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Yanks Winning Again Helps Baseball.
By: Mike Lindsley
You donít have to admit it if you hate the team. If you love the team, you will admit it until someone punches you in the face.

The New York Yankees winning again and having a bright future is good for baseball.

If you are in the former group, deal with it. Itís the reality of the situation.

Same goes for Kentucky in college basketball or the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL or Alabama football or any team LeBron James is on in the NBA.

The Yankee fan base is rich. The hate base is rich. Itís called a perfect storm.

And perfect for baseball.

Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge appear to be stars in the making, but remember, it is still WAY TOO EARLY to guarantee anything. The Yankees have more help on the way in the minor leagues. And pitchers like Luis Severino may have found a little something in 2017.

Sometimes, it just all comes together. Who knows if the Yanks will make the playoffs this season or win five World Series with this group? No one knows. Again, too early.

If you hate the club, at least recognize that they are doing it with guys who are tough to hate with no ego. Sound familiar from back in the Joe Torre era, at least when talking about the core, homegrown players and a few others?

This all goes back to Hank and Hal finally letting Brian Cashman fix all of his bad contracts and old player problems. Sell, sell and sell more was the motto in 2016. It is paying off now. As is NOT adding more bloated, bad contracts with guys who cannot even stay on the field. Oh hey, Jacoby Ellsbury (one they might not be able to get rid of).

CC Sabathiaís contract is next. Masahiro Tanakaís could be too if he turns it around and opts-out. Ellsbury is a problem. Chase Headley has one more year.

But other than that, the Yankees are free from bad money. And in the present, they are free in terms of playing baseball.

Nothing to lose. Everything to gain. A possible core of youngsters who could be destined for greatness.

The crowds are back in the Bronx. There could be faces of the franchise in the making. Home runs are flying. The lineup is stacked. The bullpen shuts the door. The pitching is a long science test but one that could pan out with the right formula. The pinstripes could contend for years to come.

And everyone is talking about it, from New York City to the Midwest to the West Coast.

The most successful franchise in baseball history is working towards the top and hoping to stay for awhile.

And thatís good for baseball, no matter what team you support.

Top 5 New York Yankee Killers.
By: Mike Lindsley
You have seen plenty of winning as a Yankee fan for the most part (unless you wear a pinstriped jersey over the course of a lifetime and live in a cave).

But you have also seen a few hiccups along the way with heartbreak in 2004 (leave it at that) plus a lot of guys who have absolutely slaughtered the Yankees in the regular season and playoffs.

Here are my Top 5 NY Yankee killers all-time.

1. George Brett. Yankees-Royals from the 1970ís and early 1980ís is the most underrated rivalry in baseball history. Brett was a big reason why. 17 home runs at Yankee Stadium. Even in ALCS losses in 1976, 1977 and 1978, Brett collected a total of 21 hits, 4 home runs and 10 RBI. Sluggged 1.056 in the 1978 ALCS. Then in the 1980 ALCS, a Royals win, he went for a 1.242 OPS. Brett was a monster in all the big spots against New York.

2. David Ortiz. Big Papi hit big homer after big homer and cashed-in against even the great Mariano Rivera in postseasons of the past. You feared Papi. But looking back, Yankee fans know that his personality also contributed to the height of the rivalry historically.

3. Manny Ramirez. Like Ortiz, Manny was a machine against all Yankee pitching through the years. Manny hit 55 home runs and drove in 165 runs against New York all-time. Slugging was .617. OPS was 1.030. Those were real numbers. Want more? Five four-RBI games. 17 three-hit games. Seven multi-home run games.

4. Roy Halladay. At one point in 2010, Doc was 18-6 all-time against the Yankees with a .750 winning percentage plus ate-up innings each time out. Some might not think Halladay should be on this list. Here is why theyíre crazy. He dominated the pinstripes when they were at the top of baseball during the Joe Torre years and ruled the American League East Division. Even Derek Jeter regularly looked lost against him during his career, so that should tell you something.

5. Edgar Martinez. Yes, he got the big walk-off hit and RBI against the Yanks in Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS, but it was the consistent bludgeoning of New York that made Edgar always feared in the Bronx and Seattle by all Yankee fans. That previously mentioned hit also saved baseball in Seattle. New baseball people donít care about batting average, but what about hitting .579 against Mariano Rivera? Isnít that worth something? Five career four-RBI games against New York. Martinez could hit just about any pitch, anywhere, in games against the Yanks.

Five honorable mentions: Miguel Cabrera, Evan Longoria, John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Ken Griffey Jr.

