The NCAA National Championship is done, and man what a game that was, huh? The NFL is winding down and my Houston Texans are out of it, although it seemed like they were never really in it. Anyway, it’s time to start refocusing our attention to the world of baseball.
The New York Yankees still have a few question marks heading into 2016, but a few have been answered over the past 24 hours.
1. Aroldis Chapman is officially heading into spring training as the closer.
Joe Girardi avoided the drama of last season — when the closer role seemingly came down to the wire between Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller — and named their new toy officially the 2016 closer. Thanks Captain Obvious, I would hope that’s why Cash traded for him.
It makes you wonder what the future holds for Betances a little bit, no? This guy blew the doors off, finishing third in the Rookie of the Year votes as A SET-UP MAN, making the All Star Team in 2014 over the guy he closed for (remember that David Robertson guy Yankees fans cried over when they let him walk?).
The did in fact allow Robertson to move on to greener pastures in Chicago, but they almost immediately brought in Miller. After yet another solid season as a set-up man, and performing admirably as the closer while Miller was down with injury, the Yankees showed a further lack of confidence in Betances as the future closer by bringing in Chapman. That seems to push Betances further down the line.
It seems weird to me. I know Betances hasn’t been amazing in his short stints as the closer, but there is no denying that he is electric. When John Wetteland walked away from the Yanks, they had no problem handing it over to his set-up guy. When Mariano Rivera — a.k.a. the GOAT — retired, they had no issues handing it over to Robertson, who I still feel is not a better reliever than Betances.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the three-headed strikeout monster that the Yankees have created. With the shakiness in the starting rotation, I actually wouldn’t have it any other way. It just seems odd to me that an organization that has not had a problem in the past anointing it’s closer of the future (and mind you, the Yankees have notoriously had some of the best closers in the game) but with Betances, whom every one of us thought was going to grab the role by the reins and rock it, they have been hesitant.
Just some food for thought.
2. A-Rod is the permanent DH.
Joe must have spent a lot of time on this one. Alex Rodriguez played parts of six games between first and third last year and showed little if any ability to actually still move.
A-Rod will be 41 this season. So will I. I pulled my hammy walking into my office to write this, I don’t think any less of A-Rod settling in at the DH spot.
It wasn’t so much an option anyway looking at the Yankees current infield depth. There is no room at first base. Even if Mark Teixeira has his normal bodily breakdown, Greg Bird showed he is more than capable of being a starter in the MLB in a season which many expected him to finish out in Triple-A.
Bird’s range factor per nine and fielding percentage both came in above league average and I just love that .343 OBP. Bird is one of the most talented hitters in the Yankees organization, and his plate discipline is second to none (this is a guy who led the minors in walks a few years back). Only Tex’s ludicrous contract is holding him back, and should he officially start the year in Scranton, Yankees fans need not fret. He needs regular licks, and he will be back soon enough.
Throw in the fact that Castro will be the rumored back-up to Headley at third, plus the depth that they already have at second base, well, there simply isn’t any need for A-Rod to play the infield.
3. The Justin Upton rumor mill.
Several Yankees sites across the intra-web have suggested that now is the time to make a move and sign Upton (preferably without the family package deal that seems to have been following him around. Nobody wants Melvin, Justin.). I, just as you, would love to see Upton in pinstripes, but the Yankees need to make a move first for that to even happen.
Of course that move is Brett Gardner. I have discussed in depth why Gardy is the Yankees best available trade option, with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran‘s contracts and injury history seemingly making them unmarketable.
He doesn’t seem like enough to get the starting pitcher that the Yankees need, does he? The Yankees have been dangling him around and no one is biting. Trading Gardy will be even harder right now with both Upton and Yoenis Cespedes still on the market, whom are both younger and can play the same position(s).
Cespedes is asking for a lot of money. Despite the Jason Heyward deal making it seem like the going rate for an outfielder would be astronomical, their value may actually be getting a bit cheaper with each day they stay on the open market. Upton — all though he still wants a multi-year deal — has been rumored to be willing to settle for a one-year contract.
I also kind of want to see what Aaron Hicks has in him. This kid was so full of potential, maybe he needed a change of scenery with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano on his heels. Not that New York is the best place for a mental change, but if he can live up to 75% of his potential, he could be exciting.
I would love to see Upton in pinstripes, but not just to sign him for the sake of signing him. Should they be able to move Gardner — without having to package him with one of the big prospects on the farm — by all means bring in Upton, and at 28, lock him up for a long time. Until then, however, I think there is very little chance of it actually happening.