ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 16: Luis Severino #40 of the New York Yankees pitches during the first inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 16, 2015 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Luis Severino
Ah, gratitude. The best part about gratitude is that it feels really good. Like, way, way better than being bitter about an August and September marred by disappointing regressions, sub-par offense, bad contracts, and ghost pitching (that thing when good pitching disappears). So, in the spirit of the holiday, I figured I’d lay out some things for us New Yorkers to feel grateful for (and trust me, there are a whole lot more than there were in 2013. Remember Luis Cruz?).
1. Luis Severino
Other teams make developing pitching prospects look easy (looking at you, Best Fans In Baseball). The Yankees make developing pitching prospects look like chiseling out of Alcatraz with a wet piece of paper. Brandon Weeden was once a Yankees pitching prospect. Jesus. So, with that being said, Severino is the diminutive fireballer we’ve all been dreaming about for over a decade now. This isn’t Chien-Ming Wang. This is a bonafide ace who can take over a game if he stays healthy. “Severino Day” could mean an automatic win. And when’s the last time we all enjoyed one of those?
2. Greg Bird
Bird deserves his own column, but as soon as he learns to control himself on the high-and-in fastball, I’m not sure there’s a pitch this smooth-swinger can’t tomahawk out into the right field seats. Sure, there’s no place for him in the lineup in 2016…wink wink. If you think Teixeira’s making it out of May without a Right Grundle Strain, then I’ve got a satchel of magic beans I’d love to trade for your Ferrari. We’ll see Bird soon enough, and he’ll be older, wiser, and the face of the franchise.
3. A Semblance Of A Youth Movement
Of course, the Yankees have had Two Nice Prospects before. That’s not a lot of Nice Prospects. But now, the list goes so far beyond Bird and Sevvy. Rob Refsnyder and Gary Sanchez will be in the big leagues next year, with Sanchez finishing up a Bird-esque star turn in the Arizona Fall League. James Kaprielian could be hurling in the Bronx by July. Jorge Mateo didn’t get traded for an aging closer yet. Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott could both be Chris Young at 1/9th of the price. I’m expecting big things in 2016 from Drew Finley, Ian Clarkin, Rookie Davis, and Jhalan Jackson, and young Brady Lail could unexpectedly find his way to shuttle duty next year, too. Oh, and Jacob Lindgren in the back end! And there are more. OK, good talk, Yanks. That’s how you start an actual youth movement.
4. Ninja Cashman
We get on Brian Cashman’s case, and rightfully so. He often fails to make a splash and improve the team in the here-and-now. But that’s Brian Cashman. Ninja Cashman’s basically a whole different person, and he’s rarely wrong, constantly improving the team at the margins by positively stealing impactful young players who have fallen out of favor with their previous organizations. Eovaldi for Prado? Ninja. Didi for Shane Greene? Full Ninja. Even Chris Young moving from Citi Field to the BX. Cashman’s small moves are calculated and generally amount to a higher win total. Now let’s get Ninja Cash working on the big stage this offseason, and see if he can pull off a higher-priced coup.
5. Nate Eovaldi’s Mystery Splitter
I don’t know what this pitch it. I don’t know where it came from. But I do know that with this 95 MPH diving split, Nate Eovaldi is an entirely different pitcher. 5-1 with a 3.67 ERA in 9 post-All Star starts, including a real stinker with an injured elbow in September, so the true numbers are even better. The Yanks Instagram started with the #NastyNate hashtag far before the man was really nasty, but the man really is kinda nasty now. Way to go, hashtag that can tell the future.
6. First Half Brett Gardner
Like a pregnant puppy you get for Christmas, First Half Brett Gardner is the gift that keeps on giving. We thank First Half Brett Gardner not only for his exemplary All Star performance, during which he carried the team, but for creating a false sense of Gardner’s true ceiling as an everyday player, heightening his trade value. Gardner played the second half with a wrist injury, because of course he did, because as much as we may love Gardner, he’s a human wrist injury. Here’s to thanking Brett for his time in pinstripes, and hoping the stove gets heated with a plump and exciting trade this turkey day.
7. Dellin’s Hair
Immaculate. Doesn’t care what you think about it. Might be legitimately two feet high. Dellin has All Star Hair, and you’re a sucker if you’re not on board. Iman Shumpert wishes he had this flow.
8. Dellin’s Stuff
Oh, right, Dellin can still throw 101 with an 80-grade hook. Might be time to supplement him in the ‘pen this offseason so you can keep your foot off the gas with Big D in May and June. I need Prime Dellin in September and October this year. November, too. Both on the field AND during the parade. I need Dellin spotting a fastball on the black to Bill DeBlasio on the steps of City Hall.
9. A Yankee Hat With A 2015 Postseason Logo On It
Collectively, as a fanbase, we needed to see this. And we got it. It was a good postseason logo, too. Love the flags. Sidenote, there’s a reason the World Series logo ditched the flags this year: if MLB puts flags in the World Series logo, that means the Red Sox are going to win the World Series. 2004, little flags. 2007, little flags. 2013, little flags. 2014 and 2015, flags in the postseason logos, flags ditched by the World Series. Check it out. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The MLB thought it could sneak the flags past me, but nope. No way. Red Sox buying their titles with flag money. SMH.
10. Alex. Mr. Rodriguez. A-God.
Like a Baseball Porzingis, Alex Rodriguez was everywhere in 2015. Who knows if he can relive the magic in ’16? Let’s be thankful for the joy we’ve already banked, and hope he stays off television during the World Series because he’s too busy socking walk off dingers. Amen.