About the Off-Season: The Amuse Bouche is Served
By Tim Kabel
January 19, 2023
The term "amuse bouche" is French for "mouth amuser". It is generally used to describe the little tidbits and morsels chefs send out to the diners before the actual meal. They are not on the menu; they are complementary, and they are designed to whet the appetite and build excitement.
We are about a month away from the beginning of spring training. It seems as if the Yankees will not be making any more major moves at this point. They still could do so, or they could certainly make a move after spring training starts. I have read and written several articles about what the Yankee should do in leftfield, how they should trade Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks, and the future of Gleyber Torres with this team. As I did last week, I would like to devote this middle of the week piece to multiple topics. It will be a scatter-shot piece, throwing out quick thoughts on many different subjects. It's my amuse bouche.
This could be the year the Yankees develop a double play combination that could conceivably be around for a decade or more. It might not happen. But if Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe do win starting roles on the infield, they could be there for quite a while. Think Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell.
I can't wait for baseball. If I have to read one more article or listen to one more interview about Prince Harry, I may go into hibernation. Perhaps he will show up on a Yankees' broadcast next year, causing John Sterling to launch into a full-throated rendition of "I'm just wild about Harry." Maybe the Prince will be willing to do that as a promotion. Every time Harrison Bader hits a home run, Prince Harry could run into the booth and sit next to John while they sing the song. "Suzyn, this song is brought to you by Prince Spaghetti."
What is the best baseball movie you have ever seen? Many people will say Bull Durham or Field of Dreams. I will go with The Natural, in large part due to the presence of America's favorite curmudgeon, the late Wilford Brimley.
Melky Cabrera announced his retirement the other day. He had not been in the major leagues in a couple of years and struggled mightily in winter ball this year. At age 38, he realized it was time to hang up his spikes. Despite the fact that he had a PED suspension, his career numbers were actually much better than you would think. He had a career batting average of .285 and had 1,962 hits. Brett Gardner had about 500 fewer hits and his batting average was 30 points lower. Yet, Melky was a journeyman who bounced around the league, and Brett Gardner was a career Yankee. It could just have easily gone the other way.
Frankie Montas missing the first month of the season is not good but, it is not a reason to panic either. If it turns out to be just the first month, consider the fact that the fifth starter usually doesn't get in a lot of games in April, anyway. If Montas is ready to go in May, that would be perfectly fine. The Yankees also have options to fill in for him while he recovers. If the injury turns into something more significant, then the team will need to adjust.
Who will play more games for the Yankees in 2023?
Josh Donaldson or Oswaldo Cabrera?
Isiah Kiner-Falefa or Oswald Peraza?
Gleyber Torres or Anthony Volpe?
Aaron Hicks or Estevan Florial?
A lot has been written and said about the fact that the Yankees have not won a World Series since 2009. However, the Yankees have had thirty seasons in a row with a winning record, which is the longest currently active streak in the major leagues. During that time, the Yankees made the playoffs 24 times and won five World Series. Only seven other teams have won five or more World Series in their entire history. Yankees' fans have grown accustomed to success, and they are not very tolerant of anything less than a World Series victory.
If the Yankees are successful in integrating Cabrera, Peraza, and Volpe into the starting lineup this season, it will be a very smart move. They will add youth to the roster and cut payroll. The Yankees don't want to be successful for just one or two seasons. As noted above, they have the longest MLB streak of maintaining a winning record. I don't see that streak coming to a stop anytime soon.
Who would have ever imagined that Bob Uecker would be a more beloved figure than Pete Rose? Pete Rose can't even get the seats Bob Uecker had in his Miller Lite commercials.
I read an article today that suggested Austin Wells, the Yankees #4 prospect, could end the season as the Yankees' left fielder. That's not as outlandish as it sounds. He has played leftfield and first base in addition to catching. He also has a strong left-handed bat and is surprisingly nimble. He has stolen 32 bases in his minor league career without being caught. Last year he stole 16 bases. That is more than Mr. 30/30 himself, Aaron Hicks, who only stole ten bases last year but was thrown out three times.
Jacoby Ellsbury is on the Hall of Fame ballot this year. I don't think he will be elected. It's just as well. He would probably miss the ceremony with a pulled hamstring.
As I write this, somewhere in New Jersey, at an undisclosed location, John Sterling sits hunkered over a desk much like Bartleby the Scrivener, working on his home run calls for Peraza, Volpe, and possibly Wells.
“All is Wells that ends Wells.”
“No, that won't work. I've got it! Wells digs one out of the ground; Wells hits that one to Austin.”
For all my needling, John Sterling is a treasure. Let's admit it, Sterling should be bronzed.
Sterling should work on a home run call for Aaron Hicks, just in case. Oh, I forgot, he has one.
I wonder if the Yankees have someone in their employ who is right now searching for some obscure media outlet to broadcast the Yankees' Friday night games this year. Perhaps they will play them over CB radio.
Who had a better tenure at third base as a Yankee?
Josh Donaldson or Chase Headley?
Josh Donaldson or Mike Pagliarulo?
Josh Donaldson or Toby Harrah?
How many of the Yankees' young players will be in the opening day lineup? It could be zero or it could be as many as three. I think the answer will be a good indicator of how the season will go overall. I'm going to be optimistic and say three, Peraza at shortstop, Volpe at second base, and Cabrera at either third base or leftfield.
I wonder if John Sterling calls his Yankees' companera, Suzyn Waldman at 2:00 in the morning to run his latest home run call past her during the off-season.
“Susan, it's John Sterling here, voice of the Yankees. What do you think of this one? 'Vol makes them pay for that one. Mark one up for Anthony."
“Good gravy John, it's 2:00 o'clock in the morning."
“No Suzyn, it goes 'It's quarter to three. There's no one in the place, except you and me.”