Yankees officially name Aaron Boone their new manager


December 4th: It’s official. The Yankees announced Boone is their new manager this afternoon. The press conference is Wednesday at 12pm ET. He received a three-year contract with a club option for a fourth year, which seems to be the standard contract for a rookie manager. No word on the money yet.

Let’s get to the various statements, shall we? First, Hal Steinbrenner:

“I firmly believe that Aaron possesses the attributes needed to follow in the tradition of great Yankees managers. From all accounts, he is a polished communicator who possesses the ability to cultivate and grow relationships. Aaron has also spent a lifetime immersed in baseball, affording him a unique and intimate understanding of what fosters team success.

“Aaron’s name is already etched into Yankees history, and my family and I are excited to welcome him back to this franchise. This opportunity will allow him to continue to make a positive impact on this organization in distinctly new and meaningful ways.”

Next up, Brian Cashman:

“Over the past several weeks, our baseball operations department sat down with a number of managerial candidates, all of whom brought a diverse array of baseball knowledge and experience. Each interview led to insightful and thoughtful discussions, and I am grateful to the candidates for their preparation, interest and commitment to our extensive interview process.

“When we had the opportunity to speak with Aaron and share concepts and ideas, he was able to showcase a variety of traits that we believe will strongly benefit this franchise as we move forward, including an astute mind for the game and a progressive approach to evolving strategies. 

“We also believe Aaron’s interpersonal skills and baseball pedigree will allow him to blend well with the systems we have in place, our baseball operations staff and the 25-man roster. On a personal level, I look forward to collaborating with him over the coming years and offering him the support and resources needed to get the most out of our players.”

And finally, Mr. Boone himself:

“Words cannot express how humbled I am to wear the pinstripes again as the manager of the Yankees. I want to thank the Steinbrenner family and Brian Cashman for entrusting me with this tremendous honor and responsibility. I believe we are entering into a special time in New York Yankees history, and I am so excited to be a part of it.  I can’t wait to get to work – and that work starts now.”

December 1st: The Year of the Aarons continues in New York. According to multiple reports, the Yankees are set to name Aaron Boone their next manager. Jack Curry, Buster Olney, Joel Sherman, Ken Rosenthal, Mark Feinsand, and Bill Madden are all reporting it, so yeah. The Yankees have not yet confirmed or announced anything. That should happen relatively soon.

The Yankees interviewed six candidates for their managerial opening and one-by-one they were ruled out Friday before Boone was the last man standing. The candidates: Boone, Carlos Beltran, Hensley Meulens, Rob Thomson, Eric Wedge, and Chris Woodward. Boone and Meulens were reportedly the two finalists. Thomson, who had been with the Yankees since the early 1990s, is leaving to become the Phillies bench coach.

With Boone, the Yankees are continuing the recent trend around MLB of hiring managers with no experience. He retired as a player following the 2009 season and had been working as an analyst with ESPN ever since. Boone has an interest in analytics, that much is clear from his broadcasts, and he’s always been good with the media. The Yankees must feel pretty good about his communication skills as well. They reportedly prioritized communication.

Boone, who will turn 45 in March, will be the 33rd different manager in Yankee history and only the third in the last 22 years, and the fourth in the last 26 years. Pretty amazing considering how much turnover there was under George Steinbrenner in the 1970s and 1980s. Boone is very much a baseball brat. His grandfather (Ray), father (Bob), and brother (Brett) all played in the big leagues. He grew up around the game. Baseball is all he knows.

What kind of manager will Boone be? Beats me. Your guess is as good as mine. My guess is his lineup construction and bullpen usage and other basic on-field stuff won’t be all that different from Joe Girardi. The real difference will be in the clubhouse. That’s why the Yankees parted ways with Girardi. They didn’t like the way things were going on behind closed doors. Hopefully Boone connects well with the young players and gets them to take their games to the next level.

Now that the managerial search has reportedly concluded, the Yankees have to build the rest of their coaching staff. Larry Rothschild is coming back as pitching coach. We know that much. I have to think the Yankees and Boone will want an experienced bench coach, someone who has been a manager before. Tony Pena, maybe? Someone new? We’ll find out soon enough.

