Looking at the Red Sox opposition – The New York Yankees
As I continue to profile the Red Sox opposition in the American League East, I come upon a team I predict will finish fourth in the division. I present your collection of baseball villains, the New York Yankees.
The Bronx Bombers have done just that this century – bombed. There’s nothing like a bit of snarky provincialism, as the famed Yankees have just one World Series title. If George Steinbrenner were still upright, Brian Cashman would be selling men’s cologne at Macy’s. Now to the real bombers.
In 2021, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton combined for 74 home runs and should match or exceed that in 2022 if both stay on the field. Judge, now 30-years-old, rejected a seven-year, $210 million contract and will explore free agency. A move he will regret as much as the Red Sox trading Sparky Lyle to the Yanks.
The Yankee’s bats do not end with Judge and Stanton as lefty hitting Anthony Rizzo will compliment them. Rizzo is a superb fielder and if the former Boston farmhand returns to a four-year Cub’s stretch when he powdered 127, the Yanks may have a steal of a deal.
In 2019, Gleyber Torres slashed 38/90/.278 and then faded the last two seasons. At 25-years-old, one would expect the shortstop to get back a tad closer to those 2019 numbers. Torres has DJ LeMahieu as his DP partner, and LeMahieu is a former batting champion, a Gold Glove defender, and has excellent power.
The Yanks have former MVP Josh Donaldson at third. In long in tooth baseball age-wise, Donaldson did slash 26/72/.247 for the Twins in 2021. Their “all-everything” for the infield is Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and his “all-everything” partner is former Red Sox washout, Marwin Gonzalez. Both play anywhere on the diamond with various degrees of defensive abilities.
My wife claims (and accurately) that I can’t dance, but compared to the footwork of Gary Sanchez, I’m Fred Astaire. Sanchez is now gone, along with his sloppy footwork, massive home runs, and low batting average. and the great catching divide will be righties Kyle Higashioka and Jose Trevino. Don’t expect much offense from the duo, but this is addition by subtraction. Waiting off stage is lefty hitter Ben Rortvedt and a few prospects that may be two-three seasons from MLB.
Joey Gallo and Aaron Hicks will be in the outfield with Judge. Gallo has a career 36.8 K%, a career average of .206, but an impressive .333 OBP. Gallo – a lefty slugger – should enjoy Yankee Stadium. In 2018 the switch-hitting Hicks slashed 27/79/.248, and injuries have impacted Hicks since then.
The Yank’s pitching starts with righty Gerrit Cole, one of the best in MLB and a perpetual threat to grab a CYA every season. The Red Sox did not treat Cole well in 2021 (2-2, 4.91) and tagged him for five dingers. The rest of the New York rotation typifies MLB in that it’s not Morton’s Steak House but more the value menu at McDonald’s.
Jordan Montgomery (6-7, 3.83) has his moments, Domingo German could be solid when not suspended or having injuries which is the case right now, Nestor Cortes (2-3, 2.90) will get his starts, as will Jameson Taillon (8-6, 4.30), and then the big hope – Luis Severino. The righty won 19 games a few seasons and one TJ Surgery ago, and if he gets back on track, the Yankees may take off.
The New York bullpen is one of the best, topped off by loving him or hate him closer Aroldis Chapman. Left-hander Zack Britton did noting (0-1, 5.89) in 2021 and may miss all of 2022 over elbow surgery. Britton is a ground ball machine (66 GB%), and this Red Sox fan rather face Chapman any day.
Right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga (9-4, 2.17) is as solid as they come for setup relievers, with Chad Green (10-7, 3.12) just a notch behind. Both are shutdown artists out of the ‘pen. The rest of the bullpen has the usual suspects, such as veteran Wandy Peralta, Miguel Castro, Lucas Luetge, etc.
Going to Yankee Stadium was always a great and trying experience for a Red Sox fan, but that evaporated in 2004. I have discussed the new stadium with several Yankee friends who state the new place has no soul. Still, there is history even if it is a faux building.
The Yankees will be like Boston, Toronto, and Tampa in the 90-win range. The key for the Yankees is Severino getting back to 2018 form. And if Britton makes it back? Then the Yankees will have the pitching to back up a high-powered offense.
New York was average defensively in 2021 and will be average again in the field. Team speed is minimal; manager Aaron Boone may not survive a slow start, and the Judge contract situation will simmer thanks to the voracious New York and national media. So fourth place for the Yankees, but first place could be just a solid arm away.