New York Yankees: What should fans expect from Gerrit Cole in shortened 2020?

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

The New York Yankees are officially back in business, and they were shown on the field Thursday afternoon. Of course, the standout that everyone was excited to see is the Yankees ace, Gerrit Cole. The Yankees 326 million dollar man threw on Thursday against the likes of Aaron Judge and Luke Voit.

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You can feel the excitement from Yankees fans everywhere about Cole’s debut later this month. Of course the expectations are high for Cole, but what should fans expect in this shortened season from the ace?

The reality is that fans need to be realistic with their expectations for Cole. In a 60 game season, Cole is currently scheduled to get 12 starts assuming he stays healthy. Cole is not going to go 12-0 with a 0.00 ERA. It will only take one bad start to really inflate the numbers to give the appearance that Cole isn’t having an elite season.

New York Yankees & Gerrit Cole realistic expectations

If we are looking at the 12 starts, I think that 8-3 with a 3.37 ERA is a realistic line for Cole in his first season in pinstripes. Yes, the ERA is significantly higher than it was last year, but you have to keep in mind that Cole will be pitching in a new environment with less room for error. He’s still going to show everyone that he is arguably the best pitcher in the game, but there might be a slip-up here or there.

I think the Yankees need to go into this season with a World Series or bust mentality. However, fans should be realistic on the expectations for the individual players. Aaron Judge is not going to hit 300 with 25 home runs, and Gerrit Cole is not going to have an ERA under one. This season is going to be fast and furious, and with less room for error, fans’ patience is going to be running thin in the pressure cooker that is New York. I think Cole is going to show out this year, but it’s important to be realistic about what we should expect as fans.

New York Yankees: The Hot Stove will be back! MLB trade deadline set for August 31st

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

One of the most exciting parts of the season is the trade deadline. Every year, New York Yankees fans all congregate around to figure out who the Yankees might make a deal for. In the past couple of years the deadline hasn’t been the most exciting for Yankees fans, but it always keeps fans on the edge of their seats. With the shortened season, many were wondering about the trade deadline. With a 60 game season, would there be a trade deadline or would teams lose the opportunity to try to improve their team? Well, Tuesday evening we got our answer per Jayson Stark.

A little over one month after the season gets underway, we will see a trade deadline. This might be one of the more fascinating deadlines we’ve ever seen. It’s either going to be filled with rapid transactions or nothing will happen. Every year, Yankees fans start thinking about the July deadline. They think about the moves that Cashman can make the team better. They also start demanding that some players get traded after slow start. Well, normally players have a couple of months to go through up and downs. A player might have a down April, but if they really turn it on in the later months, they become a hot commodity on the trade market. We also see players start out incredibly hot, but fade quickly which makes them less hot on the market. Well, those hot starters are going to be the ones that teams are targeting if they need a boost in September.

Will the Yankees make any moves?

Given the current configuration of the Yankees roster, I doubt they try to make any big deals when this August deadline rolls around. Now, the injury bug could rear it’s ugly head in the first month which obviously could change things. The first month of the season is going to be wild. We are going to see teams going all out from the jump, and we are going to see trade conversations begin almost immediately. Get ready Yankee fans because this season is going to be fast and furious.

New York Yankees: With the shortened season, J.A. Happ will not return in 2021

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

The great news for New York Yankees fans is that baseball is coming back. Commissioner, Rob Manfred, is implementing a 60 game season that is expected to begin in late July. After all of the back and forth between the union and the owners, we are finally going to see some baseball. The season is going to be very interesting given the limit in games. I started thinking about the Yankees roster, specifically the starting rotation. One name caught my attention. The name that caught my attention was the name of the player that I wrote in my first article about for Empire Sports saying this man was inevitably going to be traded. That man would be starting pitcher, J.A. Happ.

The Yankees Vesting Mistake

So why did Happ’s name get my attention? Well the Yankees shopped Happ around in the winter after his horrendous 2019 season that saw him go 12-8 with a 4.91. If you take out his September which was actually really good, his numbers looked far worse. The Yankees signed Happ to a two-year deal worth $34 million in the 2018 offseason. Happ was a hot commodity and to sweeten the pot to secure the deal, the Yankees added in a vesting option for Happ. If he pitched over 160 innings during the 2020 season, Happ would automatically get a third year worth $17 million. Obviously, the Yankees regretted giving Happ this deal.

