Oh whoops I had a whole week to write a retrospective on the first half and a preview of the second half but baseball is back tonight and I am bad at time management lol. It’s my lunch break so lets go read some of my musings about the team prior to Opening Day, and then I’ll predict what happens in the second half.
On why 2017 would be better than 2016:
To quote Meatloaf: Two out of three ain’t bad.
But more specifically I said:
1B isn’t gonna put up a .204/.292/.362 line
To which I can only tug my collar sheepishly over.
On the other hand:
Will Judge put up 2016 Beltran numbers? No (holy crap could you imagine?!)
2016 Carlos Beltran: .304/.344/.546, 135 wRC+, 2.2 WAR
2017 Aaron Judge: .329/.448/.691, 197 wRC+, 5.5 WAR
Hell yeah I will be wrong like that every day and twice on Sunday. Oh man Judge is so good I love him so much. He hit the ball harder than NASA thought possible in the Home Run Derby. Twice!
I’m still not sold on Severino for this season
Again, I will gladly take that L. I also completely whiffed on my guess for 5th starter but most people did so, I’ll count that as a tie.
The Opening Day Roster:
Regarding Gary Sanchez:
I DON’T CARE. I WILL NOT TEMPER MY EXPECTATIONS, YOU TEMPER YOUR EXPECTATIONS, NERD.
Sanchez’ season has been lost in the hype surrounding Judge, but Gary has been the best offensive catcher in the AL, and a close second in WAR to Salvador Perez. He is having a fantastic 2017 and somehow people either haven’t noticed or are calling it a disappointment. People are dumb, Gary is cool, hell yeah. (Also he beat reigning champ Giancarlo Stanton in the Home Run Derby, making Logan Morrison look dumb in the process.)
The Bird is The Word.
Well so much for that. Greg Bird started the season injured and the Yankees Mets’d the hell out of the situation by having him try to play injured, leading to a truly miserable .100/.250/.200 line in 19 games. I’m writing off this season for him, get back at it in 2018, Greg.
As far as the Aarons go:
You play Hicks over Judge in a year where you are insistent that you “want to contend” and you’re casting a complete no-confidence vote for Judge. If the Yankees admit that they’re not expecting any October ball in 2017, then that’s even more egregious. There is no way you can say that Judge is a top prospect for the team, or part of the future core, and not play him this season. Period.
Aaron Hicks has been really, really good this year and I was wrong to throw him under the bus to the extent that I did, but I stand by everything I said about him v Judge for the starting job. It was the only choice.
As far as #BigToe:
[H]ere’s my not-so-bold-but-also-kind-of-bold prediction: He will start the season well enough that people will start talking about him sticking as a starter. These people will be wrong, but I still bet it happens.
This is a tie too. Ronald Torreyes did a fantastic job filling in for Didi, but people were actually fine with him going back to the bench (probably because Chase Headley was also killing it for the first month.) Torreyes is a great bench/utility guy to have for sure, and people actually kept their hype in check pretty well. Good job everybody!
Back to pitching:
I’m gonna be honest, I’m still not entirely sold on Luis as the 4th starter.
*price is right losing horn here*, but happily. I guess technically I wasn’t wrong since Luis Severino is pitching more like a 1 or 2 starter…
The other guy in the minors who is still in the mix for last starter job is Jordan Montgomery. He was optioned to AAA, and his start lines up with Green’s. Montgomery isn’t even on the 40-man, but he’s clearly impressed the Yankee brass this spring, and while I would say he’s behind Green on the list, the fact that he was sent to AAA may mean otherwise?
YOU READ IT HERE FIRST FOLKS! #GUMBYFROMDAY1
I ended with a comment about Ben Heller being an early-season call-up. That hasn’t happened and I’m still surprised. The Yankees went with Jonathan Holder as a mainstay until the All-Star Break, but sent him down and did bring Heller up. I guess we’ll see how his usage works out in…
I didn’t really say anything about Tanaka in either post because seriously, who could have seen this coming? That’s a Price Is Right horn played with full sadness, right there.
The Second Half
Cashman: Pineda diagnosed with a partial tear of UCL right elbow.
— Erik Boland (@eboland11) July 14, 2017
#Yankees say Greg Bird's issue is with the os trigonum of his right ankle. Options are a 2nd cortisone shot or surgery (6-8 week recovery).
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) July 14, 2017
Obviously the news about Pineda is worse, because at least now we have a name for what’s ailing Bird, and he may be able to avoid surgery. To be honest, as soon as Cashman was quoted as talking about “exploratory surgery” I had written Bird off for the year anyway.
1B has been a problem all year, but the Yankees have been content to try to plug that hole with guys inside the org (Chris Carter, Tyler Austin, Ji-Man Choi.) This week they did (effectively) a AAA-for-AAA trade and moved Tyler Webb to the Brewers in return for Gary Cooper, who will be the starting 1B for the Boston series this weekend.
A lot has also been talked about trading for pitching, both starters and out of the bullpen. First off, I think the bullpen stuff has been overblown a little bit. Yes, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman have struggled the past couple of weeks, but the trade talk since the first month has mainly centered on the middle relief, and “elite middle relief” is a contradiction in terms. The No Runs DMC months were a case of the planets aligning perfectly.
Brad Hand would be an amazing addition to the pen (No Runs ABC?) but there are real World Series favorite teams out there without a closer. The Yankees shouldn’t pay a closer price for a bullpen arm they want to have work the 7th or maybe 8th inning. If they can’t improve on the performance of Tyler Clippard with a mix of Adam Warren, Chad Green, Ben Heller, etc. then that’s a serious problem beyond just this season. And going further, if they need to replace one or both of Betances or Chapman, I say the season is a lost cause.
The rotation is similar. If we needed SP help prior to losing Pineda, then the team may be irreparable now. I don’t necessarily believe that, but I also don’t think it means the team needs to now go out and trade for two pitchers. The SP market will probably relatively calm compared to RP/closers this year, and a run at somebody like Sonny Gray or even Jeff Samardzija (thanks to a question sent in to River Ave Blues for even making me think of him) would be a good idea in general. Yu Darvish figures to be an expensive rental, and I can’t think of anybody else on the block after the Jose Quintana trade to even really consider.
All that said, the next couple of weeks will be the deciding factor. If the Yankees take it to Boston and show they’re really in it for AL East champs, buy. Get Yonder Alonso for 1B, get Gray (preferably for a contingent of Low-A guys I’ve never heard of, classic A’s style), and who knows, maybe even grab Hand if the rumors about Zach Britton pan out and depress that market at all. If not, then wait and do it in the off-season. There’s no reason to be paying feeding-frenzy deadline prices for guys if the team flails out of contention. I don’t think the options this year are really buy v sell, because there’s not much left to sell. Matt Holliday maybe? Perennial #hugwatch candidate Brett Gardner? They’re not Chapman and Andrew Miller.
And on top of all that, there is no doubt a window open for the team this year, but it’s not the window. Cashman has said he intends to be shrewd at the deadline (as if he never isn’t) and the FO seems to understand that while they might be able to push over the edge this season, it’s not like they won’t have a similar chance in 2018 and 2019, as much as the waiting sucks. The team has had guys come up and contribute in big ways, and the position prospects looks like they’re panning out so far.
The next weeks leading up to the deadline were always important to the Yankees this year, now they’re crucial.