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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The last Yankee dynasty which began in 1996 was triggered by the young players’ rookie Derek Jeter, second-year pitcher Andy Pettitte and second-year pitcher Mariano Rivera. Soon afterwards Jorge Posada joined the other three and the four became known as the “Core Four.” Beginning in 1996 and ending in 2007 the Yankees made the playoffs every year and were 4-time World Series Champions.

What a weekend August 12-14 was in Yankee-Land. On August 12 the Yankees celebrated A-Rod’s last Yankee game, on August 13 the Yankees celebrated the 20th anniversary of their 1996 World Series Championship team and on August 14 the Yankees honored Mariano Rivera by adding his plaque to Monument Park.

With A-Rod unconditionally released on Friday, the Yankees on Saturday brought up from their Triple A farm team Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge. Both players in their first at bats on Saturday powered back-to-back home runs. The feat of two players hitting back to back home runs in their first at bats in the majors had never been done before in the history of baseball. Austin’s home run was to right field and just cleared the 314-foot sign, whereas; Judge’s home run traveled 457 feet and tied for the fourth longest home run ever hit at Yankee Stadium. In that same game home runs were also hit by Didi Gregorius, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks. Manager Girardi has stated Aaron Judge will be their permanent right fielder and it is clear that Gary Sanchez is their catcher of the future. All of the above mentioned players are under the age of 27 or as Yankee broadcaster John Sterling put it, the “Baby Bombers” have arrived.

It is fitting that after celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1996 World Series Championship team, which also marked the first year of the last Yankee dynasty, we can talk about the next Yankee dynasty.  Clearly the strategy of GM Cashman is working better than I expected and probably even better than Cashman expected. The Yankees as of this writing are still in the hunt for the second wild card spot. But there are too many teams in front of them and their starting pitching as it stands now is suspect to say the least. Except for the Tanaka and Sabathia the rest of the starters including Pineda, Eovaldi and Severino have been woeful. However, the bright side for the next couple of years will be watching these young players develop into solid major leaguers triggering the next Yankee dynasty. 

Why do I call this the early stage for the next Yankee dynasty? Over the next two years the Yankees will be rid of many costly salaries. After the 2018 season, with Beltran’s $15 million, Teixeira’s $22.5 million, Sabathia’s $25 million, A-Rod’s $21 million and other bad contracts gone, the Yankees will have globs of money to throw at almost any great player they want. What about signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or Jose Fernandez, a free agent in 2019? Cashman’s strategy of unloading Chapman, Miller and Beltran to receive back 12 very good prospects has rebuilt the Yankee farm system into one of the best in baseball. These good prospects can be used as trade bait to bring back to the Yankees top starting pitchers. I predict the new Yankee dynasty will start at the beginning of the 2018 season. The Yankees will be very competitive in 2017 and possibly can be a second wild card team. This will depend on the Yankees fortifying their pitching staff in the off season. Remember, the Yankees could resign Beltran and Chapman for the 2017 season. The addition of 29-year old Adam Warren this year has already helped the pitching staff.

It would be hard to predict now which of the young Yankees will be the “Baby Bombers” that trigger the new Yankee dynasty. But for the next few years Yankee fans can really enjoy watching the new Yankee dynasty taking shape


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Theo Epstein, the President of the Cubs, and Brian Cashman, the GM of the Yankees, concluded a trade where the Yankees shipped Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in exchange for Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford. Let’s look at this trade through the eyes of these two men.

Theo Epstein was hired in 2011 as the President of the Cubs. His goal was to bring an end to 100+ years of Cubs’ misery by repeating what he did for the Red Sox, leading them to WS Championships in 2004 and again in 2007. The combination of Hector Rondon as the Cubs closer and Pedro Strop as their setup man ranked them seventh in the NL with a 3.73 ERA contributing to the Cubs' 12-15 record in one-run games. In acquiring Chapman, the Cubs now have a pitcher who broke the record in velocity, throwing several pitches at 105 mph. He fanned 44 batters and walked only eight in 31 1/3 innings with New York while converting 20 of 21 save chances. Yes, there is a risk in giving up your number one prospect Torres, but with Chapman as its closer, Epstein can see Chapman getting the last out in a final WS game breaking the 108 year Cubs WS drought. Epstein did what I expected Washington to do. That is, do whatever it takes to obtain Chapman. I said Washington’s Papelbon was finished as a closer and yesterday Papelbon blew a save against Cleveland not recording one out facing five straight hitters. In my April 3 blog, I predicted the Cubs would win the World Series. Theo’s addition of Chapman allows me to double-down on my preseason prediction.

