Weekly Mailbag: Maybin, Pitching, Eddy, and Chapman
We got a bunch of good questions this week – good work, guys and gals! In this week’s mailbag, we’ll talk about Cameron Maybin, the pitching staff, Edwin Encarnacion, and Aroldis Chapman. Let’s get at it:
Mark asks: Where do you see Cameron Maybin fitting in with the team the second half? And is he really faster than Gardner?
Of all of the cool surprise performances the Yankees have received from guys none of us expected to wear pinstripes this year, none were more fun to watch than Cameron Maybin. Maybin was DFA’d by the Giants, and while his outfield defense was always good, his bat was average at its peak, and it looked toast. Maybin worked to re-tool his swing with the help of the Yankees’ coaching staff, and became a really good player seemingly overnight. Small sample size applies, but through 133 Plate Appearances, Maybin put together a 135 OPS+ and 0.7 bWAR. Add in the fact that he just seemed genuinely thrilled to be in the big leagues again and that he was reportedly a great clubhouse presence, and Maybin would be a worthwhile addition to any Major League roster.
There has been significant discussion and disagreement in the Yankee Universe during the last month over whether the Yankees made the right decision to leave Frazier in AAA and call-up Tauchman to be the reserve outfielder while Stanton returned to the IL. Valid points have been made on both sides of that argument, though I’ve warmed to having Tauchman on the big league bench. If Maybin is capable of performing the way he did in the first half after returning from his injury, I think he makes the argument of Tauchman versus Frazier moot. Maybin can fill-in at all three outfield spots, runs the bases well, and is likely a better offensive player than Tauchman. I have no reservations with using Maybin as a fourth outfielder that gets 3 or so games per week in the outfield.
With regards to sprint speed, I think that it would have been an interesting race between Maybin and Gardner when both were in their prime. According to Statcast though, Gardner edges out Maybin in the sprint speed department in 2019. Gardner’s sprint speed is 29 ft/second, which edges Maybin by 0.3 ft/second. Both guys have well-above average speed, but Gardner remains the fastest player on the Yankees.
Al asks: The price for starting pitching on the market this summer seems really steep, and I’m not sure the Yankees need anything for the bullpen. With Severino and Betances on the mend and Deivi Garcia a step away from the Majors, do the Yankees really need to pay such a high price to buy pitching at the Trade Deadline this year?
We’ve talked a fair amount about the pitching that may be available on the starting pitching market here in the mailbag over the past two months. I am going to take one more look at the trade market in a post next week, but there is a growing feeling out there that starting pitching will cost a ton this year. Now that German is healthy and Happ isn’t imploding every outing, the Yankee rotation seems to be in much better shape than last month. There is validity in a deadline plan that doesn’t include trading for a starting pitcher this deadline.
That said, we would all be a bit crazy to count on Sevy, Betances, and Garcia being saviors this year. Sevy and Betances have clearly been mismanaged all year with regards to their rehab programs, and both guys are only just re-starting throwing programs. Could both return in September, round in to form, and be the additions the Yankees need to solidify their chances? Yes, but we have no idea what their stuff is going to look like. Both guys had shoulder and lat injuries that have taken far longer to heal than initially projected. Shoulder injuries are scary – a sore shoulder can change mechanics, arm slots, velocity, control, command, and stuff. We can’t know for sure that Betances and Sevy will look like their old selves until they step on a mound.
Garcia is as electric a pitching prospect as the Yankees have had since Severino himself. His stuff could truly be a difference maker. I would love to see the Yankees allow him to pitch in short stretches out of the bullpen in August and September, much like what the Rays did when they called up David Price. Garcia could be a missing puzzle piece this year.
If you squint hard, you can see a scenario where all three guys come up and bolster the Yankee pitching staff to make trades unnecessary, but it’s far from a sure thing.
Jay asks: Edwin Encarnacion hasn’t looked great with the Yankees so far – should we be worried?
Eddy passed Duke Snyder on the all-time HR list this past week, and since July 2nd, he has hit .222/.262/.583. He hasn’t gotten on base as much as one would like, but he works counts, and has started hitting the ball with authority. I love Encarnacion – he takes professional at-bats, and he looks like even when he doesn’t get a hit, he’s just a bit off. I think Eddy is close to a hot streak – he’ll be fine.
Bob asks: If the reports are true, what should the Yankees do about Chapman’s opt-out?
For those of you who haven’t seen, the latest gossip out there is that a “friend” of Chapman’s is sure that Chapman will opt-out of his deal with the Yankees at the end of the year. If Chapman did that, he’d be leaving 2 years and $34.4 million on the table. He might be able to beat that on the market, but I don’t think that’s anywhere near a foregone conclusion given what we’ve seen on the Free Agent market each of the last two off-seasons. That’s a lot of money for a 31 year-old reliever to leave on the table. I’ll believe he leaves it when I see it.
And if he opts-out? Let him go. Chapman has been a good pitcher, but I have always hated the way the Yankees leveraged an ugly, dangerous incident perpetrated by Chapman into a value trade and re-signing. On the baseball side, Chapman has had injuries to his knee and his shoulder, and his still-elite velocity is beginning to drop. I, for one, do not trust Chapman to age gracefully. The Yankees will be able to put together a strong back-end of the bullpen in 2020 and beyond without Chapman if he opts-out.