Category Archives: Yankees

What I Want to See in Sports in 2018

When you look back on 2017, not just what happened in sports but as a whole, I think I speak for everyone when I say the only logical reaction is “what the actual fuck just happened?” Definitely a year to remember, but one you wish you could forget. In terms of sports it was certainly an eventful year for my teams. The Yankees were supposed to miss the playoffs and came up one win short of the World Series, the Giants were supposed to contend for a Super Bowl and ended up with the #2 pick in the draft, the Knicks almost let Phil Jackson trade Porzingis only to fire him a week later, and Rutgers tried. On a day when everyone is making “New Year’s Resolutions,” I made a New Year’s wish list for sports because it’s more fun to ask for things out of your control to happen (no one gives a shit that you swear you’re gonna start going to the gym again Brad, get off Twitter.) Obviously it would be easy/unrealistic to say I want all my teams to win championships, so I got a little more creative with it. Here’s what I hope 2018 has in store in the world of sports.

The Patriots Lose in the Super Bowl

No, I don’t just want the Patriots to not win the Super Bowl. I want them to make it there, and then lose. Why? Because love them or hate them, you can’t deny that the big game is always better when the Pats are in it. Was it horrible to see them win last year in the best comeback/worst collapse in Super Bowl history? Obviously, but you can’t deny that it was an amazing game. Every Super Bowl Tom Brady and company have been in has been extremely entertaining (especially 42 & 46 in my opinion.) Give me Brady throwing a game-ending pick six in overtime or something. Fun for the whole family!

Duke Loses in the Final Four

The same logic applies here as my Patriots argument. I would love to see nothing more than Grayson Allen’s Ted Cruz-looking ass get embarrassed by 40 by North Carolina on national TV. March Madness is the best sporting event there is (don’t @ me), and seeing Duke lose just makes it that much sweeter.

The Mets Pitching Staff Stays Healthy

Hear me out on this one. I’m a Yankee fan, but I would love to see this happen for two reasons. First of all, as a baseball fan, I would love to see what a healthy staff of Syndergaard, DeGrom, Matz, Harvey, Wheeler staff could do in a full season. And second, if they Yankees could still beat the crap out of those guys, it would shut up every annoying Mets fan I know.

The Giants Pick a Franchise-Altering Player

I’m torn on who I want them to take at number two. I love the idea of Saquon Barkley in the backfield, but if you legitimately think Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield could be your next franchise quarterback, how do you pass that up? Knowing the Giants, they could also trade back and take a lineman later on, but they would need to get a substantial return to do that. All I know is that this is hopefully the last time they get a draft pick this high for a long time, so they need to choose wisely.

Rutgers Upsets a Big Ten Team at Home

I’ve wanted to storm the field since I got to Rutgers. Unfortunately, the football team has not exactly done a great job at beating their Big Ten opponents recently, or even losing by a reasonable margin for that matter. But after storming the court after the basketball team beat Seton Hall a few weeks ago, all I know is I need to experience that at High Point Solutions Stadium before I graduate. (The fact that 2018 will be my last go-around of tailgates is like the Sunday Scaries times a million, by the way.)

The Yankees Win the World Series

All right sue me, we came within a game of getting there last year and we just traded for Giancarlo freaking Stanton. You’re damn right I want a World Series this year.

Let’s hope 2018 is a year to remember for the right reasons. All of us here at Below the Belt are ecstatic to bring you another year of average blogs.

Why Greg Bird Will Be One of Baseball’s Most Slept On Players in 2018

The biggest news of the baseball offseason thus far has surely been the Yankees acquiring NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins for pennies on the dollar, giving their already potent lineup another weapon. The Yanks led all teams in the majors in homers last year with 241 home runs, while Stanton won the individual home run race with 59. The last time the team with the most home runs in the previous season added the league home run leader was also the Yankees, when they traded for a guy by the name of Babe Ruth. Not really sure who that is, he doesn’t even have a Twitter so he probably wasn’t even that good. But that is neither here nor there.

The Stanton trade gives the Yankees a modern day “Murderers’ Row” (the nickname of Ruth’s Yankee teams in the 1920s/30s), or as I like to call it, “Murderers’ Row and Toe”, a shoutout to lovable infielder Ronald Torreyes, who as of now projects as a starter for the 2018 Yanks. The names that stand out in the lineup are obviously Stanton, as well as Aaron Judge, the 2017 AL home run leader and Rookie of the Year. Catcher Gary Sanchez also often comes up in discussion, as his first two seasons in pinstripes have been nothing short of great. Even shortstop Didi Gregorious receives a fair amount of attention, and deservedly so after a career year in 2017. Gregorious hit a team-high .287 to go along with 25 home runs, not to mention playoff heroics like his game-tying three run dinger in the Wild Card game vs. the Twins or his two homers off Indians ace Corey Kluber in the decisive ALDS Game 5. But there’s one more power bat in the 2018 Yankees lineup that no one is really talking about, and that’s Greg Bird.

The start of Bird’s career has been interesting to say the least. He broke onto the scene late in 2015, helping the Yankees secure a wild card spot as their everyday first baseman while Mark Teixeira was hurt. Bird hit .261 with 11 homers and 31 RBI in 46 games, including two home runs in his first career start. I was at that game, and it definitely made you excited to think about what a perfect marriage Bird’s sweet lefty swing and Yankee Stadium’s right field short porch could completely be.

After missing all of 2016 with a torn labrum, Bird looked to have a big impact on the 2017 Yankees. With the departure of Teixeira, Bird was to be the team’s new starting first baseman. He absolutely raked in spring training, hitting .451 with 8 homers and 15 RBI in 23 games. Sure, it was spring training, but those numbers are too good to ignore. However, after fouling a ball off his foot late in spring training, Bird appeared to get into a funk. Starting the season as the team’s #3 hitter, Bird started an abysmal 6-60 before going on the DL. The foot injury was somewhat of a mystery, and we weren’t sure if we would see Bird again in 2017. This led to a revolving door of Yankees trying to hold down the first base spot, including Chris Carter (yuck), Tyler Austin, Ji-Man Choi, Matt Holliday, Garrett Cooper, and Chase Headley. However, no one played well enough to gain a stronghold on the position until Bird finally returned to the team in late August.

In the month of September, Bird hit .235 with 6 homers and 16 RBI. Not quite the average you want to see, but the power stats were much better than anything the Yankees had seen from first base all year. In the playoffs, however, Bird performed at a new level. He led the team in OPS and slugging, hitting three home runs along the way. The biggest of which was a solo homer off Andrew Miller in Game 3 of the ALDS that gave the Yanks a 1-0 lead and kept their season alive.

