Florial was born in Haiti, but signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 for $200,000. He could have gotten a lot more money, but the Commissioner’s office found that his mother provided a falsified document with her son under a different name in order to enroll Florial in school in the DR. Florial’s mother didn’t have any conniving intentions, but unfortunately, it proved costly. As a result, he was suspended in 2014, so he couldn’t sign as a 16 year-old when he assuredly would have received a seven figure bonus.
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.
Estevan Florial with his second home run in two days for the Alt-#Yankees. This one was absolutely crushed. Easily cleared the bar in right field. pic.twitter.com/uEzgbkAadd
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.
I hope that it feels as good to read that as it did to write it.
After three years of bouncing between the majors, the minors, and the injured list, Clint Frazier became a fixture in the middle of the Yankees lineup last August. It may have only happened because of injuries and under-performance by others — but it happened nevertheless, and it was fantastic. Frazier hit .267/.394/.511 (149 wRC+) with 8 home runs in 160 PA and played elite defense in right field. What more could you ask for?
Sure, there are caveats aplenty given the very nature of the 2020 season. There were bizarre performances throughout the majors, good and bad and everything in between, and that wasn’t solely the result of a significantly shortened season. That said, Frazier was a top prospect for several years for a reason, and he’ll be 26 for the vast majority of this season; that means there are plenty of reasons to buy in, too.
So what’re the projections thinking?
.234/.321/.429 (104 DRC+)
.242/.325/.463 (106 wRC+)
.246/.324/.449 (103 wRC+)
PECOTA seems to think that Frazier’s a good defender now, that’s pretty neat. The rest? Not so much.
I find it rather interesting that all three systems are essentially ignoring 2020 entirely. His career slash line heading into 2020 was .254/.308/.463 (100 wRC+) with 16 HR in 429 PA. With the exception of an elevated walk rate, that’s really not that far off from the above chart. And I’m not buying it.
In my decidedly non-algorithmic opinion, I think a reasonable baseline for Frazier would essentially match his career to-date (which is conveniently exactly 162 games). That line? .258/.331/.475 (113 wRC+) with 24 HR in 589 PA. And I’d bet the over.
No need to settle for live BP or simulated game videos today. The Yankees and Blue Jays squared off at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa this afternoon. Toronto was victorious, 6-4. Here’s the box score. Some notes:
DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, and Miguel Andújar were the only starters with hits. LeMahieu knocked a single to center field and Torres doubled in the fourth inning. Miggy single to right in the fifth.
The first spring training homer for the Yankees belonged to Rob Brantly. Mike Tauchman made it back-to-back dingers.
Michael King threw 42 pitches in two innings and allowed three runs. His fastball hit 96.9 on the radar gun, though. If we’re to trust the calibration of Statcast in Grapefruit League parks, that’s 1.6 MPH faster than he’s ever maxed out at before.
After King, a parade of non-roster invitees pitched: Asher Wojciechowski, Kyle Barraclough, Adam Warren, Lucas Luetge, and Nick Goody. Aside from it being nice to see Warren again, this wasn’t a particularly exciting bunch. Tomorrow’s game will be more exciting to watch from a pitching perspective as Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon will take the mound.
Make it six consecutive losses. It looked like the Yankees were about to break the losing streak as they were up 4-0 with Jordan Montgomery cruising. Alas, Chad Green had another clunker and the offense couldn’t tack on any runs against…checks notes…ah yes, Walter Lockett. Bad bad bad. Let’s get to the takeaways before the second game of this doubleheader.
Jordan Montgomery was terrific. Things were looking awfully cheery early in this one. Montgomery was absolutely dominant to start this one out and the offense actually scored some early runs. It seemed like a nice rebound game was in order. The 27 year-old exited this one with a 4-1 lead in the sixth, but as I’ll discuss shortly, that didn’t last long.
Gumby struck out the side in the first inning with ease: it only took him 13 pitches to do so. The Mets swung seven times, whiffed five times, and hit two foul balls. The southpaw also garnered two called strikes. Not a lot of wasted time to retire Jeff McNeill, J.D. Davis, and Michael Conforto.
