Sunday, March 10, 2024

Trust the Cashman Process...

Brian Cashman (Photo Credit: Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media for

Yankees GM continues to target role players for the Opening Day Roster…

Trust Brian Cashman sounds like an oxymoron. Yet, I hope Cashman is looking at upgrades in earnest as Spring Training continues to slog its way through March.

I realize the regular season starts this month, but Thursday, March 28 at 4:10 EDT in Houston, Texas seems so far away. It is funny how excited we are when Spring Training opens in February, but after a few weeks of exhibition games, it becomes a grind. It is always good to see the Yankees on the field playing baseball, but the yearning for games that matter becomes insatiable.

Patience…dang it (that last part is for me, not you).

With the reports that the Yankees were finalists for free agents Kiké Hernandez and Amed Rosario, the Yankees’ front office is trying hard to find infield bench support. With Hernandez re-signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers (no surprise) and Rosario taking less money for greater potential playing time with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees luck for finding a strong number two starter and a solid utility infielder rank up there with their ability (or should I say inability) to find a left fielder last year. 

The Yankees have no choice but to find a utility infielder with the news that Oswald Peraza has been removed from baseball activity for six to eight weeks after he was diagnosed with a subscapularis strain in his right shoulder. It is not like Peraza will be ready to go in two months. The best-case scenario, assuming he does not need surgery, would be greater than two months. Once he resumes baseball activity and plays in minor-league rehab games, two months easily becomes three or more. Most likely, we will not see Peraza until sometime this summer at the earliest. Hopefully, this does not fall into a worst-case scenario for the talented young infielder. I had hoped that Peraza would be able to prove his worth at the Major League level this year. Either get a legitimate shot with the big-league club or receive a much-deserved trade to another team that can provide the necessary Major League playing time. For now, both opportunities are on hold.

Peraza’s absence is cause for concern at third base, let alone shortstop. While DJ LeMahieu can be the everyday third baseman, good health has not been his friend. I am not entirely confident of LeMahieu’s ability to hold up to the rigors of a full season playing nearly every day. With questions about backup support for third base and shortstop, the Yankees must hope Anthony Rizzo stays healthy. The Yankees are better prepared to manage injuries in the outfield than any of the infield spots outside of catching. As such, it seems like a trade is imminent since the Yankees have not been able to find what they are looking for in free agency.

Unfortunately, Jeter Downs is not the player he once profiled to be. Then again, if he had become that guy, the Yankees would have never gotten their hands on him. The guys rounding out the bench seem to be players on other teams now, subject to change…not the guys in camp on minor league deals. Time will tell and since the regular season is so far away (at least to me), there is time for Brian Cashman and Company to find the necessary reinforcements. But of course, we have said that before and nothing happened.

I have been pleasantly surprised and quite pleased about how well Marcus Stroman has fit in with the Yankees. Throwing four no-hit innings against his former team, the Toronto Blue Jays, the other day was nice. Granted, he is not going to pitch like that every time out, but he is showing that he can be a trusted third starter for a contending team. The Yankees desperately need some reliability behind Gerrit Cole with the questions surrounding Carlos Rodón and perhaps Nestor Cortes. Stroman is the needed source of consistency.

Marcus Stroman (Photo Credit: Gerald Herbert/AP)

I think Clarke Schmidt is positioning himself to be a strong back-end starter, with the potential to rise in the ranking. Reaching the third spot in the rotation may be his ceiling but those guys can help win championships. I loved Andy Pettitte as a Yankee, but he was never the ace of the staff. Yet, he was the guy you wanted on the mound in October. Schmidt can be that kind of guy. He seems to be the wild card for the Yankees’ inability to add another top starter. No doubt Clayton Beeter and Will Warren will get a chance to prove themselves, so Schmidt must continue to improve as he did last season. My expectation is he will. I like Schmidt, and I want him to succeed. If the Yankees had been successful in finding a pitcher to place behind Cole, I would have preferred to see Cortes lose his starting role over Schmidt. Cortes could be a valuable swingman out of the pen.

If I had to rate the starting pitchers by order of my confidence, it would be 1) Gerrit Cole, 2) Marcus Stroman, 3) Clarke Schmidt, 4) Nestor Cortes, and 5) Carlos Rodón. That certainly does not mean I believe Rodón is a fifth starter, or that Stroman is a number two…it is just the confidence level I have in each to perform their expected level of play. I am not ready to say that Rodón is the latest version of Sonny Gray (in Pinstripes), Carl Pavano, Javier Vasquez, or some other random pitcher who failed miserably for the Yankees, but he is on the fast track. Rodón needs to be the pitcher he was for the San Francisco Giants two seasons ago. If he is, he will shut up the naysayers like me. If he does, the Yankees will be playing in October.

It seems like a foregone conclusion that the catching tandem will be Austin Wells and Jose Trevino. Not sure what becomes of Ben Rortvedt, but that is the least of our concerns. Wells has shown this Spring that he can be more than a platoon partner with Trevino. I love Trevi, and I enjoy him as a Yankee, but I would love to see Wells take command of the catching position to become the undisputed starter. His offensive potential alone sets him apart, but his improvement on the defensive side cuts the gap between him and the more defensively talented Trevino. Wells and Trevino might be the most confident I have felt about the catching position since the days of Jorge Posada and Joe Girardi.

I hate to give kudos to an AL East Rival, but the Toronto Blue Jays did a wonderful job with signing former Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto to a minor league deal. On one hand, it is sad that Votto will not be a Red for the entirety of his career, but on the other hand, he is a player with something to prove. If the Reds thought he had nothing left in the tank, the Blue Jays could be the beneficiary if he does. I would have liked Votto on the Yankees in a backup role, but the way the team is constructed, he is not a fit for the roster. Giancarlo Stanton clogs the DH role for the Yankees (which is why I would be willing to move Big G if I could). I will pull for Votto to succeed so long as it does not come at the cost of a Yankees loss. I am not a huge fan of Toronto players, and my admiration for Blue Jays bench coach Don Mattingly is on ice until he leaves the Blue Jays, yet Votto is a player I can pull for. Of course, his first home run against the Yankees may change my perspective.

I am starting to buy into the Henry Lalane hype train. The 19-year-old 6’7” lefty looks like he was born to be a Yankee (beyond the fact that he was born in the Bronx). I hope he does become the pitcher many are expecting him to be.

Henry Lalane

I do not follow the minor leagues closely, but even as casual observers, we (fans of baseball’s greatest franchise) become aware of the major talents in the farm system as they progress through the ranks. Lalane will have the eyes of the Yankees Universe watching him. Hopefully, he does not wilt under the pressure. There is an extensive list of prospects who were highly (overly?) hyped, yet never fulfilled the promise. I know part of it is organizational strategy…boost the perceived value of your prospects, but part is real, and that is the case with Lalane.

I just hope he does not become trade fodder for one of those Joey Gallo-type deals.

As always, Go Yankees!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)