New York Yankees: Brett Gardner, Mike Ford, Tyler Wade and more!

New York Yankees, Tyler Wade

Things are looking pretty bright for the New York Yankees!  They have bolstered their pitching rotation big time with the signing of the big money Gerrit Cole.  The Yankees are sitting pretty with lots of depth, not only in pitching but in the outfield and infield.  And with a starting lineup, second to none, the Yankees 2020 season looks quite bright.  Back on December 12, 2019, the Yankees made a big re-signing of the longest still standing Veteran from the 2009 World Series team, Brett Gardner.  Many fans are beginning to wonder when the signing will become official.  Cole was acquired, and in few short days, the Yankees showcased him in a big Yankee Stadium news conference, but the Gardner signing has drifted off the map.  It’s not official until it’s announced, and he is added to the 40 man roster.  Not to worry, Gardner fans, it will happen, there isn’t any reason to announce it yet.  Announcing it would cause the Yankees to remove another player off the roster, and they don’t need to do that right now.

Gardner is the longest-tenured Yankee having made his Yankee debut in 2008 when he played in 42 games.  In 2009 he played in 108 games and improved his batting average to .270, helping the team to their first World Series win in nine years.  The big reason the re-signing of Gardner is significant for the club is that he is the heart and soul of the club, not only on the field but with his veteran presence in the clubhouse.   All the young Yankees players look to Gardner to advise and consul.  His work ethic and how he handles himself is something for the young players to emulate.  Af far as the field is concerned, he will fill the spot in centerfield until the rehabbing Aaron Hicks returns from having Tommy John surgery.  He is expected to miss at least the first two months of the season.  Gardner can also play left field where he has shined before.  Add to that, after last’s years “break out” year for Brett, he will again be expected to hit a few home runs and frequently get on base.  Last season he had an incredible 28 home runs at the age of 36.  He probably won’t eclipse that this season, but it is reasonable to assume he will hit around 20 long balls and hit to a .250 average.

The Yankees have a history of letting players compete for starting positions during spring training.  Last year it was a competition for first base between Greg Bird, who is now gone, and Luke Voit.  Voit won out.  This year we see the same competition, but with different players.  The competition is only happening because Mike Ford roared onto the scene last year after Voit’s injury.  Ford had a robust September, surprising many Yankee fans.  When he first appeared at the plate to hit, many said, he doesn’t have the body of a first baseman, he’s short and bulky.  As it turns out, he handled first base very well fielding at .985, ran very well, and had a lot of pop to his bat.  The 27-year-old ended up playing in 50 games but hit 12 long balls, that’s roughly one homer in every four games.  That’s a rate similar to Judge or Torres.  Another reason Ford can be relevant to the lineup is that he is a lefty hitter, in a very right heavy lineup.  As last year showed, he could even be an emergency pitcher.  He pitched two innings in a game against Cleveland that the Yankees lost 19-5.  He only pitched because of his history as a pitcher in college and because the real pitchers had been decimated by the Cleveland hitters.  Even with the dismal Yankee game, he left the mound to huge applause because of his effort above and beyond the call of duty.

The Yankees, like other teams, will be dealing with a 26 man roster for the first time this year.  That will allow one more regular player this year to back up those on the field or allow for an extra man in the bullpen.  My guess is that Tyler Wade will play a more significant role in this year’s team.  Wade has been kicking around since 2017 and has had an increasing role each year.  In 2017 and 2018, his bat was nearly dead.  Last year he increased his batting average to .245 in 43 games.  The massive plus with Tyler Wade is that he is the super-utility player.  He can be an adequate left fielder and a necessary back for Gleyber Torres at shortstop.  He can fill in anywhere where needed.

Last year Mike Tauchman had a great year filling for Giancarlo Stanton, who was injured.  Unfortunately, Tauchman’s season came to a premature end after a Grade 2 calf strain sidelined him in September. He likely wouldn’t have played much in the playoffs anyway, but it was a bitter end to a breakout season for Tauchman.  Look for him to be that 26th man, possibly.  Giancarlo is still a question in left field and might spend time platooning as DH with Miguel Andujar.  Tauchman can play left field and give Brett Gardner a rest in centerfield.

There are still some player questions lingering.  Where will Andujar play, or will he be made part of a trade deal for the likes of Josh Hader?  My guess is that the Hader trade will not take place, and will not deal him in any other trade.  Manager Aaron Boone may try him out at first or in the outfield during spring training.  He can also serve as a big bat as DH or to give Gio Urshela rest at third base.  Boone knowing the season is long and that the Yankees will most likely go all the way to the World Series, likes to give his players rest on a rotating basis.  The Yankees have been trying to get the $17 million off the books that J.A. Happ adds to the payroll.  The Yankees would like to be below the highest luxury tax mark.  So far, they have not had luck dealing Happ.  The Yankees may move him and get him off the roster, possibly during spring training, but before opening day.

