Category: Mailbag Page 2 of 9

Mailbag: Miguel Andújar, Giancarlo Stanton, Jasson Dominguez, 15-Day IL, Streaming

Miggy in the Outfield! (Bryan Hoch)

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:

BAOBPSLGBB%K%Pit/PAContact%
Canó, ’05.297.320.4582.9%12.3%3.0587.2%
Andújar, ’18.297.328.5274.1%16.0%3.5280.3%

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.

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Mailbag: Judge Extension, Prospect to Watch, Ideal Player, Metal Bats

It is Friday again, and the Yankees play baseball tomorrow. We are all waiting anxiously to hear more about Luis Severino’s mysterious new injury. Until then, might as well focus on some good things, like the fact that we have four good questions in today’s mailbag.

As always, send in your questions to viewsfrom314 at gmail dot com if you want to be included. We choose our favorites each week.

Daniel Asks: Obviously the Yankees front office knows more about these players than anyone else in the world. Personality, family, medical info, etc. As Judge enters what will be his age 28 season, at this point should we *not* expect an extension for him?

Good timing on this one! Randy actually covered the potential of an Aaron Judge extension just yesterday, so be sure to check that out if you haven’t yet. The understandable conclusion of that piece was, of course, that the Yankees should extend Judge. He’s one of the best players in the league by nearly any measure and he is 100% the face of the current Yankees. There’s no question about it. In that context, and perhaps that context is the only one we as fans should care about, extending Judge makes a lot of sense.

Of course, ours should not be the lens through which we view these sorts of discussions. There is also the point of view of the team to consider and what it’s likely going to prioritize. Unfortunately, I don’t think an extension for Aaron Judge is likely. Let’s game this out.

The point of the extension, from the team’s point of view, is to keep a player around through their prime years. They are usually structured to save the team money – that’s the ultimate goal – and there are no shortage of examples to which I could point. One close to home, though, is Aaron Hicks, who earns a $10 million salary with his extension. There’s no question he’d earn more than that on the market, but the plus for him is that he gets a $70 million guaranteed pay day.

For Judge, this calculus doesn’t quite work. He will be a free agent after the 2023 season, when he’ll be 31-years-old. The general consensus is that hitters peak at age-30, so the Yankees don’t have much to gain by buying out any of his free agency years. They’re already getting his best seasons and paying him less than market-value to boot. (Judge will still command a hefty arbitration salary toward the end, so he may not be inclined to do a team-friendly extension, either.) It’s a system that’s very unfair to the players, but it’s the system that we have. It’s just the way it is.

Alex Asks: Who is the under-the-radar Yankees prospect to watch out for? I know he was a 2nd round pick, but I don’t hear much about TJ Sikkema and I like his potential. I’m excited to see what he does in a full season in the minors. 

Sikkema, a 21-year-old lefty pitcher selected in the supplemental round last year, is likely slated for High-A Tampa this season. He got a brief cup of coffee with Staten Island, where he was good (he surrendered 1 run in 10.2 IP with 6 H, 13 K, and 1 BB). It is true that you don’t hear much about him. He throws a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a slurve, slider, and change. He’s not the most exciting prospect — he projects as a back-end starter or reliever — but there’s plenty to like. Baseball-America, for example, says scouts are “impressed with his combination of aggressiveness and stuff.” So that’s nice. In other words, he’s worth following.

As for me, I’d say I’m keeping my eyes on a few other guys, too. Kevin Alcantara in particular. At just 17, he is a long way away from the big leagues but there is a lot of noise about him. FanGraphs shocked me and included him in their Top 100 prospects, for example. Seems a bit early to me, but hey, what do I know? FanGraphs clearly emphasized future potential. There’s no doubt Alcantara has that in bunches.

Alcantara is 6’6 outfielder with an above-average arm and speed defensively. Offensively, he hammers the ball and still has to fill out physically. He also has a reputation for being studious — he has “been known to diligently use batting practice as a time to refine his reads and jumps” according to Baseball America — on top of the physical tools. Exciting!

