Are The New York Yankees Making a Mistake at Shortstop?

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees made their play early into the 2019 offseason who their future at shortstop was. And they were tipping their hand during the 2019 regular season when rumors over their parting of ways with Didi Gregorius started coming out. It’s been clear for a while they intended to move Gleyber back to shortstop.

But is his Spring Training starting to show how much of a mistake that was?

I’ve Said it Before, I’ll Say it Again, He’s a Better Second Baseman

As George King and Ken Davidoff point we in the New York Post, Gleyber committed most of his errors last season at shortstop. And he played most of his games in the field at short. Out of the 20 errors he made last season combined, 11 were at short. He’s also committed 5 errors in 10 games in Spring Training.

I’ve argued before that “You can’t use a poor Spring Training performance as insight for the season to come”. But I’ve also pointed out the troubles defensively Gleyber has had defensively at short in the big leagues. This should be concerning for the Yankees, as it’s clear they want DJ to be their starting second baseman.

When Do You Consider the Move a Failure?

Sanchez had 2018 to forget, both offensively and defensively. With Judge being consistently hurt, Torres is becoming a lynchpin in that batting order. If his defensive woes at short continue, and he can’t figure it out, does that impact his offense the same way Sanchez’s defensive woes in 2018 effected him? Chuck Knoblauch saw his offense nose dive in the ’90s after his defensive instability became more obvious. And we’re talking about a former Gold Glove-winning second baseman.

This should concern the Yankees.

What This Could Mean for 2020 and 2021

If the New York Yankees have to move Gleyber back to second, you have to decide who you’re going to keep. If you want to keep DJ and want him to play, his second position on the field is third base. That’s the position currently occupied by Gio Urshela. Urshela is several years younger than DJ, and the analytics are going to show (and the Yankees are all in on analytics right now), that would mean they go with Urshela.

But what if Urshela regresses to what he was pre-2019 offensively? What if Urshela’s defensive liabilities (according to FanGraphs, he was the second worse defensive third baseman in baseball last season, showing a natural progression for Andujar if he was healthy), do you move Torres back to second, DJ to third, and have Wade as your shortstop, to then trade for a shortstop at the deadline?

The fact that the Yankees couldn’t find the same stats I found on Torre’s Defense is alarming. And the fact that his defensive liabilities at short are becoming more obvious makes you question why they didn’t just resign Didi in the first place.

The New York Yankees Should Not Go After Nolan Arenado

New York Yankees, Nolan Arenado

New York Yankees fans are greedy. Their team goes after the big names for the prospect of a championship. It’s something George Steinbrenner popularized back in the ’70s/80’s, and it resulted in a full 15 years between World Series appearances, and closer to 20 years between championships. It just doesn’t work.

But that didn’t stop Yankees fans clamoring for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper last season. The fact remained, the Yankees didn’t need either. Miguel Andujar doesn’t do what Machado does defensively, but you’re not gonna bring in someone like Machado to “get Andujar to improve his defense if he wants a shot.” You bring in someone like Machado to REPLACE Andujar in the lineup, period. And Bryce is only valuable for his power. Hits a ton of home runs, has only driven in 100 RBI’s twice and has an “eh” batting average for an MVP caliber player. Judge doesn’t have an MVP, and HIS career batting average is only .003 points off from Harper’s career average. “Oh, but we need a lefty to balance out the line up!” (Sigh) No, we didn’t then, and we don’t now.

And this is why we can only viably get Nolan Arenado, rumored to be a target of the Yankees for years if we trade Andujar AND Urshela to the Rockies for him.

Not… Worth It

As I’ve documented so many times, Andujar and Urshela (based on their small sample size as starting, everyday players) are the same. Both had amazing offensive numbers (Andujar has better power numbers with less than 100 strikeouts, but Urshela has a better average) with subpar defensive seasons (according to FanGraphs, Andujar was the worst defensive third basemen amongst those who qualified in 2018, Urshela was the second-worst in 2019, representing the likely improvement Andujar realistically could have made). They’re going to duke it out this March for the starting job. 

