he hot stove most definitely heated up last week as the first two big dominos finally fell. I am speaking of Japanese star Shohei Ohtani signing with the Los Angeles Angels and the Miami Marlins dealing Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees.
First things first, I think Ohtani to the Angels makes a lot of sense, so I am not going to spend a whole lot of time talking about it. In the American League, he can pitch every fifth day and be the designated hitter the rest of the time. Or maybe he will just hit. It will be interesting to see how the Angels decide to use him. Personally, I would love to see him pitch at least 100 innings while getting at least 300 at bats. Simply because I would be curious to see what kind of numbers he would put up. He has been billed as “The Japanese Babe Ruth” for a while now, so let’s all see if he can really deliver the types of numbers Ruth put up for the Boston Red Sox when he was both a star pitcher and one of the best power hitters in the game.
Speaking of power hitters who ended up playing for the New York Yankees, it is time to turn our attention to the deal that put the game’s preeminent slugger, Stanton, in pinstripes. In return for their mighty slugger, the Marlins received Starlin Castro and a couple minor leaguers, one of whom is actually ranked as one of the Yankees top 10 prospects. That’s it. Sure, Miami is trying to shed salary, but you have to believe they could have gotten more for Stanton than a pretty average infielder and two prospects, neither of whom can be described as “can’t miss.”
So, what gives? Is this really a case of new Marlins COO, and Yankee legend, Derek Jeter coming through for his old team once again? Couldn’t Miami have gotten more elsewhere? I suppose we will never know. Word is Stanton rejected trades to San Francisco and St. Louis, so maybe the Yankees deal was really the only one the Marlins could consummate. It certainly must be hard to trade a player who can veto any trade. Essentially, he is acting as the third party in a negotiation and, ultimately, can choose his final destination.
Maybe Stanton did this, maybe he didn’t. My issue with the whole thing is that he ends up going to a Yankees’ team that already has one of the top sluggers in the game in Aaron Judge as well as Gary Sanchez, who seems well on his way to becoming another fearsome masher. Add Stanton to this mix and you certainly do have a 21st Century murderers’ row. The question now becomes, who is going to stop them? The Astros might have enough power to match up with New York, but they are probably the only other team in baseball who can claim such a thing. Thus, we are left with the beginning of yet another era where the Yankees are, perhaps, the best team in baseball. I certainly did not need to see this happen again, especially so soon after the last time (and I know it’s been almost two decades since the end of the last Yankees’ dynasty, but that’s close enough for me). Of course, there’s no telling how it will all play out. Stanton is certainly an injury risk and Judge and/or Sanchez could easily flame out, but for now the Yankees look like the team to beat and that makes the prospect of the 2018 baseball season particularly daunting for yours truly.