Lots of free agent signings in the mix before the anticipated lockout. Yanks quiet thus far.
This can’t make anyone around here particularly happy, I’m sure…
Here’s a fun discussion to have; one I was having offline that was suggested to me to post here: what managers really have “juice” these days? Not PEDs of course, but respect; the kind that allows them to call the shots in the dugout without too much input, oversight or meddling from the GM and front office? There have been many discussions about the true role of the manager in the Age of Analytics, and how the importance of the manager has either diminished or shifted to other points of interest. I thus made an impromptu list of current managers and ranked them by service time, how many rings they’ve won, how many times they led their team to a championship series and the general perception likely by players, fans and others around the league.
The topic arose, ironically, from the latest news reports about the Houston Astros cheating scandal and former manager A.J. Hinch’s role in the whole story. The general conclusion was that Hinch, who was contrite in apologizing for not doing enough to discourage the cheating that MLB investigated and concluded in a mostly direct report, yet seemingly danced around a direct question about the use of wearable tech by players, would likely never manage again in the majors due to his apparent show of weakness among veteran players and his drop in credibility. Depending on the results of the ongoing investigation of the 2018 Red Sox due to their association with Alex Cora and how he reportedly continued his cheating methods as manager, Cora could also likely be blacklisted as a manager of a MLB team, if not worse. Also, with Carlos Beltran continually being outed for his role and impact on other players, Beltran could stand to lose the most from the scandal when all is said and done. But what is most telling is the role the front office reportedly had in both initiating and implementing the cheating in the first place, and how that impacted players who either played along or protested against the cheating. Former GM Jeff Lunhow is very likely out of MLB anything for good, due in part to his alleged oversight of the whole operation (and the fact that he denied any knowledge whatsoever), and also due to the fact he has virtually no supporters in other organizations; many people disliked his personality and hubris.
With all that said, do any managers really have power within the organization to lead or direct players in any capacity beyond writing their names on the lineup card and implementing analysis that was cooked up by a GM and his analytics department? Is there more to it than that and managing personalities anymore? Are managers more than notebook carriers and soothsayers for impressionable young stars in the making? Are style, personality, managing or coaching experience (particulary in the majors) and verifiable results actually unwelcome aspects when considering hiring a new manager in this day and age? Could a Rob Thomson or a Hensley Meulens ever get a manager job over a recently retired player or even a quality assurance coach?
Here’s the list of current managers for each team (courtesy of BR Bullpen):
Wowzers, you see it coming and yet…
Boston, still without a manager a week before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, traded two of their most significant players to the Dodgers, right fielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price, in a three-way trade also involving the Twins for regarded young outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers, and pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol from the Twins. The Twins in turn get starting pitcher Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. It is indeed a seismic move involving three star players changing coasts and leagues at the same time (well, Maeda goes halfway, but you get the picture). In a likely corresponding move to make room for Betts, the Dodgers also traded outfielder Joc Pederson (along with a rookie league prospect) to the Angels for a young infielder I’ve never heard of, but will likely be pushing for a spot during the upcoming Spring Training portion of the show.
What’s the initial take? Dodgers pretty much get a Golden Ticket to the 2020 post-season (as long as they stay healthy) with Top 5 (Top 3?) outfielder in Betts, but then what of former All-Star and current borderline albatross David Price? Fortunately for L.A., the Red Sox are apparently sending a boatload of cash with him in the deal, and apparently by sending Maeda to the Twins, who send one of their pitching prospects to Boston, this evens out somehow. They are once again the team to beat in the N.L..
For the Twins getting Maeda, who finished 3rd in ROY voting in 2016 after eight largely stellar seasons in Japan, goes a long way in stabilizing a rotation that has Jake Odorizzi leading a staff including José Berríos, Homer Bailey and… um… yeah. Michael Pineda will finish out a 60-game suspension in mid-May while Rich Hill recovers from surgery and will probably return sometime in June. Minnesota needed this after having a huge season, yet falling short to the usual suspects in the playoffs.