The Other Core Relievers [2017 Season Review]

Adam Warren. (Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Adam Warren. (Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Adam Warren

It may be an exaggeration to say that Adam Warren’s inclusion in the Aroldis Chapman deal was as exciting to Yankees fans as the hype around centerpiece Gleyber Torres a year and a half ago, but he was regarded as far more than a throw-in. Our own Mike Axisa was “stoked” to have him back, for example, and for good reason – Warren was a borderline stud reliever before being dealt to Chicago. To wit, he pitched to the following line out of the Yankees bullpen: 183 IP, 8.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 45.3 GB%, 3.05 ERA, 130 ERA+, 3.40 FIP. Warren was not that pitcher for the Cubs, but there was hope that a return to his old stomping grounds would cure whatever ailed him.

And it did – 30.1 IP and a 133 ERA+ later, and Warren was right back in the mix to be the Yankees fireman.

Warren entered the 2017 season in a fireman-esque role, and he did not disappoint. Six of his first seven outings saw him picking up four or more outs, and six of those seven games were also within three runs when he entered. And, in true fireman fashion, he entered games in the 4th, 5th, 6th (3 times), 7th, and 8th in those outings. Those seven appearances comprised the first month of the season, over which he tossed 13.1 IP of 0.68 ERA ball, with 13 strikeouts against 3 walks.

May was a different story, though. Warren blew three leads in twelve appearances, and generally struggled to put batters away. He was also shifted into a more defined role, settling in as the ‘7th inning guy;’ that coincided with Chad Green becoming an absolute monster in multi-inning stints, and Joe Girardi went with the hot hand in the fireman position. And so the bullpen deployment became a bit more rigid.

Warren settled down after Memorial Day, and the Yankees bullpen was firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, Warren hit the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation on June 16, and would spend the next three weeks on the sidelines. He came back strong, though, returning on July 4 and reeling off a month and a half of awesomeness. Warren made 16 appearances from that date through August 16, pitching to the following line: 19.2 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 19 K, 0.92 ERA.

The wheels fell off at that point, though, and he hit the DL with a balky back on September 6. There were rumblings that he’d miss the rest of the season, but he returned to throw a scoreless inning in the Yankees final game. He finished the season with a 2.35 ERA (193 ERA+), 8.5 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9 in 57.1 IP, and looked strong in the playoffs, to boot – Warren shutout the Astros in two appearances (3.1 IP) in the ALCS.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Chasen Shreve

Calling Shreve a “core” reliever sounds strange, but that’s basically what he was in 2017. Granted, he was essentially the mop-up man – but he held onto that role for the vast majority of the season. Shreve made 44 appearances in 2017, and he entered 25 of those games with a lead or deficit of three or more runs; and ten of those appearances came with the Yankees leading by four or more runs, so he may be best described as their victory cigar.

Shreve, like Warren, was counted on to pitch more than one inning, and was rarely used in the prototypical LOOGY role. He was only called upon seven times to get out a tough lefty, and he was actually successful in six of opportunities. Despite Girardi’s justified misgivings about using him in tough spots, Shreve was quite good against lefties in 2017, holding them to a .161/.235/.262 slash line in 68 showdowns. Compare that to a .225/.338/.491 line against righties, and one can’t help but wonder if there’s a lefty specialist to be found.

As was the case in his first two seasons in pinstripes, Shreve had no trouble racking up whiffs. He struck out 11.5 batters per nine, and his 14.4% swinging strike rate was well above league-average. On the flip side of that, however, were his continued struggles with the long ball (1.6 HR/9 compounded by a lowly 37.4% groundball rate) and control (5.0 BB/9). He’s basically a three true outcomes pitcher, and that’s not someone that can be relied upon all that often.

