Happy Friday, everyone. It is a freezing morning here in New York City, which is bad. What’s good is that we are another day closer to Opening Day. It’s less than a month away! And there are plenty of Spring Training games happening. Deivi Garcia is even starting one tonight, but it isn’t being broadcast. Oh well. Let’s just hope nobody else gets hurt and I’m considering it a win anyway.
While we didn’t post yesterday – sometimes life gets in the way even for fanatics like us – it’s time for another mailbag. We have five great questions today. As always, send yours to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com. We choose our favorites each week.
Jeremy Asks: I love Miggy as much as anyone and would imagine his hit tool is like a 70 on the 20-80 scale. As everyone knows, to reach his ceiling offensively he must increase his walk rate to drive his OBP. Canó is the natural comp there, as Canó came up with a similarly elite hit tool (they both hit .297 in their rookies years) and an even worse BB% than Andújar’s 4.1% in 2018 when he walked 2.9% of the time in 2005. However, Canó’s BB% slowly crept up and his BB% since 2010 is 7.7%. Can you dig a bit deeper to compare the adjustments Canó had to make/did make in his plate discipline/swinging profile vs the adjustments Andújar may benefit from?
Let’s start by comparing their rookie seasons, shall we? Canó came up in 2005 as a 22-year-old while Andújar debuted as a 23-year-old in 2018. Here’s how they did:
For what it’s worth, Andújar was a better hitter (116 wRC+ to 103) and more valuable by WAR. He was obviously a more powerful hitter, too. (He had 50 more ABs.) I really do think people forget how good he was in 2018. It’s going to be nice to have him back in the lineup again. Now, in the interest of fairness, Canó’s big leap came in 2006, when he hit .342 (!) as a 23-year-old. (Regular readers of this blog will know that I love Robinson Canó.) So it’s not exactly apples-to-apples, but this is a good reminder of how good Andújar was.
Anyway, it’s true that they’re fairly similar in offensive profiles. They’re both well-above-average at making contact – those rates are insane – and very, very aggressive at the plate. While Canó is more patient now, much closer to league average in walk rate, it took him nearly six years to get there. His best years in terms of walk rate came with a chase rate closer to league average, but it’s important to remember that he was a monster even when he wasn’t walking much. Not to mention, Canó still swings way more than normal. It’s just who he is as a hitter. I suspect the same will be true for Miggy, too.
This is not a knock! The SABR-school of baseball analysis loves on-base-percentage and walks. That’s for good reason: for generations, these were undervalued skills, “market inefficiencies”, if you will. A way to identify under-appreciated talent. Now it’s all the rage. There’s something to be said for a player who makes contact at a high rate and puts the ball in play, though. If Miggy is consistently doing that and puts up years like he did in 2018, he will be plenty valuable. It would be nice if he walked more, sure. But his offensive profile is just fine. As we all know, the best way for him to add value is by improving his defense anyway.
Brad Asks: With Stanton possibly out for opening day do you think the Yankees should start the year with Frazier at DH and Andújar in the Minors working on defense flexibility?
I think it’s safe to say Stanton will miss Opening Day. While a Grade 1 strain isn’t that bad as these things go, there’s no reason to rush. I have no problem with this approach. Opening Day is a big deal in that it’s ceremonial and exciting, but that’s about it. Having Giancarlo around for the vast majority of the season is much more important than rushing him back for a bunch of games that will get rained out anyway. Getting him right is better than re-aggravating the injury and suffering setbacks. Remember how infuriating that was last year?
So, with that in mind, let’s get to the roster construction. There should be room for both Frazier and Andújar on the MLB roster come March 26. Before camp, I predicted four outfielders plus Andújar. Stanton, of course, was one of those outfielders. I had Frazier back in Triple-A. With this injury, I think there’s a pretty good chance we’ll see Frazier in Baltimore next month. He hit a monster home run just yesterday:
As for Andújar, I don’t think there’s any chance he starts the year in Scranton. As highlighted above, he has a special bat. That’s one you keep around and figure out where to play later. If he’s healthy, he’ll be in the Bronx, where he should be. Here’s some video of him playing outfield in a game for good measure:
Jonathan Asks: I have never heard of such hype about a Yankee prospect since Brien Taylor. The talk about the “Martian” is nuts and he hasn’t even played a professional game. If he performs up to expectations and kills it this year in the minors, how much will he shoot up the prospect rankings? Are we talking top 10? Top 5?