The Red Sox, you say? I was having an offline discussion about this; basically this is salary relief in the disguise of retooling. They get a young(er) outfielder plus a prospect in Verdugo from the Dodgers and Graterol from the Twins, while also getting something instead of nothing for Betts. While they apparently have to pitch in a significant portion of Price’s salary to move him, he’s essentially one less conflict they have to deal with head-on (and vice-versa). Thus the price (pun… not intended, but liked) for a championship (albeit with a cloud hovering over it) and spending with near-reckless abandon to achieve it. The fans will probably HATE this move, but will definitely find ways to rationalize it.
Why does this matter to us Yankee fans, you might also ask? (You might, rabbit, you might…) Well, obviously it weakens a close competitor significantly; what Boston gets in return does not move the needle much as far as contending is concerned. If anything, they get a young player with value and more years of control and a really manageable salary… but GTFOH, he’s not Mookie Betts. He’s not charging up Aaron Judge in man-to-man WAR comparisons… not yet anyway. The pitcher they get may or may not make the rotation, that remains to be seen. All-in-all, the Red Sox accomplished their main goal in shedding significant salary, and we should be happy they did, more contending for the Yanks. And the best part is Mookie’s in the NL now, so the Yanks don’t haver to face him (or Price for that matter) nearly as much.
So that’s that so far. I may easily change my mind about all of that as more updates come; whereas much of this happened only recently as of this writing, so more details are sure to come. Comment away!
Boom. As fans, let’s take a few moments to assess what we just witnessed in the latest edition of “As The Baseball World Turns”…
I wish I had time to go in-depth on this situation, which is still evolving as we speak. But I do have some references for you to follow up and discuss if you wish.
What we know so far:
There has been and will continue to be plenty of discussion about what this all means for the people involved; we know that the Astros lose their first and second picks in both the 2020-21 drafts and also have to pony up $5 million; an unprecedented punishment indeed for the fifth-year commissioner Rob Manfred and for baseball overall, but then Crane went beyond that and fired Luhnow and Hinch for essentially embarrassing the organization and the city of Houston. Cora is still under investigation; he was singled out as the person who implemented the cheating system, then allegedly carried it over to his new job as manager and won a championship with it there. If he gets the book thrown at him, it will likely be bigger than the one thrown at Luhnow and Hinch, and likely result in his dismissal. meanwhile, Beltran, while not escaping the eye of MLB investigators, managed not to get punished by MLB. Yet, that doesn’t mean the story is over for him; there will likely be internal discussion about his suitability for running the Mets going forward, depending on what or if he told the Wilpons and GM Brodie about his part in the scandal and whether or not it means anything to them (did they even ask?) The New York press is going to have a field day with this, for real.
Happy New Year, folks, your Hot Stove is on fire…
MLB.Com (video featured)
You got to love the Yanks giving Ellsbury a hard time on the way out. After all, it was one of the worst deals in franchise history. Nobody to blame but themselves, of course, but whatever with Ellsbury, he’s a fink. And it’s funny, it’s not like this was a good gamble that went wrong. We all knew it was a turkey of a deal from the start.
Ah, well, good riddance.
Sorry that Greg Bird didn’t work out, though. I always wanted him to be the next thing. If not a star, then just a reliable, durable dude. It wasn’t to be and he’ll forever reside in the Yankee cutout bin right behind Nick Johnson.
In the meantime, it’s the first of the winter holidays. Eat, drink, and enjoy your friends and family.
Picture by Bags
Looks like free agency’s officially here and open for business.
Given the last few years, how can we tell if the market will favor legit stars like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg or… not-Cole/Strasburg? Last year, it was decidedly the latter; though Bryce Harper and Manny Machado eventually got much of what they wanted in heavy, long term contracts, they had to wait an awfully long time to actually get them (and not necessarily from teams that were first on their supposed lists). Will it be different now that we’re talking about two dominant Cy Young candidates with some good years still ahead of them heading the list? Only the GMs and the supporting stats departments know with MLB Analytics driving the conversation. As we’ve seen recently, not everything is what it seems.
