How The Yankees Can Fix Their Problems (Pt. 1, Pitching)
How The Yankees Can Fix Their Problems (Pt. 1, Starting Pitching)
By Cary Greene
March 17, 2022
I’m on record for wanting Trevor Story, Seiya Suzuki and Kyle Schwarber this offseason. A lot of spending would have needed to occur for what I really wanted to happen. I doubted very much that Hal Steinbrenner was down with an idea like mine. It would have been extremely expensive.
I was also against the Yankees trading their best prospects for only a couple years of Matt Olson and I was not thrilled about going over $200 million for 32 year-old Freddie Freeman.
An alternate plan did occur to me this offseason, one Hal Steinbrenner would likely find far more palatable. Before we examine it, let’s consider the team that’s favored by PECOTA to win the Division going away. The Rays.
We know the Rays are the most operationally streamlined team in baseball. They routinely trade away star players and add key prospects to their system, who then seem to appear out of nowhere one day down the road and the rest of the American League East is left scratching their heads and wondering, “Where did they get THAT GUY?” Their starting rotation was built with five trades, three draft picks, one international amateur signing. They then signed a single Free Agent, our recent friend Corey Kluber.
Brian Cashman often makes reactionary trades, which boil down to putting Band-Aids on problems that really ought to have been addressed in the previous off-seasons. Last year’s Trade Deadline serves as a perfect example of Cashman acting to correct his flawed roster design plan that he entered the season with. In a fairly minor deal, he traded with the Angels for Andrew Heaney, in order to bring another left-handed starter into the mix for the stretch run. Cashman traded Jason Junk and Elvis Peguero to get him.
How can the Yankees reverse course and become more able to compete with the shrewd, nimble Rays, who PECOTA projections predict to with the American League East going-away this season, by a whopping 9 games?
We’re never going to be able to advocate that the Yankees simply stop spending money. A plan like that would be as unfeasible as it would be irresponsible and there’s a good chance it would make the Yankees far less competitive than they have already become in the last five years, under Brian Cashman’s watch.
However, what if the Yankees were to have faith in their prospects and build a master plan around them, instead of blocking roster spots with free agents and then trading the prospects away?
What if a strategy entrenched in utilizing key prospects were gravitated towards and this plan were to be supplemented with a little bit of key spending? Well, for starters, the team would get younger, faster and better defensively. The lineup would have more dynamics that Aaron Boone could tap into, he’d suddenly have a running game, instead of a team chalked full of cement-footed, lumbering sluggers.
This series of articles are meant to be part of an outside the box piece intended to present some solutions to Yankee problems that might not cost Hal Steinbrenner much at all, yet would wind up providing some phenomenal solutions for Aaron Boone and company. I will call this series How The Yankees Can Fix Their Problems.
Competing in the American League East requires outstanding Starting Pitching. The best way to beat the potent offenses of the Blue Jays, the Rays, and the Red Sox is to stifle them in painful three and four game series that limit their offensive production. While the Yankees’ rotation is very solid, it needs to be tinkered with in order to improve it. The rotation is headed by Gerrit Cole, so the Yankees have their lone ace.
New York also has Luis Severino, but he’ll be on an innings limit this season as he’s still building arm strength and recovering from Tommy John Surgery.
What can the Yankees do to make their rotation much more imposing? How could they add a devastating piece to it that would make the Yankees better during the regular season and equally as important, more difficult to deal with in a postseason series? Short of signing Max Scherzer, which is a ship that Cashman couldn’t bring to port, there is actually a dastardly couple of maneuvers that the Yankees could make – that would not require spending big.
1) The Yankees could go to a six man rotation during the regular season.
This would be a perfect way to work out the innings limit on Luis Severino, and it would also be an excellent way to reintegrate Jonathan Loaisiga back into to the rotation, limiting his innings to between 3 to 5 innings most games, as they gradually stretch him out. Over time, Loasiga could become the Yankees best starter. During the season, he would function as an “uber opener.” This move alone gives the Yankees a Gerrit Cole – Luis Severino – “Johnny Lasagna” three-headed monster, with lefties Jordan Montgomery and Nestor Cortes Jr eating innings at the back end of the rotation.
In this plan, Mike King and Domingo German would open the season as long men and provide the depth and perhaps even pitch in the same games that Loaisiga opens.
This creative use of existing personnel is a shrewd, internal way to address the rotation, but we’re not going to stop here.
We’re actually going to reshape the rotation as we go along, but more on that later…