Report: New York Yankees inquiring about catcher James McCann

New York Yankees, Yankees, James McCann

The New York Yankees are taking their evaluation at catcher extremely seriously, considering they have been linked to future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina, star Philly JT Realmuto, and White Sox stand out catcher James McCann.

Considering how Gary Sanchez performed last season for the Yankees, finishing with a .147 batting average, including a 36% strikeout rate and .253 OBP, inquiring about alternative options was always going to be a reality. The Yankee simply can’t trust that Sanchez will survive an entire season without injury and play at a premium level.

Defensively, Sanchez also struggled, ending the year with a .987 fielding percentage, five passed balls, and five errors over 41 games played. He was evidently replaced by Kyle Higashioka during the postseason and lost his rights to catch for ace Gerrit Cole. His entire game fell to a new low, earning a negative WAR for the first time in his career (-0.1).

The New York Yankees are being forced to make a move:

If the Yankees want to feel consistent and confident at the catcher position, they might have to make a move to shore it up. They are still debating on whether to tender Sanchez a cheap one year deal to keep him in pinstripes, as he is set to hit arbitration in 2022.

Nonetheless, according to Jon Heyman of the MLB Network, the Yankees have recently inquired about James McCann of the White Sox.

McCann, who is hitting the market this year as a free agent, had himself a motivating 2020 season, finishing with a .289 batting average, seven homers, and 15 RBIs. He has some power to his game, but also struck out 27% of the time and logged a 1.5 WAR. He’s had two solid seasons with Chicago after struggling with the Detroit Tigers several years ago.

McCann also played solid defense, allowing four errors and just two passed balls over 30 games. He did miss some time behind the plate in 2020 — the Yankees might be able to secure him on a moderate deal to help solidify a position of question.

Nonetheless, this is all just hot stove chatter for the time being, but it is interesting to see how GM Brian Cashman is investing time at evaluating catcher options in free agency. Could this be a sign of what’s to come? Possibly.

Mike Minor comes off the board as the Yankees are still inactive

Another pitcher comes off the board. The Kansas City Royals are signing left-handed pitcher Mike Minor to a two-year contract, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN. The first to report the agreement, though, was Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The development is noteworthy in the New York Yankees’ universe because it is the second high-profile pitcher that comes off the board in the free agency period, after Charlie Morton agreed to join the Atlanta Braves a few days ago.

Of course, Morton and Minor are in two different tiers, but Minor wouldn’t have been a bad addition to a Yankees’ rotation that is in dire need of some depth. Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, and James Paxton are all free agents and eligible to sign with any team of their liking, and Luis Severino won’t be an option until June or July.

The New York Yankees, therefore, need to address the starting rotation as soon as possible, and one can’t help but worry that pieces are starting to come off the board and the team is patiently waiting.

He could have given some veteran depth to the Yankees

Minor started the 2020 season with the Texas Rangers after having a very good 2019, with a 3.59 ERA, 200 strikeouts and 1.24 WHIP in 32 starts. He was traded prior to the deadline to the contending Oakland Athletics. All in all, his 2020 was disappointing, with a 5.56 ERA in 12 starts with both teams.

He pitched with the Royals back in 2016 and is expected to pitch at the top of the rotation this time around. He will likely mentor one of the youngest and most talented groups of starters in MLB, including Brady Singer, Kris Bubic, and some notable prospects.

For the Yankees, though, the time to pounce on the free agent market starts now. They probably won’t sign Trevor Bauer, but one can never say never, as they should be monitoring his market.

The Yankees could opt to bring one or two of their own free agent pitchers, with Tanaka being the likeliest and Happ the unlikeliest. Minor could have been a good, relatively cheap bounceback candidate, but as long as the team addresses the rotation in some way, the fans won’t complain.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Why the Yankees need to pounce sooner than later

The New York Yankees have much to do to improve the team this offseason. So far this offseason, teams have been a slow as a sloth in making the moves necessary to improve their teams for the next season. The Yankees are no different; the only thing they’ve done is protect those prospects they want to save from the Rule 5 draft. Other than that, on the surface, they have done nothing. There are several reasons for this; not the least is no team has a clear picture of what a 2021 season will look like. Will, there be revenue streams from fans in the stands, or will it be a full 162 game season are among the open questions.

