Good morning, dear IIATMS readers. How's everybody feeling this morning? It feels good to be back after a week off, and it feels even better to have had nothing go majorly wrong in Yankeeland while I was away. It was a bummer to miss pitchers and catchers report day last Friday, but that disappointment is overwhelmed by the excitement that comes with the start of Spring Training and the return of baseball to our lives.
Last week was not an inactive one, and naturally I have my own opinions on the comings and goings of that last week. Before proceeding with what's going on in the present and getting back to business as usual around here, I wanted to circle back and give my quick takes on the major stories I missed last week. I promise this won't take long.
Loved it. Loved everything about it. He was obviously in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation when it came to the public apology, and I think he made the right decision to handle it the way he did. He kept himself out of the spotlight as much as possible, I thought he came across as genuine in the letter, and by writing it he at least gave the reasonable group of baseball fans out there a chance to feel some sympathy a/o empathy for him.
I also loved the NY media lining up to bash him for the long ESPN article that came out last week. The fact that so many of them went out of their way to criticize and even poke fun at him for trying to better himself is the latest in a long line of examples of how awful that crew generally is. Hey guys, maybe if you put your claws away for 5 minutes and came down out of your anti-A-Rod ivory towers once in a while, you would have gotten that story. Morons.
Andy, Jorge, Bernie, all well deserved. And Willie will get a plaque too, which is equally well deserved. I know these types of announcements spark more eye rolling and bad jokes around the internet in today's day and age, but the bottom line is the Yankees have a long tradition of winning and these guys were all key parts of the most recent dynasty. That deserves to be recognized.
Normally I'd be staunchly against this plan. I hate the idea of taking starts away from your best pitchers to give to replacement-level guys. But in this situation, I think there could be some value in it. Joe is going to want to take it easy on Tanaka and Sabathia early in the season, and maybe Pineda too. Working with a 6th starter for the early part of the year or strategically during long stretches of games without scheduled off-days to give those guys more rest could help ease them into the long haul of the 162 games and help keep them fresher for the postseason stretch run (fingers crossed).
Love these too. This was the simplest and smartest way to start addressing the pace of play problems without drastically altering the way the game is played. There's no reason for batters who haven't swung at a pitch to step out of the box and readjust their everything. And over the course of 16 commercial breaks a game, having players ready to play as soon as the breaks are over will add up to minutes saved with minimal effort. I don't think things like banning shifts of forcing relievers to face a certain number of batters are smart solutions to the pace of play problem. Teams shouldn't have strategic chances and advantages taken away from them for the sake of time. But these small changes I'm all for. If they cut games down by 10-15 minutes, that's a good thing.
Moncada, Moncada, Moncada
The Yoan Moncada stove is white hot right now and all signs point to the Yankees moving in for the kill. They held 2 more private workouts for him last week, including one that brought Hank Steinbrenner out of his lair, so they're obviously serious about signing him. Today was originally set as the rough decision date by Moncada's representative (agent, whatever), and now the question seems to be how much money it's really going to take to land him. I think the reports of the Yankees not being interested in the $40-50 million price tag is simply them blowing smoke as a way to drive that number down, just as the reports of the number climbing that high are probably Moncada's people blowing smoke in an attempt to get their client and themselves as much coin as possible.
If you haven't already, you should definitely read the post Scott wrote yesterday on this topic. If I had to make a prediction right now I would say that Moncada doesn't decide today but will in the next few days. And when he does, I do think it will be the Yankees that sign him for somewhere between $30-35 mil.
Alright, I'm caught up now. Back to our regularly scheduled early Spring Training coverage.