Weekly Mailbag: Resting Procedure, Ronald Torreyes, Tulo, and Deivi Garcia (Again)!
I just want to quickly thank all of you for your questions lately – you’re keeping me on my toes! Keep ‘em coming. This week, we’ll talk about the effectiveness of resting players, former fan favorite, Ronald Torreyes, Tulo, and Deivi Garcia (again)! Let’s get at it:
Marc asks: The Yankees seem to increasingly subscribe to the concept of “resting” their regular position players. Is there any data that supports this practice. It would seem any benefit would occur the game or two after “rest”, but I have not noticed any performance bump anecdotally.
Interesting! I dug around for longitudinal medical studies related specifically to athletic performance immediately following rest, however I came up empty in my limited amount of time. If someone out there knows of one, please drop me a line, because I’d be interested to read it (yes, I know I’m a nerd). Despite the fact that I failed with regards to the initial assumption that the performance bump comes immediately following rest, I think it is important to challenge that assumption.
Baseball is the longest season of the major American sports at 162 games. Is it a weekly traumatic event in the same way in which a football game damages the players? Certainly not. Baseball is far more akin to soccer in the sense that there are more injuries of the wear and tear variety than in other sports. Not to say that there are no acute injuries – certainly there are, and the 2019 Yankees have seen plenty of those. Generally though, players develop injuries over time due to repeated and consistent use and pounding. How do you stem the rise of wear and tear injuries? Periodic rest.
Anecdotally, we can see the results of what happens when players are not able to receive the rest their individual bodies need on the 2019 Yankees. CC Sabathia is currently on the IL to receive and recover from a lubrication injection in his balky knee. Sabathia’s well-documented knee injuries were not acute in nature; they come from the consistent pounding his knee takes when his large body strides downhill and lands on the mound. Sabathia is unable to pitch over a long-stretch without needing a period of rest for recovery.
The best example is Brett Gardner. Brett Gardner has suffered from some acute injuries over the years, but generally he has been able to stick around for full seasons the last few years. There was a lot of discussion during the off-season about managing Gardy’s playing time to ensure that he stays fresh in the second half. Check out his career stats in the first vs. the second half of seasons:
Courtesy of Baseball-Reference (Click to Enlarge)
Brett Gardner’s offensive output is 23% better offensively in the first half, according to OPS+, over a significant sample size. It’s even clearer when you look at his month-by-month offensive stats for his career:
Courtesy of Baseball-Reference (Click to Enlarge)
Brett Gardner is a great hitter in May and June – in fact, combined with his defense, Brett Gardner would be nearly a Hall-of-Fame type player if he could produce those numbers over a full season. However, he trends down the rest of the season, hitting for significantly less power while making less contact.
This year, Gardner had a renaissance first half, offensively, but the Yankees were forced to play him everyday due to the injuries they’ve suffered. Gardner is now on the IL with an injury to his knee that can’t be traced to a specific event.
In short, resting of position players is necessary in order to keep them fresh over a long, grueling season.
Scott asks: Will you explain why ALL mlb teams are not keeping Ronald Tprreyes on their roster? The Cubs? the Twins? A good defender with a .280.average as a part time utility infielder? I understand the Yanks keeping D.J. LeMahiou, of course, but all other major league teams? What are we missing?
Toe was a fan favorite during his time in pinstripes, and for good reason! He plays the game hard, with a ton of personality, and he’s an underdog, so the average fan can relate to Toe on a lot of levels. Torreyes served his utility infield role relatively well while he played for the Yankees, and has not appeared in the Majors yet this season.
Many fans likely feel the way Scott does, but for sure, MLB teams have good reasons from a baseball perspective for not employing Toe’s services at the big league level. While Torreyes has a career .281 batting average, that has generally been an empty batting average, as he struggles to get on base and does not hit for any power. Overall, Torreyes has been 18% worse than league average at the plate during his career according to OPS+. For a player to hit like that, they have to have another exceptional skill. Sadly, Torreyes does not have another plus tool to carry him on every big league roster.
One would think that Torreyes is a well-above average defender given his slick glove, solid arm, and decent speed, but he has graded out as merely average at multiple positions throughout his career. The only place Torreyes really struggles based on his inherent tools is his range, and sadly I think that his diminutive stature plays a role here. Torreyes has merely average range, because while he makes plays that are routine and 50/50 at acceptable rates, he does not make plays that Inside Edge (Fangraphs) terms in the Unlikely Range. From a value perspective, a light-hitting infielder needs to do a bit more defensively to stick for a longer run in the big leagues.
I hope as much as anyone that Toe finds his way back to the Majors. There is some home for that, as he has hit for more power at AAA this year now that the ball is juiced. Hopefully, the added power makes Torreyes more valuable to someone in moving forward.
Mark asks: What happens to the $20m that is owed to Troy Tulowitzki for 2019 and 2020? Is he voluntarily calling it quits or being told he wouldn’t be able to play baseball until the contract is over? Does he get the money? Do the Yankees still pay him the league minimum for the whole year?
Tulo will make all of the money that is owed to him from his original contract with the Jays because they released him prior to his retirement. No matter what occurred, Tulo was always going to get that money. As far as the league minimum salary the Yankees owe him, I believe it counts for luxury tax purposes, but I don’t think that they are on the hook for it the rest of the year. That said, as much money as that is to you or me, it is fairly inconsequential money to the Yankees.
I really feel for Tulo. The guy really seemed to work hard to make it back to being a productive big leaguer. Tulo talked about the fact that baseball stopped being fun once the injuries took away the stunning abilities he used to have. You can love baseball, but baseball does not always love you back.
People forget that Tulo was on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory before the injuries became too much for him to overcome. I always enjoyed watching him, and while my expectations were low for his productivity in a Yankee uniform, I’m glad he got to live his dream and finish his career with the team he rooted for growing up. Kudos to Tulo on a great career, and I hope he does well in his life after baseball.
Brian asks: Now that we know the Yankees didn’t do anything at the deadline, will/when do we see Deivi Garcia?
Paul and I talked about this on the Bronx Beat Podcast last night, but it was really disappointing that the Yankees didn’t get at least one big league arm at the deadline. I understand staying out of the starting pitching market if the prices were really outrageous, but I thought that the Yankees had room to add to the bullpen to create a super-bullpen that could be relied upon for 5+ innings in the playoffs in the event that the Yankee starters don’t shape up.
Now, we have to hope that some guys we haven’t seen this year can add to the current roster. Deivi Garcia can absolutely be one of those guys. Garcia has top-of-the-scale stuff on the mound. Garcia’s curveball is electric and showed very good spin rates during the Futures Game, his new slider is better-than-average, and his 91-96 MPH fastball plays up due to the deception he creates in his motion. Garcia can get big league hitters out in short stints right now on stuff alone.
The problem is twofold. On the one hand, in order for Garcia to be an effective starter for a team with World Series aspirations, I think Garcia has shown that he has more development to do with regards to command down in the minors. On the other, Garcia has already thrown 90 innings, 16 innings more than his career high. Even the most optimistic projection would only show Garcia throwing another 40-50 innings this season.
That said, the Yankees should bring Garcia up, and let him throw in 1-3 inning stints out of the bullpen. The Yankees are short a rotation arm right now – piggy-back him with Chad Green and Nestor Cortes in one slot in the rotation. Garcia can get big league hitters out now, and the Yankees should use his remaining innings to help the big league club.
That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading, and see you next week with another mailbag! If you’re just reading for the first time, send us your mailbag questions at email@example.com.