In case you didn’t just spend the entirety of your Friday night/Saturday morning stalking Twitter feeds like it was your High School crush, let me give you a heads up on some cool stuff going on in the world:
- Manu hit a game winner
- The Cavs had their win streak snapped
- Army vs. Navy is today
- #WhatIWantSantaToBringMe is trending for some reason
- Oh yea and…GIANCARLO STANTON IS COMING TO THE BRONX
Truth be told this is one of those things I’ve tried on MLB The Show, but never thought I’d ever see actually happen. About 6 months ago I felt similarly about the Yanks acquisition of Sonny Gray, and then Brian Cashman copied that move I made too. I’m starting to think this is no coincidence. My next move will be to create myself as a player and sign myself to a multi-million dollar deal, let’s see what happens.
But let’s focus on the already done-deals, or in this case the almost already done-deals. The Bombers and Fish are still hashing out some final details on the trade that will send the reigning NL MVP to New York. Now as more news of the deal begin to surface we’re learning that part of the package the Yanks have given up includes starting 2B, Starlin Castro.
The move as a whole is incredibly exciting considering that baseball hasn’t seen a reigning MVP traded since 2003, when the Yanks acquired Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers who were in a similar salary-cap shedding situation. When you get beyond the glitz and glam of the big money man heading to the Big Apple, you realize that there are some more moves to be made in order to truly make a run at the World Series in 2018.
Who Gets to Play Right Field?
The first thought that had to come to mind as the rumor-mill swirled on Stanton to the Yanks conversations, was who stays in Right and who gets bumped elsewhere (and more specifically to where). The Yankees have sunk a lot of money into billing Aaron Judge as the undisputed future of manning the short porch. They told us he was the heir to the throne once held by the likes of Babe Ruth and Joe Dimaggio. Hell they even named a damn section after him in Right Field. Now as Stanton makes his arrival in New York though you have to wonder how the Yankees are going to handle the move defensively. Early reports are indicating that the Yankees are planning to rotate the two men at the corner outfield spots and occasionally DH as they figure out what works best early in the year. While that is fine in theory, the truth of the matter is the mental toll frequent rotations defensively could take on a ballplayer could be catastrophic particularly to a young and impressionable talent like Judge. So the best bet is to make a decision early and go with it until it’s apparent it either will work or won’t. Both players are far too talented with the glove in their hand to be relegated to the DH role for a lengthy stretch, so slotting them in the outfield full-time is the best use for them. Neither necessarily has the athleticism or range necessary to patrol Center, so Brett Gardner will be forced to revert back to the position he initially came up in to accommodate them. With Stanton yielding the better throwing arm at this stage, it has to be argued that keeping him in Right and putting Judge in Left makes the most sense. And as for the Judge’s Chambers section…moving it to his new home in Left might actually make more sense considering that as his swing continues to develop he’s more inclined to begin pulling the ball that way when he’s at the plate.
Clearing Up The Outfield Logjam
Straight away as the news of talks between the Marlins and Yankees began to unfold, Yankee fans collectively hoped that the package would include relief to the strangle-hold Jacoby Ellsbury has had on the Yanks wallets (and will for the next 4 years). Sadly though rather than moving him or Brett Gardner, the Yanks have parted ways with their starting 2nd Baseman. What that means is that the Bombers now have 6 starting lineup-caliber outfielders on their big league roster: Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier, Stanton, Gardner, and Ellsbury. You can rationalize carrying 5 I suppose under the 25-man roster size, but 6 is a bit of a stretch especially considering that none of the above seems likely to slot in as a full-time DH. With Stanton, Judge, and Gardner slated to start and Frazier likely being deemed untouchable as a highly touted prospect the obvious choice would be to finally find a way to move Ellsbury. But with his hefty contract, and no-trade clause looming it may be a tall task to unload him anywhere. So that then means the Yankees have to begin shopping Hicks in the hopes of clearing up some roster room in the coming weeks. As the Bombers are pretty well-endowed at all positions I can’t see them asking for too much in return, but potentially a few minor league pitchers who they can mold would be a fair asking price for the defensive specialist.