That being said, those weaknesses did largely evaporate against same-handed batters. Shreve struck out 38.2% of lefties, walked just 8.8%, and allowed just one home run to the aforementioned 68 lefties that he faced. Those are excellent numbers, and he was fairly consistent against lefties throughout the year. That may not mean that he has shaken off the horror show that was 2016, when he allowed lefties to post a .437 wOBA – but I would be interested to see him get another shot at the role, as the Yankees perpetual search for a LOOGY wages on.

2018 Outlook

Warren seems a lock to return to the sixth/seventh inning role, barring a trade of Dellin Betances, Tommy Kahnle, or Aroldis Chapman. Well, that, or if Green actually ends up starting (which I don’t see happening). And the Yankees should be confident in his ability to fill any role, given that Warren has never disappointed in pinstripes.

As for Shreve, I’m not quite sure. The Yankees are loaded with potential relievers, and Shreve was an odd man out at the end of the regular season. A new coaching staff may be interested to see if he could be the lefty specialist, and I think he deserves that opportunity; but his ability to throw multiple innings and get out lefties may keep him in a more mop-up oriented role. And I don’t know how safe his spot on the roster is, either.

Thoughts after the Yankees miss out on Shohei Ohtani

At least I can stop looking for Ohtani photos now. (AP)
At least I can stop looking for Ohtani photos now. (AP)

The first round of Shohei Ohtani cuts were announced last night. The Yankees were among them. Brian Cashman confirmed Ohtani’s camp told him he will not sign with the Yankees. Sucks. Ohtani was reportedly impressed by New York’s sales pitch, but is said to be prefer a West Coast team. Jon Heyman says Ohtani’s agents implored him to give the Yankees a longer look, but no dice. What can you do? Anyway, some thoughts.

1. Of course I’m disappointed the Yankees missed out on Ohtani, but I’m not crushed, weirdly. I thought I would be. On a scale of zero to wow the Yankees are about to trade for Cliff Lee, I’m at about 0.25 Cliff Lees right now. That’s my disappointment level. Maybe that’s because I’ve mellowed out with age. Or maybe because I wasn’t planning the offseason around Ohtani, and because I always knew the level financial playing field meant Ohtani’s personal preferences would drive his decision, and I had no idea what those preferences are. He’s not the first Japanese-born player who wants to play on the West Coast and he won’t be the last. It stinks. Ohtani is fun as hell and I was hoping the Yankees would add him to their very fun team. It’s a bummer, and yet I don’t feel like this is the end of the world. I wish Ohtani well, but if he wants to sign with the Mariners, then get outpitched by Masahiro Tanaka and lose to the Yankees in Game Seven of the ALCS one of these years, I’ll allow it.

2. What are the Yankees missing out on in Ohtani? A potential impact player, in the simplest terms. There’s a natural tendency to say “he sucks anyway” whenever your favorite team misses out on a player, but Ohtani’s potential is significant. I’m skeptical he’ll be an impact hitter — in last week’s chat I said I think Ohtani will be a full-time pitcher no later than 2020 — but his upside on the mound is considerable. Upper-90s heat with two swing-and-miss secondary pitches (slider, splitter) is no joke. This was a 23-year-old potential ace-caliber pitcher available for nothing more than a $3.5M bonus and a minor league contract. How often do you get a chance to acquire this type of player on those terms? Basically never. This was a big missed opportunity. The Yankees didn’t do anything wrong! We can’t blame them. It just sucks to miss out on such a young and potentially great player.

3. The Yankees are definitely going to spend that $3.5M in international bonus money elsewhere now. They didn’t trade Matt Wotherspoon and Yefry Ramirez for nothing! In all seriousness, that money is going somewhere. The current scouting reports are hardly glowing, but Kevin Maitan is the big name out there now that he’s no longer with the Braves. All those other Braves prospects are out there waiting to be signed too. The Yankees can spend that $3.5M on them. Also, keep in mind the Yankees have been connected to outfielder Raimfer Salinas and catcher Antonio Cabello for weeks now, so they’re probably going to wrap up deals with them soon. Salinas and Cabello are two of the best international prospects still on the market now. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yankees sign Salinas, Cabello, and Maitan now that they’re out on Ohtani. Point is, that international bonus money is going somewhere. I wish it were Ohtani, but better the other guys than nowhere.

