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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.