I was there and that was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard the Stadium. It literally felt like it was shaking. The video is way better with the song from Titanic in the background (as are most sports highlights), and I watch this one at least five times every day.

In a lineup where most pitchers will have to approach each game trying to figure out how to pitch Stanton, Judge, and Sanchez, Bird should see plenty of pitches to hit in 2018. This is a guy with the capability to hit 30+ home runs a year, and he could bat as low as seventh in the order next season. Am I trying to say Bird is going to be on the level of the three guys I just named? Absolutely not, but I feel like he’s going to get overlooked, at least to start the season, because of their presence and the fact that he’s yet to play a full MLB season. Get me to opening day right now, I need to see this lineup in action. Let’s go Yanks baby.

Can the Yankees Land Another Top Player This Offseason?

Apparently…

I don’t mean to brag, but I predicted this. In my coaches office, my friend and I were discussing the Yankees next steps, and realized Gerrit Cole was on the trade block. However, we did argue which outfield pieces would be best to trade away for Cole.

With an abundance of outfield talent, the Yankees have to get rid of somebody this offseason. Ideally, it is Jacoby Ellsbury, but he has a no-trade clause that he does not want to use. Plus, nobody really wants him due to his massive contract and sub-par play…not a great combo.

In second place is Aaron Hicks. He is one of the better defensive center fielders in the game with a rocket of an arm.

He is also coming off the best season of his career. His intake will never be higher, so sell on him now.

Brett Gardner is a leader in the clubhouse, and he was an essential part in the Yankees’ success in 2017. In my opinion, these young hitters still need guidance, and a familiar role model to shadow their at-bats over the next few years will help them tremendously. Gardner is that dude, and needs to remain at the top of the lineup at all costs.

Lastly, Clint Frazier is a potential superstar, and we all saw what he was capable of during the summer.

He was always thought to be the future of left field in New York ever since he was the centerpiece of the Andrew Miller deal. But now, we have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton manning the corner spots for the next ten years.  He is also the most appealing asset out of the Yankee outfielders the Pirates could receive in this deal. So my question is, do we need Frazier?

My answer is yes, but it is also no. Is our window for a championship now? Yes. Is our window also in five or six years from now? Yes. That seems to be the dilemma. Do the Yankees want to solidify their offense for the next decade, or do they want to fix their one problem remaining and be the favorite World Series contender right now. Are we still rebuilding, or are we officially rebuilt? I’d argue our work is done, and it is time to focus on the now.

Sending Red Thunder to Pittsburgh for an ace-caliber pitcher is something that is mouth-watering to think about.

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A 98 MPH two-seam fastball that moves like a lefty slider. I could definitely get used to that. 

Frazier will not reach his max potential for another 3-4 years, and frankly, the Yankees window for a title is open now. Who knows if we will have the same bullpen in four years, or if Sonny Gray will stick around.  Will we be able to resign all these young, budding superstars?

Brett Gardner is the third outfielder right now, he has earned that. Clint is going to be stuck in Triple-A, or be the 5th man up after Hicks. It really hurts trading away somebody with so much talent and “legendary bat speed”, but that’s the price of becoming a complete team.

In my opinion, acquiring Gerrit Cole now makes them by far the most complete team in baseball. Here’s a look at the rotation (assuming C.C. Sabathia is signed and this trade is made):

  1. Luis Severino
  2. Gerrit Cole
  3. Sonny Gray
  4. Masahiro Tanaka
  5. C.C. Sabathia
  6. Jordan Montgomery

Having six capable starters is a luxury, for multiple reasons:

  1. Tanaka is injury prone, and most effective on an extra day of rest. Giving him that added time every week will save him this season, and hopefully avoid another disastrous summer.
  2. Severino and Montgomery are still young, and could benefit from throwing less innings to help their arm in the future. This applies more to Montgomery, considering Sevy is the ace and will need to hold down the fort, but is still an added bonus.
  3. C.C. Sabathia is old as fuck, and those legs holding up 300 lbs can’t trot out there every 5th day.
  4. If somebody does get hurt, we are good to go with five capable starters, as well as Triple-A guys that are able to jump in if the 6-man rotation is working out.

These are luxuries indeed, but this depth is something that is required for a championship team. The last weakness the Yankees find is the rotation, but with the addition of Gerrit Cole and the probable signing of C.C., it could quickly become a strength. The only downside…is parting with Clint Frazier and his wealth of potential. I think that is worth a ring.

 

 

 

Life is Beautiful, Yankees Trade for Giancarlo Stanton, This is My Favorite Day of Existing Ever

Wow this is really freaking cool. All day Friday, there were rumblings that Stanton to the Yankees could go from a pipe dream to a reality. I was still skeptical until I saw this tweet a few hours before I went to sleep.

To which I promptly reacted to as such

I’ve never said or heard of that phrase in my life, that’s just the first thing that popped into my mind when I read that tweet. Regardless, I went to sleep and woke up to literal Christmas.

Holy fucking shit, this is one of the best things to ever happen to me. The reigning NL MVP, who also just led the majors with 59 home runs, joining the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, who just led the AL with 52 home runs, in the same Yankees outfield? That’s literally a wet dream. Not to mention Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorious, and Greg Bird? This is easily the most stacked Yankee lineup I’ve seen in a long time, if not in my lifetime. I mean look at this shit.

You figure that Gleyber Torres slides into that lineup somewhere early in the year, either at 2nd or 3rd base, and it just gets even scarier. I’m a Yankee fan, but this should be borderline illegal. Some games may never end. Will the White Sox even be able to get this lineup out 27 times in a game? Is Rob Manfred gonna have to put a mercy rule into play? Regardless, this lineup is scary as hell.

I’ll be the first to admit, I was salty when Shohei Ohtani wouldn’t even give us the time of day earlier this week. I said all along he would go to the Yankees or Dodgers, but I didn’t anticipate him as being weird enough to not care about money or winning. Regardless, trading for Stanton made us Yankee fans forget about him real quick. Basically the Yankees are a spoiled 16-year old girl whose Daddy didn’t get her the new iPhone for her birthday, and she got so upset that he went out and bought her a Mercedes.

So where do the Yankees go from here? They still need to fill out their rotation. Severino, Tanaka, and Gray are locks to come back. Does Jordan Montgomery get another shot at it after a solid rookie campaign? Do we re-sign CC? Does Chad Green become a starter again? Personally, I want to see Green back in the pen where he killed it last year. I have no problem with Montgomery as a 4th/5th starter, and I’d love to see CC come back at the right price. Trading Brett Gardner for a starter is also an option, and Chance Adams is still waiting in AAA.

