New York Yankees: After doing little the Yankees have three huge signings in one day

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Yesterday was a big news day for the New York Yankees. The day started with the news that the Yankees were close to a deal with their main priority, the signing of DJ LeMahieu. As the day quickly progressed, we learned that the Yankee signing would give both sides the negotiations they were looking for. The Yankees got a signing that would only cost them $15 million annually, and LeMahieu would get the security he was looking for with a six-year deal that would most likely lead to his retirement.

But the Yankees weren’t done shortly thereafter; they signed their second most important player to a contract extension. They signed Aaron Judge to a one year deal at $10.175 million contract as he avoided arbitration. That amount is pretty much on target with what he would have gotten in arbitration. So at the end of the day, two of the most important Yankee players are happy to be in pinstripes again.

For general manager Brian Cashman, he worked his magic again. By waiting out LeMahieu, he managed to get the star for much less than the industry was projecting. Most thought it would take $20-$25 million to land LeMahieu, especially with many teams interested in him. But unfortunately for DJ, the depressed market for free agents wasn’t going to let that happen. Cashman waited it out and then bounced on DJ with a surprise six-year contract, even beyond his five-year demand. The deal shocked the YES Network’s, Michael Kay.

After DJ refused the New York Yankees only qualifying offer, the Yankees made it clear that they wanted him back, and he made it clear that he wanted to remain a Yankee where he had the most success in his career during the two-year span with the club. He said he liked playing in New York and like his teammates. The Yankees wanted him to remain as well but were not going to overpay to keep him with the team that had other needs while staying under the luxury tax threshold that own Hal Steinbrenner wanted to try to achieve.

In a huge third big move, the Yankees have signed Corey Kluber. ESPN’s Jeff Passan was first to report that the Yankees have agreed to a deal with the former two-time Cy Young Award winner. Details have not yet been revealed, but I heard this morning that the Yankees wanted a one year deal.

The 34-year-old Kluber won’t pull in that type of contract, but as a two-time American League Cy Young winner, he’s clearly a high-profile pickup for a Yankees team need of help in their starting pitching rotation. Kluber means the New York Yankees will have a premium number two starter in the pitching rotation after ace Gerrit Cole. If Kluber can return to his former form, that could produce stats very close to Cole and s needed two punch in the rotation that the Yankees need to their otherwise untested pitchers. It’s definitely a low-risk high reward move by the Yankees. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today the deal will pay Kluber $11 million to be a Yankee pitcher.

New York Yankees extend Aaron Judge, avoid arbitration

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees were busy on Friday, as general manager Brian Cashman inked start infielder DJ LeMahieu to a six-year, $90 million deal. This will pay DJ $15 million per season, coming far under the expected number that was previously reported.

Most believed he would land in the $20-25 million range, but given his age at 32, by the time this contract comes to an end, he will be 38 years old.

Nonetheless, LeMahieu is one of their most important players and won the batting title in 2020 with a .364 average.

The Yankees didn’t finish their moves with LeMahieu, though, as they also avoided arbitration with star slugger Aaron Judge.

As per Bob Nightingale of USA Today, Judge agreed on a $10.175 million deal to avoid arbitration. That fits well with his projected salary for the 2021 season, especially considering he played in just over half of the games in 2020. He finished with a .257 average with nine homers and 22 RBIs.

This is a good deal for the Yankees, who now have their two most important players, arguably, coming back in 2021. Hopefully, Judge will move on from the calf injury that plagued him last year and will be able to produce more efficiently and consistently in 2021.

New York Yankees Analysis: The Yankees need to prevent injuries in 2021

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees had another rocky baseball season in 2020 due to several reasons, not the least of which is being plagued with injuries at key times during the season. Injuries during the season, of course, we’re not limited to the Yankees, but the Yankees sure did have many of them that affected the team’s play.

The season for most fans was painful; even at one point, it looked as if the Yankees wouldn’t even reach the postseason at all. But the fact of the matter was that the Yankees as a whole didn’t play poorly, and they did make the postseason, although they exited too early. If you remember, the team seemed as though it would never lose when they started the season 8-1. But that soon changed. As the season started, it looked as if Aaron Judge was headed for the MVP of the league as he hit 9 homers in just 14 games. Also, for the Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton was the Yankee’s best hitter.

