Happy Friday, everyone. It’s been a few weeks since our last mailbag, so apologies for the delay. We have a few good questions to address today. But before that: if you’d like to be considered for a future edition, please email viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com with your questions. We plan to choose our favorites each week. Now to the mailbag.
Sam asks: With Theo leaving the Cubs, it really feels like they’re about to tear everything down. What Cubs players make sense for the Yankees to target in the trade market? Adding Schwarber’s left-handed power is very appealing.
Yup, a selloff certainly seems to be coming. Schwarber feels like someone the Yankees would pursue, especially since the team was connected to him in the past. That said, I don’t like the fit in spite of his undeniable power from the left side. Even though he absolutely crushes the ball, he’s another low-contact bat (28 percent career strikeout rate) and is without a position. Statcast had him in the 2nd and 23rd percentiles in Outs Above Average and Outfielder Jump this season. With Giancarlo Stanton parked at DH, there’s really no place for Schwarber.
There are a bunch of other players on the Cubs I’m interested in, though. Javy Báez would be cool as a Francisco Lindor/DJ LeMahieu fallback. He had an oddly bad 2020 (57 wRC+) after hitting .286/.321/.544 (123 wRC+) from 2018 through 2019. One thing remained steady: his elite defense, which would unequivocally help the Yanks.
I’d also love to bring in Yu Darvish, who I mentioned yesterday in our news and notes post. The 34 year-old has been dominant since mid-2019 and can probably be had for very little because his contract goes through 2023. I’d bet that the Yanks would be able to get the Cubs to take Adam Ottavino’s deal as part of a trade too.
Happy Friday, everyone. The World Series is tied at 1-1 and, for this weekend at least, I am the world’s biggest Dodgers fan. I expect that the same is true for all of you, too. Anyway, it’s time for a mailbag after a quick shout out to Derek, who has been really carrying the load here while Randy and I have been tied up with other, real-life things recently. Props to Derek.
We chose four good questions today. As always, send yours to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com for consideration. We choose our favorites each week. Let’s get to it.
Dan Asks: Any idea how MLB is handling the luxury tax for 2020? Players only received 37% of their salaries–all payrolls are therefore significantly below the luxury tax threshold.
This has been a confusing process for sure. There was never that much clarity over it. There are a few parts to this. The first is that the CBT was never prorated, despite the fact salaries were. It was still going to be the same and it was going to be calculated taking the annual average value (AAV) of a player’s overall contract. Same as normal, 37% prorated or not.
The second is that this was tied to a specific moment in time. It all depended on if the season concluded or not. If MLB canceled the season before September 1, the 2020 season did not count at all, really. Teams were on the hook for their end of 2019 payroll for CBT purposes. If, as is what obviously happened, they played beyond September 1, then the AAV of the end-of-2020 roster payroll is what counted. That’s what happened, and that means Gerrit Cole’s contract was on the books for the Yanks.
We have four mailbag questions to answer this week. As always, send what’s on your mind to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com for a chance to have your question answered in a future edition. Let’s jump right into today’s selected questions.
A couple of folks ask: How about a Didi Gregorius reunion?
Didi just turned 30 and is a free agent for the second consecutive season. He was quite good for Joe Girardi’s Phillies this season. Gregorius played in all 60 games and hit .284/.339/.488 (116 wRC+/112 DRC+/119 OPS+). He displayed good power (10 homers, .205 ISO), walked 6.3 percent of the time, had a career low (read: best) 11.8 percent strikeout rate. Defensive metrics on his performance, though his reputation at shortstop is sterling. Depending on your WAR metric of preference, Didi was worth +1 WAR in 2020.
Who wouldn’t want to bring him back? He checks a ton of boxes performance-wise, but we also have the benefit of already knowing that he can succeed in the Bronx. I probably should have mentioned him in my piece earlier this week, in fact.
Happy Friday, everyone. We’re just a few hours away from Game 5. In the meantime, let’s open up this week’s mailbag. I’m only answering two questions because so many of this week’s questions related to the offseason after losses in Game 2 and Game 3. Let’s wait until the Yankees are actually eliminated (if they are eliminated!) to discuss the 2021 plans.