This is really fun. It’s a video game lineup. After the heartbreaking Game 7 loss in the ALCS over a month ago, I haven’t had much to be happy about in sports. Sure the Knicks are decent but they’re still the Knicks, Rutgers football is not exactly something you can watch soberly, and I don’t know where to start with the Giants. But as of right now, it’s baseball season for me. I’ve convinced myself of it. Yes it is December 9th, and yes it is snowing, but it’s officially baseball season. I’m probably just gonna watch Stanton highlights every day from now until Opening Day.

To all the angry Mets fans, I actually feel legitimately bad for you. Hey, who knows, maybe one of these years all your pitchers will stay healthy enough for you guys to lose to us in the World Series! Wouldn’t that be something. And Red Sox fans, have fun facing us 18 times next year, I thoroughly look forward to seeing how many times Stanton/Judge/Sanchez can take David Price deep over the Green Monster until he retires mid-game.

Merry Christmas Yankee fans, and a Happy New Year it will be indeed.

Can We Please Get Some Clarity With the Yankees’ Manager Search?

It has now been nearly three weeks since the Yankees announced Joe Girardi would not be returning as manager for 2018. I’ve never been a big Girardi fan, and even though I had way more faith in him post-ALCS than I did after ALDS Game 2 (what a turn of events that was, huh?), I still think it was the right call to not bring him back. The Yankees are a young team that has the potential to be a force in the league for the next decade, and I don’t think Girardi was the guy to lead them. There was talk of him wanting to step away and spend more time with his family after 2017 before the playoffs even started, so even though I don’t think the decision was 100% his call, he may not have been up to the task of managing another 10 years.

So yeah, I’m glad Girardi is gone. But I figured that after getting rid of their manager of 10 years, they would have SOME kind of idea who they wanted to replace him. It’s kind of crazy how little I’ve heard about potential replacements for Girardi thus far. They’ve only officially interviewed two candidates. One was bench coach Rob Thomson, which was somewhat surprising because from everything I’ve heard the Yankees are looking mostly externally for their next manager. The other was Eric Wedge, who last managed the Mariners from 2011-2013 but also managed the Indians from 2003-2009, winning AL Manager of the Year in 2007. I could see Wedge stepping into the manager role because he’s experienced and has excelled and managed in the playoffs before.

The Yankees have also been linked to guys like Brad Ausmus, who apparently said he has no interested in managing next year, and 2003 ALCS Game 7 hero Aaron Boone. Personally, there are two guys who I have my eye on.

My logical candidate is Tony Pena. On paper, Pena almost makes too much sense. He’s been a coach with the Yankees since 2006, serving as both first base and bench coach. He interviewed the last time the Yankees’ had the manager job open in 2008, when Girardi got the job. He has managerial experience, as he was the Royals’ skipper from 2002-05, winning AL Manager of the Year in 2003. And, perhaps most importantly in my mind, he’s a former catcher who will be able to work with Gary Sanchez on his defensive woes. As far as downsides, Pena is 60 years old, perhaps not the ideal age for a manager of a young team. Also, who knows how  much he would actually be able to teach Sanchez that he hasn’t already tried. Overall, Pena’s name has not come up much or at all regarding the manager job, but I think he’s a great fit.

If that’s my logical option, who’s my irrational option?

This guy.

No, not Lee Corso. Alex Rodriguez, aka founder of A-Rod Corp and one of the best baseball players of all-time. Before I address why I understand this could be a completely horrible idea, let me explain why A-Rod could actually be a great manager.

First of all, unlike most of the other guys I mentioned before, A-Rod is young. At just 42 years of age and only one year removed from his playing days, he would be able to relate to younger players much better than an older manager would. Second of all, checkered past or not, he is undoubtedly one of the best players not just of this generation, but of all time. What he did as a player will get players to respect him instantly. He is also a great baseball mind, as anyone who has watched his FOX broadcasts can tell he actually has a lot of knowledge about the game.

Now, obviously there is way more too it than that. Off the bat, A-Rod’s relationship with the Yankees’ front office was never the best, from his opt-out during the World Series in 2007 to his career being cut short a month in 2016. Who knows if they would even want him to manage, or vice-versa. Also, A-Rod is just a sketchy dude. He straight up lied about his steroid usage multiple times, had multiple on-field issues with players (Dallas Braden, Bronson Arroyo, etc.), and hasn’t always been in the public eye for the best reasons (see: Madonna.) If he were to get hired, it would be an absolute media frenzy. One of the most exciting young teams in baseball, who also happens to be the New York Yankees, turning over the keys to the franchise to one of the most polarizing athletes of our time? You can’t script stories like that. Especially with him dating J-Lo, the paparazzi would absolutely flock to the Bronx.  And call me crazy, but as much of a mess as that would be, it would be a LOT of fun to watch. Kind of like a modern-day Bronx is Burning (fantastic miniseries, throwback to when ESPN was actually good and not a steaming hot plate of garbage disguised as a sports network.)

But, at the end of the day, the question is this: who is the best-suited person to bring championships to New York. The last time the Yankees were in a similar position, with a promising young team and the manager job open, was 1995. The man they hired, Joe Torre, delivered them four championships in the next five seasons. Am I asking for that out of our next manager? Obviously not, but that would be great. The bottom line is, for as much as the 2017 Yankees overperformed, they still squandered what was a solid chance to win a championship. Their next manager needs to put them in the absolute best position to win a championship every single year. Who is that guy? No clue. If I knew, I’d be working in baseball somewhere, making way more money than I would know what to do with.

So to Brian Cashman, the Steinbrenners, and the rest of the Yankees front office: choose wisely. And to A-Rod: keep doing you, my dude.

 

Ranking the World Series of the Wild-Card Era

Before the 2017 World Series began, I wanted to write a column that ranks the World Series of the modern era.  However, I remembered how miserable I felt before the 1999 and 2006 World Series, the two series that followed devastating Mets playoff losses.  In fact, I ended up watching very few pitches of the 1999 World Series and none of the 2006 World Series.  I was that bitter that the Mets were not there.  Anyway, the editors of “Below the Belt Sports” are big-time Yankees fans, and I do not know how much of the series they are/will be watching.  That said; rather than sending them a World Series article a day or two after the Yankees’ elimination, I figured I would give them a few extra days of mourning, Alonzo, before they had to read this article.