He’s a career .255/.305/.360 hitter in 41 games so far as a professional in the Gulf Coast League (GCL) and Dominican Summer League (DSL). His development has a long way to go, but it’ll be exciting to follow for sure. He’s one guy I have my eye on, whether he’s in the GCL or otherwise. The upside is tantalizing.

Mickey asks: If you had the power to take any former Yankee in their prime from the last 30 years and add them to this 26 man roster in 2020, who would improve the team the most?

Come back to me!

This is a fun question. Full disclosure: I’m making assumptions with the rules. I’m interpreting them to be a player in their prime during their time with the Yankees. In other words, I’m not choosing Randy Johnson. (He’s the answer if it’s a prime year from anyone who wore pinstripes since 1990.) This is also tough because, man, the Yankees have been so good. There are tons of options.

Here’s who I think makes sense choosing just three:

Offense

Pitching

  • Bernie Williams
  • Robinson Canó
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Mariano Rivera
  • Mike Mussina
  • CC Sabathia

Choosing one of these guys is going to be hard. For example, how can you pass up A-Rod? Imagine 2005 or 2007 A-Rod suiting up in between Judge or Stanton. I feel sorry for the baseballs would take on a new meaning! Bernie and Canó, aside from being awesome, also are lefties at premium positions. Bernie suiting up in center field makes sense in the context of the 2020 Yankees’ needs and lineup. So does Canó.

In terms of pitchers, you can’t go wrong with Rivera. I don’t need to explain that one. Mike Mussina’s 2001 is probably the most underrated pitching season in recent Yankee history. (He should have won the Cy Young!) CC Sabathia, of course, would be a lefty workhorse atop the rotation.

Given Severino’s injury, I think taking a pitcher makes the most sense. I say Mussina — you can’t go wrong with CC either — only because he never got a ring. I want to change that. A few days ago, before the Severino news, I’m taking Canó. Give me that swing, that lefty bat, and that defense on this team every day and twice on Sunday. Can’t go wrong with any choices.

Iron Mike Asks: If the league wanted to increase offense, What do you think would help hitters more: using the college level metal bats, or moving the pitchers mound back a foot? 

Oh, I think it’s metal bats for sure. There is scientific evidence that exit velocities are way, way higher off aluminum bats. Swings are faster, sweet spots are larger, and balls fly off the bat. It would make the 2019 season look like 1968. Moving the mound back would probably help batters too, but metal bats would have an outrageous impact. After all, there is a reason that it hasn’t ever happened despite the game advancing in so many other ways with new and emerging tech. That’s because of how dangerous it is. Someone would get killed.

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

Via YES

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?

Embed from Getty Images

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?

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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?

Embed from Getty Images

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?

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

Via YES

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?

Embed from Getty Images

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?

Embed from Getty Images

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.

Embed from Getty Images

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?

Embed from Getty Images

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?

Mailbag: Dodgers vs. Yankees, Lindor & Arenado, Taijuan Walker, All-Time Yankees Team

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Happy Friday, everyone. This time next week there will be actual photos from Spring Training. Hope you’re all ready. I know I am. It’s been a long offseason, even though it’s been an unusually entertaining one as far as baseball season goes. Big players signed. Big trades happened (or maybe didn’t happen?). There was definitely drama. A lot of this energy should carry over into the 2020 season, and I’m personally very excited about it. March 26 can’t get here fast enough.

Until then, it’s mailbag time! Four more great questions today, and as always, send yours in to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com if you want to be included. We choose our favorites each week.

Dan Asks: Are the Yankees better than the Dodgers post-Mookie?

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This question was sent in the other day before there was new uncertainty about the Mookie Betts deal. Let’s assume that the deal goes through for now and that it goes down under similar parameters. Mookie is a huge, huge upgrade for the Dodgers. A week ago, I would have said the Yanks and Dodgers were the two best teams but that the Yankees were better on paper. With Betts, though, that gap is all but completely gone.

