Wednesday, July 26, 2017

As the trade deadline looms, and the future balances on a fulcrum, it's time to take stock of the next Core Four

We won last night, whipping the last-place, rented mule known as the Cincinnati Reds. (Where the hell is Vada Pinson and Joey Jay?) As usual, a win means forgiving Yankee miscues and celebrating our superior fan-base intellect. Thus, let's discuss the things that have gone right - the players around which we can build, not just for 2017, but for the long haul.

We begin with Didi Gregorius, best SS in the AL East. Clearly, Houston's Carlos Correa is the league gold standard - 20 HRs and .320 BA - but he's hurt right now, and let's see what Carlos' numbers look like when he clogs back in a few weeks. Didi missed his first month, yet his stats - 15 HR, .307 - are as good as it gets. Nobody - not Tyler Wade, not Glyber Torres, not Jorge Mateo - is going to replace Didi at SS. They all must find other positions - (Wade 2B, Torres 3B, Mateo CF?) We have Didi signed for two more years. He's only 27 - bedrock for a championship infield. Also, he seems like a genuinely great person. Future Yankee captain? I'd have no problem with that.

Aaron Judge in right. Nothing more to say. Clint Frazier in left - well, he's a good bet, but that's all. I'm queasy about the Yankee hype machine comparing him to Judge (though the result is that it's become impossible to trade Frazier without a fan insurrection.) We haven't had a homegrown Yankee slugger burst onto the horizon like this since Mickey Mantle - nearly 70 years ago - and now we're expecting two? That's crazy. But with Aaron Hicks and Dustin Fowler - (I still cry just writing the name) - we should have a solid OF. Estevan Florial, age 19, may or may not be the real deal, but if the scouting reports are true - and he's the one Oakland wants - wouldn't it wise to keep him? Also, I know this bucks conventional wisdom, but in the name of Christ Ben Gamel, we should give Jake Cave a shot. The guy is 24, he went 2-4 last night, lifting his average to .374. Are we really going to give another one away? Oh well, whatever we do, we should have a championship-caliber OF for years to come. I can picture line drives bouncing off the Green Monster, way too high for Jackie Bradley Jr.'s glove.

Of course, we have Gary Sanchez at catcher. He's not the Second Coming, as he looked last year. But he's tied for fourth among MLB catchers with 14 HRs, and he missed five weeks. I worry about the passed balls and a lingering sense that our pitchers may secretly prefer Austin Romine calling the shots. (Montgomery already seems to do better with Romine.) We spent half a season realizing that Sanchez - slow as a city bus - should not bat second. But he's our catcher for the next four to five years, a rock for the future. (And, by the way, for the first time in maybe 10 years, we have no stud catcher in our farm system. That ended when the Padres chose Luis Torrens in the Rule 5 draft.)

In the last two outings, Luis Severino has gone toe-to-toe with Chris Sale and Felix Hernandez, and the Yankees won both games. He is our Wild Card Single Game starter, and perhaps the biggest reason why chasing a 2017 wild card might not be so insane. (Though trading prospects at hostage-negotiation prices is insane; better do in the winter. I HATE TRADE DEADLINE WEEK.) Severino gives us a homegrown ace for the future, something we haven't had since Chien-Ming Wang. 

Okay, here's where it gets dicey. I'm not sure Starlin Castro plays 2B on the next great Yankee team. He's played well for us and certainly deserves loyalty. But Castro still doesn't walk enough - the first sign of a championship grinder. I get it that he wanted to return quickly, that he saw his team in need of a boost, but coming back too soon from a groin injury was a rookie mistake. He never ran full-out. Now, he's gone for - what - another three weeks? I dunno, but I don't see him as a core player. I find myself hoping that Wade rips a hole in the Yankee matrix and makes himself a part of the future. If so, Castro just Wally Pipped himself by coming back too soon. 

That vaunted bullpen of ours? Meh. They're names scribbled in chalk. Aroldis Chapman looks like the pitching version of the Ellsbury contract. I expect Dellin to return to form, but let's be honest: Considering his meltdowns, do any of us expect him to ever be a closer? Right now, we're touting our great bullpen. But it could turn on us in a heartbeat - and long term? Forget it.

