FIFTY THOUSAND MOONS
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Posted by el duque at 6:35 AM
OK... it's time to deal with seven uncontested truths.
1. Next year, the AL East won't be as mediocre as it looked last June. Toronto will have the killer lineup, Marcus Stroman, and money enough to sign a big free-agent pitcher. If so, 2016 looms as a battle for the Wild Card. Boston won't be awful forever, the O's run good year/bad year, and Tampa always has a wave of stud pitchers. (Can we please poach somebody, anybody, from the organization whose headquarters is a few blocks away?) We could field a better team next year and still finish fourth. But here's a worst-case scenario: Like a rat on a treadmill, we continually finish third, a few games above .500, chasing the Wild Card birth for the rest of eternity.
In simple terms, 2016 is when the Yankees either commit to youth or stay down for several years.
2. Somebody has to go, and it might be Brett Gardner. Let me stress something: Every deal depends on what we get in return. We cannot trade somebody just to wave goodbye. But we need a RH-hitting outfielder - please, no Chris Young on a three-year deal - and we'll have to give up somebody. I would pledge my right nut to trade Jacoby Ellsbury, but why bother? He's at the lowest point of market value. We'd get Gregorio Pettit. We might as well hope for a rebound season. Chase Headley? Same deal. Beltran? We're stuck. So I guess it's Gardy.
Gardner is a six-month star in an eight-month league. He is simply too brittle to play on a team full of geriatrics. And it wont' get better. Once, he was famous for his slow starts. Now, he's the guy who cannot finish. I wish there was another way. But there's a reason why the loudest boos in the Wild Card game rained down on Gardy. Those horrible one-handed swings? We felt betrayed. And the only reason why he should return would be that we cannot get fair value in a trade. If so, keep him.
3. If we trade any prospects - thinking Gary Sanchez or Greg Bird - the deal needs to fetch us an equally young player. Let's face it: Sanchez is blocked by Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy. Bird is stuffed by Teixeira. (BTW, we should have concerns about Bird's high strikeout rate.) We must not - as has been rumored - package a bunch of kids for Jeff Samardzia - who would become the 2016 version of Rick Rhoden.
Any move the Yankees make needs to get the team younger. NO HOWIE KENDRICKS.
4. We need to sign a front line pitcher who does not cost our first-round draft pick. There are a few, most notably Price or Cueto. If Hal Steinbrenner pleads poverty, he should be hooted out of NYC. By this time next year, Sabathia and Teixeira will be off the books. Hal needs to float a big contract for just one season. He can squawk about how expensive pitchers are, but it's the going rate, and Hal seems to be living in 2006, thinking free agents will sign three year deals and accept less to play with the Yankees, because they always make the playoffs. What a joke.
The only guys willing to sign three year deals are players like Carlos Beltran, who don't have three years left. In other words, NO HOWIE KENDRICKS!
5. The Yankees must commit to Rob Refsnyder at 2B. Good grief, other teams do it with rookies all the time. Yeah, he has fielding issues. Three years ago, he played RF. He's made dramatic strides. Did you see the news yesterday about Ian Kinsler of the Tigers? He's shortlisted for the Gold Glove. Kinsler was the consummate good-bat/bad glove 2B. He made himself into a good fielder. I believe Refsnyder has the same work ethic, and the Yankees spent all of 2015 dicking him around. This year, they should give the same support that they gave Didi Gregorius last April. If they do, I believe it will pay off. In other words, NO HOWIE KENDRICKS.
6. Nothing should block Aaron Judge's development - even if he tanks. The Yankees desperately need a RH hitting OF. They desperately need a young star. They desperately need a new David Winfield. Trouble is, the jury remains out on Judge. He didn't dominate in Scranton the way we wanted. At almost every level, it has taken Judge time to sort things out. Next summer could be his indoctrination to MLB pitching, and it might not be pretty. But make no mistake: The Yankee future is tied to this guy. He is the closest thing we have to a budding star, and we have to clear a path for him, just to see what we've got.
7. We have to abandon the HR offense. It's death. It's the offense where Brett Gardner hits 17 HRs but steals only 20 bases. It's absurd. It's where our leading hitter is Carlos Beltran, at .274. Our great teams of the late 1990s put the ball into play. At best, the HR offense gets you nine innings of a Wild Card.
Does anyone now think the 2015 Yankees could have beaten Houston, gotten hot and knocked out KC? What a joke. And yet a month ago, we were all suggesting just such a thing.
Home run hitters do not hit good pitchers. Yesterday, the Yankees changed their batting coach. Next year, they need to change their ways.