The Miami Marlins had become the New York Yankees of this off-season. That was of course until the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim stole the show by signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson away from the Marlins. Here is a look at our interview.
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1. The Yankees have been fairly quiet so far this off-season. Does that shock you? Are there any moves on the way?
"– It does not shock me whatsoever that the Yankees were quiet at the Winter Meetings. For one, this team was a 97 win team last year and was one clutch hit away from going to the ALCS. They did that with almost no pitching and a less than 100% Alex Rodriguez. They did make a move at the meetings by getting the rights to negotiate with Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. He is a guy similar to Eduardo Nunez but with less power and more defense. The market was basically too big for the Yankees there and there was no surefire bet at a need position for NY. I like C.J. Wilson, but the guy wasn’t worth 100 million and the Mark Buehrle price was too expensive for NY to pay."
"As far as moves on the way, I think Cashman is going to put in a big bid on Yu Darvish. He can be that number two guy because unlike Dice-K, he does not rely on a gyro ball and knows when to use his fastball. Also, I look for the Bombers to look at the trade market for maybe a Jair Jurrjens of the Atlanta Braves who they can get for a less than expensive price where they can keep some of their future intact."
2. Jesus Montero is the Yankees top prospect, is he starting for the Yankees next season? Or do the Yankees plan on easing him into the starting role?
"– It would be smart for the Yankees to ease Jesus Montero into the starting role. Montero had a great stretch run last year for the Yankees, but it is tough to ask a kid who has only played in 30-40 games to play full time catcher or full time designated hitter in his first full year in the bigs. I look for Montero to get time at both positions. The problem is he can’t play full time designated hitter because Girardi has to use that spot to put Rodriguez, Jeter, Cano, and Teixeira in there as part of a rotation. He can’t play full time catcher because of the value Russell Martin brings to the position from a defensive perspective. Montero is going to be a good Major Leaguer, but with the veterans on this team, he does not have to make that big of an impact."
3. As with any manager and GM in New York, Girardi and Cashman are heavily criticized when something goes wrong, what do you think about them? Are their long term futures with the Yanks secure?
"– Joe Girardi’s future with the Yankees is never secure because as long as the Yankees do not win the World Series, fans will be calling for the manager’s head. He did get a three year extension last season, but if New York does not make a deep run this year, Joe will be on the hot seat. I like Girardi as a manager because he is a guy that is going to stick up for his players as we saw with AJ Burnett last year after his blowup against Minnesota. As for Brian Cashman, I like him as a general manager and he will be given time to let the guys in the farm system develop like a Montero, Manny Banuelos, Delin Betances, and an Austin Romine."
4.The Yankees have a intriguing farm system. Could you give us a quick overview of what you see from the Yankees top 5 prospects going forward?
"– The top five prospects for the Yankees would be Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Delin Betances, Gary Sanchez, and Austin Romine. Brian Cashman has built up an excellent farm system for the New York Yankees, particularly in the catcher department with Montero, Sanchez, and Romine. Romine is more of the defensive catcher that can hit for contact as opposed to Montero or Sanchez who bring more to the lineup from an offensive perspective. As far as the pitching prospects, I think Banuelos is more Major League ready, but look for Cashman like he does with his other pitching prospects (Hughes, Chamberlain, Kennedy) to ease them into the role with some pitching rules. Long term, the two killer B’s could be a nice addition to the Yankee rotation. The key will be patience because the last time Cashman decided to play a lot of the farm players, they missed the playoffs. Yankee fans will not be that patient with the kids if wins are not being produced."
5. Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson just signed with a very talented Angels team. Make your case why the Yankees are the team to beat in the American League next season.
"– I don’t think the Angels are the team to beat in their own division. I still think it is the Texas Rangers, but that is for another day and another question. As for the Yankees being the team to beat in the whole American League, I think they are still behind the Detroit Tigers and the AL West teams. However, they still have control over the American League East. Boston has its clubhouse turmoil they have to get over, Tampa Bay has not been active just yet and Toronto with all their big money only brought in Sergio Santos to close games. New York still has a veteran lineup that will lead the league in runs, a pitching staff led by a perennial ace in CC Sabathia that will be up there for the AL Cy Young every year, Nova has shown some promise as well in that number two or three spot. Plus, the Yankees have the best bullpen in baseball. If Rafael Soriano can pitch the way he did in the month of September for a whole season to go with David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, this team can play six inning games. Plus, if Joba comes back from Tommy John Surgery this season, it makes the team that much better towards the back end. I’m not going to say the Yankees are the favorites in the entire league, but definitely for the division."
6. The Yankees have a talent filled team. If you had to pick one player that was irreplaceable, who would that be? Why?
"– That is a great question. The most irreplaceable player for me is Mariano Rivera by far. The guy is 41 years old and he can still give you 35-40 saves a year and maintain his dominance. The Yankees have been trying for years to find his replacement whether it be a Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, or a Rafael Soriano and it just does not have the same cache factor that Rivera does. He is Enter Sandman where if he comes in with a one run lead, the game is basically over. It is hard to imagine life for the Bombers without Mo, but with the recent vocal cord surgery, Rivera might be on his last year this year because he is not going to leave the Yankees with nothing but his best."