But then the New York Yankees bogeyman showed up.  From August 8th to August 15th, the Yankees saw LeMahieu, Judge, and Stanton all land on the Injured List. The Yankees record went from good to bad quickly. The lineup changed dramatically with Thairo Estrada, Tyler Wade, and Mike Ford filling in for the missing trio. It also was happening at the same time that the Yankees were facing the Tampa Bay Rays.  After previously losing games to the Rays, this time missing the trio, they swept the Yankees.

The following that, the Yankees had another stop and start, after having a broken up spring training. The Yankees sat on their hands for six days when Mets players tested positive for the coronavirus. When they came back from the layover, they didn’t play much better. In fact, they lost seven games in a row and found themselves at 16-13. The Yankees bounced back, winning their next 3 games, but then they faced the Tampa team again. This was the series when Aroldis Chapman pitched at Brosseau’s head. The Yankees lost 6 of 8 games. Again during this period, the Yankees injury bug hit. Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres, and Aaron Hicks all found themselves on the injury list.

Injuries are not the only reason the Yankees didn’t have the season that they wanted to have. The coronavirus itself had an effect on the season, causing stress that players reacted to differently. Many players rely on the video room to check what they have done or make adjustments. Due to health protocols, the video room was closed throughout the season. There are several reasons the Yankees had a less than expected season. The Yankees pitching was off all season and led to their demise in the postseason.

The New York Yankees have to find a way to keep players on the field. The Yankees have one of the most talented lineups in baseball. But that talent doesn’t help if key players are out of the lineup for prolonged periods. Hopefully, now that the new strength and conditioning staff has been in place for a full season, they will work with players differently to prevent preventable injuries.

 

 

 

New York Yankees: There is a path to the postseason, even with young pitchers

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton

It’s no secret for New York Yankee fans that Yankees need pitching help after Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J. A Happ all walking into free agency.  It only leaves ace Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, and a host of young, untested arms with those departures. Montgomery himself has never pitched a 162 game season. The Yankees also have bullpen problems with Tommy Kahnle going to the Dodgers after having Tommy John surgery and the Yankees allowing him to become a free agent.

Even with all these losses, the New York Yankees don’t seem likely to spend big for any substantial improvements. Both owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman have said they are satisfied with their pitchers. The Yankees could re-sign Masahiro Tanaka to a short term deal, but that in itself will not do much to improve the starting rotation.

Even with these pitching deficiencies, there is still a path to victory for the Yankees. Last year the Yankees came an out short of continuing in the postseason with less than perfect pitching, both from the starting rotation and from the bullpen. Here’s the deal… last year, the Yankees recorded an average of 5.3 runs per game. They reached that feat with both Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres struggling mightily. They also didn’t have the services of sluggers Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton that spent lengthy periods on the Injured list.

Aaron Judge was on a path to the best home run hitter in baseball when he became injured. He started the season hitting the most homers in MLB with 9 home runs in just 18 games. When he returned, judge’s problem was that he never regained his stride and hit no more homers until the postseason when he hit 3 in seven postseason games. Giancarlo Stanton, due to a prolonged period on the IL, only played in 23 games. He got 4 homers in the regular season. In the postseason, he exploded to show what he can do when healthy; he got 6 homers in seven games driving in 13 Yankees.

Both Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres had hitting troubles all season. Sanchez hit just .147 on the season, Torres only hit at the .247 level with only three home runs in the regular season. He did get two more in the postseason, but this is after hitting 38 long balls during the 2019 season. So with a lineup of nine Yankees, four of them didn’t do their jobs, but the Yankees still averaged 5.3 home runs a game. They also suffered from long stretches when no one hit well.

Generally speaking, many players suffered poor seasons with all teams, mostly caused by the broken-up spring training and the coronavirus. Many industry experts say you can’t use the 2020 season as an accurate measure of a player’s ability.

All the players mentioned have had seasons with more than 30 home runs; Stanton in 2018 (38), Judge in 2017 (57), Sanchez 2019 (34), and Gleyber Torres 2019 (38). And we can’t forget to mention this year’s baseball home run leader Luke Voit who hit 22 long balls. In a regular 162 game season, that is the equivalent of 59.4 homers, just two short of Roger Maris’s total in 1961.