Giants to Retain Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey

Incoming New York Giants head coach Joe Judge is making some wise choices even before being introduced to the media and fans. Several sources are reporting that Judge, quite the special teams guru himself, is retaining Thomas McGaughey as the special team coordinator.

McGaughey was clearly the best of the three coordinators on Pat Shurmur’s staff.

From the NY Post:

McGaughey was one of the most effective assistants on Shurmur’s staff, as his units on special teams consistently performed at a high level. He also is a popular presence in the building, which is why he has survived major coaching upheaval. He was an assistant special teams coach for Tom Coughlin from 2007 to 2010 and ran the special teams for the Jets, 49ers and Panthers before returning to the Giants in 2018 to work under Shurmur.

 

The Giants in 2019 finished in the top five in kickoff return average and kickoff coverage and in the top 10 in net punting average.

It was likely suggested to Judge he keep McGaughey by general manager Dave Gettleman, who has a long association with McGaughey both here with the Giants and down in Carolina.

The Jets Need to Stay Out of the Tua Tagovailoa Sweepstakes

Tua Tagovailoa

The NY Jets were like any other football team watching the Tua Tagovailoa lead Alabama Crimson Tide come back to beat the University of Georgia Bulldogs in the 2018 College National Championship game. Salivating at the chance of drafting this kid. But he was a full two seasons away from being eligible for the draft. And the Jets drafted Sam Darnold. Now, Tua declared for the draft, and the Jets need to steer clear.

Sam Needs Help, Not a Threat

Sam Darnold is showing signs he’s progressing in the right direction. A competent backup is who the Jets should consider this offseason, and I made the argument that they should be all in on Joe Flacco as the direct backup to Sam. He had an injury that cost him games in 2018, and the mono set him (and the team) back this past season. Having someone to fill in without looking helpless is key for 2020, but drafting Tua will lead to Sam losing his job.

A body of work like Tagovailoa makes fans want to see what he can do sooner, rather than later. If Sam struggles over a couple of weeks, fan pressure will mount on the Jets to bench Sam for Tua. And once Tua goes in, no one will want to see him come out.

Tua’s History Should Scare The Jets

Much will be shrugged off over this, but the two surgeries he got for ankle sprains were largely elective. And the implant placed in Tua’s ankles can break, causing him to miss more time professionally to correct what was done. And that hip dislocation…

Lots are saying that the hip dislocation was a freak accident. But what if it wasn’t? This is a kid who, at 21 years old, had both his ankles operated on, and had to surgically repair a dislocated hip. This kid is injury prone. And do you really want an injury-prone quarterback? It’s what ultimately cost Ryan Tannehill his job in Miami.

There Are Too Many Moves to Make to Waste Draft Capital to Move up for Tua

We all know the Jets offensive line needs to be addressed. We know the defense can be strengthened, to become as elite as any defense in the league. We know we can get a viable backup and draft a third-string QB for when Sam misses time next season. We will lose so much maneuverability to do all of this if we trade away our draft picks, just to move up for Tua.

All of these and more is why the Jets need to keep far away from the Tua sweepstakes.

 

New York Rangers Overcome Slow Start, Bury Avalanche

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers are getting into a bad habit of having slow starts to games. However, they overcame their most recent slow start and defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-3. In doing so, recently promoted goalie Igor Shesterkin picked up his first NHL victory.

Shesterkin Shines in Debut

Despite going down 2-0, Shesterkin showed resolve in only allowing one more goal after this. For the game, he stopped 29 of the 32 Colorado shots attempted. in earning the win, Shesterkin is one of only two Rangers goaltenders since 1979-80 who have earned a win in their regular-season NHL debut while playing at MSG. A solid debut for a young man who was quoted after the game as saying: “On the way to the arena my hands were shaking, I couldn’t even drink water. But as I stepped onto the ice, I felt everyone’s support and energy and it really helped me”  Head Coach David Quinn was quick to praise his goalie in post-game comments by saying he was impressed that he could  “To be mentally tough enough to pull himself together”.  Of course, this was due to the fact that J.T. Compher scored at 4:44 of the first period to give Colorado a 1-0 lead, and Nathan MacKinnon scored his 26th goal on a breakaway to make it 2-0 at 6:34. But to his credit, Shesterkin did not melt. he settled down after that, giving up just one goal on the next 29 shots. Igor Shesterkin became the fifth Rangers goalie in 40 years to win in his NHL debut. The others: Mackenzie Skapski (Feb. 20, 2015), Dan Cloutier (Jan. 3, 1998), Mike Richter (Oct. 19, 1989)  and John Vanbiesbrouck (Dec. 5, 1981).

