When news broke that 2017 National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton’s desired trade destinations included the (sigh) New York Yankees, my reaction looked a bit like this:
Now that Stanton will officially don Yankee pinstripes in 2018, my feelings have escalated to this:
(This is where is disclose that I am a Baltimore Orioles fan, which means that I now have the “joy” of watching Stanton launch balls onto Eutaw Street against some mediocre O’s starter.)
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t besmirch the Yankees for making this trade; any team would and should jump at the chance of acquiring a superstar like Stanton, particularly when the club only has to part with a decent infielder and a couple of fringe prospects. I don’t blame Stanton for wanting out of Miami (not that the team gave him much of a choice), where the new ownership group that includes future Hall-of-Fame Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter seems more concerned with shaving payroll than fielding a respectable baseball team. I do wish that any team other than the Yankees made this trade.
Since winning their last American League East championship in 2012, New York has made the playoffs just twice. The club did post winning record in each of the succeeding five seasons, but merely finishing above .500 doesn’t cut it for either Yankee fans and management. Hence why the team parted ways with Girardi and brought in Aaron Boone. It’s also why they gave away Starlin Castro and a couple of farmhands for the preeminent power hitter in the National League.
Stanton bolsters a Yankees club that led the majors in home runs and ranked fourth in slugging percentage last year. Now, they will trot out a lineup that features both Stanton and AL MVP runner-up Aaron Judge. Depending on thier placement in the lineup, opponents will have to pitch to one or the other. Teaming up two hitters who compiled a combined 14.4 wins above replacement (WAR) in 2017 seems almost unfair. Moving a player who hit 59 long balls from Marlins Park (the sixth toughest park to hit homers in last year) to Yankee Stadium (the second easiest) seems borderline criminal.
Even at their lowest, the Yankees never truly go away. With Stanton in the fold, along with a solid rotation and a stout bullpen, the Yankees should be favored to win the AL East. The defending divisional champion Boston Red Sox will likely provide the stiffest competition to those aspirations, but the other three teams may have seen their chances at the crown fade away this year and beyond. The Toronto Blue Jays, one of the oldest teams in MLB last year, are another year older. The Tampa Bay Rays can compete thanks to their young talent and burgeoning farm system, but the team’s shoestring budget will always make contention an uphill battle. The Baltimore Orioles have a decent offense and a good bullpen, but their horrid starting pitching may ultimately deter them from the postseason. They could be worse if star third baseman Manny Machado enters free agency at the end of the season.
This is only the beginning. The free agency of superstars Machado and Bryce Harper are right around the corner. If they snag even one of those guys, the Yankees will sport one of most formidable lineups in baseball. What they have now is pretty scary. With one of the best farm systems in the Majors and bottomless pockets, the Yankees are ascending once again and aren’t likely to go away anytime soon. That’s great news for the Yankees and bad news for the rest of the division.