New York Yankees: 2020 is crucial for Tyler Wade and Clint Frazier

New York Yankees, Tyler Wade

In the shortened 2020 Major League Baseball season, teams are permitted to have up to 30 players on the active roster. With that being said, young up-and-comers Tyler Wade and Clint Frazier are very likely to see a spot on the New York Yankees roster all season.

Over the last few seasons, both players have been on the “taxi squad”, going up and down from AAA frequently. Neither of them have been able to make a big enough impact to stay on the roster for an extended period of time.

But, with the two players aging and minor league options dwindling, the Yankees may have to make decisions on them soon. Because of that, 2020 may be the most important season of their young careers.

Young and unproven

Although both players have shown promise, neither has been good enough to sustain a long-term roster spot.

Clint Frazier has shown a ton of offensive promise, but lacks defensively. He has a career .254 average in at-bats, but has -11 defensive runs saved in 100 games in the outfield.

Tyler Wade is kinda the opposite of Clint Frazier. Wade can play everywhere and has a ton of speed. His defense isn’t great with -5 defensive runs saved, but it’s the offense that really lacks. His career average is only .197 in 218 at-bats.

Unless either of the two has a breakout season, I have a hard time seeing them as possible pieces in the future. I’m sure they are frustrated with the lack of Major League playing time and wishing to develop on a younger and less crowded team. Trades for the players during the offseason may be what’s best for everyone if something doesn’t come out of this season.

New York Yankees: Who will play left field?

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

With an MLB restart plan finally in check, things are looking up for the New York Yankees. One of the advantages that they had with the coronavirus shutdown was that it allowed the team to get mostly healthy again. That includes the outfield duo of Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge, the starting center and right fielders, respectively.

A healthy Aaron Hicks pushes Brett Gardner out of centerfield, with him potentially being able to play left. Additionally, the Yankees have Giancarlo Stanton and Clint Frazier. Who will start in left field come Opening Day?

The Gardy Party

I believe that it will most likely be Brett Gardner in left field in 2020. Gardner had a good 2019 season, hitting .251 and slugging a career-high 28 home runs. He still has speed, resulting in a good glove despite a poor arm. Although Stanton and Frazier may be better hitters, Gardner is a much better defender compared to the other two.

It will mainly be Giancarlo Stanton in the DH role. His bat is far too valuable to leave out of the lineup, and using him as the DH can help him stay healthy. He had 38 home runs and 100 RBIs in 2018 as 2019 was significantly shortened due to injuries. Stanton also won the 2017 NL MVP.

Now that leaves us with Clint Frazier. Frazier had success at the plate in 2019, hitting .267 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs. Defense was a completely different story, having -8 defensive runs saved and ended up with just a 0.1 WAR because of it.

Although he is getting older and his time in pinstripes could soon be over, left field is currently Brett Gardner’s to lose. However, young guns like Clint Frazier will be waiting in the wings if something ever happens.

New York Yankees: What impact will a short season have on Mike Ford, Clint Frazier, and others?

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

For the New York Yankees, a shortened season of just 60 games will have several consequences, both good and bad.  The bad is that they won’t be able to have any long stretches of poor play if they are to get to the postseason.  The Yankees are still World Series favorites, but each game during the season will take on more importance.  The greatest impact on players will be those that will sit on the bench with the expanded 30 man roster.

The bench will most likely include Mike Ford, Clint Frazier, Mike Tauchman, catcher Kyle Higashioka, and the “utility” players, Miguel Andujar, and Tyler Wade.  Also on the bench will be club veteran Brett Gardner. After last year’s disaster with so many players going on the IL, these bench players could see significant playing time.  In that thought, you have to consider with no minor leaguer’s available, the bench will be very important.

Mike Ford: Mike burst onto the scene last season.  The seven-year minor league veteran got his big break when he was called up to the majors when Greg Bird was injured. He made his major league debut in April and got his first hit on April 21. He hit his first home run on April 23rd. He ended up playing in 50 games, most near the end of the season.  He proved to be a powerful left-hand bat hitting 12 home runs. That’s an average of a home run in every 4 1/2 games.

Manager Aaron Boone if he chose to could alternate Ford with Voit at first base. Voit could hit against lefties and Ford again right-hand pitchers.

