Good morning everyone, it’s time to dive back into the mailbag and answer some of your questions. 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: Are the Yankees going to avoid the usual roster crunch before Opening Day?
It doesn’t look like it! At the very least the starting infield competition is going to go down to the wire, and that holds implications for who could be on the Opening Day roster and who could be down in the minors. Both Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza have cases to be in either place, depending on how strongly the team feels about their spring performances. Should both take up active roster spots, that limits the availability for further roster spots in other places, such as the outfield situation (which may also simply be resolved with the currently-rostered players).
The other question mark in this regard is the bullpen, and there’s not exactly a clear and concise answer here either. Lou Trivino and Tommy Kahnle’s injuries opened up a Pandora’s Box of options that aren’t quite ideal, at least one of whom is likely to be added to the 40-man. FanGraphs currently has that distinction going to Jimmy Cordero based off of a report from early March, but after stringing together several scoreless outings up to that point he got shelled in his next couple of appearances. Their in-house options in Deivi García, Jhony Brito and more have already been ruled out and sent to the minors, so someone new has to step up here — it’s just a question of who.
Chuck asks: Is anyone concerned at the lack of lefty bats? OK there are a few switch hitters, but other than Rizzo the team is very right-handed in a stadium that is made for lefty power bats.
This has been a topic for a while with this lineup, and though they added some more versatility with Oswaldo Cabrera’s switch-hitting bat late last year, it’s still predominantly a right-handed lineup. However, I don’t find that to be particularly worrisome — as far as splits go, their righties aren’t harmed by the mismatch. With a far larger sample size in favor of the righty-on-righty matchup they performed nearly identical, posting a wRC+ of 116 against a 117 mark against lefties.
Now, where the concern can lie is that the consistency there is buoyed by the top, elite half of the lineup. Once you look at regulars like Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jose Trevino, and even Gleyber Torres, you’ll notice a steep drop-off in production switching handedness. That’s a problem born less out of them being righties, though, and more out of the majority of these players being glove-first inclusions in the lineup. Should the kids prove themselves and earn the lion’s share of the at-bats this season, perhaps they can further remove this issue.
thor14 asks: The Yankees have about 35-40 million dollars coming off payroll next year, are the Yankees likely to reset the luxury tax and play their kids? The only impactful free agent is Ohtani, and the Yankees are unlikely to sign him.
I agree that the team is unlikely to pursue Ohtani (to their disadvantage, but that’s a whole other topic and one that can be saved for next offseason), and the payroll at the moment does seem favorable for a reset. Of course, we’re far too early to tell if they’ll be able to do so, or if they’ll add payroll at the trade deadline, but by all indications they loaded up with the Judge and Rodón contracts because they’re only in year two of the repeater penalties, and plan on resetting much like they did after signing Gerrit Cole. Once again, not my preferred strategy, but the logic is there and the groundwork is clearly laid — I fully expect that to be plan A.