New York Yankees: Has Brian Cashman Improved The Team This Offseason?

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

The question everybody is asking — has general manager Brian Cashman improved the New York Yankees during the 2019 offseason? The improvement and development of any team can be measured by the players lost and gained.

For the Yanks, not a single player was lost in free agency with the exception of David Robertson. His loss will not be significant since they managed to replace him with Adam Ottavino, an even better option that will prove to be an upgrade if all goes to plan.

In 2018, Robertson earned a 3.23 ERA while Ottavino finished at 2.43. The difference is notable and Adam surely presents the better option, especially when you factor in his strikeout rate – 1.45 SO per-inning (2018).

That’s what I like to call “an improvement.” As for the starters, Cashman traded for Seattle Mariners ace James Paxton. Despite his injury woes, the starter will add value to a rotation including Luis Severino, J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia. Happ finished the year 7-0 for the Yankees, so who’s to say he wouldn’t have contributed to several more wins that could have earned the Bombers a first-round BYE in the playoffs?

His presence will surely make a difference over the course of an entire season.

A struggling unit has received reinforcements:

With Didi Gregorius recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Yankees were forced into signing a stop-gap player to fill the void. Troy Tulowitzki was the veteran they acquired, a player that Cashman has been high on for quite some time.

Tulo brings several Gold-Gloves to the team and will help a unit that was one of the worst in the league defensively last year. The signing of D.J. LeMahieu will also contribute in that category – he’s a hard worker with great leadership abilities.

Value beyond ability:

Bringing on the two veterans will help Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar develop considerably, and the value of that doesn’t have a price-tag. Needless to say, Cashman has improved this team in every facet, but if you look closely you can see that resources were allocated to units of weakness.

The Yankees’ bullpen struggled in the strikeout department in 2018, so Cash brought in Ottavino, one of the best in the game at getting that “STRIKE 3” call. He retained Britton who is a more than capable reliever and will be used tactically. The starting pitching wasn’t upgraded considerably, but having several No.2 options and players like Severino and Happ that can perform like true aces inconsistently, surely contributes to the overall success of the team.

While some are concerned that Cashman didn’t break the bank for players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, he managed to improve the team on a budget. We must remember that the Yankees were a 100-win team last season, which should indicate that major improvements weren’t necessary, but improving the weaknesses on the team should give them an even better chance at contending for a World Series in 2019.

New York Yankees: Welcoming Adam Ottavino – Not Even Babe Ruth Stands A Chance

Adam Ottavino, right-handed relief pitcher formerly of the Colorado Rockies recently signed a 3 year, $27 million deal with the New York Yankees. The pitcher who claimed he “would strike Babe Ruth out every time” joins a group of extremely talented bullpen talents in the Bronx.

The 33-year-old Brooklyn native who lives in New York has seen adversity and success both in his career.

The history of the strikeout maestro:

Adam was selected in the MLB draft in the 30th round by the Tampa Bay Rays but didn’t sign. He opted for college and attended Northeastern University where he holds the career and single-season records for strike-outs and in 2005 was named America East Conference’s Pitcher of the Year.

He was then selected by the Saint Louis Cardinals in the 2006 draft in the first round, 30th overall.

After playing in the minors A-level in 2006 through 2009 he moved to the AAA Memphis Redbirds. Ottavino went a dismal 0-9 in the first half of the season but rebounded in the second half posting a 7-3 record as a starter.

After the 2009 season, Ottavino was added to the St. Louis 40-man roster making his major league debut on May 29, 2010. He appeared in 5 games,  3 of which were starts. Following the 2010 season, he was outrighted by the team, sent back to Memphis and spent the year again in the minors. Not exactly what you want.

In April of 2012, the Colorado Rockies claimed Adam off waivers and assigned him to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the PCL. Later that season, he was brought up to the major league level and converted to the bullpen. What a wise move this would prove to be.

In 2013 Ottavino changed his uniform number to 0, which he had worn since his youth in baseball. That year he appeared in 51 games, throwing 78 1/3 innings and had an amazing 2.64 ERA.

In 2014 he made 75 appearances and pitched to a 3.60 ERA.

In 2015 again Ottavino met with a setback when it was found that he had a partially torn UCL which would require Tommy John surgery. How would he respond to this?

The answer became clear in 2016 when Ottavino became the Colorado Rockies franchise record-holder with 37 scoreless appearances in 31 innings pitched. Way to come back!

Ottavino continued his dominance as a relief pitcher in 2018 as he went 6-4 with a 2.43 ERA and shared the major league lead in holds with 34. He also had 112 strikeouts out of the pen which was 4th in major league baseball. He only gave up 36 walks.

On to the Bronx!

Now he joins the Yankees, after having some tough times, Tommy John surgery AND after angering some fans with his comment about the legendary Bambino. Following that comment, Adam’s uncle jokingly told him he couldn’t go anywhere without someone saying something to him about it. In response,  Ottavino recently said, “I was surprised that it went so viral. I probably used a bad example of the point I was trying to make about the evolution of pitching in baseball history.” Ok, Adam. Yankee fans can accept that. You’re forgiven.

The man who already has a devastating slider is working on a new pitch in his work-out facility in an abandoned Upper Manhattan store. His arsenal plus him joining the corps of Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Zach Britton could make for some very short games for the opposition.

