Thursday, March 15, 2018

Predicting the 2018 Yankees Lineup

My apologies if this has been covered elsewhere and here on the blog, but I am just catching up and I wanted to take my own stab at predicting the Yankees “everyday” lineup for the 2018 season. The more I think about the signing of Neil Walker the more I warm up to the idea, he has been a middle-of-the-order type hitter for a few teams throughout his career and would not have to be here in New York, which is a plus, while Walker also brings a switch-hitter back into the fold which makes the Yankees lineup more versatile and dangerous. Will this lineup be the best lineup of all-time? Probably not, but it could hit the most home runs ever and that’s sexy enough for me with this pitching staff both in the starting variety and the bullpen variety. Pitching wins championships so they say but having a potential lineup like this gives said pitchers a little leeway on the mound every fifth day.

1.  (L) Brett Gardner – LF
2.  (R) Aaron Judge – RF
3.  (L)  Greg Bird – 1B
4.  (R) Giancarlo Stanton - DH
5.  (R) Gary Sanchez - C
6.  (L) Didi Gregorius - SS
7.  (S) Aaron Hicks - CF
8.  (S) Neil Walker – 2B
9.  (R) Brandon Drury – 3B

I have to admit, I truly played around with the idea of hitting Didi Gregorius third. Honestly, if I were doing MY lineups for the 2018 season I would have switched Didi and Greg Bird. I am not trying to knock on Bird at all, but I think Didi is more of a complete hitter with power AND average where Bird will likely never flirt with a .300 average over the course of a 162-game season at the Major League level. Could you imagine the number of fastballs Didi would get the opportunity to pull down the right field line with Judge hitting in front of him and Stanton hitting behind him? I’d imagine it would be more than a few, and enough for Didi to push or surpass 30 home runs in a season. Again, I know I caught hell last time I suggested Didi in the third slot, but I don’t care. I stand by my thoughts, and I stand by my decision. I think Didi is the best pure and most complete hitter on the team, maybe I’m wrong, but maybe I’m right also.

Does New York Have Enough Money for Alex Cobb?

The New York Yankees and their General Manager Brian Cashman have done a masterful job this winter, in my opinion, adding the reigning NL MVP in Giancarlo Stanton, bringing back left-handed veteran CC Sabathia, acquiring Brandon Drury to play third base, and signing Neil Walker to play second base all while remaining under the luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season. According to multiple reports the Yankees payroll sit at approximately $182 million after the signing of Walker to a one-year deal worth $4 million, plus incentives, leaving the Yankees just $15 million to play with not only this offseason, but at the July 31st trading deadline as well. With that in mind, do the Yankees have enough money to really “Get Greedy” and sign Alex Cobb?

It is worth mentioning before we get too deep into the financials that the Yankees would have to surrender draft picks if and when they signed Cobb after the right-hander was offered and declined a qualifying offer from the Tampa Bay Rays this offseason. Honestly, given the state of the Yankees system and their young core currently in Triple-A and at the Major League level I would have zero issue giving up a draft pick for a guy like Cobb, it is when giving up draft picks becomes the norm that the farm system is hurt. The Yankees system is deep enough to sustain the loss of a pick, and the team can also live with losing international free agent draft pool money as well after going over the luxury tax threshold in 2017 as well. Just don’t make it a habit is all I am saying.

With that little roadblock surpassed let’s get down to the financials and see if New York could strike a deal with Cobb. When looking at what a starting pitcher could sign for it is always best to look at what every pitcher around him got this offseason and use that as a guide and a stepping stone in your contract negotiations with said pitcher. Jake Arrieta was probably the top arm coming into this offseason and the right-hander received an Average Annual Value of $25 million on his three-year deal worth $75 million. Cobb is not Arrieta, in fact Cobb probably rates closer to a fellow right-handed veteran that recently signed a deal with the Minnesota Twins, Lance Lynn. Lynn signed with Minnesota for one-year and $12 million. Could Cobb be signed for a similar contract? You can answer that by comparing their stats and seeing whether or not they are similar pitchers.

Cobb has pitched in parts of six seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays posting a career 10.8 WAR, a 48-35 win/loss record, a 1.217 WHIP, and a 3.50 ERA with 570 strikeouts in exactly 700 innings pitched. For a 30-year old arm that has spent much of his career without much run support behind him or what many analysts would call an elite defense behind him, these stats are spectacular in my opinion. Lynn on the other hand has also pitched in parts of six seasons, missing the 2016 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, posting a career 14.1 WAR, a 72-47 win/loss record, a 1.288 WHIP, and a 3.38 ERA with 919 strikeouts in 977.2 innings pitched. Now some will argue the whole American League vs. National League lineup strength and pitching to a pitcher three-or-four times a night when comparing these stats, and I don’t necessarily disagree with you whatsoever, but some may argue that Lynn has actually been better than Cobb has been throughout their Major League careers.

With that said and keeping in mind that the free agent pool and the number of interested teams dwindling by the day I don’t find it out of the realm of possibilities for the New York Yankees to sign Cobb to a deal with an AAV of $10 million, whether that be on a one, two or three-year deal. I wouldn’t go any higher than three years personally, and obviously I would prefer to go no higher than two including option years, but the Yankees seem stuck on giving out just one-year deals to most this offseason. That, again in my opinion, will be the sticking point in any negotiations with Cobb. Cobb will want the security of a longer termed deal, any free agent would, but whether he gets that or not remains to be seen.

