SSTN Weekly Mailbag: Montas, The Audit, And Peraza!
The off-season is here. I thought I had come to terms with it weeks ago, but I realized the other night that I hadn't. While traveling for work, I tuned the hotel TV in to some of the Wild Card action to play in the background. Glancing at the games, I realized how angry and sad I really was that the Yankees weren't part of the action. More to the point, I realized that the Yankees didn't belong with these other squads at all this year, and that's with a playoff field that is diluted by expansion. To add insult to injury, the whispers coming out of the Yankee Universe should give anyone who cares about the team pause. Much as I try to wash the stink of the 2023 season away, it just doesn't seem to go anywhere. Maybe I just need more time, but what I can say with certainty is that the 2023 season cast a longer shadow over my fandom of the team than any other in my lifetime. That much is certain.
As always, thanks for the great questions and keep them coming to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com. In this week's SSTN Mailbag, we'll look at Frankie Montas' free agent case, talk about the Yankees' "audit," and evaluate Oswald Peraza's current abilities! Let's get at it:
Steve asks: The Frankie Montas trade was a disaster. However, I keep reading that he worked hard at rehab and wants to return to the Yankees. Would they really consider resigning him?
In a word, yes, I think the Yankee front office would double-down and consider re-signing Frankie Montas. For a minute, I want to try to be fair to Montas, though he was far from my preferred choice on the trade market even prior to last season. Prior to the shoulder injury, Montas had a season and a half of mid-rotation performance, which is worth a lot on the trade market, to be fair! While Montas' two innings to finish this season looked very much like a pitcher on a rehab assignment trying to find their stuff, the stuff itself was very good. After a shoulder injury, there are no assurances that stuff remains intact, and Montas seems to be one of the lucky ones that had their stuff return. That alone makes Montas a viable MLB free agent as opposed to someone hunting for a minor league deal this off-season, particularly given the weakness of this year's free agent market.
Let's play a game. I'd like you to compare the following two pitchers:
Player A (2018-Present): 546.2 IP, 3.69 ERA, 556 K, 168 BB, 1.255 WHIP, 111 ERA+, 3.31 K/BB
Player B (2017-Present): 755 IP, 3.68 ERA, 705 K, 207 BB, 1.209 WHIP, 116 ERA+, 3.41 K/BB
I used one extra season of data for Player B for two reasons: one, Player B was out for almost all of 2018 and 2019, so he needed 2017 to get enough numbers to make the comparison fair, and two, Player A didn't become a starter full-time until 2018. Player A strikes more guys out, but Player B is slightly better at adjusted run prevention. Overall, they are nearly identical players. Any guesses who is who?
Player A is Frankie Montas. Player B is Jordan Montgomery. Monty is obviously a lefty, but the reality is that when healthy, these are very similar pitchers. I was the biggest Monty fan around here (and I still find it really funny that many who didn't like him much before the trade now act like we traded an ace), believing that he was an excellent #3 starter. There was also a time that Monty couldn't stay healthy, but he's turned that narrative around. Montas could certainly build a case that he could do the same.
My point isn't to rehash the specifics of the 2022 Trade Deadline, but rather to identify Montas' value. The Yankees need pitching depth; this year proved that much. Would I want Montas back if the Yankees could get him on an incentive-laden one-year deal? Yeah, I'd give that real consideration, assuming the Yankees got a big arm elsewhere. The Yankees need to go into next season with more rotation depth, and Montas could help that cause, ridiculous though it seems at first.
Brian asks: What is your opinion of the audit the Yankees are having an outside company do?
I honestly thought it was a joke before more details came out. Honestly, based on some reporting from Andy Martino, who is writing a book about the Cashman years, the audit doesn't actually sound like an audit at all. If Martino's sources are to be believed, the Yankee front office has been requesting funds for a couple of seasons to evaluate the way an outside company uses analytics in their organization and compare it to their practices. Other teams do this on occasion, apparently.
For starters, that's not an audit. That's not taking a deep dive into how the team is managed and run day-to-day with the intent to find structural problems and inefficiencies. In baseball, we call this "eyewash." This public announcement of an "audit" is nothing more than a shallow attempt by Hal Steinbrenner to shut the fans up because he wants to enjoy his off-season on a yacht or private island (who knows what he does) in peace.
The secondary piece here is that Steinbrenner wasn't willing to pony up the cash for an assessment like this for multiple years...huh?!? I'd imagine that something like this is a drop in the budgetary bucket. This is penny smart, pound foolish if true, though it sounds pretty typical of this ownership group.
I don't expect anything truly earth-shattering to come from this internal assessment. Hal Steinbrenner won't look in the mirror and make hard decisions. I've said it for years: the problems in this organization flow directly from the top. As long as Hal is there, I don't believe real, sustainable change can happen.
Michael asks: Fan calls to trade Gleyber Torres seem to be dying out. That seems to leave Oswald Peraza in a tough spot. Is he a fixture in the lineup next year somewhere in the infield?
I'm honestly not so sure. Many words have been written on sites like this one about the poor offensive season Anthony Volpe produced in 2023, yet very little attention was paid to the fact that Peraza made less contact and was swinging a dry pool noodle when he did make contact in a significant number of plate appearances. I believe very strongly that Peraza is a premium defender up the middle (and likely at 3B as well), but the jury is very much out on his bat.
For that reason, I actually think the Yankees need to start exploring an extension for Gleyber, but that's a topic for another day. Peraza has potential, but that's as far as I'd go. He needs to really earn a spot on the roster, and he has yet to take the bull by the horns and claim his spot.