National Baseball Writers Drive Yankees Fans Mad
While most Yankees fans are beyond the moon about Aroldis Chapman’s return to the Bronx, many in the media are questioning the intentions of the move.
Well, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. That’s what Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman must be thinking to himself.
Only hours after inking Chapman to a 5-year/$86M deal, a large contingent of national baseball writers took to the airwaves to criticize the Yankees for handing out the richest contract to a closer in the history of the game — because as one outlet stated, ‘this team isn’t yet ready for championship aspirations.’
The Yankees are still probably a year or two away from making a concerted Postseason push (Cashman was quoted as saying so earlier in the offseason), but the reacquisition of Chapman could dramatically speed up the rebuilding process. I’m not talking about 2017-fast — this team still has one too many question marks in the rotation. Rather, that’s precisely the reason you shell out a ton of dough on a legitimate 9th inning stopper.
Without a bonafide No. 2 starter in the rotation, the Yankees need to shorten each and every game. The plan of attack should first be to possibly look into acquiring a 7th inning arm capable of holding the lead for Betances in the 8th.
As of right now, that designation likely belongs to another pitcher in his second stint with the Yankees, Tyler Clippard. Arguably the club’s most consistent relief pitcher down the stretch last season, Clippard attacked the strike zone with regularity, something he hadn’t shown since his 2014 All-Star campaign as a member of the Nationals.
If you’re asking yourself why the Yankees need another bullpen arm after I just got done complimenting the 31-year-old Clippard, it’s because if I were Joe Girardi (who made the most pitching changes in all of baseball in 2016), I ‘d feel much more confident using Clippard interchangeably – the way Terry Francona used Andrew Miller in ’16.
In now way am I comparing Clippard to Miller – they’re two completely different shooters. But the one thing they do have in common is the ability to pitch multiple innings on back-to-back days.
Signing a former All-Star closer like Greg Holland for say, 1-year/$8M-$10M, or trading a mid-level prospect for David Robertson’s remaining 2-year/$25M contract would potentially give the Yankees a top-5 bullpen in the Majors.
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All the offense would then need to do is muster three or four runs a game (preferably early) – in hopes that Masahiro Tanaka and friends can keep the damage to a minimum.
Depending on things like pitch count and overall effectiveness, Girardi would only need to demand a stellar four or five innings pitched before getting Adam Warren, Ben Heller, Jonathan Holder or Chasen Shreve up and working.
Of course, there will be starts where Pineda, Greene, Cessa or someone else steps up big and goes six, seven or eight. And while those nights at the ballpark will be needed to rest the arms in the ‘pen, it’s a safe bet to say even early dominating starts can get out of hand in a hurry (I’m talking about you, Sabathia).
The funny part is that the folks arguing over the Yankees’ willingness to make Chapman a $21.5M AAV are the same one’s who scoff at the club’s inclusion of a player opt-out after 2019. They argue that Chapman will inevitably exercise his option as to better position himself for one final payday.
And while that’s likely true, if you still don’t understand why the Yankees signed the best free agent reliever on the open market, while also worrying that he’ll test free agent waters around the same time this club should be ready to compete for titles-galore, there’s an old expression I’d like you to hear. It goes a little something like this: ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too.’
So you want this team to get better quickly, but not too fast as to give the prospects time to mature? You can’t stand blowing leads in the 9th inning, but hate that the Yankees overpaid for a tried and true closer?
You’d prefer to Photoshop the heads of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper onto pinstriped uniforms while believing they’d actually entertain coming to New York should this team be mired in mediocrity for two more years because people like Brian Kenny of the MLB Network talk about overvalued sabermetrics like WAR, run differential, and of course DIPS (defense-independent pitching stats). This is the same guy who took to Twitter to say that the Yankees had a BAD Winter Meetings as where the Nationals had a GOOD one. What?! He can’t be serious, can he?
To that, I reply, please get over yourself. Because if the Yankees do nothing from here till next summer’s trade deadline, and the club underachieves, you’ll be the same statisticians calling for Girardi’s job and Cashman’s head.