Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Daniel Burch’s Bold Predictions for the 2018 Season

I have to admit, and a bit of an ICYMI here, when I read Bryan Van Dusen’s bold predictions for the 2018 season here on the blog I immediately thought about potentially doing a similar post of my own. When I read the article and then the subsequent comments about how Bryan was “high on shoe polish” or whatever the exact terminology was I, for one, laughed because who says that? And two, I then decided I wanted to do one of my own, so I could see what kind of “your trade proposal sucks” comments I could get myself. So here we go, my bold predictions for the 2018 season.

As it has been stated basically everywhere on the Yankees blogosphere and on Twitter, the New York Yankees need either a second baseman or a third baseman. The free agent market is dry and/or too expensive for the Yankees blood as they try to remain under the $197 million luxury tax threshold (according to reports the team is sitting at $178 million after the CC Sabathia signing that could pay him an additional $2 million leaving the total payroll for the Yankees at $180 million) so it looks like the only realistic option for the Yankees going forward is the trade market. Enter Ninja Cashman, as Bryan Van Dusen and many others call him.

While I like a deal that could potentially add Michael Fulmer to the stable of young Yankees pitchers I feel like the Tigers don’t have a reason to HAVE to trade him, thus making him really expensive. Fulmer could easily bridge the gap during the Tigers rebuild and would have immense value for the team going forward, plus I would rather get this whole infield situation rectified first before I add a sixth starting pitcher anyway. With that said I can see Brian Cashman calling up his old buddy Theo Epstein in Chicago and swinging a deal with him. Who would the Yankees be acquiring? Both Javier Baez and Ian Happ are young, cheap, controllable, versatile and could conceivably be grabbed if the Yankees sweeten the pot enough. The Cubs need bullpen help, especially in the closing department, and the Yankees have a few options including Dellin Betances and David Robertson. Giving up one of these two pitchers, preferably Robertson because of salary, and a prospect that is MLB ready or close or two like Billy McKinney or Jake Cave and a Domingo Acevedo (basically anyone but Clint Frazier or Estevan Florial at this point) could likely get one of these two infielders in the fold for New York.

Yes, I am well aware that the Cubs are high on Happ and I am also aware that the team plans on having Happ play center field as soon as next season, but one must also consider the fact that the Cubs still have Albert Amora Jr. waiting in the wings, Jason Heyward on the books and Bryce Harper in their line of site for the 2019 season. Happ played five different positions in 2017 while hitting 24 home runs at just age 23. Yes, Happ strikes out a lot. Aaron Judge does too and so does Giancarlo Stanton. In the era of sabermetrics and advanced metrics though a strikeout counts almost the same as a 400 foot fly out to center field inside Yankee Stadium, you can deal with those. Plus, Happ is left-handed which would be a great compliment to the aforementioned Stanton and Judge who are both right-handed along with fellow slugger Gary Sanchez.

Happ plays second and the Yankees stopgap at third base until Gleyber Torres is ready and his service calendar is delayed a season, the infield is set. The bench is set with Tyler Wade, Austin Romine or Alex Avila (remember we saved money by trading away David Robertson), Clint Frazier and Tyler Austin. I know what you’re asking, where is Jacoby Ellsbury? I am also eating his salary, up to about two-thirds of his salary, and I am also sending him to the San Francisco Giants but not along with Jordan Montgomery. That, I have to agree with “little p” patrick, is crazy talk. We are eating the salary, or we are sending a good prospect or MLB-proven player, not both. Bryan, himself, showed us that Ellsbury can still be useful and valuable so I don’t see a need in sending a proven player along with him. If the Giants want another player or two that most of us probably have never heard of, fine. Sweeten the pot and take the chance, but you don’t give them Montgomery and you don’t give them anyone who has a chance of making the team during the 2018 season in my opinion. Maybe send a couple of those fringe players that the team was unsure of adding to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 Draft protection, the who is not as important as the fact that Ellsbury and at least all but $7-10 million of his salary annually is gone while Frazier is still on the team.

The Yankees have plenty of arms to survive the loss of Robertson and to survive the season until either Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield or ready, or until the July 31st trading deadline arrives. Whichever comes first. If a need arises before-hand then you adjust just like any other team filling the slot with Chad Green or Adam Warren who are both coming to camp as starting pitchers, although likely to end up in the bullpen when all is said and done, and Opening Day is upon us. With the luxury tax threshold a real thing and the plan to get under it finally coming to fruition for the Yankees the time to “get greedy” has come and passed. The team has to be smart and they need to assess what is a want, like a sixth starting pitcher, and what is a need, an infielder and maybe a bullpen arm if my trade happens.

So what exactly is my boldest prediction of all? In a world where every wants the Yankees to go crazy, get greedy and acquire someone like a Michael Fulmer, Gerrit Cole or Patrick Corbin I am just sitting here expecting the five pitchers currently on the roster to be the starting five on Opening Day. Save some money and some ammo, i.e. prospects, for the trade deadline and get more for your buck. I expect, and boldly predict, the Yankees heavy lifting to be done aside from an infielder. Here’s to hoping Ian Happ or bust in the Bronx.

What are your bold predictions for the 2018 season?