Anyway, as a baseball fan, it excites me that we have our first World Series matchup of 100+ win teams since the 1970 Reds/Orioles showdown.  If you have read any of my previous posts, you are likely aware that I do not like it when the World Series features teams who were not dominant through the 162-game regular-season marathon.  However, this Houston/LA matchup is a matchup of two heavyweights.  This is great for baseball.  The best ways to hype a World Series are to have dominant teams, big markets, dynasties, superstars, and/or teams with long championship droughts.  Given this, I thought it would be fun to rank the World Series of the Wild Card era by hype leading into the series.  Then, it would be fun to compare these rankings to how great the series ended up.  Note that, when I rank the series based on how great they actually were, I give the most weight to the pure excitement of the baseball (regardless of storylines entering the series) while also giving secondary weight to those other storylines.

Therefore, without further ado, here is my ranking of the pre-series hype of the 23 World Series from 1995 through 2017:

23) 2003: Florida Marlins over New York Yankees in 6.  Classic ALCS – Aaron Boone’s walkoff homer in Game 7.  Classic NLCS – Steve Bartman, Moises Alou, and Alex Gonzalez.  America was ready for Boston and/or the Chicago Cubs to play in the World Series, ready to end their legendary droughts.  Instead, we got the Yankees for the 5th time in 6 years and the ratings-kryptonite Marlins.

Image result for steve bartman

22) 2007: Boston over Colorado in 4.  While the Red Sox did draw a national audience, the Rockies – even with an incredible 22-1 run that ended at the end of the NLCS – were not a big draw. Plus, the Red Sox had ended their drought three years earlier, and most people had gone through September expecting to see the Phillies, Mets, or Cubs in the World Series.

21) 1997: Florida Marlins over Cleveland in 7.  Let’s just get done with the Marlins here.  While Cleveland had not won a World Series in 49 years, the 1997 Indians had won only 85 games.  This was supposed to be a rematch of the 1996 Yankees/Braves series or a battle of the 97-win Orioles and Braves.  Even Harry Caray couldn’t be bothered with previewing the players in this one.

20) 2012: San Francisco over Detroit in 4.  While these are two classic franchises, San Francisco had already won its first SF title in 2010, but its down 2011 season had kept the team from developing an air of dynasty.  Plus, Washington and Cincinnati were the clear two top teams in the NL that season.  A Giants/Yankees matchup would have also been intriguing, but Derek Jeter’s injury in Game 1 of the Tigers/Yankees ALCS derailed chances of that one.

19) 2011: St. Louis over Texas in 7.  At the time, I was surprised by the lack of hype for this series.  Texas had never won (and still has never won) a World Series, and Dallas-Fort Worth is a major market.  Plus St. Louis is a classic franchise and has the second-most championships of all time.  However, what I think does not matter.  Also, it might not have helped that, for the second-straight season, the Phillies were the class of the NL in the regular season but came up short of the Fall Classic.

18) 2006: St. Louis over Detroit in 5.  Sure, the Cardinals had not won a World Series since 1982, but that was not a long drought.  Plus, they were 83-79 in 2006.  83 and friggin 79.  I did not watch any of this series.  I do not need to say any more.

17) 2005: Chicago White Sox over Houston in 4: This was the tipping point for me when I realized, “Oh crap.  People don’t care about the World Series anymore.”  6 of the previous 7 Fall Classics had featured the Yankees or Red Sox, and most of those series brought the hype.  I figured that the White Sox, a team with a drought 2 years longer than the Red Sox of the previous year and a team from Chicago, would be great for ratings.  Chicago and Houston are both top-4 markets.  Houston was looking for its first-ever championship.  However, the hype just was not there.  These two teams, even with Houston employing Roger Clemens, could not excite America.

Image result for roger clemens astros

16) 2014: San Francisco over Kansas City in 7.  Washington grabbed the top seed in the NL.  The Angels nabbed the top seed in the AL.  We were set for Trout and Harper in the Fall Classic.  Oh wait, the two teams won a combined one playoff game, and we were blessed with two Wild Cards in the World Series.  Again, the Giants’ subpar 2013 season kept them from having the “dynasty” appeal.

15) 2002: Anaheim Angels over San Francisco in 7.  As much as non-Yankees fans might dislike the Yankees, those fans love to tune in to root against the Yankees.  The first non-Yankees World Series since 2002 meant a decrease of hype.  However, neither of these teams had won a championship in their current somewhat-large-market locations, and Barry Bonds was in his ridiculous steroid-induced prime.  These facts helped garner interest.

Image result for barry bonds world series 2002

14) 2010: San Francisco over Texas in 5.  Again, Texas’s first WS appearance did not bring the hype I would have expected, but the fact that neither Texas nor San Francisco had won championships in their current locations helped.  I would say that, since Anaheim is not truly “LA”, Texas brought slightly more hype than Anaheim, hence the reason for this being above 2002.

13) 2000: NY Yankees over NY Mets in 5.  Yes, the hype was incredible in the Tri-State area, but much of the rest of the country was disinterested in an all-New York Fall Classic.

12) 2008: Philadelphia over Tampa Bay in 5.  In my mind, six MLB teams are always big for national hype: Phillies, Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers.  The first Phillies’ World Series in 25 years would have been ranked higher if not for the fact that they were facing off against a moribund Rays franchise with no real fans.

11) 1999: NY Yankees over Atlanta in 4.  We have now entered the realm of the series with high levels of hype.  While it was nauseating for me to have to choose to root for John Rocker or for Roger Clemens, this was the last World Series to pit two dynasties against each other.  The Yankees had won 2 of the previous 3 World Series, and the Braves were playing in their fifth World Series of the decade.  Dynasties are good for business.

10) 2001: Arizona over NY Yankees in 7.  Sure, 4th-year expansion teams in the desert don’t exactly scream “YUUUUUGE ratings”, but this was New York after 9/11.  It did not matter who was representing the NL; this series would be of great interest.

9) 1998: NY Yankees over San Diego in 4.  San Diego was not a major draw, but the Yankees had won of the best records in MLB history.  Would they finish the job like the 1927 Yankees or fall short like the 1954 Indians (note: the “2001 Mariners” reference did not exist yet)?  Would the Yankees officially become a dynasty?

8) 1995: Atlanta over Cleveland in 6.  The top regular-season finishers in the two leagues met in the Fall Classic.  Would the Braves finally win a title in their third World Series of the 1990s?  Would Cleveland get its first championship since 1948?  This series would have actually ranked higher except that a) many baseball fans had not yet returned after the strike, and b) a horrible idea known as “The Baseball Network” ensured that fans could watch only one Division Series and one League Championship Series.  That’s right, 4 of the 6 playoff series leading to the World Series were not on TV in your area…the year after the strike cancelled the World Series.  And you wonder why MLB had turned a blind eye to steroids by 1998.

