Friday, March 8, 2019

Offseason Wrap-Up

I won't get into all the reasons why I haven't written much during the offseason. It's not that I don't want to share those reasons, but I have a feeling you really don't care a whole lot. So let's just say I'm happy to be writing something again, and hopefully you all get something out of it.... positive or negative. After all, any reaction is better than none.

I didn't say much about all the moves the Yankees made this offseason while they happened, other than sharing some thoughts on Twitter. So I thought I'd just lump them all together in this offseason wrap-up.

Since I find myself skipping a lot of these article openers I'm not going to play the hypocrite and go on any longer with this one. So I'll just dive right into it.

Re-signed Brett Gardner
I called for the Yankees to bring back Gardner before the offseason even started. However, I had Gardner there as the team's 4th outfielder. His ability to play a strong left or center field, and his familiarity with New York, make him the best person for the job.

However, I don't like that he could get quite a few starts this season. Mind you, the Yankees' offense could get by just fine with his sub-par bat, but they could have certainly done better.

I'm rooting hard for Clint Frazier because he could be the next big/young thing for the Yankees. They already have youngsters like Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and Gary Sanchez. And don't forget that Didi Gregorius, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Hicks are still under 30 years old. Luke Voit nor Greg Bird have proven that they have a bright future yet, but those two turn just 26 and 28, respectively, this year.

So while bringing back Gardner is no reason to celebrate, it's not a horrible way to kick off the offseason, either.

Re-signed CC Sabathia
This is another move I wanted to see happen and, unlike with Gardner, CC will fit into the rotation spot that I wanted as well. Sabathia is not a Cy Young contender like his younger self, but I think a sub-5.00 ERA is a certainty while a sub-4.00 ERA is a possibility. And getting that from your team's #5 starter is pretty darn good.

Traded for James Paxton
I was ready to say that while I preferred the Yankees just sign Patrick Corbin, that Paxton makes a fine alternative. Then I looked at the numbers and realized that the Yankees may have gotten the better pitcher.

Paxton is only 255 days older than Corbin, although Patrick has thrown about 360 more innings in Major League Baseball. So you could say Corbin has a longer track record, but it's not like Paxton is in his sophomore season. The fact is James' career ERA (3.42 vs. 3.91), ERA+ (117 vs. 109), FIP (3.13 vs. 3.65), and K/9 (9.5 vs. 8.5) are all higher than Corbin's. Even when it comes to walks per 9 innings their rates are the same (2.6).

And seeing that James will make less than half what Patrick will, and without the Yankees having committed five years to the guy, I think they did very well with this move.

Now, the loss of Justus Sheffield stinks. I don't think he was going to be the next Luis Severino, but I believe he could have been a good starter for the Yanks possibly this season. But we have to face the fact that he was still an unproven commodity whereas Paxton has already got the job done in the Show. If we were talking about a team that was looking to contend in a year or two that would be one thing, but the Yankees want to and can win now, therefore having Paxton over Sheffield was the right move.

Signed J.A. Happ
The Yankees rounded out their starting rotation by bringing back Happ. I'm not the biggest Happ fan in the World, but that doesn't mean I think he's junk either. He has done well in his career, and he did that in the American League East... which is no small thing.

I don't expect Happ to repeat that sub-3.00 ERA he had for the Yankees after they acquired him last season, but an ERA around 4.00 is absolutely in the cards (his career ERA is 3.90).

Happ's not a young buck at 36, but thankfully he's only signed for two seasons with a vesting option for a third (he has to throw 165 innings or make 27 starts in 2020 for that to vest). His salary of $17 million a season is no drop in the bucket, but I don't think that would stop the Yankees from making a move if it were necessary.

Signed Troy Tulowitzki 
Normally I'd be perfectly fine with a signing such as this. The guy is only going to cost the Yankees the league minimum, so it's not like his salary would block the team from making other moves... unlike a certain former Red Sox outfielder that is currently being paid more than $21 million by the Yankees over each of the next two years.

But my issue with this signing is that the club seems determined to make Troy the regular shortstop until Didi Gregorius returns from his injury. For starters, Tulo is not the type of player a contending team should bring into the fold. If a team is looking for veteran leadership to help bring along a young team to be a contender in 2-3 years... okay. But that's not the case. And secondly, the Yankees have Gleyber Torres who can play a very capable shortstop.

