Friday, February 23, 2018

The New York Yankees & Solving Their Outfield Logjam

Good afternoon everyone, it’s been a while. You all remember that movie “Angels in the Outfield” with that kid that could see and use ghosts to help the California Angels win games? Well I hear they are making a sequel in 2018, and I heard it will be called “Yankees in a Crowded Outfield” with the ghosts of Yankee Stadium helping to terrorize the rest of the American League, especially the Boston Red Sox. Now while the movie and movie title are a bit tongue-in-cheek, the fact that the New York Yankees have a crowded outfield (and ghosts that will hopefully continue to terrorize the Boston Red Sox) is not. The outfield is overcrowded with Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury possibly all on the active 25-man roster, although Frazier is likely to start the season in Scranton in Triple-A, and the Yankees may need to address this over-population sooner rather than later. The good news for them is I have a plan; the bad news is this may not be one of my most popular blog posts from this offseason and spring.

Before I put forth my idea to clear the logjam I will preface this post by saying that the Yankees have a plan, and that plan has already been put into place by Aaron Boone and his staff this spring. Reggie Willits, a newcomer to the Boone staff and to the Yankees coaching staff this season, is already working with both Judge and Stanton in left field this spring with the hopes that either could play there in a pinch this season. The team has also left the designated hitter position open with the hopes of rotating their outfielders in and out of the position to not only get everyone at-bats, but to give the players a half-day off as well. It is also worth mentioning that Judge has reportedly spoken with and asked manager Boone about playing some center field in 2018, an idea I am admittedly not really keen on personally, giving the Yankees yet another option to help with the logjam. Unfortunately, I do not think this will be enough and there will always be one or more players on the outside looking in so here are my ideas on how the team could clear up the clutter.

The team tried, and reportedly failed, to trade Jacoby Ellsbury and his three-years and $68 million left on his contract all winter long so why not try and trade the man that replaced him instead, Aaron Hicks. I know this won’t be a popular decision as Hicks did well in 2017 posting a .266/.372/.475 triple slash with 15 home runs in 88 games, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Honestly, I cannot see the value for Hicks getting any higher than it already is and as much as I would hate to lose the switch-hitting center fielder, it may make the most sense for the Yankees this season. The production from Hicks is replaceable, in my opinion anyway, by having Clint Frazier take over center field, something he did with the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees as a prospect and something he could do again until Estevan Florial is ready, while keeping Jacoby Ellsbury on the bench.

Trading Hicks could bring back a significant piece, especially if packaged with a prospect or two, to the pitching staff as well as a little bit of salary relief and roster space. It isn’t ideal losing Hicks, I admit that, but in my opinion, it isn’t ideal having Frazier down in Triple-A with nothing to prove either. That’s when bad attitudes and bad practices occur with a player, see Jesus Montero as a recent example of this. Trading Ellsbury would be ideal, no one would argue this fact, but for most of the same reasons the Yankees want rid of him other teams wouldn’t want him and his salary either. And don’t even get me started on his no-trade clause and his seemingly unwillingness to move it. More on that and bad journalism at a later time, I feel a rant coming on, but until then moving Hicks may make the most sense for the New York Yankees here before the 2018 season. I’m not sure where I would like to move him, or for who, but a move involving him just makes sense right now.

With that said and with the World Series in the Yankees sights I want to win at all costs. Sites like has the Yankees' odds to win set at +550, just behind the Dodgers (+500) and level with the defending champion Astros. Agree? Disagree? Leave it below in the comments.

Brandon Drury vs. the AL East Pitching


Earlier in the day we took a look at what the newest member of Red Sox nation, JD Martinez, had done throughout his career against the pitching staff of the New York Yankees so it seems only fair that we do the same for the newest member of the Yankees family, right? Brandon Drury has played just three seasons at the Major League level and has spent all three of those seasons in the National League West with the Arizona Diamondbacks, so the sample size will be much smaller here than with Martinez, a former Detroit Tiger before he was also Drury’s teammate down in the desert, but these stats should paint a decent picture nonetheless. It is worth mentioning that Drury has been hitting in a pitcher friendly park out in Arizona and that his stats should improve somewhat while playing many of his games inside hitter friendly parks like Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Oriole Park and Camden Yards, the Rogers Centre and Tropicana Field.

Drury vs. Boston Red Sox

Drury vs. Baltimore Orioles

Drury vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Drury vs. Toronto Blue Jays

Big thanks to and Baseball Reference for the stats and for the images above.

JD Martinez vs. the Yankees Pitching

The Boston Red Sox felt like they needed to do just one thing this offseason to not only compete, but to win the American League East in 2018, and that was add some power to an already deep team and lineup. The team did just that this week when they added free agent JD Martinez to the club on a five-year deal worth $110 million. This post will not be about the extremely front-loaded contract or about the multiple opt-out clauses that the team needed to entice Martinez with just to get him to sign there, but instead we will focus on what Martinez has done against the pitching of the New York Yankees that he will have to see 20-or-so different times here in 2018. The sample sizes are small, the ballparks will be different, but the information will remain the same if history is any indicator of the future so here is a good look at what to expect here for the upcoming regular season.

Big thanks to and Baseball Reference for the stats and for the images above.

It's Time For Yankees Baseball...

