New York Yankees: Can Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar avoid the “sophomore slump”?

New York Yankees, Gleyber Toress, Miguel Andujar

In 2018, New York Yankees youth products Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar burst out into the scene in New York with Tyler Wade struggling and newly acquired Brandon Drury injured.

Once they came, they made immediate impacts including multiple walk-off hits and big home-runs. Both players had WAR’s over 2.0. Many baseball fans always worry about the dreaded “sophomore slump” that many players go through after a successful first season in the big leagues.

With Didi Gregorius out with an injury, the Yankees are relying on Torres and Andujar to pick up the slack on both the offensive and defensive end.

So many extra-base hits for the Yankees:

Combined between Torres and Andujar, the two had a total of 95 extra-base hits last season. Miguel Andujar brought more power between the two, but Torres could put one out or get a double when he needed to.  In 2018, Andujar tied the record for most doubles by a rookie in the American League with 47.

As he continued to go through the season, people began to compare him to Manny Machado who early in his career had a lot of doubles, and as he developed he turned them into home runs.

Machado had 51 doubles in his first full season. His first time up was long enough to count him as a rookie, so if he was a rookie in 2013 when he had all of those doubles, Andujar wouldn’t have a share of the rookie record. The Yankees are hoping that Andujar put enough muscle onto his body this winter to do the same thing Machado did with his hitting.

Fielding was a weakness:

Once the end of last season rolled around, Andujar had the worst third base fielding in the MLB, with his fielding percentage less than 95 percent. His glove wasn’t the issue, most of the mistakes he made were just throwing and judgment errors, including his baseball IQ. Andujar has been working hard during the winter to improve his fielding so he can continue to have a starting spot.

Last year at times, Andujar would be removed late from the game and replaced with Neil Walker or Ronald Torreyes. With both players gone, he doesn’t have much of a backup, DJ LeMahieu being the most likely.

Torres’ fielding percentage was just a hair over 96 percent, with his shortstop fielding percentage under 93 percent. That number is slightly concerning, as he likely could be the opening day shortstop with LeMahieu at second. The hype on Torres was his strong defense, and he did make several great plays last season but booted some of the easier ones.

Poor play on defense sometimes leads a player to have poor hitting, and if their poor defense continues in 2019, they may have some trouble at-bat. They need to keep that same mindset at the plate, and more strength may lead to more home runs. Hopefully, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres can avoid the “sophomore slump” in 2019 and make an impact on both sides of the ball.

Profiling New York Yankee Shortstops in Spring Training

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees will have five potential shortstops in camp this spring in the absence of Didi Gregorius.  Gregorius, who had Tommy John surgery in October, will be out until at least June though there is no timetable for his return at present.

The Yankees have five possible shortstops on the roster going into Spring Training: Thairo Estrada, Gleyber Torres, Troy Tulowitzki, Tyler Wade and Kyle Holder.

While Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman has said that the Yankees are committed to Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop with Gregorius out of commission, fans wonder if, after two injury-prone seasons in which he saw little playing time, Tulowitzki can be an everyday player.  Jacob Shafer of Bleacher Report states:

“In 2017, he played in 66 games while battling a litany of injuries, including hamstring and ankle issues. Surgery to remove bone spurs from both heels wiped out his 2018 season.”

Scouts who saw him working out for teams in December before signing with the Yankees reported that Tulowitzki was healthy and fit and that he was moving well.  Jeff Passan reported on Twitter:

Cashman was lauded for landing Tulowitzki, whose reputation at shortstop prior to his injuries was elite; however, going into 2019, he’s certainly a question mark for the Yankees.

Where does Gleyber Torres fit in?

Gleyber Torres will likely be the backup to Tulowitzki, sliding over to shortstop from his second base position on days when Tulowitzki is getting a breather.

Torres played 21 games at shortstop for the Yankees in ’18, committing 5 errors with a .928 fielding percentage.  However, this is the position he played most in the minors, taking on second base duties when he came up with the big club.

Now that another elite player has joined the infield at second base, DJ LeMahieu, the Yankees have the flexibility to play Torres at short or at second with even better defensive replacements.

Wade and Holder will likely vie for the final spot on the bench for the Yankees this spring.  Wade, 24, has speed and is a solid glove man, and has had several seasons to impress off the bench, but lacks offensive firepower.  In 2018, Wade hit .167/.214/.273 with 1 home run and 5 RBIs in 70 plate appearances.