Mind you, perhaps they didn't feel that Tyler Wade or anyone else in the organization could handle regular duty at second base instead of having Torres there (or to play shortstop in the first place), but this signing should have only been a lottery ticket instead of somebody the team would depend on at all.

Signed Zack Britton
Zack had a couple of great years with the Orioles in 2015 and 2016, but injuries held him back and likely negatively affected his 2017 and possibly his 2018 seasons. And that sucks, but a player or team falling on hard times does not mean anything in the standings. So I was not at all enamored when the Yankees traded for Zack last season.

Sure, he could find what used to make him awesome, but I was not comfortable leaning on the guy when the game was tight. And I believe those feelings were justified as I watched him pitch. To be frank he was like David Robertson in that he always seemed to get in trouble. But unlike D-Rob, Britton doesn't have the strikeout ability to get out of those jams quite as often.

Thankfully the Yankees have Aroldis Chapman as their closer, and along with Dellin Betances and Chad Green there's a good chance that Zack wouldn't be leaned on that hard. As long as that thought holds up then we're cool here.

Oh, yeah... the Yankees ended up doing something else with the bullpen. More on that later.

Signed D.J. LeMahieu 
When I first saw the news that the Yankees signed LeMahieu it barely registered. This seemed like nothing more than a depth signing. However, after reading more about the guy I got excited. A multi-time Gold Glove winner on a team that needs help defensively? Very nice. And while he's unlikely to do a ton of damage with the bat, he's not a zero there, either.

In fact, initially I thought this meant that Torres would indeed take over shortstop while LeMahieu would play his strongest position... second base. I still think that is easily the best way to go, but the Yankees have said they still plan on having Tulowitzki get the most time at shortstop.

I have a feeling the Tulo experiment isn't going to last long (don't bother talking to me about how he's hitting in Spring Training, as the guy might as well be swinging only in a batting cage for how much I care about Spring Training results), and therefore we'll see a lineup with Torres and D.J. up the middle more often than not.

Signed Adam Ottavino
I got the news of this signing while I was at work, and a co-worker looked at me funny after I pumped my first and exclaimed "yes" after reading the alert.

As evidenced by his strikeout rates over the past six years, Adam is a K-machine. We've all seen that nasty slider of his and I can't wait to see him make batter's knees buckle all season long.

I wouldn't feel comfortable if he were brought in to be the team's closer, but he's going to be a force in what is the game's best bullpen. I mean, who cares if CC Sabathia only goes five innings in a start? Boone can call on Green, Betances, Ottavino, Britton, and Chapman at that point. Five great to really great relievers to handle four innings? I think we're good.

I wanted to point out that the Yankees' starting rotation could be better. But I think it is underrated by so many. Severino (yes, he's hurt, but I believe he'll return as strong as before), Paxton, Tanaka, Happ, and Sabathia make a very formidable rotation. And if they deem it necessary I think the Yankees have the ability to get another good to great starter by the trade deadline. So putting a killer bullpen on top of that rotation should result in many wins.

I understand that not signing either of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado is disappointing. Regardless of how a team looks it's silly not to at least try and sign a generational talent who is just 26 years old. Up until it was announced Harper had officially signed with the Phillies I still held out hope that Harper would be in pinstripes. Not to say I was crushed when it didn't happen, but I did sigh a bit.

But if everyone took a moment to breath and think they'd realize that the 2019 New York Yankees look fantastic. Many places predict that they will win the American League East, which is hardly a small thing when they have to deal with a (and it hurts to say this) very good Boston Red Sox team that just won the World Series.

And don't give me crap about "what if an injury happens". Look, no team is going to pay a guy big money to possibly be their sixth starter (no, Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez should be left alone... and I bet they want to go where they are guaranteed 30 or so starts instead of being part of a six man rotation). And injury can cripple any team, including that Red Sox team I just mentioned.

So let's sit back and enjoy what should be a very good season, one which could end with yet another Yankees' World Series parade.

