New York Yankees: Aaron Boone suggests Miguel Andujar may be pressing

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

The New York Yankees had to option third baseman / left fielder Miguel Andujar to their alternate training site before Thursday’s loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. They are about to enter a rough stretch of too many games in just a few days, so they opted to option the 2018 Rookie of the Year runner up, right-hander Nick Nelson (who had been burned on Wednesday with a long outing) and Thairo Estrada. They called up Nick Tropeano to help on the mound.

But in reality, Andujar’s demotion wasn’t so surprising if you consider that he was 1-for-14 with only one walk in the season, failing to get in a groove at the plate while playing sparingly in third base and left field.

The decision, as New York Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone told NJ.com, was “very tough. Unfortunately, I’ve had to have a few of those conversations with really good players that are big-league players … that are good big-league players. It’s a little bit the result of having a deep and talented roster. But that doesn’t make it any less easy when you’re telling a major leaguer that you have to option them.”

The Yankees depth forced their hand

The Yankees had Gio Urshela at third and Tyler Wade to back him up. At the same time, the outfield is also covered, with Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, Aaron Hicks and Wade all capable of manning left field. Simply put, if Andujar wasn’t producing at the plate, his odds of being on the roster were slim given that it was shrunk from 30 to 28 players.

“We just felt like we needed coverage from a pitching standpoint,” Boone said.

Boone suggested that Andujar was pressing a little bit, knowing he had to produce in the precious few opportunities he received.

“I think with Miggy, it’s just a difficult role for him to be in,” Boone said. “I think he’s handled it great. His work has not changed. His attitude has not changed. But being in that role, I do feel like when he does get his opportunities, there’s that you want that result so bad that you probably press and get after it almost a little too much.”

In 2018, Andujar batted .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBI in 149 games as the Yankees’ starting third baseman.

New York Yankees option Andujar, Nelson and Estrada to their alternate training site

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

The New York Yankees had until 12 p.m. ET to trim their roster from 30 players to 28, to comply with MLB rules. To do that, they decided, somewhat surprisingly, to option infielder-outfielder Miguel Andujar to their alternate training site.

The Yankees also optioned right-handed pitcher Nick Nelson and infielder Thairo Estrada. Andujar, one of the most talented young Bombers in the squad, has failed to impress at any defensive position. Gio Urshela took third base away from him and he hasn’t looked entirely comfortable in the outfield either.

He is in the New York Yankees’ plans because of his bat, but he has really struggled this year, going 1-for-14 with no walks and three strikeouts. Either way, he figures to return eventually to the active roster.

All three should eventually be back with the Yankees

Nelson had a fine MLB debut on August 1 against the Boston Red Sox, twirling three scoreless innings with no hits allowed, a couple of bases on balls and four strikeouts. However, he was hammered in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies, to the tune of seven runs allowed (six earned) in 1.2 frames.

It’s fair to say that his defense didn’t do Nelson any favors, but he looked like an entirely different pitcher from his debut. He will go to the alterntate training site with an inflated 11.57 ERA and a 2.14 WHIP in 4.2 innings, with four punchouts.

Estrada actually made the New York Yankees’ roster out of summer camp, but because of the team depth, he has only two plate appearances and a perfect 1.000 average. As it will probably happen with Andujar and Nelson, the talented, glove-first infielder figures to be back eventually to help the team.

The Yankees split yesterday’s doubleheader with the Phillies and will take on Philadelphia again on Thursday. They are currently leading the AL East.

WATCH: Yankees’ Miguel Andujar suffers bad error, allowing Boston to take the lead

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

The New York Yankees entered the third inning with the lead of 3-2, but it didn’t last long after James Paxton gave up a series of hits. Aaron Judge secured the lead with a three-run home run at the top of the inning, extending his streak to homering in five consecutive games.

However, left fielder Miguel Andujar suffered a bad error, which allowed the Red Sox to retake the lead. On a routine ball bouncing after a single to left field, Andujar miss-played it and the ball ricocheted off his shin and toward the wall. This allowed Rafael Devers to score from first base and the Yankees lost the lead because of it.

This was Andujar’s second error since intrasquad play, as he has taken to the position well aside from this mistake. However, it could force manager Aaron Boone to consider Clint Frazier or Mike Tauchman in a more consistent role. That mistake could have limited the Red Sox’s offensive spark in the third inning, but it allowed them to retake the lead and now the Yankees will have to fight back.

