Join the Yankees Universe . . . now only $19.95!

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The Red Sox may have a nation, but the Yankees have a whole universe:

The New York Yankees today announced the creation of Yankees
Universe, an official fan club granting members exclusive benefits,
unique access and special savings. Membership privileges extend to all
aspects of the fan experience, including exclusive Web site advantages,
outstanding discounts on official Yankees Clubhouse merchandise, and
Fast Track entrance perks on game day, all for only $19.95 for a
membership valid through the end of the year. Fans may sign up for the
club on MLB.com or Yankees.com . . .

. . . “A membership to Yankees Universe gives fans the chance to
experience a world of new and unique team essentials,” said Christy
Lee, Director of Yankees Fan Club. “We are proud to offer Yankees
Universe to the best fans in the world.”

I like how they went straight to eleven with this one. I mean, how easy
would it have been to try to compete with the Sox by going with
“Yankees Nation” or to even trump them with “Yankees World” or “Yankees
Galaxy?” “Screw that,” they said. “We’re going straight to the
universe! Let them top that!”

Let’s see . . . the Yankees are (a) trying to instantly replicate
something that, in other instances takes decades to cultivate; and (b)
they’re charging for the privilege. How very . . . Yankees of them.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.