The Yankees are coming to town this week to face the Twins at Target Field. The Yankees are good this year, and they always beat us, so I can’t say I’m super excited. Are you? Still, to gain a better understanding of the current Yankees, I asked my close personal friend Greg Kirkland, from SB Nation’s Yankees site Pinstripe Alley, a few questions about the team.
Here’s what he had to say.
Q: The Yankees led the AL East for much of the early part of the year. What was behind that success?
A: The short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. That's all. The Yankees just hit home runs right to that area and nowhere else. Then, they put a force field up in that area preventing any other team from hitting dingers there. That, and that alone, has contributed to their success more than anything.
Actually, it has more to do with just how well the young players have been doing, even the ones not named Aaron Judge. Their offense has been outstanding and their young starters, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, have been a very happy surprise this year. In addition, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia started off the season extremely well as well. Mainly the offense though. When you're scoring 6+ runs a game, that's usually good.
Q: Why haven't the Yankees been able to sustain that success as of late?
A: Because West Coast trips are evil incarnate and they ruin everything. Mainly though, injuries and bullpen suckage, which kinda started on said evil West Coast trip. The injuries started to pile up and the bullpen just couldn't hold a lead. The Yankees have lost a lot of one-run games this year. Couple that with the Red Sox remembering that they're the favorites to win the AL East.
Q: Do you think the Yankees will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? What do they need most? What do you want them to do?
A: My guess is that they'll be buyers, but light buyers. I think Brian Cashman will look to add on some bullpen arms and possibly a short-term first baseman. Rumor has it that they'll try to bring back David Robertson from the White Sox. That would make me very happy. They could also target Lucas Duda of the Mets, but who knows if the Mets would trade with the Yankees. Or sell at all. You really never know what the Mets will do besides be the Mets. For the most part, I think the Yankees' trade season will be light. Cashman will probably stick to the plan.
Q: Do you want Joe Mauer?
A: Sorry, but I'll pass. He doesn't hit dingers, and dingers is what I want to see.
Q: It was a double, not a foul ball.
Q: Let's get to the elephant in the room: Aaron Judge. What are they feeding him?
Q: A runaway trolley is barreling down some railway tracks. An evil-doer (not me) has tied Aaron Judge to the track ahead, and the trolley will run him over UNLESS you pull a lever, sending the trolley down a different track, where it will run over Derek Jeter instead. What do you do?
I disre2pectfully say "later Jeets" and pull that lever without giving it a second or first thought.
Q: Former Twin Aaron Hicks was having a fantastic season before he got injured. So who fixed him? Are you surprised with the season he's been having? Do you think his success will be sustainable?
A: I fixed Hicks when I got a Hicks shirsey in the mail for my birthday. Seriously though, Hicks has been a very pleasant surprise. While it sucked that Jacoby Ellsbury got hurt, it was actually nice to have a center fielder who didn't throw the ball like he has T-Rex arms. Hicks didn't really shown signs of regression before his injury, so I don't see why he can't maintain it. The real question will be whether or not he does it on the Yankees. Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier look to be the future of the outfield. Unless the Yankees trade one of Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury, it remains to be seen if they won't try and move him. I'd rather keep Hicks over Ellsbury though.
Q: Half a year in, how are you feeling about that five-year, $86 million Aroldis Chapman deal?
A: The same way I felt about it when they made it and the same way I'll feel about it when it's done: I hate it. Considering that the Yankees already had a really quality reliever in Dellin Betances, to sign Chapman for five bunting years is absurd. His strikeout rate is going down and his contact rate is going up. That's bad and his contract is bad and the Steinbrenners are bad.
Q: How are you feeling about the Yankees' future? Are they hiding one or more Aaron Judges from us in the minors?
A: Honestly, the future is very exciting for the Yankees. With three trades, Brian Cashman completely replenished our farm system and it looks extremely promising. Gleyber Torres looks like everything we hope he can be. Blake Rutherford has been doing well. Jorge Mateo has really come alive since his promotion to Double-A Trenton. Clint Frazier is now up in the majors and his incredible bat speed has been on display. It's going to be hard to send him down once Hicks gets back. Unless they trade Gardner or Ellsbury. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez have shown what a monster combo they can be in the lineup. It's exciting. Aren't you excited? [Editor’s Note: Excuse me for not leaping for joy. Bad back, you know.]
Q: The Yankees seemingly forced Alex Rodriguez to retire in the middle of last season, even though he was signed through 2017 and had planned to play until the end. How did you feel about that?
A: It kinda sucked, but on the other hand, I do really like the idea of A-Rod mentoring our prospects. I wish he could have gotten 700 home runs, but he just looked absolutely lost at the plate all year long.
Q: Are you glad inter-divisional foe David Ortiz retired? Do you think he retired too soon?
A: I am really happy I do not have to see him at the plate against the Yankees' anymore. I think he retired on top, which I imagine is a nice feeling.
Q: Who is your favorite Yankees player on the current roster? Least favorite?
Aaron Judge is definitely my favorite current Yankee. I went to see him play in Double-A Trenton and he hit a monster home run for me, then nodded at my cheering from the dugout. Then, when I saw him in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he hit another monster home run for me. Then, when I saw him at his first game at Yankee Stadium, he hit a monster home run the likes of which I've never seen before at that stadium. I lost my voice after that.
My least favorite player on the roster is probably Jacoby Ellsbury. There are other players I think are more useless, but Ellsbury's deal has not been good at all. It always bothers me that they could trade Gardner, my second favorite player on the roster, instead of him. Gardner would be easier to move due to his contract and ability to still be Ellsbury-ish. Ellsbury is also a constant reminder that the Yankees signed him over attempting to negotiate with Robinson Cano. I'm still not over that and I don't think I ever will be.
Q: A lot of Twins fans really hate the Yankees because of the team's dominance over them over the past few decades. What's one thing you think might make Twins fans hate the Yankees less if they knew?
A: Despite the evil organization, a lot of the players are actually pretty adorable. Especially Aaron Judge and Sir Didi Gregorius. Sir Didi's victory tweets after a game are so amazing. His strange and wonderful emoji usage should get him a guest cameo appearance in that new Emoji Movie coming out.
Seriously, though, I don't think anything would make Twins fans hate the Yankees less.
Q: Do you remember when Jason Kubel hit that Grand Slam off Mariano Rivera?
A: Indeed, I do. It was kinda rude.
Q: Any predictions for this week's series at Target Field? You can't say an Aaron Judge home run.
A: I can say whatever I want! THIS IS AMERICA!!
I'll say the Yankees take two out of three from the Twins. They'll be coming in tired on Monday after a 16 inning game on Saturday and a double header against the Red Sox, the latter of which will somehow go five hours because ESPN Sunday Night Baseball games are pain. I'll call a Clint Frazier home run.
Q: What's one question I didn't ask, but you wish I had asked? What would your answer to it be?
A: "Do you want an Aaron Judge jersey for your Birthday/X-Mas?" - You
"Yes. Yes I do!" - Me
Thank you for your time, Greg Kirkland. I hope the Twins beat your team’s ass this week. Sorry—but not sorry.