Rags Could Lead the Yankees to New Riches

As the off-season begins the first and perhaps most important decision the Yankees will have to make is who to hire to replace Joe Girardi as manager. So far several names have been bandied about including recently fired managers like Dusty Baker and John Farrell, coaches already with the team like Tony Pena and Rob Thompson, organization men like Al Pedrique and former big league managers like Willie Randolph.

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Aaron Judge's Yankee Future

Many Yankee fans may not be aware or fully understand the significance of Judge being 25 in his rookie season. One way to think about Judge’s age is that he is only eight months younger than Mike Trout and is six months older than Bryce Harper, two of the premier sluggers in the game today. Similarly, Judge’s 8.1 WAR in 2017 ranked him 20th all-time among 25 year olds and tied for 73rd in seasons for players 25 and younger. Those rankings are impressive, but indicate that while he had a good 2017, he did not have a historically good one.

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The Unseemly Comments Of Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira apparently used the firing to Joe Girardi to provide his own negative opinion as to why the dismissal happened.  Teixeira softened his words a bit by calling Girardi a good man and a good manager, but stated that Girardi was too tense and did not communicate properly. Teixeira's conclusion was, "...He just wasn’t the best man for the job anymore.”

This would not be an egregious thing to say if Teixeira was a third-party observer or had those "unnamed" sources. But the statements sound petty and ill-timed coming from someone who played for the manager.  Of course, Teixeira is on the journalism side of the equation now and no longer a player and such statements can seem to give him "street cred" as an honest baseball analyst.

But here's the rub: Like any manager / employee situation, personalities and styles do not always mesh. If you are a good manager, most will think you are fair and most will enjoy working for you. But there are always a couple who fall on the other side. That is life. Mutual respect keeps those kind of things in-house and discussed privately.

Now say Teixeira did not always enjoy playing for Girardi, which seems to be the case. There had to have been discussions and problems between the two behind the scenes as a result. Joe Girardi never once talked about a personal problem he had with Teixeira. That would be airing dirty laundry and that is what Teixeira is doing here.

Teixeira made several comments such as Girardi managed every game like it was Game Seven of the World Series. And that is a problem? Perhaps it is if you are Mark Teixeira and you have a minor physical problem and Girardi wants you in the game and you won't go. Or perhaps down a run or two, Girardi might suggest the great Mark Teixeira hit the ball the other way to drive in the tying or go ahead run instead of insisting on pulling the ball.

Who knows. That last paragraph was probably just as unfair as what Teixeira said. What Teixeira makes clear is that he did not respect or enjoy playing under Girardi and that's fine. The opinion here is that it serves no purpose other than helping bury a guy who is already dead to say so. What goes on in the back rooms of a workplace should be left there by those who were a part of it.

Since Mark Teixeira is now a "baseball analyst," talking about John Farrell getting fired is fine. Just shut up about Joe Girardi.  It's not a good look.

 

The Next Manager?

There is a great deal of initial speculation over who will be the next Yankees manager.  I decided to review (and link) many of the articles on this topic that have been posted in the immediate hours after Girardi’s departure.

A quick summary of these articles lists the following as the names most mentioned:

Kevin Long – 6 articles

Rob Thomson, Jay Bell, Al Pedrique – 5 articles

Raul Ibanez, Josh Paul – 4 articles

It is my speculation that Tony Pena will be the new Yankees manager. 

Over the weekend, I will post my reasons why I believe Tony Pena will be sitting in the Yankees dugout on Opening Day.

***

Here are the lists and the links to the articles:

NY DAILY NEWS:  Josh Paul, Tim Naehring, Jay Bell, Kevin Long, Reggie Willits

NY POST: Jay Bell, David Cone, Trey Hillman, Raul Ibanez, Kevin Long, Pete Mackanin, Al Pedrique, Rob Thomson, Reggie Willits

NY NEWSDAY: Rob Thomson, Al Pedrique, Joe Espada, Raul Ibanez, Jay Bell, Kevin Long

BERGEN RECORD: Josh Paul, Jay Bell, Al Pedrique, Joe Espada, Rob Thomson, Dave Martinez, Trey Hillman, Kevin Long

CBS: Joe Espada, Tony Pena, Larry Rothschild, Rob Thomson, Jay Bell, Josh Paul, Al Pedrique, Tim Naehring, Brad Ausmus, Eric Chavez, Jason Giambi, Trey Hillman, Raul Ibanez, Kevin Long, Pete Mackanin, Don Mattingly, Alex Rodriguez

THE SPORTING NEWS: Willie Randolph, Tony Pena, Don Mattingly, Kevin Long, Alex Rodriguez, Josh Paul, Ad Pedrique, Raul Ibanez

YAHOO SPORTS - Dusty Baker, John Farrell, Brad Ausmus, Kevin Long, Rob Thomson, Tim Naerhing, Gabe Kapler, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi

Judge and Gardner: Gold Glove Finalists

This afternoon Rawlings released the three finalists for the AL and NL Gold Glove awards at every position. Two Yankees have made the list this year: Brett Gardner at Left Field, and Aaron Judge at Right Field.

If they win, this marks the first time the Yankees would have two OF take home the award since the Gold Glove was first awarded in 1957.

For Brett Gardner this marks his fourth year in a row in the Gold Glove Finalists position, having won his first last year. This year he is up against longtime "rival" Alex Gordon (Royals) and Justin Upton (Angels). This season Gardner had great fielding stats with a UZR of +7.1 and a DRS of +17. Both of these stats beat out last years numbers, (3.5 UZR and 12 DRS in 2016), but this award is yearly so let's see how he compares to Alex Gordon and Justin Upton.

