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.
Neil S. asks: The AL East looks absolutely stacked. The Blue Jays and Rays are contenders, the Orioles surprised people this season and with loads of talent, they are likely to be good. I could see the Red Sox bouncing back next season ... Heading into 2023, which AL East team(s) is/are most likely to disappoint and finish with a losing record/miss the playoffs?
It’s easy to say the team in last place has the worst chance of making it back, but I’ll start with the Red Sox here for a few reasons. Chaim Bloom hasn’t impressed me much since taking over Boston’s front office, and their more conservative budgeting of late leads me to believe that they won’t go for a splashy revamp in the offseason. That means a lot of the improvement has to come from within, and that’s going to be hard for the Red Sox to do with the pieces they have. It’s unclear if they’ll even retain Xander Bogaerts, as the star shortstop has an opt-out after this season and hasn’t been able to come to terms on an extension with the front office (who very clearly brought in Trevor Story last offseason as insurance against a Bogaerts departure).
Outside of them, there’s always doubt in my mind that this will be the year that the Rays’ system of cycling players in and out collapses. They took a step back this year, and the offense especially looks subpar compared to the rest of the division, so there’s a chance that they’re beaten out in 2023. The Orioles were close but not close enough this year, but as mentioned have a lot of young talent and made massive strides — it’s possible they go through a sophomore slump putting this thing together, but the offseason will be massive in determining how they support their newfound success. Finally, the Yankees and Blue Jays should be up at the top of the division, barring New York failing to bring back Judge in the offseason somehow. Seriously, please don’t mess that up.
larry s asks: What kind of results did the minor leaguers that were traded for Benintendi and Montas have?
For the Benintendi trade, the Yankees sent out T.J. Sikkema, Beck Way, and Chandler Champlain. Sikkema went straight into Kansas City’s Double-A team, and posted 32.2 innings of 7.44 ERA ball in seven starts, dropping his K/9 from 13.4 with High-A Hudson Valley to 8.0 with Northwest Arkansas. Way has been decent since getting assigned to Kansas City’s High-A team, earning a 3.73 ERA in seven starts with an elevated walk rate but drastically lower home run rate and a higher strikeout rate. Champlain is also in KC’s High-A team, and he has also struggled to the tune of a 9.84 ERA in seven starts across 32 innings.
In the Montas deal, the Yankees gave up Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina, JP Sears, and Cooper Bowman. Waldichuk started four games for Oakland’s Triple-A team before getting called up to the majors, where he has posted a 7.15 ERA in five starts with five homers allowed. Medina has also struggled since being placed in Oakland’s Double-A org, getting blasted for an 11.76 ERA in seven starts, while Sears went straight to the majors and has a 5.36 ERA with seven home runs allowed in nine starts. Bowman has a .209/.287/.304 slash line in 33 games with Oakland’s High-A team, bashing three home runs and two doubles in that time.
The overall numbers seem very poor for the lot, but it’s way too early to judge whether any of them are busts or anything like that. There are a lot of adjustments to be made, especially after getting sent out across the country to different organizations and getting new instruction from coaches. We’ll have to check back in a year or two to see if the Yankees missed out on any stars from this bunch.
The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: What happens to players optioned if the minor league season is over? If the Yankees option Clarke Schmidt or Ron Marinaccio to make room for one of the returning IL arms before the end of the season (Peralta, Abreu — Ridings or Castro would force a 40 man roster move as well), where would they go?
With the minor leagues done for the year, anyone who gets demoted in this final stretch would probably just stick around as unofficial members of the clubhouse, like when some of the main rostered players are on the IL but stay with the club. There’s a chance that the team may want to send one of them to the Arizona Fall League, but given that there’s a chance they may need them in future playoff rounds because of injury it’s likely that they would just stay nearby.