Number Two Was One of a Kind.
By: Mike Lindsley
You have seen the plays. Over and over. Man alive what we would do to just see, one more time, "The Flip" or Mr. November or the diving into the stands against Boston or Oakland or a home run for hit number 3,000.

What we would do to see his last at-bat at Yankee Stadium or his final game and at-bat at Fenway Park. One more jump throw. One more fist pump. One more inside-outside swing. One more of anything.

Derek Jeter was, and is, one of a kind. We know the numbers (yes, he has numbers, remember when people tried to use that against him?). He never had a losing season in 20 seasons. 20! 3,000-hit club. Franchise leader in steals-doubles-games played-hits. FOR THE NEW YORK FREAKING YANKEES!

Sure, one of a kind for the player he was. But more than that, it was the impact that separates Derek Sanderson Jeter, the kid the Yankees took in the 1992 draft thanks to the Astros and Reds really messing-up at the #1 and #5 spots. You too, Indians, Expos and Orioles.

Jeter's clubhouse became a destination. Sure, every kid dreams of being a ballplayer. But we hear all the time that "the Yankees was where I always wanted to play." Well, if they pay you a lot of money, why wouldn't Jason Giambi or A-Rod or Mark Teixeira say that?

This was about more than money during Jeter's time. He held the team and his teammates to a different standard. He was all business. He cared. He treated Spring Training like Game 7 of the World Series. Win a title? Go win another one. Win two? Get four. When the team kept falling short for years, it was Jeter who reminded the public that "this" Yankee team hadn't accomplished anything. Jeter set the standard. Players wanted to play with him. Players also didn't want to answer to him in a good way, meaning they proved they belonged in Derek Jeter's winning world.

Derek Jeter chose Mother's Day to have his number retired and to go into Monument Park. Of course he did. The day was about him as was the night and the weekend, but Jeter, as clutch as ever, made it about his wife who is a mother-to-be and his own Mom, who instilled core values in him.

Speaking of the core. Well, it's actually the Big Five, not the Core Four. Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. That group, along with DJ, formed something we may never see again. That was the foundation of an amazing Yankee run. Those were the guys. All through the system. They became the best of friends in addition to having the amazing careers in pinstripes. Plus, Joe Torre, the perfect manager at the right time.

But ultimately, it was Jeter's team, his city and his Major League. The face of it all. When you consider the consistency, the longevity, the way he cared for the game, the way he kept his name clean, the way he overcame all those errors at Greensboro, the way he handled the bright lights and the fishbowl of New York City in the enhanced media age and the way he represented anything he was connected to, there was no one like Derek Jeter. And there might not be anyone like him ever again when you really break down all the layers.

Jeter is Mantle to some, DiMaggio to some, Gehrig to some and Ruth to some. More importantly though, Jeter is Jeter.

What a player. What a leader. What a person.

#2 was one of a kind.

April Verdict: Judge Dominant.
By: Mike Lindsley
Ah these Yankees. A rebuilding year. Wait for at least a season or two or even three before they are actually "good" or a title contender.

This pinstripe outfit in 2017 didn't want to wait.

Look, this isn't a piece to crown the Yanks World Series champs. But they did have a great April, even after the slow start by the team and ace Masahiro Tanaka and the injuries to Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez. Here are the four main reasons why:

One reason is Aaron Judge. April numbers: .303 BA, 10 HR, 20 RBI, .411 OBP, .750 slugging, 1.161 OPS. Staggering. Amazing. Clutch. Must-see television. Expect him to come back to the pack a little but he for sure took advantage of being the star while Sanchez was away.

Another reason: overachieving from Luis Severino and Michael Pineda. Make no mistake about it. The Yanks need these guys now and in the future. But both of them looking like dominant, potential aces? Could never have predicted that level of success. Before the season, Severino was absolutely developing the change-up and slider and trying not to get behind on batters, and Pineda was always up and down. Oh, and Jordan Montgomery hung in there just fine in April, by the way..

The third reason: Aaron Hicks, Chase Headley, Jacoby Ellsbury and Starlin Castro playing out of their minds. You can make an argument that everyone in this group classifies as an "easy out" most of the time. Not in April. They all did their part and delivered clutch hits, especially Castro when he hit a game-tying home run against Baltimore towards the end of the month. This group made the Yankees lineup deep and exhausting for any starting pitcher.

Fourth reason: Bullpen. Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman lead the way. But the Yanks have a lot of fireballers including Tyler Clippard and mix and match guys like Bryan Mitchell. They were outstanding during the first month of the season.

