Tuesday, May 8, 2018

What I've Seen So Far

It's hard for me to say that I'm more excited for this year's team than I was for last year's.

On the one hand I loved last year's team, and had so much fun watching them, because they did not have any big expectations. For proof, take a look at the predictions being made before the 2017 season. Over at ESPN, only nine of 35 "experts" picked the Yankees to even make the postseason (five of them had the Yankees as the 2nd wild card team). But not only did they come within one win of the World Series, they had a ton of fun getting there. It was such a joy to watch them.

Then we come to 2018, and this team has all sorts of expectations. This time around 21 out of 29 ESPN "experts" picked the Yankees to win the American League East. Only three of them believe the Yankees will win the World Series (that honor goes to the Astros with eight votes), but the fact of the matter is they are no longer underdogs. Yet watching them play you'd never know there was any pressure on them.

Aaron Judge is having another extraordinary year, Luis Severino looks like a Cy Young Award candidate again, Didi Gregorius is having an MVP-like season, Aroldis Chapman has been the best closer in the entire league, CC Sabathia has been a stud, Domingo German's MLB debut was record breaking, and Gleyber Torres could very well bring the Yankees back to back AL Rookie of the Year awards.

Then you have Gary Sanchez (arguably the best hitting catcher in baseball), Giancarlo Stanton (I believe he's in for a huge second half), Miguel Andujar (even though he's gone eight games without an extra base hit, I still believe in the guy), Chad Green (a stud more often than not), and David Robertson (outside of an awful outing on 4/1 he's been nothing short of awesome).

And don't forget about the guys who should be healthy sooner or later... Greg Bird, Brandon Drury, Tommy Kahnle, Jordan Montgomery, and Adam Warren.

Here are some of their team ranks in the American League...

Home Runs - 2nd (tied)
Runs - 1st
RBI - 1st
OBP - 1st (tied)
SLG - 2nd

What about the pitchers? Well...

The only starting rotation that's been better in terms of fWAR this season has been the Astros, while their relievers have easily been the best.

The greatest part about all of this is that we're not talking about a group of older players. Check this out...

Position Players (with ages)
Catcher - Gary Sanchez 25
1B - Neil Walker 32 Note: Greg Bird (25) is not far away from returning and taking over regularly. Not to mention Tyler Austin, who is 26.
2B - Gleyber Torres 21
SS - Didi Gregorius 28
3B - Miguel Andujar 23 Note: Brandon Drury (25), who could take over the hot corner, is returning soon.
LF - Brett Gardner 34
CF - Aaron Hicks 28
RF - Aaron Judge 26
DH - Giancarlo Stanton 28

Starters (with ages)
Luis Severino - 24
Masahiro Tanaka - 29
Sonny Gray - 28
CC Sabathia - 37
Jordan Montgomery - 25
Domingo German - 25

Did you ever think you'd see the day when Brett Gardner was the oldest regular, positional, starter on the team? And by the way, Gardner will most likely be let go into free agency after the season, leaving left field to somebody that is also under 30 (Clint Frazier is only 23). Furthermore, Masahiro Tanaka may be only pitcher in the starting rotation on Opening Day 2019 that's 30 years old (It wouldn't be a total surprise if CC Sabathia retired after the season... World Series title or not).

Yeah, this is the old guy.

All of this has left me dumbfounded as to what the Yankees will do before the trade deadline.

I still believe the Yankees will acquire a big-time starting pitcher, but it will be very interesting to see how that guy fits into the rotation.

Can Sonny Gray build on his last two decent outings?

How will Domingo German fair after his stellar MLB debut on Sunday?

Will Jordan Montgomery's flexor strain linger and lead to Tommy John surgery?

I mean, there's a chance that the Yankees will already have six good to great starting options. And don't think you can just shove one or two guys into the bullpen. Yeah, on the surface that may seem fine, but when you're talking about a bullpen already filled with Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, Chasen Shreve, and a soon to return Tommy Kahnle, there aren't many innings to go around.

And don't forget that there are some very nice prospects not far away from the big leagues. Guys like Justus Sheffield, Albert Abreu, Estevan Florial, Chance Adams, Dillon Tate, Thairo Estrada... the list goes on. Some of them are going to be used to trade for that aforementioned starter. But where do the others fit?

That's a question that keeps me up at night. Those players could fill in nicely should the Yankees suffer another injury, but I'd hate to see any of the current Yankees get hurt. Or those players could be used in other trades even though there are no holes that need to be filled, which means this team could keep getting better and better... which is mind-boggling seeing how they're playing already.

For the love of God! I haven't even brought up the fact that the Yankees can afford to bring in a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado in the offseason.

Okay, Bryan, settle down now. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

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