If that’s the reason the Yankees lose the game, it will have been a significant blunder, which must be taken seriously.

New York Yankees: Brett Gardner hits big home run to kickstart season

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

After an atrocious first week of the season, Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner hit a home run on Friday to get headed on the right track. Entering his final at-bat of the night, he was 0-for-12 but smashed a two-run homer to right for his first hit of the year.

His home run helped the Yankees seal a series opening win against the Boston Red Sox.

With the circumstances of the season and his declining ability, we may not see Brett Gardner as much down the road. Instead, we may see guys like Miguel Andujar or Clint Frazier in left field. Andujar is 1-for-5 in two games while Frazier is currently at the alternate training site.

Gardner has an expiring contract after 2020, but could stay through 2021 on a club option. If he continues to struggle, it’s likely that the Yankees either don’t bring him back or renew a cheaper contract.

If he isn’t back in pinstripes in 2021, Frazier, Andujar, or a free agent could replace him to start in left. Another option would be to start Giancarlo Stanton in left, but his offense production is usually better the less he plays the field.

Guys like Marcell Ozuna, Michael Brantley, and Joc Pederson are all guys who play left field and become free agents following the season. All three guys are solid options, but the team could go in-house to save money.

If either Gardner or Andujar have a big 2020 season, then things could take care of themselves. The home run that Gardner hit on Friday was a big one, and hopefully the team sees more production from him down the road.

New York Yankees: Is Brett Gardner being phased out of left field?

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

There is no room for cold streaks during a 60-game campaign, and the New York Yankees understand that concept. They’ve been rotating players in and out of the lineup to see who clicks fast and can contribute offensively. The Yankees nearly lost a game against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday evening. Slugger Aaron Judge came to the rescue and hit a three-run home run to take the lead in the top of the ninth inning.

The other big storyline on the night was Gleyber Torres’ elbow injury. He was plunked on the right inside elbow and subsequently left the game a few innings later. Luckily, x-rays returned negative, and he should be prepared to play on Friday or Saturday, given how intense the contusion is.

However, the Yankees made another change in left field, taking usual starter Brett Gardner out of the lineup. Prior to Thursday’s game, Gardner has started four games, earning 12 plate appearances and just one walk to show for his attempts. Brett has struck out in seven of his 11 at-bats and currently hosts a .000 batting average.

Will the New York Yankees begin to phase out Gardiner in left field?

As we have seen the past few weeks, the Yankees are determined to develop Miguel Andujar into a starting outfielder. So far in left, he has played two games, looking a bit uncomfortable at times. Fortunately, he held down the spot and did his job well. Over five at-bats, he has one hit and just one strikeout. The sample size is extremely small, but at least he has a hit to show for himself. Mike Tauchman, the alternative left fielder available, has three strikeouts on five at-bats and zero hits.

Tauchman is probably the best defensive outfielder aside from the starters, which gives the Yankees a solid depth piece to utilize if need be. Against the Orioles on Thursday, both Andujar and Tauchman split reps in left field. They both enjoyed two at-bats, with Andujar recording the only hit between the two.

“We really loved what we saw from him in left field,” Boone said of Miguel Andujar. “He seemed to kind of take to it right away. I feel like he’s absolutely returned physically to the player we saw in his rookie year. To his credit, he has worked really hard defensively, not only at third, but in the outfield to try and create more opportunities for him.”

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention Clint Frazier. The speedy bat has been sitting at the alternative training site, while the Yankees continue forward through the season. Frazier showed an incredible burst of maturity and looked the part of a starter during summer camp.

Manager Aaron Boone had to make a difficult decision and sit him despite the positives he put forth:

“Clint’s ready to be an impact player in this league. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Boone said. “Unfortunately for him, he’s blocked right now with a lot of good outfielders. … It’s hard when you’re sending down a big league player that you know is ready to produce, but it’s kind of the situation we’re in right now.”

“I’m really proud of who he is right now and where he’s at,” Boone said. “It doesn’t make it any less difficult in every facet, because you’re sending down a player that you know is ready to be an impact player in the big leagues. That’s a hard thing to do. I feel like the work he’s put in and the strides he’s made in every aspect of his game are real.”

While I believe Frazier will earn his opportunity sooner rather than later, he will just have to wait until the timing is right. Boone mentioned that the situational aspect of their schedule promoted the usage of Tauchman and Andujar more-so than Frazier.

Giving him some consistent at some consistent at-bats might change the narrative in left field.

