Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Thoughts On The Yankees "Big" Offseason Moves

More often than not I like to share my opinion of news that comes out about our New York Yankees. However, thanks to life getting in the way, I haven't said much of anything lately.

So I decided to give some quick thoughts regarding the bigger transactions the Yankees have performed this offseason.

And since you have probably already skipped past this introduction to get to the bolded part, let's get it going.

And let's tip our caps to Mr. McCann.

11/17/2016 Traded C Brian McCann and cash to Houston for RHPs Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman.

Two years and $34 million, along with a vesting option for a third year at $15 million. The trade really comes down to all that money. But let's take a look at other reasons...

1. Gary Sanchez is the starting catcher for 2017, and hopefully for many years after that. I don't need to tell you why, either. 

2. While the designated hitter position seemed to be McCann's for the taking,  I can't help but look at his batting numbers for the last five years and wonder... can't the Yankees do better? 

Maybe I'm alone in this, but a person with a batting line of .238/.314/.421 while averaging 22 home runs is nothing special. Especially for a designated hitter. In fact, last season, out of the players with at least 450 at bats as the DH, Brian's wOBA of .326 would have ranked 15th. Yeah, striving for better than that, especially at $17 million a season, makes perfect sense.

By the way, I like Brian McCann. He's a great guy. But in the immortal words of Triple H, you gotta do what's "best for business".

Best of luck coming back, Nathan.

11/19/2016 Released UTL Dustin Ackley. Designated RHPs Nathan Eovaldi (released on 11/28) for assignment.

Dustin Ackley is a pretty versatile player. During his career he's played over 2500 innings at second base and over 1500 innings in left field. Plus he's had a significant amount of playing time in center field (to be honest, it's not much lately, but he could probably handle CF if it was needed), and last season played primarily at first base. 

However, a batting line of .235/.296/.358 since 2012 is... well... it's not very good. If the Yankees had nobody else for that 25-man roster spot, then I wouldn't be too against holding onto him. However, at the time the Yankees still had five outfielders on the 40-man roster, and that doesn't include Clint Frazier and Jake Cave who are currently at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Then there's Nathan Eovaldi. I've stuck up for the guy before, but regardless of what my heart says you can't argue with the numbers. Or, in Nathan's case, the lack thereof. He's been a slightly below average starter his entire career (94 ERA+). Can he get better? Sure. He's got a strong arm, and while he's not a "prospect", he isn't "old" either. 

And you have to take into consideration that he won't pitch in 2017. due to having Tommy John surgery in August. 

Finally, look at the plethora of young pitching the Yankees have... Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell, James Kaprielian, and Justus Sheffield. Even if none of those guys become aces in MLB, it's not hard to imagine them being as valuable as Eovaldi.

Hopefully we see this stance often, and while he's wearing a Yankees uniform.

12/7/2016 Agreed to terms with OF/DH Matt Holliday on a one-year contract.

Especially after trading away Brian McCann, the Yankees had a clear opening at designated hitter. But we can't ignore the cost for filling that spot, because it's quite clear that Hal Steinbrenner is not ignoring that cost. So what could the Yankees do? A lot worse, that's for sure.

The days of Holliday batting around .300, and having an on-base percentage pushing .400, are probably over with. But he's never hit at or below .235 (McCann's overall batting average as a Yankee), and his OBP has never been at or below .313 (McCann's overall OBP as a Yankee). Furthermore, Matt's never hit less than 20 home runs in a season (excluding injury shortened ones). 

Now, it's true that the Yankees will end up paying $1.5 million more having Matt Holliday at DH in 2017, than if they held onto Brian McCann. See, the Yankees are on the hook for $5.5m of McCann's salary, while only paying Holliday $4m less than Brian will make. But the key is the extra year on Brian's contract, along with the vesting option for a third.

A still picture like this is one of the only times you'll actually see the ball after it comes out of Chapman's hand.

12/15/2016 Agreed to terms with LHP Aroldis Chapman on a five-year contract.

There are millions of Yankees fans that don't remember the last time the team didn't have a strong one-two (or three) punch in the bullpen. From Rivera-Wetteland, to Robertson-Rivera, to Betances-Miller-Chapman, we've seen over and over again how the back-end of the bullpen can lead to more and more wins.

So it comes as no surprise that the team would look to find somebody strong to pair with Dellin again in 2017. Furthermore, it wasn't much of a question who they were going after. As good as Kenley Jansen has been, the fact of the matter is Aroldis Chapman has been a little better. And the real tie-breaker of this "battle" is the fact that Chapman, unlike Jansen, has gotten it done in New York.

I'm not 100% confident that Aroldis will be as dominant as he has been for the next five years (he has a no-trade clause for the first three). Pitchers that depend on power as much as Chapman does tend not to be great long into their 30s. For example, CC Sabathia's decent began at age 31, and it took him three years to become effective again.

So while I'm cool with this signing, if you read between the lines the deal makes me smile a bit more.

Answer me this...

Why would the Yankees sign a closer for $86 million if they didn't have plans for this team to contend again soon?

Okay, if you're answer is simply "they're idiots", then don't bother responding. Unlike some people I don't think that Brian Cashman is dumb. Regardless of where you rank him among MLB General Managers, you don't keep that job as long as he has while being a moron.

So do I think the Yankees will compete next season? No. In 2018? Maybe, but that would depend on Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, and other young/cheap players reaching their ceilings. But I sincerely believe 2019 will be the Yankees year.