What does this trade mean for the Yankees? In December, acquiring Chapman for a quartet of average minor leaguers was a no-brainer. Now, getting the Cubs number one prospect, a versatile major league pitcher, another good prospect and a throw-in minor leaguer was too good to pass up in July. The players they received from the Cubs were Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.Torres is a 19-year-old shortstop who was listed as the Cubs number one 2016 minor league prospect. Before the trade he was in high A-ball where he was batting .275 in 94 games with 9 HRs and 47 RBIs. Billy McKinney, a 21-year-old outfielder who bats and throws from the left side, was originally selected as the 24th pick in the first round of the 2013 draft by Oakland right out of high school. In 2015 he batted .340 in A-Ball and then was promoted to Double A, where his 2015 season ended with a hairline fracture. In 2016, he is currently batting .252 in Double A. In getting Adam Warren back, the Yankees got a veteran pitcher who for his 4-year stay (2012-2015) with the Yankees had an ERA of 3.39. He can be used as a spot starter or a long relief man. The Cubs got Warren in the deal that sent Castro to the Yankees. Now the Yankees have both coveted players. How sweet is that? As for Rashad Crawford he is a 22-year-old throw-in who is currently in A-Ball. Since Chapman will be a free agent in 2017,

the Yankees will have every opportunity to resign him for next year. Who knows he might again wear the pinstripes in 2017. What does this say about the Yankees for the rest of 2016? Cashman’s trade is a stroke of genius which does not wave the white flag for the 2016 Yankees. As of this writing the Yankees are only 4 games out of the second Wild Card with three teams ahead of them. At this point in the season their starters should be able to handle seven innings and they still have, in Betances and Miller, the best pair of pitchers to finish the game. Further, the addition of Warren gives them a dependable starter if needed. Both Epstein and Cashman should be commended on making this trade. Yes, the Cubs will break their 108 year WS drought; whereas, the Yankees are successfully getting younger while still staying competitive for the post-season.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

In 1901, the Boston Americans was established as an original franchise of the newly formed American League. The Boston Americans became the Boston Red Sox in 1908. In 1900, the Chicago Orphans became a new franchise in the National League. In 1907, the Orphans became the Chicago Cubs. Fenway Park, the home of the Red Sox, was opened in 1912 and Wrigley Field, the home of the Cubs, was opened in 1914. Yes, they are the two oldest ballparks by far in baseball. The third oldest park is Dodger Stadium which opened in 1962.

The 1908 World Series (WS) matched the Chicago Cubs against the Detroit Tigers. The Cubs won in five games for their second consecutive WS title. However, as I explained in a previous blog the only reason the Cubs were in the WS was because of the Giants’ Fred Merkle’s infamous bonehead play when he failed to touch second base as the Giants’ winning run crossed home-plate forcing the Cubs and Giants into a one-game end-of-season playoff game won by the Cubs. 1918 also marked the last time the Cubs won a WS. The Cubs were WS losers in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, and 1945. It was said that the mistreatment of Merkle by Cub fans and writers led to the “Curse of Merkle” being placed on the Cubs. Through the 2014 season, the Chicago Cubs are still waiting to win their next World Series since 1908.

The 1918 WS featured the Boston Red Sox who defeated the Chicago Cubs 4 games to 2. The Series victory for the Red Sox was their fifth in five tries, going back to their first WS win in 1903. The 1918 WS was indeed a unique one. It was the last WS in which there was no home runs hit. It also marked the first time that “The Star Spangled Banner” was performed at a major league game. It took 86 years for the Red Sox, who had won the American League but lost the WS in 1946, 1947, 1967, 1975, and 1986, to finally win the World Series in 2004 and then win again in 2007 and 2013. The 86-year-old drought was often attributed to the "Curse of the Bambino”, allegeable brought about by the Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919.

There is a baseball executive connected with both franchises that one can say was principally responsible for ending the Red Sox Curse in 2004 and possibly ending the Chicago Cub Curse in 2015. He is the 41-year old Theo Epstein, currently the head of Baseball Operations for the Cubs.

Epstein became the youngest GM (at the age of 28) when he was hired as the new GM of the Red Sox at the end of the 2002 season. He is credited with making several key acquisitions, including David Ortiz, Kevin Millar, and Curt Schilling, during his first tenure as Red Sox GM. These players were regarded as instrumental in breaking the “Curse of the Bambino”" when the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in the 2004 WS.

On October 12, 2011, Epstein agreed to a five-year contract to be the new President of the Cubs. During the first three years of Epstein's presidency, the Cubs finished each season in last place in the National League Central. At the end of Epstein's fourth year in 2015 the Cubs finished the regular season in third place in the National League Central while clinching a Wild Card berth into the postseason. It was the first time since 2008 that the Cubs have made it to the postseason. On October 13, 2015 the Cubs won the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals and advanced to the National League Championship Series, marking the first time the Cubs won a postseason series at Wrigley Field.

Epstein has used trades such as acquiring Jake Arrieta, drafting such players as Kris Bryant, and signing such free-agents as Jon Lester to build the 2015 Cubs into what I believe is the best team in the 2015 playoffs.

Yes, the Cubs are my choice to win the 2015 WS and break their 108 year-old curse.


 

 

 
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