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The Yankees Need Manny Machado

Ryan Leonardo

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees want Manny Machado. Reports surfaced Wednesday that the Yankees have made an offer to the Baltimore Orioles about their superstar, free-agent-to-be shortstop. But wait, don’t the Yankees need starting pitching? They could certainly use a starter, but to ignore Machado in favor a lesser player would be a mistake. In fact, the Yankees need Manny Machado if they want to put themselves in the best position to win the World Series. Let’s break down all the reasons they need him and should want him.

They Don’t Need A Quality Starter

First, let’s diffuse the idea that they need to be all in on starting pitching. The struggles of the rotation are pretty much exclusive to Sonny Gray, who has greatly underachieved. Entering Thursday, they are 52-21 when Gray does not start. That’s a .712 winning percentage or a 115-win season. They are a ridiculous 39-5 when a starter goes six innings. They don’t need a No. 2-type starter. It’s all about Sonny Gray’s struggles, not the starters as a whole. They don’t need to go all in on starting pitching to find a suitable upgrade or put themselves in a better position to win games.

Additionally, Yankees have the best bullpen in the majors. The current collection of relievers the Yankees employ is possibly the most talented ever assembled. They have the bullpen every contender can only wish for. The 2015 Kansas City Royals had terrible starting pitching and won the World Series. The 2016 Cleveland Indians were a win away from the title even though Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar were on the disabled list.

Starting pitching did not finish the Yankees last season in the playoffs, it was an offense that struggled in Houston, scoring only three runs in four games. They could have used more offense. The 2009 Yankees and 2017 Houston Astros showed what a formidable lineup could mean in October. Adding Machado would give the Yankees that type of formidable lineup.

He’s The Best Player Available

One of the fallacies of team building is that when a team looks to add to a position of weakness, they ignore other possible avenues for improvement. The Yankees, thankfully, did not succumb to this in the 2017-18 offseason. Their pursuit of high-end starting pitching, whether it was Shohei Ohtani or Gerrit Cole, did not materialize. They pivoted to Giancarlo Stanton, even though they already had the big league’s best outfield in terms of fWAR in 2017, AL MVP runner-up Aaron Judge in right field and plenty of talented right-handed hitters in the organization. Stanton is redundant, but he makes the Yankees better because he is a great player, and that is all that matters.

It’s the same situation with Manny Machado. The four-time All-Star is right-handed, hits for power and plays both shortstop and third base. The Yankees already have Didi Gregorius at short and one of the better rookie hitters, Miguel Andujar, playing third. Adding Machado makes the team better because Machado is the best player available.

Andujar Shouldn’t Block Machado

Miguel Andujar has established himself as a fine hitter. He has a .279/.313/.495 slash line with a 117 wRC+. Those are excellent marks for a rookie hitter. The problem is that he doesn’t play much defense and that Machado is simply a much better player right now. Arguably, Machado would represent a bigger upgrade for the team than displacing German or Gray from the rotation because Machado is one of the premier position players in the sport.

Free Agency

The Yankees have been saving money over the last few offseasons is preparation for the 2018-19 free agent class. It’s the big reason why they stayed under the $197 million luxury tax. They have set themselves up for a run at Machado in the offseason if they wish to do so and it looks like that will be the case. This is a reason that comes up in why the Yankees should not trade for Machado because why give up prospects when they could sign him to a contract a few months later?

The answer is that they could potentially be giving themselves an edge against other potential suitors in the winter by having him on the team to finish the 2018 season. The reason the Arizona D’Backs could not re-sign J.D. Martinez was that they did not have enough money and were not convinced he was worth what he would eventually receive from the Boston Red Sox. That will not be an issue for the Yankees and Machado.

The Yankees, as currently constructed, may not be better than the Red Sox. Adding one of the best starters available, such as J.A. Happ, may help, but not as much as Machado would. If the Yankees want to field the best team possible and put themselves in a better position in the future, it includes Manny Machado.

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New York Yankees

Series preview | The Rays pay another visit to Yankee Stadium

Matt Gregory

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Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees continue an 11 game homestand Tuesday night with three games against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx. It is the last time Tampa Bay will visit Yankees stadium.

The Yankees have struggled against the Rays this season, as they have split 12 games so far, going 6-6. The Rays most recently took two of three back in July at Tropicana field. The Yankees received some bad news Monday, with CC Sabathia going to the disabled list with a knee injury.

The Rays starters have not been set yet, as they tend to use openers, and they only have two starters in their “rotation.” One of those starters is Blake Snell, who is a probable starter for the rubber game on Thursday. Snell has taken the leap this year, making the American League All-Star team and a stellar 2.18 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 128 innings.

However, Snell has struggled against the Yankees to the tune of nine earned runs in 8 1/3 innings of work, he walked seven batters in those starts and given up four home runs, the most he has given up against any team. The other possibilities for those two other starts could be Ryne Stanek, Jake Faria, Sergio Romo or Yonny Chirinos.

The Yankees are on track to run out J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, and Lance Lynn. Happ has been solid thus far for the Yankees, sporting a 3.00 ERA with 0.75 WHIP since coming over from Toronto. He bounced against the Texas Rangers after a bout of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease, going six innings and only giving up three earned runs.

That was exactly what the Yankees signed up for when they acquired him from Toronto on July 26th. Happ has been successful against the Rays, with a 2.53 ERA in two starts, though he walked seven batters in those two starts.

