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Yankees Mailbag: Reasons to watch and blame to place

What’s left for the 2023 Yankees, and is it too early to start the post-mortem on their season? Let’s dive in.

MLB: FEB 26 Spring Training - Yankees at Blue Jays Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire 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.

TripleFFF asks: Whatever happened to the Scranton shuttle? They’ve hardly used it this year. Ramirez is the only one I can think of who’s been up and down. Is it because of the rule changes or just another case of bad roster construction?

The shuttle mostly became victim to the lack of options on the roster. Of the regulars who have been in the ‘pen for the majority of the season, you’re looking at just Ron Marinaccio who could (and has) been sent down to the minors, but for most of the year he was a mainstay who wasn’t getting sent down due to his effectiveness. The rest have been journeyman who would’ve had to go through waivers if the Yankees wanted to shuffle them around, and due to how successful some of them have been that would’ve been a risky option. It’s not so much bad roster construction as it is a consequence of a pitching staff that has been together for some time, and given the overall strength that the ‘pen has been this year, it’s hardly an area of concern.

The Ghost of Pop Logan asks: Barring a miracle, this team is not making the playoffs. Anything to look forward to as they play out the rest of the season? Personally, I would like to see IKF play all nine positions in one game ... but I suspect management would view this as a gimmick that is beneath the dignity of a storied franchise.

I remain heavily invested in Gerrit Cole’s Cy Young push, as the Yankee ace has deserved one for quite some time in his career and has a strong chance again this year. As for the overall roster, vague rumors emerged on Thursday night that we could see some life injected into the lineup due to Austin Wells and Everson Pereira both being healthy scratches from the Scranton lineup, coinciding with the day that MLB teams can call up prospects without having them on the roster long enough to void their rookie status.

It’s perhaps a stretch to believe that it’ll happen, let alone for both of them — we’ll see what emerges between the writing and publication of this article, but the Yankees have been so hesitant to call anyone up at this point that a healthy amount of skepticism is warranted. But in the event that they are angling for this roster shakeup, I think it would be highly welcomed. Moving Wells up would be an aggressive promotion as he’s not had a dominant year in Double-A and his Triple-A stint was more of the same with less power to show, but Pereira is a prime candidate to test out and see if he can jolt the offense.

He’s cooled off a bit after his electric opening stretch with Scranton, but Pereira’s overall been deserving of a look in the traditional September call-up sense, so why not start that process a little earlier when every game matters for potentially remaining in the playoff race? It would also open up a spot for Jasson Domínguez in Triple-A after he’s been on a tear for the last month, which would do wonders for speeding up his ETA if he can adapt well over the final month of games.

The idiot that said, “Harper is coming” asks: Where has Brian Cashman failed this team the most? 1) The current roster 2) Past rosters 3) Upcoming roster For 2024+2025 4) After hugging prospects for about a decade, somehow having the 26th ranked farm system according to’s most recent top 30 rankings. (Which I believe is low, but still … not good)

The easy answer is the current roster because ... well, it’s a mess and we’ve gone on ad nauseum about how it’s gotten messed up. I do want to talk a bit about how past rosters played into that though, namely the many summers where the Yankees had a chance to go all-in and opted not to, citing their preference to contend over many years and keep their options open. Well, inaction also has its consequences, and their decisions to pass on prior blockbusters and subsequent mismanaging of how they did end up trading prospects directly led to them being pigeon-holed this season.

As for the last issue, I consider this the least offensive mark because there’s a lot of context missing from just stating where they rank overall. First, the latest MLB Pipeline rankings that I could find had them ranked 21st overall, which isn’t a significant difference from 26th but is a sizeable one, and it’s roughly where most other publications have them. Second, while the overall farm system may not be that strong after last season’s trades and Volpe’s promotion there are a decent haul of Top-100 prospects still in the system, and most of them are in the upper half of the organization.

Chase Hampton and Drew Thorpe’s ascension to being the top pitching prospects in the farm has helped out here, and Pereira and Spencer Jones have both had quality years providing some outfield depth. Their collection of Top-100 prospects, depending on the scouting source that you peruse, are sizeable, but none are scratching the Top-50 or Top-20 where you’re talking about immediate difference-makers, which is part of why the system is still rated lowly. Overall I like the progress that a lot of prospects have made this year, but the main issue has been translating their success to big-league success — part of why I’ve been a proponent of aggressively trading over the years.