On Wednesday, we got to see the Yankees new lineup for the first time and it was a thing of baseball beauty.
CF – Brett Gardner
RF – Aaron Judge
LF – Giancarlo Stanton
C – Gary Sanchez
1B – Greg Bird
SS – Didi Gregorius
2B – Gleyber Torres
3B – Brandon Drury
DH – Aaron Hicks
That’s a goddamn lineup that should send shivers down any pitcher’s spine. There’s just nowhere to hide from this lineup. On Wednesday, Daniel Norris struck out Judge and jammed Stanton, settling for a bloop single to right. It seemed like he was out of the woods and then Gary Sanchez launched the first pitch he saw on a SpaceX flight to Mars. This lineup will suffocate opposing pitchers, it’s jam-packed with offensive powerhouses, guys that can go deep and Gleyber Torres, one of the highly touted prospects in the game.
I know it’s the Yankees, but if you can’t stop and appreciate how much skill and offensive prowess is on that team, then you need your eyes checked. You can still hate the Yankees by acknowledging their strengths. I grew up hating the Yankees because I knew they always had us beat, and there was nothing we could do.
This Yankees team isn’t going anywhere and while their lineup is scary now, let’s remember that they are also very young. Remember Derek Jeter in 1996, when he was scary good and like 14? They have a few of those guys, and they hit bombs.
So what does this have to do with the Red Sox? A lot.
The Red Sox made a late splash this offseason, signing J.D. Martinez to a 5-year, $110 million dollar deal. The deal itself was seen as an answer to the Yankees trade for Giancarlo Stanton. This idea that signing Martinez evens the playing field for the AL East isn’t just foolish, it’s dangerous and misleading.
Where the Red Sox needed to improve was on the mound. Although they found themselves at the top of most pitching metrics for the 2017 season, the Red Sox barely scraped a rotation together. If there’s one thing that got John Farrell fired it was his over-reliance on Chris Sale and his inability to find someone to successfully secure the backend of the rotation.
Aside from Chris(t) Sale and Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox rotation faltered all year. Doug Fister, Eduardo Rodriguez, David Price and Rick Porcello all struggled last year, and you can check the tape to verify that. That means 2 of the 6 Red Sox starters were running on all cylinders.
Before you scream it from the rooftops, Steven Wright is not the answer to this problem. He’s not. Waiting around for him to get his body right and then toss a knuckleball is not the answer.
Porcello will bounce back. The won the Cy Young in 2016, there’s no reason why he can’t find it again. Rodriguez has made great strides and just needs more consistent starts. That’s it. So with those two guys on the rebound and Sale and Pomeranz showing no signs of slowing down that leaves an open spot in the rotation.
Fixing the holes in the ROTATION. Not the LINEUP.
This is the hole the Red Sox needed to fill. Instead, they brought in an expensive, injury prone outfielder to DH, forcing them to spend $30 million on two first basemen, when in reality they only needed one.
The J.D. Martinez signing is unnecessary spending and flexing, I would have much rather the Sox sign Arrieta, Lynn or Cobb at a fraction of the cost for fewer years. Hell, the Mets signed Jason Vargas for peanuts and they already have a young, stacked rotation.
The way to beat the Yankees is with elite pitching. The Yankees lost Michael Pineda and will be relying heavily on Tanaka, Severino, and Gray next year, all of whom have their faults that can be exploited. The biggest loss for the Yankees was Pineda who opted for Minnesota. The Yankees will always be a threat at the plate, and that’s where you need to beat them.
We all know that Aaron Judge has a strikeout weak spot, and so does Stanton. We also saw the drop in production from Gary Sanchez’s rookie season to last year, if you can call it a drop… so maybe not that. The Yankees have issues and habits that you can exploit at the plate. Their lineup fluctuates and Girardi played the hot hands, so who knows what Aaron Boone will do. The idea that the Red Sox can beat them by outslugging the Bronx Bombers is inane. It shows a misunderstanding of the current landscape of how this game is won.
The Beantown Blues
The Red Sox didn’t hit nearly as many Home Runs as the Yankees last year, but that doesn’t mean they were less of a team. They still won the AL East, they still went to the playoffs, and then they ran headlong into the powerful Houston Astros. They did not lose for lack of power, they lost for lack of solid pitching and basic hitting.
The Red Sox have a young lineup with the exception of Hanley and Pedroia, and they need time to mature. There was a time when Jacoby Ellsbury was stunting the growth on JBJ. The Red Sox opted to let Ellsbury walk and they have never looked back. So why were they looking to offload JBJ this offseason? To potentially make room for Martinez in the outfield. We even saw the corresponding move of selling Bryce Brentz to the Pirates after the Martinez deal went through. The Sox are selling offensive youth for offensive decline.
The Yankees have the most explosive offense in the league… on paper. They’re going to have to duplicate those numbers from last year to be successful and that’s not an easy feat. The Red Sox don’t need to improve at the plate, they needed to improve 60 feet, 6 inches away. They need to sign a pitcher. They need a pitcher to offset the power in pinstripes.
There’s still time Dumbrowski. You can make this right.