Masahiro Tanaka looks to bounce back on Wednesday from a rough start against the Rangers where he was tattooed for six runs in 5 innings of work, with three home runs surrendered. Tanaka looked like a different pitcher coming out of the All-Star break, giving up one earned run through 19 2/3 innings with 26 strikeouts and only one home run against him. The Rays could be a welcome sight, last time against the rays he pitched a complete game shutout with nine strikeouts and only four runners allowed.

The rubber game on Thursday should feature Lance Lynn. Lynn was another deadline acquisition for the Yankees in a trade with the Minnesota Twins for Tyler Austin. Through 16 2/3 innings, Lynn has given up one run and struck out 22 batters against four walks. Lynn has already surpassed his WAR total with the Twins in 3 games with the Yankees, as he has been worth .8 WAR since coming to New York.

He has taken Sonny Gray’s spot in the rotation and has not looked back. If Lynn can continue to provide steady 5-6 inning starts with limited damage, much less the performances he has provided thus far, then the Yankees will be in good shape.

The top performers for the Yankees offensively out of the All-Star break have been Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius.
Stanton has hit five home runs in the last seven days and is slashing .313/.382/.750 in August, picking up the slack with Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge on the disabled list. Gregorius has hit well against the Rays, with a slash line of .318/.362/.614 and three home runs with 13 runs batted in.

The goal for the Yankees? Come out of the series healthy and hopefully with a series win as they try to right the ship against the Rays.

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New York Yankees

Mets 8 Yankees 5 | Severino falters again

Matt Gregory

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Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Severino struggled yet again and failed to reach the fifth inning for the first time this season as the Yankees lost to the Mets on Monday night. The Yankees were able to scrape three runs out against Jacob DeGrom but Severino gave back four runs on two home runs. DeGrom struck out 12 Yankees in 6 2/3 innings of work. The Yankees look to bounce back tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx.

Turning Point

The sixth inning, when A.J. Cole gave up three home runs and allowed the Mets to stretch their lead to four runs. The Yankees had kept it close against DeGrom and would have had a shot if Cole had kept the deficit to just one run.

Three Takeaways

1. Severino struggled to get batters out with his four-seam fastball. Five of the seven hits came on four-seam fastballs with only three swinging strikes. He got 10 swinging strikes on his off-speed offerings. Whether he is tipping pitches or not, it seems like hitters are looking for his four-seamer and leaving his off-speed pitches alone, as he only got four called strikes between his change-up and slider.

2. A.J. Cole is having a rough August, he gave up three home runs in two innings and has given up six earned runs in only 7 innings this month. Two of the home runs came against lefties in the Mets lineup, which is the norm for Cole, as lefties are slashing .338/.421/.708 this season. He came into the game down one run and left the Yankees trailing by four runs in the seventh inning.

3. Gleyber Torres’ bat has gone dead in August, to the tune of .146 batting average with six hits and thirteen strikeouts in 41 at-bats. Torres has struggled since the All-Star break, with a .164 batting average and a .278 on-base percentage. Obviously, he is still working back from his injury before the all-star break, but he was a big part of the early year success and will need to get back to improve for the stretch run.

Player of the Game

Aaron Hicks scratched out two singles against Jacob DeGrom and drove in the first run for the Yankees. He reached base three times overall as he drew a walk in the eighth inning. The singles were not particularly hard-hit balls, but against DeGrom you take what you can get. He has a .402 OBP since the all-star break and is on pace to set a career high in WAR.

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New York Yankees

The Yankees are still dropping the ball regarding social issues

Matt Gregory

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Jun 17, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics fans wave flags on pride night during the first inning of the game against the San Diego Padres at O.co Coliseum. Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Last Tuesday, SNY.tv reported that the Yankees are planning to commemorate the Stonewall Riots with events in 2019. There have been no confirmations for the 2019 promotional calendar but SNY.tv states that several sources confirmed internal discussions to finalize the details of the events.

The Yankees later announced that they were reinstating their relationship with Papa John’s late Friday night, according to NJ.com. The move comes less than a month after suspending the relationship after finding out the face of the brand and CEO, John Schattner, used the n-word during a conference call in May.

A source with knowledge of the situation told NJ.com that there will be a rebranding of some Papa John’s logos in Yankee stadium, specifically to emphasize that the locations at the stadium are “locally owned and operated.”

Here’s the statement the Yankees released:

“As a result of the significant steps recently taken by Papa John’s, including the removal of their founder from all facets of their business, the Yankees have agreed to resume their relationship with the company,” the Yankees said in a statement late Friday night.

As we stated last month, we found the remarks made by the Papa John’s founder to be reprehensible, and our feelings on the matter have not changed.

The Yankees have had a longstanding relationship with 120 Papa John’s local franchise locations within the tri-state area, and we feel strongly that this incident does not represent their principles, values or their responsibilities to the communities they serve.

Papa John’s is implementing important and sincere measures to restore customers’ faith in their brand, including the launch of a diversity and inclusion committee, and a third-party audit of their company’s practices. We are confident the company will continue to take the appropriate measures to show their commitment to preventing such an egregious incident from happening again in the future.”

The move is disappointing and unfortunately, not surprising. The Yankees continue to prioritize their business opportunities and money streams over showing their fans that they do not support a business founded by a man who felt comfortable saying the n-word in a meeting. The move is indefensible and at this point, fans can only hope that there is enough negative feedback that the team will eventually consider severing all ties to the company.

Even with this small step forward to connect with the LGBTQ+ community, it came after backlash that the Yankees were one of two teams to not hold an event in 2018. It is a positive step and hopefully, it is not the last that the Yankees take to honor and work with the LGBTQ+ community. Still, with social issues even when the Yankees take one step forward, they find another way to take two steps back.

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