Anyway, here is the open thread for the final few hours of the weekend. The Mets and Cubs will play Game Two of the NLCS a little later (Syndergaard vs. Arrieta, 8pm ET on TBS), and the late NFL game is the Patriots at the Colts. Talk about A-Rod the analyst, those games, or anything else here. Have at it.
In a vacuum, it’s never a bad thing to go into a season with more than five options to fill out a team’s starting rotation. After all, how many times have we heard the line, “There’s no such thing as too much pitching” thrown about? It’s a cliche that is true; having “too many pitchers” from which to shape a rotation is like having “too much” pizza. But that is only true in a vacuum, not reality. What if it’s too much Pizza Hut/Domino’s/Papa John’s? We could certainly argue that one slice of that “pizza” is already too much. And in baseball reality as opposed to a baseball vacuum, having lots of pitchers doesn’t necessarily mean you have lots of good pitchers. So stand the (potential) 2016 New York Yankees.
Given the end of the 2015 season, the Yankees have no fewer than seven pitchers who could all lay some claim to spots in the starting rotation. Of course, given their contracts, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia aren’t leaving that rotation any time soon. Nathan Eovaldi, returning from injury, impressed in the second half and he’ll likely round out the rotation’s top three. He’ll be followed by the sometimes big Michael Pineda in the fourth spot and Luis Severino, who proved he belonged in the Majors during the second half, will finish out the five. No one, however, makes it through a season with only five starters, so we’ve got to consider Ivan Nova and Adam Warren as other options in the rotation. Every single one of these pitchers has some sort of question mark as we move to 2016.
All of those pitchers, save for Warren and Severino, spent time on the Major League disabled list at some point in 2015 and there’s a good bet that Tanaka, Sabathia, and Pineda hit the DL at some point in 2016 (though you could say this about any pitcher who’s ever picked up a baseball). Aside from that, there’s the performance concern with Eovaldi and Severino. While they certainly shined in the second half, can they repeat it? Eovaldi’s got a whole bunch of innings that don’t look like the ones he compiled after his disaster start in Miami and Severino is still in his early 20’s with big potential, but also big bust potential (stop me if you’ve heard the one about young Yankee starters not living up to their promise with the organization). This is all a roundabout way of saying that the Yankees would be wise to go shopping for a starting pitcher–either by free agency or trade–once the World Series ends. Predicting the trade market is hard and, remember, your trade proposal sucks, so let’s just focus on three free agent starters that I’m sure will be a frequent topic of conversation ’round these parts in the next few weeks: David Price, Jordan Zimmerman, and Jeff Samardzija.
Price is the obvious number one choice here. He’s a big lefty who’s shown he can hack it in the American League for a long time and the Yankees love that. Zimmerman is a big righty who’s thrown no fewer than 195 innings since 2012 and has excellent control. Samardzija, as he has been previously, has already been linked to the Yankees and is a potential reclamation projects, something the Yankees also love.
In that old, familiar vacuum, Price is the guy the Yankees want, need, and sign; he’s almost too perfect for them not to. But in that old, familiar reality, there are two big roadblocks to price: time and money. It’s highly likely that the front office and/or ownership will view a potential big contract for Price as just another CC Sabathia contract: pretty great at first and then an absolute disaster by the midway point.
With Zimmerman, there’s likely to be a draft pick issue: do they want to give up a draft pick for Not The Best Guy Available? There’s also the fact that Zimmerman will likely demand a huge price tag, which his performance may not live up to. Don’t get me wrong here as Zimmerman is a very good pitcher, but he’s been “up and down” (though all good) in the last few years. He’s got two dominant ones–2012 and 2014–and two seasons that are “only” above average-good (2013, 2015). The Yankees may balk at Zimmerman’s (potential) salary demands if they don’t think he’s capable of being that 2012/2014 guy more often.
Then there’s Samardzija. Like Zimmerman, he may have draft pick compensation tied to him. Like Zimmerman, and to a greater extent than Zimmerman, there are most definitely performance concerns with him. After all, he just had his worst professional season in which his strikeout rate dropped 5.1% from the year before and his groundball rate plummeted to below 40%. Despite that, there is a ‘bang for your buck’ factor with Shark if he signs a pillow contract to see him through to the next offseason.
These guys all come with some risk, but we could argue it’s less collective risk than the risk represented by the pitchers currently in the Yankees’ employ. One of them–or any of the other free agents I didn’t list here–is a necessity, though. The 2015 Yankee rotation is not sustainable for 2016, even with great bullpen management by Joe Girardi. Each of these guys could be the wrong option for the listed reasons, but they could also be the right guy for the listed reason. Though he’s not the best of the bunch, Zimmerman probably represents the best option for the Yankees. He’s more of a sure thing that Samardzija and is likely to be less costly–both in terms of years and money–than David Price.
Ironically enough, though, after all these words, I wouldn’t be surprised if neither of these three guys landed in the Bronx for 2016 and beyond. I might be a touch disappointed, but I wouldn’t necessarily be shocked either. Whether it’s these guys or others, however, the Yankees need to do something to bolster the rotation going forward, even if there are a lot of options already in house. Because you can never have too much pitching.
- Blue Jays at Royals (Price vs. Ventura): 4pm ET on FOX Sports 1
- Cubs at Mets (Lester vs. Harvey): 8pm ET on TBS
That Cubs-Mets series should be a lot of fun. No one asked me, but I’d take the young Cubs hitters over the young Mets pitchers going forward. Too much injury risk with pitchers. The 1990s Braves and early-2000s Athletics are the only clubs in the last 25 years or so who managed to keep a group of pitchers together and healthy for an extended period of time.
Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. In addition to the two postseason games, you’ve also got a ton of college football and the Islanders in action. Talk about those games or anything else here.