Strong Offense Picks Up Soft Defense

The defense did not do a lot early to help their young goaltender.  The first goal was scored on a deflection and the second goal was scored on a breakaway. Not a great start to help out a young goaltender. But to their credit, the  Rangers bounced back.  Chris Kreider redirected a Ryan Strome‘pass through the five-hole on the power play to make it 2-1. Mika Zibanejad chipped in a loose puck from the slot under the arm of the Colorado Goalie to tie it 2-2.  Brady Skjei‘s huge slapshot from the blueline at 8:05 of the second period gave New York a 3-2 lead.  Colorado rebounded to tie the game but Strome’s fifth goal in the past six games gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead. Artemi Panarin added an empty-net goal to make the final score 5-3. So after some slow stretches, the Rangers’ studs are stepping up. Panarin has 10 assists and 12 points in the last six games. Strome has five goals and four assists in his last six games. Mika Zibanejad has 10 goals and 16 points in his last 12 games

Here are the New York Mets’ non-roster invitees for Spring Training

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The New York Mets announced their list of non-roster invitees for Spring Training. We are 32 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Port St. Lucie. Baseball is closer than ever!

According to Anthony DiComo, the Mets spring non-roster invitees are the following:

LHP: David Peterson and Kevin Smith

RHP: Matt Blackham, Ryley Gilliam, Stephen Nogosek, Pedro Payano, Francisco Rios and Adonis Uceta

C: Austin Bossart, Patrick Mazeika, David Rodriguez

OF: Tim Tebow, Ryan Cordell, Johneshwy Fargas

INF: Jake Hager

Previously announced minor league signings like Jarrett Parker, Max Moroff and Chasen Shreve will also be in Spring Training. DiComo reports that 58 players will be there, so far.

Several interesting names in the Mets’ list

Of the list, several names jump out. Peterson is among the Mets’ most prized pitching prospects. He is 24 years old and figures to see the majors at some point in 2020. He is a left-hander, a polished one. He will likely start in Triple-A Syracuse but could use the experience of being in a Spring Training.

In 2019, he was in Double-A. There, he had a 4.19 ERA but a much better 3.19 FIP. In 24 games, he pitched 16.0 frames, with a 9.47 K/9 and a 2.87 BB/9.

Smith was dominant in Class A-Advanced in 2019 (3.05 ERA, 2.63 FIP, 10.72 K/9, 2.52 BB/9) in 17 games. He also pitched six Double-A games.

Gilliam will likely help the New York Mets in 2020. He struggled in Triple-A but had very successful stints in Class A-Advanced (2.53 ERA, 0.87 FIP in 10.2 frames with 13.50 K/9) and Double-A (4.34 ERA, 2.15 FIP, and 13.50 K/9.) He also excelled in the Arizona Fall League (0.96 ERA in 9.1 IP, 11 K.)

Mazeika is a left-handed hitting catcher who hit well in Double-A. He had 16 homers with 69 runs batted in and a .245 average, with a .738 OPS. He is famous for his defense and arm but has the tools to be respectable back there.

New York Giants HC Joe Judge to speak with Freddie Kitchens about offensive coordinator job

New York Giants, Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns

The New York Giants hiring Joe Judge to be their head coach moving forward was undoubtedly a surprise, but the idea that Freddie Kitchens, former head coach of the Cleveland Browns, could end up as the offensive coordinator for Big Blue, well, that’s another shot in the dark.

Kitchens boasted a solid offense in 2018 before Baker Mayfield degraded in front of our eyes. Credit his demise to the offensive line or the curse of Odell Beckham Jr., but Kitchens has proven he can be a capable offensive play-caller. Again, he suffered a similar fate as Pat Shurmur did — too many responsibilities.

Jordan Raanan reported that Judge would speak with Kitchens, and I don’t necessarily hate this move. There’s no guarantee he will be selected to feature as the OC, but speaking with different options is never a bad idea.

Kitchens and Judge worked together while at Mississippi State, where they curated a connection. Bringing in coaches that are familiar with the head coach’s personality and attention to detail is a positive thing. This could be a solid grab for the Giants and Judge if they don’t land Jason Garrett or Jay Gruden.