Image result for john smoltz 1995

7) 2015: Kansas City over NY Mets in 5.  The Mets are usually a draw, especially in 2015, 29 years after their most recent championship.  In 2015, the Royals too had become a decent draw, as they ha fallen short in Game 7 of the World Series the previous year.  “New York vs. Small Market” is always a winning formula.

6) 2017: Houston vs. LA Dodgers.  See the intro.

5) 2009: NY Yankees over Philadelphia in 6.  This is one of only two World Series matchups in the Wild Card era to feature two “Top Six” hype teams.  However, the other was NY/NY, which did not quite work.  This series was a big draw, as the Yankees were trying to end a 9-year drought (long for the Yankees), while the Phillies looked to repeat.  Short-term dynasty vs. long-term dynasty.  Good stuff.

4) 2013: Boston over St. Louis in 6.  St. Louis is in the second tier in terms of hype.  They are a classic franchise with a storied history, but they can’t do it all themselves.  Fortunately, this was another case in which any NL team would have still allowed this series to have hype.  It was Boston in the year of the marathon bombing.  It was a big story.

3) 1996: NY Yankees over Atlanta in 6.  The Yankees had not won a championship in 19 years, which seemed like centuries for fans of the Bombers.  The Braves were looking to repeat.  This was another case of a short-term dynasty facing a long-term dynasty.  Still good stuff.

2) 2004: Boston over St. Louis in 4.  There are many things that have driven big baseball-playoff ratings over the past 23 years, but two factors stand supreme: the Red Sox’ drought and the Cubs’ drought.  For the Red Sox to vanquish the Yankees in the ALCS after falling down 3-0 and then have the chance to erase an 86-year championship drought, no story could be bigger than this….

Image result for red sox 2004 alcs

1) 2016: Chicago Cubs over Cleveland in 7. …except for the Cubs having the chance to end a 108-year championship drought.  Just for good measure, the Cubs’ opponent happened to be the Indians, who were sporting the second-longest active drought of 78 years.  From now to eternity, it will be tough to beat that storyline.

Image result for cubs 2017

Now that you have seen my rankings of hype, let’s see how the series on the field actually measured up to their hype.  The “hype” ranking is in parentheses, while the rankings are for the actual quality of the series.

Incomplete (6)): 2017 Houston vs. LA Dodgers: Game 2 has already clinched that this series will finish no worse than 14th on the list.  Game 2 was one of the greatest games in World Series history.  The Astros tied the game in the 9th, before the Dodgers erased a 2-run deficit in the 10th (including being down 1 with 2 outs and nobody on base).  There have been 22 extra-inning homeruns in World Series history (dating back to 1903), and five of them happened in this game.  Let’s hope the rest of the series is as thrilling as Game 2.

22 (22)) 2007: Boston over Colorado in 4.  Impeccable consistency here.  The series finished in last place in both rankings.  There was little hype going into the series, and Colorado’s 22-1 run was squashed by an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Red Sox.  The most memorable moment of the series was Ken Rosenthal announcing during the 8TH inning of Game 4 that A-Rod would be opting out of his contract.

21 (2)) 2004: Boston over St. Louis in 4.  Don’t take this personally, Red Sox fans.  While sweeps are awesome when you are the winning end, they are ho-hum for any impartial observers.  While it was exciting that the Red Sox finally won a championship, nothing on the field – other than Doug Mientkiewicz taking the ball from the last out – was memorable to non-Sox fans.

Image result for red sox 2004

20 (20)) 2012: San Francisco over Detroit in 4.  Again, sweeps are not exciting.  On the bright side, the Giants had to go 10 innings to win Game 4 on a Marco Scutaro hit.  On the downside, that game was during the day that Superstorm Sandy hit many people on the East Coast, so the World Series became an afterthought in many places.

19 (11)) 1999: NY Yankees over Atlanta in 4.  In the grand scheme of sweeps, this one at least had the excitement of a walkoff homerun by Chad Curtis in Game 3.  To top it off, he refused to speak to interviewer Jim Gray after the game.  In Game 2, MLB had honored the greatest players of all time before the game, and Pete Rose was one of the players.  After the ceremony, Jim Gray had asked Pete Rose about the gambling stuff, and many people thought it was neither the time nor the place to ask the question.

18 (9)) 1998: NY Yankees over San Diego in 4.  Oh joy, another Yankees’ sweep.  While this did not have a walkoff homerun, it did have three memorable components: 1) The fact that the Yankees were trying to finish an all-time great season; 2) Trevor “I’d better not make the Hall of Fame” Hoffman blew a save in Game 3; and 3) in Game 1, Tino Martinez hit a grand slam after he watched Strike 3 from Mark Langston on the previous pitch.

17 (17)) 2005: Chicago White Sox over Houston in 4.  Just as the Red Sox had ended their drought with a sweep the previous season, the White Sox did the same.  At least the White Sox had the dignity to give us a Scott Podsednik walk-off homer in Game 2 and a 14-inning win in Game 3.

16 (18) 2006: St Louis over Detroit in 5.  We are finally out of the sweeps!  Kudos to Detroit for winning a game.  I did not watch any of this series, but it is my understanding that the Tigers’ pitchers made a lot of throwing errors.  Also, I should mention that the Cardinals went 83-79 this season.  83-79!!!

15 (12) 2008: Philadelphia over Tampa Bay in 5.  Philly ended its 28-year drought, and this series had the added suspense of the longest game in MLB history.  Game 5, the clincher lasted over 48 hours.  Never mind that the game was suspended for rain on Sunday night and then resumed on Tuesday night.  It is funny that Phillies fans had to suffer through 48 hours of expecting their team to blow the series.

14 (14) 2010: San Francisco over Texas in 5.  It was exciting for the City by the Bay to get its first MLB championship.  Edgar Renteria had the game-winning homerun in Game 5, to join his game-winning walk-off hit in the 1997 World Series.  Somehow, in between, he managed to make the last out for St. Louis against Boston in the 2004 World Series…and then played the next season for Boston, who lost in the ALDS, the next year.  What a weird, Beltranian run of postseason ups and downs.

13 (15)) 2015: Kansas City over NY Mets in 5.  While it was a short series, three of the Royals’ four wins were won in the 8th inning or later.  Oh joy.  I guess you want me to tell you more.  In Game 1, Alex Gordon hit a game-tying homerun in the 9th inning, allowing the Royals to win in the 13th inning.  I really don’t want to go into much detail about Games 4 and 5, so let’s just leave it at “Daniel Murphy’s glove”, “David Wright’s peripheral vision”, and “Lucas Duda’s arm”.

