Wednesday, December 12, 2018

What About The Other Side Of The Infield?

This offseason has been all about free agents Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Patrick Corbin. And to a lesser extent free agents J.A. Happ, Marwin Gonzalez, Josh Harrison, Mike Moustakas, Lance Lynn, Adam Ottavino, David Robertson, and Zach Britton. And then there are trade targets Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Robbie Ray, and Noah Syndergaard.

And I get it.

The focus this offseason, from the mouth of Brian Cashman himself, is solidifying the starting rotation. And not just with anybody, but with top starters. And when it comes to offense, while the Yankees are not hurting in that department, you can't dismiss the young elite talent of Harper and Machado.

Then there's the hole left by Didi Gregorius getting Tommy John surgery, which has naturally led people to wonder how the Yankees could fill that hole.

But one position that has been almost entirely ignored is one that I think is a very big question mark... first base.

Greg Bird still hasn't had anything close to a full season in Major League Baseball so it may not be fair to say he's a bust. But at the same time how much longer can we sit back and wait for the guy to get healthy and possibly produce?

Luke Voit was huge for the Yankees last season and a big reason why they were even able to get to the American League Division Series, but how many Yankees fans can seriously say they are confident that he'd be anything better than average for an entire season?

Which is why I talked about acquiring Justin Bour to at least platoon with Luke Voit at first base. Since his first full season in MLB Bour has averaged 117 games a season, with an OPS+ of 124. And while Citizen's Bank Ballpark is not hard on power hitters, Yankee Stadium is better for left-handed power-hitters, meaning Bour could easily swat 25-30 home runs a season there. My only concern about Justin is that awful batting average he put up last season (.227). But seeing that he'd be a cheap option, then banking on him being able to get that batting average back up to the .260-.270 range would not be that hard to swallow.

You know what, though? I'm not married to the idea of Justin Bour. What about Marwin Gonzalez? Gonzalez has been talked about as a way to fill in on the left side of the infield, but we shouldn't forget that he can play first base as well. Or what about the trade route? For the record, I didn't want to pay the high price for Paul Goldschmidt, especially since he's set to be a free agent after next season. I haven't heard of any trade rumors for first baseman outside of Goldy and Jose Abreu (still too expensive, and also a free agent after next season), but I'm sure there is something out there.

The point is that we can't ignore the question marks at first base, and hopefully Brian Cashman already plans on addressing that position. If not, I firmly believe the Yankees are making a mistake leaning on Bird and/or Voit going into 2019.

Is Happ Back? 

Alright so J.A. Happ is about to resign with the Yankees. Personally I do like this move. Happ was awesome for the Yankees down the stretch after they acquired him in a trade with the Blue Jays in late July. He went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 regular-season starts, although he had a rocky postseason outing against the Red Sox, which happens to the best of them. Happ is a solid middle of the rotation stater, who could give you Ace like performances from time to time. Now I’m not saying this should be the last starter added as I don’t believe C.C. Should be counted on as anything more then a 6th starter. At the moment the Yanks will have a rotation of Sevi, Paxton, Tanaka, and the soon to be signed Happ.  

Leaving the staff short the Ace I believe me need. Whether it’s a trade for Kluber or maybe even Thor the Yankees need to add the Ace. However we can be very happy that Happ is back in the fold. Now Mr. Cashman go sign Manny , trade for the Ace we need, and sure up the Pen. 

I can be reached at JamesCPalma@Yahoo.Com Always look forward to hearing from you.    

Changing The Plan Surrounding Miguel Andujar

When writing my postseason plan I had originally written that the Yankees should trade Andujar for a pitcher and sign Manny Machado. But I changed my mind and decided that the lineup with Andujar in it, especially after I said I wanted the Yankees to sign Bryce Harper, was just too good to pass up.

Of course, at the time, I thought signing Patrick Corbin was a foregone conclusion. But now that Corbin will pitch for the Nationals, and other free agent pitchers are good but don't really do it for me, I believe the Yankees should go with my first plan.

As I've said, the Yankees would have to bring in Manny Machado if Andujar were traded. The offense is very good, but I do not want to see the offense hurt by replacing Andujar with anyone else. Sure, Mike Moustakas would be interesting as a power-hitting left-handed batter at Yankee Stadium, but the bottom line is the offense would get worse.

So what do you do? Sign Manny Machado before working out a trade involving Andujar, or trade away Andujar and then sign Manny Machado?

I think the answer is clear.

Sure, if the Yankees signed Machado first, I understand that other teams may demand more since Andujar is an obvious trade candidate. But not making sure you have Manny on the team first could create a much bigger, and a very real, problem.

There's no guarantee that Manny would sign with the Yankees after Miguel was dealt. Let's say the Yankees have a backroom deal in place with Machado before the trade for 9 years and $288 million (AAV of $32m). But after the trade, and before Manny officially signs, the Phillies call up Dan Lozano and offer 10 years and $350 million (AAV of $35m). I don't see Machado giving up that extra guaranteed year, as well as $62 million, to live up to a backroom deal. And I wouldn't blame him. Sure, it's kind of a shitty thing to do as you're going back on your word, but that's a huge chunk of change.

Furthermore, I don't buy the argument against signing Machado first, which is that another team would want more as they see Miguel Andujar as expendable. We see it all the time where it's clear a team is willing to trade a player, but the return for said player is still good. In 2016, with Aroldis Chapman set to become a free agent after the season, it was no surprise when the Yankees were willing to trade their closer. But did the fact the Yankees were willing to trade Chapman make them have to accept less? Seeing that Gleyber Torres has become a star, and Billy McKinney was key in trading for J.A. Happ last season, I'd say they still got a pretty good return.

So if this is Brian Cashman's plan then I firmly believe he has to have Manny Machado in the fold before trading Miguel Andujar. Otherwise, while the team's starting rotation would greatly improve, the hit they take on offense could make the overall team worse. Because while the offense will affect every game, a new starter would only directly affect 32 or 33 (his indirect effect on the rotation would certainly not change much about the other 129 or 130 games).

Yankees Re-Sign JA Happ for 3-Years

The Yankees have struck a deal with LHP JA Happ on a three-year deal. Details coming.