To answer your question, let’s try to make this one semi-empirical. Here is the 2020 ZiPS projection for the Dodgers, which obviously came before the trade:

So, before adding in Betts, that’s 48.8 fWAR added, and, when combined with the 48 WAR baseline for a replacement level team, comes out to be a 96-97 win projection. That’s very, very good! Adding in Betts only makes the Dodgers more potent: ZiPS projects him for 5.7 fWAR, or a net gain of 3.6 over Verdugo. The addition of David Price, too, adds about 2 additional wins. Overall, that puts the Dodgers at a 102 win projection. Insane.

But the Yankees are every bit as good. Let’s run through the same exercise with them. Here is there ZiPS projection:

As I noted in a mailbag a few weeks ago, if you add that all up you get a…102 win projection for the Yankees. Exactly the same as the Dodgers! Kind of boring, isn’t it? But that’s just the reality of these two teams right now. They’re the two consensus best teams for a reason.

Of course, it’s never as simple as “adding up the (projected) WAR.” Injuries happen, as do insane breakouts like 2019 Gio Urshela. Dramatic regression can happen, too. As they say, that’s why the play the games! It’s what makes it fun. At the same time, it’s only February 7. The projections – and our own eyes – can tell us something. What both of these tell us is that these two teams are capital-S Stacked. They are the two best teams in baseball for sure.

The stage is set to rekindle a historic rivalry between America’s two largest cities – and one that has been dormant since 1981. You know MLB wants it. Hell, *I* want it. There are likely very few differences between the two teams if we’re being honest. If I had to choose one roster, it would be a tough call – but c’mon, it wouldn’t be that tough. This isn’t Views from Chavez Ravine. I am taking the Yankees every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Dan Asks: Am I crazy to be interested in Taijuan Walker as the 5th starter?  He never lived up to his potential, but he’s still only 27!  Much higher ceiling than Happ has. 

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No, you’re not crazy. In fact, Derek wrote about Walker as an option just yesterday. He is a former top prospect who is still somehow only 27-years-old, as Dan notes. There’s a lot to be enticed by, especially considering the complete overhaul of the Yankees’ pitching apparatus recently. Maybe they can finally unlock that potential after all this time. In this context, sure, why not? Offer him a MiLB deal and see what he’s got in the tank. There is absolutely no downside to doing so.

Back in reality, though, that’s a very unlikely scenario. Consider a few factors. First, he hasn’t really pitched in the Majors since 2017, when he went 9-9 with a 3.46 ERA (3.93 FIP, 100 ERA-) in 157.1 IP for Arizona. While his strikeout rate (21.4%) and walk rate (8.2%) were essentially league average, his under-the-hood metrics were not: he got hit hard, doesn’t have great spin nor velocity. Sometimes pitchers just don’t pan out. Remember, there is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

He’s only thrown 14 innings at the big league level since, which is very significant time away from the game. He had Tommy John surgery in 2018 – you can come back from that! – but also got hurt in his rehab last year.

Bob Nightengale reported the other day that Walker worked out for a number of MLB scouts, and his velocity was way down:

These are all worrying signs to me – enough to say that no, I don’t think Walker deserves an MLB deal with the Yankees. He’s a perfect candidate for a rebuilding team trying to take a flyer on a guy who might finally realize his potential. Unfortunately, he doesn’t belong anywhere near the Yankees’ 40-man roster. On a MiLB deal, though, sure. Like I said, no downside there.

Bryan Asks: Let’s say the Yanks decide to throw caution to the wind and really throw their money/assets around to create a juggernaut. What are those moves (actual trades), and what impact do they have on the luxury tax situation? Does it start with a trade for Arenado?  Do they go after Lindor and extend him? Do they acquire both?

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Well, as I noted above, the Yankees already have compiled a juggernaut. That’s what they did when they went out and got Gerrit Cole, after all. But I am always in favor of improving on a team — the 1998 Yankees won 125 games, including the playoffs, and traded for Roger Clemens after the season – and I like the spirit of this question.