No innings, No 2021 pinstripes for J.A. Happ

I thought the Yankees would try to manipulate the innings somehow to prevent Happ from reaching his innings milestone. Given the amount of money the Yankees gave Gerrit Cole, and considering that they’re going to have others to pay, you had to think the Yankees were desperate to shed that contract. Well, now the Yankees don’t have to worry about it. With a 60 game season, there is going to be no way for Happ to hit his innings in 2020. With that in mind, the Yankees will let Happ walk after this year. The Yankees have plenty of options to fill his spot in the rotation, a spot that wasn’t even guaranteed going into this year. When the season starts, I hope that we see the Happ that we saw near the end of last season. If we see that guy, he will leave a good taste in the mouths of Yankee fans everywhere. Given the young talent the Yankees have, and their rotation depth, once the 2020 season is over, it’s time to say goodbye to ole J.A. Happ.

New York Yankees: Why This Will Be DJ LeMahieu’s Final Season in the Bronx

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

I was one of the many New York Yankees fans baffled as to why they let Didi Gregorius walk after the 2019 campaign ended. But, it seemed more than obvious that the Yankees front office was hell-bent on moving Gleyber Torres back to shortstop, allowing more regular playing opportunity for the biggest surprise in the 2018/2019 Yankees offseason, DJ LeMahieu. This is the final year of his $24 million contracts that he signed, and if we see him in action for the Bombers this season (if there is a season), I’m confident that it will be his final in pinstripes.

The Price for Second Basemen is Lower Than Shortstop

A top-flight second baseman will be a smaller price tag than a top-flight shortstop in both free agency and the trade market. DJ is going to be leading the 2021 free-agent class in 2021. Other names on that list include Jonathan Schoop and Villar, Freddy Galvis, Asdrubal Cabrerra, Kolten Wong, Jed Lowrie, and former Yankees Eduardo Nunez and Adeiny Hechavarria.

DJ is also going to be 32 years old when he hits free agency. With all the time off, DJ is going to be fresher for longer (as will the other Yankees) during this season. But the older he gets, the slower he’s going to become at the position that made him. Schoop, however, will be 29. The Yankees have seen plenty of what he can do with his time in Baltimore and those intense series against the Twins last season. Wong will be 30. While not that drastic of a difference in age from DJ, part of why the Yankees let the now 30-year-old Gregorius walk was his age, and how it will, undoubtedly, affect his ability to play short in the future. So, logically, the same rules will apply to DJ leMahieu.

Trading for a top-flight second baseman will also be cheaper than a top-flight shortstop. Trading for someone like Fransisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, Raul Mondesi, or Tim Anderson is going to result in a Yankee package that would have to include MINIMUM a Gleyber Torres, and Deivi Garcia package to start with. All of these shortstops I listed are under 30, nearing the prime of their careers, and are routinely included in the Top 20 best shortstops in baseball. Trading for someone comparable to LaMahieu both offensively, and defensively, will make it easier for the Yankees to absorb a loss of a Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar, or a Tommy Kahnle type in the deal, without having to be expected to trade 3-4 of their best prospects for a top-flight shortstop.

Then There’s the Gleyber Factor

Players around all pro sports leagues are gaining more and more power with their front offices. Part of what made the Machado deal fall apart for the Yankees is Machado wanted to play shortstop. He didn’t want to play third base. Gleyber has his future ahead of him and has already shown what he’s capable of doing when he hits his prime as an offensive player. We’re talking potential Triple Crown contender with what he’s done these first 2 years.

What if Gleyber doesn’t want to move back to second base when DJ leaves? If you sign Gleyber to a long term deal (a foregone conclusion at this point when he’s out of arbitration eligibility), to then move him back to second, if he wants to play short, he’ll ask for a trade so he can play short. That would be too harsh of a blow.