The New York Yankees have made it known that their number one priority is to re-sign DJ LeMahieu to keep him in pinstripes. The Yankees probably will not do much until they know if that signing can be completed. That being the case, the Yankees need to get that done and done fast. That signing will allow them to start making moves to repair and upgrade the starting rotation and address other needs.

The Yankees need to pounce and do it quickly while the best free agents are still out there. For instance, Marcus Stroman, Kevin Gausman, Charlie Morton, Kendall Graveman, Robie Ray, Drew Smyly, and Josh Tomlin are already off the market after signing with their new teams. With every new signing, the pitching pool the Yankees have to choose from becomes fewer.

On the conservative side, the Yankees need at least one number two type starting pitcher and a quality reliever to replace Tommy Kahnle, who will be our the whole season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The Yankees have discarded James Paxton and J.A. Happ; other teams are already showing interest in those pitchers. The Yankees may be interested in signing Masahiro Tanaka, although they may have competition from the new owner Cohen of the crosstown Mets.

The New York Yankees have a history of not wanting to trade away their best prospects, but the longer they wait to make moves this offseason, the more likely they will have to do that to fill the holes they need to fill. With the MLB winter meetings canceled, most teams will make the moves necessary by the Christmas holidays. In the past season, general manager Brian Cashman waited to improve the team by the trade deadline and did nothing.

If Cashman does the same thing during the offseason, there will be no one left that is worthwhile. I am sure Cashman is not sitting at his desk, twiddling his fingers, but he needs to make decisions and sooner than later. First up, sign LeMahieu. Evaluate the other needs and make the moves necessary to bring another World Championship back to New York City.

What’s next for Anthony Smith after UFC Vegas 15?

Anthony Smith

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 15, Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (34-16) took on Devin Clark (12-5) in the main event. Originally the two were supposed to be in the co-main, but the original main event was scrapped due to a positive COVID test. 

The two also agreed to change the fight from three rounds to five rounds. However, the UFC Vegas 15 main event would not require more than a couple of minutes of the first round.

Devin Clark came out fast and hit Smith with a right hand. After that, he tried to initiate the takedown and use his wrestling. However, Smith did a very good job of reversing the position and landing a takedown of his own.

Once on the ground, Smith tried to get the back of Clark. Clark did a good job of defending and actually reversed the position to get on top. However, once there, Smith was able to lock up a triangle choke off of his back.

Clark tried to fight it off, but Smith locked it in very tight forcing the tap. A massive win for Smith who had entered UFC Vegas 15 on a two-fight losing streak. Both fights he looked completely checked out, but he looked fantastic on Saturday.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 15?

It really can’t be expressed how big UFC Vegas 15 was for Anthony Smith. Lionheart is a former title challenger, but a loss would have been devastating for his career. After his last loss, people were suggesting a potential move back to middleweight.

However, Smith looked better than ever locking up the quick win on Saturday. So what should the UFC do with Smith after his big win? Well there are a couple of options, but a fight I really like is Smith and Johnny Walker (18-5).

Walker is coming off of a pretty impressive knockout victory over Ryan Spann back in September. He’s currently ranked ninth in the UFC‘s light heavyweight rankings and could use a bump up in competition.

After defeating a non-ranked opponent, I think it would also be good for Smith to fight someone in the top ten in his next outing. Time will tell what the promotion does, but that would be my suggestion.

New York Yankees Analysis: Why is everything with the Yankees so damn important?

Why, because the New York Yankees are the New York Yankees. The Yankees are the most valuable, wealthiest baseball franchise in the world. The Yankees, because of that, are under more scrutiny than any other team. The Yankees are in New York City, USAToday says that New York is the best sports city globally, Forbes says it’s Boston, but that is irrelevant; if you’re from the tri-state area, you know its New York. For these and other reasons, all eyes are on a team that is supposed to win a World Championship every year, but they don’t.

