Mailbag: Deivi, Stroman, Frazier, Severino, Chapman, Andújar

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After four incredibly long nights without (real) baseball, we will finally see our Yanks back in action tonight when they take on the Blue Jays. I’m looking forward to this second half, you guys. I really am. I think it has the potential to be one of those that we remember for a long time.

Yankee fans do a lot of complaining, and we seem to spend a lot of time griping about the parts of the team that aren’t working, but as we get ready for this second half, let’s remember how good things are right now. There are not many teams in a better position than the Yanks are. I just hope the good times keep rolling throughout the summer and into the fall.

Anyway, on to the mailbag. We have 6 questions today. As always, send us your questions by email at viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Jamie Asks: With Marcus Stroman dealing with a pectoral injury and Max Scherzer presumably unavailable, are there any starting pitcher difference makers available that the Yankees are WILLING to trade for? Or are they most likely going to trade for this year’s Zach Britton?

Let’s just get this over with to begin with: Max Scherzer is definitely, 100% not available. There’s no reason to think he would be. I mean, if the season ended today, the Nationals would be the NL’s top Wild Card team. That doesn’t seem like a team that’s about to trade their best pitcher. Things have changed, and I think it’s time that Yankee fans move on from the Scherzer dream. It would be nice–more than nice–but it’s not going to happen.

As for difference-making SP, it depends on what you mean by “difference-making”, I guess. I’ve taken a pretty thorough look at Madison Bumgarner, Marcus Stroman (I know, I know, the injury, but that does seem minor at this point), and Matt Boyd so far (with more on the way), and I think you could make an argument that any one of those guys could be a difference-maker. Hell, I think you could argue J.A. Happ was a difference-maker last year! It all depends in the definition.

There are, to the public’s knowledge at least, no true aces available this year, though. Bauer comes close I guess, but he’s still not on the Scherzer level. If Scherzer or another like him is what fans want, a lot of people aren’t going to be satisfied with this deadline, I think.

Matt Asks: What are the chances we see Severino or Betances this year? Do you think we sign Didi to an extension? Early predictions on Jasson? 

This one is a multi-parter, but I like all of the questions. I’m going to answer the last part first, though. I don’t really have a lot to say about Jasson Dominguez, the 16-year-old phenom from the Dominican Republic that the Yankees just signed, that you can’t find elsewhere. Jeff Passan wrote an excellent article about him, so just read that. FanGraphs, in what feels insane to me, already ranks him as the Yankees top-ranked prospect. I’ve never seen him play or even talked to anyone who has, so how can I say what I think right now? I’m excited to follow him, and I think you should be too. That’s all I know at this point.

Anyway, I think the odds that we see either Severino or Betances in 2019 are pretty slim at this point. The odds are decreasing with each day that we don’t hear more about them. Severino isn’t even throwing as far as we know, and the last we heard from him was that the Yankees bungled his recovery. The Yankees won’t even answer questions about Betances’ timeline. Remember, both of these guys are going to need significant rehab time. It’s starting to get late really early around here, which is a huge bummer. The Yanks are so much better with Severino and Betances.

As for Didi, I do think the Yanks sign him to an extension. He is clearly a valuable member of the clubhouse, and my man put up a .268/.335/.494 (121 wRC+) line last year with great defense. He’s improved every year in New York, and he took over for Derek Jeter. Not a small task. I think the Yanks will look to sign him after the season, and I think they’d be silly not to.

Since we’re talking about Didi, let’s all watch this again, because why the hell not:

Robert Asks: What’s up with Clint Frazier performing terribly at AAA? I know it’s been only a few weeks, but every time you show his name in DotF he’s 0 for 3 with 2 Ks. Prior to his demotion, he had like a .850 OPS with the Yanks! Is it possible that his anger at the Yankees has resulted in bad habits at the plate?

Robert is right: Clint is not hitting the same in Triple-A as he was in the Majors. He’s hitting .234/.290/.391 (71 wRC+) in the minors this year, to be exact, and .283/.330/.513 (117 wRC+) in the Bronx. What gives? Well, a few things.

First, it’s only been 70 Triple-A plate appearances for Clint. That’s not a lot and definitely not enough to make any declarative judgements though. Second, there does come a point where a player stagnates against minor league pitching, and I think Clint could be one of those cases. The dude is clearly an MLB-ready bat. I don’t think even his biggest detractors deny that. He needs consistent MLB at-bats to get better.

