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Yankees mailbag: Left-handed bats, Gerrit Cole’s impact, more

The answers to this week’s mailbag are in!

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, everyone, happy Friday! We have a short mailbag for you all this week, just three quick questions. I’m saving a bunch for the third annual Christmas Day mailbag. So keep submitting your questions to our weekly call or by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Chuck asks: The lack of left-handed bats is a significant concern. Are there any moves they can make? Are there examples of other winning teams that had no or minimal lefties in the lineup?

I think “significant concern” overplays the situation a bit. If the Yankees have a fully healthy lineup, they probably don’t need to worry about the lack of left-handed hitters. None of their key bats have too dramatic platoon splits.

Would it hurt to take a flyer on one of the available lefty hitters? Probably not. The more depth the better, and it’s not my money. Sign Travis Shaw or Scooter Gennett or Joe Panik. Outside of maybe Shaw, though, none of the available southpaw batters project to move the needle.

The best option for the Yankees was probably Didi Gregorius. If they didn’t bring him back, it seems like it isn’t a priority for the club. As for historic examples, check out the 2015 Blue Jays. They did just fine.

Yanks4ever asks: What are New York’s odds of winning the pennant now? They must be vastly improved since Houston got weaker (Cole gone, Miley gone, Marisnick gone, etc); Tampa got weaker (Pham gone, Garcia gone, no big time additions made); and Minnesota is sitting on their hands.

Vegas has the Yankees at a 5/4 odds to win the pennant, so yeah, the Gerrit Cole signing shifted the balance of power in the American League. If we assume that Cole is roughly a seven-win player, that’s a 14-game swing between the Astros losing him and the Yankees’ addition. It’s kind of wild how much of a game changer he is. Signing Cole represented the single-most impactful move the Yankees could have made this winter.

Christopher asks: Who are three former Yankees, retired for at least five years, that can step onto an MLB field right now and play at least as good as the league’s current worst three players?

Oh! This is a fun question.

I’m 100% convinced that Mariano Rivera could roll out of bed, fire off some cutters, and break a few bats. He gets my first pick. After Mo, I think Hiroki Kuroda could still go. He had plenty left in the tank when he went back to Japan. He didn’t rely on overpowering velocity, either, using a split-finger fastball to fool batters. I bet Kuroda could still get by on that.

The last choice proves pretty difficult, though. I don’t think any position players could come back up and effectively hit today’s pitchers. Maybe Andy Pettite could hold up? His back would raise some red flags, but he’s an option. As uninteresting as it sounds, relief pitching probably gives us our best chance of finding someone. Would Alfredo Aceves be the worst reliever in baseball in 2020? Ehhhh he might be! But it is pretty difficult to find anyone else who realistically fits the bill.