Take the Yanks’ own free agents:
We already know CC is retired; hope he recovers from his latest injury well enough to enjoy his first year off from baseball in what has to have been a very long time. As for the rest, it’s easy to say that none are solid locks to be on the 2020 40-man for the Yanks; if anything, Didi would be the most likely to remain, and that’s not stated with a whole lot of confidence. Fan favorite that he is, when he came back from Tommy John surgery, he wasn’t up to what we’ve come to expect of him year-round. Personally, I would not find this to be the tipping point in any negotiations, though Didi doesn’t necessarily have the leverage he could have expected a year ago pre-injury, thanks to the year natural-shortstop-playing-second Gleyber Torres had; playoffs included. Gleyber is ticketed for stardom no matter where he plays on the diamond; provided he doesn’t get injured (which, ironically, is what we would have said about Didi last year at this time). I don’t like the idea of Didi being dismissed, given that Tommy John surgery is not something you bounce back from so quickly either as a pitcher or a position player, but the talent hasn’t disappeared either. With a full off-season to recover and rebuild, I would expect him to return to Hidden Dragon form. Hopefully the Yanks will find a way to keep him here.
Dellin Betances, too; I hope that the team will bring him back. 2019 was a disaster for Betances; first recovering from right shoulder surgery, then suffering a lat strain during rehab that cost him most of the season, and finally after returning for one game, tearing his ACL and being done for 2019. This was just a horrible season for Dellin, especially since it was a contract season where it was expected he would be lights out while either finalizing an extension or moving into free agency as one of the top sought-after relievers. Now the best he can hope for is that the Yanks decide to bring him back for a season or two to rehab and get back into form; failing that, his options are likely either accept any offer he can get from another club (which will likely be very low) or take the year off and rehab until next off-season, then take a likely pillow-contract to re-establish his value. Man, sucks to be him right now (and I mean that kindly). Again, the promise of talent is what keeps his value from slipping into AA territory, and I hope the Yanks feel that it’s worth the investment, regardless of the fact that he’s well past 30. But I dunno, it’s bad territory to be in for him.
All that being said,
the biggest name on the FA list for the Yanks has to be Aroldis Chapman has been extended for another year at an additional $18 million. He still can chuck it over 100mph, but it’s getting harder and harder as the seasons go by and we’ve seen less of it this season than in others. Then there was that slider… well, I don’t think the team will hold that against him so much (though it was not his best pitch by a long-shot) and given his usage, you can almost not blame him for using it, but that’s neither here nor there; there were plenty of other reasons the Yanks lost. The thing is, though the Yanks do have someone to replace Chapman, it came down to how much he wanted to remain in New York (a whole lot), how much they were willing to pay to bring him back (a whole lot) and, ultimately how much stronger he makes the pen (a whole lot). As freely as the team spent in the George Steinbrenner era, the team is willing to be thrifty in the Hal Steinbrenner era and seem hellbent on going down with the ship to prove to whomever that The Yanks Don’t Buy Championships (*cough-cough2018 Red Soxcough*) and also don’t need to TANK! to build a champion contender. If anything, the Winning Formula Award® now shifts to Dee Cee and the Nats, who are also the comeback players of the year (century?) and looking at some harder decisions than the Yanks this off-season. Would I like to have him back? I like having him back; having a super-duper bullpen is never-ever a bad thing, but I hope it’s not at the expense of keeping Didi + Betances and/or signing an ace; Hey-ell no.
So what’s left:
Brett Gardner… another tough call, honestly. He is the realest example of a True Yankee; drafted and bred in the Yankees system, made an impact from day one and through sheer hard work and perseverance became a solid everyday player and a fairly important one at that, even when his production went down, the team gambled on him holding the fort while others played in front of him and that gamble paid off in different ways, culminating in one of his best seasons of production in his career this past season. However, he’s 36, he’s not stealing many bases anymore even if analytics suddenly found them useful and there are quite a few guys on the team who are champing at the bit to do what he does (at a cheaper rate to boot). Between Clint Frasier, Cameron Maybin and Mike Tauchman(!), Gardner had his hands full just staying on the roster, But it says a whole lot that not only did he remain, but he competed hard and was quite productive in the process. It was a gamble both he and Cashman won this season despite ups and down throughout. This time, I don’t think fans would be so averse to having him around for another season, also given how injury-prone Stanton and to a certain degree Judge have been. Plus, he’s the last link the team has to their last championship on roster, and at a glance probably the only player in the clubhouse with a championship on his resume; at least as a starter. That cannot be discounted in any regard.