In an ideal world, but still one that recognizes the inherent reality that there are a limited number of prospects and tradable players, I want Lindor. How can you not? He’s a 26-year-old shortstop who won’t be a free agent until 2022 and is a career .288/.347/.493 (119 wRC+) hitter with sterling defense. He is basically the ideal baseball player. Unfortunately, the Yankees just don’t have the prospect power to get it done, I don’t think. if there was a bidding war over Lindor, the Yankees would lose. Nor do I think Cleveland will actually trade him (yet). So, with much regret, I am going to rule him out.

Arenado, on the other hand, would be a lovely addition. I wrote about what I think that package would take here, and Derek covered why he’s such a good player here. This is all pretty self-explanatory, and his contract means that the Yankees could probably get him in a trade similar to what they gave up for Stanton (again, if he’s actually available). It would be like a free agent signing, essentially.

As for what he’d do to the CBT, well, he’d add a lot. Spotrac has the Yankees at a $257 million payroll for CBT purposes – a few million less than my estimate here. That’s well over the $248 million threshold. Arenado commands a $32.5 million CBT hit for the team, so they’d be around $290 million. Historically, that’s where the Yankees should be, and the actual payroll tax wouldn’t be that bad. (It’s not as much as anyone makes it out to be, ever.)

But it’s not going to happen. It just isn’t. If this scenario were to happen, though, Arenado is the likely mega addition they’d make. If only this was MLB: The Show. As it stands, the Yankees are pretty good now.

George Asks: Name your all Yankee team by position, from all eras, vs. your all non-Yankee team.

This is a fun one, but I’m going to cheat a bit. As you might have guessed, I know a bit more about Yankees’ history than other teams’ or the league more broadly. I’d have to think a lot more about my “non-Yankee” team and I just don’t have the same depth of knowledge on players, so I’m going to just stick to the Yankees for now. I’ll just pick players, not choosing an individual season or anything like that.

But I am going to complicate it a little bit. I’ll choose my overall “best Yankees team”, which is always a bit easier with the Yankees. There are just so many great players to choose from. So I will also add, in parentheses where applicable, the players I’d choose out of those I’ve seen play. Here it goes:

  • Catcher: Yogi Berra (Jorge Posada)
  • First Base: Lou Gehrig (Mark Teixeira)
  • Second Base: Robinson Canó
  • Shortstop: Derek Jeter
  • Third Base: Alex Rodriguez
  • Left Field: Joe DiMaggio* (Hideki Matsui)
  • Center Field: Mickey Mantle (Bernie Williams)
  • Right Field: Aaron Judge
  • Designated Hitter: Babe Ruth (Jason Giambi)

Yes, yes, I know. DiMaggio wasn’t a left fielder. Don’t care! He played 60 games there in his career and if I’m assembling this team, I’m not leaving him off. That would be unconscionable. He’s moving to left. And is Judge an ambitious choice? Absolutely. Do I care? No, I absolutely do not care. Not at all. I want to see our man hit with these guys. I think this lineup would be good! Just a hunch.

Here’s the rotation, with the all-time rotation on the left and my rotation on the right:

  1. Roger Clemens
  2. Whitey Ford
  3. Andy Pettitte
  4. Ron Guidry
  5. CC Sabathia
  1. Roger Clemens
  2. CC Sabathia
  3. Andy Pettitte
  4. Mike Mussina
  5. David Cone

Despite their absurd offensive history, the Yanks have surprisingly few no-doubt Hall of Fame pitchers in their history. Fun fact: did you know that Masahiro Tanaka’s 17.4 bWAR ranks 23rd all time among Yankee starters? Me neither! But it’s true. He should continue to rise into the top 20 with a normal season this year, too. Pretty wild. (This also means that several years of Peak Cole™ will make him one of the best pitchers in Yankee history pretty quickly.)

And, finally, an abbreviated bullpen:

  • Setup Guy: Dellin Betances
  • Closer: Mariano Rivera

I mean, obviously. Don’t need to explain this one.

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