by Tim Kabel
November 5, 2022
Today, I will start behind the plate and work my way around the infield. The Yankees had two very good defensive catchers, neither of whom were huge offensive threats. Jose Trevino got off to a very fast start and made the All-Star team but seemed to wilt down the stretch. That could be due to his increased playing time and extra wear and tear. The Yankee's pitchers liked throwing to him and he is an excellent framer of pitches, which is held in very high regard, particularly in this organization. I'm not going to go deep into statistics on any of these players. Trevino batted .245 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI. I see no reason not to bring him back next year. He will be 30 at the end of this month. So, age is not really a factor.
Verdict: Trevino- Welcome Back.
Kyle Higashioka was a streakier version of Trevino. He was hitting home runs in spring training like there was no tomorrow but once the season started, he couldn't hit one at all. He also wound up the season with 10 homers. His batting average was lower at. 226 and he had 12 fewer RBI. Higashioka will be 33 years old at the beginning of next season. I think it's time to make a change. Ben Rortvedt was brought in to share the catching duties with Higashioka. Due to a series of injuries, he never had that chance. Perhaps next year he can fill that role, except with Trevino instead of Higashioka. Rortvedt just turned 25.
Verdict- Higashioka- Vamoose. Rortdvedt- Welcome Back
First Base- Anthony Rizzo is expected to exercise the option on his contract and become a free agent. The question becomes do the Yankees re-sign him. It is a complicated question because age and injuries are factors. However, he fits this team perfectly as a player and as a leader, and he has a tremendous left-handed bat. The other issue is, if he leaves, who plays first base? DJ LeMahieu does not have that kind of power and is an injury risk himself. In addition, who would provide that left-handed power? Assuming the Yankees retain Aaron Judge, they will need Rizzo or someone a lot like him to bat behind Judge. I would sign Rizzo to a 2-year deal similar to the one the team gave him last year. At the very most, I would give him an incentive-laden second year with an option for a third year based on games played and durability.
Verdict- Rizzo- Welcome Back
Second base- Gleyber Torres had a much better season last year than he did in his two previous years. However, last season was essentially a microcosm of his Yankees' career. He was a borderline All-Star during the first half and then faded into oblivion in the second half. He regained his stroke at the end of the season but, didn't do a whole lot in the playoffs, although very few people did. There were rumors that the Yankees tried to trade him for pitching at the trade deadline. They should revisit that idea. I think he has reached his peak, at least with the Yankees. He's still young as he will only turn 26 in December. I think it's time to move on from him. He is the most glaring example of unfulfilled potential of a young player in the Boone era. I would trade him for a starting pitcher or some solid bullpen arms.
Verdict- Torres- Vamoose
As far as who plays second base, I think it's time the Yankees actually embraced their young talent. Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner need to sit down with Boone and tell him very clearly that he has to develop the young players. Ask yourself this, who is more important to the long-term future of the Yankees, Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza, and Anthony Volpe, or Aaron Boone? Clearly, it's the kids. Unfortunately, their development is in the hands of Boone. Something needs to change. I would give Anthony Volpe a chance to make the opening day roster in spring training. Most scouts seem to think that he is better suited to being a second baseman than a shortstop long-term. I would start that experiment in spring training. Both teams in this year's World Series embraced their young players. Yes, they have veteran talent but look at Jeremy Pena and Bryson Stott. The Yankees avoided signing free agents because of their young talent. They need to let them play. They need to move on from Gleyber Torres and open the doors for Anthony Volpe.
Verdict- Anthony Volpe- Welcome Aboard
Shortstop- Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Aaron Boone stated yesterday at the press conference that Isiah Kiner-Falefa could be the Yankees starting shortstop next season. I could be elected Governor of Connecticut. That's not going to happen either. Boone said that because he's not extremely creative and there isn't much else to say. At this point, Kiner-Falefa is on the roster and has not been pushed into a backup role. Although Boone spoke glowingly of Kiner-Falefa as a hitter and a fielder throughout the season, he was not very good in either role. In the playoffs, Boone finally lost confidence in him and began using a revolving door at shortstop. That needs to stop. Just as I advocated giving Anthony Volpe the keys to second base, I would do the same at shortstop with Oswald Peraza. In his brief opportunities at the end of the season, he did not disappoint. Now, if it somehow turns out that he's better at second and Volpe is better at shortstop, it wouldn't matter if they switched but, the experts all seem to think Volpe would be better at second, and Peraza at shortstop. Since Kiner-Falefa will not be the starting shortstop, he can fill in as a backup at shortstop, third base, and presumably second base. If he is unwilling to accept that role, he should be traded.
Verdict- Kiner- Falefa- Vamoose as a starter. Welcome Back as a Utility Man.
Verdict- Oswald Peraza- Welcome Aboard
Third base. Unlike in the Abbott and Costello routine, the answer is not I don't know. The answer is also not Josh Donaldson. Donaldson didn't fade last season, he collapsed. He appears to be finished. The Yankees need to do whatever they have to do to trade him. I know people will say it's impossible, but nothing is impossible. They may have to eat a great deal of his contract, or they may need to package him with a prospect or two, but he needs to go. Yes, he was very good defensively but, he was awful offensively and essentially became a wind machine in the playoffs. He always seemed surprised when he struck out. He's also a very difficult and prickly personality who would not function well as a bench player, I believe. I do not think he would be warm and embracing to the young players. There is no way that he can be on this team next year.
Verdict- Donaldson- Vamoose
So, if Donaldson is not going to play third base, who will? I think it could very well be Oswaldo Cabrera. Yes, he proved to be a solid outfielder but, if the Yankees go in a different direction in left field, he could return to the infield. He played a very solid third base on the rare occasions he played there. He has a lot of energy, enthusiasm and a quick bat. The Yankees would then have a very young infield with the exception of Anthony Rizzo, who would anchor them. They would have athleticism, speed, energy, and some spark.
Verdict- Oswsaldo Cabrera- Welcome Aboard
DJ LeMahieu is still under contract for four more years with the Yankees and will be 35 years old next season. He has had a hard time staying healthy, especially in the last two seasons. If the Yankees can trade him, I think they should. However, it might be asking a lot to trade both Donaldson and LeMahieu. If LeMahieu is here next year, he can fulfill the rotating role the Yankees had planned for him originally, playing second base, first base, and third base. I think that relying on him as a starter at his age, and with his injury history, is not the way to go. Again, if they can trade him, they should.
Verdict- LeMahieu- A Lukewarm Welcome back
Marwin Gonzalez has no role on this team next year. He really didn't have a role this year. Verdict-Vamoose
The Yankees have been talking about getting younger and more athletic for years. It's about time they did it. The infield is the best place to start with the talent they have. The tough part is going to be getting Boone to embrace the youth movement. If he doesn't, that may finally be enough for the Yankees to move on from him as the manager.