(Green means that this player was highest in the stat, Yellow = Middle, Red = Worst of the three)

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 4.21.00 PM.png

Looking here, it looks like Gardner should be able to defend his title (no pun intended) once again, as he goes into the 2018 baseball season. 

For Aaron Judge, this is obviously his first season as a finalist for a Gold Glove Award. This year he is up against Mookie Betts (Red Sox) and Kole Calhoun (Angels). Let's take a look at the chart to see how he compares:

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 4.21.10 PM.png

Unfortunately for Judge, this seems like it's guaranteed to go to Mookie Betts. Alas, that's the unfortunate circumstance in playing the same position as a defensive wizard.

I do think Gardner will win it again this year as Alex Gordon is his main competitor and the difference in DRS to me seems to be too grand. But unfortunately for Judge, this just seems like another award that he is so close to but won't be selected as the winner.

Awards will be announced on November 7th.

And, I'll leave you with my favorite Gardner catch of the year.

JOE GIRARDI OUT AS MANAGER

**Breaking News**

As first reported on ESPN1000 by David Kaplan (@thekapman), the New York Yankees are not going to re-sign Joe Girardi to a managerial contract for the 2018 baseball season. Tweet

During his successful ten year tenure with the Yankees, Joe Girardi brought the team to the ALCS four times, and once to the World Series, winning it all in 2009. His overall regular season record with the Yankees now ends at 910-710 (.562%), which is the highest winning percentage in baseball since 2008.

After the news broke, Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) tweeted Joe Girardi's press statement, “With a heavy heart, I come to you because the Yankees have decided not to bring me back.” Tweet

Earlier the staff has predicted that Tony Pena, Rob Thompson, and Don Mattingly would be serious candidates in contention to be the new manager. Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) reaffirms the possibility of an outside candidate getting the job with the tweet, "yankees may interview people on the inside but are likely to find their next manager outside the organization. will want analytical guy." Tweet

Thank you Joe.

More analysis will come tonight!

Here's To... Brett Gardner!

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He’s been a Yankee since the 2008 season.

Prior to this season, he had played in 1.067 games as a New York Yankee.

He’s been an All-Star (2015) and has led the league in triples (2013) and stolen bases (2011).  Last year he won a Gold Glove Award.

He plays hard, he gives his all, he wears his heart on his sleeve.

And yet, prior to the 2017 season, I was never a big Brett Gardner fan.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always liked Brett Gardner.  I appreciated his style of play.  I like aggressive players who work hard and seem to maximize their talent.  But, for whatever reason, Brett Gardner always seemed to be a player who fell a little short.

Brett Gardner always seemed to be the guy who would play well, get hurt, wear down, and be an automatic out late in the season.  A lead-off hitter, Brett Gardner never hit .280.  His on base percentage never reached .400.  It also always seemed like Gardner didn’t try to steal enough bases and that he got caught stealing far too often.  Finally, over the years, I saw Brett Gardner take far too many strike three pitches. 

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On an aging and expensive roster, Brett Gardner seemed to be the one player who was a tradable asset.  Over the years I was always on the “Trade Brett Gardner for Something Good” bandwagon.

But this year, that all changed.

As Yankees fans embraced Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez as legitimate power hitters, as we watched Luis Severino and Didi Gregorius become stars, and as the team won against all expectations, I also became a big Brett Gardner fan. 

I am kind of embarrassed to admit that it took me this long to really appreciate this great player who has been part of the team for so long.

This season I was able to relish in Gardner’s drive and his enthusiasm.  I loved the jumping “high fives” and the outfield celebrations.  In addition, Brett Gardner always seemed to be in the middle of every rally.  This year it was Gardner who seemed to be able to deliver the walk-off hit in game after game.

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Hello, World!

I think the young players fed off of Brett Gardner’s determined work ethic.  He was the spark at the top of the line-up.  His energy helped define the team. 

My favorite Yankees moment of the season came in the Wild Card game when Brett Gardner blasted a home run in the bottom of the second inning to give the Yankees the lead.  After connecting, I loved how Gardner stood at home plate, for just a moment, relishing in the blast.  He seemed to say, “Follow me boys, we’re winning this game!”  And they did!

Brett Gardner was also at the center of another great Yankees moment that is a favorite of mine.  On July 27, as I started to believe that this team might have some magic, the Yankees entered the bottom of the ninth inning training the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4.  Gardner led off that inning with a clutch triple.  The passion he showed as he successfully made it to third base exemplified the energy he brought to the team each game.  Two outs later, Brett Gardner scored the tying run on a base hit by Gary Sanchez.  Two innings later, Brett Gardner won the game with a walk-off game winning home run to lead off the bottom of the eleventh inning.  I hadn’t seen Yankee Stadium so energized and excited since it first opened.

In 2017, Brett Gardner set career highs in home runs (21), slugging percentage (.428), and OPS (.778).  His outstanding defense will most assuredly earn him his second Gold Glove Award.  But it was more than that.  It was his energy and drive and focus that helped define a team that far exceeded all expectations. 

Sometimes in life, we don’t truly appreciate the good things we have.  For me, prior to this year, I didn’t fully appreciate Brett Gardner as a ballplayer.  That all changed in 2017.

Here’s to Brett Gardner! 

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