Saturday, October 26, 2019

Cole Or Strasburg Critical For The Yankees?

I have had a week to mourn the passing of the 2019 New York Yankees season. The sting is slight and if the Nationals can finish off the Astros, then all the better. While I congratulate the Astros fans for their season and World Series appearance, I hate that team with a passion. There is not a rational reason for the feeling. Hey, I am a fan and a fan just randomly feels stuff. With all that said, I can finally start to ponder next year and what the Yankees will do between now and then. I will start with a few categories for members of the 2019 team:

Things I am hoping will happen:
Things I am semi-okay about happening:
Things I would be unhappy about:
Let me offer some insight into those feelings. There are times when emotions overrule common sense. I call it the "Aubrey Huff Rule." Remember the year Huff had in 2010? And then he had a great post-season and he was everyone's hero. Never mind that his year was an outlier or that he was aging. The Giants resigned him and he went Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius are those two guys for me. They are both great team players. They are both full of great Yankee moments. But, perhaps their time has passed despite Gardner's surprising (or not with the baseball) homer total and Didi's big series against the Twins. I think that JA Happ was an Aubrey Huff Rule-break by the Yankees. Now, they are stuck with him.

Mike Tauchman is the new Brett Gardner. Losing Didi puts DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres at the positions they belong. I hate to see them go. But I hated to see Bernie Williams go too.

Edwin Encarnacion also had some nice moments for the 2019 Yankees. But Giancarlo Stanton is going to play a lot at the DH spot and if the Yankees can get a combo of Luke Voit healthy along with Mike Ford, you have all you need for the DH and first base. Of course, if JD Martinez opts out of his deal with the Red Sox, you can get creative if you want to. Cameron would be a decent outfield backup, but I am okay if that does not happen. Austin Romine is not exciting at all, but his last two years at backup catcher have been above league average and not too many teams can say that.

As good as the Yankee bullpen was all year, Dellin Betances was a huge loss and I think it was felt in a lot more ways than most people think. You add Betances to that mix and the relievers can be spread out more over games and not depend on the same four. I think Ben Heller is a heck of an option in there too. And he is a lot more affordable than Betances. I still think Betances is worth a two or three year deal, which he would take after missing an entire season.

As for Larry Rothschild, look at the fact that Lance Lynn got better after he left the Yankees as did Sonny Gray. Whatever magic sauce the Astros use to up their pitchers' velocity and spin rate has to come from a fresh face and not Rothschild.

All that said, the only question is finding a replacement for Aaron Hicks. Which leads me to ask what possessed the Yankees to give him that long-term deal with his injury history.

The big story line all winter will be about the Yankees going after Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. I would love the latter but there is no chance the Yankees get the former. All indications are that Cole wants to go home to California.

What if the Yankees get neither? Is that a disaster? I don't think so. Have we already given up on Jordan Montgomery? I think we have and should not. After Domingo German serves his suspension, you are left with a rotation of James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Domingo German with JA Happ and Jonathan Loaisiga in the mix if you want to banish German, which is understandable. I think that can be a pretty strong rotation.

I think the Yankees should forget their stats a little bit about the third time through an order and work hard at getting the starters to be efficient and go for six innings at least per start. You cannot ask or think that the bullpen (no matter how good they are) can get twelve or more outs per game. And, please, no more "Openers!"

If the Yankees can swing a big deal with Cole or Strasburg, sure, go for it, but, again, unless you have new life in the pitching leadership (coaching) department, will those guys continue to dominate and is it ever smart to give a starting pitcher $300 million? So much can happen during that term. CC Sabathia worked out fine, but the Yankees did not get more than three (out of ten) of his peak years.


What went wrong in the ALCS? I agree with Aaron Boone that the Astros made one or two plays better than the Yankees did in each of the losses. The Yankees were a few big hits away from having a chance in that series.

I will say this in hindsight. To me what really hurt the Yankees was a lack of continuity going from the Twins in the ALDS to the Astros in the ALCS. Think back to the Twins series. The Yankees used the same lineup in all three games. And that lineup raked except for Encarnacion, who was probably rushed back with the hope that he would be able to hit and hit for power. He was not. Mike Ford would have been a better choice.

Now jump to the Astros' series. Aaron Hicks was added in.  Giancarlo Stanton was injured out and Boone shuffled his lineup in each game. That was a mistake in my opinion. Hicks did hit that big three-run homer in the first game. But that was it. He was not a factor (except negative) the rest of the way. Gleyber Torres should have batted third in every game. He did not. Hicks had one single the rest of the way. Yes, he did walk four times and saw a lot of pitches. I will give him that.

The Yankees had zero continuity in the lineup during the regular season. Injuries had a small part of that. But the constant lineup tinkering has got to stop in 2020. The Yankees got away with it during the season because it was a marathon and not a sprint. Even so, I think the Yankees would have had a better record with less rest days and more continuity in the lineup. Consider that Gleyber Torres had more than fifteen starts at five different lineup positions and ten in a sixth. Ridiculous.


The F chant toward Jose Altuve and the abuse to Zack Greinke were terrible things. As a fan of the Yankees, such behavior was embarrassing and made all Yankee fans the object of derision and scorn. Not all Yankee fans are so insensitive and classless. It stinks to be lumped into the hate the actions of a few caused for all fans.