About the Off-Day: Meanderings of My Mind
About the Off-Day: Meanderings of My Mind
By Tim Kabel
September 5, 2023
The Yankees had an off-day yesterday, after a very successful road trip during which they went 7-3. This included a three-game sweep of the Astros. If I had predicted two weeks ago that the Yankees would sweep the Astros in Houston, no one would have believed me. Yet, that's what happened. As that great philosopher John Sterling says, "That's baseball, Suzyn." You never know what's going to happen. That's what makes the sport so great.
Because the Yankees were off yesterday, this is again the perfect time to discuss multiple topics.
Austin Wells came up to the Majors with questions about his catching ability but, the three pitchers with whom he worked this weekend all gave him rave reviews. Sunday night, he threw a runner out, which was considered to be his weakness. Apparently, he has worked very hard on his defense. It will be interesting to see if he catches Gerrit Cole tonight. I truly hope he does.
Jasson Dominguez is the most lovable Martian since Marvin. They are just about the same height too.
Who would you rather have as your team’s shortstop of the future now, Anthony Volpe or Wander Franco?
Gleyber Torres will not turn 27 until December. He already has over 120 home runs in his career. This season, he is batting 272, which is the second highest batting average in his career. He also has 24 home runs, which he has done twice before. His career-high was 38, which he did in 2019. He is still a young player with a lot of potential. The only things you could quibble about this season are his defensive inconsistencies, occasional base running blunders, and he has fewer RBI than you would like. However, driving in runs is like going fishing. If there are no fish in the river, you won't catch any. If there are no runners on base, you won't get an RBI. The Yankees may be wise to sign Torres to an extension because he is relatively young and could provide stability at second base to go along with youngsters Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza in the infield.
The Yankees were off today. I remember when they not only played every year on Labor Day, but they also played a doubleheader. Those days are gone.
Aaron Boone says that he welcomes the idea of Hal Steinbrenner taking a "deep dive" into examining what went wrong this season. That's like a mouse welcoming a cat into the barn to control grain loss. Be careful what you wish for.
Most scouts believe that Austin Wells will be a solid major league hitter. He is a left-handed hitter with power. The Yankees used to corner of the market on left-handed hitters with power. They have gotten away from that. The bar for performance by a Yankees' catcher has not been set that high lately. It is quite likely that Wells will do enough this month to secure a spot on the Major League roster next year. Would it be shocking to see him catching the bulk of the games with Jose Trevino filling a backup role? All Wells has to do is play better than Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt. Higashioka will be 34 years old next year. Rortvedt has not been spectacular and could sit in Scranton until he is needed at the Major League level or traded.
Trading Giancarlo Stanton should be the primary focus for the Yankees this offseason. If they can do that, they can sign Cody Bellinger as a free agent. The Yankees could then rotate Bellinger, Judge, Dominguez, and Pereira through the outfield, using one of them as a DH most of the time.
DJ LeMahieu resurrected his career somewhat in the second half of this season. Now might be the time for the Yankees to trade him. Unfortunately, he is under contract for three more years. If he is on this team next year, it should only be as a backup, rotating among first base, second base, and third base. The Yankees have internal options to fill that role, including Oswaldo Cabrera. It would be better to unload LeMahieu now, before he becomes Josh Donaldson.
There could be another benefit of signing Cody Bellinger in the offseason. If Anthony Rizzo does not fully recover from his concussion, Bellinger could play first base.
As bleak as things seemed throughout much of this season, if the Yankees can begin the process of developing a solid young core for the future, they could consider the year a modest success and surprise a lot of teams next year.
Many people have lamented the fact that the Yankees don't have a lot of left-handed power, or even left-handed hitting anymore. If they do sign Cody Bellinger, they could have a lineup that includes Bellinger, Rizzo, Wells, and Dominguez, who is a switch hitter. That would be reminiscent of the Yankee teams of the past.
It's way too early to tell anything about most of the Yankees' young players. However, it is a lot better to have them than to not have them. Imagine if the Yankees did not have Jasson Dominguez, Everson Pereira, Austin Wells, Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe, and Oswaldo Cabrera. Imagine if they didn't have Clarke Schmidt and Michael King. All these players might not pan out but, it's reasonable to believe that at least some of them will.
If the Yankees do wade into free agency this winter, Blake Snell would be another excellent choice. They could target him and Cody Bellinger. Julio Urias was arrested on felony domestic violence charges yesterday. There was a cloud hovering over him anyway but now he will probably be suspended. The Yankees should avoid him like the plague.
Watching all the youngsters play for the Yankees now is sure a lot more exciting than watching Josh Donaldson flail helplessly at pitches outside the strike zone and Aaron Hicks pouting in the outfield as the ball rolls past him.
I have been watching baseball for 50 years. I feel pretty confident when I state that Jasson Dominguez looks like he could be a star player. He has power, speed and seems to have baseball instincts. He does not appear to be fazed by playing at the Major League level at the age of 20. He seems to be confident and relaxed. At the same time, he does not appear to be cocky or arrogant. Michael King stated after Sunday's game that Dominguez comes across as very humble. If he can maintain that and continue to develop his physical skills, the Yankees could really have something.
It's a good thing John Sterling was not on the road trip. During Friday night's game against Houston, a foul ball flew into the broadcast booth. Apparently, there's a contract out on John.
If the Yankees keep Gleyber Torres, sign Cody Bellinger, and Anthony Rizzo comes back, they will have a very nice blend of youth and veterans. Clearly, this will be Aaron Judge's team but if you combine Judge, Rizzo, Torres, and Bellinger with the mix of youngsters, you could have a very competitive team next year and beyond.
If the Yankees finish strong this season and wind up being above .500, it could very well save Brian Cashman's job. I don't believe that it will save Aaron Boone's job. I have long stated that Boone needs to go. Even if the team makes a nice run now, i don't think he should be back. Don Mattingly would be an excellent choice to guide a team with a lot of youngsters. Shelley Duncan could be his bench coach. Perhaps Willie Randolph, who really took Volpe under his wing in spring training, could be one of the base coaches.
The Yankees have 25 games left this season. They can learn a lot about their young players and their team in general during that time. They can also play exciting baseball and build a foundation they can take into 2024. I am really looking forward to the next four weeks.