Two Weeks On The Road

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So I have been traveling a lot for work lately and the hot stove really hasn’t been really a priority.  I was in Vegas the week after Thanksgiving when most of the talk around the Yankees was “Who’s the Manager” and “What about Ohtani?”  News was mostly silly chatter about potential candidates and what a failure Brian Cashman was beginning to look like in his “bungling” of the Joe Girardi situation.  It’s kinda funny though what can happen in a week.

Aaron Boone happens around the time I am packing my suitcase to head back from AWS re:Invent (for you nerds, I work for MongoDB and love it, sorry RAB they paid for my trip) and I kind of giggled to myself.  I had been in a cab on the way from McCarran to the Encore the beginning of the week and I was absolutely convinced that this was going to be Carlos Beltran‘s job.  Like many other fans I felt that his connection to the group currently on the field, his skill set as a player and mind for baseball was something that Brian Cashman was looking for.  At this point it was either Hensley Meulens or Beltran in my mind.  But all of a sudden the news of Beltran’s elimination came out, which was not the biggest shock, and the realization that there’s a big chance the needle was starting to move in the Bronx.

The news leaks, and we all find out Aaron Boone is the new Yankees manager.  I get wifi on the flight back to Newark in the morning and follow along until I lose streaming audio (thanks airplane wifi) and just start keeping up on Twitter.  Like most, the Aaron Boone selection was a shock because of the lack of experience.  I started thinking about Joe Girardi a bit and the 2007 Yankees season.

Joe had just come off a Manager of the Year victory over his stupid old boss, Jeff “literal dumb person” Loria and took a job with the YES Network doing color.  Girardi was smart on the microphone and really made me look at what Joe Torre was doing a bit more.  By the end of the 2007 season I was completely convinced that the right manager for the Yankees wasn’t in the dugout, he was in the booth with Kay.

As the year moved on I started thinking about the tech industry and the problem I’ve seen with talent that’s just not properly placed in the organization.  A person who writes code can also be someone who contributes solid ideas and proper organization of an application or product.   It’s sometimes about recognizing the talent you have in your organization, in this case Girardi, and moving them to the right place so that you can succeed.  Torre had proven to be no longer in the favor of the Steinbrenners and the “correction” of talent was made.  YES was only partially owned by the Yankees at the time, but my feeling was that he went with YES for a broadcasting job because he knew he wanted to stay close to the Yankees as the organization began to change.

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Boone and his scar.

Now Boone didn’t work for YES, but he did for ESPN and for the last eight years all he did was watch, talk and study baseball for the enjoyment of the fans.  While he was paid well for it, it made me think about how much you as a player have to love baseball after years of playing to stay in the game somehow.  Aaron Boone is a young man, but he’s one who’s seen hardship personally as his health suffered from a heart defect in 2009 while playing for the Astros.  But he came back, and he played just months after the procedure to repair the big heart we all saw on display after his heroic crack of the bat in 2003. That story always stuck with me.  So I felt that Boone was probably the right guy.  He was a baseball lifer who grew up in the game and understood the type of person the Yankees needed for 2018 and beyond.

So the dust settles in Yankees world and most of us wait to see what’s next as the Winter Meetings approach.  I am in San Francisco with my wife at the time working at another conference.  I take small breaks to catch up with news, but honestly I am pretty busy and staying on top of things with the Yankees was a bit difficult.  It can be funny how a storm can hit and change everything so quickly … Ohtani was only the rumbling of what was really behind the clouds.  After he rejected the Yankees, many of us began really paying more attention to those rumors Jon Heyman had been floating about the reigning NL MVP.  Well, that storm was Giancarlo Stanton.

Ben, Mike and myself tend to try to keep up with things so we can keep the Twitter up to date.  Mike of course is doing his job for CBS.  So we’re all online watching what’s cooking until Hank Shulman bombed Baseball Twitter.  I am in SF and finally went bed at like 12AM local when nothing was quite done but I couldn’t stop checking. The morning was wonderful though as Heyman told the world that the Yanks and Marlins had a deal.

I had a flight to catch at 10am as the details started to come together.  I start grabbing my stuff and trying to get ready while furiously reading updates.  We hop on the plane and I get wifi and try to keep up as Brian Cashman basically blows up the whole baseball world before the Winter Meetings can even get started.

