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.
That idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: Since this question will be answered only a few hours before the trade deadline, will the roster look significantly better at the end of today?
Well my friend from the past, I’m here to tell you that the Yankees made good on their goal to improve the roster at the deadline. The acquisitions of Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo dramatically change this lineup: not only does it introduce two lefty bats with pop that get on base at an above-average level, but it provides some protection for the bats that are currently struggling. Being able to insert both of these guys into the middle of the lineup should help guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres find spots where the pitcher is less willing to immediately challenge them, and in Torres’ case he’s already beginning to heat up, so perhaps this helps him look like his old 2019 form.
Now, they’ve done a lot, but there’s still some work I’d like to see them do in the waning hours of the deadline. An impact pitcher would complete their transformation from outside onlookers to contenders, and José Berríos is pretty much the only arm remaining on the market that fits that description. Yes, they have Luis Severino and Corey Kluber on the horizon waiting to return, but 2019 should have taught us not to rely on pitchers that can only make it back for the final stretch run — go for the throat, and get a starter today. Those two can be a major bonus if they do return, but Brian Cashman would do well to secure himself a solid 1-2 combo with the Wild Card still the likely outcome.
Chris T. asks: Looking forward to 2022 (or even 8/1/21), with all the talk of the Yankees signing a free agent shortstop and moving Torres back to second, how do you see that affecting LeMahieu? Everything I have read says they’d put him at first base, but that seems to be a waste of his defensive skills.
So I see this current adaptation of the infield as both an improvement to the team, and a testing period for the offseason. Rizzo is only guaranteed to be here for this season and Luke Voit is likely to be shopped around today, but if Rizzo impresses enough in this stint in pinstripes, the best move might be to re-sign him in the offseason. If that were the case, then you wouldn’t have to worry about playing LeMahieu at first, where I think he’s perfectly fine to cover the position but doesn’t stand out like he does at second.
It also doesn’t prevent the idea of adding a shortstop anyway — Idiot’s 130 Plan could indeed be in play if the goal is to reset the tax for an offseason reload. An infield of Urshela-Story/Seager/Correa/whoever-Torres-Rizzo would be a strong one, and then LeMahieu can get playing time by rotating in for a couple of games everywhere except shortstop. Is this a likely solution? I can’t say with any confidence either way since the offseason feels very far away at this point, but I do believe that the addition of Rizzo is more than just a sign that Voit is out of the picture for this season. I don’t think the Yankees have much confidence left in his suddenly suspect knees, and they’ll be looking to adjust the infield landscape in some fashion for 2022. These next couple of months could do a lot to revealing how it could look.
Larry S. asks: Isn’t it about time Stanton be benched? He appears to just want to take his three swings and sit down anyway.
So they’ll never bench him outright, but it’s unquestionable that Stanton is struggling right now. The Yankees believe there’s a mechanical issue going on with him — which our own Cooper Halpern took the time to dive into recently — so they clearly want him to work through this. It’s ugly right now, but with the reinforcements coming in Stanton should face less pressure to figure this stuff out while also being at the top of the lineup. Stanton tends to go through these valleys from time to time, but we’ve seen the type of hitter he is when he gets out of it as well.