Holder is a defensive specialist whose offensive numbers in the minors have been improving.  Manager of the Trenton Thunder Jay Bell said that defensively holder is “as good as anyone we have in the organization.”

Holder is a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, whose lefty bat would be a welcome addition to the line up.  It is unlikely Holder would see any action with Yankees unless injuries strike.

Thairo Estrada, who was injured much of last season, beginning with a gunshot wound in the hip during the offseason, was added to the 40-man roster in November of ’17 and had progressed into a legitimate prospect at shortstop, according to George King in Baseball America, hitting .301/.353/.392 in 122 games at Double-A Trenton in 122 games in 2017.

Estrada, who played in only 18 games in 2018, picks up where he left off in 2017, hopefully healthy and progressing at the rate that had been predicted for him before the unfortunate injuries of last season.  Fans don’t expect to see Estrada with the big club in 2019.

Of course, all of this changes if, in the coming days, the Yankees sign Manny Machado, who, it has been rumored, has a 7-8 year $220million offer from the Yankees.  The addition of Machado would clarify any question marks for the Yankees at short stop.

New York Yankees Have Improved – More Moves Could Be On The Way

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

Two things happened in New York Yankees news this past week, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said “Fans should keep an open mind that I’m never done until I’m done, and that’s usually not until opening day,” and PECOTA released its 2019 projections for players and teams ranking the Yankees at the top of the American League East.

I’m not claiming there’s any connection between the two events, just noting that the Yankees are already slated to be very good and Steinbrenner suggests they may not be done.

Baseball Prospectus‘ PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) projections rank the AL East this way:

  • Yankees – 96-66
  • Red Sox 90-72
  • Rays 86-76
  • Blue Jays 76-86
  • Orioles 57-105

Projections are not predictions, but it’s fair to say based on these numbers that the Yankees and the Red Sox will be battling it out at the top of the division without much interference from the other three teams in the AL East, with the exception of the Rays, who may surprise again with a strong record.

Free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned with 5 days to go until pitchers and catchers report for spring training.  While the Yankees have had talks with both camps this offseason, as fans know, nothing but rumors have been the result.

On Monday at the Thurman Munson Awards Dinner, Yankees manager Aaron Boone, in fact, stated that the Yankees were a “complete team” now and ready to compete for a championship, thus appearing to put to rest any lingering hopes from fans that the Yankees were not finished building this offseason and might sign one of these two extraordinary talents.

Thus, the excitement when I read that PECOTA projects the Yankees to be tied for second (Dodgers 96-66 also) with the best record in baseball behind the Astros, projected to have a 99-63 record – and they are potentially still interested in adding pieces.

Scott Chiusano of the NY Daily News wrote:

Steinbrenner said that nothing should be ruled out when it comes to this free agent class, which still has two unsigned behemoths. That’s the company line that both GM Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone have been repeating, even though the Yankees have not shown any real signs of being players for either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.

The Yankees are very good on paper going into the season, but the arguments have definitely been made that the addition of Machado or Harper would significantly increase their chances of a championship in ’19.

We’re fast approaching spring training and fans are eager to see the team make a spectacular move which will propel them beyond the projections and into the record books.

 

 

 

New York Yankees Could Grab Manny Machado In Suprise Move

The New York Yankees have made about every move this offseason that doesn’t include superstar free agent Manny Machado, but there’s still hope that a potential deal could come to fruition.

Machado has waited patiently for the right offer this offseason, sitting idly by while teams toss out ludicrous deals that don’t represent the money a generational talent should theoretically make. Another attempt by MLB owners to stifle the spending on players and truly give them their fair share of the pie.

Nonetheless, Machado remains concerned that he won’t receive his asking price — ten-years, $300 million. This could be good news for a Yankees team in need of a true star in the infield, at least for one season.

What does this mean? It means the Yanks could yet again achieve the impossible, and it would be the puzzle piece that likely brings them ring No.28. If Machado was willing to take a one-year deal to improve his numbers even further and show how significant his impact on a team can be, this would be the way to do it. It would guarantee a playoff appearance and a legitimate chance to win a World Series and walk away with a nice chunk of cash.

Of course, it would imply that he stalls on a long-term contract, but the market seems to be dry in regard to his expectations.

How would the Yankees utilize Manny Machado?