Maybe a better question is why the lowly Tampa Bay Rays, a team from a much smaller market, a team with one-quarter of the payroll, wins the ALCS, but the Yankees haven’t been able to in years?

To put it plainly, the New York Yankees are not the DesMoines MudDogs (no offense, Iowa); they are the Yankees, a team that is supposed to be victorious every year. If the MudDogs or any other team comes in third or fourth in their division, they likely feel their season was successful. Not the Yankees, if they don’t reach the World Series and win it, they are failures.

Based on that, all eyes are on the Yankees in the offseason to see what they will do to improve the team. Some of it seems ludicrous, the Yankees have one of the most powerful lineups in baseball, yet we try to improve it. The Yankees are known to have one of the best bullpens in the game, but yet with Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman headlining the group, we need to fix it; it’s not good enough.

All of this aside, the Yankees do have some serious problems to solve. Mainly they have no starting pitching. Yes, they made the biggest splash last year when they went to California and spent $324 million on Gerrit Cole, but now they find themselves with only Gerrit Cole. The Yankees have to rebuild their pitching rotation completely. But with the Yankees, you never know what they and their general manager Brian Cashman will do. But all of these things are so damn important because the Yankees must win next season, or it will be the end of the world.

Maybe we should look at the Dallas Cowboys, the wealthiest sports franchise at $5.5 billion (the Yankees are at $5 billion). They haven’t won an NFL Championship since 1996, even longer since the Yankees have won. I wish I could answer why the Yankees can’t seem to put it all together and win their 28th World Championship, If I could Brian Cashman would be out and I would be in.

Nevertheless all of the sports world will be watching the New York Yankees this offseason to see whose tires they will kick or what blockbuster deal they will be pulling off, or if they again patch up the team and hope for the big win. In my experience when you do the same thing and expect a different result, you’re playing the fools game.

 

 

 

New York Yankees: Two AL East foes interested in JA Happ

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

Two AL East foes have shown interest in former New York Yankees pitcher JA Happ — the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Happ, 38, spent the last two and a half seasons with the Yankees. The team acquired him from the Blue Jays prior to the 2018 trade deadline, and unfortunately, never panned out. Although he pitched well in the back half of the 2018 season (a 2.69 ERA in 63.2 innings), his output in the two seasons after wasn’t what was expected of him in his new deal.

Before the 2019 season, the Yankees inked him to a two-year, $17 million deal with a vesting option for 2021. Happ turned in a 4.91 ERA in 2019, seeing his velocity and effectiveness dip. His WHIP stood at 1.295 while allowing nearly nine hits and two home-runs per nine innings.

After a rough start in 2020, Happ finally settled in an had a few really good outings. He finished with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.054 WHIP, ending as one of the Yankees most consistent pitchers.

Unfortunately for Happ, he didn’t meet the requirements for his vesting option. With the pandemic-shortened season, he needed to make ten starts, but fell just short of that number at nine.

That makes him a free-agent this winter, and he’s drawing significant interest despite his age. The Yankees don’t seem interested in Happ, but he could fit well in Boston and Toronto.

Both teams aren’t really postseason-caliber, and could use starting pitching. Happ is familiar with Toronto, being that he’s played there before. Additionally, he’s been really solid at Fenway Park over his career, making Boston a good possibility for him.

There’s a good chance JA Happ will pitch in the AL East in 2021, but it likely won’t be with the Yankees.

 

 

What’s the New York Yankees’ biggest weakness heading into hot stove months?

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees are one of the more polarizing teams in major league baseball, considering their ability to hit home runs in dangerous numbers and plaster points on the board on any given day.

The Yankees routinely reached double-digit points last year in 2020, thanks to their home run hitting abilities. First baseman Luke Voit smashed 22 homers, a career-high and league-high in half the amount of appearances compared to 2019.

