By Ben Diamond (@bendiamond44)
If a player hit 38 HR, and 100 RBIs in a season, you’d take that, right? Of course. Those numbers are two of Stanton’s many 2018 statistics. Yes, he didn’t repeat his 59 home run performance when he hit .300, and struck out more times in 2018 than any prior season. The expectations were higher than they’ve ever been for Stanton, and he didn’t meet those, but he still had a solid season. Would you have taken that performance from fellow outfielder Aaron Hicks? In a heartbeat. Any fan that says otherwise isn’t using logic and is taking Stanton by name alone.
In fact, every player in MLB history that hit 60 HR or more in consecutive seasons are the the ones mentioned in the steroids conversation. Bonds, McGuire, Sosa, etc. All of them hit 60+ bombs in consecutive seasons while on steroids. You cannot expect a player do something like that on a normal basis.
But it did raise the question of whether Stanton could be an effective player for the Yankees, especially in the later years of his contract. Thoughts from New York Area newspaper pundits included shipping him off to the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that was in for him last offseason before he was eventually traded to the Yankees, and going after free agent and lifelong Yankee fan Bryce Harper. But rumors of Harper heading to the Big Apple were quickly squashed by Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman at the Winter Meetings in December. Cashman reiterated that their outfield was set, and they weren’t in a position to add. That changed quickly and less than a week later, Cashman made it a point that the Yankees were a “fully operational Death Star” and could basically do whatever they want because of their financial situation. They’re the Yankees, and they’ll operate like it.
And what was interesting was that he did. Going out to sign Troy Tulowitzki, D.J. LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino, while bringing back Zack Britton and J.A. Happ was nothing like what some fans hoped for, but for now it appears that Cashman stayed away from reeling in the big fish like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, or even Dallas Keuchel.
No. Instead the veteran GM went for value to shore up his team and add depth. And when it was all said and done, Cashman decided to sign Aaron Hicks to a seven year contact extension worth $70 million. Compared to the $30 million plus per year that Harper is rumored to be seeking, the Yankees went for value and locked down their center fielder to a good value contract that—let’s be honest here—gives the Yankees the financial flexibility to eventually move that contract out if they wanted to down the road.
Some believed that Cashman was still lurking in the shadows, and would pounce on Harper if he heard that the price was right. That was until Harper inked a $330 million deal with the Phillies Thursday afternoon. But it seemed that he attempted to do that when Machado decided to wait out the free agency process, but Machado took the highest bid and ran off to San Diego to play for a team that lost 96 games in 2018. It’s also what he did with Stanton, when it was reported he was almost certainly going to Los Angeles or San Francisco via trade—but Cashman pounced and landed the 2017 NL MVP for Starlin Castro and minor leaguers Jorge Guzmán and José Devers. While it’s not quite the same situation as Harper, the Yankees would certainly be open to a shorter term deal with him and would splurge on a three or four year deal.
You can never predict the Yankees because after all, they’re a “fully operational Death Star,” and that’s part of what makes the Evil Empire so dangerous every year. But this offseason has shown that Brian Cashman still has some tricks up his sleeve and can get great value for the right price. That said, Stanton’s large contract looms over the Bronx, and while some may see it differently, the Yankees should be happy with his 2018 season and look to help him build on it in 2019.
By Dan Lagnado
At this moment two seasons ago, many MLB analysts predicted that the Miami Marlins would be a team to be reckoned with in the NL East. Now two full seasons later, we will be discussing the dire need for MLB caliber players. After the fire sale of 2012, the Marlins were left with very few players form their seemingly talented roster at the beginning of that season. In 2013, the trade of Ricky Nolasco completed the reboot of the old stars in favor more young, raw talent. The one big name that this team has left is Giancarlo Stanton. However, even he, one of the most prolific power hitters in the league, had a season in which he missed time due to injury and so he did not provide the statistics many people expected him to. Stanton hit only .249 with 24 homeruns and 62 RBI. He led the team in every offensive category except for stolen bases, despite only playing in 116 games. The Marlins’ starting lineup was a bit like musical chairs this season, with players coming and going. Over the course of the season, the Marlins used: five catchers, five first basemen, four second basemen, three third basemen, and nine outfielders. Many of these players were journeyman veterans such as Austin Kearns and Casey Kotchman, or prospects rushed to the majors, such as Christian Yelich, Jake Marisnick, and Derek Dietrich. Most of the veteran leaders such as Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco will move on to other teams in free agency causing the Marlins to rely even more heavily on their young players. If nothing is done in free agency the Marlins could have an infield consisting of Ed Lucas, Adeiny Hechavarria, Donovan Solano and Logan Morrison. There aren’t many pitchers who will fear that combination.
Where this team does show promise is the pitching staff. Despite the departure of Nolasco, this young rotation showed the ability to shut down hitters on a somewhat consistent basis. Jose Fernandez is a candidate for both Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award after posting a 12-6 record with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts. Henderson Alvarez (5-6) also showed he can develop into a top-notch pitcher with his no-hitter that he threw the last game of the season. In addition to the two top guns, some capable veterans like Nate Eovaldi and Kevin Slowey also support the rotation. Miami’s bullpen is spearheaded by closer Steve Cishek (34/36 saves, 2.33 ERA), Ryan Webb (2.91 ERA), AJ Ramos (86 K in 80 innings, 3.15 ERA) and Mike Dunn (72 K in 67.2 inn, 2.66 ERA).
It remains to be seen what actions owner Jeffrey Loria and General Manager Dan Jennings choose to take but it is safe to say that it is in the best interest of the team to go out and sign at the very least, a few low risk veteran players on in order to beef up the offense and sure up the back end of what can become a very solid pitching rotation. However I do not believe that a solution to the Marlins’ problems is imminent. It will take a few years but as young players begin to develop and some bigger, longer-term free agent contracts start to be signed this team’s future can be as bright as the summer sun in South Beach.
Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995