Mailbag: Yankees Under Pressure, Best Pitch on the Team, Aaron Boone, Clint Frazier

Well, today is the day. As we have extensively covered here at Views, the Minnesota Twins are extremely good. But you know what? So are the damn Yankees. I am so ready for tonight. Not to mention, whenever my insides feel like they’re going to eat themselves alive out of nerves, I am going to just watch this incredibly awesome video:

That gets me from 0-60 really quick. Is it 7 pm yet? Unfortunately, it is not. In the meantime, we’re going to have plenty of coverage here today to hold us all over. That starts with today’s mailbag, which has 4 great questions. As always, send your questions to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com. We answer our favorites every week on Fridays, so send us the best questions you have.

Kelan Asks: Yankees are one pitch away from getting out of a big jam, winning the game, whatever…Just need one pitch for the out or the K. Who is the pitcher you want and what are they throwing?

Let me just start by saying that I love this question. It’s a great one to think about on the eve of the Yankees’ 2019 playoff debut because it’s exactly the sort of scenario that plays itself out over and over again (did you see Cards-Braves yesterday?). Anyway, I’m going to play with this one a bit–to get to the spirit of the question, I’m going to say that the Yankees are up 1 run, the count is full, the bases are loaded, and it’s a do-or-die elimination game in the 9th inning with 2 outs. I think that’s really what we’re trying to get at with this one.

It is, thankfully, a tough question because of how dominant the Yankees’ relief corps is. But it’s not that tough, because, despite that, Aroldis Chapman is so damn good. I want Aroldis Chapman on the mound in that situation. But just for fun, I’m going to outline the top pitches I’d want to see in such a scenario in order. They are as follows:

  1. Aroldis Chapman: 100 mph+ Fastball
  2. Aroldis Chapman: Slider
  3. Adam Ottavino: Slider
  4. Tommy Kahnle: Changeup

That feels like the right order to me. Maybe I’m cheating a bit with the first Chapman answer, but yeah, the pitch I want in that scenario is Chapman’s fastest fastball. Check out some numbers against fastballs thrown by Chapman 100 mph or harder throughout his entire career:

  • Batting Average Against: .125
  • Slugging Against: .168
  • wOBA: .172
  • Expected wOBA: .201
  • Avg. Exit Velocity: 86.5 mph
  • Avg. Distance: 150 feet

I mean. Yeah. How can you bet against that? Have Chapman wind back and unleash his fastest pitch and take your chances. Odds are, it’ll work out. It usually does.

As for the others, they’re fairly self-explanatory. Chapman’s slider is also disgusting, Ottavino’s slider has a .239 wOBA against this year (its only fault in this scenario is it moves too much), and Kahnle’s changeup is filthy. There are hardly any wrong answers here, but yeah, that’s how I’d want it. Just like that.

Matt Asks: Top 5 members of the organization facing the most pressure and why?

Another great question. I think this one is pretty obvious though. Here is my list, which I will explain in more detail below:

  1. Aaron Boone
  2. Giancarlo Stanton
  3. Aroldis Chapman
  4. Adam Ottavino
  5. James Paxton

The first one here is obvious. Boone is under a lot–and I mean a lot–of pressure to deliver this year. He has really improved in a lot of ways in 2019, and I can barely think of any baffling or bad tactical mistakes he’s made this season. I really can’t. Last year, that was decidedly not the case, particularly in October. In fact, I think he was awful last October. There were some egregious decisions, notably leaving Severino in too long in Game 3, inexplicably replacing him with Lance f’ing Lynn with the bases loaded when he did pull him, giving Sabathia too long of a leash in Game 4 (literally the next night!), and not finding an at-bat for extra-base-hit machine Miguel Andújar in an elimination game. This year, the team is going to rely heavily on their bullpen, and the harsh reality is that Boone needs to be better than he was. He knows it, everyone knows it. The good news is that he has been all year. But the bright lights of October, coupled with the expectations surrounding this team, will amplify this in a significant way. Boone is going to be under a lot of pressure. I think he rises to the occasion.

Stanton, too, is going to be feeling it. He is the subject of incredible scrutiny, as our pal Bradford William Davis details in today’s Daily News (with a Views shout out!). Giancarlo feels like the new A-Rod. The only thing that will shut his critics up is an October hot streak, and I think he knows it. That’s a lot of pressure.

Chapman is facing an opt-out after the season, so a particularly dominant October run would be beneficial to him. He has been so damn good this year and over the last few, but there’s some real self-interest at play for him here too. He’s going to be feeling it, too.

The other two are also obvious. Ottavino is the fireman called when things get unruly. He’s going to be relied on a lot in some precarious spots. That’s not easy. And Paxton is starting Game 1 of the ALDS. There’s always pressure on that guy, whether he’s Whitey Ford or Bob Gibson. It doesn’t matter. Fun question, though. I bet all of you have very different answers.

