Good afternoon everyone, it’s time for another edition of the mailbag. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.
The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: If the Yankees are still firmly ahead of their division by roughly 10 games at the trade deadline and the roster performs as they have to this point, Should they sit idle at the deadline or should they look to better a seemingly well oiled machine? If they were to try and improve, which position should be addressed first?
I’m of the opinion that there’s never too much pitching, and as you mentioned in the context of your question the Yankees have several key arms with innings concerns. Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino both haven’t thrown deep into a season in years, and Jameson Taillon is only one year removed from missing significant time as well, so it wouldn’t hurt to be active on the starting pitching market.
As to the question of whether it would make sense if they sit pat, I think there’s a legitimate argument for it. You could argue that any improvements would create a bigger cushion and fill holes for the postseason when inevitably one or two of the people that the team has been relying on is in a slump, and if the team did that I wouldn’t have any qualms about that. But there’s something to be said about rocking the boat — we have no way of measuring the clubhouse, but it seems this team is firing on all cylinders and tightknit, despite their faults. If Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner are worried about the bottom line or spending prospects that’s one thing, but if they genuinely believe that the team as constructed is greater than the sum of their parts then it’s hard to argue against that.
Johnnyzim asks: The Home Run Derby seems to mess up a lot of sluggers. Judge is the obvious choice to participate, but do you think he’ll pass on it? Give the people what they want or don’t mess with your swing by trying to hit moonshots every time?
This question came in just a bit before Judge himself confirmed that short of a Home Run Derby in Yankee Stadium, he won’t be participating. That’s probably the fairest compromise that he could make — he already won the thing in his first run through the derby, and it led to an injury that tanked a month of his otherwise MVP-level 2017 season, but he left room to please his own fanbase.
That latter point is the interesting thing to me, because it implies that Yankee Stadium will be his ideal location in the future — something that should bode well for his potential re-signing in the offseason. Obviously he’s not talking about any of that right now, and the level of play he’s put on after betting on himself should line him up for a mega payday, but there’s a difference between appeasing the fans and saying the actual truth. All Judge had to say was he’s avoiding the derby for the time being, but he made it a point to carve out the exception and I think that’s a good sign for a player that I absolutely cannot envision in any other uniform.
John P. asks: What’s the timetable for the returns of Chapman and Loáisiga, and when they do return what roster spots have to be opened up? Are Bañuelos and Marinaccio likely candidates to be moved/reassigned in order to make room?
The latest on Chapman is that he’s thrown a couple of bullpen sessions, and is looking to face live batters soon. Chapman wants to avoid a rehab assignment, but it’s unclear if the Yankees agree with that and they’ll likely take their time assessing his next step before making that decision. Meanwhile, Loáisiga is just starting to throw and should be ready by the end of June. That gives the team a little bit of a buffer before these decisions have to be made, but it does look like the choice comes down to who in the bullpen the two replace.
Bañuelos is unfortunately the likeliest candidate, as the team hasn’t utilized him much since calling him up. Bañuelos fulfilled a career goal in returning to the organization that originally developed him and making his pinstriped debut, but if there’s not much work for him here then there’s little hope in him making the cut. Marinaccio has settled into a bit of a groove with some consistent outings, but because he’s one of the only pitchers on the roster with minor league options he’s also likely to get sent down to Triple-A. I wouldn’t expect it to be the last time we see Marinaccio in 2022 though, he could easily factor into the bullpen plans should an injury arise or if someone like Clarke Schmidt needs to ride the Scranton Shuttle due to availability for a bit.