However, despite their power offensively, the Yankees were still unable to reach the World Series. They have now gone over a decade without reaching the big ending, and they must do what it takes to get there before they have to pay Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres.

What is the New York Yankees’ biggest weakness?

Oddly, despite securing Gerrit Cole on a massive nine-year deal, the starting pitching rotation remains a question mark. The Yankees let three starters hit free agency this year, including Masahiro Tanaka, JA Happ, and James Paxton. Nonetheless, injuries took their toll on the unit and severely limited the Yankees’ ability to remain consistent in the rotation.

Cole managed to get the job done on his side of things, pitching two playoff games and allowing six total runs, while the Yankees plastered 21 runs on the board. However, in the two non-Cole starts against Tampa, the Yankees allowed 16 total runs, with the offense just barely squeezing out a 10-9 victory over Cleveland in the Wild-Card round.

Happ, youngster Deivi Garcia, and relief pitchers Adam Ottavino and Jonathan Loaisiga failed miserably in their attempt to overcome a strong Tampa team. It continues to show that the Yankees’ starting rotation does not go deep enough into games to help the bullpen close them out. Fatigue set in early as a relief options were utilize far too frequently during the postseason.

Moving forward, general manager Brian Cashman must find a way to solidify a number two behind Cole and help his bullpen improve. Ottavino was disastrous and couldn’t be relied on, despite being one of the better relief options in the MLB.

Projected the starting rotation:

1.) Gerrit Cole

2.) Masahiro Tanaka

3.) Domingo German

4.) Jordan Montgomery

5.) Deivi Garcia

Fill-in once healthy: Luis Severino

There is one major factor to remember about the 2020 season, they were vastly unprepared due to the change in schedule, and they were also without Severino and German. Getting both of those pitchers back should be extremely beneficial for the Bombers, and the experience given to García should be helpful as well.

My major concern is that both Severino and German will be rusty and can’t be relied on. The former is coming off his second Tommy John surgery, and German is still a question due to a domestic violence dispute that ownership still hasn’t moved on from. Justifiably.

I believe the Yankees should go out and sign a strong number two, and while I have Masahiro Tanaka slotted it in behind Cole, there is reason to believe going in another direction with a younger option is a better move.

Tanaka was paid $23 million in 2020, so I estimate he won’t accept much less after a solid 2020 performance. The problem is he is inconsistent at times and struggled in the postseason.

If the New York Yankees feel confident that both Severino and German will return to full form, their starting rotation should be solidified and better than this past season. It is a big “IF,” though.

Should the New York Giants expect to have Daniel Jones in week 13 vs Seattle?

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Entering the week 12 contest against the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones had completed 63.5% of his passes for 2,122 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. While his touchdowns are down significantly compared to 2018 (24), he is still adapting to Jason Garrett’s new offensive scheme.

With a healthy blend of running the football and schemed passes, Jones has found himself developing in a new system that is built to fit his mold. However, with running the football comes the increased risk of injury, and that is exactly what happened to Jones against the Bengals on Sunday afternoon.

In the second half, Daniel went down after extending the play with his legs. He was holding his hamstring on the way up and attempted to stay in the game but was pulled shortly after. The official diagnosis was a right hamstring pull, which forced him out for the remainder of the game and required Colt McCoy to step in at quarterback.

Jones going down is extremely problematic for the offense, which relies on him to keep opposing defenses honest with his legs but also with his accuracy. Prior to his injury, Jones successfully completed two beautiful passes to Evan Engram down-field and just barely missed on a 55-yard bomb to Darius Slayton, slipping through his fingertips.

Jones has taken massive steps forward the past few weeks, with the Giants winning three consecutive games for the first time since 2016.

The New York Giants are hopeful Jones can make a quick comeback:

Following the win, head coach Joe Judge stated that he was optimistic Jones would be able to play against the Seattle Seahawks in week 13.

This seems more like coach-talk than reality. Hamstring injuries can be extremely tumultuous and lengthy when it comes to rehabilitation. The Giants desperately needed to win against the Bengals, though, as they prepare to go on a four-game-streak against winning football teams. Their four wins this season are all against losing squads, but the sign of a good team is beating the bad ones and not playing down to competition.

