Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Meet the 2019 Yankees: JA Happ

The New York Yankees got everything they could have asked for, well… almost everything, from JA Happ last season after acquiring him from the Toronto Blue Jays for a package made up of Brandon Drury and others. New York liked him so much, in fact, that on December 17, 2018 the team decided to bring him back on a two-year deal worth $34 million with an option for a third season. Yankees fans are already pretty familiar with Happ after his 7-0 record with the team in 2018, and his subsequent “let down” for lack of a better word in the postseason against the Boston Red Sox, but for those who aren’t, let’s meet him. Your 2019 New York Yankees, here is lefty JA Happ.

JA Happ, 36-years old, is a left-handed starting pitcher that handles himself well on the mound with his 6’5” and 205 lb. frame. Happ possesses a 93 MPH four-seam fastball, a 91 MPH sinker, an 86 MPH slider, an 86 MPH changeup, and a curveball that he rarely throws at 76 MPH.

James Anthony Happ was born on October 19, 1982 in Peru, Illinois with two older sisters. Happ attended High School at St. Bede Academy, where the lefty was a four-year letter winner in both basketball and baseball. Happ graduated from St. Bede in 2001 and continued his amateur baseball career at Northwestern University where he majored in history. Happ also played for the Northwestern Wildcats where he was named All-Big Ten Conference First Team in his freshman, sophomore, and junior years while attending the university. After his junior season the Philadelphia Phillies drafted the lefty in the third round, 92nd overall, of the 2004 MLB First Year Players Draft. Happ signed immediately and was assigned to the Phillies minor league system.

Happ toiled in the Phillies minor league system and the Arizona Fall League through the 2007 season until Philadelphia called up the lefty to make his major league debut on June 30, 2007. Happ made one start against the New York Mets before being sent back to Triple-A for the remainder of the 2007 season. Happ started the 2008 season back in Triple-A as well, but he was back in the majors again starting against the Mets again on July 4th. Happ was up and down between Triple-A and the majors for the remainder of the 2008 season until he became a mainstay in the Phillies rotation in 2009. Happ, with a World Series ring after the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, entered the rotation in 2009 and led Philadelphia back to the World Series in 2009, this time against the New York Yankees. The Yankees would win the series in six games, sending Happ and the Phillies home with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Happ was back in the Phillies rotation in 2010 until the team traded him to the Houston Astros on July 29th along with Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar in exchange for Roy Oswalt. Happ remained in Houston until the 2012 season when he was traded again, this time to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter for Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, Asher Wojciechowski, David Rollins, Joe Musgrove, Carlos Perez, and Kevin Comer. Happ pitched primarily out of the bullpen with the Blue Jays through the 2014 season before he was once again traded, this time to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Saunders. Happ was used primarily as a starter for the Mariners in 2015 before being shipped to the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 31, 2015, Happ hit free agency after the 2015 season and could finally decide his own landing spot after being traded so many times before, and the lefty decided that Toronto was where he wanted to pitch after signing a three-year deal worth $36 million with the Blue Jays keeping him in Toronto through the 2018 season.

Happ lasted in Toronto until July 26, 2018 when the Blue Jays shipped him to the New York Yankees for outfielder Billy McKinney and third baseman Brandon Drury. Happ remained with the Yankees for the remainder of the 2018 season posting a 7-0 record, helping propel New York to the postseason as a Wild Card winner for the second consecutive season. The Yankees finished the season with 100 victories, but their season ended prematurely at the hand of the eventual World Series champion Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series. Happ returned to the Yankees on a free agent deal after the 2018 season, this time for two-years and $34 million including an option for a third season.

Not that I have to again, but welcome back to the team, welcome back to the organization, and welcome back to the family JA.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)