If all these players can stay healthy and hit just 75% of the homers from their best years, the Yankees can easily add 1 run per game. The difference from 5.3 to 6.3 runs per game is huge. It means the Yankees should win far more games than in 2018 or 2019. And that’s if they can just achieve 75% of their best performance. If they can achieve even closer to those best years, they will have an easy path to the postseason and beyond.

But make no mistake, the New York Yankee pitchers have to keep the opposing teams to a minimum of runs scored. They can only do that with good pitching and a bullpen that can close out games. Manager Aaron Boone should think seriously of mix and matching closers to the opponent. No matter the team problems, the Yankees can find a path to another World Series win.

 

New York Yankees Analysis: Optimistically the 2021 season could be 1961 all over again

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

With all the questions facing the New York Yankees going into the 2021 season, today, I thought I would take a wildly optimistic look at what the season could look like for the Yankees. The Yankees have the potential to have one of the greatest years in baseball history.

This is an unusual article for me to write because I am a strong believer in Murphy’s law.  And my belief in that law has been pretty well cemented by the Yankee’s performance during the past decade. But also buried in the back of my head is the thought that with a stroke of luck, my Murphy’s law stance could be blown out of the water.

During 1961 the entire baseball world watched the New York Yankees, and it’s two stars that battled the entire season to see who would have the most home runs. As it turned out, Roger Maris beat out Mickey Mantle for the title. Maris had the most home runs ever for any team with 61, and Mantle, who had injuries at the end of the season, ended up with a very respectable 54 home runs.

Continuing with my optimistic approach to the 2021 season, the Yankees could have a year like that this season, and maybe even greater. In 2017 Giancarlo Stanton had 59 home runs and was named the National League MVP. That same year Yankee slugger Aaron Judge burst onto the baseball scene, hitting 52. They hit 111 home runs between the two sluggers, just four short of Mantle and Maris’s feat.

But the Yankees this season could do even better than that. During 2019 Gleyber Torres leads the Yankees with 38 home runs. In 2020 Luke Voit led all of baseball with 22 home runs in a shortened season. That during a normal season beats Stanton MVP year with 59.4 home runs. During 1961 the New York Yankee team hit 240 home runs and won the World Series over the Cincinnati Reds in five games. Putting together the four present Yankee player’s best home run years, it totals 208 home runs without another Yankee hitting a long ball. So, although not realistic, the Yankee could exceed the 1961 season.

But unfortunately, getting back to reality, we get back to Murphy’s law. In order to accomplish the above-described feat, you have to stay on the field to hit those home runs. Also, home runs alone do not win a World Series. Although Mantle was injured a bit more than Maris, they basically stayed on the field. The opposite is true of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. We’ve seen Stanton play a grand total of 41 regular-season games out of the 222 the Yankees played over the past two seasons. Judge was a bit better playing  130 of those games; still, he was off the field 92 games.

There is no question that both of these stars can hit home runs when healthy, even still today. In 2020 Aaron Judge led all of baseball in home runs before he went on the IL. Stanton, for his part, hit a near-record six home runs in the postseason when healthy. I say near-record because those who have hit more only did it because they participated in a World Series that Stanton didn’t.

If you noticed in my slugger totals, I did not include Gary Sanchez, who has the ability to hit 30, 40, or more home runs a season. Unfortunately for Sanchez, other than this year, he can’t stay on the field either.

We have been talking about home runs, but you don’t win a World Series on home runs alone, as I said earlier. You have to have hitters that can get on base to make those home run even more important. And folks, you also have to have good pitching, which at the moment the Yankees sorely lack. The 1961 rotation included Whitey Ford 25-4, Luis Arroyo 15-5, Ralph Terry 16-3, Rollie Sheldon 11-5, and Bill Stafford 14-9.

