The 2017 Yankees have provided many thrills this year. April and May were wonderfully exciting, but June and July (thus far) have seen frequent losses, some poor play, and a host of injuries.
What can be done to fix this team?
To answer this question, our staff of writers have each developed our own plans to fix the team and get them competitive again.
Here are our solutions:
I wouldn't do anything overly drastic in order to turn the ship around. There are a few things that need to resolve themselves before any external fixes can come along.
1. Get Betances and Chapman back on track. Hopefully their outings on Saturday against Milwaukee are the start of that. If they can't get going, it wouldn't matter who the Yankees trade for to bolster the bullpen. They can't win without Betances and Chapman being their usual selves.
2. Given their track records, it's not hard to imagine Betances and Chapman dominating going forward. With that in mind, adding a third late inning piece would be a plus. Someone like Brad Hand or Ryan Madson would be helpful.
3. Get and stay healthy. The bullpen has been a big problem during this rut, but the Yankees certainly miss Aaron Hicks and Starlin Castro. Injuries are a part of the game, but the Yankees need to do better getting through periods when they are short handed.
4. Trade Michael Pineda. This is a risky move for a team that's starting pitching is thin, but this would be a move looking toward the future. It's hard to imagine the Yankees signing him long-term after the season, so they should salvage something for him. Plus, I'm willing to roll the dice on either Chad Green or Chance Adams in his spot. Admittedly, there's always a chance either of the two could be worse than Pineda, but I think it's a risk a team in the Yankees position should take.
5. Get a first baseman. Maybe a three-way deal where the Yankees acquire a first baseman from team X, send Pineda to team Y, and team Y sends prospects to team X? If the Yankees are hesitant to deal from the farm but are set on getting a first baseman, this seems like an ideal type of move.
I love this season. I know the Yanks have tanked recently, but I haven’t had this much fun watching a Yankee team since ’09. That said, the Yanks have a chance to set themselves up for generational dominance.
1. Release Clippard (good guy, but got to go)
2. Move Pineda to the ‘Pen and deal him if he shows aptitude there.
3. Package Chapman (the good) and Ellsbury (the bad) to the Nationals (the desperate).
4. Move Delin to closer
5. Move Warren to 8th inning role
Build your best roster:
1. Bench players: Wade, Gardy, Romine, Torreyes
2. 1b: Choi
3. OF: Frazier, Hicks, Judge
4. Bullpen: Dellin, Warren, Green, Webb, and whoever else
5. Rotation: Sevy, CC, Adams, Tanaka, Monty
Overall, I wouldn't change much on the Yankee roster. As I wrote last week, I think the Yankees should let this season be for the most part. My fixes have two themes: learning about prospects and recognizing sunk costs.
1) Release Tyler Clippard
2) Attempt to trade Jacoby Ellsbury; eat money if necessary
3) DFA Ji Man Choi
4) DFA Luis Cessa
5) Attempt to trade Brett Gardner (hopefully for a relief pitcher type)
Play the kids:
1) When Castro is healthy, demote Ronald Torreyes; Tyler Wade becomes utility guy. Play him more than Torreyes did.
2) Promote Mike Ford (he's better than Ji Man)
3) Late in the season, temporarily convert Chance Adams to the bullpen
4) Convert Dietrich Enns to the bullpen
5) When healthy, swap Austin Romine for Kyle Higashioka
I have really enjoyed this season. Well, I haven’t enjoyed the last month or so, but the Yankees have built a strong core that should be the foundation for a team that can be successful for many (many) years. This is not the time to mortgage the future. That being said, when a team has a chance to compete and battle for a division title, they must give it their best shot.
Here is my plan to stay competitive and also build for 2018 – and beyond!
1. Have someone explain to Joe Girardi (who I think is a good manager) that we are (way) past the era of relief pitchers needing defined roles. In the late innings, use your best pitchers in the critical spots. Stop using certain pitchers just because it is “their inning.”
2. That being said, unless he can find his ability to pitch well (and I don’t think he can) – never use Tyler Clippard in an important spot. I’d rather use any number of the young pitchers to test their mettle than to see Tyler Clippard pitching meaningful innings. Along these lines, the Yankees need to pick-up a solid bullpen arm. They need someone.
3. Bring up Chance Adams and have him pitch out of the bullpen. Do this as soon as the All-Star break concludes.
4. I’m not thrilled with the rotation, but I’d let it stay as is for now. Let’s hope Pineda pitches for a big contract and can throw some quality innings. Tanaka should be solid enough. (I hope.) Severino is a future ace. I believe in Jordan Montgomery. CC is a fine #5 starter.
5. Clint Frazier must be here to stay. He should be the starting left fielder going forward. Brett Gardner goes to center. When Aaron Hicks is healthy, he can rotate between Frazier, Gardner, and Judge, giving each time to get a day off or DH. This also means that Jacoby Ellsbury should be sent packing in a salary dump. He is a sunk cost, he is not part of the future. It’s time to move on from Jacoby.
