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  • Writer's pictureAndy Singer

SSTN Mailbag: Bader, Happ, And Yankee Captains!

One week from pitchers and catchers, and the Yankees are already getting me a bit worried. Brian Hoch at, the beat writer who's covered the Yankees for an eternity, indicated in his most recent reporting that all indications are that the Yankees are pulling for Oswald Peraza to win the starting shortstop job by a wide margin in Spring Training, which would allow IKF to hold the old Ronald Torreyes utility role and give all-world prospect, Anthony Volpe, more development time down on the farm. If this is true, this is absolutely backward thinking that gets the Yankees killed time and time again. In fact, at a recent get together of SSTN writers, multiple writers expressed fear that the Yankees would do anything to hold Volpe down in the minors, even if he clearly wins the job in the Spring. I, ever the optimist, defended the Yankees by saying that if Volpe proves ready, they won't hold him back. This report directly refutes my position, and boy does it make me angry.

Volpe has shot up prospect rankings, and is clearly the future of the franchise. Most talent evaluators who have watched him the most believe that Volpe is a shortstop long-term, despite some older, popular reports that noted fringy arm strength. If both of those things are true, the Yankees should be sitting on pins and needles hoping that the kid is ready, at which point they should put him at his best position and fit everyone else, Peraza included, around him. Jeremy Pena proved in 2022 that some players do not need significant experience at AAA to succeed in the Major Leagues. Even notoriously conservative projection systems believe that Volpe can be a solid big leaguer right now. For the Yankees to hope that their best prospect needs more seasoning is just beyond comprehension. I believe Hoch's reporting, as he normally has his finger pretty close to the Yankees' pulse, but for once, I really hope he's wrong about this report.

As always, thanks for the great questions and keep them coming to In this week's SSTN Mailbag, we'll talk about Harrison Bader, Ian Happ, and Yankee Captains! Let's get at it:

Mike asks: I was surprised that you didn't list a prediction for Bader in this week's Tuesday Discussion since you seem to be the high man on him. What do you expect from Harrison Bader in 2023?

I was asked this verbally by a few people this week. I was truthfully trying to save my Harrison Bader bombshell for a Spring Training predictions post, but I'll go for it here.

Do I think that Harrison Bader will suddenly hit 40 homers after his stunning offensive showing in the 2022 playoffs? No. However, most people evaluating the Harrison Bader trade conveniently left out basically any scouting of Bader's swing and offensive performance in 2020 and 2021 in evaluating his prospects following his surprising trade last summer. Sure, Bader was an up-and-down hitter with the Cardinals following his call-up and he was hurt with some degree of frequency. However, the Cardinals also frequently had him hitting in front of the pitcher and platooned him far too frequently early in his career. In 2020 and 2021, Bader was an easily above-average hitter with plus max exit velocity readings that indicates that scouting reports that gave his raw power grades of 55-60 were justified. As I noted following the trade, there were multiple factors working against Bader, including a stadium that sapped his power, and some bad luck despite great numbers against good velocity. All of those factors remain true today.

Yankee Stadium is well-suited to Bader's spray chart; he's coming into the season healthy; and he's proven that there is pop in his bat. I think that he is capable of putting up a season with a 120 wRC+, which would only be a modest gain from his previous career high. I also believe that he was chained on the basepaths by the Cardinals. The Yankees like to steal bases, and the new rules in place for 2023 encourage runners to steal bases. Harrison Bader is considered a very good baserunner and he is among the fastest players in baseball.

Put it all together, and I think Bader is a breakout candidate. I think Harrison Bader will steal 30 bases and hit 20 homers in 2023 in addition to playing all-world defense in CF. He'll get on-base at a .350 clip, which is good enough to make him dangerous. He'll be an All-Star with 5 WAR. Am I the high man? You bet. He proved me right in the playoffs; I hope I'm right again in 2023.

Fuster asks: are the Cubs going to trade Ian Happ by mid-season and would the Yankees be able to convince them that Cabrera can play a decent 3B while delivering some power?

This really depends on whether or not you believe that the Cubs will be out of it by mid-season. I don't particularly believe that the Cubs are playoff bound in 2023. Then again, the playoffs have been expanded to the point where you have to be really bad to be totally out of it by mid-season, and I'm not sure if the Cubs are going to be that far out of it. They've spent some money the last two years even as they've jettisoned some homegrown stars, and I think they expect to win.