Ottavino also made history for the Yankees before he threw one pitch by being allowed to wear his beloved number 0. It was previously thought that no single digit uniform numbers existed for the team after the retirement of Jeter’s number 2. No one has worn the number 0 in Yankees history. About the number, Ottavino stated, “realistically I understand that any type of recognition I get from Yankee fans is going to be contingent upon me pitching well. I’m just going to try to focus on that and not make too big of a deal about the number.”

On his signing with the Yankees, he made no secret of the fact that he’s where he wanted to be saying, “I really wanted to be a Yankee the whole time  This is the type of environment I want to be in  the type of stage I want to pitch in.”

Adam Ottavino has overcome some rocky times, Tommy John surgery, the ire of some fans and landed exactly where he wanted. He’s doing and saying all the right things and adding to perhaps what will be the most feared bullpen in major league baseball.

Welcome to the Bronx. Time to shine!

 

New York Yankees: Can Giancarlo Stanton Build Off First Year In The Bronx?

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

With the New York Yankees making several offseason moves to bolster their roster, some of their current talents are primed for big years in 2019. Giancarlo Stanton, for one, could potentially have a monster 2019. Amid a career-high strikeout total, as well as a stretch of carrying the Yankees in Aaron Judge’s absence, perhaps the only thing Stanton needs is to be consistent.

2018 Stats (New York Yankees):

158 Games, .266/.343/.509/.852, 39 HR, 100 RBI, 70 BB, 211 SO, 102 Runs Scored, 4.0 WAR

2018 was Giancarlo’s first season in the Bronx, as well as his first in the American League. It seemed like he would continue his MVP 2017 season right off the bat when he hit two home runs in his Yankees debut in Toronto. The first would come off future teammate J.A. Happ. After that, he would go on an April cold stretch that saw him strike out 43 times, including two platinum sombreros in one week.

Once the weather began to heat up, so did Stanton, who hit .268 in May and .298 in June. In July, he hit .323, along with a .360 On-Base Percentage as he more or less carried the team during the summer, especially when teammate Aaron Judge went down with a chip fracture in his right wrist.

Stanton would finish his inaugural season in the AL with 39 home runs and a 100 RBI, both leading the team. This comes off a 2017 season that saw him hit 59 homers and drive in 132 on his way to winning the NL MVP.

Going into his second year in the Bronx, Stanton is in position to once again be one of the biggest power threats in the league. His main problem in 2018 was his consistency, with slumps at the start and end of the season, with a summer-long hot streak in between. Along with a career-high 211 strikeouts, as well as issues in his hamstring that pushed him more into the DH role, those were his only real issues in 2018.

With a whole year of playing in pinstripes under his belt, expect Stanton to be more consistent in 2019. If he can continue putting up the power numbers he is known for, as well as cut down on the strikeouts, he could help lead the offense back into the postseason.

2019 Stat Predictions:

156 Games, .282/.340/.533/.873, 40 HR, 109 RBI, 91 BB, 89 Runs Scored

Awards Predictions:

All-Star, Silver Slugger, Top 10 MVP Finish

New York Giants: The Chances Of An Eli Manning Pay Cut

There will be a lot of defining moments this offseason that determine whether or not the New York Giants team makes an improvement going into the 2019 season, and one of them will be Eli Manning and the quarterback situation. We’ve talked plenty about potential draft picks and free agents at quarterback, but what about the player that the Giants already have at the position?

Eli Manning has the largest cap hit for 2019, coming in above even Odell Beckham Jr., and that will have an impact on putting together a winning team for this season. This year is the last one on Manning’s current contract but will cost the Giants $23M, and it’s impossible to just write that number off or say that it’s deserved based on last season’s play alone.

Even if you’re a big fan of Manning who believes that he deserves to be overpaid because of past contributions to the team, it’s hard to make an objective argument that the Giants aren’t overpaying based on those contributions in the first place. The real question here isn’t whether or not Manning is making a bit too much money next season, but whether or not the Giants are going to act on it. Another question is whether or not they can act on it.

The fact of the matter is that the Giants have little leverage here. They can hardly threaten Manning with a pay cut because Manning himself is more popular than the team’s current front office, and getting rid of such a player would be a disaster for Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur. There was plenty of backlash when Manning was benched for Geno Smith under Ben McAdoo. If Manning was off the team entirely, either because of a trade or because of being cut, that backlash would be many times worse.

Furthermore, the Giants don’t have someone to replace Manning with. This isn’t a good year for finding a free agent quarterback, and the draft is still a big question mark. While some quarterbacks look like they could be future successors, there’s no player right now that looks ready to step in as a day one starter and take over for a franchise legend. Attempting to fit a rookie quarterback into that role could result in the Giants having a much worse season than the 2018 one.

The Giants lack the leverage to force Manning to take a pay cut. If Manning says no, they have no way to back up a threat without shooting themselves in the foot. If they want Manning to take less money, they’ll have to convince him of that. It’s easier said than done, but it’s also not impossible. While most average people would be unhappy to take less money at their job, it’s important to realize that NFL quarterback is a different beast entirely.

Giving the front office more money to work with can help in getting wins, and many players are competitive enough to prioritize those wins over making as much money as they can. Especially when the player in question has already had plenty of years to play for full price. Whether or not Manning takes a pay cut is something that Manning rather than the team will have to decide, and it’s hard to say whether it will happen or not at this point.

But the important thing to note? The Giants have no real way of forcing it. Rather than making an ultimatum like some teams may be able to, they’ll have to just wait and see and hope that Manning is open to taking less money. Because right now, the leverage is decidedly not with the organization.