Thursday, March 30, 2017

2017 Pre-Season Profile: New York Yankees


The New York Yankees had a transition year in 2016 by dropping some older veterans and letting the kids take over.  It led to some late success for the team, but are they ready to contend in 2017?

My 2016 Predictions
5th in AL East
Aroldis Chapman will not end the season as a Yankee.

2016 Results
84-78, 4th in AL East
I thought the Yankees were going to fall apart in 2016 as their age was finally going to catch up with them.  However, they somehow rode that fine line of rebuilding while still competing.  Some of the moves that did this were the trade of Andrew Miller to the Indians and the (successfully predicted) trade of Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs.  All this led to a successful season with all things considered.  One of the more interesting moments of their season was the semi-forced mid-season retirement of the one and only Alex Rodriguez.

Additions / Subtractions
The Yankees had a fascinating offseason, bringing in some veterans to complement their new young core.  Veterans Matt Holliday and Chris Carter were brought in to bolster the lineup.  Aroldis Chapman was brought back in to once again anchor the bullpen.  The main subtractions were the retirements of A-Rod and Mark Teixeira and the moving on of veterans Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran (traded mid-season).  With all things considered, it was a pretty quiet offseason when you consider the standard the Yankees have set for themselves.

Most Important Hitter
Gary Sanchez
One of the reasons the Yankees had such a strong finish to their season in 2016 was the emergence of catcher Gary Sanchez.  In just 53 games, Sanchez hit 20 homers with 42 RBI's, gathering a 3.0 WAR.  If you project those numbers out over a full season, it is pretty staggering where they would have ended up.  Optimistic Yankee fans already are voting him into the Hall of Fame.  However, most baseball people are wondering if he was a fluke or the real deal.  Is he the next great catcher, or the next Jesus Montero.  Montero also had a huge second half as a rookie one year.  They used him to trade for Michael Pineda, and he never reached the promise of that first run.  The Yankees sure are hoping Sanchez is not another Montero since they are making him the newest face of their franchise.

Most Important Pitcher
Michael Pineda
Speaking of Michael Pineda, the Yankees need him to finally step up.  It's insane to think that, as disappointing as Pineda has been, the Yankees got the better end of that deal between them and the Mariners.  This might be one of the most disappointing trades on both sides in history.  Michael Pineda made an All Star Team in his rookie year with the Mariners, looking like a future ace.  After the trade, a major shoulder injury cost him about two and a half years.  He has only had two full seasons since then, and his ERA hasn't come close to dropping below 4.00.  With Tanaka solidified as the ace of the staff, CC Sabathia hitting the twilight of his career, and youngsters like Luis Severino still trying to prove themselves, a guy like Pineda is crucial to establishing a dominant pitching staff.  They need him to step up.

Player to Watch
Aaron Judge
Top prospects like Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier are not quite ready for the Show (Frazier is closer than Torres), however Aaron Judge is the one to watch this season.  Judge is a beast!  At 6'7" and 275 pounds, Judge will be making the Opening Day start in rightfield for the Pinstripes.  Having made his debut last season, he showed a glimpse of what he can do moving forward.  He will be looked to as a centerpiece of the Baby Bronx Bombers.

2017 Prediction
3rd in AL East
The youth movement in the Bronx is going to lead to a fun season.  They are still a year or two away from really competing, but they are well on their way.  The fact that the Yankees are trusting these kids to be the heart of their team says a lot.  The last time they did this they handed the franchise over to players like Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter.  In a few years, they could be talking about these Yankees the same way the talk about last year's Cubs and those Yankees teams of the 90's.

Fearless Prediction
Brett Gardner will be traded mid-season.
The Yankees are not quite done tearing down their past.  Brett Gardner is one of the holdovers from the old regime.  A top prospect like Clint Frazier is the future for the Yankees.  They are going to want him patrolling their outfield sooner rather than later.  Moving a guy like Gardner will allow that to happen.

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