New York Giants: Why Joe Judge Won the Head Coaching Job

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The New York Giants’ head coaching search has come to an end. After firing Pat Shurmur on the 30th of last month, the Giants found their guy. That guy is New England Patriots Special Teams Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach, Joe Judge. Judge, an assistant coach of the Patriots for eight seasons, will look to get the struggling Giants back on track. With Baylor HC Matt Rhule garnering most of the attention of the media, Judge went unnoticed during the search. He interviewed with the Giants on Monday, and later that evening the two parties began working towards a deal. With all of the speculation around Rhule joining the Giants, it is easy to be confused why Judge ended up getting the job. Here’s why Joe Judge will be the 21st coach in franchise history:

Why Joe Judge Won the Job:

His experience with Saban/Belichick

Judge’s first major coaching job came at Alabama, where he was special teams assistant for multiple years. During those years, he worked alongside one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football – Nick Saban. While Saban did struggle a bit at being an NFL coach, his approach to the game is still admired by all. Before he was even 30 years old, Judge was being exposed to one of the greatest coaches the game has ever seen.

In 2012, Judge made the jump to the NFL. He started out as a special teams assistant for the Patriots, and after the team’s victory in Super Bowl XLIX, Judge was upgraded to Special Teams Coordinator. Since 2015, Judge has helped orchestrate one of the best special teams units in the entire NFL. In 2019, he became the Wide Receivers Coach of the team.

Throughout all of his time in New England, Judge gained more and more respect from the greatest coach in NFL history – Bil Belichick. But Judge didn’t just work alongside Belichick, he was taught how to be an excellent coach. Belichick has been Judge’s biggest mentor, something that the Giants obviously found attractive.

The success of other special teams coordinators

While all head coach obviously has to start somewhere, very few of them come from special teams. Usually, a coach will have experience as an offensive/defensive coordinator or have had success as a head coach at the college level. But there are a number of coaches who have made the leap from special teams and found success. The most recent being Ravens HC John Harbaugh.

Harbaugh, who coached the Ravens to an NFL-best 14-2 record, was hired as the team’s head coach in 2008. Since then, Harbaugh has been one of the most successful head coaches in the NFL. He has won the AFC North four times, reached the playoffs eight times, and won a Lombardi trophy in 2012. The other most successful former special teams coordinator? Only Judge’s former workmate – Belichick.

What makes special teams coach’s so unique is their view on the game. Offensive and defensive coordinators only work with their side of the ball, and rarely interact with the players from the other side. Special teams coordinators, on the other hand, work with everyone. They put in arguably more time and effort than anyone besides the head coach himself.

The Matt Rhule situation

When Matt Rhule signed his seven-year, $60 million deal with the Panthers before even interviewing with the Giants, most assumed he was trying to avoid New York as a whole. But later reports said that Rhule called the Giants after receiving his offer, and gave the team the chance to match it. The Giants declined, showing that they were more than content with hiring Judge. They had their chance to get the guy they reportedly wanted, but they decided to go in a different direction. Was it the right decision? Well, we will have to wait and find out.

New York Yankees: Comparing the Yankees and Red Sox 2020 Rotations, who is better off?

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

Over the entire history of both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox entire existence, there has been no shortage of defining moments that makes the blood boil. Both teams have gone to extensive lengths to put together the best teams possible, and the rotations are no different. Boston having had names like John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez flourish in their system, and for the Yankees, we’ve seen players like Andy Pettitte and David Cone dominate, amongst countless others.

For this article in specific, I’d like to compare the two teams’ respective rotations coming into 2020, and ultimately give my verdict as to who is better off this coming season.

The New York Yankees Rotation

1. Gerrit Cole

Now Gerrit Cole, is as you might’ve guessed, the best overall player out of both teams’ rotations. I don’t need to tell you how good Cole is, and how amazing he has been the past two seasons with Houston specifically. However, I’m going to anyways for added effect, and for argumentative purposes to be used throughout the piece. Plus, who doesn’t want to talk about their shiny new toy any chance they get?

Gerrit Cole, this last year, was truly incredible, notching a 2.50 ERA and a 2.64 FIP across  212.1 IP. The strikeout numbers are staggering as well, as his 13.82 K/9 led the entire league, and he paired that with a slim 2.03 BB/9 to go with it. To sit here and continually say “he led the league” in numerous categories would grow old, quite quickly, but simply put — there’s not a single pitcher on his level currently. While there can be arguments made about a few guys; Scherzer, deGrom, Verlander, to name a few, I don’t think that when you factor in the age, and the overall abilities and talent as well, that they’re on the same level as Cole is. While yes, he didn’t win the Cy Young this last season — ended up finishing behind his teammate Justin Verlander — that was a toss-up and a flip of a quarter as to who would win it between the two of them.

Cole leads a revamped and re-energized Yankees rotation, and with Matt Blake leading the brigade behind the scenes as well, there’s a good chance that Cole can get even better. There’s no stopping the Cole Train as of now, and it looks like he’s amping up the speeds for 2020.

2. Luis Severino

Luis Severino is the most interesting name to me for both rotations, as his injury bugged 2019 leads to lots of question marks around how healthy and how effective he’ll be this season. However, in both 2017 and 2018, Severino was one of the best arms across the entire American League.

