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  • Tim Kabel

Making Adjustments

About the Off-Season: Making Adjustments

By Tim Kabel

January 23, 2023

***

There has been a lot said and written about the possibility of a youth movement with the Yankees for the 2023 season. There has been a great deal of speculation and anticipation regarding Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza, and Anthony Volpe. Many fans and pundits feel that these three players will be upgrades over the incumbents at shortstop, second base, and in the case of Cabrera, either third base or leftfield. There is something else to consider.

In 2023, there will be major rule changes in Major League Baseball. First, the shift will be eliminated. That means there will be a greater emphasis on defense and, in particular, range for the infielders. Neither Isiah Kiner-Falefa nor Gleyber Torres have tremendous range. Playing Oswald Peraza at shortstop and Anthony Volpe at second base would address this concern and most likely improve the Yankees' defense appreciably. Josh Donaldson is a very good fielder at third base but, he will be 37 years old, and we saw how his offense deteriorated last season. Could his defense slip this year?


The next major rule change will be larger bases and more importantly, the limitation on disengagements by pitchers. Although this sounds like some type of military terminology, it simply means that beginning in 2023, pitchers are allowed two disengagements per batter. In other words, they can have a total of two pickoff attempts or step-offs. Let's explore that a bit.


If one of the Yankees gets on first base, and the pitcher throws over once, the pitcher is down to one step-off or pickoff attempt. It's unlikely that he would waste that on a step off. Therefore, the second one would almost have to be a pickoff attempt. What does that mean? It means the runner can be much more aggressive in taking a lead. If the pitcher makes a second unsuccessful pickoff throw, the runner essentially has a free base. The runner can take a tremendous lead because if the pitcher throws over, it's a balk and the runner (and any others on base) gets to advance one base. If the pitcher does not throw over, the runner can attempt to steal second base. Since he would have a huge lead, it would be much less likely that the catcher would be able to throw him out


This rule change meshes perfectly with the Yankees prospective youth movement. Anthony Volpe stole 50 bases last year. Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera can both steal bases. If Estevan Florial is in the lineup, he can do so as well. He might not be a regular but, he could certainly be a pinch runner late in the game. Let's say Giancarlo Stanton drills a single up the middle in a tied game in the 9th inning. Estevan Florial could come in as a pinch runner. Following the scenario depicted above, he could steal second base fairly easily. Once he was on second base, he could get a tremendous lead there, and could possibly steal third or score more easily on a single.


The Yankees have the personnel to take advantage of these rule changes. They clearly need to make adjustments to do so. Many of us have been saying for quite some time that the Yankees need to move on from Donaldson, Kiner-Falefa, and Torres. The rule changes are yet another reason to support this.


Kiner-Falefa is relatively quick but it's clear Peraza would be an upgrade. Volpe would be a major improvement over Torres at second base in both defense and on the base paths. Torres had a relatively solid last year last season but, has been streaky and inconsistent in his career and was last season, when he went into a major funk. If Volpe is at the bottom of the lineup for example, he could get on base and move himself into scoring position for Judge or whoever else came to the plate. Donaldson slipped dramatically last year offensively. In addition, he clogs the base paths. Removing him from the team would make way for a younger, more athletic, and faster player.


Going with the youth movement would not only make the Yankees more explosive offensively, but it would also allow them to take advantage of the new rules. Particularly, an increase in stolen bases would theoretically lead to more runs being scored. With their improved pitching staff, that could lead to more victories. Defenders with greater range and quickness would also make up for the lack of a shift, putting the Yankees in a better position to reduce the number of runs scored by their opponents.


The idea of the Yankees playing their younger players was always a good one but when you add in the new rules, it's really the only thing that makes sense. They need to adjust to the new rules and thankfully, they have the players in the organization to do it.

18 Comments


fuster
Jan 23, 2023

sorry if I was unclear.


never meant to imply that Jeter wasn't a clean player


what I WAS saying is that a subpar defender was a reasonable choice when baseball was being overrun with enhanced offense.


look to the shortstop playing 3B for the Yankees ...


the Yankees made choices that prioritized offense over D at traditionally D-first positions.

it wasn't merely Jeter, it was also Posada.


and, also, no, I wasn't saying that Jeter was only a reasonably good player.

he was an extremely good hitter and valuable player, just not a good defender at short.


~~~~


and HECK NO, IKF did nothing to retard Peraza's development. the suggestion that he did or that Boone was holding Peraza back…

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yankeesblog
Jan 23, 2023
Replying to

"and HECK NO, IKF did nothing to retard Peraza's development. the suggestion that he did or that Boone was holding Peraza back in favor of IKF is NOT reasonable"


It's not only reasonable but a fact that has been observed and commented on not only on this site but in pieces by reporters on the Yankees' beat. It was plainly obvious that Boone was looking for and making excuses to keep IKF in the lineup after Peraza was called up.


Jeter was not a great defensive SS but he rarely made errors on the routine plays and on occasion made inspired, intuitive plays (like the Flip, the relay throw on Timo Perez in the Subway Series) in he highest leverage…


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cpogo0502
Jan 23, 2023

Incredible article, Tim. You lay out very crucial points that most of us had not pondered. I include my self in that. The point you made about the need for speed, the end of the shift, and the limitations on pitchers having two "moves" per batter is going to change the game dramatically. Right now we have three infielders with limited range on defense and limited base running ability. I would go so far to say that we have some starters that could be called liabilities on the base paths. It seems like the Yankees have some serious thinking to do about how the rules changes will affect our chances. I'm all for letting the kids play. "I feel…

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yankeerudy
Jan 23, 2023

While pitchers will be limited in throwing to first, what about catchers? Will we see more snap throws behind the runner?

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Jan 23, 2023

You make great points about the youth and speed Tim.


I like the optimism!


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yankeesblog
Jan 23, 2023

The limitation on "disengagements" is the only rule change that I consider dumber than the ghost runner and I think that the ghost runner is galactically stupid. I predict that there will major unintended consequences and regret from this rule and that it will be rapidly rescinded after the 2023 season.

BTW has the ghost runner rule been rescinded for the 2023 season?

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yankeesblog
Jan 23, 2023
Replying to

Well I think we're going to agree to disagree here. I get your point but I dislike the small ball strategy and I think it's highly overrated as well as impractical in this day and age. I got over fawning over the complexities of double switches (not really heavy thinking required there - only really interesting when a manager screws it up) a long time ago.

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