Thursday, May 31, 2018

There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Talent

This is the image that pops into my head when I think of Brian Cashman looking at his organizational roster.

Over the years, when it comes to teams seemingly having too many good players, you've likely heard the phrase "it'll work itself out" over and over again. And the majority of the time that phrase rings true. However, we're seeing one of the rare times when having too many good players is causing headaches.

Five days ago, when Greg Bird made his return to the team, Ronald Torreyes was optioned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. That move was followed by a bit of outrage, which is totally understandable. Toe is a beloved member of the Yankees, as he's not only been a good to great contributor to the team for the past two plus seasons, fans and teammates love him for his attitude on and off the field. But a roster crunch made the move necessary.

Now, as Adam Warren is about ready to make his return from injury, the Yankees are left with another difficult roster decision.

So I decided to take a look at the roster and try to see what should happen. Honestly, it was a lot tougher than I thought.

I'll start with the guys that will stay in the Majors...

Dellin Betances
Aroldis Chapman
Chad Green
Tommy Kahnle
David Robertson
CC Sabathia
Luis Severino
Chasen Shreve
Masahiro Tanaka

Gary Sanchez
Austin Romine

Miguel Andujar
Greg Bird
Didi Gregorius
Gleyber Torres

Brett Gardner
Aaron Judge
Giancarlo Stanton

That's 18 players, leaving just seven spots remaining.

Now let's look at players that may not be shoe-ins to stay in the Majors, but certainly deserve a spot on the active roster...

Domingo German - After his incredible starting debut Sunday followed that up with a bad game, a horrible game, and a "meh" game. But if you ignore the stats you'll see that German has earned a longer look. After giving up a three-run homer the other day, he settled down and look good. That's a nice trait for a pitcher to have. Secondly, he has swing-and-miss stuff... another good trait for a pitcher to have. Finally, I'd like to see him pitch on regular rest more often. German was actually off for nine days before that awful start against the Rangers last week.

AJ Cole - It's only been 11 innings, but he's given up just one run, struck out 12, and walked six during that time. Cole's not this good, but he's not only earned his spot in the bullpen, he can't be sent to the minors without passing through waivers first due to being out of options.

Sonny Gray - I'm starting to think his rotation spot could be in jeopardy, especially if he can't turn things around before Montgomery returns, but he'd go to the bullpen way before getting DFA'd (due to service time he can't be sent to the minors without passing through waivers, and then accepting a minor league assignment, first).

Jonathan Holder - Like Cole he hasn't pitched a ton this season, but since April 21st (15.2 innings) Holder has not allowed an earned run, while striking out 16 and walking just two. Jonathan's not only earned a longer look, he's become one of the team's better relievers.

Brandon Drury - His numbers in the Majors, with Arizona and New York, are hardly mouth-watering, but keep in mind that he put up those stats while suffering from headaches (real ones, not the ones I've been talking about) and blurred vision. I want to see what he can do while 100%, the Yankees probably want to see that, and you should too.

Ronald Torreyes - While I didn't like it, I understood the decision to option Torreyes to AAA. Ronald is great in the utility role, but the fact of the matter is the Yankees have better players available to them. I would absolutely welcome him back to the MLB roster, but I don't see where.

Neil Walker - From Opening Day up until April 30th it looked like Neil was not the steal we all thought he was. Even at just $4 million it looked like the Yankees overpaid for him, as he was batting .165/.212/.190. But since May 1st he's hit .300/.407/.500 and not only earned his spot on the active roster, but made a case to play every day.

Clint Frazier - Frazier is probably the main cause of headache for Brian Cashman. Not because of how bad he is... quite the opposite, in fact. The man is absolutely crushing in AAA, batting .341/.414/.636 with five home runs, five doubles, and three triples in just 22 games. He's even stole four bases. He's either going to return to the Yankees and help guide them into the postseason and beyond, or be the key piece in a trade for a starter that will guide them into the postseason and beyond.

Aaron Hicks - I'm not sold on him being a starter, at least not for the Yankees, but if you look beyond a pedestrian batting average this season (.232) he's a solid player. He'll get on base at a decent clip, doesn't strike out much, makes contact often, and is a top ten defensive centerfielder in all of MLB.

Okay, at this point we're up to 27 players worthy of a spot on the active roster. That leaves a couple of tough choices to make. But don't go racking your brains to make cuts yet, there's more...

Tyler Austin - There was a time when it looked like Tyler may be the team's answer at first base, ahead of the oft-injured Greg Bird, but that time has passed. Since May 1st Tyler has hit .130/.163/.326. I don't believe he's done, but his roster spot on the Yankees should be given to someone else.

