Moves don’t just materialize out of nothing. I liked all the small moves the Yankees made near the trade deadline this season: the Martin Prado, Chase Headley, Brandon McCarthy pu pu platter. But they couldn’t create anything bigger for two reasons.
One, the minor-league prospects are years away, meaning even the top guys have less value on the trade market because other franchises aren’t yet sure what can be expected of them.
Two, and probably most importantly, the bad players already here take up space. This is the same reason the Los Angeles Dodgers never called up their best prospect, Joc Pederson, before September. He played outfield and LA had no room in its outfield for him, even if he was better than their current options.
With New York, there was a need for a first base upgrade to at least someone more reliably healthy, but Mark Teixeira is entrenched there both monetarily and because he doesn’t move very well anymore.
Shortstop was obviously a sinkhole for most of the season, but nothing was going to be done about that.
The outfield had pieces in Beltran and Ichiro that were playable even though neither is anything close to the players they were even two years ago. But the fact that they weren’t so bad they had to be released sort of went against the Yankees because they didn’t make any move to address the lack of outfield talent.
This offseason, there are just a couple of spots open where upgrades can be made. One is clearly shortstop except that is not a position known for offensive power output. So anyone the Yankees bring in will not exactly solve their run-scoring woes unless they make a blockbuster deal for Troy Tulowitzki, which doesn’t seem likely at this point.
The other spot open is DH or right field depending on where Carlos Beltran is not. He is unfortunately signed through 2016. Martin Prado will still be around and can play outfield but may be better served as the everyday second baseman and backup third baseman (because lord knows we’ll need that as well).
Is it possible to find a young, talented and improving shortstop and a young, talented and improving right fielder for 2015? It’s funny you should ask! Because, no not really; it’s not. Unless the Yankees finagle trades for Tulowitzki and Giancarlo Stanton, this lineup is in for another long season.
I did a quick perusing of the upcoming free agents for 2015 to get a better sense of where our New York Yankees actually sit heading into the off season. Only David Robertson, our closer, is a must sign. The other two I would like to keep are also pitchers, Hiroki Kuroda and Brandon McCarthy. But both of those arms are replaceable parts of what should be a strong starting rotation, if healthy.
On the flip side, as you noted, we are stuck with too much of the current lineup. Derek Jeter is retiring, which opens up the shortstop position. Ichiro Suzuki will be a free agent in the outfield, but he wasn’t an everyday starter to begin with. Stephen Drew at second base and Chase Headley at third base will also be free agents. Since Prado can only play one position, the Yankees have options around the infield.
I think I got all the optimism genes and you got stuck with the sorry sack attitude, because options and holes to fill are exactly what this Yankees team needs. Coming off back to back seasons of missing the playoffs, what more can you ask for than the opportunity to revamp things. I realize the available players might be lacking, but fresh blood in the locker room is an opportunity to foster new energy, new team chemistry, and shake off this bump in the road for a winning franchise.
Here are three guys who are sticking around that I’m way happy about:
Brett Gardner (LF) – Great speed in the outfield and on the base paths. Keeps getting better.
Jacoby Ellsbury (CF) – Has met all my expectations. Keep it coming.
Martin Prado (RF, 2B, 3B) – He can play lots of places and I don’t really care where he does.
As for McCann and Teixeira at catcher and first base respectively, I like them both as players, but they are past their primes and not scaring teams any longer. A comeback year from both men puts elevates the entire team, but as we saw this season, any setbacks really hurts.
You didn’t mention pitching, mainly because it has lots of promise. But don’t all the injuries scare you just a little? Tanaka, Sabathia, Pineda, and Nova need to be healthy for this team to be competitive in 2015. The Yankees can win on the backs of their pitching staff. I know its un-Yankee-like and possibly sac-religious to even say such a thing, but the 2015 Yankees can win on pitching and speed.
Wasn’t that suppose to be the formula for this season? It just got steamrolled by injuries to too many key players. We don’t need to add an MVP or All-star at each hole in the infield. The Yankees just need consistency. Consistency wins in the Major Leagues. The season is long and one month means little, unless its September.
2015 will be a fresh start in New York. The core four will have all retired and a new era of pinstripes will begin. I’m voting for Brett Gardner to earn the title as new Captain and lead the new New York Yankees back to the playoffs.
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