Friday, November 20, 2015
This is a match made in money. Always remember what 16-year-old Harper said about his career ambitions as a Sports Illustrated cover boy in 2009:
“Be in the Hall of Fame, definitely. Play in Yankee Stadium. Play in the pinstripes. Be considered the greatest baseball player who ever lived. I can’t wait,” he told the magazine.
I also vividly remember Harper ogling Yankees batting practice before a spring training game a few years ago. Every other member of the Nationals was off the field, except Harper. He kneeled on one knee and watched Yankee hitters intently until being summoned by GM Mike Rizzo, who essentially told Harper it wasn’t nice to stare at others, especially when they play for the other team.
Can you see this guy packing up his trophies in two years and going anywhere except New York? Come on. That’s a clown question, bro.
Get younger. Get a drawing card. Get a guy to build your team around for the next 10 years. Check, check, check.
Younger. That’s a key concept when we talk about the Yankees, isn’t it? Do you know that Harper, who turned 23 last month, is six months younger than stud outfield prospect Aaron Judge? Harper will be 26 when hits free agency.
I asked an executive recently who had a better chance of playing right field for the Yankees in 2019, Judge or Harper. The response I got was “Judge in left, Harper in right.”
One can only hope, but I sure hope the Yankees aren’t planning out the next five years on the assumption that Harper will definitely be a Yankee, because that would be stupid.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
DALLAS—This was progress, real measurable progress. In the end, that’s what the 2015 season represented to the Yankees on so many levels. It wasn’t just that they returned to the postseason, although that’s the ultimate measuring stick. It was how they got there that was so impressive.
It was two rookies—right-hander Luis Severino and first baseman Greg Bird—making significant contributions when called upon. It was the progress that catcher Gary Sanchez, outfielder Aaron Judge, right-hander James Kaprielian and others made in the Minor Leagues.
It was the realization that the franchise finally is capable of being what managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has envisioned them being: a roster not built largely around big-ticket free-agent signings.
“I feel better than I did two or three years ago,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday during a break in a regularly scheduled quarterly Owners Meetings. “It was frustrating. It’s frustrating to have all the injuries we had two years in a row and not have anybody that’s capable of coming up and filling the void.
“We’ve been saying these names to our fans for two or three years now. We’ve been showing video highlights of [Double-A] Trenton and [Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre], what they accomplished and what they do. Hopefully, people are getting excited about them.”
Steinbrenner will not apologize for his team’s wealth. He emphasized that the Yankees will continue to spend on big-ticket free agents when it’s needed. But Steinbrenner has never seen it as the best way to do business. His ultimate goal is to get the Yanks under baseball’s $189 million luxury-tax threshold.
“All I know is what I’ve said before,” Steinbrenner said. “I shouldn’t have to have a $200 million payroll to win a world championship. It’s been proven over and over again. The last couple of years, the money that has come off [the books], we’ve had to put it back in to fill voids because we haven’t had the young players to do it with.”
For those dreaming of David Price or Jason Heyward, you can go ahead and stop.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
1. Stephen Strasburg
Oh, he’s an ace, alright. Probably. He comes with risks (Tommy John history, a lousy 2015 season, Scott Boras), but if you’re going to pay for talent, it helps if the pitcher has talent. Strasburg has talent. He practically leaks talent. Uh, anyone want to get some rags and help us out with this talent? It’s sort of getting everywhere.
But, yes, Strasburg has the potential to lead a rotation. Most definitely. Don’t forget just how awe-inspiring he can be at his best.
2. C.J. Wilson
He used to be okay! He’ll be 36, but I could see a team giving him a two- or three-year deal.
Wilson might be the second-best pitcher on the 2016-2017 free agent market.
3. Jered Weaver
Wait, he throws 83 miles per hour.
4. R.A. Dickey
Wait, he’s 83 years old.
5. Andrew Cashner
So much untapped talent that doesn’t have to show up just because you want it to. The Gil Meche of a new generation.
6. Jesse Chavez
Perfectly acceptable, for the most part, kind of.
7. Brett Anderson
Solid pitcher, but he just accepted the qualifying offer because he correctly figured that teams wouldn’t want to give up a draft pick for him.
8. Ivan Nova
Power sinker when right, but he’s been hurt or bad for two years now
9. Jake Peavy
The last time he threw more than six innings in a start was 2007. Hold on, I should look that up, but I’m pretty sure ...
10. Jorge De La Rosa
He’s like the Jorge De La Rosa of pitchers.
Thus endeth the list of the top 10 pitchers available in next year’s free agent market.
The Yankees didn’t clear much payroll this offseason, which may tempt them to wait until next season when Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran come off the books.
But waiting may not be a good idea.
Monday, November 16, 2015
So as they plan for 2016, the Yankees must wonder again: How much can they reasonably expect from their aging middle-of-the-lineup guys? And what should or can they do to avoid an overreliance on a duplication of that surprising production?