Clint Frazier: Aaron Judge’s back luck with his rib fracture, just could be big for Clint Frazier, one of manager Boone’s only options to serve in the right field.  At present, it is not known if Judge’s rehab will have progressed enough to allow him to play at the start of the season on July 23rd. With such a short season Judge may not play at all.  Frazier, who can go on a tear behind the plate has been questionable in the outfield.  This season could be his season to prove his worth to the New York Yankees.

Kyle Higashioka:  Kyle is in a situation where he has to show that he can be the replacement for Austin Romine that the Yankees hope for. In a short season and if Gary Sanchez can remain healthy, Kyle might only catch in eight to ten games.  However, if Sanchez has injuries as he is inclined to have, Kyle could see himself catching in a half-season of games.  Whatever the case the Yankees will be watching Kyle carefully. Last season he caught in 18 games in relief of Austin Romine.  He batting .214 with 3 homers, but in spring training this year, he led the team in home runs with 3 homers in just 12 games and hit .276.

Andujar and Tauchman:  With Giancarlo Stanton playing in only 18 games last year and already being injured in spring training, Miguel Andujar and Mike Tauchman may see a lot of time in the outfield.  The plus with Andujar is his power behind the plate, and with Mike Tauchman, it’s his left-hand bat in a lineup that is right-hand heavy.  Manager Boone has his choices to rest Stanton or have these two alternate as fill-ins in left field. Andujar will see more playing time as he will also alternate with Stanton as the regular DH.

Aaron Hicks/Brett Gardner:  At the present with Aaron Hicks reportedly ready to play in center field, and with capable Brett Gardner as a backup, the center field is pretty well taken care of for Boone. Hick’s will be returning from Tommy John surgery that he had immediately at the end of the season.  He was supposed to miss the first two months of the season, but with the delayed season, that may not be an issue.

Tyler Wade:  Tyler Wade just may be the wild card this year and may see more playing time than any bench players.  Being the super-utility player, he can fill in at short for Gleyber Torres, who will need rest and for DJ LeMahieu at second.  The plus for Boone is that Wade can also play the outfield.

With injuries inevitable and the coronavirus, the season may well end up with whatever team has the best bench players will be the team that advances to the World Series.  The New York Yankees bench is well suited to be that excellent bench.

New York Yankees: What will the outfield look like without Judge, Hicks?

Despite the New York Yankees’ success last season, they had a tremendous problem with keeping their players healthy. The 2019 Yankees racked up the most injuries of any team that season and in MLB history. Even though most of those guys have recovered and are looking to have a different story this season, two big players are still questionable for this season.

Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks are still dealing with injuries, and timetables for their return are uncertain. Hicks underwent Tommy John surgery following last year’s postseason and has been rehabbing ever since. He’s been throwing for some time now and began taking batting practice. Judge, on the other hand, is still a mystery as to how his recovery is going. He hasn’t resumed any baseball activities since he was shut down and there’s no telling when he will.

General manager Brian Cashman did mention that he expects Judge to return sometime this summer, and it’s expected that Hicks will do the same.

What could the outfield look like without Hicks and Judge?

It’s no question that losing Hicks and Judge from the lineup is a big loss for the New York Yankees. With that being said, the Yankees are lucky enough to have incredibly talented backups. I believe the outfield depth could look something like this:

Right field: Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade

Center field: Mike Tauchman, Brett Gardner

Left field: Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Tauchman, Clint Fazier

The Yankees are very fortunate enough to have several players that can play pretty much the entire outfield. Mike Tauchman and Brett Garder are both dual-position players, and you can stick Tyler Wade out there and he can hold it down. Despite the obvious lack of solid defense, Clint Frazier can also play multiple positions.

I believe that Mike Tauchman should be the primary backup outfielder due to his tremendous defense and strong bat. Due to his history of constant injuries, Giancarlo Stanton shouldn’t play left field every day, and that’s where Mike Tauchman can come into play.

With Hicks and Judge out with injuries, Clint Frazier could play right field, Tauchman in center field, and Stanton in left field. This, to me, is the best option for the Yankees. Those are three above-average hitters that can fill the void while Hicks and Judge work to get 100% healthy.

New York Yankees: How Judge’s injury helps Clint Frazier

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

The New York Yankees had their fair share of injuries last season and there was hope that this season would be different. Unfortunately, it seems that there’s going to be a repeat of history this year. Star right fielder Aaron Judge is dealing with another injury and the timetable for a return is unclear.

General manager, Brian Cashman, said that there is no definite idea on when Judge will be 100% healthy again but they do expect him to be ready by “summertime.” It seems that the Yankees are not optimistic about Judge being back for the start of the year.

