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  • Writer's pictureAndy Singer

SSTN Mailbag: Favorite Non-Yankee, Padres Trade, And Steinbrenner Comments!


Now that the Yankees' 2023 season has been over for a couple of weeks, the acrid taste left in my mouth has been diminished enough to watch some playoff baseball, and for a number of reasons, I'm glad that I have. For one, the playoffs have been really exciting! I'm not the biggest fan of expanded playoffs, but I have to admit that the current format certainly seems to have pepped up the October Classic while allowing fans in multiple markets even more exposure to great players around the league. That part has been a lot of fun for me.


The other reason I'm glad I've watched a bit of the playoffs is for some perspective. All of us around here have been incredibly frustrated by the Yankees. That frustration doesn't just come from 2023; for me at least, it's been building since 2021 as the team has proven unable to adapt the roster to maintain a real chance at winning the World Series without a lot of luck. For others, that frustration dates back further, but I argue that the Yankees were plenty competitive from 2017-2020. Regardless of when your frustration with the team began, we consistently compare the Yankees as an organization to perennial winners, or at least teams that are consistently in the playoffs and have won the World Series.


One of the teams most of us use as a point of comparison is the Dodgers. Since 2013, the Dodgers have made the playoffs in every season, played in three World Series, and won one. As Yankee fans, we would clearly trade our winning season streak for a World Series between 2009 and now, right? Clearly, the Dodgers are a more successful organization, right?


The only World Series that the Dodgers have won was in the strange, shortened 2020 season during which there were no fans in the stands, players were condemned to sudden IL stints at inopportune moments due to contracting COVID, and very few of us take the statistics generated from that season at face value. Without that World Series win, Yankee fans would likely consider the Dodgers to be in the exact same boat as the Yankees.


My point is this: is there randomness to World Series wins? Yes. Very few teams can say they've won multiple World Series while consistently making playoff appearances - really, only the Astros can make that claim. Boston wins a random World Series every 5-10 years and is barely passable in the years between; the Phillies lurk, but haven't gotten over the hump in a long time; the Braves are young, won one recently, but haven't proven they can sustain playoff success; and the Dodgers, for all of their playoff appearances and regular season success, have one random World Series win to show for their efforts.


I iterate these points to say that the Yankees' record isn't nearly as bad as it feels to us right now. Do the Yankees have a ton of work to do to put themselves in a position like the Astros? Yes, and I don't seek to minimize that fact. However, aside from the Astros, the Yankees' record in the last 5-7 years stands with just about anyone else in baseball. Winning a World Series is hard, and building a consistent winner is even more challenging. Looking around the league at the records of others makes me feel a bit less apathetic about where the Yankees stand this offseason.


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 my favorite non-Yankees, look at the Yankees' trade fit with the Padres, and talk about Hal Steinbrenner's recent comments! Let's get at it:


Mark asks: I don't watch a lot of non-Yankees baseball during the season. Watching the playoffs, I love seeing players that I don't get to see very often. Who are your favorite non-Yankees to watch right now?


Great question! Baseball has more talent than it has likely ever had in its history right now, which is partly why building a dynasty is so challenging - everyone is good, objectively. Bryce Harper has always been a personal favorite - he has so much raw talent, always plays like his hair is on fire, and plays with serious edge. I love watching him (and desperately wanted to see him in pinstripes, but I digress).


Ronald Acuna Jr. is another guy I love watching, and don't see enough. The term "5-tool player" is way overused, but he is one of the few true 5-tool players in the game today. I stop to watch whenever Acuna is on TV.


Corbin Carroll is going to be a monster for Arizona. He plays a beautiful CF and his contact/speed profile is different from the mashers that proliferate the game today. Watching Carroll is like watching Brett Gardner if all of his tools were a grade higher (and I loved Gardy).


I love watching the two-headed monster of Zach Wheeler and Aaron Nola in Philly. Two very different styles of pitching, but they are both artists in their own rights.


Oh, and even if I agreed with the trade (and still do from a process perspective), I still love watching Monty as much as I did when he pitched for the Yankees. A crafty lefty who also can kick it into the mid-90s is a fun guy to watch.


Ben asks: I see a lot of rumors about Juan Soto being a trade target for the Yankees and also that the Padres have to shed salary this offseason. Are the Padres a realistic trade partner?


Our own Cary Greene had a great post up the other day looking at a Juan Soto trade. I highly recommend checking it out. I agree with much of what Cary wrote in his post, but I'll give you my high-level overview. Baseball Trade Values is a great, fun site for getting a sense of trade value from a dollar-for-dollar perspective, but it is far from perfect. The site lists Soto's trade value at $21.8 MTV, which feels low even considering he'll likely get a record arbitration deal and only has one season of team control left. The Mookie Betts trade is the most recent comparison point for a Soto trade, but that trade was panned even at the time it was made for being a very light return, so while I believe the Yankees should absolutely be involved if Soto goes on the market, I just don't see it being anything other than a painful trade, and I'm not sure the Yankees can match the value another team will provide.


