Yankees Editorial: Is Dellin Betances the new face of the franchise?


As the 2015 season draws near, the New York Yankees are in a strange, new position.  For the first time in a very long time, the organization lacks a face of the franchise.  Even before recently retired shortstop Derek Jeter, the Yankees never lacked a franchise face.

Brett Gardner was voted the face of the franchise in an MLB Network poll, but he turns 32 in August, has never made an All-Star team, and never hit over .300 (he did hit .323 in 2012, but that was over 16 games and 31 at-bats).  Gardner is a good player, a great teammate and leader, and very gritty, but when you think face of the New York Yankees, you just don’t think Brett Gardner.

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Before his departure for Seattle after the 2013 season, it was widely assumed that this role would be filled by Robinson Cano.  Cano, however, is no longer a Yankee.  Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Jacoby Ellsbury all are great talents, but they’re too old and have spent too many years in other organizations to be the face of the Yankees.  Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia have been Yankees since the 2009 season, but they’re widely viewed as injury-prone and overpaid former superstars, not quite franchise face material.

The longest tenured Yankee?  Alex Rodriguez, and he has so many issues that even if he was on great terms with the organization, he still wouldn’t be the face of the franchise.  He is the most exciting player on the roster, and the one that will likely fill the most seats, with Jeter and Mariano Rivera now gone.  Unfortunately for Rodriguez, he has burned far too many bridges in the league, and is widely disliked by fans, even Yankees fans.

Due to the fact they haven’t yet reached the majors, Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, and others were left out of consideration.  This leaves only three players on the current roster who can fit the bill of the next face of the franchise:  Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Dellin Betances.

Had Tanaka not suffered a partial tear of his UCL, it is likely that he would be the next franchise face.  Unfortunately, there are factors working against the ace.  Any pitch could be his last for 12-18 months, which leaves many reluctant to dub him the franchise face.  His ability to pitch with the partial tear is also a question mark, and his inability to speak English makes him less marketable (something that the Yankees would want of their franchise face).

Pineda has his share of issues as well.  After making the American League All-Star team as a rookie in 2011, the Yankees acquired Pineda for top prospect Jesus Montero.  Pineda got injured at the start of his first Spring Training with the Yankees and missed two seasons.  Pineda finally returned for the 2014, and pitched like an ace.

Unfortunately, he missed time due to injury and suspension, and even though he managed to keep his ERA under 2.00 (1.89 to be exact), he only pitched 76 1/3 innings over 13 starts.  Those were his only 76 1/3 over the past three seasons, which is not exactly what you want from the face of your franchise.  Pineda, like Tanaka, does not speak English well (although he does attempt to conduct interviews without a translator).  He also was not a homegrown talent.

This leaves us with Betances, a local guy who grew up in Brooklyn, was drafted by the Yankees out of high school, and has spent his entire professional career in the organization.  While relievers aren’t the ideal franchise faces, Trevor Hoffman is an example of someone in a similar situation as Betances.  After the face of the San Diego Padres, the late Tony Gwynn, retired, Hoffman assumed the role.

Betances, battling for the closer role with Andrew Miller, was an All-Star in his rookie season as a set-up man, and has drawn many early comparisons to Rivera.  Being from New York doesn’t hurt his case either, as he grew up a Yankees fan, even being on-hand for David Wells perfect game.

While Tanaka and/or Pineda could stay healthy and pitch like aces over the full course of the season, it is Betances, and his overpowering fastball, who has emerged as the most likely candidate for future face of the Yankees.

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