4. So what do the Yankees do now? Well, if you’re hoping they turn around and make a big move like signing Yu Darvish or trading for Giancarlo Stanton, I would advise you not to hold your breath. For starters, the Yankees don’t operate like that anymore. They don’t make knee jerk reactionary moves. Secondly, the financial terms of these moves are not even in the same state, let alone the same ballpark. We’re talking about a player at the league minimum and players on large contracts, whether it’s Stanton or some free agent. The plan to get under the luxury tax threshold is still in effect — that’s what made Ohtani so appealing, he could have so much impact at so little cost — and the Yankees won’t jeopardize that. They’ll look for pitching depth because they always do that, and, if anything, they might now look for a lower cost bat to take some DH at-bats after losing out on Ohtani. That’s something they can wait to do later in the offseason though, when players who are still unsigned start to get desperate, a la Chris Carter last year. There are always bargains to be had in January and February. Is a big move possible? Of course, these are still the Yankees. I just don’t see them making a big move in response to losing out on Ohtani. It is entirely possible their biggest move this winter will be re-signing CC Sabathia.

5. On the bright side, at least Ohtani was nice enough to let teams know they are out of the running early in the process rather than string them along. He could’ve easily summoned the Yankees to Los Angeles to make an in-person sales pitch just to hear them out, but no, he let them know not to bother. Ohtani did that for selfish reasons — he only has a 21-day window to pick a team, so why waste time on a team you know you’re not signing with? — but it helps the Yankees. They can put the Ohtani pursuit behind them and move on with the rest of their offseason. No need to wait around for him to make a decision. Now that we know Aaron Boone will be the next manager and Ohtani will sign elsewhere, I think we can say the biggest offseason stories for the Yankees are complete. Onward.

Fan Confidence Poll: December 4th, 2017

Regular Season Record: 91-71 (858 RS, 660 RA, 100-62 pythag. record), second in ALE
Postseason Record: 7-6 (51 RS, 42 RA), won AL WC Game, won ALDS, lost ALCS

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Cashman confirms Shohei Ohtani will not sign with Yankees


Shohei Ohtani will not sign with the Yankees. At a charity event tonight, Brian Cashman told Brendan Kuty and Bryan Hoch that Ohtani informed the Yankees he will not sign with them. Ohtani’s camp said the Yankees made a great presentation, but ultimately, he wants to play in a smaller market and on the West Coast. The Red Sox and Twins have also been ruled out, reports Ken Rosenthal.

The Yankees had been considered the favorite to sign Ohtani for weeks now because they have as much international bonus money available as any team ($3.5M), also because they have a great young roster loaded with talent. It looks like they’ll be a World Series contender for years. Ohtani could’ve joined the rotation, taken aim at the short porch between starts as the DH, and had a great chance to win. Alas.

Because he is only 23, Ohtani is subject to the international hard cap, meaning the Yankees could not blow him away with an offer. They couldn’t simply continue adding millions to their offer until he said yes. The financial playing field was level, so Ohtani’s personal preferences are going to drive his decision, and his preference is to play on the West Coast. He has every right to make that decision.

Cashman confirmed the Yankees were planning to pursue Ohtani aggressively, but that is off the table now, so they’ll move on to other business. That $3.5M in international bonus money will go to other prospects, maybe the guys the Braves lost, and the Yankees will look for rotation help (CC Sabathia?) and another bat for the lineup. At least Ohtani didn’t string them along. The Yankees can move on with their offseason now.

Weekend Open Thread

TGIF. Seriously. I’m glad this week is over. There was actually some baseball news today — Shohei Ohtani was posted and Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees are done interviewing managerial candidates, most notably — so that’s good. This offseason is beyond the “huh, things are slow” point and crossed over into “okay seriously something needs to happen because I’m going through withdrawals here” territory. Maybe someone interesting will get non-tendered tonight. We’ll see.

