Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Tempering emotions of that Stanton trade

Tempering emotions of that Stanton trade
by rick olivares pic by willie allen jr from AP

I should be ecstatic that the New York Yankees brought Giancarlo Stanton to the Bronx. Believe me, I am. It’s a home run and a coup. Honestly though, I was hoping the Yankees’ front office brought in more pitching help. Solid pitching is what wins championships.

Twenty-three-year-old Japanese wunderkind Shohei Ohtani would have been a nice addition as he can pitch and hit. Alas, he’s now with the Los Angeles Angels. The Yankees’ front office rebounded with the prized signing of Stanton. That’s marquee if you ask me. It had me thinking of that time when Kevin McHale sent Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics that helped his former teammate Danny Ainge win his first NBA title. For New York, it is new Florida Marlins owner and former New York star Derek Jeter sending Stanton to the Yankees – well, for not much. Will history repeat itself in a baseball sort of way?

Unfortunately, that’s apples and oranges as hoops is way different from baseball.

I grew up a Yankees fan around the time they picked up from where Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine ended. It was largely my late grandfather’s influence who listened to baseball on the radio when Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio ruled the roost. I recall my grandfather being a huge fan of Mickey Mantle and he let me read these Stars and Stripes (the United States Armed Forces’ newspaper) accounts of Yankees games and even gave me copies of Life magazine with those larger than life photos that I practically cut out and pasted on my wall (to my eternal regret because they eventually got ripped and destroyed).

Living in New York for a while, I watched as many Yankees games as I could. I bought all the jerseys, programmes, trading cards, and whatnot. I sat high up in the upper tier stands (a couple of times at the bleachers section) watching the games and thinking of even my grandfather.

Back to the Yankees. They have always had that Murderer’s Row mystique; of mythic home run hitters whose exploits are the stuff of baseball legend. Even up to the recent years where they acquired Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez, New York has been associated with power hitting. Sure, they have had their legendary pitchers and they do have a lot but baseball’s glamor shot is the home run just as the dunk is for basketball.

Now they have Stanton to play alongside Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Greg Bird. Yes, a modern day Murderer’s Row. And in my opinion, the batting order come opening day could be like this:
Brett Gardner
Greg Bird
Aaron Judge
Giancarlo Stanton
Gary Sanchez
Didi Gregorius
Aaron Hicks
Ronald Torreyes
Tyler Wade

Sure, Stanton and Judge conjures visions of Ruth-Gehrig, DiMaggio-Mantle, and Mantle-Maris. It’s powerful. Its sexy. It’s de rigueur. It puts fans in the seats. But I like some solid pitching too.

Now how does that starting pitching rotation look at the moment? There’s Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia, and Jordan Montgomery. Michael Pineda is now with the Minnesota Twins. That six including Pineda gave New York a 62-41 record in 145 games started.

Now that Pineda has decamped elsewhere in the American League, there are still questions. If Montgomery can pick it up from a 9-7 record that will help. If CC can approximate his previous season (27 games started with a 14-5 record and eight no decisions), he’d be a huge help. His health, as for everyone else too, is key. Right now, am not convinced with the starting rotation. They need insurance.

I also cannot help but wonder if the team traded some of the good vibes and clubhouse chemistry as some figures from the last few years aren’t in pinstripes anymore – Matt Holliday, Chase Headley, and Todd Frazier (unless he is re-signed and plays third base). And I don’t know if Jacoby Ellsbury will be in pinstripes come opening day.

I guess after the “Baby Bombers” made it all the way to Game Seven of the American League Championship Series, management is now pushing to win it all next season. If you look at Major League Baseball history, a strong year doesn’t mean that one can duplicate or even surpass it the next. The season is simply too long and there are so many factors in going on a championship run.

I like my home run hitters as much as the next guy and I like the addition of Stanton. But if New York wants to win their 28th World Series championship, they need better pitching to strike out and befuddle the opposing team’s batters. And general manager Brian Cashman and company have a long ways to go if they truly become contenders or are simply a one-hit wonder.

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