If you trade for Arenado, you can’t keep both on the team. You have to trade them both.

Urshela’s career dWAR is 0.1 for his career, Andujar’s is -2.5. Arenado has a career dWAR of 14.4! His oWAR of 26.5 also dwarfs both men (4.0 for Andujar, with a career WAR of 1.5, 2.9 and 2.3 oWAR and WAR for Urshela). Oh, and can we talk about how Arenado has a career WAR, going into his age 29 seasons of almost 40? It’s better than Harper’s! (Baseball-reference.com)

“Wait,” some of you are asking “how is trading Urshela and Andujar not worth Arenado?”

The simple, elementary deduction, my dear Watson. Arenado has spent his entire career playing in… Denver, Colorado.

Countless offensive studs have passed through Denver, putting up great power numbers. Then, they leave the Rockies, and they don’t come close to the same season. Arenado has spent his entire career as a Rockie. What makes you think his numbers won’t take a stark nose dive after his first season leaving Denver?

Yes, he is different than DJ. DJ spent most of his career in Denver but was a batting champion. Always a high batting average, with an average of 10(ish) home runs and 50(ish) RBI’s. And we all saw what a career contact hitter in Denver could do, once he got out of Denver.

We also know that New York doesn’t always mean an all-star will succeed there. Sonny Gray was an All-Star in Oakland, was terrible as a Yankee, and became an All-Star again last year pitching in Cincinnati. Robinson Cano, prior to his injuries, was having a real lackluster season in his return to New York, albeit in a different burrow. And while Todd Frazier isn’t a perennial MVP candidate, his worst offensive seasons came… in New York.

Urshela and Andujar have their issues, but we KNOW they can succeed in playing 82 games in the Bronx. You trade for Arenado, those three aren’t fighting to see who gets the job in Spring Training. You trade for Arenado, he’s your starting third baseman, you trade Urshela for Arenado (because he’s out of options), and then you send Andujar to the minors to trade him by the deadline. You got Wade, you got Estrada, and you have DJ to give Arenado his days off in the field (which come few and far between as he averages 150 games played per season).

I’m excited as anyone to see who wins third base. But, please baseball gods, don’t ad Arenado to the mix.

New York Yankees: Judge Injured as Yankees Blow Out Royals

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

You can’t make this stuff up.

On an opposite field single in the sixth, the New York Yankees star outfielder Aaron Judge felt a pull in his oblique and was removed from the game. He will get an MRI, and Aaron Boone said after the game that it will almost certainly be an IL-stint.

In good news, the Yankees picked up a 9-2 win over the Royals. It got the Yankees back to .500 through 20 games.

Hits all around

The Yankees collected 14 hits all together, with multiple hits from four players. Clint Frazier and Giovanny Urshela each had three.

Judge got it going early before his injury, with a solo-shot to right in the first. Then, Clint Frazier led off the second with a solo-shot of his own.

In the third inning, Gleyber Torres hit one over the wall that was ruled a home run. After a review, it was deemed to be a fan interference, and he was called out. Aaron Boone wasn’t very happy about the call, and was thrown out for the first time in 2019. The score stayed 2-0.

Mike Tauchman made up for it in the next inning, belting a three-run home run to right. The pitch after, DJ LeMahieu had his first Yankee home run for back-to-back jacks.

In the sixth, Gleyber Torres and Frazier had back-to-back RBI singles, and Austin Romine knocked one in on an infield single in the seventh to conclude the scoring.

Seven strong

Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven strong innings, giving up just four hits and a run.

Tanaka fanned seven, but put three on base with walks. He worked seven ground-balls and five fly-balls, also getting twelve swing-and-misses.

Tanaka picked up his second win of the season in five starts, but only his previous start was a bad start. His ERA is now at 2.76 through 29.1 innings.

Jonathan Holder came in to get the last six outs, and gave up a solo home run in the ninth.

The final game of this four game set with Kansas City will take place on Easter Sunday at 1:05PM. The game will be on YES Network and FOX Sports Go. James Paxton gets the ball for the Yankees against Jorge Lopez of the Royals.

