Bomber Bites: The Yankees Christmas Wish List
Let me start today’s Christmas morning Bomber Bites, by wishing each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and from each of us at Yanks Go Yard, please have a safe and happy holiday season. Today, I drew the Bomber Bites piece for the vacationing Joe Vitulli, who is celebrating his son’s first holiday season. That is always a special time, as I am the father of a 15-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a rambunctious 3-year-old. I’ve had my fair share of all nighters, piecing and putting together a plethora of toys, gadgets, and larger than life items for each of my three children. I feel very fortunate and thankful for that opportunity. On this Christmas morning however, there were no items to build, as I finally got smart after all these years, and purchased items that were already assembled. My Christmas Eve turned into Christmas morning, by finishing off some late inning wrapping of gifts for the wife and kids. Easy enough. Now I get to return to my passion, which is writing about my favorite team, of course that being the New York Yankees.
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In past winters, the Yankees have brought many of us plenty of Christmas or early holiday joy. Big name, big ticket free agent signings became the norm for fans of the Yankees, but this offseason has been different not only for the fans, but the team’s GM, Brian Cashman. Instead of overpaying for catching lightning in a bottle, Cash allowed Brandon McCarthy to get overpaid somewhere else. Instead of overpaying for a good, but not great closer, regardless of whether or not David Robertson was homegrown or not, he allowed someone else to overpay for a reliever, whose nickname is “Houdini”. Enough said.
So, as many of the sites here in the Fansided MLB Division each do pieces about what is on their respective team’s Christmas wish lists this holiday season, to be honest, there isn’t much that this Yankees team needs. Sure, they were one of the worst-producing offenses in all of baseball last season. But, with that said, we Yankee fans did not see the real Carlos Beltran. We as fans did not see the real Brian McCann, and we as fans, did not get a full season of solid defense and solid bottom of the order hitting from third baseman Chase Headley.
Now that Headley is locked up for the next four years, Beltran is healthy, and McCann has a season in the American League under his belt, I fully expect to see a solid bounce back season from each of them. Headley has never been a middle-of-the-order guy, no matter how badly the San Diego Padres tried to make him one. He belongs in the bottom of the order, and if we’re lucky, we’ll see a Scott Brosius-type of player in 2015. I know, I didn’t mention Mark Teixeira. I shouldn’t have to. We are never going to see the 2009 Tex ever again. That’s just a painful fact of life. What we hope to see, is 130 games of healthy Tex, hitting in the .240s, with 25-home run power, and 80-90 runs driven in. Of course his glove speaks for itself.
That leaves us with two rookies battling for the second base job in Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela. Again, I think fans and media people are overthinking this issue. Pirela is more polished defensively, and proved that he can handle big league pitching during his brief September call-up this past season. Let Ref develop for God’s sake, before screaming for him to be handed the pressure and expectations of being the next Robinson Cano. He’s not that type of player. Ref certainly did hit nicely over two levels of the Yankees’ minor league system in 2014. However, he needs a full season at Triple-A to continue his full conversion from right field to second base. Let the kid figure it out. Then, once he proves he’s ready, then we’ll see a full competition for the job. And if Pirela goes splat? Expect Cashman to be making calls for a more seasoned second baseman who is already at the big league level.
We can’t forget about the Captain’s replacement in Didi Gregorius. He’s not going to be Jeter. Gregorius will be an upgrade on defense, which is always a welcome addition to a team whose defense was porous last season. His bat still needs to develop, and he needs to improve at the dish against lefties, but again, he’s young and will continue to develop. Anything Gregorius adds to this lineup in the bottom-third of the order, is just icing on the cake for a lineup that should revert back to their career norms and score many more runs in 2015 than they did this past season.
So what’s on the Yankees’ Christmas list? Before I can even get the words out, some of you are screaming “Max Scherzer!” I’m sorry, but that’s not the answer. Spending 8 years and $200 mil on a guy with ONE complete game in his career is simply asking for trouble. The rotation isn’t as bad as many believe it will be. Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, and C.C. Sabathia bring up the front four. Three of the four have injury issues. At some point, the Yankees are going to stay healthy with their starting pitching or they’re not. It’s not anything that anyone can control. As for the fifth starter’s job, it could be an open competition again this coming spring. Chris Capuano, Adam Warren, and minor leaguers Bryan Mitchell, Manny Banuelos, and perhaps even Jaron Long will all get a chance to prove they belong in the rotation. That Christmas list you were asking about? I’d like to see the low risk/high reward additions of any of the following pitchers to push the aforementioned for the job: Brandon Beachy, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, Paul Maholm, or Chris Young. All have plenty of big league experience, and any could provide solid depth in the final slot of the rotation.
I failed to mention Hiroki Kuroda. That’s because if and when he decides he wants to pitch, he won’t come cheap. He’s too old and started to poop out towards the end of the season. James Shields? He’s AL East proven, but again, won’t come cheap, and gives up too much in the postseason for my liking. You know what the Yankees should be wishing for this holiday season? Not one player specifically, but simply health. That’s it. Health. Why? Because if the front four can stay relatively healthy, a young guy named Ivan Nova will be returning to the fold, and when he’s right, he’s good, and I mean really good. Health. The one single item on the New York Yankees Christmas wish list. Merry Christmas!