Mailbag: Outfield Alignment, Ross Stripling, Stowers-Long Trade Revisited, Ron Roenicke

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Spring Training is finally here. We’ve covered all the relevant news from Wednesday and Thursday, so check that out if you missed it. We’ll be doing that every day. I gotta say: it feels good. It’s nice to have some real stuff to write about again. I also want to put out a simple request: can someone please find me one of these shirts?

Thanks! It’s very appreciated. (Nick Swisher is a tool, of course, but he’s our tool, so it’s whatever.) Anyway, four questions in this week’s mailbag. Send in your questions to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com. We pick our favorites each week.

Paul Asks: Sure sounds like they plan on using Stanton as a DH most of the time. So who is in LF (until Hicks gets back and can shift Gardy out of CF)? Tauchman (should he be in CF and Gardy LF)? Miggy? Clint?

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The outfield depth is actually pretty thin, when you lay it out like this. It’s why I was surprised to see Cameron Maybin sign with the Tigers. I thought for sure that a reunion was in the works once Hicks went down but that is just a reminder of how little I know about anything. In his season kickoff press conference on Wednesday, Boone did note that he expects Stanton to DH a lot.

This has always been a bit weird to me — Stanton was a fine outfielder in the National League, even playing in 155 games in 2017 — but I get it. The man is slightly prone to injury and keeping him healthy is the key priority. That leaves the outfield situation looking like this, I think:

  • Right Field: Aaron Judge
  • Center Field: Brett Gardner
  • Left Field: Mike Tauchman/Giancarlo Stanton

Just because Stanton is going to DH sometimes doesn’t mean he won’t play left. I think that’s pretty clearly the situation. Tauchman can also play some center — he has 18 games there in his career — and his profile works. He’s very fast (72nd percentile sprint speed) and gets great jumps on the ball (79th percentile). That seems like a prototypical mold for a center fielder. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him give Gardner some rest in center on some days. Gardner is not getting any younger! This is officially something I’ll be Watching For during Spring Training.

Overall, though, the depth is pretty thin for now. Clint Frazier is the clear 5th option, but otherwise, things are pretty bleak. Estevan Florial is the only other outfielder on the 40-man, if you can believe that, and he’s nowhere close to ready. The Yankees are an outfield injury away from needing to call in some external reinforcements. Let’s hope that’s not necessary. Let’s also hope that Hicks comes back on the earlier end (June) of his potential timetable (August) because that guy rules and the Yankees are better when he’s around.

Michael Asks: With the Pederson and Stripling deal to the Angels falling through should the Yankees look to pounce?A left-handed corner bat and a back-end rotation piece. What would it cost?

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Randy covered the Joc Pederson angle in some depth already, so I’m going to point you there. He’s got everything you’d need. The skinny: there’s a lot to like with Pederson, even if he’s got some wicked platoon splits, but a deal is unlikely. We haven’t covered Stripling though so I’ll do that now.

The 30-year-old righty got a late start in his career, making his debut in 2016. All told, he owns a 3.51 ERA (3.60 FIP, 87 ERA-) in 387 IP for the Dodgers. His peripherals are solid – slightly above-average strikeout rate, very few walks, limited HR, and decent spin on his fastball/curve – and that makes up for the low velocity. He throws six pitches and would fit neatly into the anti-fastball approach the Yankees have going on, though who knows what Blake wants to do. In other words, it’s a fit! He’s not Gerrit Cole, but he’s a fit.

He has just over 3 years of service time, making him arbitration eligible in 2021. A package based around Frazier could make some sense in theory — if LA trusted him to man the outfield with no DH protection — but I really don’t know. MTPS. A huge part of me is skeptical that the Yankees and Dodgers would make a trade at this point given the fact that they’re pretty direct competitors for the title. Plus I think the Yanks are fairly happy with their rotation and in-house options right now. Fun idea, though.

Alex Asks: Any thoughts on the Stowers-Long trade? At the time, it seemed to make sense based on roster flexibility and positional need. Now, the Yankees have Hicks signed, Didi gone, and Long looked good last year while Stowers stood pat. I imagine the Yanks would take a do-over there.

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Shed Long was momentarily a Yankee after the Sonny Gray trade last year, but Cashman immediately flipped him to Seattle for Josh Stowers. You can read more about that trade here. This is a fun one to revisit for the reasons Alex laid out here.

First, Long actually played at the big league level last year. The 24-year-old second baseman and left fielder played in 42 games last year and he did pretty well. He hit .263/.333/.454 (111 wRC+) with more walks than average and a normal strikeout rate. He has decent power (.191 ISO). He’s not Aaron Judge but that’s okay. ZiPS projects a regression, though: .229/.295/.371 (82 wRC+), mostly because while he hit the ball to a decent velocity (about 90 mph), he pounded it into the ground (~48%). Not a fantastic profile, even though he’s pretty fast. So that’s worth bearing in mind.

Stowers, on the other hand, was in Low-A Charleston all season in the Yankees system. The 23-year-old outfielder owns a .268/.384/.403 with 12 homers. He strikes out a lot (180 times in 585 AB or 30%) but has walked over 100 times in his MiLB career. He did not factor into Baseball America’s organizational top 10, nor has he really even merited a mention there since early season last year.

Personally, I’d prefer Long. Seems obvious, no? I don’t think the trade really matters all that much but I always prefer the guy closer to contributing to the actual MLB team and that’s exactly what Long did last year. More depth is good, and given the outfield situation outlined above, Long may have been a useful piece for 2020 to ride the Scranton Shuttle. Oh well. No harm, no foul, really.

Dennis Asks: So the Red Sox promoted their bench coach to manager.  Are we supposed to believe that he did not know anything about their sign stealing?  And that he did not have the opportunity to stop it?  Am I wrong, or are the optics here really bad?

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In case you missed it, the Red Sox promoted bench coach Ron Roenicke to be their new “interim” manager. Let’s go through this question one-by-one because it’s fun that way.

Yes, we are supposed to believe he did not know anything about the sign-stealing. Now, of course, we don’t know much about it yet. The league hasn’t released its report yet — they should soon — so there’s that. And, given the way the Astros saga played out, though, it’s fair to be skeptical even when we do get the report. However, I agree with the sentiment: it is ridiculous to assume that the bench coach wouldn’t know of a sign-stealing operation, at least on it’s face.

The second question is related to the first. If we assume that he did know about the operation, it does then naturally suggest that he would be positioned to stop it. As bench coach, he does have authority — less than Cora, but authority for sure.

In conclusion, no, you’re not wrong. It looks bad. As does naming him interim manager, in my opinion. I know they didn’t get to do a real search, but still. Boston, just after blowing up their talented roster for no reason, now has a lame-duck manager credibly implicated in the sign-stealing operation. I think the Yankees’ offseason went better. Don’t you?

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1 Comment

  1. JG (Melky Mesa)

    If Andujar hits and Urshela is somewhat close to last year than Stanton should and will have to play a lot of LF

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