As for the last part, whether or not Clint is developing bad habits, I don’t think we can say that. He’s probably upset with his situation–you would be, too–and maybe that’s spilling onto the field. Does that mean he’s developing bad habits? Not necessarily. It just means he is struggling a little right now, but I wouldn’t lose any sleep over his Triple-A performance.

Matt Asks: Where would you set the over/under on Deivi Garcia MLB appearances this year? With the promotion to AAA it’s realistic he gets the call especially if he keeps pitching the way he’s been pitching. Couldn’t he be like Severino in 2015? Just pitching too well to hold back anymore.

I will never get tired of this GIF.

First of all, let me just say that I completely agree with the last part of this question: Deivi is pitching too well to hold back. The Yankees seem to agree. As Matt said, he was recently promoted to Triple-A Scranton. That may not sound like a lot, but consider the fact that Deivi is the youngest player in Scranton by more than 3 years at age 20 (Thairo Estrada is 23) and he’s the youngest pitcher by 4 years (Mike King is 24). He was also the youngest player on the Thunder roster.

There’s a good reason why. 688 players have thrown at least 50 innings this season across the entire minor league system. Here are some Deivi stats, with his ranking among that group in parentheses:

  • Strikeout Percentage: 39.3% (1st)
  • Strikeouts Per 9: 14.94 (1st)
  • FIP: 1.86 (1st)
  • K-BB rate: 27.9% (12th)
  • Home Runs Per 9: 0.26 (36th)
  • Swinging Strike Percentage: 15.5% (40th)
  • Batting Average Against: .198 (68th, top 10%)
  • Home Run Per Fly Ball Rate: 4.2% (71st)

If you were wondering why I have such a huge prospect crush on him, this is why: holy smokes those peripherals are good. They’re even more impressive when you remember his age and the fact that the bulk of these innings have come in the upper minors. It’s so, so hard not to get over-excited about this kid as a Yankee fan.

This has all been a rather long-winded way to say that I’ll set the over/under on Deivi MLB appearances in 2019 at 10. There are a few reasons for that. First, the Yankees are trying to win, and it’s too hard to ignore Deivi’s arm at this point. If he continues to carve through lineups like butter, we’re going to see him in the Bronx this year. However, he will have an innings limit this season, so that means he’d likely come up as a reliever, ala Joba Chamberlain. That said, the use of the MLB ball at Triple-A, along with facing the hitters in general, is going to be a major test for him.

So I’ll say 10, as I can see him getting a cup of coffee in the bigs in late September, but 10 appearances would be more than that. It would mean he had a role to play down the stretch. And you know what? I’m feeling optimistic. I’m going to take the over.

Andrew Asks: At this point, if Chapman were to opt out after this season, do you think the Yankees should re-sign him or let him walk?

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Ugh, this is a tough question. A really tough question. First of all, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Chapman is still really, really good. Since returning to New York, he is 9-4 with a 2.57 ERA (2.19 FIP) with 78 saves and 14 K/9 in 136.1 innings pitched. That all ranks toward the very top of the league in that period. It can feel shaky sometimes for some reason, but the reality is that the Yanks have one of the best closers in the business.

Not to mention, there aren’t any relievers out there with Chapman’s level of success or his kind of stuff. The guy is still in the 99th percentile of fastball velocity, for crying out loud, and he’s really refined his slider. The other best pending free agent is Betances, followed by Sean Doolittle. Slim pickings, even if Chapman isn’t getting younger.

Will he opt out? I kind of doubt it. He’d be leaving 2 years and $30 million on the table, and while he would probably beat that (look at the deals the Yanks gave Britton and Ottavino for non-closing roles), the market has been so anti-player recently that he might not want to deal with the hassle of it all. I’m not sure I blame him, and I go back and forth on whether or not he will opt out.

Now, with that said, if he opted out, I’d be fine if the Yankees let him walk. You don’t need me to remind you about the circumstances in which Chapman arrived in New York in the first place, after a domestic violence incident, a police investigation, and a suspension. This all makes me feel extremely uncomfortable–maybe it doesn’t make you feel that way, but it definitely does for me–and I wouldn’t be sorry to not have to wrestle with this anymore.