Jacoby Ellsbury - I'd rather Jacoby stay on the disabled list all season long, because he will return this season, and he will push somebody a lot more deserving off the active roster. I doubt he gets much playing time, but as long as he's on this team he will be in Yankee pinstripes.

That's 29 players for 25 spots. Honestly, with Austin likely to miss the cut, you can say 28 players for 25 spots. But I'm not done yet...

Jordan Montgomery - Monty's still a ways away from returning (he just started playing catch this week), but when he does he'll go right back into the rotation. And deservedly so. Jordan isn't going to "wow" anyone, but his ERA+ of 117 over 182.2 MLB innings shows there shouldn't be any doubt what his role is and should be.

Adam Warren - Boone has said Adam could be back this weekend. Warren was awesome last season, putting up a 2.35 ERA and an ERA+ of 193. In fact, the only time he hasn't been really good was during his short time with the Chicago Cubs in 2016. So even with a great bullpen as is, Adam will be welcomed back with open arms.

And there you have it. That's 30 players (I'll go ahead and subtract Tyler Austin for you) for 25 spots. So what should the Yankees do from here?

For starters, I believe that instead of carrying 13 pitchers and 12 batters, it should be the other way around. I think that extra bat would come into play more often than that extra arm would. Mind you, I won't say having 13 pitchers is a bad move, as our starters don't often pitch deep into games, but 12 pitcher should still get the job done. Besides, as you'll see in a bit, it may be necessary to keep 13 pitchers anyway.

Starting Pitchers
Luis Severino
Masahiro Tanaka
CC Sabathia
Jordan Montgomery
Sonny Gray

Aroldis Chapman
David Robertson
Chad Green
Dellin Betances
Adam Warren
Tommy Kahnle
Chasen Shreve

I really think Cole and Holder have earned MLB roster spots, but the sad truth is there's just no room for them. What's worse is the whole "out of options" thing for Cole. The only reason I would support keeping 13 pitchers is so Cole wouldn't be lost for nearly nothing (he'd have to be designated for assignment, and then Cashman would likely work out a trade and get little in return).

Domingo German may be a regular starter for the Yankees next season, but for right now he's the odd man out (when Montgomery returns, of course). Like Cole and Holder, when rosters expand he'll not only be back in the Majors, but he'll be a nice contributor.

Position Players
C - Gary Sanchez
1B - Greg Bird
2B - Gleyber Torres
SS  - Didi Gregorius
3B - Miguel Andujar
LF - Brett Gardner
CF - Aaron Hicks
RF - Aaron Judge
DH - Giancarlo Stanton

Bench - Austin Romine, Brandon Drury, Neil Walker, Jacoby Ellsbury*

*Since Ellsbury's stay on the disabled list could go on for a while, I wanted to note that I'd keep AJ Cole around due to him being out of options. Then, hopefully by the trade deadline, Cole could be included in a trade or someone else from the bullpen would be dealt to make room for AJ to stay there.

If it wasn't for the fact that, like I said, Jacoby Ellsbury will be on the MLB roster when he returns this season, I'd really like having Ronald Torreyes in that last bench spot. Stanton could play either corner outfield position if needed, while Boone could put Hicks or Gardner in centerfield, if necessary. Toe will be back when rosters expand, and like Cole, Holder, and German, will make a contribution to the postseason run.

And that leaves me to talk about Clint Frazier. In a vacuum Frazier would be the starting left fielder, pushing Gardner to center, and Hicks to the bench. In fact, that's what I originally had down, but then I decided to change things.

In terms of trade value, is it better to let Frazier continue to mash in AAA or possibly get exposed in MLB? After all, in his 146 MLB plate appearances, Clint has only managed a batting line of .235/.281/.456. Mind you, he's still only 23 and has massive potential, but if he were called up today and struggled, that could hurt his trade value.

So I'm going to let him keep killing it in AAA. If he somehow remains with the team past the trade deadline, or after a big trade is done with, then it'll be time to call him up.

It's hard leaving so much talent in AAA, but the insane amount of depth the Yankees have is one of the biggest reasons I believe this team has an outstanding shot at winning the whole damn thing this season. And that depth is going to help create, either directly or indirectly, a dynasty that brings New York more titles in the future.


  1. Chasen Shreve has done nothing to keep his spot on the roster.
    Hicks should be traded along with a package of Cole and Walker.
    So here is my 25





    Counting on Ellsbury being hurt all year.

    1. I like what you've done, but I disagree on Shreve. He's made 20 appearances, and unfortunately one was awful (4ER w/o getting an out vs. the Indians on 5/4), and the last two were pretty bad. But outside of that, and looking at 2017, Shreve can help.

      Now, you never know what could happen in a trade or trades.


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