If anyone believes we can get that pitching production this upcoming season, and can at the same time have a 1961 type hitting year, then my friends, you haven’t heard of Murphy’s law.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Will Aaron Judge have a new batting stance in 2021? (video)

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge got off to a torrid start at the beginning of the New York Yankees 2020 shortened season. He hit nine home runs in the first fourteen games of the season. He then had a calf strain while playing at Tropicana Field. He was out for over two weeks. When he returned, he never hit another home run for the remainder of the regular season. He went from hitting more home runs than any other baseball player to not hitting any. What was different? Was it lingering pain from the injury, or was it a chance in his batting stance?

Aaron Judge has tinkered with his batting stance several times in his short career. Most of it involved a toe tap. He has also changed from a closed stance to a much more wide stance, and back and forth according to what pitcher he is facing. He also adjusts how he holds his bat base on whether he is facing a left or right-handed pitcher.  He is notorious for these changes. It could be these changes cause him to go from hot to stone cold. He had an obvious change to his stance late and 2019, and he improved dramatically.

Now in this offseason, Judge has continued to work out and work on his hitting. He posted a video of him hitting with an apparent new rather extreme toe-tap to his Twitter account. I am certainly not an expert on batting mechanics, but at first glance at what he is working on doesn’t seem to be all that good. I don’t see how falling off the base when swinging is beneficial.

Of course, he did say that he is working on it. Hopefully, whatever he refines it into will lead to greater success than he exhibited late in the regular season last year. With a bit of a toe tap in the postseason, the slugger hit three home runs in seven games played. But, that is all he did; he struck out ten times and batted a miserable .133. In the 2021 season, the New York Yankees will need Judge to stay healthy, hit for power, and when he doesn’t find a way to get on base and drive in runs.

New York Yankees Analysis: Four Yankees must prove themselves in 2021 or they may be gone

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

This whole article on the New York Yankees goes on the premise that the Yankees will not make any surprising blockbuster moves, such as making moves that include pitching star Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, or securing Francisco Lindor’s services. With the extreme amount of money the Yankees lost last year and the cloudy future ahead, it is a relatively safe bet they will not be spending big. They are more likely to make minor tweaks to the existing staff.

If this scenario holds true, four New York Yankees will be in the spotlight this upcoming season. If they don’t perform, quite frankly, their days in Yankee pinstripes might be over. Those players are Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Domingo German. I have to remind you that this is very young in the offseason, and many changes could affect these players’ outcomes.

Gary Sanchez:

The  New York Yankees and its fans have really soured on catcher Gary Sanchez even his most ardent supporters. He got so bad last season that he was actually sat down at times toward the end of the season and in most of the postseason, in favor of backup catch Kyle Higashioka. When your backup catcher is trusted more than your starting catcher, that isn’t good.

It appears, regardless of trade rumors, is that Gary Sanchez will be around in some form next season. But, if he doesn’t improve, he could be on some other team for 2022. He must prove this season that he can stay healthy in a 162 games season, improve his defense, and strike out less and become more of a contact hitter that does’ constantly chase pitches out of the zone. It is very likely that in 2021 he will find himself platooned more often with Kyle Higashioka making finding his stride even more difficult. It is good to see him playing winter ball in the Dominican; hopefully, he can improve by doing this.  The bottom line here is that the Yankees can’t have a player that hits .147 taking up room in the lineup.

Aaron Judge:

Aaron Judge is on this list for a far different reason, but it is just as concerning. Judge has immense talent that is unquestioned. The problem with Judge is that that talent is totally wasted if he can’t stay on the field; it is purely potential going unrealized. With Judge due to make some serious money, he will have to have two seasons where he remains relatively healthy to have any chance of a long-term contract. If he doesn’t, he might find himself on the chopping block.

Judge started the year at a torrid rate hitting an amazing nine home runs in just seventeen games and, at one point, a home run in six straight games for the New York Yankees. But then the injury bug that has dogged him throughout his career hit, with a calf strain. Upon his return, he injured it again, allowing him to play in less than half the games in this coronavirus shortened season. When Judge returned, he never hit another home run in the remainder of the regular season, again not allowing him to show his real worth as a Yankee superstar.

Gleyber Torres:

First, Torres most likely has fewer chances of being cut from the New York Yankees due to his young age, talent, and ability to improve. Nevertheless, he must improve. Whether he remains at short or is moved to second base, he must improve his defense. And after a very sub-par season at the plate, he must also show the Yankees he can hit again.