In a week we watched Cashman get himself a big raise, a new manager and the biggest fish in the 2017 trade ocean.  He caught himself a friggin Marlin.  In a week we watched the Yankees add a new manager, add a new star and take a ton of attention away from the rest of the 29 teams in the league.

Finally after two weeks, I am back home and I am looking forward to more hot stove news.  Mike will be all over it, so keep reading us on the site or check our twitter.  Thanks again for making RAB part of your Yankees baseball life.

Thank you 2016 Yankees for the 2017 Yankees

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The 2016 Yankees really feel like the reason we’ve gotten to this point in 2017.  The idea that addition via subtraction was a rare change that this front office has done, but here we are.

Brian Cashman has come under endless scrutiny over the years for adding players with no success coming from it.  But in 2016 when his team no longer was really a factor he set out to remake the face of the organization that would lead it back to the playoffs in 2017.  I think about how 2016’s moves were the linchpin to making this team successful and relevant this year. In 2016 the most relevancy the Yankees had during the first half was the performance of their bullpen.  Subtracting from this made tremendous sense once the package was completed and players like Clint Frazier were added to the roster.

The 2016 Yankees made the decision that the future of the catcher position should no longer be in question.  The emergence of Gary Sanchez made it possible to subtract Brian McCann from the team.  While the move put much of the financial burden on the Yankees moving forward, it made too much sense.  From this subtraction came the trust of this team’s pitching staff being put in the hands of Sanchez.

The 2016 Yankees brought Aaron Judge into the minds of baseball fans.  For some, Judge was simply a cool story but an obviously faulted player.  His swing had a tremendous amount of holes in it that were quickly exposed by the league.  But this failure permitted Judge to recommit himself over the winter to perfecting his swing, leading to what would be the greatest rookie season in the history of the league.  Judge’s struggles returned after the 2017 All Star Break, but after six weeks of work he broke out of it to finish the season with 52 home runs.  By permitting failure at the Major League level in 2016, they permitted Aaron to work through his struggles.

(Getty)
(Getty)

Of course, there is Luis Severino.  While we had to see him take quite a beating last night in the first inning, it’s not far off from the Severino we saw in 2016.  In 2016 we saw the “Reliever or Starter” question come back for yet another Yankees power arm.  Rather than simply allow him to fail as a starter and move into a relief role permanently, the struggles within 2016 gave Severino enough chances to fail to understand how to bounce back from failure.  In 2017 as the playoffs continue, you can only hope that this continues to be the norm.  Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was mechanics, but at least he has the knowledge from past failures to adjust and carry on.

Finally, the subtraction of Aroldis Chapman in 2016 gave the Yankees a better idea of how their bullpen should be composed in 2017.  It’s hard not to love Dellin Betances, but the end of 2016 did serve as a minor precursor to the potential issues the pen could have without adding additional members in 2017.  While this did serve as a good warning, the greatest add via subtraction here was Gleyber Torres.  It’s true his injury has put much of the future in question, the talent is there.  He remains one of the most important pieces in the Yankees farm system and could be the future of third base as Chase Headley‘s contract continues to dwindle down to zero.

Bringing back Chapman was  controversial due to his sizable contract and personal issues in the past, but there’s little doubt that his return to form was critical down the stretch.  His subtraction from the Yankees in 2016 and to the Cubs gives him the experience that hopefully helps him continue to dominate the way he did at the end of the season.

Then finally, the subtraction of Vets that just didn’t have much to offer the team anymore.  Alex, we love ya but the A-Rod Yankees years just had to come to an end.  Teix?  Thanks for knowing it was time to hang em up.  CC Sabathia‘s subtraction was a bit different.  His was more in relation to his stuff and learning how to fail with this lesser stuff.  By 2016 we started seeing the progress, but by 2017 we saw the success.

What’s next for this group?  Well it could see more subtraction in the winter as the younger talent continues to force the issue for the Yankees at the MLB level.  With a only a few more sizable contracts for the vets on the team, it’s interesting to wonder what will help the Yankees move some of that talent along and allow the kids to flourish.  The one thing that’s good to know is that regardless of who is moved along, they have the core of players who have seen this team fail and succeed.  It can only be to the benefit of the younger players to have this experience to build off of, reminiscent of those young Rays and Royals clubs recently that saw success.