Before we get to the first fall/winter ball update of the season, here are a bunch of minor league notes and links to pass along:
- LHP Ian Clarkin, who did not pitch in official games at all this season due to ongoing elbow trouble, will make his first Arizona Fall League start on Monday, reports Josh Norris. Clarkin did pitch in Instructional League the last few weeks.
- Baseball America posted a Scout’s Take piece on C Gary Sanchez. (It’s free. You don’t need a subscription.) The scout likes Sanchez as a potential middle of the order bat and also sees him as an average defender, which is nice improvement from where he was earlier in his career.
- Based on the Twitter feeds of various players, the Yankees had Alfonso Soriano and Scott Rolen working with their minor leaguers during Instructional League. Rolen and farm system head Gary Denbo know each other from their days with the Blue Jays.
- Know that giant Ferris wheel they’re building in Staten Island? It’s creating headaches for Short Season Staten Island, writes Everett Merrill. Construction has limited parking and led to traffic delays, and even knocked the team’s phone lines out for a few days. Attendance took a hit this year and the team is trying to come up with aggressive marketing strategies for next season.
- And finally, with 1B Greg Bird and RHP Luis Severino graduating to MLB, OF Ben Gamel and SS Thairo Estrada jumped on MLB.com’s top 30 Yankees prospects list, according to High-A Tampa. Here’s the full list.
Now let’s get to the fall ball action, starting with the Arizona Fall League.
AzFL Surprise (6-5 loss to Peoria) Tuesday’s season-opener
- C Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 PB — hit the first home run of the AzFL season … the linked scouting report above says the passed ball was a cross-up, remember most of these pitchers and catchers haven’t worked together before
- 1B Tyler Austin: 2-4, 1 2B — he’s here in place of 3B Eric Jagielo, who is still recovering from his knee surgery … it’s an infielder for infielder replacement, so Austin has to play first (or third I guess, but he hasn’t done that in a while)
- SS Tyler Wade: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI — the AzFL will be a good test for him since he’ll be facing a bunch of older pitchers
AzFL Surprise (5-4 win over Peoria in ten innings, walk-off style) Wednesday’s game
- DH Gary Sanchez: 3-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
- LF Dustin Fowler: 0-3, 1 K
- LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 23 of 35 pitches were strikes (66%) … first game action since late-June … he missed the end of the regular season due to a tendon issue in his hand
AzFL Surprise (3-0 win over Mesa) Thursday’s game
- C Gary Sanchez: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 K — started and batted cleanup in each of their first three games, so it appears he’s going to play a lot these next few weeks
- 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
- 2B Tyler Wade: 0-2, 1 K
- RHP Domingo Acevedo: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 20 of 27 pitches were strikes (74%) … he hit 99 mph according to Josh Norris, who also posted video
AzFL Surprise (20-6 win over Mesa) Friday’s game … no Yankees prospects played
The various Caribbean Winter Leagues have either just started their seasons or will do so relatively soon. Here are the assignments so far.
Dominican Summer League: RHP Andury Acevedo, UTIL Jose Rosario
Mexican Pacific League: RHP Gio Gallegos, RHP Luis Niebla, RHP Cesar Vargas
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (Puerto Rico): No rosters yet
Venezuelan Winter League: C Francisco Arcia, IF Ali Castillo, RHP Luis Cedeno, OF Ben Gamel, C Juan Graterol, OF Ericson Leonora, RHP Jaron Long, RHP Mark Montgomery, OF Teodoro Martinez, RHP Diego Moreno, and IF Jose Pirela.
Keep in mind that just because a player is on a winter ball roster, it does not necessary mean he’ll play. It just means that team holds the player’s winter ball rights. Also, more players can still be — and inevitably will be — added to winter ball rosters in the coming days and weeks. Right now it sure looks like the VWL is the one to watch.
Here is tonight’s open thread. The Blue Jays and Royals are playing Game One of the ALCS tonight (Estrada vs. Volquez) at 8pm ET on FOX. Go Royals? Go Royals. The Devils are playing tonight as well. So talk about those games or whatever else is on your mind right here. Just don’t be a jerk.
Soon after the Yankees were eliminated from the postseason last week, assistant GM Billy Eppler headed back home to Southern California to take over as Angels GM, leaving a void in the front office. Eppler has been Cashman’s right hand man for a few years now. For a while it appeared he was being groomed to one take over as GM.
After Eppler took the job from the Angels, Cashman said he prefers to replace him from within, though an outside hire is always possible. “I will look outside, too. But you always want to promote from within if you can. I believe in our system and depth of our personnel,” he said to Joel Sherman.
According to George King and Nick Cafardo, among the internal candidates to replace Eppler are player personnel head Kevin Reese (the former outfielder!) and trusted scouts Tim Naehring and Jay Darnell. Naehring reportedly had a big hand in acquiring Didi Gregorius while Darnell was the scout who recommended Yangervis Solarte.
Cafardo says Naehring has turned down promotions in the past because he is based in Cincinnati and wants to remain close to his family. There was some talk Naehring and Darnell would join Eppler in Anaheim, but Cashman shot that down. “That’s not true. They’re under contract,” the GM said.
The Yankees still have two assistant GMs even with Eppler gone: Jean Afterman and Michael Fishman. Afterman is the contract and legal guru from what I understand. Fishman heads the team’s statistical analysis department. Jon Heyman says special advisor Jim Hendry now has a “big voice in the organization,” though apparently he isn’t a candidate to take over as assistant GM.
I don’t know anything about Reese, Naehring, and Darnell as far as their front office skills, but they’re reportedly candidates to replace Eppler, so they must be highly regarded within the organization. I have to think replacing Eppler is something the Yankees want to do soon, before the offseason really gets underway.