There were enough leftover questions from Caitlin's mailbag request the other day that we decided to do an additional post. (Here's the original response story.) So here we go!
Girardi's Barmy Army asked: What chance do you think Carlos Beltran has of getting into the Hall of Fame with a good season? If he does, which team would he be inducted with seeing as he has played for quite a few?
This question was actually posed in one of our first mailbag requests of the year back in February and around the same time that Matt Provenzano made a pretty solid case for Beltran's potential induction. Since he just hit his 400th home run and there have been similar pieces pondering this question in the news lately, it seemed like a good time to bring it up again.
Beltran has a much better Hall of Fame case than the average fan might think. He's not going to end up with any of the super splashy numbers that make this less of a question and the national spotlight has rarely been on him. (The latter is not really fair to Beltran, but that's simply how it is. Most people remember the 2006 NLCS Game 7 strikeout than his 1.115 career playoff OPS.) However, that homer made him only the fourth switch-hitter in baseball history with 400 dingers, a feat shared by only Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, and Chipper Jones. That club is going to become a little less exclusive when Mark Teixeira (whose case isn't as strong) joins him in about a month, but that's still impressive company.
Few switch-hitters in baseball history have been as potent as Beltran, whose game at his peak was more than just homers. Like Alex Rodriguez, he used to be fleet of foot, stealing 311 bases during his career and taking advantage of his speed to smack 510 doubles. He is 14 hits away from 2,500, he has been remarkably consistent, and for many years, he was an outstanding defensive asset in center field. He has a Baseball-Reference WAR of 68.4 right now, and by Hall of Fame expert Jay Jaffe's JAWS system, only seven center fielders in baseball history have ranked higher; all are enshrined in Cooperstown. Beltran would get my vote.
Unfortunately, right around that same general WAR vicinity are other all-around center fielders who recently went one-and-done on the Hall of Fame ballot: Jim Edmonds and Kenny Lofton. I think Beltran has a better argument than them and will receive more attention, but it's still concerning. His Cooperstown case is probably going to require the type of gradual build over his 10 years of eligibility in a manner similar to Mike Mussina right now. I predict that Beltran gets there eventually, but it will take a little while. His hat will either be a Mets one or blank like Greg Maddux; my guess is blank since Beltran bounced around too much to really associate him with one team.
HighFlyers28 asked: What are your thoughts with what will happen with Aroldis Chapman after the season, assuming he's not traded? Everybody assumes he’s a one year rental that the Yankees will let go so they can get their draft pick. Do you see it happening that way, or do you think Cash will make an effort to re-sign him to multiple years?
I would be pretty darn surprised if they brought Chapman back. They had a chance to create a long-term super-bullpen when David Robertson was still on the free agent market after they signed Andrew Miller in December 2014. He wouldn't have cost a draft pick and yet Brian Cashman said that the Yankees weren't seriously in the mix to spend even more money on relief pitching to bring Robertson back. Chapman has a longer track record than Robertson did at the time, but I still don't see that philosophy changing, particularly when they can easily recoup a compensation pick for 2017. They let Robertson walk. They let Rafael Soriano walk. Chapman seems destined for that fate as well.
There is the possibility that Cashman sells high on Andrew Miller to recoup some prospects, thus theoretically giving him room in Hal Steinbrenner's budget to re-sign Chapman. I just can't see the Yankees actually doing that though, especially since Chapman's market will lead to a contract beyond the ones both Miller and Robertson received after 2014. It's an expensive proposition for a reliever, even one as good as Chapman, and that's not even mentioning the risk of further legal trouble. Miller's not as flashy, but he gets the job done just as well, doesn't cost as much, and isn't an off-the-field problem. Sticking with Miller and taking the pick makes more sense.
AJSMind asked: Do the Yankees have a bias against their own farm system? I know it’s a big city, but do the kids down on the farm get a fair chance to succeed in it? I know they like Dustin Ackley, but he is a career .242 hitter who is hovering around .100 this year. Yeah, he can play multiple positions, but none overly well like a Brendan Ryan. Why would Girardi choose to play him over Ben Gamel? I am not saying Gamel is the best player or the most highly touted prospect, but is Ackley becoming the new Stephen Drew?
I don't think the Yankees have a bias against their own prospects. Remember, this has mostly been (at best) a middling farm system for the past few years. Middling farm systems generally don't produce as many major league solutions. We might think that the likes of Gamel would get more of a shot on another team, but that's not necessarily true. We're merely a little overexposed to the prospects here and thus are more likely to buy into them than, say, more neutral fans of another team. We will sometimes overlook the flaws of the defensively challenged Rob Refsnyder more than we should.
Over the past couple seasons, the Yankees have given the likes of Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, and Greg Bird legitimate shots to make a difference on the major league club. By giving John Ryan Murphy, Adam Warren, and Shane Greene chances, they were able to flip them for other assets, too. Prospects like Gamel aren't quite at that level where they're as likely to succeed. Watching Ackley slump can be frustrating, but he deserves a little bit more time than to be cut in mid-May after only 18 games. It was in almost as many appearances when he was one of the team's hottest hitters last September. This is far from a Drew situation just yet.
jsharks1981 asked: Why does Domingo Acevedo not get much hype? He hits in the high 90s consistently, is built like a younger Dellin Betances and looks like he could easily be the next fireman of the future if not a starter yet he seems to get little attention. Whenever talk of the Yankees future nucleus comes up there is no mention of his potential.
Acevedo seems to receive an appropriate level of hype. Some prospect analysts are really into him, and some aren't. He appeared on notable Yankees top 10 lists as high as number five and didn't appear at all on others. I like Acevedo, but it's not too difficult to discern the reason. Although he does resemble Betances somewhat, Dellin had already made 33 starts in full-season ball by the time he was Acevedo's age (22). Meanwhile, Acevedo just made his seventh before hitting the DL recently with a "lower body injury."
So Acevedo is an intriguing prospect, but he's quite awhile away from the Bronx. It's not strange to see a 22-year-old pitcher smoking A-ball hitters with high-90s heat even if there might not be much command. If Acevedo can stay healthy and keep the pace as he ascends in the system (hopefully at a quick pace), you'll definitely start to hear more about him.
If. If if if. Such is the story with young talent, especially pitching prospects.