Even Jones mentioned that extent of the injury is tough to tell at this point. Tomorrow when he receives treatment, they will have a better understanding of how bad the pull was. An X-ray should uncover the severity. However, if the Giants are forced to utilize McCoy for more than one week, they will be in serious trouble, hurting Jones’s development in the system and continuity. Hopefully, the injury wasn’t as bad as previously thought.

Buffalo Bills: The best moments in the throwback uniforms

The Buffalo Bills’ beloved throwback uniforms returned on Sunday against Los Angeles. ESM looks back on their finest hours.

With championship dreams approaching this winter, the Buffalo Bills and their fans are ready to party like it’s 1965…the last year the team won an official league championship.

It turns out, the Bills are happy to dress for the occasion as well.

For their Week 12 home tilt against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Bills opted to break out their classic throwback uniforms, an aesthetic more or less defined by the simplified buffalo logo on their helmets. This blast from the past is meant to replicate the team’s look worn from 1962 through 1973, when the “streaking” buffalo was introduced. The Bills’ modern full-time uniforms strongly resemble their throwbacks, but Buffalo completed the look on Sunday with the adjusted helmets.

The gambit paid off. Josh Allen scored through both the air and ground, while Cole Beasley trickery led to a touchdown toss to Gabriel Davis. Buffalo (8-3) took the game by a 27-17 final, allowing them to keep a one-game lead over Miami for the AFC East division lead.

In honor of the Bills’ trip down memory lane, ESM looks to do the same, looking back on when relics from the past previously led to good times in the present…

9/11/05: Carr Wreck

The Bills broke out the throwbacks for the first during the 2005 season opener against the Houston Texans. In a performance that would make Tom Sestak, Mike Stratton, Booker Edgerson, and Georga Saimes proud, the Buffalo defense dominated the day, allowing only 120 yards and earning five sacks and turnovers each. Troy Vincent intercepted Texas quarterback David Carr twice, while Aaron Schobel had two sacks. Chris Kelsay and Takeo Spikes each forced a fumble in the effort as well. On the scoreboard, Rian Lindell booted five field goals to slowly break the Texans’ will, while the lone Buffalo touchdown of the afternoon came on J.P. Losman’s one-yard pass to a then-second-year blocker Jason Peters. The Bills earned a 22-7 victory to kick off the second year of the Mike Mularkey era.

Buffalo wore the throwbacks on the road a week later in Tampa Bay, but the good vibes didn’t come with them in a 19-3 defeat en route to a 5-11 seaso and Mularkey’s eventual resignation.

12/9/07: Royal Entrance

In the midst of a playoff push, the Bills put away notions of a trap game against the 0-12 Miami Dolphins away in the early going. A pair of Robert Royal touchdown receptions from Trent Edwards kickstarted a 24-point first quarter for the Bills, who also enjoyed a separate pair of scoring grabs from Lee Evans. The rookie Edwards completed only 11 passes on the afternoon, but his four touchdown passes were a career-high. Elsewhere, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch each reached triple digits in rushing yards (uniting for 222 on the ground) while Donte Whitner and Terrence McGee each earned interceptions in the 38-17 win.

Alas for the Bills, that would be their final win of the 2007 season, losing their final three games to drop out of the postseason race.

9/21/08: Edge of 17

The Bills got off to a 4-0 start in 2008, an opening kept alive through a gutsy effort in the throwback against the artists formerly known as the Oakland Raiders. Buffalo’s defense was mostly taking care of business, limiting Oakland to 10 first downs, but turnovers and short drives forced the Bills to face a 23-14 deficit past the halfway mark of the final frame. Through big-gain collaborations with Evans and Josh Reed, Edwards narrowed the gap with a 14-yard scoring pass to Roscoe Parrish, capping off a drive that took just over two minutes. The defense then forced a three-and-out, leading to two more big gains from Parrish and Evans. Lynch would tick off the final yards, situating Lindell from 38 yards out to boot the game winning field goal in a 24-23 triumph.