In 2018, specifically, Severino’s ERA and FIP splits were almost as incredible as Cole’s were this last year. They sat at 3.39 and 2.95, across 191.1 IP — add to that a K/9 of 10.35 and a BB/9 of 2.16. Essentially, Severino struck out five batters for every one he walked, which is incredible for a guy who everyone thought should be relegated to a bullpen role after 2016. Severino’s looking to bounce back from a lost 2019 season in which he, unfortunately, missed practically the entire campaign due to injury. Expectations should be high for Sevy coming into 2020, but seeing that Steamer projects his ERA & FIP splits to be 3.97 and 4.04, is ludicrous to me. Add to that their projection of 168.0 IP, which is also wholly unwarranted, as it shows how the projection system is not perfect. Severino had the entire year virtually to heal up, including this seemingly never-ending offseason, and even in his minimal postseason action, he delivered. In 8.1 IP, across yes two starts — not ideal sure, but the Yankees bullpen was on fire — he only yielded two runs, and struck out ten.

There’s no reason as to why Severino cannot get back to ace level, as he is fully healed up and ready to go for 2020. How people can look at what he did in both 2017 and 2018, and use that to say then “He’ll regress” is absurd to me. Severino, in my opinion, may even have a better year than Cole this upcoming season — although that is a scolding hot take, and seemingly contradictory to my statement earlier of how nobody is on Cole’s level. I anticipate Severino to come back stronger and more poised than he was in years’ past and form a more lethal one-two punch than Cole and JV had in Houston — without cheating as well.

3. James Paxton

I am a big fan of James Paxton, as I think that his 2019 season was him pitching with a learning curve. I think arriving in New York, and finally participating in competitive baseball took a slight toll on him and took him by surprise. He ended up performing much better in the second half, as I talked about in a recent piece on Big Maple.

His 2019 respective ERA and FIP splits were 3.82 & 3.86, across 150.2 IP. I think Paxton only channeled a bit of his inner self, and thus showcased less than he had in years past. Look for the HR numbers to hopefully drop this upcoming season, as he settles in his role in the middle of the rotation, and has comfort in knowing that the entire well-being of the rotation lies solely on his shoulders. The overwhelming expectation for Paxton, especially after Sevy went down for the year, was that he’d carry the ‘average at best’ rotation throughout the year, but that wasn’t the case. He had his fair share of incredible displays, but of course, was ultimately inconsistent and didn’t do enough to warrant the praise he had received when he was initially introduced as a Yankee — at least to the majority of Yankee fans he didn’t.

I expect Paxton to level out and to be a consistent performer this year, and expect both the ERA and FIP to dip down a bit more, hopefully around the mid 3’s, and again the hope is that he can toss more innings and go further into games.

4. Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka is the longest-tenured Yankee in the current rotation, as he’s been a staple in the rotation since 2014. Masahiro signed a 7-year deal worth $155,000,000 the offseason before the 2014 season and is a free agent at the end of this season. Expectations are that he is going to be asking for a lofty contract at the end of this current spell, and there’s been tons of debate as to whether or not the Yankees should give it to him.

For 2019, it was indeed a roller-coaster of a season for Masahiro. For starters, let’s discuss the good rather than the bad. The goods are that Tanaka was able to pitch 182.0 innings this last season, which was the most on the Yankees staff. Add to that the fact that his FIP was lower than his ERA — 4.45 ERA & a 4.27 FIP, which shows that he got a bit unlucky and was better than the face stats may say. Also, as mentioned in a recent news and updates post, I noted how incredible he is in the postseason. As for the 2019 postseason, it was more of the same as the logged 16.0 IP and posted an ERA of 2.27 with an HR/9 of 0.56 — a far cry from his 1.38 HR/9 during the regular season. The downs are that his K/9 numbers were a career-low — at 7.37. Pair that with a career-low in LOB% at 70.4%, and a career-low in K/BB% amongst a few other categories.

2020 is a massive year for the Japanese stud, as hopefully he can correct some of the flaws in his game from this last season, and build from them in a contract year. The elbow issue is something to monitor, but if he can touch 180.0 IP once more, that is a massive amount of stability out of the four-man in the rotation.

5. Uh, J.A. Happ, maybe?

Now for the fifth man in the rotation, it’s up in the air. For the sake of this article, however, I will be viewing it as if J.A. Happ will be the fifth man in the rotation to start the 2020 season. Watch, now that I have said this, he’ll be traded this afternoon, thus wholly negating this entire point. Even if Happ is on the roster, I’m still not too sure that the Yankees will even run a 5-Man rotation, and may instead have various arms slot in as the final man of the rotation.