Austin Romine, however… there’s a lot to be said about having a good backup catcher. For one, they are very rare. For another, the Yanks sure do need them. With the way Gary Sanchez’ career has played out so far, they were blessed to have Romine on the roster. It may or may not stick with him, but he proved to be very valuable given the playing time he had and the number of times he had key hits that either kept them in contention or won games for them. And more importantly, pitchers liked pitching to him. That always is something to take into consideration. That said, this may not simply be a matter of if the Yanks want him back or not, but rather if they are willing to compete for him. Several teams need upgrades in the backstop department, and Romine could fit in any contender’s roster as well as a rebuilding team in search of a steadying force in the infield. He’s not a star per se, but he might be just what some team needs to keep the pieces together. I’m not sure if there;s an immediate replacement for Romine in the system if he were to walk; top catching prospect Anthony Seigler is way too far away from the majors, and Kyle Higoshioka is decidedly not Austin Romine.
Cameron Maybin, well he deserves a decent contract somewhere. He proved to be a solid contributor for the Yanks after signing with and being released by San Fran, signing with Cleveland and then being bought out by the Yanks all in 2019. After effectively replacing Frasier who was inept in the outfield and in interviews with reporters, he hustled his way to consideration as key fourth outfielder beyond all of the injuries plaguing the team until his momentum was stopped cold by the same injury bug that felled many of his teammates. But he returned in due time and was a key contributor the rest of the way, including the playoffs. He’s a talented player; even if he doesn’t often hit for power, he puts bat on ball more often than not and he’s a good outfielder to boot. I’d hate to lose him to someone else, but I would not begrudge him a starting role somewhere else (out of the division, of course).
Edwin, thanks for the memories. However, you proved to be the exact definition of a luxury; the homers were nice and it’s a good thing you could play first, but nah, we’re good. By the way, you weren’t when we needed you to be, but you already knew that. This… is an ex-Parrot.
The rest are not so much a Who’s Who gallery as it is a Who Dat? list. David Hale is the most familiar name as the Yanks have released him several times and reacquired him and sent him every which-a-way for the past couple of seasons, so I wonder if he’s also a masochist. Cliff Pennington, I only wondered if he was related to former NY Jets QB Chad Pennington (PS: I doubt it). Cory Guerrin and Eric Kratz; I’ve got nuthin’.
Okay, so feel free to chime in and sound off; this will probably stay open for a couple of weeks if it remains active, after which we’ll likely throw in another stream of consciousness or distract you with a Where & When cameo (those were fun) or even maybe try to pick up where we left off recounting famous Yanks For A Minute or who knows, something new for the Hot Stove Season to keep us engaged? Only time will tell, but thanks for the fun season, for sticking around and psst, keep
an eye on the cash register having fun>;)
Yeah, this pretty much had to happen; Yanks sign native Noo Yawka Adam Ottavino to a 3yrs/$27mil. Cool… so…
Tell us how you REALLY feel in regards to the report that the White Sox offered Manny Faces a 7yr/$175 mil contract; not to mention his agent essentially going apeshet over it. Did it happen? Was it gamesmanship or something nefarious? What does it say about the state of baseball today, particularly in regards to the hard and blatant disconnect that exists fans’ expectations and baseball’s actions? Show your math >;)
Man, you gotta hope ol’ David Robertson somehow finds his way back to the Bronx before he hangs ’em up. He’s been a terrific Yankee. But now he’s a Philadelphia Phillie and the Yanks just paid up to secure the services of Zach Britton, he of the hard, money-earnin’ sinker.
Course River Ave Blues has the lowdown.
There’s more to do, of course, but the days are starting to get longer and you can almost smell the first hints of the season to come.
Picture by Bags
Robbie Cano is a Met and Patrick Corbin has picked the Nats over the Yanks, Phils and every other team.
Hot Stove is heating up.
Picture by Bags
Sooo… how ’bout that weather?
Indeed, it’s been an effort this winter to stay warm and in a cheery mood, not that Cashman and the Yanks haven’t tried to help. After all, snatching up a reigning MVP entering his prime from one league and pairing him with a homegrown runner-up MVP who also happens to be the unequivocal Rookie of the Year and still a couple years away from his prime (hopefully) has to qualify as a heat-seeking missile maneuver to say the least. Re-signing C.C. seems like posturing after the Mother Of All Dunks (hey, they ain’t called the Bronx Bombers for nothing…). Yet even with that, the ripples of time have dissipated far and long enough enough for us to see that this off-season has been in relative stasis; the iguanas falling out of the trees are frozen in expectation of better conditions to act within their nature.
