Hello, friends, happy Friday! We have a short mailbag for you today; it’s been a busy week around here. I’m not sure if I’ll have time for one next week either as postseason preview coverage kicks off, but we’ll see what happens.
Larry asks: Do the Yankees offer Betances a two-year, $12 million deal in hope that he returns to form in 2021, or let him walk and sign another reliever?
Thankfully Dellin Betances’ Achilles tendon injury doesn’t appear as severe as a full rupture. In fact, it sounds like he will be ready to go as soon as spring training. The market for a 31-year-old reliever fresh off a season plagued by injuries probably isn’t going to be robust. Maybe the Yankees will have interest on an incentive-laden one-year deal, a contract where he can reestablish his value. As the original Baby Bomber, I hope the team finds a way to bring Betances back.
Yanks4ever asks: With Tom Verducci’s latest article from Sports Illustrated detailing his view of how Boone will direct things, what do you say will happen? Will New York go with traditional starters and try to get length before turning it over to the bullpen? Or will we see a Chad Green playoff opener and/or three starters on three-to-four innings instead?
“We’re going to be a little untraditional,” says Aaron Boone in the Verducci article. “The only one we might use as a traditional starter is [James] Paxton.” It sounds like the team is preparing to go that route, and I agree with it. Consider how batters fare against some of the other starting options the third time through the order:
Masahiro Tanaka: .314/.353/.610 (.394 wOBA)
J.A. Happ: .294/.342/.514 (.355 wOBA)
Yikes! Tanaka basically turns batters into George Springer, while Happ makes them out to be Max Kepler. The Yankees would be best served deploying those two for 12-15 outs in a given game, preferably after an opener.
Luis Severino worked as a starter in his first game back, so it’s possible he could start a postseason game. It’s unclear if he could stretched out all the way, however, so I don’t expect him to face given batter three times in an outing.
Does this diminish the aesthetics of the game? I could buy that argument. There’s something special about seeing a pitcher finish the game he started. Boone’s job, however, is to win 11 games in October, not create aesthetically-pleasing baseball. If that means going unconventional with the pitching staff, so be it.
Josh asks: First, I would be interested to see your take on a potential playoff lineup. Someone will be left out if Stanton is back to play left field and Edwin is back to DH. That means Voit or Gio on the bench right? Second, am I the only one that believes Ford has earned a roster spot?
Fun! I love these questions. Assuming full health from everyone expected to return, I would go something like this:
- DJ LeMahieu (2B)
- Aaron Judge (RF)
- Giancarlo Stanton (LF)
- Gary Sanchez (C)
- Gleyber Torres (SS)
- Edwin Encarnacion (DH)
- Gio Urshela (3B)
- Luke Voit (1B)
- Brett Gardner (CF)
I have long wanted the Yankees to unleash the three-headed monster of Judge, Stanton, and Sanchez on baseball. Josh wrote about them in our season preview. Make a pitcher face three of the hardest-hitting batters in a row, and have it start in the first inning. You could make the case for Torres to bat second, or after Judge, but I like keeping those sluggers together.
Also, in this scenario, Didi Gregorius rides the bench. Boone loves his left-handed bat to balance the lineup, but I don’t see him as an upgrade over that starting nine.
As for Mike Ford, I will be the first to admit that he has had a fine season. Longtime readers know I have balked at the notion of Ford being a useful major-league player, and look at that, he has a 115 wRC+ in 148 plate appearances. That said, he shouldn’t crack the postseason roster if everyone’s healthy. Ford’s job was to help the Yankees get to the playoffs. He did his work admirably, but it’s time for the legitimate stars to play.
Chuck asks: What happens to Greg Bird in the offseason? Could he play winter ball and demonstrate some value if he is healed enough? If not does he get traded for some low level minor leaguer?
In theory, Bird can play winter ball to get some reps in. No rules prevent that. I’m not sure he would have enough time to reestablish value and net someone back in a trade. It’s more likely that the Yankees non-tender him. His performance won’t match up with his projected arbitration salary. If that happens, then he could sign back with the Yankees, but other teams would be down to take a flyer on the first baseman. I just hope it isn’t the Rays.