Time for Yankees to cut Judge cord

As the baseball winter meetings are running full bore in San Diego, rumors are flying about the game’s most sought after free agent Yankee Aaron Judge. All else most clubs do, especially the Yankees, rests on Judge’s decision.

On the Yankees YES network last night, GM Brian Cashman – who earlier in the day signed a four-year contract to stay with the Yankees, would not confirm that New York had offered Judge an eight-year $300M deal. Adding to the intrigue, Judge was seen at last night’s Tampa Bay-New Orleans game, the guest of Tom Brady.

If that wasn’t enough, TIME, the once well circulated now mostly niche magazine, named Judge it’s “Athlete of the Year.” In the story, Judge is quoted as saying he was not happy that Cashman went public with the Yankees contract offer of seven years, $213M, before the season started. Now in every interview, Cashman is tripping over himself to say nice things about Judge.

I say enough. Jon Heyman is reporting that the San Francisco Giants, Judge’s favorite team when he was growing up, has a $360M offer on the table. The length of the contract is not known.

If I am the Yankees, I say good riddance. See you on Opening Day, when the Giants come to Yankee Stadium to start the season. The Yankees would be better off taking the money they are offering Judge to sign a high profile free agent pitcher, Xander Bogaerts, the free agent shortstop and outfielder Brandon Nimmo. They could also package their infield prospects in another deal.

Let Judge be the Giants problem. Other than this year’s great season, Judge has been injury prone. Yes, he has posted some impressive numbers prior to this year, but those numbers always seem to get short-circuited with injuries. When this new contract begins, Judge will be 31. He may have a couple of great years left, but he will never live up to the $360M contract.

The Yankees have not won the big prize with Judge. They would have a better chance of winning their first World Series since 2009, if they plow the resources earmarked for Judge to other areas, as described above. Their current offer to Judge is fair and they should now wish him good luck and move on. Let Judge become this decade’s Robinson Cano.

deGrom did Mets a favor

I wish Jacob deGrom good luck. I really do. I wish for players to earn as much money as they can get. But I also see management’s side. Apparently the Mets would not commit to the contract length deGrom was seeking, although some accounts indicate the Mets were never given the chance to counter.

He may be a pitcher whose stats are off the charts in the modern era, but deGrom will also turn 35 at season’s start and is injury prone. Mets owner Steve Cohen did not make his billions by snap judgement, no matter how many Mets fans wanted him to pony up to give deGrom whatever he wanted. Five years for an injury-prone pitcher at 35 is not worth the risk. Remember, with deGrom and Scherzer the Mets were ousted after three games in the postseason. In other words, with their exorbitant payroll, the Mets played three more games in their season than the worst team in baseball.

So I understand why the Mets did not pony up. Even billionaires have a bottom line. And maybe it works out for Texas, which has had six straight losing seasons. Maybe the Lone Star State becomes the baseball universe with the Astros and Rangers. But the Mets are not losers in this, even though deGrom is gone and Mets fans are pained. Cohen now has millions more to plow into improving his club. And do not worry, Mets fans, he will spend it, all the while performing a balancing act between building a pennant winner and a perennial contender. Do not dispair.

Rizzuto was accomplished broadcaster

The late Phil Rizzuto is in the baseball Hall of Fame for his ability as a shortstop and the intangibles he brought to those championship New York Yankees clubs. But I also believe he belongs in the broadcasters’ wing at Cooperstown.

Rizzuto was an accomplished broadcaster, calling Yankees games for five decades. Fans will recall his zany antics and quirks on the air. Those characteristics endeared him to his audience and arguably made him the most popular broadcaster in the club’s history. “The Scooter” connected with his audience. One of the measurements of a good broadcaster is did he connect with the listener. But the Rizzuto who rooted on the air, much to the annoyance of his critics, was also a very good announcer.

When he was in his prime as a broadcaster, say 1960 to early 80’s, he could describe a play and transmit the excitement of a game or a moment as well as anyone behind a microphone. His call of the then record-breaking 61st home run by Roger Maris is a classic. This was the Rizzuto who knew who was warming up in the bullpen without asking his broadcast partner – and he coexisted with numerous partners and made them all sound great, another attribute – who didn’t leave early to beat the traffic, who could talk about the other clubs and players with detailed analysis. Many of his broadcasts are available on You Tube. Give a listen and draw your own conclusions.

Rizzuto was also a versatile broadcaster. For example, how many people know that in the spring of 1965, when the Spalding Sporting Goods Company released a LP record (remember those?) of radio sports highlights, the narrator was Rizzuto? Phil also hosted a daily sports show on the CBS radio network. Recently, I unearthed one of those broadcasts in my vast collection. It is from Feb. 20, 1970, the day embattled pitcher Denny McLain met with baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn. I posted the show on one of my You Tube channels and I leave it with you here. Enjoy. Meanwhile, maybe it’s time to launch another campaign to get Phil in the hall, the Phil many remember as a beloved broadcaster and not a shortstop.

NL Standings 58 years ago

MLB’s National League standings 58 years ago are fascinating to read. At the close of play on Aug. 23, 1963 the top eight clubs had winning records. Even the last place New York Mets had 40 wins, the same total they had in 1962 in their first season of play. There was no tanking, there was no tearing down rosters, no rebuilding of organizations by tearing them down. What a difference nearly six decades make.

Elston Howard should be in Hall of Fame

Isn’t it time to enshrine Elston Howard in the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown? Isn’t it time to recognize the great career of the first African-American to play for the exalted New York Yankees?

In my latest Substack post, I make the case why it is time to have that conversation. And while you are there, I would be most appreciative if you subscribe to my Sportscaster Dan newsletter.

Thank you.