Personally, I believe the ideal situation here would be to stick Machado at shortstop and keep Troy Tulowitzki as a rotational piece in the infield, more or less acting as a reserve option. Machado is a natural shortstop that would immediately make the position a strength for the Yankees, even more-so than Didi Gregorius offers. He’s an excellent batter and would promote one of the most lethal lineups in the MLB — .297/.367/.538 and a .905 OPS last season.

Now, can you find a way to justify this being a ‘bad’ move? A one-year deal to feature one of the best players in baseball on a potential World Series caliber team is a move even the ill-hearted would make.

New York Yankees Infield Is Crowded And That’s A Good Thing

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone has any number of configurations he can come up with from this roster, limited as it is by the injury to Gregorius. Fans cannot just assume that the positioning will be as it was last season, especially with the shortcomings of Andujar on defense at third base and those of Bird on offense across the diamond.

The infield personnel on the 40-man roster:

Miguel Andujar
Greg Bird
Thairo Estrada
Didi Gregorius
DJ LeMahieu
Gleyber Torres
Troy Tulowitzki
Luke Voit
Tyler Wade

The Yankees have not signed free-agent shortstop and third baseman Manny Machado, which would have gone a long way towards clarifying the infield now that Gregorius is not anchoring it with his veteran presence.

Rather, the Yankees signed Tulowitzki to shore up the infield in Gregorius’ absence. Tulowitzki is a risk at this juncture in his career. He’s been out the majority of two seasons with injuries and is at least four seasons away from his All-Star years with the Colorado Rockies.

What do the Yankees expect of Tulowitzki?

According to General Manager Brian Cashman, the Yankees are committed to Tulowitzki at shortstop.

Now whether there is some level of gamesmanship being played by Cashman in the Machado sweepstakes here is anybody’s guess, but it appears that the Yankees will start the season with Tulowitzki at shortstop.

One of the many configurations of the infield would then have Tulowitzki surrounded by Torres at second base, Voit at first base and Andujar at third base.  Fans can only hope that Andujar’s range has increased and that Tulowitzki’s has not diminished, as the left side of the infield was a defensive minefield last season.

On the other side of Tulowitzki, virtually two players in their second year of big league baseball.  Both Torres and Voit had outstanding years offensively, but defensively, both need work and experience.

In this scenario, DJ LeMahieu would be the utility man, coming off the bench when called on, perhaps even as a defensive replacement.

In another configuration of the infield, Torres would be at shortstop, anchoring the infield, with Andjuar at third base, DJ LeMahieu with his Gold Gloves at second base and Voit at first base.  Again, the left side of the infield is a bit of a question mark with two poor defenders there.

Throughout the course of the offseason, fans have heard suggestions that Andujar, because of his poor defense, should be moved to first base or left field and Both positions have their own unique challenges as we go into the ’19 season.  The outfield currently has five players for three spots and there is a battle brewing for first base between Bird and Voit.  Why would you put Andujar into either of these two mixes?

Voit, however, has Cashman’s endorsement and it’s up to Bird to fight to regain the first base job.

So what configuration will Opening Day feature for the Yankee infield?  With Machado and Harper and other free agents still available are the Yankees done acquiring personnel for the ’19 season?  The Yankee infield will wear many faces in ’19, as the team mixes and matches players to field the best defensive infield possible with whoever is most healthy and productive.

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees: from “championship caliber” to champions

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The 2018 season ended with a whimper not a bang as the New York Yankees found themselves eliminated from the playoff race by the Boston Red Sox in Major League Baseball’s American League Division Series.

Owner Hal Steinbrenner was disappointed and expressed his dissatisfaction with the ALDS result, telling the NYPost.com’s Joel Sherman that the loss “certainly pisses me off.”

In a number of interviews, notably with YES network’s Meredith Marokovitzs on December 5th, Steinbrenner said that the Yankees will “field a championship caliber team” and he believed that the 2018 team was a championship caliber team that didn’t live up to it’s potential.

Steinbrenner told NYPost.com’s Greg Joyce on October 13:

“Look, my family has always been willing to take money that comes off the payroll and put it back in,” Steinbrenner said Friday on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN 98.7 FM. “We’re going to do our best to field a championship-caliber team every single year. This coming year is going to be no different than last.”

True to his word, Steinbrenner and the Yankees stayed the course from 2018 by resigning veterans Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia and JA Happ, then made their only splash of the offseason early (November 19) by acquiring James Paxton in a trade with the Seattle Mariners.