Torres had a far from a stellar season at short. At one point in the season, he had the most errors in baseball. After a season and a half at the position, the Yankees realize that he may not get better and have to find a way to keep the potential Yankee star in the lineup. In 2019 he had the most home runs (38) of any Yankee. He didn’t play all that well at the plate either this past season, but that is likely more of a blip in the young man’s career that he will hopefully recover from. If he doesn’t fix either of these areas, he may not be as lucky as Sanchez, who continued to receive the support that is now lacking, which may not be extended to Torres.

Domingo German:

German is still another situation. German made a horrible decision to slap his wife in public and get suspended for 81 games. Owner and Chief Operating Officer Hal Steinbrenner has already made it clear that he has to show that he is a changed man before he will be allowed to return. To make his way back to the Yankees, German impresses greatly while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He has pitched nine innings, only giving up one run in his first two games while striking out eight.

If indeed the Yankees do take him back and surely need to help solve the Yankees pitching woes, he must perform. In 2019 he was the Yankees winningness pitcher going 18-4. The Yankees certainly could have used that this past season. If he can come close to that, he may be on the team for years to come. He is a free agent after the 2024 season. If he doesn’t perform as expected, the Yankees considering his moral baggage, may not be worth keeping him around.

The bottom line in all of this is that these New York Yankee players must improve in 2021. With Gary Sanchez, it is hard to see how he will improve after three seasons with no improvement. Torres has hope, and with Judge, much of it is out of his control; he must stay on the field. If the majority of these players can’t improve or even get worse, the Yankees may find themselves in a complete rebuild, further distancing them from another World Series win.

 

 

New York Yankees Report Card: Aaron Judge, Yankee superstar or complete bust?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

In 2017 the New York Yankees thought they had their next Yankee superstar, much like Mikey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio, that was not to be as young Aaron Judge had been riddled with constant injuries that have left his stardom unrealized.

Aaron Judge’s report card this past season shows a B+.

Judge started the year at a torrid rate hitting an amazing nine home runs in just seventeen games and, at one point, a home run in six straight games for the New York Yankees. But then the injury bug that has dogged him throughout his career hit, with a calf strain. Upon his return, he injured it again, allowing him to play in less than half the games in this coronavirus shortened season. When Judge returned, he never hit another home run in the remainder of the regular season, again not allowing him to show his real worth as a Yankee superstar.

Judge is a starting outfielder and home run hitter for the New York Yankees, we know his stats, and we know of his injuries, and we know how popular he is with Yankee fans. But taking a closer look at that super tall hulk of a macho man is actually a super representation of what it means to live up to the Yankees’ ideals. Many think that past Yankee Star Derek Jeter was the epitome of that ideal. Time will tell, but if how Aaron Judge conducts his life is an example of the man he is, he may well give Derek Jeter a run for his money.

It was difficult to get to know the players other than their performance on the field in years past. Sportswriters would report on the day’s game and the stats, but often any personal information about them only came out if they had a bar fight, got arrested, or some other publishable news. Today all that has changed. Some players are very private about their private lives, and others like Aaron Judge regularly participate in social media that reveal much about their experiences.

So what have we learned about that superstar Aaron Judge?  Obviously, he’s a star baseball player, but he also loves football, especially watching the playoff games.  He loves his friends and fellow players; he instead praises a fellow player than talk about himself.  He loves dogs and is a big fan of children that love baseball. He is more profound than many may think.  His Twitter header carries the Corinthians  For we live by faith, not by sight.”  His very first post reads as follows:

Christian. Faith, Family, then Baseball. “If what you did yesterday still seems big today, then you haven’t done anything today!”

Judge loves children. He makes every attempt to greet them to sign baseballs and give them his gloves, bat, or cap. He frequently pulls them from the stands so their parents can get a photo of their child with the Yankee star. Many would feel that doing this was a chore, but just watching Judge, you can tell he loves it, even seeking out young Yankee fans in away parks. It is not uncommon to see him play catch with young New York Yankee fans when there is a play pause.

Aaron Judge has a long-time girlfriend, Samantha Bracksieck, who were high school sweethearts and attended Fresno State University together. Bracksieck earned a graduate degree in exercise science and is an aspiring professor.