J.A. Happ had a horrendous 2019, and that’s no secret. His ERA and FIP splits were 4.91 and 5.22, which is god-awful. With that being said, he did log 161.1 IP, and his splits versus left-handed hitters were far better than those of the opposite hand hitting against him. Happ vs. LHH allowed an OPS of .652 across 43.0 innings, which is surprisingly stable, and a far cry from the OPSa of .830 versus RHH across a much larger sample of 118.1 innings. The hope for 2020, if Happ is to be named the fifth man in the rotation, is that the $17,000,000 man can channel his 2018 self and reach that 160.0 innings mark, at the least.

With this all being said, the fifth man is entirely up in the air at this moment, so Happ may not even be on the team — let alone in the rotation.

The Boston Red Sox Rotation

1. Chris Sale

If this were to be coming into the 2018 season, I would’ve placed Chris Sale at the top of the collective list between both teams, or maybe tied with Severino. There’s no way of denying the fact that Chris Sale has been one of the best arms in the MLB for the better part of a decade now, but ultimately the innings seem to be getting to The Condor.

Boston traded away Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz, to pry Sale away from the White Sox. Little did Boston know that they’d be single-handedly fueling one of the most impressive rebuilds I’ve witnessed across my entire lifetime of baseball viewing. However, for Sale, 2019 was the worst season he’s had in his career, and I think it comes down to the worry about his arm and that delivery. Sale has the whipping action that’s seemingly a 3/4 delivery, as the ball slings in from that slot, thus apparently doing work on the arm and shoulder as well. Last season Sale posted career worsts in a lot of categories, including ERA (4.40) and IP (147.1) as a starter. With that, he also saw a massive increase in the amount of HR he gave up, as he posted a 19.5% HR/FB rate, which was more than double that of the year prior (9.3%). Pair that with his highest WHIP since 2015 (1.09) and an HR/9 of 1.43 that dwarfed his previous career-high of 1.07 back in 2016.

Simply put, Sale may not have time on his side, but will always be an extreme force not to be reckoned with for Boston. Sale’s K numbers are as staggering as ever, as he posted a K% over 30% for the fifth time out of the last six seasons (35.5% in ’19) and paired it with a K/9 of 13.32. I expect Sale to bounce-back a bit from his own 2019 season, but I don’t think he’ll be nearly as lethal as he was in both ’17 and ’18.

2. Eduardo Rodriguez

Now, the number two man in Boston’s rotation is up for grabs between Eduardo Rodriguez and David Price, but I elected to have Rodriguez in the two spots. I think Rodriguez is one of the most underrated pitchers in all of baseball and has nothing but bright futures ahead of him. His 2019 season showed that potential, as he was without a doubt, Boston’s best arm.

The 2019 stat-line for E-Rod included an ERA and FIP pairing of 3.81 and 3.86 — across an excellent 203.1 IP. While some of his numbers regressed from the year prior, what Rodriguez provided for Boston was stability and consistency, which is something this current rotation lacks — in my opinion. His strikeout numbers have always been there, as his K/9 last season sat at 9.43, but he’s going to need to work on limiting the walks, to see any real signs of improvement. In 2018 his BB/9 was 3.12, and in 2019 it went up to 3.32. I expect Rodriguez to take another step forward this upcoming season, and eventually propel himself into the one spot in the rotation.

With Boston having splashed the cash for Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez becomes an FA after the 2021 season, and if he continues on the track he’s on, he may be out of Boston’s plans. With that being said, Boston should do whatever they can to retain his talents and keep him around for the future.

3. David Price

David Price-tag, as he should be called, may not even be a member of the Red Sox rotation this upcoming season, but as of now is in their rotation. Similar to the Happ situation in NY, the Red Sox are actively shopping Price due to salary problems that are “suddenly” popping up in front of management’s eyes. You’d think that they’d pay closer attention to the salaries that they’re shelling out to players, and ultimately Price’s $32,000,000 base salary is the principal reason for why they’re not going to be able to keep Mookie Betts. Well, that and the other $100,000,000 between Sale, Eovaldi, JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and yep Rusney Castillo.

There’s no doubting that when Price is on his game, he’s still one of the most lethal pitchers in baseball, but the problem has been that he cannot stay healthy. Even in his 2018 season, his second-best with Boston, across 176.0 IP, despite a 3.58 ERA, he only posted an fWAR of 2.4. As for 2019, across 107.1 IP, he registered an ERA and FIP of 4.28 & 3.62 but saw his LOB% drop to 70.0% for the first time since 2012. Across the span of ’17-’19, Price’s fWAR total of 6.2 is well off from the 4.4 he posted in 2016 & that’s down from the 6.5 fWAR he posted in ’15. Price’s value and abilities have been decreasing yearly now, and Boston is trying to ship him off because they’re realizing this.

