SSTN Weekly Mailbag: Peraza, Closer, And Rule Changes!
So, how's everyone feeling today? When last we talked, it looked like the Yankees might just be turning the corner with a youth movement and health on the way. Since I was last here, the Yankees have won with greater frequency, gotten healthier, and are playing better baseball. I'm not going to say that August is a distant memory, but as we get closer to October, the Yankees are looking a lot closer to the team that I thought they'd be. Oh, and we're hopefully close to witnessing Aaron Judge tie and pass Roger Maris' 61 homers in 1961, 61 years later. The universe works in mysterious ways...
I'm going to catch some heat for this (given that the sample size is miniscule), but Harrison Bader is exactly who I hoped he'd be. He's been a menace on the basepaths, is hitting enough to anchor the bottom of the order, and can clearly fly all over the field. Bader also seems to be a fiery presence, something that was missing from this roster. I'm a bit worried about the bullpen, but otherwise, it feels good to be a Yankee fan.
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 Oswald Peraza, pick a postseason closer, and dissect one rule change! Let's get at it:
Fuster asks: Andy, does Peraza stick and hit .275 and does that push Volpe to the other side of the second base bag?
or do the Yankees decide that they can move forward with Torres/DJ/Cabrera at 2B
and make a trade?
This question came a couple of weeks ago before a short hiatus on my part. I am sure that this question assumed that Peraza was coming to the show to play as opposed to getting splinters in his rear end waiting to pinch run in the 8th and 9th innings. However, I think it's a good time to talk about Peraza's role next season.
Peraza is not a guy who is going to hit .275, even with the elimination of the shift. Peraza, like Oswaldo Cabrera, swings hard and will have his fair share of struggles with big league breaking balls early on. Peraza has pop in his bat, decent plate discipline, and some bat control, but I think at maturation he's a guy who hits in the .235-.265 range with a decent OBP and 20-25 homers (depending on what MLB does with the ball). Peraza can really pick it at SS with a good arm, and in his short time with the Yankees, we've seen the difference between Peraza and IKF over on the left side of the infield.
I think the question of how the Yankees sort out the IKF/Torres/DJLM/Peraza/Volpe/Cabrera/Donaldson group this offseason will be among the most important storylines we discuss (besides the literal elephant in the room, re-signing Aaron Judge). Obviously a trade of some kind is coming this offseason. The question in my mind is whether the Yankees are going to dump some salary, utilize spare parts to acquire decent pitching, or some of both. I have a hard time believing that both Donaldson and Torres are back next season. The rumors that Torres was nearly shipped out at the deadline appear to have merit, and he's a trade chip with some value still.
Volpe is the Yankees' best prospect, and I firmly believe you leave your team's best prospect at his natural position unless he proves he can't perform there. Volpe, if anything, has improved this year at shortstop, showing increased arm strength that combined with his hands, instincts, and defensive actions make him a true shortstop. Moving from left to right on your radio dial, I'd start DJLM at 3B, Volpe at SS, and Peraza at 2B, with Cabrera and IKF on the bench. I could also see swapping DJLM and Peraza, which is okay with me too.
Ben asks: If the postseason started today who is the Yankee closer? Every time someone gets hot, they collapse like Trivino and Holmes.
I really didn't expect to still be talking about this in late September, but here we are. The bullpen, long a strength of the Yankee roster, hasn't been reliable in late and close situations in recent months, and no one has been consistent. Chapman continues to implode, Trivino couldn't find the plate the other night, Holmes is hanging sinkers right in the happy zone, and I don't know what to make of Loaisiga some nights.
If forced to choose, I think I'd pick Loaisiga right now, but most nights I think I'd just go with my gut based on how confident my relievers looked in the clubhouse before the game.
David asks: Which new rule change will impact the Yankees the most?
Most people would probably say the elimination of the shift, and that's a great, but easy answer, and we know that I never like the easy way out.
I think the larger bases are going to make more of an impact than people realize, and I'm surprisingly in favor of this rule change (I wrote a piece a long time ago noting that the actual distance between bases has actually never been 90 feet all the way around...so goes our fantastical ideal of perfect dimensions on a baseball diamond). Baseball is a game of inches, and the data does show an uptick in stolen bases in the minor leagues this year with larger bases. The Yankees have already begun stealing more bases than they have in recent years, and I think that with the odds tipped in the Yankees' favor further and with a youth movement on the way, the Yankees could be primed to run in 2023.