If Brian Cashman does get the Reds on the phone, there’s only one starting pitching name he’ll be allowed to discuss: Sonny Gray. And if there isn’t any offensive star power attached to the righty, he should hang right up, despite the regime change in the dugout since Gray left.
Buster Olney’s latest report about the Reds’ endeavors makes sense. He claims the team is open to dealing Gray (which team wouldn’t be?), but prefers to hold onto their more controllable pitching assets, Castillo and Tyler Mahle.
And why not? The Reds have a chance to contend for the NL Central crown this year, considering the “class” of the division, the Cardinals and Brewers, both have warts (age and poor offense, respectively). There’s a chance 88-89 wins could do it, and there’s certainly a chance the Mahle/Castillo Reds could climb that high.
On the other hand, Gray — controlled through 2022 with a 2023 team option — could be the type of veteran who gets sacrificed for the cause.
Olney’s leak makes it seem as if the cost-cutting Reds are extremely open to the possibility (as he says, “again”), but the Yankees shouldn’t bark up the same tree twice, even if Larry Rothschild is no longer in the dugout, emphasizing all the wrong pitches.
The Yankees shouldn’t try to get Matt Blake to solve Sonny Gray.
We’re not saying that Gray “can’t win in New York.” We’re just saying that the upside of him trying to counteract his years-old reputation in the middle of yet another pennant race doesn’t outweigh the downside. You think the vitriol for Andrew Heaney was bad? Imagine another primetime Gray stinker in the Bronx — and no matter how “fixed” he is, they will happen.
Sonny Gray vs Larry Rothschild feud with Yankees
Gray’s issues in the Bronx centered around Rothschild, sure, but most of the problematic coaching staff still remains. Though Matt Blake would be a more analytical mind for him to consult in times of trouble, you don’t think Aaron Boone would serve as a reminder of previous disasters?
According to Gray, he took specific questions to the coaching staff regarding his rapidly-worsening walk rate at home, and the group responded by shrugging him off and calling him unlucky, even as the data piled up. These quotes were damning. They made it sound like Rothschild’s Yankees were lightyears behind, relying mostly on guesswork in an age of data. Theoretically, this has all turned around with Blake helming the pitching department … but, again, the vestiges are still there. Boone runs the show. It doesn’t set the stage for a pleasant return.
Though Gray “broke out” once again after leaving New York by emphasizing his snapdragon curveball, instead of the slider the Yankees demanded he throw (again, what the hell?), he wasn’t all that dominant in 2021, pitching to a 4.19 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. His FIP was right in line with those numbers, sitting at 3.99.
If the Yanks obtained Gray, they’d be surrendering assets for a slightly-above-average NL Central pitcher who hates them, regardless of their personnel. Seems like the textbook definition of bravado to think that — just because the new pitching coach has one year of impressive data in his wake — Gray would let all bygones be bygones while the franchise’s skeleton still remains.