12 (13)) 2000: NY Yankees over NY Mets in 5.  While it was a short series, two of the Yankees’ four wins were won in the 9th inning or later.  I really don’t want to go into much detail here either, so let’s just say, “Paul O’Neill, Jose Vizcaino, and Luis Sojo”.  Oh, this World Series did also feature the most bizarre moment in World Series history.  Roger Clemens is a jerk…and he definitely was not on steroids.

11 (8)) 1995: Atlanta over Cleveland in 6.  Atlanta won its first World Series championship, and it went six games.  However, the series lacked in defining moments.  My biggest memories of the series are of Tom Glavine and Mark Wohlers teaming up for a 1-0 win in Game 6, backed by a David Justice homerun.

10 (4)) 2013: Boston over St. Louis in 6.  This series was similar to 1995 in that it was balanced enough to go 6, but there were not many legendary moments.  However, this series gets the edge over 1995 because of the “Boston Strong” storyline.

9 (5)) 2009: NY Yankees over Philadelphia in 6.  Another similar setup to 1995 and 2013.  However, having Johnny Damon’s mad dash and having two “big hype” teams gives this series the tiebreaker.

Image result for arod 2009

8 (23)) 2003: Florida Marlins over NY Yankees in 6.  Many people – even some Yankees fans – could not have cared less about this series.  It is too bad though.  Game 4 was a classic, with Ruben Sierra’s two-run, two-out triple tying the game in the Top of the 9th.  Wow, Ruben Sierra was on the Yankees in 2003.  To quote Mike Francesa, “That’s pretty incredible when you think about it.”  Then, the Marlins’ Alex Gonzalez – not to be confused with the Cubs’ Alex Gonzalez, whose Game-6-NLCS error was just as big as Bartman – hit a walk-off homerun in extra innings.  In the end, Josh Beckett’s Game-6 complete-game shutout at Yankee Stadium on 3 days’ rest is an all-time great World Series feat.  That shutout clinched the series for the Marlins.

7 (3)) 1996: NY Yankees over Atlanta in 6.  The Braves destroyed the Yankees in the first two games at Yankee Stadium, only for the Yankees to win four straight, including the first three in Atlanta.  The highlight was Jim Leyritz’s 3-run homer to complete a 6-run comeback for the Yankees in Game 4.  Many Yankees swear that Joe Girardi’s triple in Game 6 created the loudest sound they have ever heard at a Yankees game.

6 (21)) 1997: Florida Marlins over Cleveland in 7.  We have had 6 7-gamers in the Wild-Card era, and this was clearly the worst of the bunch.  The first six games represented all the bad stuff that had begun to permeate baseball at the time: 1) frigid games (more likely once the Division Series was added), 2) long games with a ton of scoring, and 3) a Marlins team full of rental players.  While those rental players were still there for Game 7, Game 7 was at least a classic.  The Indians were 2 outs from a championship when the Marlins plated the tying run in the Bottom of the 9th, off Jose Mesa.  Later, in the 12th inning, Edgar Renteria would single home the winning run off Charles Nagy.  It does not matter how bad a series might be for 6 games.  When you have extra innings in Game 7, that is a treat.  In fact, I believe it has only happened in 1991, 1997, and 2016.

5 (16) 2014: San Francisco over Kansas City in 7.  Again, the first six games were not incredibly memorable, but Madison Bumgarner’s performance was.  After pitching a shutout in Game 5, he pitched 5 innings of scoreless relief in Game 7 (on two day’s rest) to bring home the win.  Pablo Sandoval caught the last out in foul territory, fell to the ground, and really has never come back to his feet since that moment.

Image result for madison bumgarner world series 2014

4 (15) 2002: Anaheim Angels over San Francisco in 7.  Of all the epic comebacks/choke jobs in baseball history, this is the most underrated.  The Giants were up 3 games to 2 and up 5-0 in the 7th inning of Game 6.  The Angels proceeded to score 6 runs in the 7th and 8th innings to get the win.  That is pretty incredible stuff.  Then, rookie John Lackey (yes, there was a time where he was the young guy) outdueled Livan Hernandez (I am pretty sure he was never young though) in Game 7.

3 (1) 2016: Chicago Cubs over Cleveland in 7.  I think we all remember this one.  Joe Maddon tried incredibly hard to lose the series for the Cubs, overworking Aroldis Chapman in Games 5 and 6.  By the time Game 7 rolled around, Chapman was gassed.  Rajai Davis’s two-run homer punctuated a game-tying 3-run 8th inning for the Indians.  Then, to Maddon’s and Chapman’s credit, Chapman somehow pitched a scoreless 9th inning when it seemed like the Cubs were destined to blow it again.  Not only did Game 7 go into extra innings, but there was a rain delay in the Top of the 10th, after which the Cubs scored 2.  Of course, the Cubs had to withstand a Rajai Davis RBI single, have the winning run come to the plate for Cleveland, and go to Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montgomery to close things out….but the Cubs finally did it.

2 (19) 2011: St. Louis over Texas in 7.  Earlier, I mentioned how shocked I was by the little hype this series had.  That, however, does not make me as mad as the fact that this series gets so little recognition as an all-time great series.  Game 6 is the single-greatest baseball game I have ever seen.  Only three times in World Series history has a team been down to its last out and ended up winning the series.  Obviously, the 1986 Mets (down 2, 2 outs, nobody on base) were one example.  The other two examples were both the Cardinals…in back-to-back innings here.  In the 9th inning of Game 6, the Cards were down 2 with 2 on and 2 out.  David Freese hit a double that Nelson Cruz really should have caught.  That tied the game.  Then, Josh Hamilton hit a 2-run homer in the Top of the 10th.  In the bottom of the inning, the Cardinals scored 1 run but found themselves down 1 with 2 outs and a runner in scoring position.  Lance Berkman then got a game-tying hit, before Freese hit a walkoff homer the next inning.  How we do not bring up Texas fans when we bring up tortured fan bases, I do not know.  What a brutal loss.