The Yankees recently signed free agent Troy Tulowitzki, in a surprising, but not splashy move to bolster the infield in the absence of Didi Gregorius.

However, the offseason’s biggest free agent stars, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned and Yankee fans, many caught up in the media frenzy surrounding these superstars, are frustrated that a truly spectacular move has not been made to propel this team from “championship-caliber” to champions.

Hot stove season is in a deep freeze at the moment for Yankee fans who are clamoring for the team to step up and sign not only Machado and/or Harper, but also relief pitchers, such as Zach Britton and Adam Ottavino.

And it’s not just the Yankees fans that feel the frustration with the cold stove, fans across MLB feel the chill as well. Travis Sawchik of fivethirtyeight.com said that “Free agency has become more and more a battleground between teams and players,” especially as the trend set in 2017 of waiting out the market has extended into the 2018 offseason.

Even superstars are having to wait, Sawchik says:

“and teams seem to have learned, collectively, to wait out free agents. Thirty-five free agents signed guaranteed major league deals last year between Feb. 1 and opening day,2 compared with 18 in 2017, 13 in 2016, 10 in 2015 and 13 in 2014. The longer free agents wait, the fewer dollars they’re typically awarded.”

While perhaps a tectonic shift is taking place in MLB with respect to free agents, these are topics for the lawyers, Yankee fans have stars in their eyes and are restless to see them in pinstripes. I have even seen it suggested by fans, unrealistically, I might add, that there be a signing deadline, such as January 1 for all free agents.

Whatever the solution to the cold stove, Yankee fans are eager to see Steinbrenner and the Yankees field not only a “championship-caliber” team, but champions, such as Machado, Harper, Britton, and Ottavino, elite players at the top of their game now.

New York Yankees have interest in free agent infielder Josh Harrison

New York Yankees

Free Agent, Josh Harrison is entering his age 31 season and may quickly become a target for the New York Yankees should a deal with Manny Machado not materialize after the New Year.

On December 27, Jon Heyman reported that:

Harrison, who played all seven years of his major league career in the Pirates organization, is in high demand as a result of his energy and ability to play all over the field.

A year ago, Harrison’s name was floated around the Yankees as they were going into the ’18 season with two unproven rookies at second and third base in Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.  Harrison seemed a worthy bench player to back up the rookies.

At that time, Mike Axisa of Riveravenueblues.com said that:

“Harrison’s offensive game is built around being aggressive, putting the ball in play, and hoping for the best.”

Harrison is a scrappy player, who, Axisa says

“…has consistently ranked as an above-average baserunner thanks to his aggressiveness, and his ability to do things like go first-to-third on a single and advance on a wild pitch.”

2018 was a down year for Harrison, who was plagued by injuries and played in only 89 games, starting 84 at second base and filling in twice at third base.  He hit .250/.293/.363 with an 80 OPS+.

Once one of the igniters of the Pirates ball club, he was reduced to backing up second base when he was healthy in ’18.

While there are teams who may consider Harrison for a full-time second base position, he would probably be a bench player for the Yankees, filling in at second base and also at third.

It will be interesting to see how the Yankees resolve their infield problems with Didi Gregorius not an option for possibly a large portion of the season.  The Yankees have to try to bring a generational talent like Machado to the team in the hopes of winning a World Series.

However, the Yankees have had to check in on players such as Harrison in case they have to quickly pivot their interest should Machado go elsewhere.

New York Yankees Focus In On One Free-Agent Star And Lose Interest In Another

The New York Yankees have been heavily linked to free agent Manny Machado the past few weeks, as he would serve as an upgrade in the infield and add a stellar bat to the lineup.

How would the New York Yankees utilize Manny Machado?

Machado is supposedly favored over Bryce Harper, simply because Harper is a primary outfielder – a position of strength for the Yankees. The alternative would be able to fill in for Didi Gregorius while he heals from Tommy John surgery, and then could move to third-base for the future. Although, Didi will become a free agent in the winter of 2019, which poses a potential issue for the Bombers moving forward.

They could choose to keep Miguel Andujar at third-base and make Machado their everyday shortstop.

Reports over the weekend stated that the Los Angeles Dodgers are currently in the lead to sign the generational talent (Harper), while the Yankees are Machado’s first-choice among several teams seeking his signature — Phillies & White Sox.

Machado is looking for a 10-year deal worth about $300 million, a contract the Yankees aren’t willing to match. But, if they can come close, the pull the Yankees have over the two-time Gold Glove winner could be enough to convince him to come to New York.

