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Perspectives On A Late December Morning

I miss Yankees baseball. The long cold lonely winter is starting to feel long, cold, and lonely. The Yankees got the month off with the great news of the Gerrit Cole signing. I am glad they signed him, thrilled in fact, and also very very glad (thrilled again) that they did it quickly and didn’t let this drag on all winter, but, now we’re in the post-signing blues period waiting, waiting, and waiting more for some real Yankees news.

The more I think about it, and some people will think I’m crazy, but I am ready to go to battle with J.A. Happ as the Yankees’ number five starter. I am higher on Happ than most others. I think he has a chance to be very successful in 2020, and even more so in the years to come. I see him as a Jamie Moyer type – a pitcher without eye-popping stuff, but a guy who knows how to pitch and will pitch forever. Moyer went 20-6 as a 38-year old, and 21-7 as a 40-year old pitcher. I think Happ can approach that level of excellence, especially if he’s the last guy in the rotation. A rotation with J.A. Happ at the top is a weak rotation, but having Happ as the #5 starter would be tremendous. A lot of people are down on Happ, but even great pitchers have years when they are not so good. Over the last five seasons, Happ has been a plus pitcher. His WAR over that period is as follows:

2015 – 3.3

2016 – 4.5

2017 – 3.3

2018 – 3.3

2019 – 1.2

I am certain that those numbers are vastly better than most people realize. Remember, this is the guy who projects as the Yankees’ #5 starter. Happ should also improve if the so-called juiced ball is removed in 2020.

With Happ as my #5 starter, if I were the Yankees, I would use 2020 as a year to see what Jordan Montgomery has coming back from his years-long injury and rehab. Montgomery would be my long man and spot starter. If each Yankees’ starter gives the team 25 starts, there are plenty of opportunities for Montgomery to pitch as a starter. He could easily get 20-25 starts of his own. The Yankees need to know what Montgomery has going forward since 60% of the starting rotation (as currently constructed), James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and J.A. Happ, are not signed past 2020.

I feel similarly about rookie Mike King. I am eager to see what he can bring to the table. The Yankees need to give him plenty of opportunities in 2020 so they make great decisions after next season regarding the three free agent pitchers on their staff.

I am less eager to rush Deivi Garcia. This kid will be only 21-years old for the 2020 season. Barring an emergency or an amazing breakout by him, I would let Garcia learn to pitch and achieve excellence in Triple-A. There is no need to rush him.

How’s this for the 2021 rotation: Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, and J.A. Happ? Stranger things have happened. In 2021, the Yankees can slowly bring Garcia into the fold. By that point, maybe Mike King is also a legitimate starting option… (Yes, if he has a strong 2020, I’d bring J.A. Happ back again as the #5 guy.)

Missing from all this is Domingo German. Whatever happened with him and the domestic abuse situation that he was involved in is still not clear. The absence of any news makes this difficult to figure out. Is there a credible report out there that states exactly what happened and what has taken place with him since? Is there a timeline for his return? Should he return – or should the Yankees move on from him? With situations like this usually some news comes out – the absolute lack of any news here seems to indicate a real troubling situation. CBS reported back in November (11/8/19) that the investigation was coming to a conclusion “soon.” A 12Up report from last week (12/19/19) indicates that there is a possibility that German may be in rehab or therapy.

The optimist in me is hoping that Miguel Andujar has a monster year with the bat and improves his defense to the point where he can be a serviceable third baseman. He smashed 47 doubles (and 27 homers) in 2018. I am eager to see what he can do again. I am also eager to see his hitting over multiple years. Andujar has an electric bat, one that, in some ways (from the opposite side of the plate) reminds me of Robbie Cano when he first came up. Neither guy walks much, both have “in the gaps” power and who occasionally hit the long ball. Neither were the BIG prospects when they arrived. Both surprised many with their level of competence (excellence) with the bat so early on. Neither is seen as a stellar defender. Wouldn’t it be something if Andujar proved to be a hitter of Cano’s stature over the course of his career? If so, I’d live with the defensive struggles.

How’s this for a comparison:

Robbie Cano (1st season) 132 games .297/.320/.458, 34 doubles, 14 HR

Miguel Andujar (1st season) 149 games .297/.328/.527, 47 doubles, 27 HR

I was so glad to read Andy Singer’s article on Friday that concluded that Gleyber Torres projects be a better defender at short than most people suspect. I think Andy is correct. I am quite certain the Yankees also believe that. I was glad to see the research that proved that we should be optimistic about Torres as the Yankees shortstop for 2020 and (way) beyond.

I am also optimistic this morning about Giancarlo Stanton’s 2020 season. You read it here first – Stanton comes back healthy and leads the Yankees in homers in 2020. Yeah, he’ll hit upwards of 37 bombs… 42 seems about right.

Here’s an interesting tidbit from reader Mike Skibby: Edwin Encarnacion is the only player to hit a home run on three continents in the same season (Asia, North America, and Europe).

Happy New Year Everyone! Thanks for stopping by and reading and sharing your love of baseball and the Yankees with us. 2019 was a remarkable year here – we look to make 2020 even better!

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