One thing to keep in mind when comparing the two is that Cobb recently missed a season after undergoing Tommy John surgery (Lynn did too, making this comparison even more relevant). Not only will that hamper the sample size of his stats, but it could also conceivably be used in any negotiations with a team this offseason as many front offices continue to wait out players in hopes of their asking prices to come down. Whether the fact that Cobb had his ulnar collateral ligament replaces has any hinderance on his ability to sign a contract that he feels he is worth or not this offseason remains to be seen, but it will be mentioned and will be mentioned more and more the closer we get to Opening Day despite Cobb bouncing back from the surgery in 2017 to post a 12-10 record with a 3.66 ERA and 1.22 WHIP with 128 strikeouts in 179.1 innings pitched.

Cobb is American League East tested after pitching his entire career with the Tampa Bay Rays after the Rays made Cobb their fourth-round pick in the 2006 MLB First Year Players Draft, something that cannot be overlooked in my opinion. Cobb is also Yankee Stadium tested posting a career 3.12 ERA and 0.865 WHIP in five career starts in the Bronx, all with the Rays. Adding an arm like Cobb to a rotation that will contain some combination of Sonny Gray, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery doesn’t make the Yankees the obvious favorites to win it all in 2018, but I bet it makes all those cocky ass Houston Astros fans that have had plenty to say this winter take a back seat for at least a day or two… and at this point I’d take that.


Yes I realize signing Cobb to a $10 million AAV brings the Yankees dangerously close to the luxury tax threshold and leaves the team little room to wiggle around and play with in July. I feel like this has been said over a million times this offseason and that it didn't necessarily need to be said again, but contracts like Brett Gardner's and David Robertson could conceivably be moved in July to teams trying to contend for the postseason to clear money if necessary. Also it is worth mentioning, and he been beaten more than a dead horse, that every day that goes by a few dollars come off the contract of Jacoby Ellsbury making him more and more attractive, which could make the Yankees more and more likely to eat more money to get him off the books. 

Where Have I Been & What Have I Been Up To?

Hello friends, it has been a while and it seems like I have missed a lot. Whether or not you noticed, I have been gone for a while. Last offseason and winter I disappeared for a while because of real life and I had to once again this spring as well, but for an entirely different set of reasons. Life is busy, work sucks, parenting can be challenging and there just isn’t enough hours in the day.

Recently at work a co-worker and friend of mine, Karen Wheeler, suffered a stroke while on the job. After the scary scene of the ambulances and such picking her up and carting her away there was a select few left to try and pick up the pieces and responsibilities left behind while she fought for her health and healed in the hospital. As of the time of this writing she is still in the hospital, but she could be getting out any day now. I don’t know how to gauge whether her stroke was minor or severe, as I have no experience with this fortunately, but she lost complete use of her left side (and she is left-handed, mind you) and has been in physical and speech therapy ever since. She is back to walking, albeit with the help of a cane or walker for now, and she is back to talking with just a few words that still trip her up from time to time. She is getting better every day, she has can feel and use her left arm, albeit minimally, and she hopes to be home from the hospital soon. If you all could please say a prayer for her, think about her, or whatever it is you choose to do it would be truly appreciated.

With that said I have been picking up the majority of her slack at work. I have been working my job, her job and helping another do their job who was helped by Karen. After weeks of doing multiple positions, and the grueling and extra hours that came along with it, I would find myself going home trying to muster up the energy to be a boyfriend, a father, a friend and whatever other responsibilities that I had, and unfortunately this responsibility tended to slack a little. For that, I truly apologize. I was so caught up in everything I even missed the blog surpassing 2,000,000 views overall AND our birthday. I will say this though, I just recently (which is what sparked me to push to actually take the time regardless of work to get this post out) received the email that the domain for this site was due… and I paid it in full for another year, and I will next year too… and every year after that as long as you all reading this will have us in your homes.

If there is a silver lining in this all it is this, Karen is alive, Karen is healthy and by all accounts Karen is going to beat this and make a full recovery. Work finally noticed that she may have had too much on her plate, or that she will have too much on her plate once she returns and they have decided to make her job into a two-person job. Your boy here, Daniel Burch, got a promotion and has been inserted into the new position. The new position has been demanding, grueling and frustrating at times but I am starting to chip away at the back-log stuff, I am starting to get caught back up and eventually this should actually give me more time to spend with you all here on the blog. None of the latter compares to the former, that Karen is okay, but I wanted to share that bit of me anyway. I hope that is okay!

I want to thank Scott Fiedler, Bryan Van Dusen and all my writers, everyone who reads and comments on the blog (even you little p patrick because I love you), all my Twitter followers, and everyone else I may have missed for your continued support and dedication to not only this blog, but to me as a person. Thank you for holding the fort down!!

Enjoy your day, don’t take anything for granted and hug the ones you love. Tell them every day you love them, because tomorrow is not promised. Technically, tomorrow can never come. It can only ever be today, so live for today. Kari Ann, Jacob, Brianna, Evan and Hayden… I love you. Live life to the fullest.