The World Champion Chicago Cubs…

The Cubs can still say “Wait ’til next year!”…

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs and their (true) fans for the long-awaited World Series championship!

ct-cubs-indians-world-series-game7-photos-101

Credit:  Brian Cassella, The Chicago Tribune

Admittedly, I was pulling for the Cleveland Indians.  I have no great love for the Indians, but ace reliever Andrew Miller was my favorite Yankee during his time in New York.  Also, I have the highest respect for manager Terry Francona, who is probably my favorite manager outside of Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly.

Still, it was exciting to see the young Cubs finally bring closure to baseball’s longest drought.  It’s staggering to think how many Cubs fans lived their entire lives without seeing a Cubs championship.  For the first time in my life, the Cubs have won more recently than the Yankees.  The Cubs are poised for future success so, in a way, this feels like the 1996 Yankees.  The best of the Cubs may be yet to come.

It was an interesting World Series with both bullpens featuring pitchers who represented the back end of the Yankees’ pen earlier this year with flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman and the very versatile Andrew Miller.  There was speculation that the pitchers would play a key role in the seventh game of the series, but both had off nights (thanks in large part to the heavy load that both carried over the course of the series).

APTOPIX World Series Indians Cubs Baseball

Credit:  Nam Y. Huh, AP

It was arguably one of the greatest World Series that I’ve seen.  How often is the World Series tied at the end of the 9th inning of Game 7?  Not very…with a statement of the obvious.  I do feel bad for the Indians and their fans to come so close.  Victory was within their reach with a clutch hit or two.

Theo Epstein has proven that he is the master of dispelling curses.  He did it in Boston and now he’s done it in Chicago.  I wonder if he’s ever thought about pro football?  I am starting to think that he’d be a wise choice to take control of the Minnesota Vikings.  Seriously, Theo deserves much credit for bringing a championship to Chicago.

World Series Cubs Indians Baseball

Credit:  The Associated Press

I know that he was glad to return to New York, but I wonder if there was a part of reliever Adam Warren that missed being a member of the Cubs during October.

adam-warren-cubs

Credit:  Bleacher Nation

The future of Pinstripes…

Now that the World Series is over, the Hot Stove League can begin.  Next week, we’ll see the opening of free agency, although any real activity is still a few weeks away.  I am very hopeful the Yankees aggressively pursue either Chapman or Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.  I am not really interested in a reunion with Washington Nationals free agent closer Mark Melancon.  I’d really like to see the Yankees employ Dellin Betances much like how Miller was used by the Indians.  With a strong closer, and hopefully continued improvement by young pitchers like Jonathan Holder, the Yankees bullpen has the potential to be as great as it was early last season.  I’ll miss Miller but the Yankees can take much pressure off the starting rotation with a strong pen.  That’s a much easier fix than a trade for a frontline starter like Chris Sale.

I wish I knew with certainty that Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, and Tyler Austin will be as ready for the major leagues next spring as Gary Sanchez.  If these players struggle, it may be a long year in New York.

The Arizona Fall League has shown the Yankees have a great shortstop/second base prospect in Gleyber Torres, who could eventually force the Yankees to move Starlin Castro or Didi Gregorius, but he’s still a few years away.  The Yankees don’t have an immediate high level third base prospect, but Miguel Andujar has shown he is doing his best to fast track it to the Bronx to allow the Yankees to replace the disappointing Chase Headley.  I am excited about the future of starting pitcher James Kaprielian.  I just hope that he’s not included in any trades for more established pitchers.

Kaprielian, James 1601 (Mitchell).jpg

Credit:  Bill Mitchell

This is a difficult off-season for the Yankees.  If they stay the course and continue to acquire young prospects and avoid large free-agent signings, it’ll be hard for the team to take the next step to return to World Series contention.  After so much work to acquire top level prospects, it would be foolish to trade them away for players in their 30’s.

Clearly, the Yankees have guys they can and should move.  As much as Brian McCann wants to stay in New York, it makes too much sense to move him to Atlanta or elsewhere.  With young catchers like Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka to back up Gary Sanchez, the Yankees have greater needs in other areas.  The Yankees do need to move either Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury.  The latter would be preferable, but the former might be easier, but maybe not as easy as it would have been a year ago.  Chase Headley is an overpay, but until something better comes along, he’s not going anywhere.

While I understand the reasons the Yankees need to non-tender pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who is currently recuperating from Tommy John surgery, I do hope that they find a way to re-sign him to a deal to allow him to return following his recovery.  It’s a given that second baseman/utility-man Dustin Ackley will be non-tendered, ending his brief Yankees career.  I had always hoped that he’d finally unlock his potential in New York but it was not meant to be.

The next two months will go a long way toward shaping the 2017 Yankees.  They could be inactive, much like last year, or they could be aggressive.  I am hoping for something in the middle.  Cautious, strategic planning for long-term sustainability…and Aroldis Chapman.

Time will tell as it often does…

—Scott

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