To no one’s surprise, Aaron Judge was named as one of the three finalists for the AL MVP award. He is considered the favorite to win the award. I still get ticked by people pushing for Alvarez (it’s a regular season award, people!) or Ohtani (the Angels finished 33 games back. So, you are telling me that without him they are 45 back? Whoopdie damn do.).
The Contemporary Baseball Committee will be looking at 8 ex-players for the HOF. Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Fred McGriff, Rafael Palmeiro and Curt Schilling. Five of the eight would be controversial selections because of steroids and/or personality issues, despite in some cases 3000+ hits, 500+ HR, 300+ wins. I won’t get into that. We know about all that. That leaves McGriff, Mattingly and Murphy. I believe McGriff, who is tied on the all-time list with Lou Gehrig with 493 HR (and no steroids) should have already been put in. I’d love Mattingly, but Mattingly’s 1994-1989 pre-back injury (HOF quality) and 1990-1995 post-back injury numbers (merely above average) are drastically different. If Donnie could have only stayed healthy and put up numbers 1990-1995 that matched his 1984-1989 numbers, then he would be a more serious candidate. Murphy I am on the fence on. A back-to-back MVP (1982 and 1983) that like Maris (1960 and 1961) isn’t in the HOF. Maybe a few more HR (he had 398) or a higher average (.265) would have given him a better shot. Once he turned 32, he wasn’t the same player. A few more seasons at his peak would have given him a better chance.
The Yanks have not only players as free agents, but coaches too. Pitching coach Matt Blake is a free agent. (GM Brian Cashman is coming back but as of now is working pro bono. His contract expired October 31 and no new deal has been done yet). Assistant pitching coach Hensley Meulens is gone to be hitting coach for Colorado.
As expected, the Yanks picked up the team option for Luis Severino at $15MM for 2023. Anthony Rizzo opted out of his contract and is a free agent. Here are the Yankees’ free agents and my thoughts.
Andrew Benintendi. Yanks will make an offer to try to keep him.
Zack Britton. Interesting call. With Chapman departing, Yanks could use a lefty reliever, but Britton will be 35 next year and missed almost all of 2022 after a poor 2021 and TJ surgery. Pass. Use $ for Judge.
Matt Carpenter. A tough call. Turns 37 around Thanksgiving. If Stanton is DH most of the time, where does that leave Carpenter? I think it depends on if Judge stays or goes. If Judge stays, pass. If Judge goes, then the Yanks may look to sign Carpenter and Stanton and Carpenter could switch between RF and DH.
Miguel Castro. Pass. The Yanks could probably replace him with Weissert at a lower cost (save $ for Judge). They already have Trivino, Marinaccio, King, Holmes, as RH relievers, as well as Schmidt and German if Schmidt and German aren’t starters. And Stephen Ridings should be over his injury issues that cost him 2022.
Aroldis Chapman. Pass. Goodbye and Good Riddance for missing that mandatory workout before the ALDS.
Marwin Gonzalez. Pass. Only hit .185 in 2022. Since 2019, has only hit .198. Oswaldo Cabrera can fill his utility role for less money. 34 next year. Like Britton, pass, go with youth and less $$. Save $ for Judge.
Chad Green. Pass. Will miss most if not all of 2023 because of TJ surgery. Instead of paying him will need to throw that $ at Judge.
Aaron Judge. Obviously the #1 Yankees target and priority.
Anthony Rizzo. The Yanks will look to retain him.
Jameson Taillon. Questionable. Even if the Yanks get Judge back, is there enough money left to go after a Carlos Rodon (my choice)? Would they give a low in years but high in $$ deal to Verlander, DeGrom or Kershaw? Could go either way here.
Of course, getting rid of the salaries of Donaldson and Hicks would help. As of now, the Yanks think both have something left (excuse me while I get sick), but of course they aren’t going to say anything that diminishes whatever trade value they have.
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).
For the fifth time since they last went to the World Series in 2009 (2010, 2012, 2017, 2019 and now 2022), the Yankees are in the ALCS. For the third time in six years, their opponent will be the Houston Astros (the Yanks lost to Texas in 2010 and lost to Detroit in 2012. 2012 was when Jeter broke his ankle).
Of course, Yankees fans are hoping for a different outcome this time around. There won’t be any rest after beating Cleveland 5-1 in Game 5 of the ALDS yesterday. Game 1 of the ALCS is in Houston tonight. Not only that, but the only off-day in the ALCS is between Game 2 and 3. There isn’t one between Game 5 and 6 (if it gets that far). We’ll get into that in a bit.
The Yankees are 28-2 in games in which both Aaron Judge and Gaincarlo Stanton homer. That includes yesterday’s game.
The Yanks jumped out right away to a 3-0 lead, putting the pressure on the Guardians right away and getting the crowd right into the game. Gleyber Torres led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, and after Judge struck out, Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch. Stanton then hit a 3-run HR.
Judge homered in the second to make it 4-0. Say what you will, since Judge was 4 for 20 in the series with 2 HR and a ton of strikeouts, but he has homered in four separate do-or-die postseason games.
Nasty Nestor Cortes was fabulous on 3 days’ rest. He went five innings, giving up only one run, and Cleveland should not have received that. I don’t know what it was in this series with Cleveland hitting balls into short LF that the LF, 3B or SS couldn’t catch. With one out and a man on first in the top of the third, Steven Kwan (yes, him again) hit a ball to short LF that Oswaldo Cabrera, Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks all converged on, with Cabrera calling for it. Cabrera collided with Hicks and the ball fell in for a single. Hicks had to be removed from the game with an injury that ends his season. We will have to see who replaces him on the postseason roster. Candidates are Oswald Peraza (since the Yanks benched SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa for Games 4 and 5), D.J. LeMahieu and Andrew Benintendi.
Another candidate for the ALCS roster is Ron Marinaccio, who declared his sore shin ok to go.
Anyway, a walk loaded the bases after Kwan’s single, and a SF cut the Yanks’ lead to 4-1 before Cortes got out of the inning.
The Yanks scored the final run of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Torres walked and stole second. Judge struck out, but Rizzo singled to make it 5-1.
Judge 2 hits, solo HR. Stanton 3-run HR.
Cortes (WIN) 5 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 W, 2 K. Loaisiga 2 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 0 W, 2 K. Holmes 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K. Peralta 1 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 W, 1 K. Pitched in all five ALDS games.
The LCS will have a pitching problem for the Yanks. Down 2 games to 1 in the ALDS, the Yanks had to use their two best pitchers, Cole and Cortes, in Games 4 and 5 in order to advance, so Cole and Cortes won’t be available until Games 3 and 4. Jameson Taillon starts Game 1 tonight. He and Luis Severino are going to have to step up big-time. Here is how I see the rotation for the ALCS shaking out.
Game 1, Oct. 19 (tonight) Taillon (hasn’t pitched much recently) Game 2 Oct 20 Severino OCT 21 OFF DAY Game 3 Oct 22 Cole (five days rest) Game 4 Oct 23 Cortes Game 5 Oct 24 if necessary Taillon Game 6 Oct 25 if necessary Severino Game 7 Oct 26 if necessary, Cole on three days’ rest. Could Cortes give an inning or two on 2-days rest?
For the first time in MLB history, an LDS and LCS game were played on the same day. Shortly after the Yanks and Cleveland wrapped up an LDS, the Phillies and Padres opened the NLCS with the Phillies winning Game 1 2-0 behind HR by Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber. There were only four hits in the game. 3 by the Phillies and only one by the Padres.