Not The Weekly Mailbag: 2 Months In Review
By Andy Singer
Photo Credit: Andy Singer
Welcome back, everyone! First off, I hope that all of you had a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving. Frankly, I don’t think I need to eat anything for the next month, so I’m pretty satisfied with my holiday. With the holiday this week, we don’t have any Mailbag questions to discuss, but now that we get a few weeks of normalcy, send your SSTN Mailbag questions to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com, and I’ll answer your Yankee and baseball related comments and questions. For this week, I just want to take a second to review some of the the things I’ve written for the blog since the season ended. It’s a long offseason (and sadly I think this one will be particularly cold and long), and sometimes I think it’s easy to lose sight of the things that are discussed and said at the very beginning of the offseason. Below is a listing of a few things I’ve written about this offseason, with some short commentary in hindsight:
In early October, I examined Robbie Ray’s Free Agent candidacy, and how likely he would be to sustain his 2021 performance going forward. I had always been dismissive of Ray, but digging into video, it’s pretty clear that mechanical changes have made Ray a very different pitcher with a more consistent release and enough control to allow his knockout stuff to play up. I worry about mechanical regression, but Ray is likely to be a very good pitcher for at least the next couple of years. Is Ray an ace? No. Can he be a good 2/3 starter? I think so. The Yankees have enough other holes that I’m not sure I want to commit big time dollars to a starter this offseason over a long-term deal, but if the market were to drop to something in the $18-$22 million per year range over 5 years, I’d be tempted to get into the Robbie Ray bidding.
Looking at the roster, I think the best way for the Yankees to give Aaron Boone the flexible roster Cashman claims he wants to give Boone in 2022 is to restore DJ LeMahieu to a super utility role. I think it will still be fairly easy to get LeMahieu 450+ ABs in a role like this while keeping everyone else fresh. Most importantly, I don’t think LeMahieu should play 3B everyday from a defensive perspective, and I believe the Yankees need to give Gleyber Torres full-time duties at 2B as he has more upside than LeMahieu in the long run. In recent days, my thoughts regarding LeMahieu’s proper role has me thinking a little differently about another player on the Yankee 40-man roster…I think the Yankees have the potential to employ two good utility infielders on the roster in 2022.
I also took a dive into where the Yankees’ payroll stands coming into 2022. The new CBA will throw a wrench in any financial analysis, but if the upper end of player salary allocation is either relatively unchanged, there is very little chance that the Yankees could possibly get below the luxury tax threshold that stands today. This almost certainly indicates that the Yankees have room to spend some money. Of course, that depends on the new CBA.
Another offseason, another reckoning with Gary Sanchez as the starting catcher. Fans can dislike Sanchez all they want, but the sad reality of the league’s depth at the catcher position in baseball today is that it is as thin as it’s ever been. As much as I’ve been a Sanchez apologist, I have come around to the idea that the Yankees should be looking for an upgrade, but I just don’t see a lot of opportunity for that to happen this offseason.
In an SSTN Mailbag a couple of weeks ago, I took a deep dive into the decisions the Yankees faced in setting the 40-man roster, and I later reacted to the decisions the Yankees eventually made. Frankly, very little surprised me about how the Yankees behaved besides DFA’ing Tyler Wade instead of say Chris Gittens or Miguel Andujar. In retrospect though, I think there are candidates to fill the Tyler Wade role on the 40-man roster in 2022, so I’m not too worried about it. I do wonder if the Yankees will regret exposing Brandon Lockridge to the Rule 5 Draft, but I’m not sure he’s ready to stick on an MLB bench, so I trust the team’s judgement on that front.
Most recently, I wrote about the performance of the starting rotation in 2021. Despite the narrative out there that the Yankees didn’t have a championship caliber staff, the 2021 rotation was really pretty great! I hope the Yankees can use a combination of the kids and maybe a depth signing to supplement the rotation in 2022, but I think the rotation is in really good shape.