What do you write about when nothing happens?…
After a winter of no major league free agent signings, the Yankees will soon open camp with Team Status Quo. Well, albeit with newcomers via trade Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman, and Aaron Hicks. All three are expected to play major roles in 2016.
Castro is not going to make fans forget Robinson Cano but he’ll be a major improvement over Stephen Drew. Admittedly, I was looking forward to seeing what Rob Refsnyder could do with the position on a full-time basis or at least a part-time platoon with Dustin Ackley. But even with Castro on the roster, there’s still a role for Refsnyder if he takes it through performance this spring. Ackley will become the Yankees’ latest attempt to replace Martin Prado as the jack of all trades.
With the loss of Justin Wilson via trade with the Detroit Tigers, Chapman’s arrival just resets the pecking order in the pen. I recognize that Wilson is a loss but I also feel that Chasen Shreve has the potential to come back much stronger than last season and fill that pivotal role as the setup for the three headed monster of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman. The team will miss swingman Adam Warren, but there’s no question that the final three innings will be electrifying. There are surprises every year in the bullpen and there’s no doubt the Yankees will uncover a gem among the arms in camp. Warren was great at his role, no doubt, but he is replaceable. I am somewhat intrigued by one of the pitchers the Yankees acquired for Wilson, Luis Cessa. Everyone rips the Yankees for trading Wilson, but I think that Cessa has the potential to make the trade an equalizer. Could he get the opportunity to replace Warren? I am sure that he’ll be in the mix if he is ready to play at the major league level.
Courtesy: MetsMerizedOnline.com and Savannahnow.com (via MetsMinors.net)
Adding Hicks was a surprise, but it made sense given the plethora of young outfielders in the Minnesota Twins organization and the impending big league arrival of catcher Gary Sanchez (which made John Ryan Murphy expendable). I like the job that Chris Young did the last couple of years and felt that he had revitalized his career after a disappointing stay with the New York Mets. But as much as I hated to see Young leave (to sign with the Boston Red Sox which added a little salt to the wound), I feel that Hicks will prove to be the better player for the long run. If there is a certainty about the 2016 Yankees, one or more of the starting outfielders will spend time on the disabled list. Hicks will move to front and center, or maybe left or right. He’ll get an opportunity to put the promise he held with the Twins on display for fans in the Bronx. If he is successful, he will no doubt become a fan favorite. I think Hicks is in a great spot. This also means that there will be opportunity to other young outfielders like Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, and recent MiLB free agent signee Jared Mitchell. There’s also the chance the Yankees get Rule 5 draftee Jake Cave back from the Cincinnati Reds if he is unable to make the major league roster.
So, the new additions all clearly fit the team’s roster and make it better than the day they lost to the Houston Astros last October. But from a results standpoint, I am not sure that the 2016 Yankees will be much better than the 2015 version. Last year’s team over-achieved, so if this year’s team plays to expectations, the results will be marginally the same despite being the better team. It is possible that this year’s team can over-achieve, particularly if the starting pitching stays healthy and Sanchez arrives on the scene as the offensive monster he displayed in the Arizona Fall League.
I am starting to see the reports that the Yankees aren’t spending money in anticipation of the 2018 off-season free agent signing of mega superstar Bryce Harper. I think that would be foolish and narrow minded of the Yankees to think along those lines, which is why I do not believe it is true. I am sure that they’ll be players for Harper, but there’s always one team that jumps off the deep end (i.e., the Seattle Mariners and their $240 million contract for Cano). Plus, the talk is that Harper could be the first $500 million man. That’s insane. When is the money simply enough? I am pretty sure that you could give me $10 million and I’d be happy for the rest of my life!
Super Bowl Sunday…
I will watch today’s Super Bowl but I honestly do not feel strongly about either team. I think the Carolina Panthers have the better team and the more explosive QB, but it would be a great story for future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning to ride off into the Sunset with a Super Bowl championship.
Peyton’s dad, Archie, had the misfortune to play on some pretty bad football teams, and he ended his career playing for a pathetic Minnesota Vikings team that finished 3-13 in 1984. I remember those final years, and Archie was clearly not the player he once had been. Conversely, Peyton is no longer the Peyton we knew earlier in his career, but he still has the ability to pull out a surprise win.
I’ll go with…Carolina Panthers 27, Denver Broncos 17.
Courtesy: Getty Images