The second was more of the same. Montgomery struck out Pete Alonso on a changeup to start the frame. Robinson Cano broke up the strikeout streak by looping a single to left, but Montgomery got right back on his horse thereafter. He punched out Wilson Ramos with yet another changeup. That pitch was really working for Monty today: he threw it 18 times and garnered 7 whiffs on 12 swings.
Montgomery threw scoreless third and fourth innings, but started to run into trouble in the fifth. It really wasn’t his fault, though. He recorded two relatively quick outs, but then plunked Smith. Up came Jake Marisnick, who bounced to Miguel Andújar in what should have been an inning ending 5-3. Instead, Miggy bobbled the grounder and then threw it away for two errors on the play, which allowed Smith to move to third. Up next: a wild pitch on a spiked changeup. It was the definition of a 55-footer, but it seemed like something Gary Sánchez could have blocked. Instead, it skipped away and Smith scored. Monty eventually got out of it with no more damage.
Monty started the sixth, but after back-to-back singles with Alonso coming up as the tying run, his night was done. In came Chad Green, and things unraveled as I’ll touch on in a moment. Montgomery’s final line: 5-plus innings, 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), no walks, and 6 strikeouts. Those two earned runs scored as inherited runners for Green.
What’s up with Chad Green? Green’s given up a season’s worth of back-breaking homers this week. First, it was Freddie Freeman in Atlanta as he tried to preserve a 1-0 lead. Today, with the Yankees up 4-1, he was tasked with escaping a first and second with no one out jam in the sixth with Pete Alonso at the plate. Here’s what happened.
But wait, there’s more.
By the time the inning was over, it was 6-4 Mets and Green was saddled with the loss.
Is there such a thing as What’s Wrong With Chad Green Week? We kinda had this last year, except it was roughly a month-long thing to start the season. Anyway, the big issue was his location. Green needs to paint the top of the strike zone with his fastball and mix in an occasional breaker to keep hitters honest. He didn’t get his fastball up enough today, and paid the price for it.
That’s just two fastballs at the top of the zone. Everything else he threw was either belt-high or thigh-high, and that’s not going to work even with as good of a heater as Green offers. These are the at-bat ending pitch locations which tell the story:
Clint deserves to stay. And I’m not just talking about Frazier staying with the big league club for the rest of this regular season — I mean next year as well. Before I make my case, let’s take a look at what Frazier did this afternoon.
In the first inning, after Leadoff Luke Voit single (he went 3-for-3 in this one, by the way), Clint hit a rocket into the gap off Michael Wacha:
Frazier got another shot against Wacha in the second inning. This time, he went from gap power to over-the-wall power:
Clint’s now up to a .300/.364/.600 (158 wRC+) batting line in 33 plate appearances. That’s an incredibly small sample size, but we’ve also been hearing about Frazier’s legendary bat speed and offensive potential for years. It shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise to see him hit. And that’s a big part of why he needs to remain a long-term piece in the Bronx.
On paper, Clint is no better than the fourth best outfielder on this roster. But the cavalcade of outfielders ahead of him are on the injured list quite often. Frazier makes for a more than capable player in their stead. Hell, it might be time to let him just play everyday. If Giancarlo Stanton is going to be a designated hitter primarily, Frazier should be the regular left fielder. I love Brett Gardner, but there comes a point when it’s time to move on. I think after this season is that time. Mike Tauchman is fine in his own right, but he lacks Frazier’s upside and power. I like him more as a fourth outfielder. If Gardner departs, there’s room for both Tauchman and Frazier, who are both out of options.
Ultimately, whether Gardner is back or not, letting Frazier go is risky given how often Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks are hurt. I know it may be tricky to keep him around without minor league options after this season, but the Yankees can’t really afford to lose outfield depth.
Estevan Florial’s debut went about as well as you could expect for a guy to never play above High-A (aside from Double-A playoff appearances). He struck out in ugly fashion in his first two at-bats, but collected his first big league hit later.
Voit, Frazier, and Brett Gardner reached base nine times today. Everyone else? Three times: the Florial single, a Sánchez walk, and a Mike Ford double. Not good. It was particularly troubling, even with this cast of replacements, to not score against Walter Lockett who entered with an 8.66 ERA in 43 2/3 innings. Really should have pulled away.
Tarp is on the field right now, but I’ll post the lineups below when available. Bobby will have the second game recap later. Have a nice night.