So what are we waiting for?
I guess we’re still waiting on that market, huh? Yunnow, the one that seems to be getting busy later and later in the off-season these past few years? I dunno, with what amounts to a soft-cap looming over the proceedings and a new generation of smart shoppers analyzing everything with modified Hubble telescopes and probability vector algorithms, the Hot Stove has been as interesting as watching flies fiduciary-fiduciary-fiduciary… you get the picture.
To be honest, I’m quite pleased with the relative “restraint” the Yanks have shown in this and the last few seasons; Ellsbury notwithstanding. They’ve figured out how to add and subtract big contracts and farm pieces without putting too much pressure on their bottom line, but obviously the major factor in this formula working is the fact that their prospects are mostly living up to their rankings when they hit the big stage, which creates more capital to pull off a big trade such as Ultron for Rikki Tikki Tavi and two diamond pinkie rings. And so far, what they haven’t done has given them credibility going forward; not trading for Gerritt Cole, who not long ago gave us all the impression that he never wanted to be a Yankee to begin with to me makes up for the pre-dynasty years wasted on Jack McDowell. Now if they can only avoid making a long-term regret with Yu Darvish… I like Darvish and our old Toaster fam Mike Plugh was not wrong about him, but I also like that he purportedly skipped a ridiculously Ellsburyish offer with a 48-hr deadline, which probably means if he does sign with the Yanks, it’ll be for significantly less ducats. As is, the Yanks can live somewhere around $25-30 million under the luxury tax line without him.
So as presently constructed, what do you think we can expect from this influx of power and youth? Is it safe to consider the roster a go heading into February, or are we waiting for the fire to heat up now that certain teams are starting to make a few moves? Is Gleyber a lock at second or does Cashman want to let him warm up in SWB coming off an injury and all… is Miguel Andujar the answer at third or is Todd Fraizer going to slide in under the budget line somehow? Does Jacoby break with the team going north and turn in a Headleyesque barnburner of an April-May that gets him some admirers from far-flung contenders? Will Hicks continue to build on what the Twins didn’t have the patience for? Can Gardy… wait, do we still have to do the stupid “name-y” thing now that Joe’s gone? And who’s going to be our Achilles’ Heel bench guy who had one good season and is signed to keep the lineup human THIS year?
Oh yeah, and is Aaron Freakin’ Boone gonna do it or what? Will our new Ulysses prove Cashman to be the brilliant Texas Hold-Em Pragmatic Genius that we hope he is at this point, or will Cashman be forced to do a Dan Jennings The Elder and take over halfway through May? What’s it gonna be, Bob Brenly or Bucky Dent?
Notorious Yankee-killer Evan Longoria gets shipped to San Francisco, a long ways away. Happy to see him gone from the AL East, but, as the saying goes, I’d grown accustomed to his face. He was a worthy adversary, and will be missed in a weird way. Of course, you all know the Yanks re-signed C.C. to a one-year, $10 million deal and that sounds about right. They also shipped away Chase Headley to save some dough and that sounds about right too. But I am also sorry to see him go because that Chase Headley’s a good egg.
Last summer, I spent a couple of days at the Stadium on assignment for Esquire poking around about Aaron Judge. I spoke to Judge, briefly, and to a few of his teammates: C.C. was standoffish, Didi was terse and odd, Aaron Hicks, then on the DL, was interesting and Brett Gardner was generous and helpful, and I’ll tell you this—Chase Headley was just such a good guy. No airs, no pretense, professional, but thoughtful, just a good guy. Gave me a lot of time, had some great observations. I’d never been his biggest fan just watching him but after meeting him I had no choice but to root for him for the rest of his career. Wish him luck.
[Photo Credit: Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports]
I used to work for a guy who said real Yankees unbutton the top button of their jersey cause that’s what the Mick did. Always think of that when I see Matt Holliday who often has the top few buttons of his jersey undone. As the Winter Meetings kick off news is the Yanks have signed the big fella. He’ll look good in pinstripes. Now, here is hoping the Yanks steer clear of Encarnacion.
