For those of us who celebrate Christmas (and no judgments if you do not), there is this anticipation about what kind of gifts (if any) will be ours for the big day. On the one hand, you hope that you will get at least something and on the other, you hope if you do that it will be something you really want and need. Fans of baseball teams have this same collective feeling during the off season where rumors abound but only time will tell what actually comes about.
The first part of the equation is already answered for New York Yankee fans. The trade for James Paxton was a nice little present under the tree. But it is like getting some sort of electronic gizmo. Will it work as advertised? Past deals involving Sonny Gray and A.J. Burnett put the fear of hoping for too much from this new gift.
But will that be all that the Yankee fans get? The team lost two big bullpen pieces. They still don't have a real first baseman. Second base will need a decent player until Didi Gregorius comes back--that is, if Gleyber Torres slides over to short instead of some terrible long-term deal given to a dirty, self-absorbed free agent signing that will be Gary Sheffield 2.0. Forgive the non-analytical belief that talent alone is not enough to make a team better.
Will there be any big, gaudy presents under the tree? Will the Yankees be able to resist Bryce Harper? Yes, Yankee Stadium was made for him. Yes, his on-base ability is tempting. But where will he play? Perhaps that is too good a gift to question like Giancarlo Stanton was and you figure out later where it fits on the shelf. And which Bryce Harper is the real one? The MVP one or the one with a low batting average, big-time strikeouts and terrible defense?
By the way, you heard it here first: 2018 was an adjustment year for Stanton. He will be huge in 2019. Very huge.
Will there be any big presents? Perhaps a big-name starter? At what price? Can that big-name pitcher come up big in the post season? Can he beat the Red Sox in a big game? With a long-term deal, will he become an albatross?
Will a fairly deep pool of talented relief pitchers be tapped? Should David Robertson come back home? Is Andrew Miller past his best pitching? Both he and Robertson are the same age and a bit of a gamble with a multi-year deal.
And what would be good stocking-stuffers? Luis Cessa going somewhere else would be one. What addition / subtraction deals would make the team better enough to add a win or two over a season? A nice return for a traded Sonny Gray would be great. Gray and Greg Bird for Eric Hosmer and cash might be a nice thing for the stocking.
Like Christmas celebrants everywhere, this off season is much like the anticipation and tension of what will be under the tree on the big day. Will there be disappointment or will there be immediate appreciation? And if it is the latter, will it actually work when taken out of the box to play? Sometimes the anticipation is hard on the stomach.