Sunday, December 7, 2014

Comments on the Yankees Offseason

Happy Sunday to all! I hope everyone is enjoying your holiday season in this windy, rainy winter so far. I've been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with my family in the past few weeks, and it's nice to see everyone else doing so. But back to business. The Yankees have entered the postseason spectacular (Or Hot Stove, if you will) with a few off-season moves (and non-moves). Here are my thoughts.

  1. I liked the trade for former Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Justin Wilson (besides the fact he has an excellent first name, of course). Trading an injury prone catcher in Francisco Cervelli in his final years of arbitration for a mid-90s throwing lefty under team control for multiple years is something you do every time. Wilson has his control issues; his walk rate inched up to 4.5/9 from 3.4/9 in his breakout 2013 season, but increased his K rate to 9.1/9 from 7.2. Wilson's FIP suggests some bad luck and an improvement to a mid 3's ERA from 4.20 last season and with pitching coach Larry Rothschild's magic of simultaneously improving BB and K rates, I expect him to be an under-the-radar pickup with big dividends, like Boone Logan a few years back.
  2. Having potentially three dominant lefties out of the bullpen is something of a pipe dream. Wilson, top 2014 pick Jacob Lindgren and Andrew Miller could be lethal. Particularly so since all three can get batters out on either side of the plate with pinpoint control and sky high K rates. Lindgren has to be added to the 40-man roster and earn a bullpen spot, but Manager Joe Girardi and Rothschild have to be salivating at the prospect of having such an electric bullpen. Speaking of Miller...
  3. I am just kind of "meh" about Andrew Miller. Sure, he's been electric since moving to the bullpen full time (ERA's trickling downwards of 3.35 to 2.02 since 2012), but should signing a pitcher with half the years of dominance of David Robertson take priority? I'd rather keep the guy the fan base is familiar with. If you're not going to keep the homegrown Robertson, who will they keep? Is Dellin Betances going to walk out the door too? Miller, I'm sure will be a stud, but Robertson should not be out as a result. Are the Yankees going to dump $90 million on two relievers? Probably not.
  4. Who takes over the closer's role? I am pro-signing a 'proven closer' such as Jason Grilli, Sergio Romo or a personal favorite, Casey Janssen to keep Miller and Betances as multi-inning set-up men and making the bullpen even deeper. But I think the Yankees should try installing a familiar face: Shawn Kelley. The initial reaction is: he has his moments where he is hittable like a soft tossing lefty. I know. But, Kelley filled in at closer admirably at the beginning of the season. Kelley's stuff is way too good to be middle relief and he is best suited as a one inning specialist. If the Yankees want to save a couple of bucks, let one of the AAA kids earn a job. You could be looking at this:
      1. Closer - Kelley
      2. Set-up - Betances
      3. Set-up - Miller
      4. Multi-Inning - Warren
      5. Middle Relief - Wilson
      6. Middle Relief - Lindgren
      7. Long Man - Phelps
  5. Why isn't Chase Headley a Yankee? He's a rock solid fit. He's not the .286/31 HR/115 RBI guy from 2012. But, he is absolutely a .265/25/90, switch hitting, rock solid defending third baseman. How many 3B are truly better? Donaldson, Longoria and Rendon? Everyone is comparable at best. You cannot count on just keeping the seat warm for prospect Eric Jagielo. Martin Prado can play third just fine, but he's better at 2B or an everyday super utility guy. Unless the Yankees have a Todd Frazier trade in the works (Jersey boy! Grew up a Yankees fan! Intangibles!), stick with someone who played well in the Bronx. Bring him back.
  6. A-Rod needs to be nothing more than the DH. Period. Stick him there and hope for the best.
  7. I dig the idea of a second base 'competition' between Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder, but 1) Pirela is getting a little too much hype - his ceiling is literally his teammate: Martin Prado - not a bad thing! I'm a big Prado fan! But he would be an awesome UTIL/DH guy. Refsnyder is the long term answer at 2B once his defense gets honed - his bat is ready, but a little more seasoning at AAA would be nice. If Brendan Ryan could be of some use, it'll be helping him defensively learn the position - who better to learn from? Ideally, he starts in AAA with Prado at 2B and once someone gets hurt, Prado moves there and Refsnyder gets the call.
  8. Speaking of Refsnyder; his former hitting coach, Marcus Thames, his now the Yankees Asst. Hitting Coach. I don't care for this trend of hiring assistant hitting coaches (much like I disliked infield shifts being adopted 3 years ago), but Refsnyder raved about him overhauling his swing, which allowed him to hit for more, harder contact. If Thames can have that effect on him, he could be of some use.
  9. The Yankees need to bring in some starting pitching ASAP. Bringing back Brandon McCarthy is a no-brainer and if they can bring in another one via trade or free agency (either a small, shorter contract like a Jason Hammel or a big splash like Max Scherzer), they must do so. Scherzer, Tanaka, Pineda, McCarthy, Sabathia sounds solid!
  10. And to wrap up: the big elephant in the room: the Didi Gregorius trade. My initial reaction and still: terrible. The Yankees need starting pitching, particularly young and not injury prone. Shane Greene fit that bill. And they send him away for a slick defending, no hitting SS. They have one in Brendan Ryan! If Gregorius was any good, Chris Owings would have been in AAA! Chris Owings can hit a little bit - why not go after him? Or if they wanted a 24 year old - why not Starlin Castro? Albeit, he would have cost more, but Greene in a package for a legit SS would not bother me as much. I don't expect Gregorius to hit .300, or 15 home runs. Just be decent. His MLB career suggests otherwise so far. Here's what is going to happen: he's going to stink, get calls for his head, and the Yankees are going to sign Ian Desmond next offseason. So why waste Greene? Prove me wrong Cashman and Gregorius. Prove me wrong.
Thanks for reading! All stats provided by Baseball Reference. Follow me on Twitter @JMFlorio

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