Picture by Bags
So far, there’s been relatively little of seriousness to discuss this off-season, which is par for the course these days around this portion of the year (unless you consider cashing in Brian McCann and his post-trade thoughts for a couple of futures worthy of going ballistic in the comments section). As I (meaning me) have suggested recently, it would be surprising if the Yanks made any tectonic-scale moves to bolster (replenish?) their starters in either the batting lineup or the pitching staff, but don’t be surprised if they swap out some guys for bullpen help or to shore up their bench. In fact, considering how well 2009 went regardless of our initial beliefs, anything’s still possible, so save that thought.
According to Mark Polishuk at MLB Trade Rumors (who apply their own accord on this to George A. King III), Yanks are in on our old pal Aroldis Chapman, though they are considerably wary of going five years with him. Similarly, but to a lesser extent, they are also interested in the hard-hitting Edwin Encarnacion, but are equally uninterested in a five-year deal with him. Both would represent considerably improvements in their area of expertise, though their need for Chapman outweighs their need for Encarnacion based on the presence of Gary Sanchez and (again) to a lesser extent the expectations placed on both Greg Bird and Aaron Judge. To this, we also add the possibility of the Yanks bringing back Carlos Beltran, though they might not get that chance either if they are trying to stay within their given budget parameters.
I would think that considerable attention should be paid to third base, where Chase Headley has been somewhat of a letdown and where the Yanks are considerably thin in their system having traded their former Trenton Thunder 3B Eric Jaigalo (their first pick overall in 2013 and by all accounts their closest-to-ready 3B prospect for the majors, even if he wasn’t really that close) and three others to bring in Chapman last off-season. Among their top ten prospects, none are slated to play third, which along with second has been a perennially overlooked issue with the Yanks of late. Maybe Cashman believes one of their infield prospects will take to the hot corner well enough to cover this seeming oversight, maybe he thinks Starlin Castro or Lil’ Ronnie Torreyes or a player to be discovered later will be good enough, or maybe he even thinks Headley can only go up from here. Perhaps, even, the Yanks can’t afford to go deep on any more starting infielders without trading for one that would ultimately upset the balance he’s creating with all of the prospects he’s stacking in the system at the moment (or because of, you know, the budget). Who really knows? As fans, all we can do is react and speculate, and I’m all out of Big League Chew…
So here we are, waiting to see if Cashman can figure out a way to bring back the best closer currently playing in the majors (who you still might be a little wary of considering how he was used by manager Joe Torr–err, Maddon during the post-season) without breaking the bank or the system or future plans in the process, and also hope that while you know in the back of your mind there’s not much hope for contention in the coming year, they can at least make it interesting for far longer than they did this past season.
Ahem, take your time processing all that, it looks like it’s gonna be a long winter at any rate.
It’s early and all, but this will probably be of some note to some of us Banterers in the coming Spring. according to tweets by both NY Post’s Joel Sherman and LoHuds’ Chad Jennings (contained in the linked article) Greg Bird will be out for the entire 2016 season, due to shoulder surgery. Apparently the Yanks have been hip to this since last May when the injury was first incurred, but doctors said he wouldn’t require any surgery… until now, with a recent recurrence of the injury. *Sigh*, well, at least Cashman’s been making moves all winter to shore up the depth in the minors as that seems to be about to be put to good use, but dang this sure came out of left field for the rest of us. Not that he was slated to start in the majors; in fact all indications were that Bird was to start off 2016 in SWB until need be, but crap. Alex better get his 1B glove on, because he might have to put in some work there soon enough.
Meanwhile, get well soon, dude; see ya next year we hope.
What to make of the Yankees’ trade for Aroldis Chapman? The guy is clearly a stud on the mound but also possibly a huge asshole. And I don’t mean your run-of-the-mill Dave Kingman jagoff but a woman-beating creep. Kind of takes the fun out of imagining him in pinstripes, doesn’t it?
Okay, maybe he’s not a jerk, maybe he’s innocent of the charges against him–I’m sure it’s complicated. I know I’m presuming his guilt and that’s hardly fair. Regardless, this is a departure from how the Yanks have conduced business in recent years. They’re back to chasing talent with questionable character–let’s see if it blows up in their face or is a success.
I know Miller’s vulnerable to being traded and my hunch is that he will be moved. Still, Chapman, Betances and Miller at the end of games–that’s a formidable trio.