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  • Writer's pictureAndy Singer

SSTN Mailbag:




Buongiorno, my friends!  By the time you read this, I’ll be on planes, trains, and automobiles halfway around the world working on getting myself back to the other side of the Atlantic.  I was ready for the SSTN Mailbag to be my homecoming kickoff on Friday before my ultimate flight home on Saturday, but something soured my baseball-related mood before I put the finishing touches on this post.  You see, I had managed to convince myself that the Brewers weren’t going to trade Corbin Burnes this winter.  I mean, they’d made win-now moves to try to improve the team, right?  And surely if they were crazy enough to trade Burnes this off-season, the Yankees would be firmly in those discussions, right?

 

Well, I was wrong on both counts.  Not only was he traded, but he was traded to the Orioles, the team I now project to lead the AL East.  Oh, and other than a few speculative local articles over the last couple of months, there hasn’t been any real whisper that the Yankees were in on Corbin Burnes, a pitcher good enough that he changes the complexion of the AL East race.  I won’t lie, it was a total bummer to find this information out in the middle of the night (Central European time, that is), and it messed with my attempt to get excited about baseball again this morning.

 

All of that being said, I am also a realist.  It takes two parties to make a deal, and while many have made some lazy comparisons between the Brewers’ return for Burnes to guys seemingly available on the Yankees’ trade block, I think the very real possibility exists that the Brewers targeted this return specifically.  Joey Ortiz, the young infield prospect that many Yankee fans and observers have compared to Oswald Peraza because he’s a great defender at SS who was seemingly blocked in Baltimore like Peraza in NY, is simply not equivalent to Peraza in this writer’s humble opinion.  Ortiz and Peraza might be roughly equivalent as defenders, but Ortiz has shown a feel for the strike zone and well-rounded offensive performance at both AA and AAA that outstrips Oswald Peraza.  I have a feeling that if the Yankees tried to center a deal around Peraza, the Brewers looked and probably preferred and targeted Ortiz.  The Brewers must also believe in DL Hall’s huge upside either as a starter or a reliever and his ability to make an impact as soon as this year.  I’m not sure the Yankees could have put together an equivalent package that both looks to the future and helps the Brewers remain in contention in 2024.

 

You don’t win based off of hype, but this was a great trade for both teams and it sadly hurts the Yankees’ chances of winning the AL East in 2024.  I really hope the Yankees can find a good move of their own in the next couple of weeks, whether or not it’s flashy.

 

As always, thanks for the great questions and keep them coming to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com.  In this week’s SSTN Mailbag, we’ll look ahead to an ugly scenario, look at insurance for 1B/DH, play the probability game, and revisit Jasson Dominguez’s prospect status!  Let’s get at it:

 

Greg asks: Put yourself in the shoes of the decision makers in the front office. Let’s say that the team sputters again this year by the trade deadline and Soto surely looks set to leave. How would you proceed both at the trade deadline and the following offseason?


We are a really long way off from having to put ourselves in the front office’s shoes on this one.  Frankly, my hope is that the Yankees are improved enough that we don’t have to consider this possibility, but I’ll play along.  If I’m the Yankees’ front office, I would be thinking about reloading/retooling as opposed to fully rebuilding.  The Yankees have enough long-term deals on their ledger that rebuilding is likely not a realistic option.  That said, I would consider dealing even marginally attractive pieces for decent prospects to help pump up the farm system.  For instance, in this scenario, let’s say that DJLM has a good first half; the contract is longer than you would typically want to see, but if you were a contending team in need of a versatile infielder who can make contact, are you really going to blink just because of DJ’s $15 million salary in 2024?  No, and the Yankees would have to be willing to maximize the return in such a deal by eating some money on the backside to ease the AAV trap in future years.