The bottom line is that the bullpen will likely be great to dominant for the majority of the year. Expect everyone else to come back to the pack a little. The other good news?

Gary Sanchez returns and can make-up, possibly, for team numbers that decrease, Greg Bird still hasn't done much and the Yankees seem to be a fun bunch that loves to play the game and has nothing to lose while playing with confidence against anyone. This team has already won at Fenway Park, played other divisional games and doesn't fear the big moment (October is always TBD).

REMEMBER: Aaron Judge isn't going to hit 70 home runs.

But the Yanks, 15-8 during baseball's first month, might just challenge for a Wild Card spot.

Because as they say, you can't win a playoff spot in April, but you sure can lose one.

Top 5 Prospects for the NY Yankees.
By: Mike Lindsley
The Yankees have been identified by many to have one of the best farm systems in baseball after rebuilding at the trade deadline last season and continuing the youth movement with the likes of Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and more in 2017. Leaving those names out, considering they are already up in the Bronx, we look at the best prospects the Yanks have below the Major League level. Here are the Top 5.

1. Gleyber Torres. No ceiling for this guy. Amazing talent. Yanks are trying him at second and shortstop and third. Hands from another universe. Yanks will play him in Trenton in AA. But don't be surprised to see him in the Bronx on September 1 when the rosters expand to 40. He's that good. And they need him to be the Cubs' version of Addison Russell. Hitting is good but could be a lot better. Has to get ahead in counts and learn to hit to the opposite field.

2. Clint Frazier. Swagger. Intensity. Outfielder. Maybe the next Reggie Jackson? Ok. Let's not get carried away. But Frazier swings hard and swings often and is a nice power guy for the Yanks. Could you imagine Frazier and Aaron Judge bombing home runs in the Bronx until 2035? Imagine. Deep thoughts.

3. Jorge Mateo. Potential five-tool player who needs to develop hitting off-speed stuff (shocking, of course). Shortstop in the making. Great speed on the bases. Some people say Jose Reyes. He could be way better. It is about discipline in all phases and that is what the Yankee higher-ups need to see before he arrives in the Bronx.

4. Justus Sheffield. Only 20 and likely in Trenton playing Double-A ball for a good chunk of 2017, Sheffield was dealt to New York in the Andrew Miller deal. Probably a #3 starter for the Yanks in the future if he makes it. Biggest issue? Command of pitches. Keep an eye on him. He is probably fourth on the pitching depth chart for the minor leagues but could be the most important guy in terms of what the Yankees are looking for. The Yankees need a homegrown left-handed pitcher. Andy Pettite was the last true one. Sheffield could finally be the next.

5. Blake Rutherford. An outfielder who can potentially play all three positions, Rutherford is just 19 with developing power and speed. The Yanks like him for the sheer fact that he can get on base. Oh, and that developing power. Maybe trade Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury for a bag of baseballs and a bag of chips by 2018 andÖ..Rutherford develops in left field with Aaron Judge in right and that Bryce Harper guy in center? Food for thought. A lot has to happen for this scenario but look at the Cubs. Look at the Royals. Look at the Indians. It can happen for the Yankees too.

Yankee Rotation Thinning Out.
By: Mike Lindsley
Many talk about the free agent Class of 2018 and how it's a no-brainer that Bryce Harper or Manny Machado end-up in pinstripes. Maybe New York should pay Clayton Kershaw instead.

Sure, it's nice to have one of those top two everyday players mentioned, but have you seen the Yankee prospects lately? Pitchers vs. position players? Yankee fans should be way more confident in the future of the position players than the arms.

The current Yankee rotation? It's thinning out. Fast.

Masahiro Tanaka could have a great year and opt-out or an average or below average year and stay with Tommy John surgery looming, considering he still pitches with a loose ligament in his elbow and is losing velocity by the week.

C.C. Sabathia. He has given the team a lot, both last year and during his first start in 2017. But he will likely not be back. Good move for the Yanks, but at the same time a body to replace.

Luis Severino. Still trying to figure out that change-up. Still trying to not throw straight fastballs in bunches.

Michael Pineda. Good luck. 12 strikeouts or five runs in two innings. Confidence is an issue. He might not be able to handle New York.

Chance Adams, Jordan Montgomery, Dietrich Enns, James Kaprielian, Brady Lail and Justus Sheffield are all eying the Bronx, but we all know how pitching goes. Up and down and growing pains and more. You will see these names surface in and around Double and Triple-A, but can you really expect one to shine this year and two to be superstars by 2018? It is not impossible, but also tough to catch lightning in a bottle with starting pitching two or three times at once.

