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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Perspectives: Big Thoughts.

by Paul Semendinger

March 23, 2024

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There was some good discussion the other day in a previous "Perpsectives" article. I always appreciate reasoned and respectful dialogue. I'd like to build on some of those discussions, and make some more points...


  • I think we can all agree that the Yankees' approach to having players from their system try new positions, not as minor leaguers, but once they reach the Major Leagues is foolhearty, at beast. I think it's clearly insane.

  • Last year, after Anthony Volpe won the starting shortstop job for the Yankees, Oswald Peraza went back to the minor leagues and played 58 games. 45 of those games games were at... shortstop. He played only eight games as second base and but five games at third base. That makes no sense. None. Zero. It was clear that Peraza wasn't going to be the shortstop for the Yankees. Any value he'd give the Yankees was going to be as a player at third base or second base. The time to give him experience at those positions was when he was at Triple-A. (In actually this should have been happening already as he went through the system - for Volpe too. A team can't have two shortstops. They both should have been getting experience at other spots on the diamond as they made their way through the system. But the Yankees, most often don't think long term. They act when forced to act. Proactive thinking hasn't been part of their approach for a long time.

  • Here's another example - before 2022, Oswaldo Cabrera played zero, as in none, zero games as an outfielder in the minor leagues. Then he played 34 games in the outfield - at the big league level. If he had talent there, if some saw his future in the outfield, the time to hone that talent was in the games and at the level where players spend time developing - in the minor leagues. This isn't rocket science. That is what the minor leagues are for - and it is what they have always been for. Always. This is obvious. What makes no sense is the fact that the Yankees, as an organization, don't seem to understand this.

  • Now, I know the arguments that some are going to make at this point in the article, especially regarding Peraza. First, some will argue that Peraza stayed at shortstop to build his trade value. My response to that is, "And how did that work out?" Here is the earth shatterning truth about this - and I'm not wrong here - and no one else has ever noted this (to my knowledge) - this is where the Yankees have one of their most fatal flaws - they mismanage their prospects much of the time. Once it was clear that Peraza was not going to be the shortstop at the big league level, the Yankees had two options. First, they could have done as I suggested above and made him into a player adept at positions other than shortstop. If they looked ahead just a little they would have seen that Gleyber Torres is a free agent at the end of this year. A need could arise at second base. The Yankees could have been preparing Peraza for that position. The Yankees also had to see clearly that there was an immediate need at third base. That the Yankees didn't prepare Peraza for those positions is complete and very clear mismanagement. There is no debate about that. If one argues, "He might have been needed at shortstop," that argument falls flat because he had already accumulated years and years there. Everyone already knew what he could do at short. Transitioning back to one's most experienced position is not as difficult as learning a new position. We already know that Oswald Peraza can play shortstop.

  • But, if the Yankees didn't wish to give Peraza opportunities and experience at other positions, if they saw him only as a shortstop with high upside as one of the prizes of the system, since there was no path for him as to their shortstop, he should have been traded while his value was at its peak. This is the other part of the Yankees' mismanagement. So often, they neglect to give their supposed future stars Major League oppotunities, and then hold onto them far too long and watch as their value decrease year after year as they go from being a top prospect to being a player with little to no value. This happens all the time. All the time. Again, this is mismangement. (For another example see: Florial, Estevan, but there are plenty of others.)

  • In regard to Spencer Jones... My goodness, the world is going crazy over him. Right now is the moment when the Yankees need to make their determination on him. If they believe he's the real deal, they need to plan a very clear path for him to reach the MLB and get his chance there to prove he belongs. Jones needs X amount of at bats and games at Double-A. He then needs X amount of at bats and games at Triple-A. All the while, the Yankees need experts determining where his skills are and where he needs to grow. They need to critically evalate his abilities. They need to determine if he actually is a future star or not. If he is, again, they need to make a very clear path for him to the bigs and then give him the chance to gain experience in the Major Leagues and (hopefully) excel there. If he's not the player everyone is dreaming on, or if they determine somewhere along the way that he's not, they need to trade him while his value is highest.

