Outside the Box Thoughts for the Infield
It has been a very interesting off-season. Buried beneath the outcries that the Yankees have not signed Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, lies in my opinion, a very solid off-season. At first sight the Yankees have strengthened the bullpen to what could be historic levels. With the return of a hopefully healthy Zach Britton and the addition of Adam Ottavino, the Yankees have seemingly put themselves in position to shorten nearly every game to 6 or 7 innings.
The moves the Yankees have made to the position players have been a bit puzzling to say the least. The out of nowhere signing of Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMehieu have thrown some Yankees fans into fits, some into hopefullness and most into head scratching fits. If healthy, Tulo could be a literal steal as the Yankees signed him to a league minimum deal that leads to basically no risk and all upside. DJLM is an incredible player, the two time reigning NL Gold Glove winner, a consistent 300 hitter, but his role on this team is a bit confusing. Did we really sign someone for 12mm a year to be our new Neil Walker? Even more confusing is his position is the position of the guy on our team not named Judge, who’s position seemed most secured and solidified.
I’m all for these additions, but I feel they could lead to some creative use of the assets we have. So…without further adieu, here is my attempt to make some creative sense and suggestions of what the Yankees could do with all this.
DJ Double Play
One of the things I have the hardest time wrapping my head around is where DJ fits in. The main reason I can’t wrap my head around it is that I want to see Gleyber solidified at second base. I’ve not seen him play much shortstop, but as a second baseman, Gleyber projects to be one of the best hitting second baseman in the league. His errors last year seemed mostly to be mental, so I have a hard time not wanting to keep this young guy there to learn and master that position for another year.
Enter DJ Double Play. DJ is one of the best fielding second baseman in baseball. It seems silly to me to bring in a guy like that and not play him at his natural position. The common theme seems to be that Gleyber Torres will be moved to SS and DJ will man second base. WHAT IF…….DJ played Short-Stop and Gleyber stayed at second????
One of the biggest concerns is that Andujar and Torres could be our left side of the infield, that has some cause for concern defensively. I like the idea of keeping Gleyber put at second, letting him get seasoned there and establishing himself in that spot. DJLM is one of, if not the best defensive second baseman in the game, so it seems a little counter intuitive to move him, but if he is that great at second, it seems natural that he could dominate short as well. DJLM is a big dude, so I have to think he could handle the deep throws short would bring. I don’t know how much experience he has at short. I don’t know if that’s a feasible plan. But I do know, I want to keep Gleyber at second and I’d rather have a bit of a veteran presence on the other side of the infield with Andujar. It might be crazy, but hey….it’s an idea.
Idea 1- Gleyber stays at second base, DJ plays short.
Getting Funky at First
Let’s all agree that first base is a giant question mark at this point. Luke Voit performed at MVP levels in his call last year, but is he for real? Everyone wants to give Greg Bird one more chance since our lineup is lacking a real presence from the left-side and he’s shown spurts of greatness. Who knows if either of these will pan out, who knows if both of these ultimately find their potentials and crush at the same time.
In the event that neither of those options works, here are some alternate ideas.
Tulo to first. Yea I’m going there. I’m going to assume that Troy Tulowitzki is going to show up healthy and stay healthy and return somewhat to form…I’m an optimist. But if he is healthy, where will he play?? I want to keep Gleyber at short, so in my book that brings DJ to SS, but if Tulo is also healthy I suppose he could take over his natural position and play short. He could however, in an effort to keep him healthy and have him play the less stressful position, take over first base. I’d like to believe that a well seasoned short stop with a stellar defensive track record could pick up first base fairly quickly. Tulo has great hands and great feet…it could work and it could leave room for everyone else. Just a thought.
Another thought, way out in left field, actually way out from left field, is the thought that maybe Clint Frazier could put on a first base mitt??
Clint seems to be blocked. Baring a magical signing of Bryce Harper, Gardy has to have the left field job coming out of spring training, especially given the fact that his defense and lefty bat are premiums on this team who lacks a little defensively and left handed bat wise. Clint has always impressed with the bat and in his few at-bats last year and in his minor league sample size, looked stronger than ever at the plate. His defense has been called into question by some, which leads me to think that he would really have to rake to overthrow Gardy at this point. If Bird and Voit prove to be busts, is there a chance that Clint Frazier could find his way into the lineup if they told him to put on a first base mitt and catch the ball??
I know it’s more difficult than just saying catch the ball, but we’re talking about a very athletic young potential star who was a former first round draft pick…do we really think he couldn’t pick up first base?? If it means finding a way to get Clint’s potential bat and spark into the lineup, I’m up for the experiment. At least try it in spring to see.
Idea 2-Tulo at first, Frazier at first….maybe
No matter what happens, I’m confident in the talent that the Yankees are bringing into the season this year and am very excited to see how it all pans out.