“I’m going to try to upgrade our roster and not worry about regression on certain guys,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said last week at the General Managers’ Meetings. “If that’s a possibility, it’s a possibility.”
Oh, it’s a possibility, all right. Teixeira put up 4 ¹/₂ superb months, slashing .255/.357/.548 with 31 homers in 111 games — his best production in three years, at least — before going down with a right shin fracture. He now has failed to play in more than 123 games since the 2011 season.
I’m fairly certain Cashman understands about regression and the likelihood of Teixeira and Rodriguez being less productive next year, but it doesn’t serve him any purpose to talk about it in public.
As luck would have it, the Yankees could have replacements in hand for both should they get injured assuming they’ll have someone to put in RF so they can slide Carlos Beltran to DH and with Greg Bird around. Health’s only part of the risk of regression with both Teixeira and Rodriguez, but it’s probably the biggest one.
Friday, November 13, 2015
1. Aaron Hicks, John Ryan Murphy trade
New York and the Minnesota Twins swapped players on Wednesday, the Yankees absorbing outfielder Aaron Hicks while shipping out backup catcher John Ryan Murphy. Murphy probably wasn’t going to ever start in New York, and it seems likely now that Hicks will replace Yanks’ outfielder Chris Young, who became a free agent after ‘15.
Thoroughly judging the trade is impossible now, but it appears Hicks, a former first-round draft pick, is at least on the upswing.
2. Brett Gardner to be traded?
3. Jose Pirela gone
4. Will Andrew Miller still be Yankees’ closer?
5. Greg Bird: See you in 2017?
1) I was a bit surprised by the Hicks/Murphy trade, although the return seems fair. I’m not sure you want Hicks as a full-time starting outfielder, but I’m not sure you want Murphy as a full-time starting catcher either.
I’m more surprised by the fact that the Yankees have put themselves in a position where a Brian McCann injury would now make Gary Sanchez their starting catcher and I’m not sure that’s really smart. But time will tell.
2) I hope not. But I expect him to be.
3) He will be missed. This was more of a 40 man roster cleaning up for a player who likely wasn’t going to have much of a role on the Yankees. It seemed they were grooming Pirela to be a super-sub type player, and they now seemingly have Dustin Ackley for that role instead.
5) Bold prediction. Greg Bird will get a PA in MLB in 2016.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
BOCA RATON, Fla. − In an ideal world, the Yankees would love to add a lefthanded starting pitcher that has had success in the American League.
Yes, David Price fits that description, but there’s a lesser-known name on the free-agent market that also fits the bill: Wei-Yin Chen.
According to a source, the Yankees could make a serious run at Chen, who has pitched for the Orioles the past four seasons. The 30-year-old is 46-32 with a 3.72 ERA since coming to the majors, including an 11-8 record and 3.34 ERA in 31 starts last season.
“A lot of teams are going to be in on him,” the source said. “But the Yankees are going to be one of them.”
Since Andy Pettitte retired after the 2013 season, CC Sabathia has been the lone lefthander in the Yankees’ regular rotation. Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi can all be free agents by the end of the 2017 season, leaving Luis Severino and Adam Warren as the only big-league starters under control in 2018 and beyond.
According to a source familiar with the situation, Chen is seeking a deal of at least five years, though six isn’t out of the question given the need for pitching around the league.
I think Chen would be a nice pickup, but not at the cost of a draft pick, and certainly not on a contract of five or six years.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
BOCA RATON, Fla. — To further exemplify Brian Cashman’s mantra that he is open to talking about any player on his roster, the Yankees have discussed Brett Gardner with the Mariners, The Post has learned.
No trade discussions were characterized as far along or specifically targeted to just one team. Nevertheless, Gardner has long been a player whom new Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto has liked going back to his time as an executive with the Diamondbacks and Angels. The Mariners, in fact, as part of the six-player trade done last week with Tampa, obtained center field prospect Boog Powell, who is commonly compared to Gardner in projecting his future.
Powell, though, is not expected to be ready to open the 2016 season and the Mariners are in win-now mode. They have identified as a priority adding on-base skills in front of a lineup middle of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager. Only two of the 11 Mariners who came to the plate at least 200 times last year had a better on-base percentage than Gardner’s .343.
The Yankees are particularly looking for high-end starting pitching that they control for seven years because all of their current starters, except Luis Severino and Adam Warren, can be free agents after either the 2016 or 2017 campaign. The Mariners essentially will not talk about Taijuan Walker. But The Post has learned they would discuss 27-year-old lefty James Paxton, whose delivery has reminded folks of Andy Pettitte. Paxton was among the pitchers the Yankees were looking at more intensely late in the season and now in the Arizona Fall League under the belief they could become available in the offseason.
Hey, if his delivery reminds folks of Andy Pettitte he should be just as good, right?
I think it’s a question of when Gardner is traded and what the return is, rather than if. And I do find that disappointing, but I also don’t see how the Yankees can’t put a better team out there in 2016 without trading some position players and giving themselves more flexibility to upgrade.
I don’t suppose the Mariners would rather have Smellsbury?