New York Yankees Baseball: MLB July start would help fans heal

MLB could help initiate a return to normalcy

When I woke up on Tuesday, the news had hit that Jeff Passan reported:

Major League Baseball and its players are increasingly focused on a plan that could allow them to start the season as early as May and has the support of high-ranking federal public health officials who believe the league can safely operate amid the coronavirus pandemic, sources told ESPN.

I was ecstatic that plans were being made to restart the cultural machine that is Major League Baseball – it was a sign of hope in a world where business and personal lives have been stalled by the coronavirus.

It was time to begin thinking of a way out of the bind and get not only baseball, but the entire country moving again in the wake of the crisis.

Unfortunately, by mid-day on Tuesday, Commissioner Rob Manfred countered the story with the following statement:

“MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement Tuesday. “While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan.”

I realized that no “plan” existed for Passan’s proposal, and as social media aptly pointed out the  stark realities which would render any plan at this time unfeasible – the biggest drawback being that players, coaches, accompanying media and employees, would have to be sequestered in Arizona away from their families – but other factors, such as the heat in Arizona and the lack of a minor league system to replenish teams in case of injury or illness also figured into the criticism.

Today is Wednesday, April 8th, when I awoke this morning there was no such news of hope that the MLB season could be started.  But that does not mean that I believe the season is a lost cause in 2020.  Quite the contrary, I believe there will be baseball.

I don’t have an elaborate plan to offer.  I don’t have solutions for the many headaches a shortened season will cause around the league, but I believe a July start makes the most sense.

By late May, if not before, the federal and state governments should have an understanding of where the population stands with regard to fighting and shutting down the spread of the coronavirus.

And since this is a New York Yankees baseball blog, I can’t help but mention that a July start would benefit the team as key players, such as Aaron Judge, James Paxton and Aaron Hicks will be healed from injuries and ready to return to the lineup.

Instead of an All-Star break, schedule Opening Day around the country to kick off the season.  By mid-July, it may even be possible to have fans in the stands.  MLB could help initiate a return to normalcy and a fulfillment of the hope that the virus can be beaten.

New York Yankees: thoughts on pitching and winning it all

Is 2020 the year the Yankees front office believes it can win it all?

What I’m thinking about this morning as I write my daily article is RHP Mike Clevinger.  The 29 year old Clevinger has been on the trading block, along with the Cleveland Indians’ other players, since the Indians decided to offload their star talent while their value was high and their contracts favorable.

The Yankees injury woes in the starting rotation are glaring in 2020 with Luis Severino having Tommy John surgery and James Paxton recovering from offseason surgery to remove a cyst from a disc on his spine.

The Yankees have some in-house solutions to the problem of filling out the starting rotation.  They have proven starters in Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Cessa and a group of young talented pitchers in right-handers Clarke Schmidt, Mike King and Deivi Garcia – any one of whom could probably win a spot on the roster.

None of these young pitchers is a replacement, at least in the current circumstances, for Severino or Paxton.  Fortunately, the Yankees have gotten Jordan Montgomery back from his Tommy John surgery and he profiles to play a significant role in the starting rotation. The Yankees are eager to see Montgomery perform as he did in 2017 when he finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

All this leads me to the trade deadline, by which time Paxton will have returned to the rotation and the Yankees will know what they’ve got in a fifth starter.  With the Yankees projected to compete for the division title and beyond, they’ll assess whether the rotation can run the gamut.

If the Yankees can make a trade at the deadline to bring in a proven performer like Clevinger, it could be the piece that propels them to a championship.  On the Yankees side, Clevinger still has three years of control left and, although he is injured at present, he is already throwing and will be ready just after the season opens.

What would it take to make a trade for Clevinger happen?  It would probably take Miguel Andujar, who’s outfield play would be attractive to the Indians, and a major-league ready pitcher.  Andujar is not a name I throw around lightly; he’s the player I have most enjoyed watching play and develop over the past few years, but he’s also on the verge of a break-out career, though, at present, a man without a position for the Yankees.

Clevinger’s numbers are the stuff dreams are made of: in 2019 he was 13-4 in 21 games started with a 2.71 ERA, 1.056 WHIP, 2.49 FIP, 12.71 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and .7 HR/9.  He hasn’t won any awards yet, but look out, Clevinger’s on the brink of having a Hall of Fame type career.

The Yankees will have a decision to make at the trade deadline, whether to risk winning in the postseason with the talent they currently have or to make a blockbuster trade to increase their chances of winning a World Series in 2020.  Is 2020 the year the Yankees front office believes it can win it all?