2) New York Yankees
Well, at least so far, it’s been a fairly quiet offseason for the Yankees by any metric. That’s good. Really when we made the list at the start of this article, we could have put a number 6 on the preference list as “Sells his soul to the forces of evil and signs for New York”. Nothing could be worse for a Red Sox fan than seeing the Yankees get better.
Unfortunately though, they have. While the Yankees have added to their depth by trading for Aaron Hicks and Starlin Castro, they don’t really make any vast improvements to an already, fairly solid Yankee line-up. Their most recent acquisition, however, does. New York seized the opportunity and grabbed super elite closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds at knock-down prices due to on-going investigations into domestic abuse. And who exactly is surprised? The most hateful team in baseball is going to do hateful things, what does one expect from a pig but a grunt?
Leaving the extreme ethical questions out of the equation, as we’ve discussed before Chapman makes an immediate and immense impact. His Fastball is the fastest there is, averaging over 100 MPH and really that’s all he needs. You’d think someone who throws his heat over 75% of the time would be predictable and ultimately hittable, and you’d be right. Chapman bucks the trend, he carries with him a ridiculous K9 of 15.74 and FIP of 1.94 in 2015 and that’s, honestly, probably as good as you’ll see anywhere.
Now Chapman’s addition to the Yankees may be affordable and certainly, it will make an impact, but it’s questionable how much difference this will actually make for Boston. You see, New York already had two, yes two, elite relievers in Andrew Miller (14.59 K9, 2.16 FIP) and Dillan Betances (14.04 K9, 2.48 FIP) in the bullpen. Take note, both are in the top five relievers in baseball today. With the addition of Chapman, who almost certainly will kick Miller out of his closing role, it really shifts the line-up a notch down and allows for starters to bow out earlier. Note the Red Sox themselves have built their bullpen with much the same in mind (see: Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith and Koji Uehara).
Still, this doesn’t seal up games by any stretch of the imagination. The Yankees rotation is very suspect with only Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi managing to match half a season of Clay Buchholz at 3.2 WAR (Pineda ended up with 3.5 and Eovaldi with 3.2 in 2015, both over a full season). Both finished with ERAs above 4 and neither looked set to lower that based on advanced sabermetrics. The rest of the line-up is sketchy to say the least. Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees would be ace, is a walking, pitching health hazard. An extreme version of Buchholz with considerably more pressure to perform on his arm. Luis Severino has potential, but he’s only 21 and even if he is ahead of his time, the Yankees will be unable to get anywhere near a full season of innings out of him for half a decade.
Then there’s CC Sabathia. Oh CC, you are emblematic of all that is wrong with the Yankees, bless you. He’s 35 and pitching worse year-on-year but is locked in an ill-advised albatross contract till at least the end of next year. Indeed this is New York’s biggest issue, they have far too many aged and aging players locked in to too many large contracts. They can no longer afford to make the moves they did in the past, finances be damned, without first shedding some of the load.
So you see, the addition of Chapman is a boon for the Yanks, but it’s not a deal breaker. The Yankee starters are hittable and their hitters aren’t getting any better. A closer can only finish a game already won, but for New York that’s not a given by any means. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman promised austerity on free agents this offseason and he stuck to his word. Perhaps it was the right move in the long term, but in the short term it’s not making New York any more likely to be playing baseball in November 2016.
Next: 3 - Tampa Bay Rays