The Tuesday Discussion: What Is Most Needed?
This week we asked the writers:
With the season now over, what is the biggest area the Yankees have to address this off-season to get them back to the World Series?
Derek McAdam – The Yankees have to get themselves a big starter that can pitch in the postseason, whether that be Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, Jake Odorizzi, etc. They need someone that can set them over the top from other teams in the league. J.A. Happ is not the most trustworthy pitcher the Yanks have, and there is no telling how, and if, Domingo German would fare in the playoffs. They have Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and Luis Severino, all of whom have shown strong potential in the postseason. The Yankees need innings eaters, which was their biggest problem this postseason (alongside situational hitting). Starting pitching is what they need to put the most energy into.
Phil Cashier – While starting pitching may be the biggest need looking at the roster right now, I’m actually more concerned about the outfield. Stanton can’t be counted on for more than 120 games — and that might be optimistic. Plus, I’m not certain he can really play the big LF at YS that well. Hicks is one throw away from needing TJ surgery and that could cost him the whole year. Judge also has had a problem staying on the field the past two years. Without Gardy they have no true CF — and at his age his defense and ability to play a lot of games in CF could be decreasing. Tauchman had a very nice year for the Yanks, but he’s not really the equal of the big three. Frazier has a great bat, but it doesn’t appear he has the confidence of Cashman — and I suspect he will be traded during the off season. Maybin had a nice season, but I’m not sure the Yankees intend to resign him, and since he has no options he’d limit their flexibility.
Ethan Semendinger – I don’t think this is much of a discussion, and I feel like most people are going to mutually agree that there is one major factor of the game that the 2019 Yankees were lacking, drastically. The biggest area for the Yankees to upgrade at is within the medical/training staff. This has been a recurring issue for a few years now, and while I can understand that anything can happen, it seemed that at times the Yankees medical staff was overly cautious with players (see: Stanton, Giancarlo in the ALCS) and at other times too optimistic with others (see: Judge, Aaron in 2018; Bird, Greg in 2017).
Additionally, the Yankees set unprecedented numbers for injury time, with setting the record for most cumulative days missed by players with 2,654 over 30 players to land on the IL, and also spent $84,104,405 of payroll on players to be on the injured list this season (Spotrac).
Lincoln Mitchell – The biggest need is starting pitching. They need to add two quality starters to this rotation. They do not need to waste time and money on middle and back of the rotation starters, but need to sign two guys who can be part of the post-season rotation. The other major need they have is a left-handed power hitter. The Yankees were so right handed heavy that they were very vulnerable to good right handed pitching. In general the Yankees have a lot of talent, a lot of depth and a lot of question marks. This is a tough situation because they only can improve by adding impact players. They have two or so above average to excellent players who can play every position, but other than Torres not a single player who is likely to be healthy for all of 2019 unlikely to significantly regress in 2020. This means that adding league average players doesn’t help them, so they need to pursue top shelf talent to improve or remain as good next year as they were this year.
Patrick Gunn – Starting pitching, starting pitching, starting pitching. Even with Sabathia retiring and Domingo German’s career up in the air, the Yankees need a front line starter to provide innings, and give the bullpen – and the rest of the starters – some relief. They have missed out on getting Gerrit Cole twice now, third time’s the charm? Is Cole Hamels worth signing even after a mediocre second half? Are Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery going to return to form next season? Will JA Happ pitch better than last year? Many of these questions will not be as important if the Yankees can go out and sign a solid starting pitcher.
Matthew Cohen – The most important thing that the Yankees can do is wait for Gerrit Cole and George Springer to sign with a team other than the Astros. Once that happens the Yankees will be the best team in the American League.
Aroldis Chapman will likely opt out and Dellin Betances is a free agent. So the bullpen will need to be addressed.
Paul Semendinger – I don’t just want one ace starting pitcher, I want two. It’s time for the Yankees to spend big to change the paradigm. If the team’s goal is to reach the World Series, the plan isn’t working. The Yankees haven’t been there in ten years. The Yankees should spend big to win big. There are no trophies for a team that wins while being cost conscious. The Yankees have the cash to afford to sign the aces the need at the top of their rotation. They also have the financial capital to not be crippled if they spend on a player who gets hurt. In short, they can cover their mistakes. They should be smart (as they have been) with their player choices, but they need to decide who the best starting pitchers are – and get them!
Jacob Gaba – The Yankees simply need a ringer in the rotation. With Gerrit Cole on the market this off-season, the Yankees can’t afford to pass up an opportunity to create a World Series champion-caliber rotation. This is the year to spend big for the Yankees. Cashman has done a great job of putting together a team of young stars who aren’t eating up much payroll. Moneyball only works until it doesn’t. There’s a reason the Oakland Athletics haven’t won a World Series under Billy Beane–you need to spend big if you want to win big. The Yankees need to take the risk of spending big on Gerrit Cole this off-season. The Astros took that risk by taking on Justin Verlander’s contract, and the Nationals have taken that risk with Patrick Corbin (both players who the Yankees passed on when the opportunity was ripe). I don’t blame Cashman for passing on those players in the context in which he did, but look where those players are now–the World Series. In their biggest area of need, in a stage of team building where spending big is justifiable. The Yankees need to get Gerrit Cole before they become the American League version of the Dodgers: close enough to sniff the prize, but too far away to taste it.