DJ’s Contract

As I stated, DJ is going to be 32 when he signs his next contract. Considering the numbers he put up last year in New York if that’s all teams will see of him when he goes to negotiate his next contract, why would he ask for anything else than a 7 year $150-250 million deal (that’s $21-36 million a year)? That’s the kind of salary people who put up 2019 DJ LaMahieu numbers offensively and defensively get. The Yankees have shown that they’re uneasy giving players north of 30 7 year deals, and they were hesitant about giving than 25-year-old Manny Machado a 10-year deal. If I’m DJ, I’m looking for one final long term deal, worth a bunch of money. And it’s just something that the Yankees are, more than likely, going to balk at considering the money owed both Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton.

I hope that a season happens, just so I can see DJ play as a Yankee again. It would be a shame to see him leave without seeing what he could do after that amazing first year. However, if there isn’t a season, I’ll be happy that it’ll mean no more JA Happ in pinstripes. I never understood why they signed him. And if he doesn’t reach the incentives in his contract for this year, then the third year can’t kick in.

MLB: California Could Be The Most Popular Hope for a 2020 Baseball Season

Today is May 4th, Star Wars Day. One year ago today, I was at Yankee Stadium. JA Happ was starting against the Twins and lost. It was the week where the Yankees tried to bring back Miguel Andujar, before agreeing he needed surgery to fix his torn labrum. As annoyed as I was that the Yankees lost, it was still enjoyable. It was CC Sabathia Jedi Bobblehead Day (mine is proudly displayed in my living room), they had Star Wars cosplayers all over the stadium, there was an R2D2 and a Sith alternate R2D2 behind home plate, a Star Wars character parade, and a nice Jumbotron tribute to then-recently deceased actor, Peter Mayhew (the original Chewbacca the Wookie).

Now, one year later (without Disney+, so no massive Star Wars marathon for me today), I’m anxiously waiting (like the rest of all sports fans) for ANY ANNOUNCEMENT about professional sports coming back in 2020. While the proposal for Arizona was logically sound based on all of the numbers present at the time, baseball fans were against seeing their teams play out a season in the sweltering summer of Arizona.

Logically, the only real popular choice left is California.

For Starters, More Professional Stadiums in California

Realistically, you need 15 stadiums if you’re going to follow the CDC’s guidelines of all games played in one state. California already has 5 MLB teams in state: the San Diego Padres, the Los Angeles Angels AND Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants, and the Oakland Athletics. You’d have 10 of the 30 teams playing in those 5 stadiums, no questions asked. You have colleges with esteemed, and nationally known athletic programs like UCLA, USC, and hundreds of more universities to play in. MLB has shared stadium space with NFL teams before, so playing where the 49ers, Chargers, and Rams play are also an option. And there are a good number of minor league baseball teams that play in California.

So while the league may be more spread out than many people would be comfortable with, California is known to be at least a little more temperate than Phoenix in August. Not to mention, you wouldn’t have the other 28 teams complaining about why only 2 teams get to play in the climate control of Chase Field during the peak summer weather in Phoenix.

Coronavirus Has to be Taken Into Effect, and California is Doing Very Well

According to Worldometers.com, California is performing admirably in the face of rising cases around the rest of the country, and the looming threat of a new wave coming in the fall. As of today, last updated at 12:09 PM EST, California has seen only 134 new cases of COVID 19, and 3 new deaths. These are the kind of numbers South Korea was seeing when they decided to push through with having a baseball season.

Now, using that same site, Arizona has seen no new cases, and no new deaths, making Arizona more logical. But, again, California would still be more popular.

California Is More Financially Viable To Have the Season

There is going to be a wide array of financial factors that go into having an MLB season of any length in this pandemic world we’re living in. Sequestering all the players, trainers, umpires, and essential personnel, tests, transportation, and housing for everyone is a shortlist. Of all the states in the country, California (while financially struggling like the rest of the country) is the strongest state financially to take on this burden.

If California were its own country, it would be the 5th strongest economy in the world! That means the state of California is ahead of India, the UK, France, Italy, Brazil, Canada and Russia in GDP. While it doesn’t justify completely why California should divert its spending from helping its citizens financially, it could give the Trump administration reason to give money to the state to ensure a baseball season can happen. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has been talking to Commissioner Rob Manfred about starting up baseball soon. And with the trillions already approved to spend by the federal government during this pandemic, I feel like sending California extra cash to ensure a baseball season happens, as well as ensuring COVID-19 doesn’t spread any further, would find widespread bi-partisan approval in DC.