 

Guys like DJLM, Grisham, Soto, Trevino, Torres, Rizzo, the entire bullpen, and maybe guys like Schmidt, Nestor, or Stroman would all likely be available in this scenario.  The Yankees have money on their side, and with a ton of wheeling and dealing, the Yankees could combine a youth movement with a lot of spending to change the complexion of the roster in relatively short order.  It would be a waste, because Judge and Cole would likely be firmly on the downside of their careers by that time, but that’s how I would proceed.

 

Michael G. asks: Would [Garrett] Cooper make sense as bench bat 1b insurance? Do you think he'd settle for a bench job? Or is [there] someone similar you think who would?


I don’t hate the idea of a Garrett Cooper type at all; in fact, I would keep Oswald Peraza on the Major League roster to begin the year as the utility infielder while Oswaldo Cabrera goes down to the minor leagues to try to rebuild his swing and confidence.  Without Cabrera on the MLB bench, I think there’s room for a bench bat.  I am genuinely worried about Rizzo returning to form (brain injuries are scary), and I think any of the Yankees’ minor league first base types are at least a year away from even being considered for MLB playing time.

 

Cooper is certainly not a bad choice, and given how his year went in 2023, I don’t think he’ll command a starting job.  However, Cooper has an increasing platoon split over the last couple of years, and if my goal is to possibly replace Rizzo for chunks of time, then I want my bench bat to be left-handed.  It also should be someone who won’t command a starting gig.  I’m going to bring up two names that should be familiar: Dom Smith and Mike Ford.

 

I have always thought that Smith had more potential in his bat than he’s shown in recent years.  He’s a gap-to-gap hitter that can run into pull-side power, which matches up perfectly with Yankee Stadium.  Smith is also a very good defender at 1B, so for a bench bat, you could do a lot worse.

 

Many of you are rolling your eyes at Mike Ford, and yes, my history as an admitted Mike Ford homer doesn’t necessarily give me a lot of respect (I started writing about Ford in 2016, for reference).  However, he has gotten back to some of the things that made him successful early on: good swing decisions and showing good power against fastballs.  The Yankees have long struggled against good fastballs, and it’s something at which Ford excels.

 

Neither guy is a world-beater, but they are both interesting lefty bench bats who could help at 1B if Rizzo went down for any length of time, and they could easily be an interesting late-inning pinch hit possibility, depending on the matchup.

 

Michael G. also asks: Which is more likely by the all star break?

 

1. Stanton is healthy and hitting with Grisham relegated to 4th of

2. Stanton is injured and Grisham is the primary cf

3. Stanton isn't hitting and Grisham is the front half of an awkward platoon with him and judge


History tells us that options one and two are in a near dead-heat, and I think both will likely be true at parts of the year.  I expect Stanton to hit really well early on this year, making Grisham a luxury 4th outfielder.  I also expect Stanton to miss 30-50 games, which will give Grisham more playing time in a starting role.

 

I have always really liked Stanton, and I hope we get a lot more of option 1 than we do of option 2.  If Stanton is truly healthy, I expect him to hit.

 

Our Editor-In-Chief asks: How is it that Jasson Dominguez is only the #41 prospect in the MLB according to mlb.com.  It seems awfully low for a player that so many Yankees fans believe will impact the team in 2024.  What do they see or know that Yankees fans do not?


So, I have a couple of caveats before I answer this more fully.  Firstly, #41 is nothing to sneeze at; guys who make top-50 lists have at least some probability of being impact Major League players.  The game is awash with really good prospects with loud tools, so if you think of guys in tiers, Dominguez is likely in that 3rd or 4th tier of prospects by MLB.com’s estimation.

 

The second is rather blunt: I have never put much stock in the rankings provided by MLB.com.  I think the scouting reports have a lot of value, but their rankings are often odd with tool grades that really don’t line up well with scouting assessments.