Superman Brett Gardner Saves New York Yankees From Enemy Red Sox

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

Clint Frazier singled on the first pitch of the seventh, followed by a walk from Mike Tauchman. After Giovanny Urshela struck out, Austin Romine walked and pulled Boston reliever Brandon Workman out of the game. Ryan Brasier relieved Workman to pitch to New York Yankees center-fielder Brett Gardner. On an 0-2 fastball high in the zone, Gardner laced it to the first row in right center-field for a grand slam, as the Yankees took a 5-3 lead.

The bullpen held the Red Sox scoreless as the Yankees held on for a 5-3 win and a two game sweep to improve to 8-9. The Red Sox fell to 6-13, one of the worst records to start a season by a team that just won the World Series.

Happ recovered from a shaky start

After giving up three runs over the first two innings, JA Happ settled in and pitched pretty well over 6 1/3 innings. He gave up those three runs to JD Martinez and Christian Vasquez on a solo home run and a two-run home run, respectively. After the second, he gave up just three hits.

Happ struck out four on Wednesday, and walked just one. He threw first pitch strikes to 18 of the 25 batters he faced. He worked seven ground-balls and seven fly-balls.

Tommy Kahnle relieved Happ to get just two outs, but picked up the win. Adam Ottavino came in the eighth to load the bases, but worked out of it unscathed.

Aroldis Chapman entered in the ninth to get the save, working a 1-2-3 inning.

Gardy saved the day

Brett Gardner had just one hit, but it was the big one in the grand slam. It was also Gardner’s 100th home run. Frazier was responsible for the other run on an RBI double.

The Yankees had just five hits, but got on base four more times than that from walks and errors. Frazier had three hits, and Luke Voit had a hit, too.

On Thursday, the Yankees begin a four game set with the Kansas City Royals before heading out west. Game one is at 6:35PM on YES and Fox Sports Go. Domingo German gets the start for the Yankees against Homer Bailey of the Royals.

New York Yankees: Paxton Dominant Over Eight Innings In Win Over Boston

New York Yankees, James Paxton

James Paxton struck out 12 over eight innings while allowing just two hits as the New York Yankees blew out the Red Sox 8-0.

Paxton actually had to fight pretty hard

Despite the fact that he struck out 12 and allowed zero runs, he actually had to fight back to a lot of batters. He only had first pitch strikes to half of the 28 batters he faced. So he was getting outs after going down 1-0 or 2-0, which is incredibly impressive.

And, he only threw 110 pitches, which isn’t a lot for how many strikeouts he had and for how many counts he was behind in.

Paxton also got eight fly-ball outs and four ground-outs. Outside of the two hits, Paxton also hit a batter to allow just three total base-runners.

The Yankee defense was also fantastic, led by a play from Giovanny Urshela.

With Mookie Betts up, he grounded a ball down the third base line. Urshela backhanded, and threw to first while slipping and falling down to get Betts.

The best offense in a while

The Yankees offense finally kicked it into gear to beat up Chris Sale and is Red Sox. In the third, DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit each had RBI singles to start it off.

An inning later, Clint Frazier belted a high change-up into the seats for a lead-off home run, and Mike Tauchman scored Austin Romine on a double. Romine impressed everyone with his base-running, while Tauchman advanced to third on the throw home.

It was the sixth inning the next time Tauchman was up, and belted a long three-run home run for the first one of his career. This made it 7-0 good guys.

The Yankees put up one final insurance run in the seventh when Gleyber Torres hit one for his fourth of the season.

With the large lead, the Yankees put in Joe Harvey to finish it off in the ninth after Paxton’s night was complete. He worked a scoreless inning, despite allowing a hit.

The second and final game of the series will take place on Wednesday at 6:30PM on ESPN, YES, and Fox Sports Go. JA Happ gets the ball for the Yankees against ex-Yankee Nathan Eovaldi for the Sox.