I'll humor this suggestion though. Happ is on an expiring deal, and I expect him to be quite good. He's a switch-hitter in his prime, with pop, and an ability to play good outfield defense. He was my top target for left field last season, but he didn't get dealt. I think he's more likely to be extended than dealt this year, but let's pretend the Cubs implode and Happ is still good. indicates that Cabrera is a nice starting piece in a trade for Happ. It really depends on whether or not there's a bidding war for Happ, AND it depends on how good Cabrera is in jack-of-all-trades playing time. If Cabrera performs like he did last season, he might very well be a good return as the core piece for Happ.

However, I believe Cabrera can be a plus left fielder with reps, and I've always liked his bat a bit more than others. If he's a plus defender, Cabrera's bat plays in left field with low batting averages, decent OBPs, and surprising pop. I might prefer the homegrown guy to the expensive veteran, in that case.

So yes, Cabrera is a nice starting place, but I'm not sure I'd like the deal all that much if Cabrera does what I think he's capable of doing.

Sherri asks: Hi our family has a question. We are die hard Yankee fans. Have all Yankee Captains had their jersey numbers retired? Thank you.

You've come to the right place! I had assumed that every Yankee captain had their jersey numbers retired, and this question forced me to put that assumption to the test, and the answer surprised me!

Here are the Yankee Captains who have had their numbers retired (in reverse chronological order):

  • Derek Jeter

  • Don Mattingly

  • Ron Guidry

  • Thurman Munson

  • Lou Gehrig

  • Babe Ruth

Here are the Yankee Captains whose numbers were not retired:

  • Aaron Judge

  • Willie Randolph

  • Graig Nettles

  • Everett Scott

  • Roger Peckinpaugh

  • Frank Chance

  • Hal Chase

  • Willie Keeler

  • Kid Elberfeld

  • Clark Griffith

More Yankee Captains have not had their number retired than those that have had their number retired. I admit to being a bit shocked, but looking at the list, it makes a bit of sense.

Griffith, Elberfeld, Keeler, and Chance primarily played for the Highlanders before becoming the Yankees, and most of them made names for themselves playing for other organizations. When the Highlanders became the Yankees, the team still didn't have the mystique yet, so Chance, Peckinpaugh, and Scott lose out by that measure.

However, it really does shine a light on the Yankees' treatment of Willie Randolph and Graig Nettles. Randolph was honored with a plaque in Monument Park at least, but Nettles hasn't received the same honor. All other Yankee captains (aside from Aaron Judge, obviously) have received number retirement ceremonies since Ruth. While I think the number retirements have gone a bit far, I think Nettles and Randolph deserve to be treated the way the other greats have.


Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Feb 10, 2023

Nettles has been treated unfairly by the Yankees.

There is no good reason why he isn't in Monument Park.

Also, they can easily retire his number. He wore #9. It's already retired. All they have to do is say, "It's retired for Nettles too."

As much as the Yankees have celebrated the Yankees of the 1990s, they have ignored many members from the 1970s.

Nettles needs to be out there.

Roy White too. Absolutely.

A case can also be made for Sparky Lyle.

Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Feb 11, 2023
Replying to

I don't disagree.

And Newhouser wouldn't be a Hall of Famer either, most likely.

They played when they played.

It is what it is.

And when he played, Stirnweiss was great, albeit, when many other guys were away at war.


Feb 10, 2023

are the Yankees able to keep Cabrera as an outfielder if they also hold on to Bader?

seems to me that Pereira and Dominguez are both good and both no more than one year away

Feb 10, 2023
Replying to

I like Bader and expect him to do well

but he is not going to be an offensive juggernaut

if he is, then sobeit.

the Yankees can afford to pay him.

I agree that you don't want to go to 10 years for a speed/glove guy

and I've been pleased that the Yankees resisted signing a 10 year deal for a shortstop,

I figure that Bader and the Yanks can work out something.


Feb 10, 2023

Those first seven captains also predate the introduction of numbers on uniforms

Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Feb 11, 2023
Replying to

The Yankees started wearing numbers in 1929.


Alan B.
Alan B.
Feb 10, 2023

When it comes to Volpe/Peraza, let's all remember that the Yankees have absolutely refused to deal Peraza too, and he is ahead of Volpe in terms of development. And having seen enough last year of their minor league games, Peraza is by far the better defensive SS. Throw in that on the current ML roster being clogged up with Donaldson & IKF. If you think Cashman is going to allow a combined roughly amount of $30M in salary on the bench or to just DFA them before May 15th or so if everyone is healthy, you are crazy. Volpe unquestionably starts the year at AAA. Yes, by the end of Spring Training 3 or 4 40 man spots will open…

Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Feb 11, 2023
Replying to

Right on Andy!

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