11/29/09: Defeat Occurs in Real Time

Buffalo introduced the contemporary white version of their throwback during their 50th anniversary season in 2009, coinciding with the American Football League’s 50th anniversary. Matchups with former AFL brethren were marked with special throwback schemes, though the Bills lost these matchups to New England and Tennessee. They broke out the blue version for a visit from the Dolphins, reeling after the firing of head coach Dick Jauron. Happy times briefly returned to The Ralph, however, as the Bills once again used a 24-point quarter to their advantage. Miami led 14-7 entering the final 15 minutes, but Jackson opened the closer with a three-run scoring run to tie it. Most of the tally came over the final 3:35 of game time. Lindell’s 56-yard boot, a career-long, gave Buffalo the lead for good before Drayton Florence’s interception got them the ball back. Terrell Owens cashed in on the very next play with a 51-yard scoring grab from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Another turnover, this one being a Whitner interception, allowed Jackson to add some final insurance, a seven-yard run by Jackson that gave interim head coach Perry Fewell the first of three victories.

9/15/13: He’s the Manuel

Bills fans may well be somewhat spoiled with Josh Allen in town, as some may have already forgotten the failed franchise quarterbacks that preceded his arrivals. Florida State’s EJ Manuel was one of those final attempts. For a brief moment, clad in the white throwback, it truly felt like Manuel was going to be the man to lead the franchise into the future.

Engaged in a back-and-forth thriller with the Carolina Panthers, the Bills trailed 23-17 with 98 seconds remaining. Manuel’s arm accounted for every single yard of the ensuing 80-yard drive that led to victory, capping things off with a two-yard touchdown pass to Steve Johnson…ironcially caught with two seconds remaining in the fourth quarter…that sent Western New York into hysterics over a 24-23 victory. Alas for Manuel, longevity was not to be. He suffered an LCL injury less than three weeks later during a Thursday night game and was never the same upon his return.

9/14/14: Carpe 3’em

The Bills got off to a strong start in 2014, topping the Bears in overtime before opening their Orchard Park slate with a visit from the Dolphins. It turned out to literally be a special victory, as Dan Carpenter booted five field goals and C.J. Spiller brought a kick back 102 yards. On defense, Leodis McKelvin also had an interception, while Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams, Stefan Charles, and Mario Williams each had a sack in the 29-10 final.

9/13/15: Lucky 27

2015 was the introduction of the Bills’ trippy “Color Rush” uniforms, but the throwbacks kept their early season slot. The aesthetic allowed Buffalo to start the Rex Ryan era off on the right note, scoring the first 24 points in what became a 27-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Tyrod Taylor likewise enjoyed a strong debut in Western New York, tallying 195 yards through the air and 41 on the ground. His first Buffalo touchdown was a 51-yard toss to Percy Harvin on the final play of the first quarter. Karlos Williams and Anthony Dixon scored on the ground, complementing a defensive performance that saw interceptions from Ronald Darby and Aaron Williams.

12/31/17: Miami Nice

The Bills’ first playoff appearance in nearly two decades is unusual in that everyone seems to remember the finishing touch: Andy Dalton’s comeback against Baltimore that fulfilled the postseason caveat. But Dalton’s shining moment wouldn’t have meant anything if the Bills didn’t take care of business during their Week 17 visit to Miami. Each team ended the year in a time machine, with the Dolphins likewise clad in their 1970s-inspired throwbacks.

Buffalo responded in perfect fashion, building a 19-0 lead through a strong game from every side of the ball. Taylor kicked off scoring with a 26-yard touchdown toss to Nick O’Leary before allowing Steven Hauschka to take over with three field goals in the onslaught. In the interim, six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams lined up as a fullback and scored on a one-yard push to help put Miami away. Buffalo took the game 22-16 before returning to the locker room to watch Dalton work his magic.