New York Yankees: Tanaka Allows Fourth Inning Grand Slam as Yankees fall to White Sox

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

After Masahiro Tanaka allowed a double and two walks, the New York Yankees’ Japanese righty gave up a grand slam to White Sox shortstop Tim Beckham. The Yankees couldn’t recover from it, losing yet another series to a poor team.

A good start turned bad quick

Masahiro Tanaka started off his fourth start of the season pretty well, but it changed quickly with the grand slam. He allowed just one hit through the first three innings.

To start the fourth, Yoan Moncada hit one to Aaron Judge for a single, but Judge threw him out at second with ease as Moncada tried to test him. But right after, Jose Abreu doubled and two straight walks to Yonder Alonso and Eloy Jimenez set up Anderson for his grand slam.

In the fifth, a single, double, and a walk by Tanaka loaded the bases again. That was enough for Boone to pull him, putting Luis Cessa in. He allowed a sacrifice fly that scored a run, but got out of it without further damage.

In 4+ innings, Tanaka allowed five runs, seven hits, and struck out six but walked three. His ERA rose to 3.22.

Cessa pitched 1 and 1/3 scoreless innings to his name, then Kahnle came in for the final two outs of the sixth. Adam Ottavino, Joe Harvey, and Chad Green followed with scoreless innings.

Terrible offense

The Yankee offense scored two runs on Sunday, and those didn’t even come easy. They had just four hits.

Luke Voit started it early with an RBI double in the first, and Aaron Judge had an RBI single in the third. That was it.

The four hits came from Judge, Voit, Torres, and Urshela who each had one. Giovanny Urshela is showing he belongs on the Yankee roster, showing off his glove whilst batting .313 so far.

After a day off on Monday, the Yankees begin a two game series with our good friends from Boston. Game one begins on Tuesday at 6:35PM on YES Network and FOX Sports Go. James Paxton gets the ball for the Yankees against Chris Sale for the Red Sox.

 

New York Yankees Lose to White Sox 9-6 in Rain-Shortened Game

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

The New York Yankees pitching staff gave up 12 hits and nine runs in a game only played through the top of the seventh, and called because of rain. In contrast, the Yankees had seven hits and scored six runs in six innings of at-bats, and lost to the White Sox 9-6.

Happ continues to struggle

JA Happ was hit hard for his third straight time to open the 2019 campaign. On Friday, he gave up nine hits and six runs while walking two and striking out five in just four innings of work.

Happ gave up an RBI single in the first, then worked out of trouble in the second and third.

In the fourth, he gave up a two run double to Leury Garcia to cut the Yankee lead down to one.

After a run in the bottom of the inning for the Yankees, Happ gave it all back when he served up a fastball down the middle for Yonder Alonso to put it in the short porch in right. This tied it up at five.

The next batter that came in was Joan Moncada, and he singled to pull Happ out of the game. Jonathan Holder came right in and gave up a two run home run to Eloy Jimenez. The home run was the first of his career.

The next time Jimenez was up, it was against Chad Green, but the result was no different. A home run to deep center, and then James McCann hit one to right to make it back-to-back jacks for the White Sox.

Friday’s game was called just after the two home runs.

Happ’s poor start raises his ERA up to 8.76, and raises struggling Chad Green’s to 11.81.

The offense was there

Despite the fact that the Yankees lost by three, their offense was pretty good, especially with three less innings of at-bats.

The Yankees started strong by putting up two in the first and the second off White Sox starter Lucas Giolito. In the first, DJ LeMahieu drove in two with an RBI single to right. An inning later, Austin Romine hit an RBI single and Aaron Judge lined one to right, good enough to score Giovanny Urshela.

Come the fourth, it was a Gardy Party as Brett Gardner mashed a two out fastball to right for a solo-shot.

To score the final Yankee run, Urshela had an RBI single to drive in LeMahieu in the sixth.

The Yankees will continue to look for guys to step up on offense, especially with Gary Sanchez now on the IL.

Game two of the series will begin on Saturday at 1:05PM on YES Network, Fox Sports Go, and ESPN+. CC Sabathia gets the ball for his first start of his final season, and former Yankee Ivan Nova gets the ball for Chicago.