SSTN Weekly Mailbag: A Trade Proposal, Long-Man In The Bullpen, And Predictions!
By Andy Singer
A whirlwind Spring Training is nearly at the close. I haven’t been able to watch as much Spring Training as I would normally this year, but I’ve done my best to catch up this week. Spring Training stats really don’t matter very much at all, but Spring Training is important in terms evaluating player mechanics, new skillsets, how altered body shapes change movement in real games, and how various lineup combinations feel in game settings. On the whole, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve seen on those fronts from the Yankees. Every team has some holes to fill, but I think the Yankees look to be a more well-rounded, flexible roster than we saw in 2021. On the individual player front, there have been plenty of eyebrow-raising performances and occurrences:
I wrote about Deivi Garcia’s newfound velocity, and examined the mechanical changes that are enabling his transformation. I think Garcia has firmly placed himself back in the Yankees’ plans in 2022, which is fantastic after his truly awful 2021 season.
JP Sears, who I’ve written about for a year or two, doesn’t necessarily have the best stat line this Spring, but I was shocked watching him piggyback off of Manny Banuelos’ start earlier this week. Sears’ fastball was sitting at 94-96 MPH, a full grade higher than any report or video I’ve seen. Now, Sears may have been overthrowing a bit, but if there’s any additional velocity there versus the 90-92 MPH we typically see from Sears, he might just be more than a #5 starter.
Manny Banuelos, who I wrote about earlier this offseason, was very impressive to me in his last Spring start. He’s not on the 40-man roster, but I can’t help but think that he was auditioning for a real role against most of the Jays’ starting lineup with the majority of the Yankees’ starting lineup behind him. Banuelos showed velocity comparable to what he showed in Taiwan last season, with more fastball life than I expected. The slider is a usable second offering, and the change-up that had me excited in January, while inconsistent, was an out-pitch at its best, as Man-Ban pulled the string on a beautiful 78 MPH change against Teoscar Hernandez for a K. I also love that they gave him Betances’ old #68 jersey. Sentimentally, I really want Banuelos to make the team, but more importantly, the skillset is there to be a very good multi-inning reliever or back-end starter on a good baseball team.
Gleyber Torres appears to be using his lower half far more efficiently in his swing, which is allowing him to generate more power and keep the bat head in the zone for a larger period of time, leading to impact hits around the field. While I really wish the Yankees would find a utility infielder that would allow Torres to never touch the SS side of the 2B bag, he looks primed for a good year at the plate.
Gallo, Judge, and Stanton all look healthy, agile for their respective sizes, and primed to produce big years. If these three get off to hot starts, so will the Yankees.
I am a little worried about Sevy, but the stuff looks good (even if the command doesn’t), and while he experienced some soreness ramping up to 50 pitches, it still appears as though he’ll chuck this weekend. As long as he makes it through his final Spring start unscathed, I feel good about Severino making an impact this season.
I think we’re all going to be very happy that the Yankees acquired Josh Donaldson. I’ll leave it there. He reminds me of Gary Sheffield, in that it seems like every ball comes off of his bat screaming.
Hope Springs Eternal, but for now, I’m content.
As always, thanks for the great questions, and keep them coming to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com. In this week’s SSTN Mailbag, we’ll evaluate a trade proposal, talk about a long man in the bullpen, and predict the Yankees’ record in 2022! Let’s get at it:
Oscar offers the following trade proposal: Everson Pereira to the Kansas City Royals for Kris Bubic.
Bubic was ranked as the #4 prospect in the Royals’ farm system and #104 in all of baseball by Fangraphs prior to the 2021 season. Bubic has a below-average fastball that is usable because he commands it well and pairs it with a solid curveball and a true plus change-up. He has a prototypical build at 6’3” and 225 pounds and gets more out of his stuff with deception in his delivery. Bubic is likely to be a solid back-end starter for a long time, though his ceiling is relatively low.
Pereira is the exact opposite, a boom-or-bust type of prospect with huge tools, but without a long history of performance to back it up. Pereira broke out last year, displaying truly stunning power in a small sample size that matches the tools he’s always shown in batting practice. Pereira was almost included in the Joey Gallo trade, and Cashman must be thrilled that he’s still around. While Pereira could definitely be a secondary piece in a trade for an impact player, I’m not sure that Cashman would waste a prospect with Pereira’s value in a one-for-one swap.
Beyond that, Bubic, as a sure-fire bet to be an MLB rotation piece with years of team control, is worth more than just Pereira straight up in all likelihood. You can never have enough pitching, but I like the Yankees’ pitching depth this year, and I’m not sure Bubic has anything to separate himself from that pack of players. For now, I’d hold on to Pereira and pass on Bubic.
Scott A. asks: Out of the following players who do you like the best for a long man out of the bullpen to start the year – Garcia, Gil, Medina, Banuelos, Sears, or someone else?
I think the Yankees owe it to themselves to keep the young guys stretched out in AAA while finishing out their development as starting pitchers. I really don’t think Gil is a starting pitcher long-term, but for now, I’d let him head up the AAA starting rotation. Medina needs more work as a starter as he’s out of options after this season, so Medina needs one last chance to prove he can’t start, at least to begin the season. Garcia needs to prove the Spring progression is real, so he’s another guy that belongs in AAA in April. That leaves Sears or Banuelos.
To me, it’s a coin flip between Banuelos or Sears for the long-man spot to begin the year. The Yankees have some creative ways to manage the 40-man crunch right now, namely by moving Britton and others to the 60-day IL, and Banuelos has really shined so far. My gut tells me to give it to Banuelos, though I think all of these guys will appear in the Majors this year.
Dave asks: What’s the Yankees’ record this season based on what you see?
The Yankees have better pitching depth than almost any fans are giving them credit for right now, and that can cover a boatload of issues, as we saw in 2021 with the Yankees winning 92 games despite an anemic offense with poor baserunning and defense. I think the Yankees are improved in basically every way in 2022, even if the moves weren’t of the flashy variety that many fans wished for all offseason. I think the Yankees have a top-5 pitching staff in all of baseball, and a top-5 offense in the AL. I’d set the over/under for this season at 96 wins in a brutally tough AL East division, possibly the most difficult division in the sport.