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  • Writer's pictureAndy Singer

SSTN Mailbag: A 1B Trade, Situational Defensive Strategy, And A Trade Proposal!


I said in the Tuesday Discussion two weeks ago that I wanted to wait until the All-Star Break to decide if I was truly worried about this team. I've seen enough; I'm worried. Sadly, I'm worried for predictable reasons, some of which were not popular at the time. Chief among them involves Anthony Volpe. Beginning in Spring Training, I noted how concerned I was by the mechanical adjustment and changes to approach Anthony Volpe was making. I was told by multiple people that mechanical changes made to make more contact, even at the expense of power, would be a good move for Volpe in the long run. I worried about two very critical factors:


  1. The changes he was making would necessitate that he become a slash and dash singles hitter, which is not what got him to the big leagues. That was his profile as a prep player, and he was not a particularly impressive prospect with those mechanics. In fact, I left him off my personal Top-15 Prospects list twice with that style of play. I saw a utility infielder with that swing.

  2. Slapping the ball to the opposite field was a complete paradigm shift from the approach that got him to the Majors and made him a coveted prospect throughout baseball (note: it wasn't just the Yankees hyping up their guy. Independent talent evaluators and team evaluators alike consistently noted he was among the 10-15 best prospects in baseball prior to the 2023 season). It is nearly impossible to change an approach that completely on the fly at the MLB level.


Over the first month and a half of the season, Volpe made me look dumb; he sprayed singles around the field and ran into an occasional homer, even with a swing that was causing him to spray his hips open early and step in the bucket. What do we have now, though? A guy who steps in the bucket, forcing him to lunge at the ball and flick his wrists alone at it, making it nearly impossible to make authoritative contact. I believe that many among us, in our disgust for 3-true-outcomes baseball, were too willing to sell out for contact at all costs, and this thinking bled into the way Volpe went through his off-season work. Without some major swing work, I have a hard time seeing how Volpe comes out of this slump.


Anthony Volpe is a microcosm of a larger problem. So much has been made of the rotation's recent struggles, that some of the offense is getting a pass. The rotation, while it is regressing after a hot start, is still likely to be okay, and each guy (save for Stroman) has shown encouraging signs towards righting the ship. The offense and the bullpen have not.


If the Yankees are going to save this season, moves need to be made soon. The team needs at least 1, maybe 2, strikeout-heavy pitchers in the bullpen. Even with Effross and Burdi looking ready to return at varying points in July, the bulk of the current bullpen is filled with guys who can be DFA'd without being missed. Maybe the answer is one major acquisition from outside the organization and calling up a young arm who looks poised to bring his strikeout stuff to the big leagues, like Jack Neely. Names like Cousins, Ferguson, and Hill shouldn't be around by the end of July.


More critically, the Yankees need a bat or two to take the load off of Soto and Judge. I'm not as concerned about 1B anymore, as Ben Rice looks as good as I could have hoped. He's cleaned up some of the noise that I saw in his swing last season, and he's making much more consistent contact. The power is real, he's athletic, and he works counts beautifully even against tough pitching. Stop platooning him with JD Davis, who looks done to me, and let the kid play (same goes for Wells at catcher). I think the Yankees desperately need a platoon partner for Verdugo (as I said in the off-season) and a 3B (I know I'm a broken record, but I said they needed one this off-season). I know that everyone wants to replace Glyeber, but of the problems the Yankees have, he has the highest probability of righting the ship. The Yankees have a lot to do leading up to the trade deadline, and they need to prioritize. I think bullpen help, a platoon partner for Verdugo, and a 3B need to be at the top of the list. Cashman better get to work fast.


As always, thanks for the great questions and keep them coming to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com. In this week's SSTN Mailbag, we'll talk about a trade for a 1B, situational defensive strategy, and a trade proposal with the Mets! Let's get at it:


Fantasyfb3313 asks: ...i would be interested in your thoughts about Wade Jr from the Giants. first of all, I thought he was supposed to be healthy by now. is he going to get healthy soon? after that, If neither Rice or Rumfeld grab the 1b job, I think Wade can be a pickup very much like Thomas, who offers the Yankees real help and does not cost a fortune


Thomas, Wade, and Kopech would offer the Yankees a lot of help and also allow them to look for 1 or maybe even 2 more, as you say, big game hunting pieces.