Basically, Aaron Judge is that star player that is everything a Yankees fan could want in a Yankee player. Unfortunately, he will never be that next Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio due to his inability to stay healthy and stay on the field, even to the point that there is a thought of actually trading him away to get a needed pitcher. The Yankee’s front office and fans alike would like to see him return to the player he was in 2017 when he hit a league-leading 52 home runs and was named the Rookie of the Year.

Just imagine nine home runs in just seventeen games this year. What could he have done in the 60 game season if he had stayed healthy? At that rate, he would have been the home run hitter of the season and the MVP of the season unquestionably. Everything with Judge and his future with any team is if he can keep himself on the field. Only time will tell if his potential can be realized.

New York Yankees: I batted .400 on my 2020 season projections, a look back

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton

About a week before the New York Yankees 2020 shortened season started, I made my annual top 10 predictions for the upcoming season. Writers seldom look back at those mostly failed predictions not to embarrass themselves because making predictions is a risky business, kind of like guessing what the weather will be a month from today. Well, as it turned out, I batted .400, which isn’t very good unless you’re a baseball player. Anyway, today I have my big boy pants on and will discuss where I went wrong.

10.  Gary Sanchez will be second in home runs!

Gary Sanchez with fight Giancarlo Stanton for the second-most home runs in the season.  His defense behind the plate will again improve, showing the results of his work with new pitching coach Tanner Swanson.  Sanchez may have his first injury-free season, mostly due to the shortened season. He will catch in just 40 games with Kyle Higashioka will be catching in the remaining games.  With Stanton and Sanchez, who wins the title of 2nd most home runs, will rest on who can stay injury-free.

I eked out a win on this one. He did come in second in home runs, tied with DJ LeMahieu, with 10 apiece. Luke Voit has the most at 22 to lead baseball. Other than his home runs, he had a pretty miserable season, eventually losing out to Kyle Higashioka, who became Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher. Late in the season, Sanchez was often sat, including in the postseason.

9.  DJ LeMahieu will be good, but not as good!

DJ LeMahieu, after a slow start, will have a good season, being on base frequently.  His defense will be MVP-like, but his time behind the plate will not be as effective.  His slow start may be due to not starting on time and remaining somewhat weak early on due to his coronavirus infection.  His last 30 games will be better than his first 30. Instead of his .327 leading batting average, he will end up the season in the .280’s.

Boy, was I wrong on this one? Rather than being good, he was even better in the 2020 season. His excellent defense had him playing at all three infield bases. He finished the season an MVP candidate with another Silver Slugger Award and winning the baseball batting title, the first player to do that in both leagues.

8. Clint Frazier will shine in his first full season!

A more mature Clint Frazier will finally prove to the Yankees that he is worth having on the team.  He will show his determination by fighting through a season with a foot ailment.  His improved fielding will be needed this season, and his quick bat will make him a DJ LeMahieu-like player for the Yankees in this short season.

This one I got correct. Although he didn’t play at the beginning of the season, when he did, he proved to manager Aaron Boone that he had the stuff to be an excellent player for the Yankees. He did mature and, at times, dazzled Yankee fans with his much-improved defense.

7. Does Giancarlo Stanton return to the player he was in 2017?

Giancarlo Stanton will have a relatively healthy season with the Yankees. He will show signs of the type of player that got him the MVP Award with the Marlins in 2017.  Although he will not top the team in home runs, he will have fewer strikeouts and be more productive.  If he stays healthy, he could be second in home runs.

I’m counting this one as wrong, although some of it is true. We will never know as he again had injuries keeping him out of the lineup, although he did come on strong in the waning days of the season and postseason.

6. Gerrit Cole will not lose a 2020 game!

After going 20-5 with the Houston Astros, Gerrit Cole will again shine for the New York Yankees.  Although he will not lose a game, he will have two or three no-decisions in his ten or eleven starts in the short season.  The Yankee’s excellent bullpen will keep him from losing games.  In the postseason, he will pitch to the greatness of the Yankee’s Andy Pettitte. I want to add that Justin Verlander will not replicate his 2019 and that Cole will win the Cy Young Award. He has come in 4th and 5th, last year, 2nd in the voting.  This year he will win it as New York Yankee.

