Well here we are folks, early days of June and inching deeper and deeper into baseball season. No better time than now to take a dive into my thoughts on the Yankees season so far, along with some ideas as to where I see the team going as we progress. This season, although not even at the halfway point yet, has already had its fair share of ups and downs. We all know about the injuries and how radically different this team is compared to spring training projections. This is simply my attempt to put my own spin on how things have transpired, and how I see things playing out.
Perhaps the most devastated position group, the outfielders have been a constant question mark so far this season. Brett Gardner has been the only consistent presence, and that’s just defensively because the ol’ veteran just doesn’t have the best juice at the plate anymore. Hicks’ recent return shows promise, as he has slowly started to regain his form, but his history of back issues keeps me cautious. Clint Frazier has had streaks of complete dominance while also showing spurts of utter ineptitude in the field. Cameron Maybin has been a great, under the radar, pick-up and it will be interesting to see if he sees continued playing time with the looming return of Stanton and Judge as well.
Giancarlo coming back soon is actually what worries me. This team has evolved into a contact first, fight for every run, kind of squad. Last year’s Bombers, regardless of the 100 wins, had a propensity to swing for the fences way too often and strand runners. Stanton, in my opinion, isn’t the type of hitter who is going to fit into the new style the Yanks have found themselves needing to play. Surely the argument can be made that you can never understate a power hitter who’s in the zone, but Stanton has shown he goes through long streaks of being cold at the plate and hasn’t made a name in the field to ease my nerves.
Holy shit, talk about an abundance of riches. Obviously no one could have ever imagined that Giovanni Urshela would have us saying, “Andujar, who?”. The simple insurance signing of Urshela was to bring in a defensive stalwart to shore up the hot corner while Miggy dealt with his shoulder. We now find ourselves unable to imagine this team without Gio manning 3rd, and vaunting him as a possible MVP candidate. Luke Voit has proved that his production is anything but a flash in the pan, while continously getting better defensively. DJ LeMahieu has been the best addition to this lineup, with his elite fielding and incredibly consistent contact to either move or score runners. Gleyber Torres has continued to impress from his rookie campaign last year, and only shows more promise as he grows into the majors. We can’t forget about Thairo Estrada who has been everything the Yankees could have hoped for, and more, but he just simply doesn’t have a future on this roster for the time being.
Didi will be back within the week, something has to give. This rock solid infield is about to be shaken up, but let’s not forget that Gregorius could be the best infielder on this team. The question becomes, where does everyone find a home now? Does LeMahieu move to a lesser role as a DH and spelling anyone who needs a day off? Does the power of Luke Voit make him the DH and LeMahieu moves over to 1st? In my opinion it should be a committee mentality for 2nd base and Short. A rotation of Gleyber and DJ at second with Didi taking the lion’s share of reps at Short. Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman have a lot on their plate coming up.
This one is pretty simple. Gary Sanchez is back to being the best hitting catcher in baseball. The better news is that Gary seems to have remedied some of his woes with passed balls, his troubles have lessened dramatically this season. The one point of worry comes in the form of Sanchez’s arm. Once a cannon that rarely found a runner able to steal against it, now Sanchez finds himself having a tail on the back side of his throws that have led to a strange number of runners grabbing bags against him. Austin Romine has been a good backup as per usual, filling in well when Gary’s legs need a breather. He hasn’t produced quite as well with runners in scoring position as he did last year, but for a backup catcher there isn’t much to complain about here.
No Severino, no problem! While it would be nice to have the ace back, and dealing like he was earlier in the season last year, the starting rotation has held its own so far. James Paxton had a slow start, and was derailed by injury for a little while, but has been as solid as one could hope for. Tanaka has been pitching some of his best stuff in the past few seasons. C.C. came back in a time of need and has shown signs of being a true crafty, reliable veteran pitcher. J.A. Happ is the biggest issue with this rotation, struggling mightily with almost every start. Its because of Happ’s play that the Yankees feel the need for Severino to be back sooner rather than later, or possibly to go out and get another arm. Quite possibly the most unlikely hero of this team is that of Domingo German. A guy who was looked at as a project, and potentially a bullpen arm, German has come in and been lights out for 90% of his starts this season. He still needs some work but Domingo could be a guy who finds himself holding a spot in the starting rotation for quite some time.
The bullpen that was promised. This corps of arms have been nails this season, pitching their way through any and all trouble they might face. Ottavino has risen to every occasion and been a favorite reliever of Boone and company. Tommy Kahnle has regained his 2017 form and has been pitching in higher and higher pressure situations. Zack(h?) Britton has proven why he was resigned to this squad over veteran David Robertson. Guys like Holder, Cessa, Green, and Harvey have all been streaky but found their niches in the lineup. Aroldis Chapman may not be pumping straight fire anymore but he is still a near sure-thing when he takes the mound to close a game. Dellin Betances is going to be back soon and this bullpen might not let up another hit for the rest of the season. (I’m kidding….or am I?)
What can I really say here? Last season had me foaming at the mouth with anger for Aaron Boone on one too many an occasion. Then we find out this offseason that Boone is basically a figure head for the analytics team. Supposedly he has the power to override their decisions at any time, but when you work for Brian Cashman and The Steinbrenners are you really going to tell their brain trust that you believe you know better? The good news is that there hasn’t been much that Boone, or the analytics team, could fuck up so far. The trick is going to be how the roster is managed when all the walking wounded come back healthy compared with all of the hot bats established in their absence.
Cashman has continued to impress with his extremely calculated moves. He avoided dumping loads of cash for Manny Machado and/or Bryce Harper, opting for a plethora of role players who have paid huge dividends instead. Grabbing Maybin for cash was another silent genius move by Cashman. Picking up Kendrys Morales, while understandable, is going to be odd to work with when injured infielders come back.
I truly believe that Dallas Keuchel will be signed within 36 hours from this posting. I also believe that a trade will be made for another top arm for the rotation. Scherzer is the name that gets all the blood flowing, but his contract is banana sandwich and I doubt the Nats give him up for anything less than all of King Midas’ silver. Madison Bumgarner makes the most sense but it’s still way too early to tell. Clint Frazier, Thairo Estrada, and let’s hope to god Greg Bird will most likely be the pieces packaged together any big move.
I refuse to say that I believe this team is a World Series contender with so much time left in the season. Call it superstition but I just can’t jump into that stance with so much time for things to go wrong in. This team is special, though, and I’m in awe of where they are at with all the adversity they have had to deal with so far.
I’ll check back in with my thoughts following each series going forward, and with any big news that may pop up. In the meantime, start spreading the news, LET’S GO YANKEES!!