Brien Taylor is a good comp in some ways. He was named Baseball America’s top overall prospect before ever playing in a professional game! That’s nuts. The Yanks drafted him with the first overall pick in the 1991 Draft, when he was 19-years-old. That understandably brings a lot of hype, as do the rankings.
However, Jasson is a different beast altogether, I think. Jasson, at age 16, drew comparisons to both Mike Trout and Mickey Mantle in an ESPN piece that dubbed him “The Martian.” Scouts and analysts are in love with him. Danny Rowland, who heads the Yanks’ international scouting division, said that Jasson has “possibly the best combination of tools, athleticism, and performance” he’s ever seen. That’s quite the on-the-record quote. It speaks to Jasson’s potential and how much everyone believes in him. The tools are obvious to everyone, I think.
Given the wave of young international stars breaking onto the scene – Acuña was 20, Soto was 19, etc. – it’s fair to think Jasson will skyrocket up the rankings with a good year. He is not a decade away. He could start helping the Yankees in 2022 or 2023, when he’d be 19 or 20 respectively. A long hinges on his stateside performance, obviously. Most people have never seen him play themselves! How he responds to professional pitching is essential, so we can’t get ahead of ourselves. Yet.
Robert Asks: With the reintroduction of the 15-day IL, will that limit teams from using the Opener and the doing bullpen shuffle via phantom injuries? Did the Yankee take advantage of the 10-day IL more than the average team? If so, the bullpen may get taxed more now that the 15-day IL is in place.
It’s true that the 10-day IL helped teams utilize the Triple-A shuttle. Teams placed 563 players on the then-DL in 2016, the year before the 10-day then-DL was implemented. The next year, it shot up to 702. Last year, it was 737. (Though the Yankees surely played a role in that!) The trend is clear. The Dodgers famously used the system to give their pitchers extra rest in 2017. The data is clear. It was happening and honestly, it was pretty obvious it would happen.
In fact, that’s all why the league made this change. It wanted to limit the Triple-A shuttle and figured that changing the rule would help. (It also comes with a related rule that changes the amount of time optioned players must spend in MiLB before they can return from 10 to 15.) These changes, while opaque, will probably have impacts all season – especially coupled with the three-batter minimum rule.
I’m not sure that the Yankees abused the system more than anyone else, honestly. And last year is a tough case since the Yankees had so many damn injuries. But the Scranton Shuttle was certainly real. It won’t be as easy to send relievers to/from Scranton in 2020, and that will probably impact roster construction in some small but meaningful ways.
Daryll Asks: Just wondering what the future holds to stream the Yankee games. I know that Amazon has a stake in the game now but I haven’t heard much since that deal broke.
This is a timely question, unfortunately. Just yesterday, YouTube TV announced that it will no longer carry YES Network – along with other RSNs in the FOX family – on the platform, effective February 29 (tomorrow). YouTube TV was negotiating with Sinclair Broadcast Group for the rights, presumably because Sinclair now owns a 20% stake in the network. That the two parties couldn’t reach an agreement is a big blow for fans who want to cut the cord and stream games.
There are other options, though. Both Hulu Live and AT&T TV Now carry YES, so those are your best bets for streaming. It is true that Amazon has a plan in place to stream Yankee games, but there hasn’t been any news on this since it was initially reported back in December. The early reports said that the platform may be in place by the 2020 season, so I guess we’ll have to keep our eyes out. There is also MLB.TV, which carries every single regular season game – provided you’re not blacked out, of course. If you’re in New York – or neighboring areas considered the home market – you won’t be able to stream live Yankee games.
Cable is probably the best bet. I know it’s not streaming, but it is reliable for Yankees games. Spectrum, FiOS, Comcast, and DirecTV all carry YES. I know cord-cutting is all the rage, but the reality is that good ol’ fashioned cable is probably the most reliable way to watch Yankees games in the region.