New York Yankees quick hits: Nova, Top 100 and A-Rod

It’s so close you can smell the spring air. Pitchers and catchers report in just a few short weeks and all will be right in the world. There are still few loose ends as the Yanks get ready to head to Tampa, but they are doing the best to wrap it all up.

NOVA AVOIDS ARBITRATION

Ivan Nova‘s days are still seemingly numbered in pinstripes. The Bombers and Nova agreed on a one-year deal, avoiding arbitration. Nova originally asked for $4.6-million, while the Yankees offered $3.8-mill, so his $4.1-million deal should be seen as fair for both sides. At least they didn’t extend him further.

Nova has been quite the enigma to the Yankees ever since day one. He had a promising rookie season in which he went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA. That record duped Yankees fans into believing there was promise. Nova however, has always struggled with high WHIPs and high hit rates, and those numbers caught up with him in his sophomore campaign.

That campaign was an even bigger mystery itself as Nova’s strikeout rate rose to a career high while his walk rate went to a career low, yet he allowed a staggering 10.5 hits per nine with a 5.02 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.

The next season provided little clarity. Nova had a nightmarish first half and was then sent to the minors. He came back and was arguably the Yankees most reliable pitcher in the second half. He registered his lowest hit rate, his lowest ERA (3.10), lowest WHIP (1.29) and lowest walk rate of his career.

He then suffered the fate of Tommy John surgery and hasn’t been the same.

Nova seems like he needs a fresh start somewhere else, but seemingly no one wants him. There is no denying that he was dangled out there all winter, but alas, he finds himself on the Yankees once again. As much as Yankees fans don’t want to hear it, C.C. Sabathia will be part of this rotation, which means I don’t see anywhere Nova even fits on the Yankees.

I still think the Yankees are actively trying to trade Nova and having this contract out of the way may make it a tad bit easier with other teams now knowing his “worth”.

MLB.com ranks three Yanks in Top 100

Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez all made it into the 2016 MLB Pipeline Top 100. I think all were ranked pretty fairly, with Mateo coming in a No. 30, Judge right behind him at No. 31 and Sanchez at No. 59.

Sanchez should get every chance to be on the Opening Day roster. It will come down to his defense, as he is vastly superior offensively to Austin Romine. The Yankees could actually decide to start the season with three catchers — especially with Starlin Castro pegged as the back-up third baseman and opening up an extra roster spot. That being said, it would take an injury to Brian McCann or Alex Rodriguez for Yankees fans to see Sanchez’s true ability. He will tease everyone this season with some exciting games, because his bat is that explosive, but I simply don’t see enough playing time in 2016 to make that instant impact.

I also personally think it is going to take a lot more than a Carlos Beltran injury to see Judge make his 2016 debut. I see the mighty righty poised for a September call-up and the starting right fielder in 2017.

As attractive and exciting as Judge’s prospect may seem, he did struggle in his small sample size in his Triple-A debut last season. The Yankees need Judge to maintain that all-around form that saw him hit for average and draw walks earlier in his career, and not simply became a slugger. Judge’s potential is sky high — literally, have you seen how big this dude is? — and especially with Aaron Hicks on board, the Yankees have plenty of options to let Judge mature.

Mateo is exciting. He isn’t the next Derek Jeter, but he could be the next Yankees mainstay. When you look at him, Judge, Sanchez and Severino, you can legitimately see the next core of Yankees destined for greatness.

A-Rod back in the news for PEDs

Enough already. ESPN’s Andrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews both wrote about how they feel A-Rod’s successful comeback in 2015 was from continued PED use.

Their proof?

“My mom taught me a long time ago, if it is too good to be true, it usually is. (Marchand)”

This is straight up National Enquirer reporting. Yes, A-Rod has been busted way too many times, but until he is busted again, drop it. The biggest problem that everyone has always had with A-Rod — well, aside from the PEDs — is that he is a diva. He always wanted to be the media darling that Jeter was, but he was nowhere near as liked. So he tried extra hard to find his way into the spotlight to the ire of just about nearly baseball fan in the world.

I’m still no fan of A-Rod, but I respect the fact that for the first time in his career last year, he played the game and that was it. He kept his head down, he didn’t draw attention to himself, and he bought into the idea that the Yankees were more important than the mighty A-Rod.

Now these guys are poking the bear. A-Rod suddenly became the protagonist that everyone sympathized with, not just New Yorkers but many MLB fans. Marchand and Matthews want to remind everyone that they are supposed to hate the evil A-Rod, and if they don’t have a reason to hate him, well, let’s just take the easy and lazy way out and pin PEDs on him again.

 

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