  • I will be very frustrated if Spencer Jones truns out to be the next Jose Tabata or Clint Frazier or Miguel Andujar or Blake Rutherford or Estevan Florial or Oswald Peraza or... (this list goes on for a long long time) and he turns out to be much less than so many are saying (and hoping for) right now. If he's not that, and the Yankees hold on to him, and his value tanks, and they get little to nothing for him as he's traded for a back-end bullpen arm or leaves as a minor league free agent, it will show clearly (again) how the Yankees' mismanage so much. It seems (if we believe the reports, and I am always skeptical of them) that if the Yankees were willing to trade Jones, that Corbin Burnes could be in pinstripes today. The 2024 Yankees would look a whole lot better with Burnes than without him. If the argument is that Jones is the future and he'll get every opportunity to be that future, then fine. I get it. But if they manage him like they did Estevan Florial (and so many other would-be stars) then it will be every clear (again) why the Yankees are not winning World Championships. The fault will lie clearly with those who continually mismanage the players in the system. Again, this is so clear and so obvious, I'm surprised no one says this - except me. GIve your would-be stars the opportunities to be stars and trade the others when they have their most value.

  • Here's another thought - I find it funny that most of the people who make that argument that a player like Oswald Peraza should stay at shortstop (because he needs to continually build his skills there) are the same ones that also say stuff like, "Aaron Judge should play left field," or "Aaron Judge should play first base," or "Austin Wells can be a back-up first baseman," and etc... when these players have no, as in zero, experience as professionals at those positions. It can't be both. If a player needs to continually get experience at a position he is already skilled at and is a top prospect there (or in Judge's case a star), that says, by definition, by that exact argument, that these positions are highly specialized. And they are. That's why it makes little to no sense to assume that Aaron Judge or Austin Wells can play first base without extensive training at that position. It would take years of work to get them to be adequate there. And for the Yankees, if the goal is to build a championship team, adequate isn't good enough. A reader made the point the other day that all a first baseman does is catch throws. That was absurd. First basemen have a ton of responsibility from holding runners, to playing bunts, to making soft throws to pitchers, to being a cut-off man, to getting comfortable with the footwork around the bag, and much more. No, not anyone can do this. Most players who transition to first base (or any position) struggle there, if they make it at all. Many can't. Pete Rose was a negative fielder at first. Mickey Mantle too. On and on... The players who are great first basemen, and that is what I would hope the Yankees seek for every position, have honed their craft for years. For Major League players, each position is highly specialized and they each take years of practice to master. And, it surprises me a great deal that so many do not understand this - each position is different and they all require different skill sets. First base is different than third base. Shortstop is different than second base and third base. Left field is different than right field. The infield is different than the outfield. Most great players primarily play one position throughout their prime years because that position, and no other, is where their specific skillset lies. And make no mistake, we're not talking about old man softball, we're talking the Major Leagues - the best of the best. The best major league players are virtuosos in their crafts. Just as you wouldn't want an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist operating on your foot (even though that person is a doctor), you can't just assume that a player who is great in one position (Aaron Judge in right field, for example) can easily and seamlessly transition to another. It just doesn't work like that.

  • Again, this was why, once Anthony Volpe was the shortstop, if the Yankees didn't see Oswald Peraza as a player who should start to get experience at other positions, they should have traded him while his value was the highest. And it's also why it is foolhearty to have players experiement at new positions at the big league level. If the Yankees see Judge as a future first baseman, they need to start that work now. It has to be daily. His off-season (2024-25) then needs to include time working there. It can't be a "let's try it" thing. It has to be planned and executed years in advance. It might work, but for the transition to be successful, and for the player to be adept at the new position, it just can't happen on the fly, or through some reps during batting practice, or even through one Spring Training. If we're expecfting quality, and again, that's what the Yankees should be expecting, transitions like this take a ton of time, effort, practice, patience, forethought, and hard work.

  • One more point... A reader linked an article in the comments saying the Yankees' off-season was graded as an A by a writer somewhere. Okay. That's great. The Yankees did make some great moves. Getting Juan Soto was fantastic. Marcus Stroman was a good signing. Getting Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham were also positives, as were some of the bullpen pieces. Sure, all of that was good. But the Yankees also needed another top starter. They didn't get it. They needed a leadoff hitter. They didn't get it. They needed a third baseman. They didn't get it. The Yankees made some nice additions, but they didn't do the whole job. Thjis seems to happen every year. If my neighbor puts in a nice pool, and landscapes the yard, and gets a new roof, I'll say, "You get an A, those are great improvements." But if their kitchen lacks a stove and they have mold in the basement, while they did address some needs and get some fancy additions, they still have a ways to go before they have a complete and liveable home. The Yankees made some nice additions, but they still lack a stove and the mold in the basement is a huge concern...