New York Yankees: Brett Gardner’s struggles could activate one offensive weapon

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

Cold streaks are unacceptable in a 60-game season that holds so much value with each contest. The New York Yankees will have to make logical moves to improve their roster, especially on offense, as they scored just two runs against a lackluster Washington Nationals pitcher on Saturday evening.

However, some players have already got off to a poor start, and while two games is a very small sample size to judge, we must consider everything in a different way this season. On Opening Day, the Yankees won 4-1 on a rainout over six innings, but left-fielder Brett Gardner struck out all three times.

His offense has been extremely disheartening, and that didn’t change in game two on Saturday, as he failed to gain a hit over six consecutive at-bats. While he did earn one walk, the Yankees moved him down to the ninth spot in the order, but he might be left out altogether if he continues to struggle.

The New York Yankees have options

The Yankees have tons of options in the outfield, including Mike Tauchman, Clint Frazier, and Miguel Andujar. Most have been calling on Tauchman’s name, who had a stellar season with the Yankees in 2019. He posted a .277 batting average with 13 homers and 47 RBIs. His .361 on-base percentage was solid, and his defense is also consistent, posting a .994 fielding percentage with just one error over 86 games in the outfield.

But the best offensive weapon the Yankees have to utilize his Andujar, who is still working on his transition to left field. Miguel struggled at times in the outfield during summer camp, but he has grasped the position well and is committed to earning his stripes. However, utilizing his offense could be a necessity for the Yankees if Gardner continues to struggle.

Andujar is an exceptional talent, having posted a .297 batting average was 27 homers and 92 RBIs in 2018. While he might be the outlier of the group based on his defense alone, the Bombers need a spark where Brett Gardner is currently hitting, and while I imagine they won’t be quick to replace him, they have to begin considering their options.

New York Yankees’ secret weapon would be a starter on any other team

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

“I enjoyed playing first base today,” New York Yankees‘ Miguel Andujar said after the team’s final exhibition game against the Phillies on Monday evening.

The young offensive specialist is trying to find a place defensively on the Yankees. With the outfield littered with talent and third-base locked down by Gio Urshela, things have been difficult.

However, Andujar isn’t phased by the ample amount of talent featured on the team. He is confident he can find a place in the outfield moving forward.

“I feel really, really good, honestly. I think the progress I’ve made, all the practice, all the work out there has carried over into games,” Andujar told reporters via Zoom. “It’s a positive for me and a positive for the team that I feel good about that.”

Switching from third base to left field/first base was never going to be an easy transition for Miguel. The reality is, he was forced to make the move after his struggles at the hot corner became too problematic.

“It’s a challenge to learn a new position, especially at this level playing at the big leagues,” he said. “To have to learn a new position is not easy. At the same time, I understand that through practice and repetition… it’s very encouraging.”

Luckily, players like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, and more are all available to give Andujar tips and tricks of the trade.

“I have plenty of guys around me that I can pick up tips and learn from,” he said. “There are plenty of good outfielders here that I can learn from.”

The New York Yankees’ secret weapon

Andujar is undoubtedly the Yankees’ secret weapon, as YES Network announcer David Cone stated on Monday evening in the final exhibition game of summer camp. The value he brings is immense, especially when standing in the batter’s box. In 2018, his rookie campaign, he enjoyed 573 at-bats. He posted a .297 batting average with 27 homers, 92 RBIs, and 47 doubles. He ranked second and Rookie of the Year voting.

The Yankees know what they have in the young star, and he would be starting on any other team. Trading him away would be malpractice at this point with injury such a prevalent issue in recent years. Developing him in the outfield and giving him consistent reps is essential, but in a condensed 60-game season, Andujar could feature more in the DH spot.

A look into how Yankees’ Miguel Andujar feels about transitioning to the outfield

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

New York Yankees’ Miguel Andujar has been adjusting to the outfield ever since Spring Training. It’s not an easy position to learn, especially at this level, but Andujar seems to be handling the switch very well. He’s had his struggles in the intrasquad games but keeps getting more and more work out there.

Andujar had a lot of good things to say about the process of learning the outfield. In a press conference with reporters yesterday, Andujar talked a lot about how he feels out there. “It’s a challenge to learn a new position, especially at this level,” Andujar said. “The way I see it, it’s another opportunity for me to play this game and help my team.” He doesn’t seem too uncomfortable, either saying that “it’s fun playing out there,” and “I feel really really good.” For Andujar, it’s a chance to still have a huge role in the Yankees’ success.