Despite probably not having one of their best hitters in the lineup for the beginning of the shortened season, the Yankees have another option that can fill that void. Clint Frazier is the best option the Yankees have to fill the empty right field spot. With Aaron Hicks also returning from an injury, Mike Tauchman will fill in at center field and Brett Gardner will slide over to left field when needed.

There have been rumors for years that the Yankees are looking to trade Frazier, but I think if the Yankees really wanted to do that, they would have already. There’s some concerns with behavior, however, you cannot deny that Frazier is a talented ballplayer.

Before Frazier was controversially demoted to triple-A during mid-June last year, he was batting .283 with 22 extra-base hits and 11 home runs. He was one of the league’s best hitters with runners in scoring positions as he held a .375 batting average in such scenarios. After Frazier was sent down and was brought back up later in the year, he was never the same.

I think there’s a pride thing with Frazier, that he almost felt abandoned when he demoted despite having terrific numbers. Some players just have that in them, and that isn’t a problem as long as it doesn’t interfere with the team’s success. An example of a player who was prideful but let it fuel his success is all-time Yankee legend, Reggie Jackson. Of course, Frazier is nowhere near the dominance that Reggie displayed while in pinstripes, but I think there is a part about Frazier that he needs that pride to keep him going – and being sent down did the exact opposite of that.

Judge’s injury could be a big opportunity for Frazier to shine once again. Maybe if it’s for a longer period of time this year, the New York Yankees will keep him on the roster even when Judge returns. Frazier could also play left field as well.

 

New York Yankees’ Clint Frazier lost an amazing opportunity with MLB postponement

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

The coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected baseball, and the New York Yankees are no exception to that reality. Playing in the Bronx has forced them to reevaluate the regular season plans, and while Governor Andrew Cuomo is keen on bringing sports back to the city without fans, the likelihood of that happening is small.

Baseball could start-up in early July in an alternative location, possibly Arizona, where there’s a lower risk and probability of contracting the virus.

While the virus shut down baseball operations, the Yankees have used this time to heal and focus on the recovery of the outfield. Starting players Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Giancarlo Stanton were all scheduled to miss Opening Day and more.

Now, the Yankees are confident Hicks will be back to full strength if the league starts up in the next few weeks, and Stanton is also ready to join the active roster. Judge is the only player on the fence as he heals from a stress fracture in a rib. Nonetheless, Clint Frazier might be the least lucky of the Yankees depth players. He was set to open the season as a starting option in the outfield, but with the return of several players, Brett Gardner will likely receive the nod ahead of Frazier.

The New York Yankees still like Clint Frazier, but he’s running out of time:

Frazier has a ton of potential at the plate, and his bat is still one of the quickest in the league, but his struggles mainly lie in his defense. After his concussion, Frazier never looked the same, and he may resort to a DH role, but with Stanton and Gary Sanchez, it is possible they don’t have a spot for him in the future. If the MLB and union can develop a foundation for a revised regular season, Frazier could be a part of the five extra players on a 30-man roster.

Financials are still being negotiated among the team owners and players, with players refusing a revenue share option. While Frazier could benefit from an expanded roster, it is unlikely he sees live reps unless another injury occurs. After a tough defensive outing in 2019, Frazier seemed to mature this off-season and started Grapefruit League play on a high note.

Frazier finished spring training with 25 at-bats, hitting .320 with one home run, two RBIs, and seven walks. He struck out only four times. If he can build off this minor success, he could be the next man up if Stanton rotated into a DH role to mitigate fatigue and injury.

The New York Yankees boast enviable outfield depth

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees received some great news on Tuesday: Aaron Hicks, the team’s starting center fielder, is ramping up his training at home and can be seen performing several exercises in an Instagram post.

The slick-fielding switch hitter can be seen taking batting practice, sprinting on a treadmill, and throwing around a large medicine ball at his Florida home.

Hicks, currently 30 years old, is one of the Yankees’ best and most important players when healthy. He remains a two-way contributor thanks to his fielding prowess in center field and his powerful bat from both sides of the plate. Having him back when (or should we say if?) the season restarts is crucial for the Bombers.

The Yankees have an outfield of stars

However, the New York Yankees can brag about having one of the best and deepest outfield corps in the majors.
And, to the surprise of some, the Yankees’ outfield is not only excellent with the bat, but it is also filled with more than capable defenders. Aaron Judge has a case for being the best right fielder in the game (with a 7.6 defensive rating in Fangraphs and a league-leading 20 DRS), while Hicks, Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman are also usual contributors with the glove and with the wood.

