LADY AT THE BAT: With Yankees Exhibition Opener Today, An Off-Season Recap

Friday, February 23, 2018

With Yankees Exhibition Opener Today, An Off-Season Recap

Don't look now but the winter wait is over for the New York Yankees.

We're now into the exhibition season and the expectations are high with these Yankees having just missed the World Series by one game. There's no turning back. A World Series appearance is the next step and that is the good news/bad news for 2018. It is good in the sense that the Evil Empire, as the Yankees have been labeled in the past. Returning starting pitcher CC Sabathia did not mince his words in declaring that fact.

So for the Yankees it's pedal to the metal. The bad news only happens if the Yankees fail to make it to the Fall Classic. Expectations are high. Houston is the defending World Champion and is loaded with talent coming into the season. Cleveland is still good and Boston is a legitimate contender. It is going to be a challenge

So what have the Yankees done in this seemingly short off season?

Giancarlo Stanton Is a Yankee
Some in social media seem to think the Yankees and the Marlins' Derek Jeter are somehow in cahoots in bringing Stanton to the Bronx for so very little in return. (No offense to Starlin Castro who, if he stays healthy could reach 3000 career hits.) It is just that Stanton is coming off an MVP year in which he blasted 59 home runs, which only a handful of people have ever done. 

The Marlins had an urgent need to shed some salary and Stanton, with his full no trade clause, was holding all the cards. The Giants and Cardinals became possible destinations for Stanton, but he exercised his contractual right and vetoed a deal to either team.

Enter the Yankees.

Stanton was indeed enamored with playing in the Bronx, and left with little choice, Miami swung the rather lopsided deal which made Giancarlo a Yankee for the remainder of his contract. which expires somewhere around 2028. There was no collusion and no Jeter giving his old team a hand.
Simple as that.

Oh, there is the opt out option in Stanton's contract, so he could leave after three years.

Jabari Blash Is a Yankee.  Wait, no he isn't. 
Some in social media really went nuts over this deal with San Diego. True, the Yankees don't seem to need anymore outfielders which Blash is. While the Stanton deal was lopsided in favor of the Yankees, this was at least a slightly lopsided deal which favored the Padres. Why? Because the Yankees had to dump salary and create some roster space. 

They dealt Chase Headley (and his salary) and Bryan Mitchell (and his roster spot) for Blash, who never made it to spring training as a Yankee. Teams with a lot of talent, such as the Yankees are challenged with these issues, and some sacrifices have to be made to get a championship caliber roster in place. Brian Cashman knows what he is doing and needs to do to get the Yankees on track for championship number 28. Simple as that.

CC Sabathia  Returns To the Yankees Rotation
This deal for one year and ten million plus incentives based on innings pitched seemed to be a no-brainer. Sabathia was 10-0 following a Yankees loss. Yes, there are injury and age concerns and the Yankees have been rather selective with what pitchers they choose to make these types of arrangements with. Andy Pettitte was the last pitcher who was given a yearly contract and that worked well. The risk with Sabathia seems to be far less than the possible reward of having a veteran presence in the rotation.

Brandon Drury Can Play 2B or 3B
Seems the Yankees are not comfortable with rookies at both 2B and 3B, but that may change in due time. Gleyber Torres may eventually be the second baseman and Miguel Andujar might claim the 3B job. Drury, acquired in a trade a few days ago, can play both positions and figures to be the Opening Day 3B. And Drury may turn out to be a gem for the Yankees (Remember the last time the Yankees made a three-team trade for an Arizona infielder? 

That worked out well,as Sir Didi arrived in the Bronx to inherit the shortstop position from a fellow named Derek Jeter.) Drury is young (only 25 years old) and could stick around for awhile. Drury could present the Yankees with a problem at 3B down the road or very soon, but most teams would love to have to deal with such problems.

Aaron Boone Is The Yankees New Manager
I have no doubt Boone is qualified, but he was not on my short list of replacements for Joe Girardi. The Yankees know what they are doing, I tell myself. The measure of success for any manager in Boone's position is winning and nothing less. Don't get me wrong. I do not dislike Aaron Boone. He is the manager whether we like it or not. 

The Yankees once hired a former National League manager who didn't win in any of the three stops before coming to the Yankees. A fellow by the name of Joe Torre did quite well upon his arrival in the Bronx. Here's hoping a man with no experience, good or bad, does well in his first year at the helm.

A Final Word on Joe Girardi
Joe Girardi was born in my hometown of Peoria IL, attended my high school and lived across the river in East Peoria, prior to Northwestern University and professional baseball. But his ten years in the Bronx brought only one World Series, which did result in the 2009 Championship. I think Girardi simply became obsolete in his style, and his tenure of ten years trails only Joe McCarthy (16yrs) and Casey Stengel and Joe Torre (12 yrs each). All those guys won many more championships than Girardi, so the inevitable happened looking at it in retrospect.

So how does Girardi "Play in Peoria?" His hometown, while recognizing his contribution to the game, likely ranks Joe G behind Jim Thome, who was recently elected to the Baseball  Hall of Fame. Ben Zobrist, from nearby Eureka, was the MVP of the 2016 World Series, helping the Cubs to their first championship since 1908, so Zobrist gets lots of the attention in this region for that, probably more than Girardi ever got. Thome already had a highway named in his honor.
So, Aaron Boone, the young Yankees, a few veterans named Sabathia, Gardner and Robertson, along with newcomers Stanton and Drury are poised to begin the run for championship number 28. 

In reality, nothing else will be sufficient.

Get it done, Evil Empire.

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