Predicting the 2019 Season: The World Series

The field is set and it’s the New York Yankees with the home field advantage over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers already slayed one goliath when they took down the team with the best record in all of Major League Baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the NLCS, and the team will look to do so again against the New York Yankees in the World Series. Will Milwaukee win its first World Series in their franchise’s history? Or will the Yankees win their 28th world championship overall and their first since the 2009 season?

Game One – Yankee Stadium – Tuesday, October 22th
Luis Severino vs. Jhoulys Chacin

The Milwaukee Brewers have made just one appearance in the World Series and that was back in 1982 as a member of the American League. The Brewers would ultimately fall to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games marking their only trip to the Fall Classic. The nerves of their first World Series trip in over 30 years, mixed in with a great pitching performance by Luis Severino, and the Yankees take a quick 1-0 series lead with a commanding victory.

Yankees lead the series 1-0

Game Two – Yankee Stadium – Wednesday, October 25th
James Paxton vs. Chase Anderson

James Paxton will make his first World Series start of his career for the Yankees while Chase Anderson will make his first World Series start for the Brewers. Neither pitcher will be incredibly effective, but the Yankees bullpen will lock down the game and give the Yankees a commanding 2-0 lead behind a big game from Didi Gregorius.

Yankees lead the series 2-0

Game Three – Miller Park – Friday, October 25th
Masahiro Tanaka vs. Zach Davies

The curious case of Masahiro Tanaka. Sometimes Tanaka can be absolutely unhittable with his splitter striking out opposing batters, and then sometimes he is just incredibly hittable. Unfortunately, for the Yankees anyway, the latter Tanaka and not the former will show up to this start tonight. The Brewers will ride the emotions and energy from the crowd to a huge victory, setting the tone for the remainder of the home stand.

Yankees lead the series 2-1

Game Four – Miller Park – Saturday, October 26th
JA Happ vs. Jimmy Nelson

Happ is a stone-cold veteran that has been here before. Happ has a World Series ring on his mantle and another trip to the Fall Classic against the New York Yankees in 2009. There is ice in Happ’s veins when it comes to pitching in the postseason and he will be completely overwhelming for the Yankees in this start tonight. Happ leads the Yankees to the victory and brings them within one game of their 28th World Series championship.

Yankees lead the series 3-1

Game Five – Miller Park – Sunday, October 27th
Luis Severino vs. Jhoulys Chacin

The Brewers are better than a lot of teams with their backs against the wall, and they will do that again tonight against the Yankees ace. Severino will pitch well, but the Brewers offense will be relentless against him and the Yankees bullpen, grinding out a victory and allowing the series to shift back to New York.

Yankees lead the series 3-2

Game Six – Yankee Stadium – Tuesday, October 29th
James Paxton vs. Chase Anderson

James Paxton is back on the mound for his second start of his World Series career, but unfortunately, he will be equally as ineffective as he was in Game Two? Why? Because it’s more dramatic if these predictions go seven games, even though I really see the Yankees closing the door at home in Game Six behind Big Maple.

Yankees and Brewers tied at 3-3

Game Seven – Yankee Stadium – Wednesday, October 30th
Masahiro Tanaka vs. Jhoulys Chacin

Game seven of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. It doesn’t get any better than this. The Yankees have Masahiro Tanaka on the mound with a short leash, while the Brewers were forced to bring back their ace on just two days rest. Both teams will go all-in and remove their starter at the first sign of trouble, but the difference is that the Yankees have a much deeper, and ultimately much better, bullpen. The bullpen will be the difference maker. While the Yankees bullpen puts up six shutout innings, the Brewers bullpen will fold when it matters most, giving the Yankees their 28th World Series championship.

Yankees win series 4-3

Congratulations to the New York Yankees! All the patience, getting under the luxury tax, and waiting on the new core to come up through the minor league system finally paid off. See you all in the Canyon of Heroes.

TGP Trivia and Fact of the Day for March 8th, 2019

Good morning Yankees family!!

How many pitchers have eclipsed the 30-win mark in a single season in Yankees franchise history?

Leave your guesses in the comments section, then highlight below to see if you're right.

One - Jack Chesbro was credited with 41 victories in 1904

Good morning to my amazing wife, Kari. I love you so very much!!!