Can the Real Bronx Bombers Please Stand Up?

Can the Real Bronx Bombers Please Stand Up?
By Chris Saunders
The 2015 Season for the New York Yankees was anything but pleasant, when on July 31st Yankees lead the A. L. East Division by six games over the then second place Baltimore Orioles.   The Blue Jays were seven back in the loss column. Toronto went all in at the trade deadline though, adding David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins. The Yankees added Dustin Ackley. That’s all!
What happened next was the colossal collapse of the Yankees whereby losing first place by mid-August. Before it was all said and done, the Blue Jays had overcome the Yankees to eventually win the A. L. East. Where does that leave us with the Yankees? What will they do to recover from that collapse? Can the Bronx Bombers regain the glory that led to so many parades down New York’s Grand of Heroes?
Revolving Door?
One of the key faults for the collapse was the inconsistency of the Yankee Rotation. New York Ranked 19th in MLB Rotation’s with a 62-56 W/L Record, 4.24 ERA is lead by 4 of the five rotation pieces (C.C, Pineda, Eovaldi, Nova) having above 4.00 ERA’s. Only Tanaka( 3.51) and Servino( 2.89) had the lowest ERA’s on the team. Mind you Severino was called up on Aug 5th and Tanaka missed time due to injury. One would imagine that  GM Brian Cashman  would go spend tons of money and forfeit draft picks to get the Cueto’s, Greinke’s, Prices’s of the world, but he didn’t. Cashman stood by his plan, which has always been “Protect the prospects and build from within.”
Some will say Cashman should have given in to the prized pitchers on the free agent market, but in truth long term contracts haven’t worked out for many clubs. Look at the Mike Hamptons of the world, Barry Zito, C.C. Sabathia, Justin Verlander, just to name a few. Pitchers arm’s slow down as they get older, innings and pitches begin to add up, and with Tommy John becoming quiet the epidemic some teams question giving out long term contracts to pitchers age 30’s and up. Many clubs if not all are hesitant to part ways with young arms, mainly because most are relatively healthy to speak of, as well as not as much millage on the arm, and a big thing now for teams “Years of Control”
Futhermore, Cashman will also have to figure out what to do with almost 4/5th’s of his rotation after next season. Tanaka can opt out after 2017 season, C.C has two years left on his deal(free agent 2018), Ivan Nova and Nathan Eovaldi are free agents after 2016 season/2018 alike, leaving only Luis Severino under contract past 2020 the only future rotation piece Cashman has.
Another issue, the entire rotation is filled with uncertainty; Sabathia hasn’t had an All-Star season since 2012,Michael Pineda was inconsistent throughout the entire year, Severino is heading into his sophomore year as a Yankee,Masahiro Tanaka still has a tear in his elbow which could eventually require Tommy john surgery and Nova was terrible coming back from Tommy John Surgery posting a sub 6.00 era. Eovaldi was the only starter who showed some consistency throughout the year, but when reading between the lines of Brian Cashman’s comments at the end of the year, it sounds like the Yankees are going to try to piece together their rotation internally.
Options for Cashman?
Free Agents- Starting pitcher Cliff Lee( Has pitched in the A.L. for Indians), Tim Lincecum(Former two- time CY and three-time World Champion), to relievers Carlos Torres,Craig Stammen as long relief cogs that can help this Yankees bullpen with the trade of Adam Warren to the cubs along with  infielder Brendan Ryan  for  shortstop.second baseman Starlin Castro.
Offensive Woes  
The Yankees also need to rely on their offense having a bounce back 2016 campaign. Brian McCann, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury were awful during the second half of the season, Mark Teixeira missed majority of the second half with a broken leg and Alex Rodriguez began to wear down as the season went on. One of the bright spots from 2015 was Didi Gregorius, and while he started off poorly, he emerged as the perfect candidate to replace the recently retired Derek Jeter.
The only true position of question was  second base, of which before the Castro trade Yankees options consisted of Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder as a platoon to begin the 2016 season. The Yankees recently tried Brian Roberts and Stephen Drew, but neither panned out the way the Yankees were expecting. New York did say they liked Martin Prado and Ben Zobrist, but both players became too pricey for the new regimes taste. With the acquisition of Castro, whom is under control for four more years at a very affordable 8 million a year is quiet cheap for the numbers Starlin puts up. These numbers, in six years with the Cubs, Castro averages per season 180 hits, 34 Doubles while posting a .281/.321/.404/. Not bad!
Along with the veterans, the Yankees also have a lot of the young kids hoping to make a contribution to the team. Greg Bird, Slade Heathcott, Refsnyder, Severino, and Jacob Lindgren were a few to make their debuts last season, and the Yankees are anticipating the Major League debut of Aaron Judge which could be either in the second half of the season or in September. 2016 seems, as well as Gary Sanchez whom impressed scouts and Yankees personal alike in the Arizona Fall League to a point the Yankees were comfortable enough to trade in incumbent backup John Ryan Murphy for outfielder Aaron Hicks.


With all this surplus of young talent coming up the pipeline, the Yankees could have a promising year ahead, especially if they could once again exceed expectations like they did during the first half of the 2015 season. Only time will tell if the moves, or lack of moves, will pay off.


Chris Saunders is a Bronx Chronicle stringer and sports radio commentator based in New Haven, Connecticut. 

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