Warning: Fans who long to happily count the ways they love the New York Yankees this Valentine’s Day should not read this.
Any critic can poke a hole or two in the 2020 New York Yankees’ high expectations. It takes a true pinstriped pessimist to find reasons to hate on the latest iteration of the Bombers through the rose-colored haze that hangs in the air around Valentine’s Day.
With new addition Gerrit Cole leading the charge and Brett Gardner bringing up the rear in the ninth hole after notching a career-high .829 OPS in 2019, the Yankees appear to be coated in metaphorical Teflon.
But like a jilted lover on Valentine’s Day, this skeptic views that roster-made-in-heaven with a cynical sneer, sure that something sinister lurks behind the romanticized 40-man facade.
So, for all the lonely hearts looking for a way to blow off steam on Valentine’s Day, here are the four most obvious things to hate about the 2020 New York Yankees.
1. There’s no room for Clint Frazier
Clint Frazier deserves a genuine, 500-at-bat look at the big-league level. The Carrot Top of the MLB busted out in 2019 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs in only 246 plate appearances.
Sure, he stumbled and bumbled in the outfield, but that’s fixable. Even if it weren’t, a good bat has a home at DH in the American League, and possibly in the National League as well in a couple of years.
The problem for Frazier is that there’s not really any significant room for him on the 2020 Bombers. He could compete for a fourth outfielder spot, but Mike Tauchman is clearly in the way.
Tauchman’s lefty swing on this righty heavy team could cover a multitude of spring training sins and give the 2019 #nextmanup star the job by default.
Plus, the Yankees are trying out Miguel Andujar in the outfield now, after Gio Urshela showed what third base defense is supposed to be like last season.
The best possible outcome for Frazier at this point is a trade to a team that will give him a full-time role. It’s a real shame and a definite reason to chide the New York Yankees this Anti-Valentine’s Day.
2. J.A. Happ is still on the team
Not that long ago, there were seemingly legitimate rumors that the Yankees would trade away J.A. Happ. That hasn’t happened yet. In fact, Bombers general manager Brian Cashman basically crowned him as the team’s fifth starter going into the 2020 season:
Now that James Paxton is set to miss the first couple months of the season while he recovers from back surgery, Happ might even climb back up to the No. 4 slot. That’s certainly a cause for concern.
Happ posted a 4.91 ERA (5.22 FIP) in 2019. He was so bad that he finished off the season in the bullpen.
In that role, he promptly gave up a walk-off homer to Carlos Correa in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros—although, he could technically get a pass for that, assuming Correa benefited from the Astros’ sign-stealing technology.
But go back to the 2018 playoffs, to Game 1 of the ALDS, and there’s Happ’s dud two-inning, five-run loss that gave the Boston Red Sox a head start in the series.
Happ’s 7-0, 2.69 ERA run when he joined the Yankees late in 2018 feels like ancient history now. His name is a major blemish on the Bombers’ 2020 roster.
3. They’re wasting the short porch in right field
One need that the Yankees did not address in the offseason is their lack of lefty swingers who can take full advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. As of now, the only left-handed hitter in the starting lineup is Gardner.
There’s an outside chance that lefty Mike Ford steals first base from Luke Voit. Also, at some point in the summer, the Yankees expect to get switch-hitting Aaron Hicks back, after he fully recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Luckily for the Bombers, Brett Gardner is coming off a career-high 28 dingers in 2019. What’s not so fortunate is that MLB will likely de-juice the baseball in 2020, which probably means less of Gardner’s hacks will result in homers.
Although the free-agent market wasn’t exactly loaded with lefties, there were options. The Yankees could’ve brought back Didi Gregorius or made a run at Mike Moustakas, who posted a career-best .845 OPS with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019.
Instead, it appears the team will attack opposing pitchers with a slew of righty batsmen.
4. Jasson Dominguez is still half a decade away
Forget about the Baby Bombers; there’s a Fetal Phenom in town. His name is Jasson Dominguez, and the two S’s in his name stand for “super sick.”
He’s a switch-hitting outfielder with outstanding power and speed. His skill set is so impressive that the Yankees gave him $5.1 million when he was still just 16 years old.
There’s one problem, though: Dominguez just turned 17 on Feb. 7. That means he’s a good four or five years away from making his MLB debut.
It’s great that Dominguez has access to the best training in the world at such a young age. What’s not so good is that impatient fans will have to wait and wait and wait for him to appear in the Bronx.
Anti-Valentine’s Day is happy after all
The truth is, if these are the main things that fans have to hate about the Yankees in 2020, it’s going to be an awesome year. It could even end with the Bombers earning their 28th World Series title.
If that’s the way the heart-shaped cookie crumbles, there won’t a single sad New York Yankees lover next Valentine’s Day.