But It Won’t Solve Everything

For starters, everything would still be played on Pacific Time. I’m working for a company that’s been deemed essential. So me staying up every night to watch a 10 PM first pitch isn’t exactly viable for me. You still have the modified divisions to accommodate this crazy situation sports finds itself in. While San Diego to LA isn’t too bad of a commute (2 hours by car), we’re talking at LEAST 4 hours from LA to San Fransisco (we all know Oakland is in the same area so same rules apply). It would be VERY spread out traversing to all of the playing fields for a California 2020 season, leaving more room for infection. And with the projections from the Trump administration that there will be 3,000 deaths per day by June due to the Coronavirus, the need for consolidation, and minimal travel will be essential to pulling off a sports league this year.

I hope we find out something definitive soon. MLB has made it clear that they would want some kind of truncated Spring Training before a 2020 season begins. We’re running out of time for that to happen.

New York Yankees: Why It Makes More Sense for Domingo German to Take 2020 Off

New York Yankees, Domingo German

When the 2020 season was scheduled to start, New York Yankees fans knew not to expect starter Domingo German for at least half of the season. He still has 81 games to serve as part of his suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence policy.

That was BEFORE the Coronavirus rocked the entire planet.

Now we’re in May, and it’s making less and less sense for German to pitch at all this year should a season starts at all.

He Still Has to Serve 81 Games

The rulings against AJ Hinch, Jeff Lunow, and Alex Cora from Commissioner Manfred’s office all clearly outline that those three men can get jobs in baseball again AFTER the 2020 season. Should the 2020 season get canceled this year, that would mean they can get work again as early as November when the offseason would officially begin.

German, however, still has a defined number of games to serve in suspension.

So let’s all be optimists and assume that a baseball season will happen in one way or another this season. We’re on May 4th right now. The Yankees would have a scheduled off day and have already played 35 games. Baseball is determined to have some shortened Spring Training to get teams ready before starting a season.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: 2020 is going to be a shortened season. The league isn’t going to play 162 games, then its regular postseason. They’d stand no shot, especially with reports from the CDC that a new wave of COVID-19 will come by the fall. This means that if play were to resume tomorrow for the New York Yankees, they’d have 127 games left on the schedule.

So, if the earliest the shortened Spring Training were to happen is Memorial Day weekend, to have a first game of the 2020 season on June 1st, that’s 25 fewer games, leaving only a 102 game season. With the threat of no minor league season, there’d be little to no chance for German to have warm-up games to get himself ready to pitch this season at all. And what would be the point? 81 out of 102 games leaves just 21 games left in the season.

And with no official start date for this modified Spring Training, it’s impossible to estimate just how many games will be played this season at all. For the sake of the season, just have German sit out to come back strong for Spring Training 2021. You’re not going to expect him to make his first outing of the year during a playoff game, Happ’s contract is up after this year, Tanaka’s contract is up after this year, just bench him all season and see about next year.

Former Yankee Announces Retirement During Lockdown

There have been a lot of players to don the New York Yankees pinstripes. Some of them have long-lasting careers with the Yankees, some of them just have a cup of coffee in the Bronx. One of the latter just announced his retirement from professional baseball today.

Mark Reynolds Announces his Retirement Yesterday

Playing 36 games for the Yankees in 2013, Mark Reynolds announced his retirement on Sirius XM. While being a late season acquisition from the Indians, Reynolds faired respectably at third base in a season that was tumultuous at best for the Yankees at that position (this was the season that A-Rod was found guilty in the Biogenesis scandal, and initially suspended for more than a full season of baseball).

Reynolds had the dubious honor of leading the league in strikeouts from 2008 to 2011. Personifying the modern approach to hitting, Reynolds retires with almost 700 more strikeouts than hits, with one-fourth of his hits being home runs. He also had three seasons batting below the Mendoza line, including his abbreviated final season in Colorado, with his best season coming two seasons earlier in Colorado. He would spend a season in-between in Washington.

The First Domino to Fall?

