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Yankees Mailbag: Gittens, Brito and league-wide choices

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Check out the latest mailbag answers to your questions.

New York Yankees v Atlanta Braves Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Good morning everyone, let’s reach into the mailbag for more of your Yankees questions. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Clay C. asks: Why do the Yankees seem so hesitant to give Chris Gittens a shot at first? I understand he hasn’t had many at-bats at Double-A or above, but it’s not like like we are getting even below average play at first with Mike Ford batting .140. With Hicks going on the 60 day IL, there shouldn’t be a problem adding him to the 40 man roster. Give the guy a shot!

I was fairly surprised that when the Yankees demoted Mike Ford on Wednesday, Gittens wasn’t the man called up to replace him. Andrew noted in the news post that went up for the transaction that at the time, the Yankees’ bullpen was pretty gassed and needed some short-term help, and Gittens had only recently returned to Scranton after being placed on the paternity list. Given the team’s short bench and utter lack of production from the position, I think it’s only a matter of when, not if Gittens gets a shot.

To be fair, it’s not like Gittens is a slam dunk fit, either. The team simply needs to change something up, and he’s one of the few options that could make some sense. Last week Josh looked into the projections for Gittens at the Major League level, and they’re fairly average — a 97 wRC+ Steamer projection isn’t anything splashy, but in this offense, it would be enough to earn full-time starts.

workermonkey781 asks: Why not Socrates Brito? What’s a guy got to do to get the call up? Seems like he’s going 1-for-3 or 1-for-4 with a strikeout and walk a night. Has a slash line of .280/.348/.463 good for a .811 OPS which isn’t great but Steady Eddie would be an improvement in the outfield right now wouldn’t he?

I updated the stat lines since the question was a couple of days old, but they only improved from when this was first posed. That being said, I don’t think they really gain anything from calling up Brito — he’s the prototypical Quad-A player. Aside from a strong 18-game debut in 2015 for Arizona, Brito’s career can be summed up as being solid to great in the minors and then non-existent in the majors.

If injuries continued to stockpile and Andujar or Wade went down I could see the need in the interim, but I think Estevan Florial and Trey Amburgey are higher in the pecking order for outfield options in general. Since those two are still legitimate prospects, however, the team would prefer to get them as much development as possible to make sure they aren’t getting rushed to the majors.

set.builder39 asks: While there’s been a lot of negative comments online and in podcasts about changes to MLB’s rules, isn’t it a good thing they are trying things out? It seems to me some of the other sports haven’t adjusted to athletes being vastly superior to when the games were founded. Basketball courts are too small, football fields too small – the playing dimensions weren’t made for people that athletic. Should we be excited that baseball is thinking about the future?

I don’t think good is the right word for it, rather it is certainly different. The only substantial changes in the last decade or so from other North American sports that I would highlight as being fundamentally game-changing have been the NHL’s adoption of three-on-three overtime and the NFL pushing extra-point attempts back from the two-yard line. Otherwise, other leagues are fairly rigid with sticking to the current rulebooks.

Honing in on MLB, their willingness to make adaptations would be good if there was consistent logic put into their choices — instead, it feels like they arbitrarily change things to “fix” things surrounding the problems rather than the problem itself. In particular the obsession over game length rather than the pace of play itself has been a frustrating area of the game to watch get highlighted over and over. Nobody would complain about the length of games if the action was more consistent and not reliant on home runs as much as the game is today, but the increasing domination of pitching has required teams to optimize offenses towards what scores the most runs, and that’s swinging for the fences.

Most of what MLB has proposed or implemented in recent years feels like fluff. Adaptations like the extra-inning runner on second base (which I am indifferent at best to) and the seven-inning doubleheaders (which I hate) are nothing more than gimmicks to me — they don’t solve anything, they’re just change for the sake of change. Ironically, it’s the moves that they don’t advertise or promote like the sudden adjustments to the baseball — announced right before the start of the season, no less — that can cause the most change, as we’re seeing with league-wide offensive struggles.

Should we be excited that baseball is thinking about the future? Under a different commissioner, possibly. Rob Manfred hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt in my opinion, unfortunately.