And if that isn’t enough, the Yankees also have Giancarlo Stanton’s underrated glove capable of playing in left field. He is, however, best known for his bat, and rightfully so. The presence of Clint Frazier and the possibility of Miguel Andujar playing some reps in left field really complicates matters when it comes to finding playing time for everyone involved, but manager Aaron Boone knows that, with that kind of depth, his club can cope with an injury or two.

As you can see, the Yankees could field two outfields capable of starting at any level. That speaks volumes about the organization’s player development and scouting staff. Let’s just hope there is a season to play.

New York Yankees’ Clint Frazier keeps getting the short end of the stick in his development

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier can’t seem to catch a break in his development:

The Yankees as a team have been plagued on multiple levels by injury and other concerns the past few seasons, but on the Individualistic level, players have also dealt with their own problems and deficiencies.

Outfielder and youth product Clint Frazier has struggled the past two seasons to remain in the Major League with the Yankees, primarily due to a lack of defensive quality. Frazier was sent down to the minors last season after having a poor game against Boston Red Sox in June. After ignoring media members, he was punished by the team for his lack of professionalism.

However, Frazier is a talented player with plenty of upside, which the Yankees clearly visualize given his status with the team. This spring, though, Frazier looked like a different player, showing maturity and consistency at the plate. General manager Brian Cashman has said in the past that Frazier has “legendary bat speed.”

The improvements Frazier made weren’t only correlated to his mentality, but he worked on activating his lower body to generate more power and bat speed. With baseball potential expanding the active roster due to a shortened seasoned, Frazier could and will likely be a part of that team.

While there are plenty of outfield options for the Yankees to choose from, Frazier’s potential can no longer be ignored. Allowing him to utilize active reps to further his development should be a priority, as Brett Gardner‘s eventual replacement will likely be Clint.

This spring, Frazier hit .320 with eight hits, one home run, and four strikeouts. While this was over 25 at-bats, it is a nice sample size to start the year. Building on that in the regular season would have been probable considering the injuries to Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks. With the three starting outfielders for the Yankees recovering during this time off, Frazier’s likelihood of earning live-action to start the regular season has diminished. Another blow to his development.

New York Yankees: Zack Britton on no fans, Clint Frazier and prospect Canaan Smith

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

The day in 2015 when a game was played without fans

The New York Yankees relief and setup pitcher Zack Britton knows what it’s like to play without fans in the stands.  Back in April of 2015, there was an MLB game played without fans in the stands.  There was race unrest in Baltimore at that time, caused by the death of Freddie Gray while in the care of the police.  The unrest was so bad that the Baltimore Orioles and MLB made the decision not to allow fans at the game between the Orioles and the Chicago White Sox due to the state of emergency issued by the city.

Zack Britton was the closer for the Baltimore Orioles in the game that the Orioles won 8-2.  Joe McEwing was at the game, he was a coach for the White Sox.  Both Britton and McEwing recently spoke about what it’s like to play without fans.  McEwing recalled, “My thoughts were with the people of Baltimore, first of all, just hoping and praying that people stayed safe during that time,’’ McEwing said of his lasting memories of that afternoon.

McEwing continued: “We’re in a major league stadium, playing a game with no fans, no sound, no energy. You could hear people talking from dugout to dugout, just normal conversations.’’  According to present New York Yankee Zack Britton it was eery nearly silent with as many as 20 scouts in the stands and the normal press.  The game was televised and both teams broadcast booths were working.

Britton said: “That was tough. Obviously, a completely different circumstance (than currently), but it wasn’t fun to not have your home crowd there,’’ “It’s not something that we would like to do,’’ while acknowledging that it may be necessary.  Both men emphasized that the crowds no matter how small provide the energy that drives the game forward.  They also said that the game hadcan an entirely different sound with empty stands, many sounds of the game are absorbed by the fans, without them you get rattling echos.

After four years Clint Frazier has yet to prove himself

Back in July of 2015, the Cleveland Indians were looking to shore up their bullpen as they were in contention for the postseason.  The New York Yankees were not, and they traded closer, Andrew Miller, to the tribe.  The Yankees got four players in return; one was Clint Frazier.  Frazier has spent the last four years on the Yankee shuttle between the Stadium and Scranton Wilkes/Barre.