Reynold’s decision came during the current sports shutdown in the wake of the coronavirus. When asked about his decision to retire, Reynolds cited the time he’s been able to spend with his family during this shutdown:

“With all that’s going on and with everything, I’ve been really enjoying time with the family. It’s time for me to move on and find something else to do.”

It’s worth noting that Reynolds was also a free agent during all of this.

While his career statistics certainly don’t jump out at you, teams could be desperate to sign someone like Reynolds by what would be the halfway point this 2020 season, or even sign him to a minor league deal by the time teams broke from camp to kick start their campaigns. And while Reynolds was closer to 40 than most teams prefer, what would this mean for players similar to Reynolds, who hasn’t had the opportunity to have a career even half as long as he had? Certainly, some players hoping for a deeper playing reel to improve their stock before this year’s draft are going to be looked over, due to the fact all spring sports were canceled in college.

Whatever may end up happening, Reynold’s decision may usher in a swath of players who would rather move on from sports now, rather than hang around hoping they can rebound from last year. Because we still don’t know when that will be.

New York Yankees: Let’s see Deivi Garcia solve Triple-A before putting huge expectations on his shoulders

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

We live in 2020, and it seems like the pace with which we do and want things done is accelerating by the day. The world, it seems, has run out of patience. The same happens with MLB teams, prospects, and overall expectations: we want our young studs to be major league stars from day one, but that’s not always the case. Player development is not linear, and it’s unrealistic to put high expectations in a hurler that was playing in Class A-Advanced just a few months ago. That’s the case of New York Yankees‘ prospect Deivi Garcia.

Yes, Garcia dominated Class A-Advanced (3.06 ERA and 0.93 FIP in 17.2 innings, with 16.81 K/9) and Double-A (3.86 ERA and 2.20 FIP in 53.2 frames, with 14.59 K/9) in 2019. And yet, everybody is expecting to be a force in 2020 for the big league team. Let’s step on the brakes a little, shall we?

Garcia is still 20 years old. He has a smallish build and needs to prove that he can shoulder a big workload in the major leagues. He has been injured before, and the Yankees sure don’t want to mess with his health.

The Yankees’ prospect only has 40 unsuccessful innings in Triple-A

But, more importantly, let’s see him dominate in Triple-A before putting unfair expectations in him. Last season, he pitched 40 innings there after his stellar run in the previously mentioned levels.

In those 40 frames, Garcia struggled with command (4.50 BB/9) and home runs (1.80 per each nine innings.) The latter can be attributed to the infamous “juiced ball” used in Triple-A, but that’s not the only reason. He needs to improve his command and he could refine all his arsenal before reaching the bigs for good. A 5.40 ERA in Triple-A, with a 5.77 FIP, ain’t gonna cut it.

Why rush him? After all, the New York Yankees will likely have James Paxton back before the season starts. They have Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery, J.A. Happ and other prospects that are indeed ready for the bigs, such as Mike King and Jonathan Loaisiga. They will have Domingo German back, eventually. The Yankees have depth, so they would be better off letting Garcia learn his trick in Triple-A for now. Let’s see him prove he belongs with the big boys.

The Blessing and Curse For the Yankees and COVID-19

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Fans and members of the New York Yankees can talk all about one thing these days. COVID-19, aka the coronavirus. There are some good things to happen to the Yankees, and some bad things to happen to the Yankees, as more information comes out about the disease itself, as well as the future of the 2020 regular season.

Let’s start with the Bad

Denny Larrondo was the first major league baseball player to test positive for the novel coronavirus. As I’ve pointed out, the virus spreads faster than any of the other past diseases we’ve had to deal with in the past 20 years, making it possible that one regular-season home game for the Yankees could result in 30,000 people getting infected. But, as our own Alexander Wilson reported, a second minor leaguer tested positive with the coronavirus.

Furthermore, the baseball season won’t begin until (hopefully) sometime in May. If the season were to begin in May, and the full 162 game season be played, realistically the offseason would consist of one month before Spring Training resumes in February 2021.

