite all those HR, in the past two seasons combined, he’s hit .211 (.186 and .232) and he’s better than that. He should be a .270 hitter with his talent. In that Joel Sherman article, Sherman states that he thinks it is a legitimate question to ask if the Yanks can win a title with Sanchez behind the plate. I think the answer is —-not THIS version of Gary Sanchez. But is there another one? The one he SHOULD be, given his talent? Sanchez has six postseason HR. He also has a .176 postseason batting average and 40 strikeouts in 102 postseason at bats.

Aaron Judge has struck out a lot in the postseason too (41 strikeouts in 101 at bats), but at least Judge is hitting .257 in the postseason with 8 HR. And defensively, Judge in RF is head and shoulders better than Sanchez has been at catcher.

Ok, getting back to the starting pitching, and here is where I’ve had some disagreements with others. I hope you see my point. If not, that’s fine.

But the Yanks, I think, need a stud pitcher. (Think going all out to get Gerrit Cole as a free agent this offseason, or Stephen Strasburg if he opts out). They are top of the line studs. Now others say that we have an ace in Severino. Maybe, maybe not. But here is the problem.

The last time the Yanks had a pitcher with 200 IP in a season was in 2013. (CC and Kuroda. CC 14-13, 4.78 (not a good year) and Kuroda 11-13, 3.31 (deserved a better record)). Meaning more work for the bullpen.

Now let’s take it to the postseason. Since Game 2 of the 2012 ALCS, the Yankees have played in 30 postseason games. In only 7 has their starter gone more than five innings.

Masahiro Tanaka was four of those seven.

In eight postseason starts, Luis Severino has gone over five innings just once. He has pitched just 31 innings in those eight starts. That is less than four innings per start.

I’m sorry. That is not ace-like.That is not a stud.

Remember what middle relievers are. No offense to them, but they are pitchers not good enough for the starting rotation, and not good enough to be your closer.

And, the more you see them in the postseason, the more comfortable the batters are facing them.

Which means you want to try to avoid using them too much. Meaning the starter has to give length, and you see the Yanks’ starters haven’t done that.

It’s not just the Yanks. The game is changing and other teams have this problem too. But for the Yanks to jump the Astros (Verlander, Cole, Greinke) or even last year’s Red Sox (Sale, Price) or maybe even this year’s Nationals (Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin—and oh, how I wanted the Yanks to sign Corbin last off-season), they need starters to give more length.

Now, as far as using the relievers too much (and the Yanks have one of the best bullpens in baseball, postseason problems notwithstanding) because the Yanks’ starters didn’t go deep enough, I think Aaron Boone stayed too long with Adam Ottavino. After a while it was apparent the Yanks had a problem. Ottavino couldn’t get anyone out. You got to jettison him. Boone stuck with him.

Remember what I just mentioned about hitters getting too familiar with pitchers if you are using them all the time in a short series? Maybe Boone could have rolled the dice and instead of using Chad Green as the Game 6 starter/opener (a pitcher Houston had seen before in the series), and who gave up a 3-run HR in the first inning of Game 6, maybe Boone could have used Ben Heller as the Game Six starter/opener instead?

Heller missed most of the 2019 season coming back from injury. BUT… Houston didn’t see him all year. No familiarity. You were asking for one inning, that is all. I don’t know how much video or how much of a scouting report Houston had on Heller, but it could not have been much.

It would have been a gamble, but maybe one worth taking. Throw someone Houston hasn’t seen before.

So…summing up.

One point made. Yanks’ starters need to go deeper in postseason games. Which is why I would like that one stud pitcher to complete the rotation.

Point two. If a guy is “day to day” he really isn’t helping. If the guy is going to miss a couple postseason games, replace him. Next round be damned. You got to win THIS round first. Stanton’s “questionable” status hurt. He can or can’t go.

Point three. Pull the plug on slumping players. Give them a day maybe just to clear their head, shake things up. Romine for Sanchez, Ford if placed on roster for Encarnacion.

Maybe even Maybin (1 for 3 vs. Houston, had a HR vs Twins) for Gardner? Granted Gardner hit into some tough luck in Game 6, but in the ALCS he was only 3 for 22 with 10 strikeouts.

Which leads me to Point Four. In one game, against the hottest pitcher on the planet right now, Gerrit Cole, Gardner hit third and came up in the first with both D.J. LeMahieu and Aaron Judge on base in the top of the first. Gardner isn’t your prototypical #3 hitter, like a Ruth, Mantle, Aaron, DiMaggio, etc. He can bunt, and has speed to beat it out. I know they were hoping for the big inning, and that Gardner hit a career high 28 HR this year, but was there any thought to “this is your one chance against Cole and let’s make sure we move the runners?”. Any thought of laying one down?

Littleball is more important in the postseason.

And that leads us to Point Five. Make more contact. Put the ball in play. Too many power or nothing guys like Encarnacion, Stanton, Sanchez. Need more LeMahieu-type guys. It’s one thing to slump and hit into bad luck, another not to hit the ball at all. If making outs, make PRODUCTIVE outs that can move runners over, or, in the case of sacrifice flies, get the run in.

We’ll see who among the free agents stays and who goes. We know CC is retiring. But going or staying are: Betances, Encarnacion (who I think will be bought out and gone), Didi, Romine, Gardner, Gearrin (I think gone), and Maybin.,

Sherman (writer for the NY Post and MLB Network contributor) has a nice article about two players the Yanks should target. I definitely agree with Gerrit Cole. I don’t know if and how they can get Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor. It would take a lot, probably a package including Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier and maybe even a Jonathan Loaisiga or Deivi Garcia and/or Jasson Dominguez, the 16 year old international phenom they signed this summer. It would take a lot.

But definitely get a Cole or Strasburg. A must, in my opinion. I want to see length from starters in postseason games.

And no openers.

As for hitting, more contact. Less strikeouts. Give yourself more of a chance.