I would anticipate an offer sheet of — 8-years $225 million with a nine-year team option worth $250 million. That’s a solid deal, despite the fact that they took on a Giancarlo Stanton contract worth a bit more — 12-years, $325 million.

The likelihood of Machado signing a deal worth under $250 million is slim, but you have to start somewhere. The Yankees don’t necessarily ‘need’ Machado, which is why they shouldn’t overpay. Use the draw and atmospheric appeal Yankee Stadium to your advantage.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman believes the White Sox and Phillies will offer more money than the Yanks, though he still places New York as a “slight favorite” to land the 26-year-old free agent.

“We’ve heard all along that Machado wants to be in New York,” Heyman said Friday on Fancred’s YouTube show. “In fact, I’ve heard from several people that he wanted to be in New York or Boston. Well, Boston’s not going to do it, obviously. … To me, I think the Yankees have a very good chance, and I think he’s one of those guys that may sign for a team that isn’t the highest bidder. That’s a rarity.”

A player that’s willing to surpass more money for a winning culture says a lot about their personality and dedication to the game. Despite his lack of effort and judgement at times, there’s no denying he’s as passionate as they come.

New York Yankees: Manny Machado To Decide On Team After New Years

The New York Yankees will learn the fate of star free agent Manny Machado after the New Year reports have indicated. Machado spent time visiting the Chicago White Sox, Phildelphia Phillies, and Yankees this week, in which each team had an opportunity to “wow” the prized infielder.

Can the New York Yankees utilize Manny Machado at short-stop?

While the fan-base is split on whether to land Machado or not, there’s no question that he would make the Yankees a more well-rounded team. His hitting is superb – .282 career batting average – and he’s a two-time Gold Glove winning third-baseman with the ability to play short-stop.

That’s where I’m most intrigued – his ability to fill-in for Didi Gregorius at short-stop. The benefit of having him is that they can test him out at a position other than third-base; if he succeed, Miguel Andujar can remain at third and lead the youth movement.

Andujar needs time to develop his defensive abilities, but his hitting was fantastic in 2018 — .300, 27 homers and .328 OBS. He committed 15 errors in the field which was the highest among the team.

Can Manny Machado be swayed for less money?

The final decision from the former Dodger will ultimately come down to the monetary value of the deals offered. If the Yankees can get in the ballpark of what he wants, he will likely sign with them, considering they seem to be the favorite at this point in time.

If the Phillies and White Sox blow him out of the water with a contract worth upward of $300 million, he might go that route. Philadelphia is in a better position to contend than the White Sox, so it really will come down to the Phillies and Yankees at the end of the day.

The New York Yankees Are Unlikely To Land Manny Machado If Money Is The Motive

The New York Yankees met with star free agent Manny Machado for all but 90 minutes in his tour to Yankee Stadium. The two-time Gold Glove winner spent four-hours and 19 minutes with the Philadelphia Phillies.

This is the graphic Philadelphia used for Manny — lackluster at best. To be quite honest, this makes me nauseous just looking at it.

What is it going to take for the New York Yankees to acquire Manny Machado:

For all those that believe the Yankees should sign Machado, you’re going to have to pray he cares more about where he plays then how much he’s being paid. The Yankees are reportedly going to be strict with the amount they offer, likely under $300 million for the prized player. The Phillies and Chicago White Sox might offer a better deal, but the bottom line is that he might chase the money and not the team.

Questions if the Yankees land Machado:

SNY | Chris Carelli — If the New York Yankees do reel in Manny Machado, current third-baseman Miguel Andujar becomes a more valuable trading piece. There’s no question that Manny would be the third-baseman of the future, due to his impressive defensive skills. Andujar recorded 15 fielding errors in 2018, which puts his future in doubt. Personally, I believe the Bombers will do everything they can to retain him for the long-term, but if a team with a surplus of starting pitchers comes calling, they simply can’t turn their backs.

Machado is expecting a deal in the 10-year, $300 million range, and if he wants to join his boy-hood club, he’s going to lower his asking price. While that’s not ideal for him, it’s the price he must pay if he wants to wear the Pinstripes for the remainder of his career. With Giancarlo Stanton and his $325 million deal already on the payroll, adding a player like Machado might force the Yankees to make some interesting choices in the future.

At this stage in the negotiating, the deal could go either way. This will be a true test of Machado’s priorities.