However, I think the Yankees and Padres are very interesting trade partners. The Yankees need guys all over the diamond, including a true centerfielder. With the Padres trying to lighten the payroll load this year, Trent Grisham is a guy they might look to move as he gets more expensive. He's got 2 years of team control remaining, and I'd imagine he'll make in the $5-7 million range this year. He's fantastic defensively and bats left-handed. While he's not known for his bat, he floats between being slightly below-average with the bat to slightly above while drawing walks at an above-average rate with speed and some pop. The Padres are losing rotation arms this offseason, so I wonder if there's a trade to be made with Grisham and Clarke Schmidt as centerpieces? It makes a lot of sense to me.


Brian asks: Did you see Steinbrenner's comments about subtle and not so subtle changes? Any reaction?


Steinbrenner's comments were word salad with almost zero outward meaning. Words are relatively meaningless at this point. The team needs action, not platitudes. The coaching staff needs to hold players more accountable for fundamentals and behavior; they need real change in how they transition good prospects from the minors to the Majors, as independent prospect evaluators like the Yankees' prospects, but they sour at the MLB level; they need to evaluate and modify their training regimen to keep guys healthier; and they need to modify their approach to statistical analysis in coordination with scouting and player development. Those are tall tasks, and until I hear direct plans regarding any of those facets of baseball operations, I don't really have any reaction to Steinbrenner's comments.

36 Comments


yankeesblog
Oct 13, 2023

I have to disagree about the expanded playoff format. 1) There are too many teams involved and too many mediocre teams involved 2) the division series are too short; yes I understand that it take an unmanageable number of games to produce a 95% chance of the better team winning but anything can happen in 3 games (slumps, bad starts, random plays - like Acuna's potential bases-clearing XBH putting the Braves on top being caught last night) 3) it seems that winning a division doesn't mean much. 5 of 6 division winners were eliminated in the division series. That says a lot about the 3-division set up which creates shallow divisions and concentrates weak teams in the Central of each…

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Andy Singer
Andy Singer
Oct 13, 2023
Replying to

Oh, I agree with you about the format, and I don't necessarily believe that the best team will come out as WS winners consistently in this format. I merely think the games have been exciting.

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autmorsautlibertas
Oct 13, 2023

Trent Grisham has hit below .200 for the last two seasons. He whiffs too much. The Yankees already have lots of guys that fit that hitting profile, and that is a big part of the problem. The Yankees need some contact hitters, preferably with .300+ batting averages. I would pass on Grisham.

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Oct 13, 2023
Replying to

I hear you. I did say .280 also. This is something I'll explore in greater detail.


My main point is teams need guys who can hit. Too often teams are finding "advanced stats" that try to make a guy who can't hit seem like a hitter. Joey Gallo is a prime example. Anthony Volpe and his .209 average is another.


Before one should be working on exit velocity and launch angle and whatever else, he should first be a quality hitter. .300 is that mark. (OK, .280 is close enough.)


All the advanced stats show that Babe Ruth and Ted Williams and Hank Aaron and..... are among the greatest hitters of all time. In their days, the first order o…


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ldegraphics
Oct 13, 2023

Playoffs are for the teams apparently that can't win a division but can win a short series. Lets make everyone eligible next year & deep six the season!!!!

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Oct 13, 2023
Replying to

An NCAA-style tournament would be interesting. Expand to 32 teams, four divisions, then playoffs in four brackets based on regular season standings. First two rounds are best of three, all at the better team's ballpark. Division finals and final four are best of seven. I'd watch that.

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fuster
Oct 13, 2023

how would you rate Grisham in comparison to Kiermaier?

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fuster
Oct 13, 2023
Replying to

and wouldn't it be uplifting if Dominguez, Florial, Jones and Wells all provide superior lefty offense

after we've all been bemoaning the lack of it.

if Florial hits, the Yankees will have a heck of a good outfield with Dominguez and Judges in the corners and Florial in center.

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Oct 13, 2023

Second comment - I'm all in on Soto. I want Soto. 100%. If I were the Yankees, I would move whatever is necessary to get Soto. He is the player that the Yankees hope any of their prospects become. He isn't just an on-base machine, with power, who hits lefty, he is the active MLB leader in OBP. This is the player the Yankees need.


More on this from me tomorrow and from all the writers on Tuesday. (Spoiler alert for the Tuesday Discussion.)

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Oct 13, 2023
Replying to

We will have an article on this coming on Tuesday at 10:00...

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