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Thoughts on the catching situation, Jameson Taillon, Wandy Peralta, and more

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Good morning everyone. And it is indeed a good morning — the Yankees have won the first two of this week’s series against the Rays at Tropicana Field and go for the sweep tonight. It’s really nice to finally see the team win a couple of games at that awful excuse of a ballpark. With that out of the way, let’s get to some of my Yankees-related thoughts.

On the catcher situation. I understand why the Yankees turned to Kyle Higashioka more than Gary Sánchez toward the end of last month, but at this point, we’re starting to see Higgy’s limitations as a near-everyday player. Keep in mind that this is someone who hasn’t caught a significant workload since 2016, when he caught 102 games split between Double-A and Triple-A.

Game 31: A Game Of Thrones-like Bad Finale

Let’s keep it short as it was a 1 pm start on a work day. The great Yankees bullpen couldn’t do the job today to get the sweep against the Astros. It happens and they will blow some games here and there. They are still awesome and will be awesome more times than bad. So it ends the winning streak, but let’s get another one going.

Mailbag: Florial vs. Frazier, lineup replacement, and Hicks’s future as a switch-hitter

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Happy Friday, everyone. I just got my second vaccine dose yesterday and am feeling good for the most part. Hoping all of you have been able to or will be fully vaccinated in the not so distant future.

Like every Friday, it’s mailbag day. We answer our favorites every week, including three today. Send us your questions to viewsfrom314 at gmail dot com for a chance to be included in a future edition. With that, let’s get to the questions.

Andrew asks: I love Clint, but if he keeps struggling, wouldn’t it be worth a shot to send him down for a month and give Estevan Florial a chance to invigorate this lineup?

Clint Frazier is down to .163/.265/.209 (44 wRC+) in 49 plate appearances after last night’s 0-for-3. The left fielder is still walking a good deal (12.2 percent), but he’s hitting for absolutely no power (.047 ISO) and striking out a ton (34.7 percent). It’s bad. Really bad. He does have one minor league option remaining, so theoretically, the team could option him to the Alternate Site. I don’t see that happening, though.

I wrote a defense of Frazier last week, but things haven’t gotten better since even with a little more playing time. He’s 1-for-13 with two walks since that post. Even so, does sending him down and replacing him with Estevan Florial really make sense? No.

Florial, 23, got into one major league game last year, but otherwise, has yet to reach Double-A (other than the 2017 postseason). He’s posted astronomical strikeout rates in the minors, and overall, hasn’t hit all that well since 2017. That’s a long time ago! Not to mention the injuries he’s dealt with since. This isn’t someone the Yankees can just plug and play to invigorate the lineup. He needs more time in the minors.

Now, Florial apparently has done well in Alternate Site exhibition games, but I don’t think it’s worth making too much of that. Let’s see him perform in the minors for an extended period before considering him. Florial’s development (really, getting him back on track) is more important than hoping to catch lightning in a bottle in the Bronx right now.

Clint’s been frustrating to watch, like many other Yankees, but a swap of him and Florial isn’t going to fix this lineup overnight even if Florial raked from the start. This lineup needs the likes of Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton cooking in the heart of the order. That’s the bottom line.

If the Yankees had a surefire upgrade of Frazier, I’d be open to it. They don’t, though. Florial’s not it. Brett Gardner is in a rut himself: .212/.333/.273 (83 wRC+) in his last 40 plate appearances. I don’t really want to see Mike Tauchman play everyday. Look, Frazier’s at-bats have been dreadful, including taking hittable fastballs over the heart of the plate. I can’t really blame Aaron Boone for playing Gardner more at this point, but Frazier is the most talented of the bunch. Again, none of these guys are rescuing the lineup on their own — that’s the middle of the order’s job. But ultimately, now’s not the time to demote Frazier.

Clint Frazier deserves better

“Clint has earned his place”

Aaron boone

That’s a direct quote from Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone back in February, via Bryan Hoch. Indeed, Clint Frazier deserves to be the starting left fielder for the Yankees. Especially after last season, when the 26 year-old was a shot in the arm for the 2020 club. He hit .267/.394/.511 (149 wRC+) in 160 plate appearances and unexpectedly played good defense.

And yet, Frazier has sat out three of the last five games. Unless he’s banged up, this is pretty unusual for a player named a starter. Sure, he hasn’t hit well so far. But who has? In fairness to Boone, Clint’s slow start (.200/294/.267, 65 wRC+) hasn’t been the manager’s reasoning. Rather, the skipper cited his desire to have a lefty in the lineup (Brett Gardner) over Frazier when the Yankees faced Chris Archer and Brent Honeywell/Michael Wacha last weekend.

Then, yesterday, Frazier was in the original lineup but not the final one. Once Toronto scratched Ross Stripling for TJ Zeuch, Boone swapped in Gardner for Frazier. Gardner singled against Zeuch last week, whereas Frazier struck out against him. Surely, that wasn’t the reason for the lineup change. Boone pointed to the different type of pitchers that Zeuch and Stripling are, for what it’s worth. Still, it’s weird.

Yankees Spring Training News & Notes: March 18th, 2021

Governor Andrew Cuomo and retired Yankee CC Sabathia in today’s press conference announcing limited capacity at outdoor sporting venues.

The Yankees were off from Grapefruit League play today, so there’s little to report in terms of on-field stuff. There are no more days off until the mini-break between the end of spring training and opening day, which is now about a week and a half away. The Yanks do return to the schedule tomorrow, albeit it not on TV. You can watch them again on Monday, but there is a radio broadcast of Sunday’s affair.

The big story: Fans in the stands

As anticipated, fans will be allowed to return to the seats in Yankee Stadium come opening day. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (along with representatives from the Yankees and Mets, including CC Sabathia) announced that 20 percent capacity will be permitted in April. That means Yankee Stadium could have more than 9,000 fans in the seats early in the season. This applies for the team’s homestands from April 1st to the 7th and 16th through the 21st. No word yet on capacity for games thereafter, but there’s optimism for an increase.

Each fan in attendance will need to provide one of the following:

  • Negative results on PCR or antigen (i.e. rapid) COVID-19 test, or
  • Proof of a COVID-19 vaccination

Face coverings are required, except while eating or drinking.

If you’re a Yankees season-ticket licensee and want to attend one of these games, you’re in luck. You get first priority on buying tickets, which will be sold in “pods” of one to eight tickets. Anything unsold will then go to the general public.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the stadium’s vendors will be cashless during these games. Apparently there will be “reverse ATM machines”, though.

This is exciting news, even if we’re not out of the woods with the pandemic yet. Outdoor activities with limited capacity and social distancing should be pretty safe, though as we’ve seen from some sporting events in recent weeks and months, enforcement of mask-wearing isn’t very good. Still, being outdoors, unlike NBA and NHL games, should be a little more advantageous.

It’ll be really nice to hear authentic crowd noise rather than getting it pumped in like last season. It’s been noticeable and pleasant in spring training games, so hopefully it’ll have a similar feel early in the regular season.

As always, keep masking up, get your vaccine when you can, and maintain social distancing so we can get closer to full capacity by season’s end.

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