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Yankees Mailbag: Substance checking, Cashman and Boone’s future, and Park’s potential

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Answering your mailbag questions after a hectic week of Yankees baseball.

Los Angeles Angels v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Good afternoon everyone, let’s open up 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.

Pete asks: Testing pitchers for substances has drawn a number of complaints about the optics of the process, especially from the players. I also question whether the checking is really effective, especially if the catcher is taught to put substance on the ball. Wouldn’t it make sense to just check the balls?

It comes as no surprise that a midseason enforcement by MLB wasn’t properly thought out. I personally find it strange how MLB worked out the details of checking for substances, particularly doing so after the inning ends rather than before the first pitch of the inning. It’s not like their method of inspection is going to miss a storage spot that could then be used during the inning, and it could catch any violations before they advance the game and record outs with an unfair advantage.

That being said, their current system does mostly leave out the other half of a pitching battery, and it would make sense to check the balls themselves to see if they have been tampered with. (Catchers can be checked by umpire discretion, but not nearly as often.) That becomes more difficult to do with balls that were put in play, so I don’t know if they could solely rely on the balls and not inspecting players, but this whole system feels like a last-second response to a problem that was growing unchecked for too long. There will be plenty of time to tweak things in the offseason and get a format that both sides feel is fair, but I doubt that’ll be reached anytime this season.

Colin J. asks: Do you think that firing both Cashman and Boone might help the Yankees to play more like Major Leaguers?

No, not really. That’s not a defense of their jobs — I think Cashman, restrictions from Hal or not, has created a flawed roster, and I don’t really attribute much success or failure to Boone, so if he ends up being replaced this year I could see it being warranted. I also know that for all their faults, this roster simply shouldn’t have played to the level they have this year, or even as far back as last year. They shouldn’t need a different manager to “motivate” them or whatever intangible thing it is managers bring, and even if there were opportunities to improve the team the bottom line is that this was a talented roster. That shouldn’t end up with half of a lineup that can’t hit a lick for weeks at a time.

The frustrating thing with discussing Cashman’s future to me is that his faults are pretty apparent — and he’s still one of, if not the best GM in the business. I don’t have a clue who the Yankees could replace him with that would suddenly bring in better results, I just wish he would adapt a bit more so that the discussion wouldn’t be a thing in the first place. Boone’s job is a vaguer area to dissect; though players publicly seem fond of him, we truly don’t know what his relationship with them is like, or what he does behind the scenes. The only real areas you could critique him solely for are his bullpen usage — which I think he’s been generally great with this year — and his lineup construction/how often he plays certain players over others — which I think you could find far more faults with (and probably connects to front office issues as well).

Barbeach asks: I’ve noticed Hoy Jun Park getting a lot of 2B/SS/CF reps at Scranton and hitting over .300 (left-handed with pop!). Any chance he’s being groomed to replace Rougned Odor or even Brett Gardner soon?

I don’t think Park could take Gardner’s spot, but Odor or Tyler Wade’s role is a feasible one for him to fit. Brian Cashman has mentioned that the team sees him as a second baseman despite giving him a look in the outfield, which could be the result of having a rotation of players vying for playing time at Scranton. It could also be that they’re trying to instill some versatility to make his fit on the roster stronger, since the team is in need of some players that could make the roster puzzle less confusing.

If it is the latter, I do think Odor is in more danger of losing his roster spot than Wade in this scenario — Wade can play both sides of the infield while Odor is pretty much a pure second baseman, and Wade has seen some time in the outfield himself. That being said, Odor remains a zero-dollar luxury tax hit, and Cashman has also been specific in saying that the cavalry isn’t coming from the minors, meaning the odds of this happening are low. Odor’s odds of being a multi-year Yankee are low so perhaps this is the plan eventually, but for this season it may not be the case.