11/25/18: Revenge is Best Served Old

Ten months after the Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars played to a 10-3 victory for the latter in the AFC wild card playoffs, each team’s return trip was more or less canceled, the two sides saddled with losing records in late November. But Buffalo did earn a quantum of revenge in the rematch, topping the Jaguars in a 24-21 tilt in their vintage threads. It was one of the earliest displays of power from Josh Allen, as the rookie quarterback scored through both the air (Robert Foster being the lucky recipient from 75 yards out) and ground for the first time in front of a Western New York crowd. Isaiah McKenzie had the lone non-Allen touchdown, while Poyer and Matt Milano had interceptions.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees Analysis: When the Yankees address starting pitching, don’t forget the bullpen

The New York Yankees have issues. When it comes to pitching, that is an understatement. With Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ gone to free agency, the Yankees have some holes to fill. When the Yankees fill those holes, they need to do it with pitchers that can give them innings, reducing the bullpen’s stress and overuse. During the last dynasty years, the Yankees had pitchers that could do that and even pitched complete games.  When they didn’t, they had Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland, Medoza, Lloyd, and Rivera.

We all know the record of Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, but the strength of the bullpen was their set up men. Of Ramiro Medoza, Mike Stanton, Graeme Lloyd, and Jeff Nelson, four won 25 games for the Yankees in 1998. Every starting pitcher had a winning record. Of the Yankees 2020 six starters, only two had winning records. A big difference is that the bullpen this year had to pitch more innings based on a 162 game season than in 1998.

That brings me back to the Yankee’s need for length from their starters. Gerrit Cole and Deivi Garcia were the only starting pitchers to go more than 5 1/2 innings per game, and even Cole only went 6.08 innings per game. Ideally, in this age when pitchers don’t pitch complete games anymore, you would like to see your starters go seven innings leaving just the setup man and closer to close out the game. Of course, that is not realistic, making middle relief really important.

When looking at the bullpen as it now stands, you must remember that the New York Yankees will be without the services of Tommy Kahnle all of next season as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. So we have Chad Green, Johnathan Holder, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman as the core left in the pen.  That’s great, but they can’t pitch in all 162 games. The Yankees need at least one more dependable arm in the pen, and that is in addition to Clark Schmidt, Jonathan Loaisiga, Miguel Yajure, Luis Cessa. Abreu, King, Kriske, and Lyons all pretty much bombed out and cant’ be counted on.

It seems that Cessa and Loaisiga have been criticized for their performance during the 2020 season. I don’t quite get that Cessa didn’t lose any games for the Yankees and Loaisiga was 3-0 in twelve games, three of which he started. He is young and has time to blossom. Ottavino has another year on his contract, but after failing two years in a row, he won’t be much help next season unless he can figure things out.

All the talk this offseason is on the importance of re-signing DJ LeMahieu and getting a number two premium starter, and rightly so, but don’t forget the bullpen. The bottom line to winning the division and succeeding in the postseason is effective starting pitching, a lineup that consistently hits, and yes, a bullpen that can win games when the starting pitching fails. Usually, you have to have all three components operating at a high level.

With Kahnle gone, ideally, the Yankees should add two quality arms to the 2021 bullpen. Here are some suggestions: Liam Hendriks, $6 million. Hendriks was one of the game’s top relievers over his last two seasons in Oakland. In 2019, he posted a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 75 appearances. He was just as dominant in 2020—32-year-old Alex Colome. In 2020, Colomé posted a sparkling 0.81 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 21 appearances with the White Sox. Shane Greene put up solid numbers in 2020 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 28 appearances for the Braves.  The Yankees could also deal on the trade market, but it doesn’t seem to be the way to go with so many in free agency.

Acquiring Liam Hendriks, the closer for the Athletics, would give manager Aaron Boone the ability to mix and match Hendriks, Britton, and Chapman to suit the opposing hitter in must-win games. I have never been and still am not a big Chapman supporter; although his stats are good, he most often seems to fail in the most important moments. Having three closer types might seem extreme, but it seems really good to me. Hendriks would also not put a huge dent in the New York Yankee finances.