The other positions, frankly, are scrapyard material. Todd Frazier looks absolutely terrible, dead on arrival. Worse than Chris Carter. Can he really be that bad? We'll spend the winter looking to move Headley and/or Ellsbury and/or Gardner. Everything from then on is free agent signings - and I think Hal is going to revert to cheapo tactics - and long term prospects: Kaprelian, Sheffield, Adams, et al. If we trade a pile for Sonny Gray, age 27, we'll have him for two years - our No. 2 starter, after Sevy. (Maybe No. 3, after Monty - who might be one of the core.) But there is also the chance that Gray will simply suck - and pull this team down around its tent poles. 

I still believe we are one - maybe two - core players from a future dynastic team. We have the prospects. We have the money. But we trade a bunch of young players, and Sonny Gray turns out to be a flop, we could find ourselves in a surge that never wins anything meaningful. Could anything be more disappointing?


KD said...

Didi is DEFINITELY Captain material. Watch they way he interacts with players after a game. Even his after-game tweets are kind and generous to his teammates while they never focus on his own accomplishments.

The Yanks seem to have two players who're excellent Captain material: Didi and Aaron J. But Didi to my eye is showing more leadership ability. Just hope the brain trust isn't plotting his departure.

LOVE this guy! (although I am not so enamored with the "Sir" Didi stuff. To haughty for my tastes.)

Urban Farmer formerly known as Dutchfan said...

The "Sir" thing is something that does not belong to his Royal decoration. Contrary to England, out here such a thing is comparable to a championship medal. It is nice and the royal part makes it special. There is no official title tied to it.

Thus Didi is no Elton John.

....but does he sing?

I like the idea of him becoming Captain though I personally think Judge (the name!) is a more obvious choice in 1 or 2 years. Didi is a player of the Yankees, Judge is a Yankee.

KD said...

One year rental Todd Frazier is Kris Karter with more defensive capabilities. I suspect the Yanks brought him on board to get more New Jersey fans into the Bronx. He is somewhat a local hero ever since Toms River won the Little League World Series 19 years ago. For baseball fans in NJ, that was a really significant event.

JM said...

Bringing in Todd Carter was a mistake. I'm pretty sure it won't be the last one we see this month.

Parson Tom said...

Carter was better at defense than T.Frazier. Had more pop when he hit it. Both are past their sell-by.

Parson Tom said...

the big question of the day, though, is whether our guys can stand success. by that, I mean to ask whether they can extend their current Charlie Brown winning streak. Since the wheels started coming off on June 13, they have won a total of one series. We all know that. But they've had exactly zero three-game winning streaks. They are currently enjoying their third two-games-in-a-row "streak". As John Sterling points out 42 times every game, they are really lucky to be as close to first place as they are -- or you could say that Boston is really mediocre, which is the sort of happy talk that I prefer to revel in.

Speaking of Boston, they've just picked up our old friend Eddie Nunez, whose shaky fielding adventures made him expendable several years ago. Anybody here laying odds on which game Nunez is going to kill us with his bat? You know it's going to happen.

Alphonso said...

AS mentioned yesterday, I am not reading this. Therefore, I have no comments.

Let me just mention, however, that Didi speaks five languages. It is likely, therefore, that the new administration in Washington will investigate him, then deport him.

I have always liked the name , Jake Cave.

I do not like the name, Larry Bird.

Leinstery said...

Nunez has killed them in the past. I remember when he was on the Twins a few years ago he hit a game winning double over first. The game was tied at 1 or 2 and Phil Hughes had pitched the game of his life - for the Twins. It's pretty much an automatic for anybody who's ever played for the Yankees, the moment they leave they get better or at least play their asses off against them. We saw this with Ben Gamel this weekend and hell Anthony Swarzack pitched well against them for the White Sox. That guy couldn't register an out last year.

Anonymous said...

......IN CHICAGO!!



KD said...

Noonie will run out from under his batting helmet attempting a steal of second. The helmet will hit Didi in his royal noggin for a 7 day concussion DL stint. Nooney has more than one way to get even with us!

joe de pastry said...

Yes, Sonny Gray could flop in NYC, but so could all those precious prospects, as we have seen many times before. One under-30 guy who has been successful in the big leagues is worth three guys who might be, because at least two of the three will probably flop.