Commenting Guidelines Reminder

Just wanted to send out a reminder on our commenting policy.  No one wants to censor you, just be adults and kind to each other.

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Hiroki Kuroda returning to Japan in 2015

(Sturgeon General)
(Sturgeon General)

According to reports from various media outlets in both Japan and the United States, Hiroki Kuroda will return to his old team, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp for the 2015 season. Hiroshima has since announced the news. There are no other details at the moment.

Kuroda, who turns 40 in February, contemplated retirement the last few offseasons, though returning to the Carp for one final season was always said to be an option as well. Kuroda pitched for the Carp from 1997-2007 before coming to MLB. He went 103-89 with a 3.69 ERA during his eleven seasons with Hiroshima.

After a four-year stint with the Dodgers, Kuroda joined the Yankees for the 2012 season and spent the last three seasons in New York. His 38-33 record doesn’t do his time in pinstripes justice (because the Yankees never seemed to give him any damn run support) — Kuroda had a 3.44 ERA (3.68 FIP) in 620 innings for the Yankees and has been their best and most reliable starting pitcher since joining the team.

The Yankees seemed to move forward with their offseason under the assumption Kuroda would not return. They re-signed Chris Capuano and traded for Nathan Eovaldi, and there’s still eight weeks before Spring Training begins, so they could always add more pitching. I think they would have re-signed Kuroda to another one-year contract in a heartbeat had he decided to remain in MLB for another year.

I’m really going to miss Kuroda. I was a fan (this is Axisa, by the way) dating back to his time with the Dodgers and he exceeded even my expectations these last three seasons. He joined the Yankees and fit in wonderfully. Like he’d been here for years. So long, #Hirok. It was a great honor.

Editorial: Maybe It’s Not For You?

A quick thought on the whole Derek Jeter retirement media blitz and the criticism associated with it by pundits who simply want their voice heard.  Maybe all of this just isn’t meant for you.  Maybe the fans are the target audience (as well as people who consume products)?  Maybe there’s a time and a place for your negative voice, but for the love of baseball let some of us just enjoy it.  Take your rants about selfishness and put them aside for a few days and just let people who want to celebrate the man’s career do so.

Image Courtesy of USA Today Sports
Image Courtesy of USA Today Sports

A patch, a t-shirt, a commercial … is it really all that damning?  Consider that at some point blind love for the game might have been part of your life, but you’ve changed your focus on drawing attention to yourself.  I understand many people want to push their agendas to increase page views, TV or radio ratings but the general negative sentiment seems so opposite to what we’ve seen of people in the past regarding Jeter.

Bloggers, loudmouth TV chat show hosts, you name it have spent the last few weeks jumping and stomping all over the thing some of us are simply trying to enjoy, saying goodbye.  Derek represents a lot to some of us and stomping on other’s enjoyment seems just as selfish as anything these pundits complain about.  What’s the point?  To have a voice louder than the fans?  You already have that, people probably pay you to have it.  But there’s really no need to keep making others feel like they are lesser people because you don’t gather the same joy from saying goodbye as we do.

Some of these thoughts are disorganized because by trade I am not a writer/blogger.  I am also not stating that one shouldn’t speak negatively of Derek Jeter.  But to be honest I think I share many people’s opinion when I say, “Shut up and let us enjoy.”  This isn’t for you, because you’re not a fan anymore.

Site Registration Update: Disqus

As you can see, we now are using Disqus to handle our comments. Why the quick change?  Because from a technology standpoint we really needed something with low overhead and easy administration. Old comments should be back within the next day or so. As I mentioned previously, please act responsibly and enjoy the discussion. Thanks, Yankees Only.

Update: Here is the Disqus privacy policy, for your information.

RiverAveBlues.com Commenting Policy

I’d like to take a moment to just remind you of RAB’s commenting policy located at http://riveraveblues.com/about/river-ave-blues-commenting-guidelines/.

We’re happy to continue with a no-registration policy for as long as possible. Abuse will not be tolerated and will lead to a far more strict system of registration and verification. We’ve felt this hasn’t been needed since a great portion of readers who contribute to the RAB comments section generally just want to discuss baseball, but we will make the change if necessary.

Thanks for understanding. We enjoy having you all part of our community and hope to see new features and possibly a new look to RAB in the future.