Image result for david freese cardinals world series

1 (10) 2001: Arizona over NY Yankees in 7.  This is the crown jewel of World Series in the Wild Card era.  Sorry, Yankees fans, it’s true.  However, even though the Yankees lost, four of the greatest Yankees moments of the past 20 years came in this series – Tino’s game-tying 2-run homer with 2 outs in the 9th of Game 4, Derek Jeter’s “Mr. November” homer to win Game 4, Brosius’ game-tying 2-run homer with 2 outs in the 9th of Game 5, and Alfonso Soriano’s game-winning hit in Game 5.  Games 4 and 5 were absolutely incredible.  Back-to-back Yankees wins when down by 2 and down to their last out.  We will probably never see that again.  Even more incredibly, Arizona managed to win the series.  Of course, Mariano Rivera allowed the game-tying and game-winning runs in the Bottom of the 9th of Game 7, with Luis Gonzalez getting the game-winning hit.  Along the way, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson dominated their way to co-World Series MVPs.  On the Yankees’ side, Roger Clemens even delivered what would have been a legendary start in Game 7, had the Diamondbacks not come back to win.  This is the best World Series of the Wild-Card Era and right there with 1991 Minnesota/Atlanta for the best World Series I have seen.

And there you have it.  Two sets of World Series rankings.  I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane.

2017 Yankees Report Card

As I promised in my blog the other day, I went through everyone that played a significant amount of time for the Yankees this year and gave their performance a grade. What’s a significant amount of time? I don’t know exactly, but Dustin Fowler, for example, did not get a grade. He did not even play a full inning for us which was a real shame. So without further ado, your 2017 Yankees report card.

Aaron Judge

Obviously had to be the first guy listed. Sure, he went through quite a slump in the second half, but you could not have possibly asked for more from a guy in his rookie season. His stat line boasted a .284 average, 52 HR and 114 RBI. He set a rookie record for home runs, besting Mark McGwire’s previous high of 49. His postseason included more up and down play, but was overall productive. At the end of the day, Judge was the Yankees’ MVP this season, and will likely finish second in AL MVP voting behind Jose Altuve.

Grade: A

Didi Gregorious

After a solid 2016, Sir Didi had a career year in 2017. .287, 25 HR and 87 RBI along with sound defense, Didi solidified himself as one of the top shortstops in the game this year. And who could forget his clutch home runs in the playoffs, including his game-tying shot in the wild card game or his 2 homers off Indians’ ace Corey Kluber in ALDS Game 5? I would be absolutely shocked if the Yankees don’t lock up Didi long-term this offseason.

Grade: A

Luis Severino

What a turnaround season for the 23-year old right-hander. After a 2016 season that included him getting sent down to AAA and then relegated to the bullpen, Severino not only won a rotation spot out of spring training, but became a bona fide ace this year. 14-6, 2.98 ERA and 230 strikeouts could have Sevy finishing as high as 3rd in AL Cy Young voting. And at just 23, the sky is the limit for this fireballer.

Grade: A

Chad Green

Here’s a name that most people probably didn’t expect to be this high on the list. But Chad Green was absolute money this year out of the pen. 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA and 103 punchouts in 69 innings pitched, Green’s ability to get out of jams along with his durability to pitch multiple innings makes him one of the biggest bullpen weapons in baseball. The Yanks could try him out as a starter again come Spring Training (fingers crossed we don’t have another Joba Chamberlain situation on our hands), but in his current role Green is a rockstar and there’s no two ways about it.

Grade: A

Gary Sanchez

Another Baby Bomber who came up big. Sanchez followed up his stellar rookie campaign with another promising season, posting a .278 average with 33 HR and 90 RBI in just 122 games. El Gary also made his first All-Star & Home Run Derby appearances as well. However, he continues to struggle somewhat defensively. Despite his cannon of an arm, he had issues at times with passed balls, and obviously should have done a better job catching the ball on plays at the plate in the ALCS. For these reasons, Sanchez will be the most highly scrutinized player on the roster coming into 2018. However, his bat is ont of the Yankees’ biggest assets, and was surely a huge part of their success this year.

Grade: A-

Brett Gardner

A veteran presence on this young team, Gardy came up clutch in big situations this year. Whether it was the 3-run homer against the Cubs or solo shot in the wild card game, the guy had ice in his veins all year. While I would like him to hit higher than .264 out of the leadoff spot, the 21 home runs help to alleviate that. Gardner is a huge part of this team, and I don’t see that changing in 2018.

Grade: B+

Starlin Castro

Starlin was also an All-Star this year, swinging a hot bat in the first half. He battled injuries all year, playing in only 112 games, but still managed to finish at .300. His defense was suspect, however, and looked lost at the plate in the playoffs. With Gleyber Torres on the way, look for Castro to be mentioned in trade talks this winter. However, I think he’s just too good a player to get rid of right now unless the Yanks are offered something really intriguing.

Grade: B+

CC Sabathia

The big man had a consistently good year. If you told me in 2015 that CC would be pitching multiple elimination games for us just two years later, I would’ve asked what you’re smoking. But he pitched a great playoffs, despite not having his best stuff in Game 7. His season stat line boasted a 14-5 record and a 3.69 ERA, more than enough for a 3rd/4th starter. Hopefully we see him back in Pinstripes in 2018.

Grade: B+

Greg Bird

Another name I did not expect to see this high on the list. In March, if you told me that of Bird and Judge, one would hit 52 homers and be an MVP candidate, and the other would start the season 6-60 and go on the DL for most of the season, I would’ve had Bird pegged as the MVP candidate. But Bird’s season was greatly hampered by the foot injury he suffered late in spring training. After returning in late August, however, he was productive and finally gave the Yanks consistent production from the first base spot. He was also arguably their best hitter in the playoffs. Bird’s abysmal start/injury along with the emergence of Judge made me forget how good Greg Bird can potentially be, but the playoffs gave me a reminder. That lefty swing combined with Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right could be a beautiful marriage for years to come.

Grade: B+

Ronald Torreyes

Toe was an unsung hero for this club all year long. Due to injuries to Didi and Castro, he played in 108 games, more than your average utility infielder. He’s not gonna take over a game, but he puts the bat on the ball, leading to a .292 batting average. On the rare occasions he does go deep, it’s awesome to watch. His spirit and Judge home run celebrations with Didi were huge parts of why this team was so fun to watch.

Grade: B+

David Robertson

I was excited to see Robertson come back in the Todd Frazier megadeal. I always liked him, and he was consistent out of the pen for us in 2017. He was also big in the playoffs, particularly in the wild card game. 5-0 with a 1.03 ERA in 30 games? You can’t ask for much more.

Grade: B+

Aaron Hicks

Hicks had a real case to be an All-Star before he got hurt, boasting the AL’s second-best on base percentage behind only Mike Trout for awhile. But when he returned from injury he was not exactly the same. He did get big hits against the Mets and Red Sox, and who could forget his throw to get Benintendi at third in the same game? His playoff performance at the plate left a lot to be desired, but Hicks’ defense in center was invaluable to the Yanks all year long. As a switch-hitting outfielder that plays great defensively and can hit for power, Hicks figures to be part of the Yankees’ future plans if he can hit somewhat consistently.

