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Yankees Mailbag: Postseason pitch clocks, Florial’s last case, and Ohtani

The mailbag goes in several directions after a week off from baseball.

2022 World Series Game 2: Philadelphia Phillies v. Houston Astros Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Good afternoon 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.

thor14 asks: I read where Manfred may alter the rules regarding the pitch clock, and disengagements by the pitcher for the post season, this doesn’t sound fair? Is Manfred afraid these rules will cause some embarrassment if they impact a game?

Not to defend Robert Manfred in any which way, but I do think this makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, the rule has only been in place for this year and already was adjusted earlier in the year, so we’re still firmly in the early stage of working out the kinks with the pitch clock rules. Being amenable to adjusting them for the postseason only serves to better the game if there are small improvements that the league and union both think would work.

Speaking of the union, the second point is that they’re the ones actually presenting this change to the league, as opposed to the other way around. Manfred is staying away from committing one way or the other, but seems to prefer to play the postseason with the clock that’s currently in place. Neither side seems to want to get rid of it entirely for the postseason, a la the extra inning runner rule, but many fans have been hoping that there will be a bit more room to breathe in the October air — I’ll count myself as one of them, even though I have enjoyed the pace set this year overall.

FireFlyJR asks: One move the Yankees could be to promote Estevan Florial to the Bronx, he is an above average defender at all 3 OF positions. He has speed 20+ SB in Triple-A this year. He bats from the left side of the plate. He hits with power, currently sitting at 21 HR and 50 RBI he would have no trouble reaching the right field porch. why is he still in AAA when he has the skill set everyone is talking about trading for.

We get a lot of questions about Estevan Florial, and I understand why, but at this point I can only state this as simply as I can: no-one knows why he’s still down there. Florial has been a traditionally slow developer at every level of the game he’s been in, but at some point he’s come to dominate it and the Yankees have acted accordingly in promoting him up until now. You could reason that following that trend, Florial would struggle upon arriving in the majors and wouldn’t become a solid contributor until next year or so ... but what’s the difference between that production and what they’ve gotten out of left field already? That seems like a gamble worth making for a team that’s desperate to fill some holes in their lineup.

The other confusing issue with Florial is that he’s been given several cameos in the Bronx already in his career, but they’ve never lasted very long. Sure, he hasn’t done much of anything as a major leaguer yet despite getting called up over parts of four years, but across those four years he’s played a total of just 30 games. And yet only one of those 30 has come this year, and it came when the Yankees were in a doubleheader and needed to call up an extra body.

This toying with Florial’s status leads some to believe that they’re holding him down in the hopes of preserving his value for the trade deadline, but it’s hard to see how a team would highly value a prospect that the org seems to be overlooking at every opportunity. Sure, earlier in the year it made sense, especially with Florial’s options run out meaning he’d have to be DFA’d to be sent down, but as the year has gotten more and more depressing out in left the situation became unignorable. He’s also approaching his 26th birthday with next to no MLB experience and no room for error with those option years gone, so what kind of return could he get? All in all it just reads as though the Yankees don’t have faith in him as anything more than a Quad-A type of player — which perhaps he is! Perhaps he isn’t though, and it is wild that they haven’t pushed that button to find out yet. Given how long they’ve waited, I don’t think they will either, so his future remains up in the air.

Kim C. asks: I have a question, it isn’t Yankees related but I think it’s intriguing. Shohei Ohtani right now is in line to win the AL MVP. If at the trade deadline he is traded to a National League team and continues to rake, would he be eligible to win the NL MVP, even though most of his MVP numbers came from the American League?

The answer is yes, he would be eligible, though in the past this has been a tough case to make for players. The most recent case that springs to my mind is back in 2015 when the Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes and he went on a tear to help lead them into the playoffs (and then ultimately a pennant). The New York media had some hype building for the debate over Cespedes’ MVP candidacy, and he did indeed get some votes — but only six percent of the possible share, slotting him in at 13th place.

Baseball Reference lists the others who placed in that year’s award and Cespedes only has his National League statistics listed, so I’m not sure if the criteria required voters to only look at his success with the Mets. If they were, his numbers were dwarfed by everyone above and below him in the top 20, and yet he still beat out solid seasons from guys like AJ Pollock and Jason Heyward. Given he only played in 57 games for the Mets that year that leads me to believe they were influenced at least partially by his overall season, and that criteria would face an immense challenge from a player of Shohei Ohtani’s capabilities. Even if they did strictly check his potential NL numbers only, if Ohtani continues to play as he has and he propels a contender over on the other side I’d imagine it would sway a lot more voters than Cespedes’ case did.