Photo Credit: New York Daily News (Corey Sipkin)
It’s a meaningless game but hey, our guys take the field…

As Yankees fans, we’ve had a few enjoyable days so far this Spring. Pitchers and Catchers reporting on February 13th and everybody else, including the great Giancarlo Stanton, showing up last weekend. We’ve already experienced our first newcomer of 2018 with the trade that brought Brandon Drury to Steinbrenner Field to work out with his favorite childhood baseball team. Stanton is not a “newcomer”, he’s been here since last year (okay, December but still, Drury was an Arizona Diamondback until a few days ago). Today represents the first exhibition game of the season when the Yankees face the Detroit Tigers this afternoon at Steinbrenner Field. The game will be televised by the YES Network at 1 pm Eastern so we’ll get our first true glimpse of the 2018 Yankees even if guys like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez won’t be playing. Stanton will be there and is sure to attract a huge ovation. 

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Butch Dill)
Twitter is crazy place to follow Yankees baseball. There are so many fans that feel Drury is going to block Miguel Andujar and are upset about it. Personally, I don’t get it. The starter at third base on Opening Day will be the guy who earned it. Drury may have the leg up based on MLB experience, but Andujar can take the position with performance. I certainly have no problem with Andujar going back down to Triple A to further refine his defensive skills. For a team that is considered among the American League’s elite, there is no need to experiment with multiple rookies in the lineup. I’ve always liked Drury and his hard-nosed play. He strikes me as quiet but very focused and determined. Considering that he won’t turn 26 until August, his best years are ahead of him. I like his upside, and all things considered, I am pleased the way this turned out. Instead of overpaying Mike Moustakas (regardless of how much I liked his left-handed bat in Yankee Stadium) or signing a player in decline like Neil Walker, the Yankees brought in a high energy guy that will mesh well with the team’s youth.

Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports (Jonathan Dyer)
It’s worth checking out Drury’s play through YouTube. There are some great highlights shown including the time he crashed into the wall in right at Chase Field in Phoenix to record an out against the Yankees. It was good to see old friend Brian McCann as a Yankee in that clip.

I really like the way Drury has embraced Pinstripes. His words echo how much he appreciates being a part of the team and his recognition that this can be a special team. He left a team that had a very successful season last year and continues to be one of the stronger young teams in the National League, yet I’ve heard no words of remorse. 

Many Yankees fans, at least on Twitter, have been livid that the Yankees traded outfielder Jabari Blash to the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named later or cash because it basically represents no return for the deal that sent Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres. Nothing against Headley but the Yankees got the Padres to take his salary by including a pitcher that was at risk for losing his spot on the 40-man roster. I liked Mitchell but I think he stands a better chance for success in San Diego than he would have in the Bronx. Eliminating Headley’s contract has given the Yankees a genuine chance to reset the luxury tax penalties which meets Owner Hal Steinbrenner’s objective. If Hal is happy, I am happy. Blash was never going to be a difference-maker for the Yankees. He was an excess outfielder on a team filled with quality outfielders. He became a 40-man roster casualty candidate from the moment he joined the Yankees. Maybe he becomes a late bloomer with the Angels. That’s fine, he would have never gotten the opportunity with the Yankees. I remain convinced the Headley/Mitchell deal was a good one even if all it brought us was a box of Dunkin Donuts. Plus, I am glad that we have Brandon Drury (or Miguel Andujar) at third over Headley.

While I am not trying to date myself, the subject of firsts made me think of the first regular season game that I experienced as a Yankees fan. The date was April 8, 1975 and the Yankees were in Cleveland to face the Indians. Sadly, the Yankees lost that day, 5-3. The starting lineup featured the following players that I remember well:

Sandy Alomar (Senior), 2B
Lou Pinella, LF
Bobby Bonds, CF
Ron Blomberg, RF
Graig Nettles, 3B
Ed Hermann, DH
Chris Chambliss, 1B
Thurman Munson, C
Jim Mason, SS

Doc Medich was the starter and loser. Future, now former, Yankee Gaylord Perry was the winner for the Tribe. The Indians lineup included Oscar Gamble (a personal favorite who recently passed away), Frank Robinson, George Hendrick, Buddy Bell, and a former Yankee at catcher, John Ellis.  Robinson and Boog Powell homered for the Indians in the victory. The Yankees didn’t pick up their first win until the fourth game of the season when Doc Medich’s turn in the rotation came up again. Medich was the winner in the Yankees’ 6-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers. It’s good to see these names again (at least for me) so pardon the self-indulgence with the trip down Memory Lane. 

Back to today’s game, here is the starting lineup for your New York Yankees:

Jacoby Ellsbury, DH
Giancarlo Stanton, RF
Greg Bird, 1B
Aaron Hicks, CF
Didi Gregorius, SS
Gleyber Torres, 2B
Austin Romine, C
Miguel Andujar, 3B
Clint Frazier, LF

The starting pitcher is Luis Cessa but also pitching today (thanks to Brendan Kuty of are Cale Coshow, J.P. Feyereisen, Giovanny Gallegos, David Hale, Ben Heller, Jonathan Holder (I wanted to type Kyle), Brady Lail, and Trevor Lane.

Photo Credit: New York Yankees

Go Yankees!