By Thomas Albano
This weekend, I got to experience my first live baseball game at Yankee Stadium (the one opened in 2009; I went to the old one a few times). As a New York Yankees fan, it brought me great joy and memorable moments from exploring the Yankees Museum, to observing Monument Park, and from running into a good friend to seeing an Aaron Judge home run.
The only thing that could have made it better was if the Yankees had won.
And the Yankees right now are colder than those leftovers you’ve got in your fridge. They have lost 10 of their last 12, they have lost sole possession of their first place standing in the AL East, and they are dealing with a few bad injuries to key players (most recently outfielder Aaron Hicks).
I said, along with others, that the 2017 season was going to be one where the Yanks weren’t going to win too much; however, it would all just be to help give the younger players experience. But now with how hot the Yankees had been, it felt like this season has the potential to be an amazing one. Right now, however, it feels like all a tease — just like the end of 2016 all over again.
But, fear not, Yankees fans. The Yankees can rebound and still be great, especially if they do these five things:
1. Get Rid of Headley and Clippard
Headley’s quality as a third baseman has definitely gone hill since his quality season with the Padres in 2012. While there are players in MLB that have worse than a .245 AVG, Headley has an OBP of just .335, and his WAR is only 0.4.
I’d suggest moving Didi Gregorious or Starlin Castro over to third and then find a way to get Gleyber Torres up to the bigs. But now that Torres is done until Spring Training, that’s out the window. So, hopefully Ronald Torreyes can help righten the ship (especially since Headley is out with an epidural)? If this doesn’t work, or heaven forbid Torreyes goes to the DL as well, then how much longer before the calls to promote Tyler Wade come
And since I was there on Saturday, I might as well say it. GOOD GOD, Clippard. Just like I said to you indirectly when I was doing fantasy baseball two years ago, it’s time for you to get lost.
Clippard has compiled an ERA of 4.85 so far this year, with his relief efforts earning him a win and four losses. While relief pitchers don’t get credit for wins and losses often, Clippard’s WAR is just -0.1. A pitcher who usually just pitches an inning per appearance, he has given up 12 hits and 12 earned runs (including four home runs) within the month of June. For a MRP/SU man, the Yankees can clearly do much better.
2. Get a starter
Credit where it’s due. The Yankees have sometimes had great starts. The keyword here is sometimes. But with Michael Pineda struggling, Masahiro Tanaka having an awful season, and C.C. Sabathia out with injury (thanks, Chris Carter…) it’s time to give the younger pitchers a break.
Before the trade deadline, the Yanks need to make a move for a quality starter. I had previously thought perhaps Gerrit Cole, but the Pittsburgh Pirates reportedly have no interet in trading him. Ervin Santana? Alex Cobb? Maybe Chris Archer? I know it could be a stretch for a couple of guys with that kind of talent, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. Point is: the Yanks need another starting arm. The unfortunate price…?
3. Depart with talent?
Sometimes, we have to make sacrifices to the baseball gods to get to the great gold. And while the Yankees have a bunch of great, young talent waiting in the wings, if it comes down to the dire scenario, maybe some of them have to go.
It’s a problem — a good one, but a problem — with the situation the Yankees have. They have too much talent in one area (outfield): Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford, Dustin Fowler, etc. And although you’d like all the young blood and talent in the world, sometimes sacrifices need to happen.
You could also depart with Brett Gardner, even though he’s batting .262 this season. That could be more of a contract dump, and hey, if the price is right, someone will give him up for something. There are teams who probably could use a good-hitting veteran outfielder.
And what could you get in return? Well, maybe…
4. Hosmer and/or Moustakas
Oh, tell me you wouldn’t want that. It’s clear the Yankees have a problem at the corner infield slots. One first baseman is injured and Chris Carter is (thank God) gone. Meanwhile, I don’t want Headley over at third anymore, but Torres’ injury is a blow (especially with Headley not able to play himself). And if you’re going to make a big move, a potential preview for your next one or two off-seasons, go for some true talent.
Besides, the Royals might be willing to depart with a couple of stars. What a fall they have had since winning the World Series.
5. A Utility guy
Keeping on the theme of depth at the corner infield slots needed, or heck maybe just the entire infield already, it’d be good to have someone to fill whatever hole the team needs filled. Austin Romine plays catcher and first base, and Tyler Austin plays first base and outfield, which is good, but it’d be better to have someone who can play all over the infield, too. Think: what if Austin goes down? Then, Romine plays first but you better have some sort of backup, or else Sanchez plays every day.
I remember there being a plan that after Gregorious came back from injury, Torreyes would be someone to use whenever the likes of Castro, Headley or Gregorious needed a day off. Maybe that plan can finally come to fruition?