Monday, December 15, 2014

The More Things Change, the Yankees Don't

The Hot Stove season is underway, and the Yankees are making moves.  Underwhelming, head-scratching, and downright bone-headed moves. 

They began by re-signing Chris Young, a player the Mets didn't want.  (Let that sink in for a moment.)  But Young will be the 4th outfielder, a guy who can play all three OF positions, and someone who's not expected to do much.

Today, though, the Yankees addressed a much bigger need.  With a Derek Jeter-sized hole at shortstop, the Yanks traded for Didi Gregorius.  Gregorius is primarily a glove-first guy, having shown only marginal success hitting at the major-league level.  I would question the need to acquire a glove-first SS, considering they already have that in the form of Brendan Ryan.  But I will also agree with those who say Ryan cannot hit, while Gregorius has hitting potential

The head-scratcher, though, is that the Yankees chose to part with Shane Greene, a major-league ready starting pitcher, in exchange for Gregorius.  While his sample size was small from his rookie year, Greene put up good numbers: 81 strikeouts in 78 innings and an ERA under 4.  Sure, Greene might not rise very far above a 3rd or 4th starter.  But for a team with a question-mark riddled rotation, a Gregorius for Greene swap may amount to nothing more than patching a hole here while creating another over there.

But for me, the worst move of the off-season so far has been the signing of Andrew Miller.  While I think Miller is a good reliever (at least he was last season), in no way is he worth $36 million over four years.  Miller, you'll recall, is a failed starter.  No big deal there, as nearly every successful reliever is a failed starter.  However, successful teams don't pay $36 million for someone else's reclamation project.  There are cheaper alternatives to be found everywhere, and teams that put together those great bullpens with arms no one else wanted -- see Royals, Kansas City or Orioles, Baltimore -- reap the rewards.  (It's no surprise that Miller was part of that outstanding Baltimore pen, and also not a surprise that the O's didn't want to pay to keep him.)  It remains to be seen how long Miller remains an elite reliever and whether the Yanks will earn a return on their hefty investment.

It's only December, and the Yankees still have needs.  Third base, starting pitching, maybe second base, too.  But I don't see any obvious fixes or any evident plan that puts the Yankees on a course correction for 2015.  With other teams in the East getting better, the Yanks might be playing catch-up during the regular season, too.

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