George Asks: So, Boone’s done a great job this season for sure. I can’t help but feel Beltran was an integral behind the scenes part of their success especially with relation to hitting and pitching (see: Paxton, tipping pitches). Obvs, we know less than the front/back office – but if he wants to manage and they want to keep him in the organization how far up would you promote him? Hitting coach, bench coach, maybe even swap out for Boone? Boone would land anywhere, so if anything this would give him maximum leverage to manage anywhere.

Let me start by saying that I wouldn’t swap out Boone for anyone right now. He has his flaws, but I think he’s done a really fantastic job this year. There’s no way that the Yankees move on from him either, as they chose him for a reason, even over candidates like Beltran. I haven’t seen anything from Boone that changes this calculus. It would take something really egregious and unexpected.

Now, I agree with you about Beltran. He seems to be a really valuable piece of the operation and has helped as you note here, James Paxton and many others so far this year that we know about. Plus, as a recently-retired player, I think he can connect with the players on a personal level. That stuff really matters too. So I do want him to stay around if at all possible. But for who?

It definitely would not be Marcus Thames, either. I mean, my word, how good as the Yankees’ offense been in recent years? This year was a hitting instructor clinic from Thames in my opinion. Every guy they churned out there put up a 125 wRC+ or better, and guys like Maybin and others all raved about how Thames helped them refine their swings and find new success. I think Thames is the most under-appreciated and underrated non-player in the Yankee organization. There is not enough talk about him and the job he is doing. I would not replace him with anyone.

I guess that leaves Josh Bard, but that’s mostly just because I really don’t know how good of a job he’s doing. Probably pretty good, considering that he is Boone’s right-hand man and they always seem prepared and ready to go for every situation. So the only reason here would be because I personally always loved Beltran, and that feels like a less-than-good reason. But, within the context of this question, it’s probably Bard if I have to choose.

I hope Beltran gets to take that next step if that’s what he wants. I do think, though, that another team would just offer him a manager job and make this question just a thought exercise. As Boone and a million other examples demonstrate, teams don’t seem to care as much about direct managerial experience, so my guess is that someone would just offer him the top job right away and he’d take it. I think he’d be a good manager, but what the hell do I know.

Jonathan Asks: What is going with Clint Frazier?? Dude seemed to be on the fast track to becoming a member of the new core and now appears to be persona non grata. Was kept in the minors the majority of the summer, hardly saw playing time in a stretch where the division was clinched and regulars could’ve used rest, and now appears to be left off the postseason roster. What gives and is Frazier on the Yankees in 2020 or is he packaged for a starter in the offseason?

I was once really confused by this, but the facts have changed my mind. And here are the facts: despite ample opportunity, the Yankees have simply not given Clint Frazier the playtime. That means, to me at least, that they are not as high on him as they act (or have acted) and that they’re concerned by his awful defense. We know what he can do offensively–he carried the team for a few weeks in April–and his talent has never been in question. But clearly they hold some reservations here. And as I’ve said a lot, that’s not how they treat talented young players they believe in–Andújar was a similarly talented-but-flawed guy and the Yankees gave him extensive burn last year. Not so with Clint.

And you know what? That’s fine. I’m not going to question it. Who was the last prospect they’ve traded that you really miss? The Yankees and their front office have done a ridiculously good job of keeping the right guys and dealing the right guys recently. So I’m not going to question it.

But yeah, I think the writing on the wall is clear here. Clint will be dealt in the offseason. I’m not sure for which player–I mean, he’s been on the block seemingly every few months and he’s still here, which tells us something–but I think his time in pinstripes is all but over. Over before it began, ala Jesus Montero.

But there’s an entire offseason for this. The playoffs start tonight. I’m ready. Are you?

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4 Comments

  1. RetroRob

    The Padres wanted to interview Beltran for their open manager job and he declined the request. While the Padres have been mostly a meh organization over the years, they actually are one of the up-and-coming teams, with a great core of talent. They seem committed to winning. Beltran passing on even talking to the Padres indicates he’s not looking simply to manage. He’s looking for the right situation. Perhaps he actually prefers a front office position and he’s enjoying learning under Cashman at the moment, and that more has been promised.

  2. I love the Beltran question and I think that’s the right answer. When Bard was hired I remember hearing that he is the next young manager to be. He may not be long for the organization, but there does seem to be an awful lot of competent and accomplished managers waiting for jobs as it is.

    That being said, with the luxury tax what it is, wouldn’t it make sense for the Yankees to overpay coaches to keep them? Could that be the next market inefficiency? Am I just adding questions to a comment thread about questions?

  3. NYYROC

    Can’t argue with your answers to question 1, but I like Chad Green’s 97 MPH FB that plays like it’s 101. Hitters know it’s coming and still can’t hit it.

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