Welcome to the 2019 Yankee Season. As Christian astutely pointed out when I joined the guys for episode 96 of the NYYST Podcast, I have been slacking on my writing duties. Today marks the 1st full squad workout down in Tampa for the Bombers so it is time for me to get down to business, and help the squad. Please keep listening to the Pod for your Yankee fix, and give it a 5 star rating. The John Sterling interview is tremendous!!!! You all will definitely enjoy it.
I figured for my 1st piece of the 2019 season I would hit on random topics. As I am writing this, it is being reported that FA Infielder Manny Machado has agreed to the largest free agent contact in the history of professional sports with the San Diego Padres!!! The deal will reportedly pay Machado $30 million per year for 10 years, and contains an opt out after 5 years. Now we sit and wait for the other "large" free agent dominoes to fall Bryce Harper, Craig Kimbrel, and Dallas Keuchel.
Now as this pertains to the Yankees, I ask you to think logically here (I know that is hard more many of you), but here goes. Machado was never a fit for the Yankees despite the rumored interest. Didi Gregorious is a free agent after the season, and should be re-signed at all costs. The guy is an amazing defensive shortstop, a solid, clutch hitter, a leader in the clubhouse, and great with the fans. Miguel Andujar (despite his shaky defense) MAY turn out to be the best Right Handed hitter in baseball since Miquel Cabrera burst on the scene in 2003, worst case he is going to be a solid major league hitter in the Juan Gonzalez in his prime mold. It would be outstanding if he looks like a parallel to future HOF'er Adrian Beltre. Basically, barring a career threatening injury or personal tragedy Miggy Smalls is going to be a stud. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are 2 of the best players in all of baseball, Gary Sanchez has all the talent in the world but he has to choose his destiny, Luke Voit may be a legit big league power hitter, and Gleyber Torres is just 22 years old and showed signs of being an all star caliber hitter last season. What do Machado and all of these guys not named Didi all have in common? They are all right handed bats!!!! Machado did not fit on this roster for a variety of reasons (the biggest being his general lack of hustle, and his righty swing). The Yankees should be commended for not committing the years, and dollars it would have taken to sign him.
Now Bryce Harper is another story, and where I side with the twitter mob to a point. Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman have preached to the fan base for years that if the Yankees were able to get under the luxury tax threshold in 2018 they would spend big when the tax was reset on the free agent class of 2019. The class that featured Harper, Machado, Kershaw etc. Free agency had barely started and they immediately re-signed Brett Gardner. Despite my affection for Gardy (And Stat Guy Ry's dead nuts on impression of him) this was a mistake. Gardner is pretty much done as an everyday player. He hits the wall religiously in the second half of the season, and the value he brought to the ballclub has decreased.
Keeping Gardner was a bigger mistake because you are already saddled with the horrible, immoveable contract of Jacoby Ellsbury(2 years left at $21.85million per). To the shock of no one, Ellsbury is already dealing with plantar facitis, and won't report to spring training until the middle of the month. This guy makes Samuel L Jackson's character from the film Unbreakable look like Cal Ripken. Clint Frasier seems healthy. The Yankees have Hicks, Judge, and Stanton. Bringing back Gardner does in fact give the Yanks too many outfielders on their roster. That is not business speak. As mentioned before the Yankees are a right handed heavy team. Their home ballpark is tailored for lefty power hitters. Doesn't signing a generational, left handed hitting talent like Harper (who is just 26)make your team practically unbeatable? Isn't that nature of the Steinbrenner doctorine to win at all costs? It's all but certain they won't sign Harper. That being said I believe fans have every right to be angry if they don't. Especially if the Yanks don't win the World Series in 2019. The prices the Yankees charge for tickets is exhorborant. For the Steinbrenner's to pocket these profits is simplybnot right. Now I am not threatening any boycott or anything but vitriol from the fans is justified.
Late last week, the Yankees signed Luis Severino to a 4 year $40 million extension with a fifth year option at $12.25 million. Barring injury the Yanks will almost certainly pick up the option which would buy out Severino's 1st year of free agency. This is a good signing based on how the landscape of baseball has changed in the sabermetric era. Yes, Sevy was awful in the 2nd half. Yes, he got racked by the Red Sox in the ALDS, but he is a 24 year old home grown talent, a true power pitcher who takes his craft seriously. He has reported to camp stating he changed his diet to improve his stamina, and will correct his tipping pitches problem. Yankee fans should be happy Sevy is gonna be around for a while.
In my last piece, when I honored the great Mariano Rivera for his unanimous induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame I said I would comment on the flawed induction process to get inducted to Cooperstown. I think it is an absolute friggin joke that the BBWAA refuse to vote Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Roger Clemens into the Hall of Fame. It is a museum not a religious sect. I don't care what anyone thinks of them as people. That is irrelevant. The fact is PED's weren't tested in that era. The game, and commissioner Bud Selig profited off these men. Every period in baseball history has had controversies. It is proven that the great Hank Aaron took amphetimines. I am also sick of the outcry from baseball fans who act like guys from the steroid era slept with their sister. Then from September through January don't think twice when a member of their favorite NFL squad gets suspended for performance enhancing drugs. Sports are entertainment. For what teams charge for prices you should be a little more aware of the dollars you spend. Until these men are voted in the Hall of Fame, it is a complete farce. It has essentially become a bunch of douche bags acting like they are electing a home coming king in high school. It is all a popularity contest. It has nothing to do with PEDs. Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jeff Bagwell all had serious suspicions raised about PED's yet they were voted in. This fraudulent process will be exposed when Phil Rogers, Jon Heyman, and the like vote David Ortiz in 2022. What will people say then?
I will be back later on this week(I promise Christian) with my thoughts on MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s proposed changes to the game for this season