I expect 2020 to be a decent year for the veteran southpaw, but the fact he posted career low’s in bot HR/FB (14.4%) and Hard Hit % (36.9%) lead me to believe that he is nearing the end of an incredible run of quality performances. Thought Price will be around and kicking until the end of that illustrious contract, but I think that 2020 — if he is to remain with Boston — they’ll be lucky to see 140.0 innings out of him.

4. Nathan Eovaldi

Oh, the once dubbed “Nasty Nate” had a revitalizing campaign in 2018, which earned him a massive deal worth, on average, $17,000,000 a season. Now,  Boston is once again kicking themselves over yet another long-term deal that seems to have backfired.

In 2019, Nathan Eovaldi missed the majority of the year with injuries, but when he did pitch, he was atrocious. Across 67.2 innings, his ERA and FIP splits were a dismal 5.99 and 5.90. Pairing that with a 9.31 K/9 — which was the one bright spot, as that was a career-high. However, negating that 9.31 K/9 was a horrendous BB/9, as he walked 4.66 batters per nine innings. For Eovaldi, I don’t believe that he is even close to worth the $17m that Boston is shelling out to him this season, and I think they’re praying he can somehow stay healthy — which would be a win for Boston, as Eovaldi hasn’t thrown 160.0 IP since 2015.

Expect Eovaldi to be featured on the IL a lot this upcoming season, and if I am wrong and he manages to have a career year, then I’ll gladly eat my words.

5. Martin Perez

Martin Perez was recently brought in by Boston this offseason for $6,500,000. Now, his 2019 season was also not very good, but I think this signing was an entire panic move made by Boston, and ultimately was them overpaying — again — as a result.

Perez, in 2019, posted an fWAR of 1.9, which was an improvement from his 2018 total of -0.1. The reason for that was that he was able to log 165.1 innings with Minnesota this last year, to pair with a career-high in strikeouts per nine at 7.35. Perez may provide some safety blanket for this massive question mark of a backend rotation, but I do not see him doing anything to warrant this as an “impact signing.”

The loss of Porcello hurt Boston more than they’d like to admit, but they’re hoping Perez can show some abilities and try to bounce back from a poor 2019.

The Verdict

Well, if you’ve made it this far, or if you just decided to scroll to the bottom, here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. I think that it’s apparent that the Yankees have the far better rotation of the two powerhouses, and that the Yankees’ question marks are ultimately far less worrying than the Red Sox’s. While I don’t think Sale will be as bad as he was this past season, and I am a big fan of Eduardo Rodriguez’s abilities, I do not see those two as enough to compete with the Evil Empire.

If I were to compile a collective list ranking them, it’d look like this: (1) Gerrit Cole, (2) Luis Severino, (3) Chris Sale, (4) James Paxton, (5) Eduardo Rodriguez, (6) Masahiro Tanaka, (7) David Price, (8) J.A. Happ, (9) Martin Perez, (10) Nathan Eovaldi.

With that, this concludes the comparison of both team’s 2020 rotations, and of course, this list is subject to change down the road. When both sides officially announce said rotations, I’ll likely revisit this list and may do another in the future, with updated information.

For Boston, however, it looks as if they’ve got more significant issues to worry about than having Martin Perez out there every fifth game, and that is whether or not they’ll have their manager come 2020 — barring suspension, a potential ban, and of course the inevitable pricey fine.

The New York Mets’ Jeff McNeil is having a normal offseason after wrist surgery

Wrist injuries are a very undesirable development for batters, as they can sap power in a hurry. Fortunately, the New York Mets’ star Jeff McNeil finally caught a break when it comes to injuries and, according to Laura Albanese of Newsday, is already on a normal offseason routine.

McNeil suffered the injury in late September after being hit with a pitch. The official diagnosis was a fractured right distal ulnar fracture in his wrist. It eventually required surgery but will begin Spring Training with no restrictions.

The Mets‘ star infielder finished the season with a .318/.384/.531 batting line, 23 home runs, 75 RBI, five stolen bases, and 83 runs scored in 133 games.

The Mets caught a lucky break

McNeil told Albanese he is “feeling good and I’m basically back to my normal offseason routine” after the surgery, performed in early-October. He also detailed that the location of the fracture (“not really on the joint or where it flexes”) helped him. That was his lucky break after years of so many physical ailments that delayed his development and opportunity.

He made four trips to the injured list from 2016 to 2017, which was frustrating for him and for the Mets. “A couple of years ago, I was on the Rule 5 draft and I guess no one wanted me. It was a really tough couple of years. I knew I had the talent and everything, but I missed a bunch of time. When I had the opportunity to play, I made the most of it. So to see where I am now, see where I was two years ago, it’s pretty incredible.”

