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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 3/18/21

Jonathan Loáisiga’s bullpen role; Rob Brantly making an impression; what is the value of a win in 2021; the pace-of-play problem is coming to a head

New York Yankees v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images | Bryan Hoch: With Zack Britton sidelined for the foreseeable future, it is no secret that the Yankees need some of their young bullpen depth to step up and claim a larger role in the bullpen. Could Jonathan Loáisiga be that guy? Manager Aaron Boone expects him to play a major role this year, in part due to his ability to go multiple innings in a season where starters’ workloads will be managed even more than usual. Loáisiga has looked good so far this spring, but durability has been his Achilles’ heel over the course of his career rather than repertoire, and although Loáisiga claims to be “100%” physically, it’s something to keep an eye on.

Also included in this piece are comments from Boone that Derek Dietrich’s track record will be taken into consideration when determining the Opening Day roster, notes about Rob Brantly’s recent power surge, and the news that both Miguel Andújar and Kyle Higashioka are “progressing well” and could be back on track in the next few days. | Randy Miller: Speaking of Rob Brantly, despite a rough game catching Gerrit Cole the other day, the non-roster invitee has impressed so far this spring. Cole praised Brantly’s abilities behind the plate, even if the results weren’t there during the game, and he’s impressed with the bat, something he has not done at the MLB level over his career, hitting two home runs and walking once in eight plate appearances. For an emergency catcher, that’s more than adequate.

FanGraphs | Dan Szymborski: There’s a famous scene from Moneyball where Jonah Hill’s character says, “Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins.” But how much does a win cost? That’s a tricky question to answer, as not only does the value of a win change on a yearly basis, baseball statisticians aren’t even in agreement on which mathematical models to employ. Nonetheless, Szymborski does a deep dive into this topic for the 2021 winter, in which the market has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While I’m not going to summarize everything here — there’s too much math to do it properly, so I recommend reading it yourself if you have the time — I will note that his results are perhaps the only optimistic data that we have about the impending CBA negotiations.

Sports Illustrated | Tom Verducci: The pace-of-play issue has reached its critical mass, according to Verducci, and if MLB does not take drastic measures, baseball will slowly wither away to nothing; fortunately, he says, the league is prepared to make major changes, such as the implementation of rules designed to limit the shift and encourage base stealing, in order to eliminate the three-true-outcome approach that the league has turned into.

In a welcome change from most of these types of articles, Verducci does acknowledge that much of this is the fault of the teams, not of the players; it is the teams, after all, that have structured their pitching staffs to work slowly and methodically, but throw hard for brief stretches. Even so, he is both woefully nostalgic for a period of baseball (pre-Steroid Era) that hasn’t existed in almost 30 years — and thus, in truth, is completely meaningless to the generation of new fans that they’re trying to draw in — and condemnatory of players, who he portrays as being obstacles to change.