Ken Asks: I’m not trying to rush this incredibly fun season, but I also can’t help but wonder about next season. If we assume Andujar recovers fully from his labrum injury, and were you in charge, which four players would you want to get the most at-bats in the Yanks’ 2020 infield?

and George Asks: Look into your crystal ball:  2020 Yankees: if Miggy is healthy, does he stay or is he traded, once teams see the shoulder isn’t an issue?  If he stays, in what role and is Gio your starting 3bman?

These are two tough questions. To answer the first one, which then segues into the last, here are the top 4 players I’d want getting at-bats in the 2020 infield: DJLM, Torres, Didi, Voit. I think that’s, at this point, clearly the best option. (These things change so much that it’s silly, honestly, to even talk about, but it’s a fun thought experiment.)

As for Miggy, he’s going to have some serious, serious rehabbing to do. He won’t have faced live pitching in about 12 months by the time Spring Training rolls around, and he’ll be recovering from one of the worst injuries a baseball player can endure. I am a believer in Miggy, but he’s going to have to do a lot of work to get back to where he was. I hope he can force the issue, though, and I bet he will.

As for Gio, I think the sun has set on him. I could be wrong, but as I have said before, the Giodude is a career .262/.303/.385 (80 wRC+) hitter, and that includes this year’s success. He simply has never hit before his .304/.355/.469 (117 wRC+) year this year. Can he keep that up? I have my doubts. We’ve already seen some cracks in the armor. Check out his rolling xWOBA, via Statcast:

That right there is what we call a downward trend. I hope I’m wrong and Gio continues his magical 2019, but I think we should just be glad that his torrid streak happened at all. It helped the Yankees in a time of need, and we can’t take them back. It’s oh-so-very 2019 Yankees, honestly, and I love it so much.

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6 Comments

  1. Your a Looser Trader FotD

    The other aspect to letting Chapman walk is what it does to the BP depth. He may not be the lights out guy he was when every FB was 102 with movement. But the results are clearly good enough to be our closer. When he’s gone? That moves everyone up a spot. And without knowing what Betances’ injury has done to him (or whether he’ll even be on the team!) I think it’s far more likely that we give him an additional year at a lower salary – maybe $13mm? – which would actually give us a minor LT benefit – than it is that we let him walk.

  2. CountryClub

    If Chappy opts put, they’ll let him walk. I doubt they have any interest in going past the 2 years they’re currently on the hook for.

  3. Also, I think Greinke should be listed as an ace that potentially could be available. If you want to talk about ‘difference makers’, he’s right up there with Scherzer this year. Whether the Yankees would want to take on his money and whether or not NY would be a good fit for him personally are of course fair game. But he very well could be available.

  4. I understand Bobby’s discomfort with Chapman’s domestic violence incident. That said, I would have liked to see an analysis on whether or not the Yankees should let him walk (should he opt out) based purely on baseball metrics. How comfortable or uncomfortable each of us are is completely subjective and falls outside the scope of any sort of meaningful analysis. It’s the equivalent of liking or disliking a player due to ‘intangibles’. To be honest, it comes off as a cop out. For what it’s worth, if I were in Bobby’s shoes I would have noted my discomfort with Chapman as a person, and then provided an analysis based on the statistics, projections, other available players, etc.

    • His FB is trending slower, but his slider is getting better. He’ll have a draft pick attached to him. MLBTR said they think he’s the most likely opt out candidate. Hard to imagine he couldn’t secure more than $30 million, but the AAV might be lower. He’s having a stellar season by the numbers. If he goes through a full season with no trouble in the knee, I think he will opt out and look like a winner. Also interesting though, would he accept a QO? It’ll be 18-19 for one season, clearly more than he could earn in a season otherwise. There’s an injury risk involved, but as long as he signs for $12m the next season he wouldn’t be at a loss (and he’d be going into FA without draft pick compensation – we saw this past OS how much that affected Kimbrel). He could potentially get 18m followed by 3/33 as opposed to signing for like 3/42 this OS

      • Wire Fan

        If Chapman is walking away from 30M guaranteed, it’s because he thinks he can get more than 30M. Very few players worry about AAV, plus with pitchers there is always a chance for a catastrophic injury or performance/stuff decline.

        If he opts out, he is testing the market, or leveraging the Yankees for an extra year or two.

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