Albanese explained that the Mets resisted including McNeil in any trade talks. They see him as a very valuable long-term piece. After all, after showing up in the bigs in July 2018, he has a .321 batting average, .383 on-base percentage, and 141 wRC+. Those are excellent marks.

Offensive and defensive prowess

He, along with Pete Alonso, led the New York Mets in 2019 with a 143 wRC+. He is, according to Fangraphs, and “old schooler” at the dish.

Besides being a great batter, McNeil is also a terrific defender. The Mets badly need talented gloves: he was two outs above average at both second and third base in 2019.

McNeil likes where the Mets are headed. “We’re just trying to build off what we did last year. Last year was a really exciting second half to the season […] Everyone is going to come into camp extremely confident”.

Yankees news, rumors: Bizarre lawsuit against NYY, Opening Day announced, Yankee FA murmurs

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter

In one of the more interesting lawsuits that there has been relative to the MLB, former Yankees prospect Garrison Lassiter had filed a lawsuit worth roughly $34,000,000 against the New York Yankees. He claimed that his MLB career with the Yankees was never going anywhere, and attributes it to the Yankees conspiring against him and doing whatever they can to keep Derek Jeter in his position for as long as possible. Mind you, Lassiter never played a game above High A baseball and was seen as a “below average” prospect with limited tools and no dimensions to his game that jumped off the page.

A judge ultimately dismissed the case in May of last year, but details of it are now beginning to surface, and it seems as if Lassiter is still bitter about it.

Lassiter, who decided to represent himself, claimed that the Yankees organization kept him from ever going anywhere and that he never had a future with them. His $34 million asking price in the lawsuit was because he felt he was “valued” at the same as former NL ROTY, Corey Seager combined with former Yankees prospect-turned NFL QB, Brandon Weeden. That’s a bold claim by someone who’s best season ended with an OPS of .699 and a single HR across 245 plate appearances. Its the sad reality that tens of thousands of kids never end up making it to the show & it shows the brutal nature and competition within the MLB itself. However, for someone to sue the team when they’re down on their luck is genuinely an interesting move.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman perhaps had the best perspective on the matter, tweeting: “His first case as a lawyer was a tough one. So he still may be a better lawyer than a baseball player.”

Lassiter’s career average in the minor leagues was: .244, and he added a stellar 4 HR’s to go with it, from 2008-2012.

Opening Day Dates Announced

The Opening Day dates for Yankees baseball have been announced, and they are as follows: Opening Day: March 26, 2020 (3:05 PM e/t) vs. BAL & the Home Opener: April 2, 2020 (1:05 PM e/t) vs. TOR. The March 26th opener marks the earliest in Major League Baseball’s long and storied history, and it features a slate of games — including the New York Yankees versus the Baltimore Orioles.

Opening Day should hopefully result in a win for the Yankees, as Baltimore’s shambles of a club take the field at Camden Yards for the first time in 2020. I am excited to see early-season ‘MVP front runner’ Chris Davis trot out there to the boo’s of Baltimore faithful, and to watch Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres continue their torrid careers against the O’s.

Judge’s career line vs. Baltimore, in 50 Games: .290 / .442 / .608 with 15 HR and 11 2B’s, also having driven in 40.

Torres’ career line vs. Baltimore, in 29 Games: .362 / .438 / .876 with 16 HR and 6 2B’s, also having driven in 31.

Well, that should be a fun & competitive one, but it’s baseball, and anything can happen on any given day — so let’s not count our chickens before they hatch.

Yankees FA updates and rumors

With Free Agency reaching, what appears to be, a very stagnant stage, the Yankees haven’t made any exciting moves over the past few days. The team chose to sign Nick Tropeano to a minor league contract, for depth — as appears to be the case with a lot of these recent signings — and hasn’t further engaged in talks for Josh Hader, nor have they entertained any new discussions on Miguel Andujar.

Simply put, the Yankees seem to be set with what they have as Spring Training hype ramps up here. Spring Training is just around the corner, with the slate of games set to begin at the end of February, and boy I cannot wait. To have baseball back means to have — as the Yankees Front Office could best put it — “that unmitigated joy” as there’s no sport like it in the entire world. Being able to follow a team for a minimum of 162 games truly allows the fans to fall in love with their team, and ultimately the players as well. It’s a beautiful game, and 2020 should be an enjoyable season to watch.

Look for the Yankees to keep tabs on various Free Agents, and also potential trade candidates, but don’t be surprised if everything we’ve heard — rumor wise — turns out to be rumors and chatter. New York’s front office is one of the best in the entire league, and they’re not going to make unnecessary signings, especially if they’re content with what they’ve got. As of now, the team is predicted to be one of the best in the history of the league and hopefully can meet these high expectations come March.