I guess this one was wishful thinking. At the time, his 2019 season made my projection a possibility. Although he pitched well, he seemed to struggle at times. Proving that he is a workhorse, he pitched more innings than any other Yankee pitcher. But he was far back in the Cy Young voting.

5. Gio Urshela will show 2019 was no fluke.

2019 was a break-out season for the man at the hot corner that replaced the injured Miguel Andujar, that underwent shoulder surgery. He made Gold Glove after Gold Glove catches at 3rd.  He surprised the team with his better than expected play behind the plate. Although he may not make his 2019 batting average of .314, he will nevertheless prove his worth behind the plate and the hot corner.

I won on this one; Gio was the same Gio as in his breakout season. He cements his place at the hot corner and hit .298 on the season with 6 home runs.

4. Aaron Judge will again have an injury-shortened season.

Aaron Judge will have an average season that he will not get through without further injuries. Although he will be 4th in home runs for the team, he will lack playing time in the field, even though manager Aaron Boone will be protective of him.  His oversized body and musculature will surely hamper his season again.

This seemed like a fairly safe bet before the season started, and it came true. As it turned out, he played in fewer than half of the games. He got off to a torrid start hitting 9 home runs, but he never had another home run after rejoining the team.

3. The Yankees will win 48 games in the short-season.

After the New York Yankees won 100 and 103 games during the last two seasons, they will win 48 games this year.  The Yankees will dominate their traditional rivals in the east along with the Miami Marlins.  The few games they will lose will mostly be with the Nationals, Phillies, and the Atlanta Braves. The addition of Gerrit Cole will offset the loss of Domingo German and Luis Severino.

I was big-time wrong on this one, although some other writers were saying the Yankees would win even more games. Lengthy stretches of losses and the Tampa Bay Rays put that hope on the backburner.

2. Gleyber Torres will be the Yankees MVP.

Gleyber Torres, although taking on a new job this season as the Yankee shortstop, will shine again, topping his 2019 performance, and will lead the team again in home runs and doubles.  He will win the MVP for his performance behind the plate.  Although he will not be the best of shortstops, his efforts to be the best will turn out to be adequate.

Nope, the 2020 season will be one that Gleyber Torres will most likely want to forget. After leading the home runs in 2019, he came in 11th in a 9 man lineup. Add to that he came in second in errors at short.

1. The New York Yankees will win their 28th World Championship.

Before the coronavirus struck and the season was shut down, the New York Yankees were the odds on favorites to win the division and the World Series. The shortened season has not changed that; in fact, the shutdown allowed injured players to recover and be ready for play at the beginning of the season.  Although there will be injuries, they will not come close to eclipsing 2019.  The shortened season will cause fewer injuries.

This seemed like a reasonable projection at the time, the Yankees were favored to win it all, but they didn’t come close to that, after losing the East Division to the much better Tampa Bay Rays. They did beat the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card Series, only to lose to the Rays in the ALCS.

I will probably be bold enough to tackle projections for the 2021 season as well. At the moment, it doesn’t look good for the New York Yankees. But we will have to see what they do to improve the team in their continual quest for that 28th World Championship.  The Yankees have won 27 of those championships, but we are quickly learning that the past is not a sign of the future.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Does slugger Aaron Judge have a future with the Yankees? (video)

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

For the New York Yankees, on April 27, 1992, an African American biracial baby was adopted by Wayne and Patty Judge a day after he was born; that baby was Aaron Judge. When Judge was old enough to understand, his parents told him he was adopted. In high school in California, Judge was a multi-sport star who eventually choose baseball as his sport.

Judge was heavily recruited by teams like Notre Dame, Stanford, and ULCA as a tight end, but Judge wanted to play baseball. He was selected in the 2010 draft by Oakland but wanted to attend college instead. He played for Fresno State, where he was named a Freshman All-American. In 2012 he won the TD Ameritrade College home run, Derby. During the summer of 2012, he played for the Brewster White Caps of the Cape Cod League. This is where I may have seen him play and when he was drafted #1 by the New York Yankees.