When this question came in, I was all-in on this idea, but Ben Rice continues to impress the heck out of me over at 1B. His actions defensively look more fluid each game, and he has been everything I thought he could be offensively. I also think a lot more power is coming, so Rice is well on his way to being a rock-steady left-handed power threat at 1B for the Yankees. However, this team is so desperate for hitters, that I think the Yankees should be willing to explore all avenues to get better.


I've liked Lamonte Wade Jr. for quite some time; in fact, I believe I mentioned him as an interesting target prior to either 2022 or 2023, but I can't find the article. He doesn't have a traditional 1B build, nor does he necessarily present with typical 1B raw power, but this guy can just flat out play ball. He walks almost as much as he strikes out; that's a feature, not a bug, as he has consistently shown this quality of pitch recognition and patience for a few years now. He is also beginning to maximize his average-ish raw power, as he's now hitting the ball on a line with much greater frequency. Away from San Francisco, I expect he'd be a 25-30 homer guy, which was never a guaranteed thing for Wade. He also has impressive, Home-Away splits, which confirm he'd likely improve significantly outside of the Bay Area. Wade is also a wizard with the glove, which is what the Yankees hoped they'd get from Anthony Rizzo.


Again, Rice has been impressive of late, but the Yankees could use a professional hitter like Wade. Wade was banged up earlier this year, but he hasn't missed a beat since returning, and I'm sure that teams would jump to add him if the Giants fall out of the race for the Wild Card. Wade still moonlights in the outfield, but he's not very good out there, and has a weak arm to boot.


Do the Yankees have room with a healthy Giancarlo Stanton on the roster? Are there enough ABs to go around if Wade grabbed 2 starts per week from Stanton and 2 per week from Rice? Could he start once in place of Verdugo in the outfield each week? Adding Wade would take some creativity, but Wade is the type of bat the Yankees need...I would go for it, and worry about fit later given how bad the Yankee offense has been.


Of course, as I sit here today, the Giants are 7-3 in their last 10 and getting back into the Wild Card race. I don't think the Giants would be willing to deal Wade unless they get to the trade deadline and are totally out of it. Wade has one more year of team control after this year, so he's a win-now piece on a team with other high priced veterans...sounds like a fit for both the Yankees and the Giants, so he won't be cheap. The Giants need pitching and middle infielders over the long haul. The Yankees need a lot this deadline season, but a fair return for Wade might look like:


Yanks trade: SP Warren, 2B Vivas/Durbin, 1B Rumfield

Giants trade: 1B/OF Wade Jr.


It's steep, but fair given the circumstances. I think that 3B is too large a need to spend on Wade given the above cost, but Wade is seriously tempting given what he'd bring to the lineup. Oh, but if you told me I could have Wade and Chapman as long as I add Spencer Jones to the deal, I'd do it in a heartbeat. That return would be light for that package, but I'd definitely consider it (though it only works if the Giants decide to do a short rebuild).


Robert M. asks: At Thursday's game, back when it was still 0-0 in the first inning, the Yankees brought the infield in with a runner on third and one out.  I keep seeing this now -- infield in, early in a close or tied game.  It runs counter to the conventional wisdom I've long understood that while infield-in decreases the likelihood of the runner on third scoring, but increases the risk of a big inning with a hit through the drawn-in infield or a Texas Leaguer that would have been caught if the infielder had played back.  Is there some new Analytics teaching that it's always better to try to cut down or hold the runner on third?  Do we have stats reflecting run/inning results with infield in/back and no potential GIDP (and/or no out/one out splits)?


This came in 2 weeks ago, and in my over-worked stupor, I just missed it - sorry Prof. The answer to this is something I would bet Prof will appreciate: "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics." I can warp the statistics on this front to come to any conclusion I want, depending on how I model and weight various outcomes. I also think that modeling this situation more generally ignores much of what we know about how individual batted ball distribution is on a hitter-by-hitter basis.