  • Now, one last point... In yesterday's game, Trent Grisham made a diving catch in centerfield. Will Aaron Judge have the instincts and speed to reach that ball? Will Aaron Judge be willing to go all out to make that catch? Is in even smart for Aaron Judge to try to make that catch? In an actual game, I think that ball falls for a hit. Judge in centerfield, I don't think has the range Grisham has. As I mentioned on a podcast the other day, the Yankees are taking an outstanding right fielder and making him into an adequate (hopefully) centerfielder. The Yankees lose twice there. Their defense in right field and centerfield are both lessened. The more I think of Judge in center, the more I'm against it. But here's my biggest hot take...

  • Even if Aaron Judge in center, or right, or left field can reach a ball by diving, at this point in his career, and with his injury history, I don't want him to dive. At all. I know most, if not all, will disagree with me on that. Judge hurt himself diving years ago. That injury impacted two different seasons and would have had a harder hit if not for the Covid shutdown. Judge is too valuable and too important to the team. A superstar does not help the team if he's out of the game. Judge is out far too much already. In 2024, he is already banged up. No diving. Please. (And the place where he'll have a smaller area to play and where he is elite defender and where he has the vast majority of his professional experience is right field. That is the place where Aaron Judge should be playing. 84.4% of all Aaron Judge's defensive playing time as a big leaguer has been in right field. As a professional, that number jumps to 87.5% of all Aaron Judge's innings played have been in right field. That is where he belongs. Taking a player, already with some core issues, a banged up toe, a long injury history, at 32-years old, and moving him to centerfield, again, to me (if no one else) is a terrible plan.)

***

NOTE TO READERS - I am happy to discuss any and all of these points, but please don't take me out of context and try to argue silly points that I am not making I see that as trolling and I'm much too busy to argue ridiculousness. I am happy to have a reasoned discussion,

about any and all of this. Always.

***

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25 commentaires


jjw49
24 mars

I am quite surprised many on this blog defend the move to let Judge play CF.... frankly it's a very bad short sided move by the Yankees. I also find it interesting that some are so concerned about Soto playing LF and are concerned about paying Soto on his next contract. The Yankees should pay Soto whatever amount it ends up being. You would then lock up 2 of the best players, and you can surround them with affordable young players to ensure a competitive team for next 5-10years. This isn't rocket science. The Yankees have always had stars and Judge and Soto should be the next in line.

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
24 mars
En réponse à

100%.

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jeff
24 mars
  •  "If the Yankees see Judge as a future first baseman, they need to start that work now. It has to be daily".


I was very glad to read you saying this. As you know, I am a strong advocate of Aaron Judge moving to First Base as he ages because he is going to be even more injury prone at ALL outfield positions, the older he gets. But I don't want it to be a "sudden switch". I say the time should be NOW to start training him and mentoring him at the position, but actually permanently switching him there from the outfield, that should still be about 2 or 3 seasons from now. But the Yankees should start trai…


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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
23 mars

COMING TOMORROW AT 2:00 P.M.


I end the Aaron Judge to CF debate once and for all by looking at the greatest right fielders historically and seeing how many of them were moved to centerfield at their age-32 season or beyond.

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jeff
24 mars
En réponse à

For me, that will come tomorrow at 11 AM, due to the time difference on the West Coast.

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Alan B.
Alan B.
23 mars

Had some other thoughts and remembered something I heard last week during the Spring Breakout game.


Mario Garza, who is now a coordinator in the minors, but was the Spring Breakout game manager, did say most of these guys are taking fielding practice at other positions all the time, even if they don't play there in games, hence why they had no issue putting infielder Caleb Durbin in LF in the game. The bigger question, then is why don't these guys play games at those practice positions?


As for Jones, Judge is already taking grounders at 1B. Dominguez already looks pretty good in LF. The Yankees have already essentially moved Pereira out of CF, so if Jones gets called up…

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sfs1944
24 mars
En réponse à

Paul years ago it was true that the Yanks used their financial might to acquire great players from other teams. Sadly over let’s say the last five years they have passed on to many generational free agents and that is why they haven’t appeared in a WS no less one won since 2009

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Alan B.
Alan B.
23 mars

I really cannot agree with you anymore when it comes to the kids in the minors. The point about a secondary field position I've been pounding on numerous sites and blogs since the days that Montero and Romine were sharing C & DH. But with Roderick Arias going 3-4 in Lakeland today, we are about to go through it all over again with Lombard Jr. & Arias.


I'm assuming with Hardman out till around July, and Durbin (HR today in Lakeland) having played basically nothing but 3B, that he will be the 3B in AAA. But he is a leadoff hitter. Probably the best leadoff hitter in the entire organization regardless of level of play. But the Yankees will not…


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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
23 mars
En réponse à

We agree on much.

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