As always, shoot your questions to viewsfrom 314 [at] gmail [dot] com. Away we go:
Dan asked/suggested: The Yanks need to rethink their bullpen usage. Considering the no off days and the fact that they have only three good relievers, the Yanks should try using starters out of the pen on their throw days. It worked for the Nats last year. Do you think Masahiro Tanaka or JA Happ are up for it?
I understand this sentiment, but the Nationals didn’t have much of a choice last year. The only reliever Washington could really trust was Daniel Hudson. Sean Doolittle too, I suppose. The Yankees have a deeper bullpen that’s really good on paper, inconsistencies aside. And sure, the lack of off days this postseason makes it more difficult on the Yankees’ traditional relievers, but it’s not as if that makes it any easier for starters as well.
It’s also important to point out that Washington really only did this with Patrick Corbin, who came out of the ‘pen five times last October. Yes, Stephen Strasburg relieved in the do-or-die Wild Card Game and Max Scherzer made one bullpen appearance in the NLDS, but that’s it.
It is Friday, which means it’s time for a (delayed) mailbag. I certainly enjoyed the rest of my day yesterday basking in the glory of the Yanks’ sweep of Cleveland in the Wild Card Series. Over the weekend and especially on Monday, we will have in-depth of all things ALDS. Until then: an ALDS-themed mailbag.
I limited these to the best questions about the upcoming ALDS. We got a bunch of questions about the offseason, but I am filing those away for the future. I am all playoffs right now. Please send us your questions at viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com if you’d like to be included in a future edition. We choose our favorites each week.
E Asks: Should Gerrit Cole start both Game 1 and Game 5 (if necessary) in the ALDS?
The short answer here is obvious: yes. It is emphatically yes. We all saw how dominant Cole was on Tuesday and I don’t think there is any doubt that he is the best pitcher on the Yankees. In fact, you could argue that he is the best pitcher left in the postseason. (I would argue this.) This is what Cole looks like, just for a reminder:
That is the guy you want to throw as many innings as possible in the postseason, and the Yankees should do just that. The good news is it will be easy to execute. It lines up well.
Remember, Cole started Game 1 of the Wild Card Series with two days of additional rest. He will start Game 1 of the ALDS with an extra day of rest, as well. Game 1 is on Monday, which lines Cole up to start a theoretical Game 5 on three days of rest. You absolutely use him in that game if it comes to that. There is no question in my mind.
Cole is a true ace. He wants the ball in the big moment and is capable of pushing it to the extreme. And we’ve all seen how he gets when Boone removes from a game. He is the real deal. If the Yankees and Rays make it to a Game 5, then you start Cole and don’t think twice about it. Hopefully, though, the Yankees have long clinched by then.
Dan Asks: The Yankees’ bullpen is clearly not as good or deep as it was last year. Additionally, the lack of playoff off-days will make it impossible to use the same relievers each game. Do you see that changing how Boone will manage going forward? For instance, I can’t see the merit of pulling a starter after 3 innings in a non-elimination game, under these circumstances. To me, the best bet is counting on our starters to get 5-6 innings per game and going from there (even if that means them giving up runs in some early jams).
We will have a lot more to say about this over the weekend and on Monday, as I think it’s one of the burning questions of the new format. Teams won’t be able to use their bullpens quite the same way as they have in the past few postseasons. The Yankees are no different.
That said, I don’t think it will change that much, honestly. These are still playoff games and there is absolutely no point in giving up a game to plan for tomorrow. That is a loser’s mentality and I don’t think that the Yankees should go that route. You play to win the game you’re playing and you deal with tomorrow tomorrow, especially when you only need to win three times to advance. That means using your highest-leverage pitchers in the highest-leverage spots, assuming they’re available. That’s why you have them.
In other words, if Tanaka or Happ or whoever get hit around and fall behind early with no sign of turning it around, take them out of the game right away. I don’t care if it’s the 2nd or 3rd inning. I was tough on Boone yesterday, but he did go to Britton at exactly the right time on Thursday. He also had no problem pulling Tanaka in Game 1 of the ALCS last year in order to go to the pen. There’s little reason to expect this to change.
Now, the Yankee pen hasn’t been quite as formidable as we expected. Maybe that means he will want to push starters more. I don’t know. All I know is he shouldn’t hold relievers back to plan for tomorrow. That is how you end up never using your best arms. Besides, the Yanks have a horse in Gerrit Cole who should soak up a significant portion of innings in two of the five games.