The Yankees received bad news yesterday. Or is the news just a continuation of the story told last year? If so, once again, the real story is team depth…
The Yankees had it all figured out ahead of the 2020 season. A rotation featuring alternating righty-lefty starters led by Gerrit Cole, to be followed by James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, and Luis Severino giddily delighted fans and the team.
That is until this blurb posted by the Yankees surfaced on Twitter:
Earlier today, LHP James Paxton underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy with removal of a peridiscal cyst. The surgery was performed by Dr. Andrew Dossett in Dallas, Texas. His approximate timeline to return to Major League action is 3-4 months.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) February 5, 2020
No, no, not again, as the words of the inimitable Yogi Berra warned, “This is like deja vu all over again” following in the wake of an injury-riddled season last year is recalled.
Ironically, the announcement came only a day after Yankee’s managing partner, Hal Steinbrenner, included in a press conference at the MLB Owners Meeting a reference to the beefed-up presence of medical personnel on hand to combat last year’s near disaster.
Paxton’s injury is unusual, and seemingly can be chalked up to nature and the tendencies of our body to come down with cysts requiring medical attention, and sometimes even surgery.
The path and protocol leading to surgery were closely followed by the Yankees and religiously reported on by James Paxton. No dereliction of duty on either side is warranted. S___t happens.
Yankees Locked And Loaded With Plan B
While a significant blow to the Yankees’ intention to begin the season with Plan A, Plan B can quickly be in place with several replacement choices available.
Once again, it’s a question of depth facing the Yankees. Does Brian Cashman need to get on the phones pleading with teams to make a trade for one of their proven starters?
Or, like last year, can the Yankee’s mix and match from within their organization, at least until Paxton is ready?
Who would have believed two or three years ago the Yankees, the team always screaming for pitching, can say – we got this.
Whether by fate or design, we’ll never know. But J.A. Happ is still a New York Yankee despite the well-publicized efforts by Brian Cashman to trade him and the $17 million owed to him this season.
Happ, like Paxton, had a promising second half in 2019 for the Yankees. And it was only a week or so ago that Cashman, somewhat out of place, named Happ as the Yankees fifth starter.
Left open in that scenario was the question of the role Jordan Montgomery was to have on the team. A straight-out starting pitcher, Montgomery’s resume included a respectful nine wins and 3.88 ERA over 29 starts for the Yankees in the 2017 season.
Along with Deivi Garcia, Montgomery has been in Yankees camp for a week or more, and all indications are he’s fully recovered from his shoulder injury and ready to go in any capacity the Yankees should need him.
Garcia, pending Spring Training, is behind Montgomery, but could in an extreme case, be on call to join the rotation should the need arise.
Backing up the backups to Paxton are Luis Cessa, and if matters really become dire, Shane Green, who has successful experience as an Opener for the Yankees.
And further beyond that even sits Domingo German, who serves out the remainder of his suspension on a domestic violence case before returning in the early part of June.
Yankees: The Depth Is Deep Enough
Depth, depth, depth. No team has won a World Championship without it.
Deja vu all over again – no one wants to think that way. But if the hex should fall on the team again, they are locked and loaded to proceed with the season, even if injuries befell position players.
The battle at first base between Luke Voit and Mike Ford means the other remains available. Ditto the choice between Gio Urshela and Miguel Andujar and the outfield intrigue between Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman.
Some will argue this is an attempt to make lemonade from lemons — the Evil Empire at work and all that.
Not so. Instead, the Yankees are a well-oiled machine as an organization, and that cannot be disputed. These replacement players don’t grow on trees – they are in place by design…