Friday: Here is an open thread for the evening. The three local hockey teams are playing and there’s some college basketball on the schedule as well. Talk about anything here that isn’t religion or politics.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The Nets and Devils are both playing, plus there’s all the day’s college football and college basketball action. Have at it.

Sunday: This is the open thread for one last time. The Knicks are playing, there’s a bunch of college basketball, and of course there is all the day’s NFL action. Go nuts.

DotF: Andujar continues to struggle in winter ball

MLB.com put together a neat feature on OF Estevan Florial, who is a star prospect on the field and the team chef off the field. Florial regularly cooked for his teammates while playing in the Arizona Fall League this year. Pretty cool. The video if above. Here are some minor league notes:

  • Jim Callis ranked the top 25 prospects in the AzFL this year. Braves OF Ronald Acuna topped the list, predictably. Florial (No. 8), LHP Justus Sheffield (No. 9), RHP Albert Abreu (No. 10), SS Thairo Estrada (No. 15), and RHP Cody Carroll (No. 23) all made the list.
  • Bill Mitchell also ranked the top AzFL prospects. He ranked ten. Acuna was No. 1, of course. Sheffield (No. 4), Abreu (No. 5), and Florial (No. 8) all made the top ten while Estrada earned an honorable mention. Sheffield and Abreu above Indians C Francisco Mejia is pretty wild. Mejia is a top ten prospect in baseball in my opinion.
  • Jonathan Mayo wrote about the top breakout prospects in the AzFL. Abreu, Carroll, and Estrada were among them. Also, Mike Rosenbaum wrote about AzFL prospects who most stood out to him. Estrada and Carroll both made his write-up. Carroll’s getting some love this fall, huh?
  • The Yankees signed C Chace Numata to a minor league deal, according to Matt Eddy. The 25-year-old is a former 14th round pick. He hit .249/.318/.351 (83 wRC+) in 84 Double-A games with the Phillies this season. Numata’s an organizational depth catcher.

Arizona Fall League

  • SS Thairo Estrada: 20 G, 27-79 (.342), 13 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 R, 3 BB, 19 K, 3 SB, 1 CS, 2 HBP (.342/.381/.430) — all told, the Summer of Thairo featured a .307/.356/.397 line in 142 games this year
  • OF Estevan Florial: 19 G, 20-70 (.286), 14 R, 5 2B, 2 3B, 4 RBI, 10 BB, 29 K, 2 SB, 2 CS, 1 HBP (.286/.383/.414) — considering he only has about a month of High-A time under his belt, this was a real nice AzFL showing for Florial … too many strikeouts, for sure, but everything else looks good
  • SS Kyle Holder: 11 G, 15-45 (.333), 5 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 CS, 1 HBP (.333/.367/.511) — hot take: Holder’s going to be on the 40-man roster 12 months from now … he’ll be Rule 5 Draft eligible next year and the bat is kinda sorta starting to come around
  • 1B/OF Billy McKinney: 19 G, 19-68 (.279), 8 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 20 RBI, 11 BB, 16 K, 1 SB, 1 HBP (.279/.373/.426) — thought he would’ve hit for more power out here given his regular season, but weird things happen in 19-game samples
  • RHP Albert Abreu: 6 G, 6 GS, 27.2 IP, 21 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 14 BB, 23 K, 3 HR (2.60 ERA and 1.27 WHIP) — a few too many walks, but otherwise that’s a really strong AzFL showing
  • RHP Cody Carroll: 9 G, 11.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 18 K (0.00 ERA and 0.60 WHIP) — seven pitchers did not allow a run in the AzFL this year and Carroll led those seven in innings
  • RHP Andrew Schwaab: 9 G, 11.1 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 7 BB, 8 K, 1 HB (6.35 ERA and 1.85 WHIP)
  • LHP Justus Sheffield: 5 G, 5 GS, 20.1 IP, 14 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 22 K, 3 WP (3.10 ERA and 0.84 WHIP)

The AzFL season ended a few weeks go — the Peoria Javelinas beat the Mesa Solar Sox in the Championship Game — so those stats are final.

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