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Ask Pinstripe Alley 1/11/17: Will the Yankees ever retire Paul O’Neill’s number?

Should the Yankees trade Sabathia or Pineda before the deadline?

Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees - Game Two Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Last week I asked for PSA readers to submit questions for our Yankees mailbag. I selected a few from the comments and our email to answer here. There’s still a chance that your question will be answered when the second half of my answers runs over the weekend.

EHNJ2HHSC asked: Do you think Luis Severino will enter camp as a starter? What would he need to show (innings, control, contact rate, etc.) to be in the rotation?

The Yankees definitely are not ready to give up on Severino as a starter yet. A few weeks ago, Brian Cashman said that he expects Severino to compete with several other pitchers (presumably Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell, and maybe Adam Warren) for a spot in the rotation. He also stated that Severino would likely be sent to Triple-A if he doesn’t earn one of those empty spots as a starter.

When he was optioned to Scranton back in August, Joe Girardi harped on the fact that Severino wasn’t really using a third pitch and wanted to see him use his changeup more frequently. He was instructed to throw it as often as possible, and Severino admitted that he hadn’t been throwing his changeup because he had lost his confidence in it. That is probably one of the things they’ll be looking for during spring training. It is impossible to say just what Severino needs to do to earn a rotation spot though, as the Yankees don’t always go with the pitcher(s) who had the best spring training results.

NYCKING asked: I find it strange that Cashman and Girardi both entering this season on final year of respective deals. Wouldn’t it make sense to give them a 1 year extension?

Cashman actually addressed this back in October and said, “I'd assume things will play out the way they've been playing out for a long time here. We will go through the end of next year and ownership will decide what they want to do as we move forward.” Hal Steinbrenner apparently wants to see how the 2017 season plays out before he gives out new contracts, and I don’t necessarily blame him. If the season is a disaster, then maybe he’ll want to shake things up. I doubt that Cashman or Girardi would want to walk away if the Yankees do decide to give them new contracts. Maybe they’ll start the negotiating process during the season, or maybe they already have had some discussions about it. Cashman had nothing but good things to say about Girardi, so I don’t necessarily think that either of them should be worried.

Mark S asked: Has anyone directly asked the clubhouse manager why he doesn't offer number 21 to any players? Any real chance of retiring the number?

It seems unlikely that Paul O’Neill’s number will ever be retired. If the Yankees planned on doing this, it would have made the most sense to do so when they had that pregame ceremony for O’Neill and gave him a plaque in Monument Park back in 2014. I know that there was fan outrage in 2008 when Morgan Ensberg and LaTroy Hawkins both tried to wear 21, but maybe it is time to try to put it back into circulation again. Jason wrote a good piece about this here.

Tampa Fred asked: Assuming the Yankees are playing middling ball near the trade deadline with no reasonable chance at even a second wild card slot (IMO same as last year) should they unload Michael Pineda and/or CC Sabathia (provided they're pitching halfway decent) for whatever prospects they could get? Granted it wouldn't be a great haul, but it beats nothing. Some team may want Sabathia for his post-season experience.

Since Pineda and Sabathia would both be a couple months away from becoming free agents, I don’t see why the Yankees wouldn’t make them available at the deadline. With that being said, I can’t picture any team wanting them. Particularly any team in the hunt for the postseason. Sabathia used to be an ace and the starter any team would want on the mound in the playoffs, but he definitely is not that pitcher anymore and I don’t think that even Ninja Cash could convince a team to take him on for that reason.