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Luke Voit (Patrick Semansky / AP)

Baseball

New York Yankees – Who’s on First?

When the New York Yankees analytics team suggested they pick up Luke Voit from St. Louis because the numbers indicated he would thrive in the friendly confines of Yankee stadium, many had their doubts.

Little did they know that the 27-year-old career minor leaguer would become one of the hottest hitters in baseball.  Voit’s power surge helped propel the Yankees into the playoffs, but the question remains, was Voit a flash in the pan or is his power and performance sustainable for a 162-game season?

Certainly, it seems like the Yankees got the best of the deal, sending lefty reliever Chasen Shreve and righty reliever Giovanny Gallegos to the Cards for Voit seems like a bargain now.

The Yankees infield is riddled with questions for 2019 and Voit is a key component in the mix.

Can Voit and Greg Bird offer the ideal one-two lefty–righty combination at first or will the formers presence inhibit the growth of Bird who seems to be going through an identity crisis? Should the Yankees be pursuing Paul Goldschmidt and figuring out ways to package Voit in a trade while his value is optimized, or should the Yankees be focused on finding a new home for Bird who looks lost in the Bronx?

It’s a rather complex challenge, because just a year prior, Bird was considered one of the hot new hitters in the game, demonstrating a sweet stoke that could be compared with Will Clark’s.  Some say Bird put a target on his chest and tempted fate when he responded by saying he wasn’t worried about a poor performance during a game midway through the 2018 season.  Bird claimed he didn’t fear failing because he knew that he would have another 6,000+ chances.  From that point forward, Bird’s performance dropped off and once Voit started blasting the ball out of stadium after stadium, his playing time disappeared.

Who would have imagined that a team that made the ALCS finals in 2017 and went two rounds deep in the 2018 playoffs might face an infield overhaul?

An injury to Didi Gregorius was a real set back for a team that seemed just one pitcher away from return to the World Series.  Didi’s injury could have the all-star shortstop on the sidelines until August and the soonest he’s forecast to return is June or July.  That might be too long to implement a patchwork solution such as juggling around Gleyber Torres and the recently released Ronald Torreyes.

Also, not helping matters is Miguel Andujar’s shaky performance in the field coming down the home stretch.  Didi and a strong fielding first baseman provide stability for a young and emerging infield, but now, the Yankees have to figure out what to do with all these moving parts.

Is Manny Machado the answer?

For those that watched Machado’s performance as an Oriole visiting Yankee Stadium, one could sense how he rose to the occasion.  Machado took one Yankee pitcher after another over the walls in left and left center field.  There was a certain smirk on his face like that of a kid showing off, every time he hit another ball out of Yankee stadium.  Maybe Machado was saying to Yankee fans, “Look at what I can do, imagine me playing here for the Yanks.”

But it’s that same attitude that got Machado in trouble during the playoffs as fans and media questioned his hustle and commitment to the game.  That’s probably the last thing a young and influential Yankee roster needs, a spoiled – self entitled veteran that doesn’t hustle.

GM Brian Cashman has proven to be very resourceful and the post George Steinbrenner Yankees are more frugal with their money.  Therefore, it’s more than likely the Yankees will sign a stop-gap shortstop to fill the temporary void caused by the injury to Gregorius.

So, Yankee fans can expect the team will address their needs up the middle, but not with a premier free agent or via any blockbuster trade.

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