We have a couple of inquiries to address in this week’s mailbag. As always, send any questions you have to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com. We’ll consider and select our favorites each week. With that, let’s get to what in store this morning:
Daniel asks: Who do you think will be available at the trade deadline?
I think you’re going to see a spillover of some names we heard come up this winter. Kris Bryant and Trevor Story immediately come to mind as the two top players who could be available a few months from now. Hell, if the Bryant/Mets rumors from previous weeks have any validity, he may not even last until July.
The key thing that Bryant and Story have in common is that both are free agents after this season. Both don’t seem particularly likely to stay put on their current teams, either. The Cubs (Yu Darvish) and Rockies (Nolan Arenado) have just traded core players, clearly signaling a rebuild. Plus, Bryant’s relationship with the Cubs is icy and the Rockies never seem to hold on to their top players.
Now, I don’t really expect the Yankees to go for a big rental like Bryant or Story. That’s just not something they’ve done in a long time. Wouldn’t surprise me to see the Yankees go after an infielder midseason, but definitely not a top tier guy. Someone like Baltimore’s Freddy Galvis should be available. If not Galvis, likely another upcoming free agent.
It’s more likely that the Yankees go after another pitcher at the deadline. We’d all like to have Luis Castillo in pinstripes, but let’s not get carried away. I really doubt he’ll be available. The Reds have absolutely no good reason to trade him. In combing through pitchers in contract seasons, a few stood out as potentially available come the deadline:
- Dylan Bundy
- Zach Davies
- Kevin Gausman
- James Paxton
Bundy has fascinated me as a target since last summer, and I’m including him again. The Angels aren’t actually going to contend, right? Right. The Cubs just picked up Davies in the Darvish trade and there’s no reason to think they’re keeping Davies if they aren’t in the hunt. Then there’s Gausman, who the Yankees have had interest in before. Finally, why not a reunion with Paxton midseason? What if he’s back to throwing in the mid-to-upper 90s? The Mariners aren’t going anywhere. We know Paxton can pitch in New York. As strange as that would be, it could work.
Andrew asks: If Gardy isn’t re-signed, who has a better chance of sticking as the last outfielder? Mike Tauchman or Greg Allen?
Before picking one, it’s necessary to illustrate what the Yankees’ bench could look like opening day. Since there’s no limit to the number of pitchers carried on the 26-man roster, the Yankees could have only three players on the pine. A backup catcher (Kyle Higashioka), a reserve infielder (Tyler Wade), and a fourth outfielder (Tauchman/Allen). Should they go four, both Tauchman and Allen could make it, in theory. It just seems more likely that the final spot would go to a more bat-centric player. Perhaps that’s Miguel Andújar, or seemingly more likely: a lefty bat with pop like Jay Bruce, Derek Dietrich, or Mike Ford.
As tempting as it may be to carry 14 pitchers to start the season, I really feel that 13 will be sufficient. Thus, a four man bench. I know the Yankees (and other teams) want to protect their pitchers after a short season without full workloads, but is an eight man bullpen really not enough to do that? What do I know. In any event, let’s assume a four man bench. That means we can’t rule out Tauchman and Allen making the team. Still, it feels like one of the bat-first players I mentioned before grabs that last spot, leaving Tauchman and Allen to duke it out for the fourth outfielder role.
Now, to answer the question. Tauchman is the safe bet here. He’s someone the organization has clearly liked since 2019, in spite of us screaming into the void after each swing-and-miss on a middle-middle fastball during 2020. At least projection systems like ZiPS (101 wRC+) foresee a rebound. More importantly for the bench role is that he’s a good defender. No, he’s not a true center fielder, but he won’t embarrass himself at that position.
Even if you’re down on Tauchman like I am, at least he’s had some semblance of offensive success in the majors (2019). Allen hasn’t. He has a lifetime 70 wRC+ in 618 plate appearances, with no individual season above 76. The one leg up he has on Tauchman is defense. Again, Tauchman isn’t a true center fielder, whereas Allen is certainly comfortable in that spot. I just doubt that will be enough for Allen to seize the job.
Steven asks: What is your favorite game from the 2013 season outside of Mo’s final one?
Can’t say that 2013 was a particularly memorable Yankees season, so this isn’t easy to answer. The team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and just second time since the 1994-1995 strike. Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez spent a lot of time on the injured list. The replacements included past-their-primes Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells. CC Sabathia took a step back. There wasn’t much joy after the team came down to earth after April, so it took some box score sleuthing to remind me of notable games that year.
Now, even if I could choose Mariano Rivera’s last game, I’m not sure I’d pick it as my favorite. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but it took 56 batters to come and go in a meaningless regular season game before Rivera entered. It was definitely a good moment as Mo walked off that mound one last time, but the rest of the game was meh.
I’m having a hard time picking a favorite game between the following two:
Andy Pettitte going the distance in his final game
Ton of build up in this one. And no, the game didn’t have any playoff implications, but the fact that it was close from start to finish, Pettitte’s last hurrah, and that he did it all by himself was enthralling. The Yankees didn’t lead until the sixth inning and Pettitte hadn’t gone the distance since 2006, mind you. But he got the job done: a 116 pitch complete game victory, 2-1 over Houston. Even the last out was nerve-wracking: a sharp grounder to the error-prone Eduardo Núñez with the tying run on first base, which followed Joe Girardi’s mound visit.
A-Rod getting revenge in Yankees’ comeback back at Fenway
It was so satisfying to watch A-Rod get payback for Dempster purposely throwing at him earlier in this one. That it kickstarted the Yankees’ comeback wasn’t bad, either. Last but not least, it’s always fun to win a game like that in a hostile environment like Fenway Park.