6. Once Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro are healthy, the line-up will look stronger and produce more. Let’s remember that these two players, along with Aaron Hicks, have been critical to the Yankees’ success. Losing all three for this long has obviously weakened the team.
7. We need a first baseman for today and maybe the future. Ji-Man Choi isn’t the answer. It’s fun watching him capturing magic in a bottle, but this won't last for long. I trust Brian Cashman to make a good deal without sacrificing any of the important pieces of the future. Since Greg Bird is such a question, it might make sense to actually trade some chips for a solid first base prospect.
8. Miguel Andujar. Put the man at third base. Live with the growing pains. The man can (and will) hit. I think he is the third baseman of the future. I think Chase Headley is better than Yankees fans have given him credit for, but it’s time to move on. Headley's almost homer on Sunday was symbolic of his Yankee career. He was almost the answer.
The 2017 New York Yankees have brought more excitement and wins than fans and pundits alike could have reasonably expected. The Yankees followed up a stellar April and May by losing 16 of their 24 games while falling 4.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. Significant cracks in their armor are apparent, but readily fixable. The following actions can right the ship:
1.) Bring Up the Young Guns to Fix the Bullpen
The Yankee bullpen has been in complete disarray for the month of June and the beginning of July. While the most obvious necessity is for both Chapman and Betances to get back to their All-Star form, the rest of the bullpen requires an overhaul. With the Yankees unexpectedly in the hunt, it's time for the Yankees to call up some of their young arms to stabilize the bullpen. Chance Adams and Domingo Acevedo should be called up to play prominent, potentially multi-inning roles in innings 6-8 and earlier. Adams has relieved previously, and while the Yankees have chosen to allow him to pitch in the rotation at Scranton to refine his command, he is fully capable of getting big league hitters out right now out of the 'pen with his fastball and slider. Acevedo needs further maturation as a starter, but his electric fastball will touch triple digits in a short outing, allowing his still-developing secondary stuff to play up. Both can immediately improve the bullpen.
2.) Trade For Lucas Duda
Ji-Man Choi has performed admirably in his first taste of action with the Yankees. While it's possible that he can be part of the solution, the Yankees need to reach a minimum of league average production at first base. Lucas Duda has never produced an OPS+ under 130 in a healthy season since becoming the Mets' starting first baseman in 2014. Might it cost the Yankees a premium to obtain Duda? Yes. Do the Yankees have a surplus of minor league talent? Yes - and this is a good situation to use it. A trade of Jorge Mateo and Dietrich Enns (or something similar) while expensive, could get the job done.
3.) Get Healthy
Besides the obvious flaws this team has displayed in June and July, the offense looks significantly better with Matt Holliday, Aaron Hicks, and Starlin Castro in the lineup. With those players healthy, the Yankees can boast one of the most balanced lineups in baseball.
I am writing this while watching the July 7 debacle where a 4-2 lead turned into a 9-4 deficit. Sure, there have been injuries and bullpen woes. But there is so much more to this losing streak than those two problems. Night after night we watch strikeouts with runners in scoring position and at third with less than two outs. We watch three-ball counts turn into strikeouts. We see base-running mistakes. As much fun as the first two months of the season were to watch, the last month has been a nightmare. Can it be fixed?
Perhaps. Perhaps not enough to catch the Red Sox who are flying high with all kind of talent. If they have any chance, then this is what *I* would do to try and fix it:
1. Trade or DFA Headley and go with a platoon of Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade.
2. Jacoby Ellsbury is a sunken cost. It was a bad deal and it won't get any better. Cut bait and watch the money burn.
3. Bullpen: Give Adam Warren, Chad Green and Luis Cessa the sixth and seventh inning. Only use Tyler Webb for LOOGY duty. Tyler Clippard and Chasen Shreve only get mop-up duty and join the Triple-A shuttle. Hope like heck that Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman can figure it out.
4. Set a lineup and leave it alone. Chase Headley has double figures of games in four different lineup spots. Didi Gregorius has been bounced around. Aaron Judge has been bounced around. Yes, there have been injuries, but stop tinkering and let players settle in to a routine. Here would be my lineup: Gardner, Gregorius, Judge, Hicks, Holliday, Castro, Sanchez, some first baseman, Torreyes/Wade. If any of these players gets rested, plug the sub into the same slot.
5. Obviously, I don't think Ji-man Choi is the answer at first. He might be okay as a platoon with someone else like Austin Romine, but I don't want to see Romine over-exposed in the lineup.
6. Take some bunting practice and bunt some of the guys most guilty of no contact with RISP with less than two outs. If players get upset about it, then stop whiffing and put the damn ball in play.
7. Consider Bryan Mitchell and a six-man rotation.