Patching Infield Holes
Now with Starlin Castro gone the Yankees face two holes on a once sure infield. The other stems from the departure of Todd Frazier to free-agency. While there is still the chance that the Bombers resign the New Jersey native, I’d hold off on pulling the trigger for the moment and examine what is waiting in the wings. As far as 3B goes the first look goes to Chase Headley, but should the Yanks opt to DH him or use him as a frequent substitution at the corners as they did late into last season and the playoffs, it opens up an opportunity for the top prospect in the organization, Gleyber Torres. A natural shortstop, the Yankees have made the Venezuelan born ball player’s move to third base a priority with the emergence of Didi Gregorious as a mainstay at short. Giving him the first crack at it in the big league level in 2018 makes perfect sense to me. As for the hole Castro leaves at 2B, the Yankees have another chance to turn to a young prospect they’re high on. Tyler Wade made sporadic appearances in 2017 as a back-up infielder for the Yanks. Another natural shortstop, Wade might be in-store for an easier transition than Torres because of the similarities between short and second. As much as fans clung to Todd Frazier as a figure head and emotional leader, they’ll be glad to see the Yankees continuing to invest in the future despite it being an obvious “Win-Now” type of year.
So Much Power, So Few Spots
As it currently stands, the Yankees have a bunch of guys slated to get a lot of at-bats who can truly rake at the dish. But the Bronx Bombers are severely lacking in the table-setter department. As it currently stands Gardner is their defacto-leadoff hitter, which is a bit scary still due to his low OBP and pension for chasing the big fly instead of searching for ways to just get on base. After him though you have a number of 3, 4, 5 kinds of bats and a very limited amount of spots in which to plug them in and make them effective. The immediate thought for the second spot in the order might be to plug in Didi, who’s athleticism and strong 2017 campaign might see him excel there. That being said batting a pair of lefties at the top of the order who struggle hitting same-handed pitching could yield major problems if the big dogs are coming up to eat with nothing on their plate. The unconventional thought I feel might work best, is to bat Sanchez 2nd. He’ll get plenty to hit there with the reincarnation of murder’s row following him in the order, and he’s shown flashes of improvement with being able to get himself on base in crucial situations. As high as I’ve been on Judge for years now, I think few fan argue that letting the currently superior Stanton bat in the coveted 3 hole is a must. Judge can clean-up, with Didi and Greg Bird protecting him and 5 & 6 respectively. Then you bat Headley 7th in the order with the pair of rookies in the seemingly no pressure 8 & 9 holes until either of them prove they can make the jump to the top of the order.
The Boone Factor
The Yankees decided to name Aaron Boone their new manager this offseason, officially bringing him aboard in a press conference earlier in the week. He was inheriting a young up-and-coming roster who far exceeded expectations in 2017 which had been billed as a rebuilding year. Boone has no prior coaching experience at any level, so from the jump the media and fan scrutiny of the new skipper has been intense if nothing else. Now you throw in the fact that the addition of Stanton makes the Bombers a World Series or bust kind of team in 2018 and that is one hell of a pressure cooker for a man who is pretty new at this. The New York media and hyper-critical fans will be calling for the man’s job the instant the Yankees lose a game in May because of a decision he makes. There will be no sizable learning curve allowed for Boone, and there won’t be a lot of patience for any rookie-managerial mistakes. You almost have to wonder if the Front Office is now regretting pulling the trigger on Boone at this point because of how quickly the Yanks have jumped from surprising playoff team a game away from the World Series, to sure fire contenders for the crown in a matter of a day.
All things considered Yankees fans will be happy with this move in the short term despite these questions that need to be addressed. You already have a solid rotation, the game’s best bullpen, and now you’ve added another slugger to an already stacked lineup. Things are looking up for a franchise who not that long ago was perceived as a team in a downward spiral.