I agree with you on this one. I think that the Yankees, in particular, are bringing too many big innings into play by bringing the infield in early in games with less than two outs. This is particularly true given the dearth of offense we've seen in recent weeks. I think the Yankees are putting too much trust in their pitchers to induce soft contact on the ground, which has been a driving point of their pitching philosophy for some time now.


Theory sounds really good on paper...until you get punched in the mouth a few times in a game situation. The Yankee bullpen allows a lot of inherited runs to score, and the starting rotation was too lucky in that regard early, so I think the Yankees are opening themselves up to too many big innings, to Robert's point. I don't have specific statistics on this front, but again, if I model it out using statistical principles, I can make a case either way just from looking at it quickly.


Fuster asks: Trade Soto to the Mets?

Nimmo

Edwin Diaz

Luis Severino

and

Luisangel Acuna

is Cohen sufficiently desperate?


Sufficiently crazy? This proposal is certainly that. I wouldn't do this if I were the Mets or the Yankees. I don't like any of Nimmo, Diaz, or Sevy long-term, while Acuna is a good enough prospect that the Mets won't sacrifice the future for one go-round with Soto.


The Yankees acquired Soto for one reason: to go for it this season. That needs to be the game plan unless the team totally falls out of it, which I don't think will happen...I hope. The Yankees have no shot at competing this year without Soto, even with a breadth of additional depth.

16 comentarios


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
06 jul

I would NEVER trade Soto, but if I did, I would want a much better return from the Mets than that. I would take Luisangel Acuna and Edwin Diaz, but I would instead of Nimmo or Severino, I would want young prospects from the Mets, or young 1st and 2nd year players, like Brett Baty, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Francisco Alvarez, and Drew Gilbert. Juan Soto is a "wipe out the other team's farm system" type of trade chip if I were going to trade him. I would rather the Yankees keep him, Judge, and Cole, and build a winner around those three.

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jjw49
05 jul

I'm on West Coast and watch the Giants a lot.... they are a .500 ball club and eventually will fall out of the WC running. The GM is from the Billy Beane tree and likes prospects, so a Wade trade is more doable than most Yankee fans might believe, include Trevino to replace Casalli as 2nd catcher behind Bailey. I still don't see the probability of Torres righting the ship in 2nd half, what I see is a player who knows he won't be on the team next year and has "checked out" IMO Torres is either traded at the deadline or off season either way he is not in Yankee plans moving forward.

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fantasyfb3313
05 jul

it is hard to prioritize HOW the Yankees need to use their trade capital!

it is obvious i want Wade. i agree with you about Gleyber having the best chance to return to being useful and prioritizing 3b! I loved your idea last week about Lane Thomas. i also think that the Yankees are not going to do what I think they should and let Wells start with Trevy playing a clear back up role. if that is the case then i REALLY like Diaz from the rockies. he gives us WAY more value than Trevy and his $ cost is minimal. i also dont feel like his player cost would be too painful


that said, we have only so…


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fantasyfb3313
05 jul

I am with you on Rice appearing to make a 1b move a lower priority. a week ago, we had seen a week less of him.


I still like Wade a lot. his OBP is higher than that of Soto and Judge. very few hitters are better at anything than Soto and Judge!! Getting BBs at nearly the same rate as Ks is SO SO RARE. it seems strange for a player to be as good as he has been for a significant time now and be so unknown.


honestly, I am not sure I can think of a better bat for the Yankees to go after. I like Wade far more than I like Guererro or Alonso (part o…


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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
07 jul
Contestando a

As far as the 1 spot coming up before Soto and Judge, we may be talking about a different Alex Verdugo than the Alex Verdugo who hits further down in the lineup because he seems to have a lot of success when the team's best hitters are hitting directly behind him. (Like he was in Boston when he had Rafael Devers hitting directly behind him).

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fuster
05 jul

indeed, I thought it to be far-fetched and fabulous


basically, a Yankee decision based upon a realization that they were unlikely to make it this season with or without Soto

others seem certain that the Yankees are crashing and burning


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