The Bronx is Boiling: Are the Yankees Better?
The Winter Meetings came and went without the New York Yankees making a peep. This past week, the Yankees went out and stirred the pot and made some moves. They went and re-signed Chase Headley which was a much-needed move. They then went out and traded Martin Prado and David Phelps to the Miami Marlins to acquire Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and Domingo German. Oh, and how can I forget, the Yanks re-signed Chris Capuano. The rotation woes are over now!
The bottom line is that the Headley move and Prado/Phelps trade has stirred up some mixed reviews from Yankees fans and media. Some like the moves, some don’t understand them. That doesn’t matter. You know what matters? The Bronx is boiling and I need to blow some steam.
HOW DO THE YANKEES LOOK FOR 2015?
The Prado trade is questionable because of what I call the “if” factor. Prado is as steady as they come but the Headley re-signing and the faith they have in Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder made him the Yankees biggest trade chip. Phelps, well, Phelps was never great, but you knew you could count on him in a pinch to start or relieve. Eovaldi has the arm of a legit number two rotation guy, but he hasn’t lived up to it yet. IF he makes the jump and succeeds, the Yankees win with a young pitcher under team control for quite some time. Jones is a straight up platoon guy. He struggles against lefties. IF Mark Teixeira stays healthy and Jones is a guy that spells him at first on some days and gives Carlos Beltran a breather in right every now and then, the Yankees win with one of the best backups in the game. IF Tex has another Tex year and Jones is the everyday first baseman, well, it’s like Lyle Overbay all over again.
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But it doesn’t matter what we think. The only thing that matters is did the Yankees get better for 2015? And, thus far, the answer is yes.
The infield is already better than last year’s abysmal excuse. I love Derek Jeter as much as the next Yankees fan, but he wasn’t the same Jeter. The platoon of Roberts and Johnson at second was a debacle. When Tex played it was okay, but when the Yankees picked whichever random guy to debut at first base in his absence, it was a disaster. As it stands right now, Headley, Didi Gregorious, Pirela and Tex are a solid infield. Having Brendan Ryan and Garrett Jones off the bench is the perfect blend of a big bat and a slick glove. And there will always be A-Rod lurking in the wings. No matter how much Yankees fans, including myself, dislike A-Rod, if he hits .265 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI in a platoon between DH and backup third baseman, the Yankees are better.
The outfield is the same, so the Yankees attacked that injury-riddled rotation. They New Yankees Way seems to be trying to get younger, so I am starting to lose my dreams that Santa was bringing us Max Scherzer for Christmas as a reward to the Yankees faithful staying on board the past two seasons. As it stands right now, there are a lot of question marks in the starting rotation. But here’s the thing: there is nothing to indicate they are worse off than last year.
C.C. Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda are injury concerns. They will be as long as they are on the Yankees roster, and will continue to be if they are off of the Yankees roster. Losing Phelps is okay because Adam Warren seems poised to become the new Phelps and possibly a better version. Capuano will obviously serve in the same role or quite possibly start the season as the fifth starter. Brandon McCarthy and Shane Greene were fantastic in their brief stint in the rotation, but they are no lesser question marks than Eovaldi. Nothing in either of their careers indicate that they have the pedigree to dominate like they did last season. Would I have liked to have McCarthy back? Absolutely. But Eovaldi, who did lead the league in hits, could have a bit more support with a solid infield behind him to reduce those hits. So, is the rotation still a mess? Yes, but at the same time, it’s no worse of mess than it already was.
Now, many Yankees fans will disagree with me here, but the Yankees bullpen is now better. David Robertson was not the next Mariano Rivera. He was a good closer with bad numbers. Justin Wilson, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances are a stronger back-end of the bullpen than last year. Even if they go closer by committee, the bullpen won’t miss a beat. Despite what many skeptics think of not re-signing D-Rob, the Yankees bullpen has improved.
So, is this Yankees team better than the 2014 version? I am not a fortune teller, but on paper, right now it seems like it is. Remember Yankees’ fans, as bad as our favorite team was last year, they were still above .500. That means that they can still compete in the AL Least. No matter what the Blue Jays and Red Sox are doing, their pitching is still very suspect. Maybe this new way of Yankees thinking can revert us back to the Golden Era and start anew.