What makes things even worse for all of baseball amid the uncertainty of players receiving compensation during the coronavirus lockout, is that the current baseball CBA doesn’t expire until December 2021. We’re applauding basketball teams, and players like Zion Williamson, who are paying the hourly employees at these stadiums their wages during this social distancing period. But things are much more uncertain in baseball, with the Mets¬†setting the bar early. If baseball screws the pooch on the Astros cheating scandal, AND properly compensating their players during this confusing time for everyone, we may see another strike in 2022.

But There is Still Some Good… Even if Minimal

The impact of Luis Severino’s absence in our starting rotation will be greatly reduced. I stand firm that MLB has no other choice but to shorten the season as they did in 1995. With a shortened season, that’s less time to scramble and find an adequate replacement for Severino, who won’t be back in action until sometime in 2021.

Which will also mean more reinforcements arrive sooner, rather than later. Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t expected to make Opening Day due to his calf strain. Now, he’ll be fully recovered and ready to hit the ground running. James Paxton may have an opportunity to play a couple of the make up Spring Training games baseball is expected to put on, as a tune-up for all of the players to be ready for the 2020 season once we have a better handle on the current coronavirus situation. Gary Sanchez suffered ANOTHER injury setback, on top of a coronavirus scare of his own. This extra time away will give him the opportunity to recuperate, recover, and give us the closest thing to a full season of Gary Sanchez.

Then there’s Aaron Judge. His worst-case scenario was always going to be his rib being surgically removed. Now, he’s got an extra month to do everything under his power to rest and repair that fractured rib (Mayor DeBlasio is talking following San Fransisco’s approach to containing the spread of coronavirus. If that means he doesn’t go to the gym to keep aggravating that rib, GOOD!).

And the best possible news is that while it’s unfortunate that Yankee minor leaguers are testing positive for the coronavirus, the 40 man roster seems spared of contracting the disease. I wish the speediest and most complete recovery to the minor league Yankees who have contracted the disease, but with all the injury problems the 40 man has sustained on the Yankees since 2019, the 40 man roster needed this win.

All of us at EmpireSportsMedia.com will continue to give you updates as coronavirus effects our daily lives, and our sports teams. Stay safe, and stay healthy everyone.

New York Yankees: What Could Aaron Judge’s Future Entail if he Removes Rib?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Well, New York Yankees fans, we finally have an answer for Aaron Judge’s injury. A stress fracture in one of his ribs. And it was sustained on September 19th, 2019.

… is it just me, or are the Yankees looking REALLY bad right now? Paxton, Severino, now Judge all having lingering injuries from 2019, resulting in ALL OF THEM missing part (or all) of the 2020 season.

The worst-case scenario is Judge could surgically have that problem rib removed. But what would that do for the 27-year-olds career in professional baseball?

It Doesn’t Look Good

The most notable examples of players having ribs removed were pitchers to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Former Met Matt Harvey, former New York Yankees Phill Hughes and Jaime Garcia, and Chris Carpenter are all pitchers who’ve undergone the procedure. Garcia got his rib removed in 2014, and was an above .500 pitcher. Since… not so much. Chris Carpenter’s 2012 was cut short by the procedure, and he never came back. Harvey’s decline was already evident when he underwent the procedure and was only exacerbated after the surgery in 2017. And Phil Hughes would have one more season, split between Minnesota and San Diego, after having a rib removed from TOS. No record, 62 innings pitched, and an ERA above 6.

The sobering reality about this stress fracture in Judge’s rib is that it directly affects his throwing arm. Should he get the rib surgically removed, he’d have the same road back that these pitchers had. While he wouldn’t be throwing nearly as consistent throughout a game as Harvey or Hughes, he’s known for his cannon of an arm in right field. If that is at all diminished, at just 28 years old… he’s facing very limited prospects in baseball if he wants to play past 30.

My preliminary research only shows pitchers being the most frequent baseball player having ribs removed. So how this affects his swing remains murky. Most of the velocity through the strike zone Judge generates still comes from his hips and would be aided by the wrists more so than his arm. His right arm isn’t as dominant in the swing as his left. So his future as a slugger is more cemented than no.

But, why would you play him, even as a DH, if he’s not fully physically comfortable at the plate? It’s troubling that this is befalling someone as prominent, and as likable as Judge. But… this is all we know so far.