Weekly Mailbag: German’s Leave, Sevy’s Return, Re-Signing Didi and Dellin, and CC!
This has been a long week, with a lot going on in the Yankee Universe. We’ll get right to the meat today, so let’s talk about German’s leave, Sevy’s return, think about re-signing Dellin and Didi, and salute CC’s career. Let’s get at it:
Aaron asks: What does Domingo German’s suspension mean for the Yankees?
For those who are unaware, Domingo German was placed on administrative leave yesterday by Major League Baseball while it investigates a domestic violence claim against him. There are numerous rumors swirling around, with multiple conflicting reports about when and where the incident occurred, and who did or did not witness it. For their part, the Yankees organization is not commenting until the conclusion of Major League Baseball’s investigation. To the best of our knowledge, the Player’s Association also did not appeal the leave on German’s behalf. As of Thursday night, the NYPD does not have an active investigation regarding German’s alleged actions.
Baseball is the last thing I care about in a situation like this. Professional sports have a despicable history of handling incidents of domestic violence terribly, and frankly, media coverage of such events is often equally deplorable. By comparison, while their actions still often leave much to be desired, Major League Baseball is probably the most transparent and the most likely to impose stringent penalties of the major American sports. That does not mean that they are good at handling these situations yet, and there have been multiple very prominent slip-ups in recent years.
The Yankees, in particular, have a very negative history with regards to the ways in which they have managed incidents of domestic violence. It is impossible to ignore the fact that the Yankees are the same team that used the domestic violence allegations against Aroldis Chapman as leverage to acquire him via trade at a rock-bottom price. Personally, if ever there was a time that I questioned my Yankee fandom, it was that off-season.
I am glad that MLB is taking the allegations against German seriously, and I am glad that the Yankees are reserving comment or action until the investigation is complete. In this situation, protecting the potential victim is all that matters.
From a baseball perspective, obviously the Yankees want to have German on the roster, but baseball is not a priority right now.
Brian asks: How’d you think Sevy looked in his first start back? Is he ready to be an anchor for the Yankee pitching staff?
I admit that I was concerned about Sevy early on in his start against the Angels when his fastball was more 93-94 MPH than 95-96 MPH. Early on, Severino also looked like he wasn’t finishing on his front side and subsequently, he left a few fastballs high and outside. It turns out that Sevy was just getting a feel for pitching for real again, and turned up the intensity thereafter, showing off a fastball that sat 96-98 MPH, and even touched 99 MPH. Velocity no longer concerns me.
More importantly, the totality of Severino’s stuff was clearly top-of-the-scale, and his command was very solid. I know that the Angels put out a terrible lineup against Severino, but check out the 3D pitch map from his start, courtesy of Baseball Savant:
Click to Enlarge
The only pitch that occasionally leaked out over the plate was his slider, which Severino admitted after the game that he wanted to work on further in a game situation. Otherwise, Sevy employed a very balanced pitch mix, using his fastball a little more than he has in in years’ past (56% vs. roughly 51%) while mixing in more change-ups vs. his slider. Severino does not need perfect command to be successful with the velocity and stuff he showed earlier this week, but his command was as good as I’ve seen it in recent years.
All of this bodes quite well, and his role moving forward this season will depend on how stretched out he can get with two-ish more starts. I am not saying more, because every time I make a comment on the blog about a player returning from injury, something terrible happens. I’m not arrogant enough to assume it’s my fault, and I’m jinxing the Yankees this year, but let’s not take any chances, shall we?
Bob asks: Should the Yankees re-sign Dellin Betances and Didi Gregorius after the season?
This one tugs at the delicate balance between emotional decision making and rational, statistical analysis. Betances and Didi are two of my favorite Yankees, and the fan in me says that both should have already been signed to extensions. The cold, statistical truth is far murkier.
No player has been more underpaid under MLB’s current system of team control and arbitration than Dellin Betances. We keep saying that there will never be another relief pitcher like Mariano Rivera, and that may be true, but Dellin Betances has been the closest relief pitcher we’ve seen that has that level of consistency. More to the point, Dellin Betances has been one of the most dominant relief pitchers of the last 5+ seasons. Between 2014-2018, Dellin Betances had 607 strikeouts in 373.1 innings, while allowing just a 1.018 WHIP, and producing a 188 ERA+ (2.26 FIP and 2.22 ERA, for those so inclined). Betances was worth 11.9 bWAR, which is crazy for a reliever during that span. Were Betances a closer who compiled saves, he may already be considered this generation’s Mariano Rivera.
That said, he has lost out on money through the arbitration process because he doesn’t close games in the 9th inning. Dellin was in line for a big payday this off-season, and his recent injury woes will keep that from happening. I really feel for the guy, but it will likely work out for the Yankees. If the Yankees so choose, they will be able to sign Betances to a short-term contract for less money than they would have otherwise been forced to commit. Based on those factors, re-signing Betances is a no-brainer.
Didi, on the other hand, is a tougher case. While his arm appears to be as good as it ever was post-Tommy John surgery, his offensive profile has regressed. Didi continues to have pop, with a .216 ISO, but last season’s progression in plate discipline and walk rate appears to be a mirage, as his walk rate and other markers have fallen this season. In the aggregate, bWAR rates Didi as an average shortstop, but the Yankees have a very crowded infield next season, and it can be argued that the Yankees have a stronger lineup with Torres at SS and LeMahieu at 2B.
The Yankees can go either way with Didi. I still think that Didi has good years at SS left, and it’s always better to have more talent than less, particularly when you consider Didi’s overwhelmingly positive reputation in the clubhouse. I would be very upset to see Didi leave, but a compelling argument can be made in either direction. Fingers crossed that Didi’s back next year – I don’t want to see him in another uniform.
Mike asks: Is CC a Hall-of-Famer?
Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. CC has a strong 7-year peak (2006-2011) with 35 bWAR, longevity (19 seasons), anchored the staff of a World Series winner (and hopefully will get 1 more ring!!!), and underwent one of the most impressive late-career re-inventions in recent memory, making himself an integral part of competitive Yankee teams the last 3 seasons.
CC deserves all of the accolades and ovations he receives this season. CC was the rare Free Agent pitcher who lives up to his end of the bargain. I’ve loved watching him, and he deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown. I hope CC can have one more big moment for the Yankees before he hangs up his cleats.
That’s all for this week! Thanks for your questions, and as always, send them in to SSTNReadermail@gmail.com. Talk to you all soon, and let’s hope this weekend doesn’t bring anymore bad news for the Yankees – I don’t think I can take much more.