 

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, ranking Dominguez really depends on the individual evaluator’s thoughts about Dominguez’s body, plate discipline, defense, and the potential for some of his tools to backup because of his large frame.  There just aren’t that many big leaguers built like Dominguez, who is 5’9” and likely 220+ pounds.  Many project his speed to backup by a grade at maturity, which puts more pressure on his bat to perform, as it will impact him on the bases and likely push him to an outfield corner.  Because his body is so big already, you also can’t really project any more power growth with Dominguez, as you might typically with a 20-year-old prospect.

 

I look and see a package that includes already loud tools, with a work ethic that matches.  Dominguez (assuming he comes back from Tommy John alright) has a great arm and still has a lot of growth left at the plate because he just hasn’t played a ton of baseball yet!

 

If you believe strongly in Dominguez’s tools, you grade him as one of the best prospects in the sport.  If you agree that Dominguez has tools, but worry about body risk, you rank him where MLB.com did (and roughly were Fangraphs has him as well).  All think Dominguez is one of the best prospects in the sport; the question is whether he’s top-50 or top-20.  I think you know where I am on that one.

30 commentaires


Cary Greene
Cary Greene
02 févr.

With Austin Wells, who I project is going to break out in rather sublime fashion this season, the Yankees already have potential coverage for Rizzo. Wells will catch a bit and DH vs right-handed starters more than many may realize. Wells negates the need for one-dimensional left-handed back up first baseman type.


What Wells doesn't do is provide inusrance if Stanton's goose is cooked - as Stanton was formerly a colossus who hits from the right side. The Yankees need middle of the order production and they're pretty thin in this department. Steamers projects LeMahieu (106 wRC+) and Verdugo (107 wRC+) to both be lower third of the lineup types. Neither is a good choice to bat 5th, protecting Rizzo.


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jeff
03 févr.
En réponse à

Because he is projected to be a major force as a hitter, I want to see Austin Wells as the #1 catcher, with Jose Trevino as the backup. Unlike the 70's and 80's, having a catcher who is also a major offensive force in the lineup is a very rare commodity in today's game. The last one the Yankees had was "pre-regression" Gary Sanchez before he...well...regressed. It's become a rare position to be part of any team's offensive attack, so the Yankees should take advantage of that with Wells. Austin Wells LOVES being a catcher and he greatly prefers to catch over playing 1B or any other position. There is a rap on him that he is less than st…

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Melfman1
Melfman1
02 févr.

Hell no to Dominic Smith or Mike Ford. If you want a vet lefty bat, I’d rather pursue someone like Brandon Belt who can actually hit with some consistency and provide a little versatility (since he can play OF too). If Rizzo bounces back, Smith/Ford would be useless on the team.


I think part of the reason that Dominguez is ranked at #41, is the fact that he’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery. He likely won’t be ready for full time action until later in the season. A good percentage of the lower picks are expected to provide major impacts this season. Had he been healthy ending last year, I think he would have cracked the top 25. Especi…

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jeff
03 févr.
En réponse à

Rumor has it that the "Baby Giraffe" (Brandon Belt) will likely sign with the Texas Rangers.

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
02 févr.

I hope you're right Andy.


My gut says if there was consensus that Dominguez will be the star that so many Yankees fans believe, he'd be much higher than #41.


The Yankees have fooled the fans time and time and time and time again... In many ways they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt - and this makes me think (especially since FanGraphs also isn't super high on him) that the "experts" might know more than we think.


If Dominguez fans out (I HOPE NOT!) will there ever be reason to believe in this organization's hype any longer?

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jeff
03 févr.
En réponse à

I went to High School with Bruce Springsteen in Freehold, NJ. He was a few grades older and graduated before I did, but I did have a lot of the same high school teachers that Springsteen had.

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fuster
02 févr.

re Dominguez- CF or LF?

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fuster
02 févr.
En réponse à

if you can play center, you generally can succeed in the corners

IF you have enough arm


and, it's best to keep in mind that Jones was a pitcher before hurting his arm


he's like to have healed up well enough

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