Good afternoon everyone, it’s time for another edition of the mailbag. Now that the endless offseason is over, we’re back to weekly editions of the mailbag, and we’ve got plenty to discuss! Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.
Yankeeinmass asks: DJ LeMahieu seems like a prime candidate for a bounce-back year, but is there concern that inconsistent playing time at multiple positions and an irregular number of at-bats will prevent him from reaching the potential we all know is there?
I don’t think that the team will have much difficulty fitting LeMahieu into the lineup on a regular basis, especially considering they wound up starting him on Opening Day after all the talk of him being the fifth infielder. Of the two concerns, I think playing around the infield will be the lesser problem — after all, he’s already manned three spots for the team across his tenure as a Yankee, and last year, he was already routinely moving around a fair amount. If his starts do end up being spaced out more than he’s used to, I could see that messing with his timing a bit, but at the moment — assuming LeMahieu remains healthy throughout the season — I don’t see a world where he doesn’t get at least 120-130 starts.
Damn_Yanks asks: If Peraza or Volpe are absolutely tearing it up in the minors do you see either of them forcing a roster move before the All-Star break? Let’s pretend it’s just one of them, who from the current active roster would you keep as bench depth and who would you move?
Sure, there’s a world where this is a possibility, and not even a small one either. This would be an ideal scenario for the Yankees honestly, since they committed to the stopgap solution in the first place with the intention of transitioning the starter’s job to at least one of these two. Isiah Kiner-Falefa will likely hold down the fort well enough, but if Volpe or Peraza manage to make enough noise, the Yankees are built to be flexible enough to include them in their plans. Kiner-Falefa also has experience across the infield and can be as flexible as LeMahieu in shifting positions to make things work out.
Now, is this the most likely outcome? No, definitely not. The Yankees are hedging their long-term plans on the success of these prospects, and letting them develop on the farm this year makes the most sense unless they truly dominate the upper levels of the minor leagues. This scenario would also require Kiner-Falefa to live up to his glove-first profile and not make any headway with the bat — if he’s holding his own weight, there’s less pressure to make any changes even if the blue chips continue to look promising.
NYCKING asks: Which can you see happening first for Yankees, eliminating the facial hair rule or caving in and wearing alternate jerseys on a weekly basis?
The facial hair rule is a more modern principle of the team, born from the 1970s, when George Steinbrenner first started making his imprint on the organization. The pinstripes and the road grays have been tradition since the days of Ruth and Gehrig, with minimal exceptions that were largely imposed by MLB rather than the team itself. Because of this, I’d say the facial hair rule would go first — it also seems to be relatively unpopular with some current and recent Yankees, and that could hold some sway (hopefully, as it’s this author’s opinion that the rule is dumb in the first place and should’ve been gone a long time ago).