The All-Star game represents the symbolic half-way point in the MLB season. The half-time break is always a good time to evaluate your baseball team’s future. In a previous posting I declared there would be no baseball in October in New York. Nothing has changed my mind. But, what I would like to talk about now is the future of the two New York teams. For this posting I will focus on the New York Yankees.
Growing up I witnessed two dark periods in Yankee history. The first period was from 1965 to 1975 when the Yankees made no post-season appearances. This period began as my boyhood idol Mickey Mantle’s career came to a sad ending. Prior to 1965 during the Micks years the Yankees appeared in 12 World Series. The second dark period was during the Don Mattingly years. This period stretched from 1982 to 1994 when the Yankees made no post-season appearances. Donny Baseball did make his lone post- season appearance in 1995 when the Yankees lost in five games to Seattle.
Are we about to enter a new dark period for the Yankee history starting in 2014? A good beginning for this analysis is the current Yankee regulars. Let’s start with the pitchers. At the start of the 2014 season the five starters were CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Ivan Nova. Now, Kuroda is the only one of the five left standing. Nova is through for the year with TJ surgery. Both Pineda and Sabathia are on the DL. It is unknown whether either one of them will return this year and can be counted on for the future. Sabathia, even before his knee injury, clearly was on the downhill of his career. Tanaka, there new number one pitcher, has a tear in his UCL and probably will have TJ surgery. What we have now is a new rotation consisting of Kuroda, Michael Phelps, Brandon McCarthy, Chase Whitley, and Shane Greene. Greene and Whitley are unproven rookies, Greene has looked great in his two starts but is unproven and Whitley has been hammered in his last four starts. Phelps is up and down as a starter. McCarthy is a slight upgrade to Nuno who he replaced in a trade. But, he came over sporting more than a 5.00 ERA which is a worry. The 39 year-old Kuroda wilted last year and will probably wilt again this year. A 39-year-old pitcher is not part of your future plans. Of course, if the Yankees want to go way over the 200 million dollar mark there are some excellent free-agent pitchers available in 2015 including Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Justin Masterson, Jon Lester, and James Shields. Adam Warren, Dellin Betances (the only trading chip the Yankees have), and David Robertson are excellent for the last three innings except with their increased workload I am concerned that they will not hold up. I give a grade of D to the starters and a grade of B+ to the bullpen.
The infield consists of Mark Texeira at first base. Tex has surprised me with his successful return from his wrist problem. His power numbers are fine but his average is hovering around the .240 mark, way below his career average. At the age of 34, his body seems to be letting him down. At 36, Brian Roberts took over for Cano, the best second baseman in baseball. Roberts has already played more games than he had in his last four seasons which says much about his future. At shortstop the Yankees lose “The Captain.” They not only lose his offense but also all the intangibles he brings to the team. Yes, Brandon Ryan is a good glove but can the Yankees afford a .220 hitting shortstop? Third base is now shared by the rookie Solarte, a career minor leaguer, and the disappointing 32 year-old Kelly Johnson. Yes, the 39 year-old Alex Rodriguez can return next year but his already diminished hitting skills can’t be helped by his long layoff. The Yankees need help at second, short, and third. I give the Yankee infield a D grade.
To be continued:,