Perspectives – January 13, 2020
I liked how in yesterday’s article, Mike Whiteman, called these weeks the “dog days of winter,.” They most certainly are. All is quiet in Yankeeland, for the most part, but I’ll share some of my recent thoughts and perspectives here.
On the fringes, including in an article we linked yesterday, some are calling for the Yankees to jump into the supposed Nolan Arenado sweepstakes. On the MLB Network earlier today, one commentator suggested that Arenado might one day be considered the greatest third baseman ever. Who wouldn’t want him on the Yankees? In a vacuum, of course I’d love him on the Yankees. I’d love the Yankees to also get Francisco Lindor. And Bryce Harper. And Cole Hamels (I can’t resist ever saying that the Yankees should get him). And every other star. Sure…bring them all on. But, in reality, I don’t think third base is a need for the Yankees. I just don’t. I am very high on the abilities of Miguel Andujar. I like Gio Urshela as well, but I think, that by June 1 Andujar will be the starting Yankees’ third sacker. I believe in Andujar and his bat and… please forgive me…his glove. Eventually, if nothing else. I think Andujar has the drive to succeed as a passable third baseman in the Major Leagues. I think his bat can be elite. Arenado would be super to get, but he’d be improving a position of strength not addressing an area of weakness. He’s also a $30m a year player and I just don’t see the Yankees paying that kind of salary for any other player, especially a third baseman right now, no matter how good he might be. The cost of Arenado makes him a most unlikely candidate to come to the Bronx. (That’s the same reason, albeit for millions less, at least right now, why Lindor won’t be wearing pinstripes any time soon. He’ll just cost too much money.)
I do still say that the Yankees need to better balance their lineup by getting a big lefty bat in there. How they will do that, I don’t know. My early hope this winter was for Carlos Santana. I’d still take him in an eye-blink. For years, the Yankees have had too many big right handed sluggers who all can get beaten by quality pitchers who make the big hitters chase balls out of the strike zone. (Yes, I am talking to Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez here.) I wish they’d find a way to get a lefty bat to stick between those guys.
It’s been an interesting off-season seeing how people are reacting to J.A. Happ. Articles are now popping up saying the Yankees should keep him. I quite agree. I think Happ is the Yankees’ best option for the #5 starter. Jordan Montgomery is probably another quality option, but Happ, I believe, will be the better pitcher in 2020. With the non-juiced baseball, J.A. Happ should have a solid season. He is a quality pitcher and will be in 2020. Even with Happ as the #5 guy, I still see Montgomery getting his fair share of starts.
With Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, and James Paxton all having contracts that end after the 2020 season, the Yankees should think about extending one or more of them. (Happ’s 2021 option vests with him getting 27 starts or 161 innings pitched in 2020.) If all three leave, that means that within a year, the Yankees could lose 60% of their starting rotation. Happ would probably be the cheapest. He’s also the most unlikely. As a guy who feels the Yankees also need left-handed starting pitching, I’d make Paxton the first guy I’d extend.
I just saw a popup ad that states that Joe Posnanski ranked Derek Jeter #79 all-time in his Top 100 Players list (a project he started years ago and never seemed to finish). Seeing this link made me long for the good old days. I used to love reading Posnanski’s blog. Over time, he, like so many, either burned out or went behind a paywall. I guess it was the ESPN INsider that started the paywall. I read Rob Neyer for years before he went behind a paywall. Then came Posnanski. Jason Stark too, as I recall. There were so many great writers that were part of my daily baseball reading… Peter Abraham of the old Lohud Yankees blog went to Boston. River Ave Blues faded away. Mike Axisa is now only available with his Yankees news and views for a fee. I get it. If anyone does, I certainly do. This blogging is hard work – time consuming, never ending…always demanding. I am all for people making money for their hard efforts. I don’t begrudge them one bit. I just had a moment of sadness when I saw the link to Posnanski’s article remembering how much I loved reading his blog. And then I thought of the others as well. Ahhh, the good old days of the Internet
I really hope Giancarlo Stanton has a big 2020. I am predicting he will, cautiously, but I am concerned over the players he compares to most closely on baseball-reference’s ten most similar players list. As I have noted in the past, many of those players flamed out early.
I am writing in my kitchen looking outside on a particularly warm day seeing many joggers going by my window as I sit with my leg in a boot following Achilles surgery. It must be a killer for a MLB player to be on the D.L. Like so many of them, I long to get back at it. I want to be back in the line-up and back running again. Being able to be athletic sure is a gift.
I hope the Yankees make one more big move to get us all excited again. I don’t know what that is, or what it should be, but the big trade that comes out of nowhere is always fun to see.
Spring Training is coming. It is! I can’t wait.
Let’s Go Yankees!