Grade: B

Clint Frazier

Speaking of the Yankees’ future outfield plans, this guy figures to be a huge part of them. Frazier gave the Yanks an instant boost when he came up, with both his bat and his legs. I love the fire he plays with, always looking to turn singles into doubles and make things happen on the bases. He did hit a rough patch that caused his season batting average to dip to .231, but every Yankee fan saw that Frazier has the potential to be a special player for us in the near future.

Grade: B

Tommy Kahnle

The guy who was supposedly the prized possession of the deal with the White Sox, Kahnle didn’t show us too much in the regular season, going 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 26.2 IP. Not bad numbers by any means, but nothing that made him live up to what we had heard about him. Well he was absolutely lights out in the playoffs (ALCS Game 7 excluded), becoming Girardi’s go-to guy at all times. Kahnle is under team control through 2020, which is great news for us Yankee fans.

Grade: B

Jordan Montgomery

People said Montgomery had only a small chance to make the rotation in Spring Training, but he pitched so well he forced the Yankees’ hand. His rookie campaign did not disappoint, as he went 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts. Will he be a Luis Severino-type ace going forward? Probably not, but Montgomery figures to be a big piece of the Yankees’ future rotation.

Grade: B

Todd Frazier

This one is basically all recency bias. Frazier did next to nothing in the regular season after he was acquired, hitting only .222 in 66 games. But in the playoffs, he was one of the team’s most consistent hitters, and its heart and soul. Not sure if Frazier will be back because the Yankees infield is crowded, with Headley and Castro under contract with Torres and Miguel Andujar waiting in the wings. But I would love for Frazier to be back in a utility corner infielder/DH role.

Grade: B

Adam Warren

This guy was quietly a big part of the Yankees’ great bullpen this year. 3-2 with a 2.35 ERA in 46 appearances is great from a middle reliever. He didn’t pitch much in the playoffs, but Warren figures to stick in the Yanks’ bullpen in 2018.

Grade: B

Sonny Gray

Sonny was solid ever since we made the megadeal for him on deadline day. However, the Yankees loved to not give him run support. Gray went 4-7 with a 3.72 ERA in 11 starts after being acquired from Oakland, and pitched decently well in both playoff starts he made. Again, he’s no ace, but is more than solid for a middle of the rotation guy.

Masahiro Tanaka

What an up and down season this guy had. He looked untouchable in April, which included a complete game shutout to take down Chris Sale and the Red Sox at Fenway. Then he forgot how to pitch completely in a stretch that saw him miss a start and give up six runs in the first inning on Derek Jeter night. After a lights-out September, Tanaka was unreal this postseason, helping the Yankees to wins in ALDS Game 3 and ALCS Game 5, and keeping them in the game in ALCS Game 1. Hopefully, he doesn’t use that performance as leverage and opt out this offseason. Based off his postseason, I’d give him an A. But this is a full season report card, so this is the best I can give him,

Grade: B-

Garrett Cooper

Guy low key batted .326 in 13 games for us. Then again, he only played 13 games so I can’t rate him too high.

Grade: C+

Tyler Austin

Austin also battled injury, playing in only 20 games this year and not making the postseason roster. He batted .225, with his only real highlight being his home run off Chris Sale at Fenway. With Greg Bird back in the picture, you have to wonder where Austin fits in the Yankees’ future plans.

Grade: C+

Matt Holliday

Holliday’s season was a strange one. He started off very productive before getting Epstein-Barr virus, better known as mono. Even when he was able to return, his swing did not. He finished the season with a .231 average, 19 HR and 64 RBI, playing in just one postseason game.

Grade: C+

Austin Romine

Romine played in 80 games and batted .218 as the Bombers’ backup catcher this year. After a strong start where he played every day filling in for the injured Sanchez, his numbers dropped off. He was serviceable, but his lack of production at the plate and weak arm make it likely they could search for another catcher this offseason.

Grade: C+

Chase Headley

Stats wise, Headley was better than some guys above him on this list. A .273 average, 12 HR and 63 RBI aren’t awful. But it’s Chase Headley. He’s just so average I can’t not give him a C. Just no other way to put it.

Grade: C

Michael Pineda

Classic Pineda season. Looked like an ace with dominating stuff, dropped off, got hurt. It’s a shame we never saw this guy pitch up to his potential but I can’t say I’ll miss him. Since he likely won’t return, hopefully he figured himself out elsewhere.

Grade: C

Chasen Shreve

Shreve has yet to be the lefty from the pen the Yankees want. A 3.77 ERA in 45.1 innings leaves a lot to be desired. Decent in middle relief but not ready for high-leverage situations.

Grade: C

Aroldis Chapman

I don’t know where to begin with this guy. Lights out one day, unpitchable the next. Thank goodness he figured himself out for the playoffs. I wanna up his grade for that but I hated this guy too much when he was blowing saves against the Red Sox like it was his job. I would’ve given him an F then, or an A during the playoffs, so let’s just average that.

Grade: C

Dellin Betances

Used to be able to make a case he was one of the best relievers in the league. Now it would be hard to make a case as to why he would have been on the World Series roster.

Grade: C

Tommy Layne, Bryan Mitchell, Giovany Gallegos, Jonathan Holder

Basically just throwing these guys together as relievers that the Yankees put in games 20ish times or more that I don’t really care about. Looking at the stats now, Holder wasn’t awful but these other three should probably not pitch for the Yankees ever again.

Grade: Don’t really care

Luis Cessa

It was painful watching this guy start baseball games. Really not fun to watch pitch.

Grade: D

Jaime Garcia

See Cessa, Luis.

Grade: D

Tyler Wade

For all the hype around this guy, jeez did he look lost at the plate this year. Hopefully he figures it out over the offseason because with his speed and ability to play so many positions, he could be really useful. But I think Helen Keller honestly would have had better luck at the plate than Wade did in 2017.

Grade: D-

Rob Refsynder

Another guy with a lot of hype who never panned out. He batted .135 in 20 games for the Yanks this year before they finally cut ties with him.

Grade: D-

Tyler Clippard

Remember when this guy was pitching for us and losing baseball games like it was his job? Wow, those were dark times. We had a petition for the Yankees to release him before he was finally traded. The fact that this guy gets a World Series ring if the Astros win is just another reason to root for the Dodgers.

Grade: F (but not like an F that was close to a D, like an F that was close to a 0 because you forgot to hand in your assignment for 3 weeks)

Chris Carter

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahah fuck this guy

Grade: lol