How could this affect the Yankees’ long term?

If Andujar can make the switch to the outfield, this will change the way the Yankees handle things. Andujar will most likely serve as the DH for most of the season, but that little change in the outfield might switch up a lot.

He obviously won’t be out there as a permanent starter, but he will certainly provide more depth for New York. In the long run, this might affect Clint Frazier’s chances of becoming an everyday player. If Andujar can manage to make the switch, he will provide tremendous depth for the Yankees at multiple positions, which might cause the Yankees to take one less outfielder. Andujar is excellent at the plate as well. This switch will make his value skyrocket. 

However, the Yankees haven’t just been talking about Andujar in the outfield. There have been reports that New York thinks he can handle things at first. If Andujar can somehow become a three-position player for the Yankees, things might get even crazier. With Voit and LeMahieu already experienced at the position, there might not be a need for Ford. That might be a little far, but who knows. Andujar might shake things up that much. Look to see Andujar trying a lot of new things this season. 

 

Why Yankees’ Clint Frazier could secure a starting job to start the 2020 season

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

Yankees’ Clint Frazier is a major league talent that has been stuck behind New York’s outfield depth for years. He played in 39 games last year due to the plethora of injuries that the Yankees had to deal with.

However, he didn’t play well in right field causing the Yankees’ trust in him to drop. He has been working hard to improve his fielding and has seemed to impress manager Aaron Boone.

Is this the year that we finally see Frazier’s name in the Opening Day lineup?

Clint Frazier was a part of the Andrew Miller trade in 2016 and has been stuck in the Yankees’ minor-league system ever since.

He made his debut on July 1st, 2017 and has played a decent amount of games for the Yankees. However, he has yet to secure his spot on the roster. Frazier is a Major League Baseball player. He’s just on the wrong team. A lot of Yankee fans think he would serve as a good trade piece but the organization hasn’t shown anything that would make us believe they plan to do so.

So, what’s their plan?

It’s hard to tell what the Yankees’ intentions are for Frazier. Especially now that they are trying to move Miguel Andujar to the outfield. The Yankees have HUGE depth in the outfield and it’s really hard to pick a time and a place where Frazier can become a permanent starter.

Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and Hicks will replace Gardner once he retires. So where does Frazier fit?

Over the past two years, we’ve seen Judge and Stanton on and off the field with different injuries. That is why Frazier has been playing in so many games recently. But with Stanton, Judge, and Hicks expected to start things in the outfield, we might see Frazier in that DH spot. Or, with Aaron Judge missing his second straight intrasquad game, it could be possible that we see Frazier start things out for the Yankees on July 23rd. The Yankees are expected to use Stanton as a DH to start the season so it could be that New York plans to use Frazier out there instead of Gardner.

This year has been crazy already, who knows what we might see next. Right now, I don’t see Frazier in the lineup against the Nationals on Opening Day. If a spot opens however, I have no doubt that Frazier will be able to hold his own. He has the ability to start for most ball clubs and the Yankees know that. I think New York has something up their sleeve for Red Thunder this year. Look out to see how the Yankees plan to incorporate Frazier this season.

WATCH: Yankees’ Miguel Andujar drops easy fly ball during right field test

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

The New York Yankees hosted another intrasquad exhibition game on Thursday night, playing a majority reserve players to iron out the backend of the active roster.

With the roster expanding four spots to 30 players, options like Miguel Andujar, Tyler Wade, Mike Ford, Clint Frazier, and Mike Tauchman are all battling for an opportunity.

However, some had a better day than others. Andujar, who hit a home run off Gerrit Cole several days ago in the second exhibition game, dropped an easy flyball in right field Thursday night.

Andujar has been at the top of manager Aaron Boone’s list for getting defensive reps. The former runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 2018 tore his labrum last season, limiting him to just 12 games. During that time, he lost his starting position at third base to Gio Urshela, who was previously a carrier depth player.

Andujar dropping the ball in right field is a significant blow yet a minor mistake. He served better in left but the sun was directly in his eyes to make the catch more problematic.

I don’t imagine this will convince Boone to give him any fewer reps, but it certainly wasn’t the step forward he anticipated taking.

The young talent still has plenty of time to rectify his mistake, but he must improve in the outfield if he wishes to see any defensive reps during a shortened season. Boone will not be motivated to start questionable defensive players when every game is that much more valuable.