Montgomery and Sheffield are lefties with tremendous upside and amazing stuff and they can overpower. Plus, wouldn't it be nice for the Yankees to find a homegrown lefty again? Andy Pettitte is really the only one they have had the last several years. Kaprielian has the look of a #2 starter to some with smarts and maturity. The Yanks are high on him and will spend a lot of time getting him ready for the big leagues.

So, we wait and see, what prospects could be starting pitchers in the Bronx. 2017 and 2018 are building (didn't use re-building here, just for you, Brian Cashman) years and a few of the pieces have to come together in the rotation or the Yanks are in big trouble for that 2019 season and beyond as the franchise tries to get back to contending for a World Series title.

Or, hope for two out of the six and sign Clayton Kershaw.

2017 New York Yankees Preview.
By: Mike Lindsley
The New York Yankees are on the rise. Period. They built the farm system up during the 2016 season by trading bullpen chips Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. And now the plan is to rebuild quick, but also contend according to Brian Cashman. Can they do it? Can they arrive "early" like the Royals and Indians in recent years, show-up in the playoffs and maybe make a run? It's possible. Gary Sanchez is the new Yankee flavor and we shall see what he does in his first full season. Let's have a look at the 2017 Yankees.

Projected rotation: Masahiro Tanaka-Michael Pineda-CC Sabathia-Luis Severino-Chad Green.

Things to note: The 3-5 spots will go back and forth all year because no one is good enough to hold a specific spot and injuries will happen. Will CC Sabathia even give the team half of what he did in 2016 after alcohol rehab? The wild cards are Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell and Luis Cessa. All of them have plus stuff, but lackluster control to get the big outs. Whoever doesn't end up in the 5 spot will be bridges to the backend of the bullpen, which is the strongest part of the team, just like last season, and that is just as important for this club to win day-in, and day-out.

Key starting pitcher: Michael Pineda. Either get it together or don't. You have the stuff. Go prove it.

Projected lineup:
Brett Gardner-LF
Jacoby Ellsbury-CF
Gary Sanchez-C
Matt Holliday-DH
Starlin Castro-2B
Didi Gregorius-SS
Greg Bird-1B
Aaron Judge -RF
Chase Headley-3B

Things to note: Chase Headley is absolutely horrible. Great guy, but a joke from a production standpoint to a contract standpoint. Joe Girardi has a lot of weapons and players to work in and out here. He will likely use 25-35 different lineups during the season or more. But this is the one he NEEDS to use by August 1 if this team is even close to a playoff spot.

Key position player: Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees are still idiots for giving this guy $153 million over seven years compared to Robinson Cano's demands. But, as they say, what's done is done. Ellsbury has to perform this season. He is a veteran and a table setter for this lineup. If you watch the Yanks close enough, you know that when he is healthy, he can still be a big time player at the plate and stealing bases. His outfield play is a disaster and his arm is weak, but he can overcome it with smarts and placement. He has to step-up and stay healthy. If he plays 150 games, the Yankees are in business.

Another Cup of Joe: Joe Girardi is entering his final season as Yankees manager. Does he deserve an extension? Absolutely. He has done more good than bad. Get mad at the binder and the match-ups and the over-thinking all you want. He deserves a chance to work with the young guys. See: Manager of the Year with the Marlins.

The Bird is the Word: Don't underestimate the importance of Greg Bird back from shoulder surgery. He is a lefty power bat at the plate and has it together with the glove at first base. He is also likable in the clubhouse and was sorely missed in 2016 from a depth perspective. Can you imagine the Yanks last year with him for a full season, pushing for the playoffs? They missed the postseason because of offense and a lack of hits from 1-9. Bird could have helped. Well, he is back now, after a long recovery. He is the x-factor for New York (oh yes, he knows it's just a poke to hit one out to right field in that wind tunnel, too).

Prospect to watch: Gleyber Torres. Acquired in the Aroldis Chapman deal, Torres is the most promising ultra-young prospect the Yankees have had in some time. What's the best part about his game? His versatility. He can bunt or hit for average or hit for an occasional home run or double in the gap. In the field? Slick glove and great hands. He can play second base or shortstop. He is that good.

Projected record: 89-73

Projected finish: 2nd American League Wild Card. Lose in American League Division Series.

In the end: This team is likely two years away from being a World Series contender. A playoff berth would go a long way, however, for the youngsters in gaining experience.