Here are the stats: In 123 big league games (393 at-bats), the right-handed hitter, who GM Brian Cashman said had “legendary bat speed’’ following the trade, has a .254 average with 16 homers, 56 RBIs and a .771 OPS.  While the Yankees like his bat speed and offense, he has mightly failed on the defense side.  From a combination of missed plays and attitude problems, Frazier had been unable to make his mark and has often been mentioned as trade bait.

This year although a shortened season, Frazier may get to play more due to the expanded roster.  In 2019 Frazier made some headway on improving his defense with some different footwork, and the work that he had been doing with the Rail Riders was on display.

“I have always been impressed with his bat speed,’’ a scout said of Frazier’s biggest tool. “He has always been a very good low-ball hitter with legit power. There is offensive potential there but concerns about his defense. Can he become an above-average big leaguer? Yes. Let’s look back in 10 years and remember defense is an important part of the game.’’

In the halted spring training, criticism of Clint Frazier had seemed to lessen.  Frazier now 25, had an impressive 12 games with an OPS of 1.055.  He was also errorless in the outfield.  However, with a glut of outfielders including Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Tauchman, and now Miguel Andujar, there still is not a lock for Frazier to make starting day.  Much will depend on injuries and if he can best his 69 games in 2019.

A quick look at New York Yankee prospect Canaan Smith

The New York Yankees have plenty of outfields for the next few years, and this year there is a logjam in left field.  But looking down the road, the cupboard is pretty bare.  Back in the 2017 draft, the Yankees were looking for pitchers, but in the 11th round, they did pick up outfielder Canaan Smith from Rockwall-Heath high school in Texas.

Smith is really the only outfielder prospect playing in the minors.  Last year at Charleston for the River Dogs, he had an impressive season.  When he entered the Gulf League, he impressed initially but then struggled.  His defense was above average, but his struggles were at the plate.

With Charleston during 2019, he hit .312/.412/.459 on the year, which is good for a 153 wRC+. Smith’s approach seems sound, as he was back to walking 14.5% of the time while lowering his strikeout rate to an acceptable 21%.  The New York Yankees also like that he hits to all parts of the field. He had 23 doubles on the season, with 14 of them to the opposite field.  One big plus for Smith is that he is a lefty, although the 21-year-old needs more time in the minors, he may soon find himself in the outfield at Yankee Stadium.

 

Why New York Yankees’ Miguel Andujar could be left in the dust

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

Health has been the major talking point for the New York Yankees over the past few years, and this offseason has been no different. The injury bug has destroyed the outfield — Aaron Judge is recovering from a stress fracture in a rib, Giancarlo Stanton has been unable to stay healthy, most recently straining his calf in a pre-Spring Training workout, and Aaron Hicks is rehabbing after Tommy John surgery.

The outfield is just the tip of the iceberg, though, as the starting pitching rotation is also in shambles. If I were to tell you some of the best players on the team would be out before Spring Training even began, you wouldn’t believe it, but that’s the reality the Yankees are facing moving forward.

However, supplementing those injuries has become the focus, which is where players like Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar have entered the frame. Frazier was expected to feature in the outfield and earn ample playing time, but Andujar was also in line to potentially see some time in left field.

Andujar earned a few reps in left this Grapefruit League and received decent reviews from skipper, Aaron Boone.

“It was another good day for him out there. I don’t want to overstate it because they were two fairly easy plays, but talking about a sun field where there was a lot of wind,’’ Boone said a few weeks ago, via the NY Post. “I am watching the pitcher and the batter and my eyes shift and [Andujar] is already on the move like he should be. I think he is reading the ball well out there and he is moving. So far it looks natural to him.’’

The New York Yankees can still find the defensive value in Andujar:

Having the natural instinct is a significant part of becoming a quality defender, but Andujar is far behind on the list of capable outfielders. It’s possible he doesn’t see a single inning in left field this upcoming season since Frazier will get the nod ahead of him, and Stanton is scheduled to make his return once MLB resumes operations.

In the scenario that Andujar doesn’t play a lick of defense in 2020, he may get left behind with the exception of his bat, which could be used in a DH role. However, utilizing him solely for his bat isn’t enough, and it could open the door for a trade down the line. That doesn’t negate the fact that I believe Miggy is a quality player and should be retained, but if the Yankees don’t have a significant spot for him, they could gain value from him in other ways.