Yankee slugger Aaron Judge makes bold prediction
New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has been full of surprises this off-season. So far, the headline is that he married his long-time girlfriend, Samantha Bracksieck two weekends ago in a secret tropical wedding at Maui, Hawaii. But, thatâ€™s not all; he has now made a bold prediction.
Last season Judge had a beast of a season, carrying the team on his back, in his first fully healthy season since 2017. He hit .287 with 39 home runs while batting in nearly 100. He now has made the bold prediction that he will hit at least 50 home runs during his 2022 campaign. Looking at it seriously, itâ€™s not out of the question. He hit 57 in 2017. The question will be if he can stay healthy to accomplish the lofty goal.
With Judge becoming a free agent for the first time at the end of the 2022 season, the other big question is if the Yankees will offer him a mega-contract keeping him as a lifelong Yankee. Unfortunately for the Yankees and Judge, will it get ugly when it comes time to do that? Most of it will depend on staying healthy two seasons in a row. If he canâ€™t, the Yankees will be reluctant to extend him long-term.
Where will all the remaining big names end up?
If you want to believe Sports Illustrated, post-CBA doesn’t look good for the Yankees as it predicts where all the big remaining names will go, none of which go to the Yankees. The big bait out there, Carlos Correa, regardless of the news, will probably end up with his old manager A J Hinch, who is now managing the Detroit Tigers. Another big name favored by the Yankees, Freddie Freeman, will resign with the Atlanta Braves.
The Yankees have been targeting Trevor Story for a shortstop replacement. SI that previously had him going to the Rangers have switched gears and are now sending him to the Houston Astros to fill the Correa gap. There havenâ€™t been many predictions that show a quality starting pitcher to the Yankees, but recently the name Carlos Rodon has come up as a possible fit for the Yankees; quell that, SI has him going to the rival Boston Red Sox.
You can also scratch outfielder and catcher Kyle Schwarber from playing in the Bronx; he will be going to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The only signing that seems safe is the first baseman Anthony Rizzo returning to the Yankees. In a bizarre suggestion, there are some rumors that nut-case Zack Grienke of the Astros could end up with the Yankees. Letâ€™s hope not.
How are the Yankees doing in Winter Ball?
Several Yankees have played winter ball in the Dominican Republic; their results arenâ€™t exactly promising. Aaron Hicks played in 12 games, not producing; the only thing he has shown the Yankees is that he can stay healthy for twelve games. Miguel Andujar has been nothing short of a disaster in winter ball, hitting .161 and no home runs in eight games. He has to be hoping he will be traded with no position to play with the Yankees and his below-average defense.
Estevan Florial wasnâ€™t much better; he hit .167 in nine games. Once a top Yankee prospect, his halo is quickly dimming. Florial has power and speed as his main attributes, but to show those off, you have to hit the ball; he strikes out far too much to be of any value.
On the pitching side, Luis Media was 0-0, 4.92 ERA, two starts, 3 2/3 IP, 6 K, 4 BB. Baseball America ranks Medina as the teamâ€™s No. 9 prospect, primarily due to his high 90sâ€™ fastball. Donâ€™t look for Media to be a starter for the Yankees any time soon. His lack of control challenges his fastball. He will probably start the season with the AA Somersets. If he starts at Scranton, he could be a piece out of the bullpen for the Yankees.
Right-hand pitcher Albert Abreu went 3-3, 2.25 ERA, 6 starts, 24 IP, 11 K, 10 BB. Abreuâ€™s ERA is impressive, but he walks too many hitters. He will likely be in the Yankees bullpen as a last resort piece with his history and numbers. Catcher Rob Brantly didnâ€™t exactly ring any bells in winter ball. He hit .125 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K, 0 BB, 8 AB, 2 games. Nevertheless, he will end up as the number one catcher at Scranton and the backup for Kyle Higashioka in the Bronx.
Now on the bright side: Outfielder Michael Beltre hit .293 with five RBIs, nine strikeouts, and two walks. He will likely start the season with the Rail Riders with his outfield depth and excellent showing at double-A Somerset. Should we have trouble in center, you could see him with the big team sometime in the season.
The most encouraging sign for the Yankees is Wandy Peralta, the righty that made an impact last season. In winter ball, he went Â 3-0, 3.72 ERA, 11 appearances, 9 2/3 IP, 15 K, 3 BB. He looks to be a mid to late-inning reliever again this season in the Bronx.
Is Jonathan Villar a fit for the Yankees?
There has been recent talk that Jonathan Villar could be a stop-gap measure for the Yankees, not at short but at third base. That move would require the Yankees to move Gio Urshela to short, where he performed well last season when needed.
With Anthony Volpe and Osward Peraza in the wings and probably ready for the 2023 season, the Yankees donâ€™t appear to be ready to hire a big name to fill the spot at short, long term. Villar hits better than most stop-gap shortstop options out there but is not much of an upgrade for Torres at short, thus the third base suggestion where his defense is better. Villar has speed but lacks the home run numbers the Yankees would like to see. He may be a fit, but it also piques the question: What will become of DJ LeMahieu if the Yankees sign Anthony Rizzo as their 2022 first baseman?
Yankees create a bright Christmas for Bronx youth
For the twelfth year in a row, the Yankees have held their Christmas toy even to benefit the underserved kids of the Bronx that surrounds Yankee Stadium. Their Winter Wonderland Event Friday has delivered thousands of toys to local school children.
â€œEverybody knows the Yankees for being a champion on the field, but that same drive and focus is part of our commitment to being a productive member of this community,â€ said Brian Smith, the Yankeesâ€™ senior vice president of corporate community relations. â€œWeâ€™re happy to put a smile on these young peoplesâ€™ faces during the holiday season.â€
In years previous to 2020, the event was held in the big hall at Yankee Stadium, where a child could come in a pick a toy of their choice. Unfortunately, last year and this year, that could not happen due to Covid restrictions. This season the event was held outside Yankee Stadium, but most of the toys will be distributed by the New York Yankee Partners right up until Christmas day.