Judge quickly worked his way through the New York Yankees minor league system, and In 2016 Aaron Judge made his major league debut in August of the year. In his first at-bat, he hit a home run. He also hit a homer in his second game, becoming the only player to do that since 1980. But again, Judge found himself on the DL, this time with a right oblique strain, the same injury that has caused him not to play in 2015.

For the New York Yankees, right fielder Aaron Judge in 2017 quickly became the Yankees’ face as he had a historic season and was projected to become the Yankee Captain of the future. Just as historic as that season was, so has been his precipitous drop to be in a conversation to be used as a trading piece, as his performance has never come close to that 2017 season.

Seldom do Yankees fans talk about that season anymore; they usually talk about how he is so often injured and has to be replaced in the field and lineup. Judge has had injury after injury, not all his fault, but his huge size and musculature have been criticized as often as admired and as a cause for his frequent injuries.

In 2018, Judge did not play in 50 games as injuries plagued his season; he dropped from 52 home runs to only 27, which is still good. But he also dropped from 114 RBI’s to just 67, which is not good from a player that is supposed to be a star. In 2019 he played in even fewer games (102). He struck out 141 times, and his RBI’s continued to drop to just 55. Unfortunately for the Yankees and Judge, his 2020 season was even worse; he played in less than half the games, with only 22 RBI’s. In 2017 he walked 127 times, only 10 times this past season.

The New York Yankees brass, and the Yankee fans, began to wonder if the once most favorite player would ever be healthy enough to become that star they once thought he would be. It has actually gotten so bad that there has been scuttlebutt on the Internet that he might be considered a trading piece to help the Yankees get a premium type pitcher to help the Yankees solve their pitching ills. As the video below shows, Judge can still have power and is heralded for the monster home runs. But the bottom line is that the club needs players that can stay on the field and impact the team’s success.

2017 saw Judge have his historic season. He finished the season second in the voting in the AL MVP behind Altuve of the Astros (since then, we have learned that Altuve may have cheated his way to that award). During the 2017-18 offseason, he underwent shoulder surgery to repair cartilage. The disturbing injury concerns mounted.

Still, Judge was receiving accolades; the Yankees even set up a special spot for fans, the Judge’s chambers. But for all the fanfare, there are some cracks in the armor. Judge, mostly due to his size and musculature, is subject to injury. He also is subject to the strikeout. He became the first MLB player to record eight strikeouts in a doubleheader. It’s the most in a doubleheader since strikeouts for hitters were first recorded in 1910.

Judge started the New York Yankees 2019 season off strong with a .288 batting average, five home runs, and 11 RBI’s in 20 games played. However, on April 20, Judge suffered an oblique strain while hitting a single in the sixth inning against the Kansas City Royals. He was immediately placed on the IL without a timetable on when he’d be back. He ended up missing two months of the season.

2020 didn’t start well either. Judge came to spring training with a sore shoulder from a diving catch at the end of the 2019 season. That ended up be a collapsed lung and fractured rib that was going to cause him to miss the beginning of the season. As it turned out, the shortened season allowed him to be ready to play when the season started on July 23. Judge got off to a fiery start hitting 9 home runs in just 11 games. But then the injury bug hit again when he got a calf strain running the bases at Tampa.

Judge returned from the injury on August 26th; after more than two weeks in the IL, Judge never hit another home run in the regular season. Long story short, Judge drove in only 22 runs in the entire season. Brett Gardner got more hits than Judge.  Judge hit 9 home runs; Luke Voit hit 22. DJ LeMahieu scored 41 runs, Judge only 23, just ahead of Gary Sanchez. This past season solidly put DJ LeMahieu as the most popular Yankee and not Aaron Judge.

The not so secret path to success for Aaron Judge is his ability to stay healthy. There is no question that Judge has talent as immense as his body, but if he can’t stay on the field, that talent goes to waste. With the unthinkable talk of using him as a trading piece, this next season will be telling for Judge. If he stays healthy the whole season and has a great season, he may find himself with a contract extension. If he has another season of injuries and no impact on the season, Yankee fans may see him on that trading block with his value greatly reduced. Neither the Yankees nor any team will want a player that can’t stay healthy.

As quickly as the memory of his historic 2017 is fading away, so is his future with the New York Yankees.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.