By Sweeny Murti
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Hal Steinbrenner is ready to make the jump to hyperspace and watch his Yankees become the “Evil Empire” again.
Take Aaron Judge’s rookie record 52 home runs and add Giancarlo Stanton’s MVP-worthy 59 home runs and they add up to a pair up sluggers like nothing the game has seen since the days of Maris and Mantle.
And just like that the Yankees are once again the Yankees.
“Expectations are always the same, as you know, which is to win a championship,” Steinbrenner said.
“They’re winners,” Stanton said Monday, as he donned his pinstriped number 27 jersey and explained why he chose to use his no-trade clause to negotiate his way from Miami to the Bronx. “They’re young and they’re in a good position to win for a long time. I’ve lost for a long time, so I want to change that dynamic and be a winner.”
General manager Brian Cashman looked quite relieved, himself.
“I certainly wasn’t approaching the winter expecting to be talking about something like this, but we’re excited that we are,” Cashman said.
When Shohei Otani was no longer a DH option because he crossed the Yankees off his list shortly after posting, the Yankees moved towards a deal that fell into their laps once the Giants and Cardinals trades for Stanton fell through because of the slugger’s veto power.
And now Aaron Boone is scribbling lineups on notepads and cocktail napkins that a first-time manager probably has no right to even think about, let alone put on the field for Opening Day.
Boone said he envisions combinations of right field and DH for Judge and Stanton, with different matchups and rest days for players determining what that particular day’s lineup will look like. Boone even said he wouldn’t be afraid to stack the righty power of Judge, Stanton, and Gary Sanchez if needed. Let’s not forget the dream of a problem he has in trying to slot lefty sluggers Greg Bird and Didi Gregorius in between this latest incarnation of “Murderer’s Row.”
The biggest problem the Yankees now have is convincing the rest of baseball that they can keep Jacoby Ellsbury, a player who Cashman said will come to spring training to win back the starting center field job he lost to Aaron Hicks in October. Ellsbury, with almost $70 million still owed to him over the next three years, trying to convince the Yankees he deserves to play?
I would be shocked if he is still here when the calendar hits January, let alone February. So what does this mean for the competition? Rays manager Kevin Cash was asked about trying to pitch to the new and improved Yankees lineup 19 times next year.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge that we embrace,” Cash said. “It was a challenge before. It just got tougher.”
That’s called putting on a brave face. Because no one is looking forward to trying to get 27 outs against these guys every night.
Please follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN