Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Trevor Story > DJ LeMahieu in Pinstripes? Maybe - My Offseason Plan


I haven’t added anything to the blog lately, so let’s come out with the smoke. If the Yankees were to acquire Trevor Story from the Colorado Rockies in a trade this off-season he will be better in pinstripes than DJ LeMahieu was. There, I said it.


Now that we got that out of the way, let’s analyze. The New York Yankees acquired DJ off the free agent market two seasons ago with the hopes of the right-hander filling in as a super utility player for the Yankees in the infield. No one, except me, expected LeMahieu to break out in the way he did in 2019, and again in 2020, and most of the people who saw this headline probably never even made it this far into the article. I’m not worried about if people agree with me or not, most didn’t when I said that Kyle Higashioka not only should, but would, become Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher and I was okay with that too. It’s not even about being right, it’s about what is best for the team. Adding Trevor Story makes this team better, with or without DJ. Keep reading, please.


Like I said two years ago with LeMahieu, Story would benefit immensely from making the shift from the NL West to the AL East Division. Now, before we get too upset again, I will admit that Story most definitely benefitted from playing inside Coors Field, like most who have ever played there, but Coors Field did not make Story the exciting player that he is today. His splits will tell you that he does better as a home player versus what he does as a member of the road team, but what it doesn’t tell you is that there are a lot of factors that just don’t get included in those splits posted above. What those splits don’t tell you is how Story potentially was hurt, production wise, by playing inside parks like Petco Park in San Diego, AT&T Park in San Francisco, etc. It also doesn’t show you how Story would actually benefit from not playing 10-15 times in each of those stadiums, while shifting those away games to more hitter friendly environments like Boston’s Fenway Park, Baltimore’s Oriole Park in Camden Yards, the Rogers Centre (or the Stadium up in Buffalo, NY) in Toronto, and Tropicana Field down in Tampa.


Dimensions, level of talent on each side (imagine having to play the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers 30 times a season versus playing the Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays), and the team around him are all kept out of the splits that we see on Baseball Reference.


Coors Field dimensions

Instead of focusing too much on what Story could potentially do as a road player for the Yankees inside these stadiums, I prefer to focus on what he could do inside Yankee Stadium. If Story craps the bed in the Bronx, it probably doesn’t matter as much what he does against everyone else. Agree? While it is hard to predict what he will do, his spray charts mixed with the overall dimensions of Coors Field vs. Yankee Stadium make it a little easier.


Story, like DJ, sprays the ball all over the field for average and for power. Story, like DJ, would wreak havoc on the short porch in right field given his tendencies to go the other way for power. Story, like DJ, was actually hurt by this while playing in a much more spacious Coors Field. The ball carries more in Coors Field than possibly anywhere else, but it really carries down that right field line in the Bronx as well. Story, like DJ, will benefit much more in the Bronx than he did in Colorado because a lot of those line outs and fly outs will turn into doubles, home runs and scoring opportunities in the Bronx (in a perfect world). Story would give the Yankees another “professional hitter” on the club, although his strikeout numbers are his biggest flaw in my opinion, while also giving the team something they need possibly more so than hitting, and that is defense. Specifically, defense at the shortstop position.


Acquiring Story allows the Yankees to move Gleyber Torres back to the position he is better suited for defensively, the second base position, while allowing Story to slide into the shortstop position. The infield defense is instantly better, but does this mean that this would leave DJ on the outside looking in for the 2021 season? Not necessarily, this is where the “Get Greedy” part comes out of me. In my plan, you acquire Story to allow him to play short and you move Gleyber back to second, but you also sign DJ with the intention of being an “every day” first baseman. Yes, he would move around and wouldn’t be containted to only first base, but that would be his position on Opening Day. What does that mean for Luke Voit? Well, listen, I love Voit as much as the next guy, but if the Yankees are looking to trade away from their core in order to keep costs down and fill the gaps needed on the field, he makes the most sense to move on from. Why? Because he has tremendous value right now, his defense at first base is atrocious, and if the Yankees have to choose one strength to trade from it should be from the power department and not from the average-first/professional-type hitters. If the Yankees trade Voit they could still hit 270-280 home runs this season, maybe more with Story if he has a big season, but the team would be more balanced, better defensively, and better overall.


Having an infield defense of Gio Urshela, Story, Torres and DJ behind a pitcher like Luis Castillo or equivalent (Voit included in the trade to keep the prospect cost down) is much better than having an infield defense of Gio, Gleyber, DJ and Voit behind “#2 pitcher” Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery, or whatever dumpster fire pitcher that Yankees GM Brian Cashman tries to sell us on here in about or so. The Yankees could also try and entice the Rockies to include Kyle Freeland (or less likely German Marquez) in the deal by including Louis Vinwood Voit III.

EDIT: Here is a mock trade I threw together rather quickly. While this isn't the trade I necessarily see happening, something similar could go down if this were to come to fruition. 


Standard Batting - Trevor Story
162 162 162 1626831011713963610121657195.277.343.535.877114

Standard Batting - DJ LeMahieu
162 162 162 162 1626589218229512671264897.305.357.430.787102

Now, since this post has basically turned into a Story vs. DJ post, which was not intended since I planned on bringing back DJ with or without this potential trade, let’s take a look at DJ’s final season in Colorado vs. Story’s 2019 season with the Rockies (we are leaving 2020 out due to sample size for Story). As you can see, Story outplayed DJ in many key categories during this comparison. While you can’t bank on lightning striking twice in the same spot with former Rockies coming over to the Yankees, you can predict it a little better when you know what type of player each player really is. Story, like DJ, uses the entire field and hits for average while taking an ample number of walks. Story will strike out too much and the Yankees faithful will hate that, but that’s where the comparison ends. DJ is a lead-off type hitter that loves to jump on a first pitch fastball. Story does his best work if he see’s a pitch or two first. Story would hit towards the middle of most lineups, but probably around 6th here in the Bronx. He should hit second and Aaron Judge should hit third, in my opinion, but manager Aaron Boone (or is it Cashman here too?) seems obsessed with keeping Judge in the two hole. Judge has a higher career OBP than Story (Judge’s .390 OBP vs. Story’s .343), but again we are stuck in a place where one stat doesn’t tell the whole story. Judge has seen the likes of Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner hitting behind him in the 3rd slot just for the sake of having a lefty up there, and while that’s not the sole reason for his OBP advantage, it certainly helps. Why pitch to Judge with Brett Gardner on deck? Especially with RISP. You don’t. In fact, you should never. Judge can change the game with one swing of the bat, Gardner and Hicks generally don’t do that.


My Yankees lineup, not the Yankees lineup that I think would be put out every day, would be this if the team were to acquire Story, re-sign DJ, and trade Voit for pitching:


1B – DJ LeMahieu

SS – Trevor Story

RF – Aaron Judge

DH – Giancarlo Stanton

CF – Aaron Hicks (for the sake of a lefty)

2B – Gleyber Torres

LF – Clint Frazier

3B- Gio Urshela

C – Gary Sanchez


Let me be frank, I don’t think this is what the Yankees are going to do. This is merely what I would do as the GM of the New York Yankees. I am not sure what the Rockies would need or want to include Story, or Story plus Freeland/Marquez, but with the Padres and Dodgers stranglehold on the division for a while I would lean towards the team being ready for a “total rebuild.” I say that with parenthesis because I find it unlikely that the team will be able to move Arenado in this current economic climate, but at the same time I also don’t think the likes of Frazier or other top talent and MLB-ready talent would need to be included beyond Voit. If the Rockies are interested in what many Yankees fans perceive as fringe players on the roster, Miguel Andujar, Mike Ford, Mike Tauchman and Tyler Wade immediately come to mind, then naturally that deal could change, but I am thinking of everyday players only when I say that.


Adding a defensive-minded shortstop that can hit over .300 with 20+ home runs and 90+ RBI a season to an already potent lineup seems unfair. Making the defense exponentially better while allowing the Yankees to trade Voit (and not miss much production, because remember Story’s production would somewhat offset what was lost by the exit of Voit) and add the cost-controlled young #2 or even #3 pitcher to match up with Cole… now that’s just being Greedy… and I love being Greedy.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

Looking for Mr Cashman...


Photo Credit: Mike Stobe, Getty Images

Yankees remain silent this off-season…

 'Twas the night before Christmas…

That’s it, sorry.

There is your recap of the Yankees Universe since the team cleared out their lockers in October. Alright, there has been some activity but nothing of the variety that gives bloggers something to talk (write) about. I didn’t expect any activity in November but I was certain there would be some movement in December. Well, for other teams maybe but not the beloved Pinstripers.

The Yankees did bring back a couple of familiar names this month. Reliever Adam Warren, making his fourth return to the team, is back and ready to resume his career after a Tommy John sabbatical. He’s not glamorous but Warren has always been a trooper when called upon. Historically, he’s done better with the Yankees than some of his other teams, but whatever works. I like him and I’m glad he has an opportunity for another run with his original team. The other comebacker is Nestor Cortes Jr., who was sleepless in Seattle last season. Depending upon how things shake out, there’s potentially a role for either guy. Worst case, they represent depth although I doubt either wants to see the bright lights of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA. It will be fun to see and hear their thoughts on camera when the guys assemble in Tampa in a couple of months.

Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY Sports

I have to say I was disappointed to see Tommy Kahnle leave. It was inevitable when the Yankees attempted to send him outright to Scranton at the end of October and he elected free agency. He won’t pitch again until 2022, thanks to Tommy John surgery, but I still hated to see him leave. I liked him when he was a Yankees prospect, hated it when he got plucked away by the Colorado Rockies, was happy when he returned, and although I was disappointed with his 2018 season, I was still glad the huge Eagles fan was a Yankee. He’s always just been one of those players I like through thick and thin. I guess all things considered, I was happy to see him land with the Los Angeles Dodgers if he was going to leave the Yankees. The LA Angels would have been fine too as I can walk to Angels Stadium but Dodger Stadium is a quick ride up I-5 (I can lane split, legal in CA, with my motorcycle). I am on record as saying the Dodgers are my favorite NL team and they have been ever since Donnie Baseball was their manager (not sure why I didn’t fully embrace them when Joe Torre was their manager). Tough for a Yankees fan to say, but I probably own more Dodgers caps (to go with my Mookie Betts jersey and other Dodgers paraphernalia).  You have to understand that while I love the Yankees, I love Los Angeles. I don’t mean specifically the Dodgers…I just love the city. I was away for four years in Colorado but I’ve been back in the greater Los Angeles area since March and I am thankful for every day back home despite the pandemic. I kind of wish the cost of living were less and that not so many other people loved it here, but that’s okay, I find my happiness here. So, welcome to Los Angeles, Tommy! I know the Dodger fans will appreciate your enthusiasm for the game and the talent you possess in your arm. 

I know the Yankees inactivity is based largely on the ongoing negotiations with DJ LeMahieu. I get it, but it always strikes me as odd that a team which employs so many people in the front office, they simply cannot multi-task.  When GM Brian Cashman said that Gleyber Torres was a better second baseman than shortstop (not those exact words but the meaning was there), I did wonder if he was setting the stage for LeMahieu’s departure and to express his desire to bring in a shortstop over an encore performance by Le Machine. What shortstop? I don’t know. I don’t really expect a Francisco Lindor trade, and although I recognize Andrelton Simmons as a premier glove, he just doesn’t excite me.  I’d probably rather see the return of Didi Gregorius, even if he isn’t the defender Simmons is. Didi has the “it” quality. He brings so many intangibles to a team and he’s very cohesive in the clubhouse. Team chemistry is so important and Didi is certainly a glue.  He can also bring it with the bat when necessary. I know he’s getting older but he is also distancing himself from Tommy John surgery and I think he can be a solid contributor for a World Series champion…if LeMahieu leaves. The Yankees can’t let DJ leave for Toronto or the Mets, can they? That would be heartbreaking either way.

While I think Brian Cashman will bring a formidable starting rotation to camp, the present assignment of Gerrit Cole (great), Jordan Montgomery (good) and the bevy of Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Michael King, Jonathan Loaisiga and Domingo German (nice potential) just doesn’t strike me as a rotation that can compete with the best of the best. The Yankees clearly need a solid #2. Luis Severino can be THAT guy but he won’t be ready until mid-season at the earliest and you always have to recognize the early return after TJ surgery can be a bumpy road. In my mind, Sevy is not the Sevy of old until 2022 at the earliest. In other words, if I am trying to determine the guys I need to make a championship run in 2021, Sevy is just not one of the chess pieces I’d count on. Anything we get from Sevy should be considered gravy. Hopefully, he’ll be a beast in 2022 but that doesn’t help this season.

Now that the Pittsburgh Pirates have traded first baseman Josh Bell to the Washington Nationals, it will hopefully end some of the Luke Voit trade talk. I’ve already seen the ‘let’s trade Ford to Pittsburgh because they need a first baseman’ tweets. Not that I’d be opposed to trading Mike Ford or trying to acquire Pirates starter Joe Musgrove, but I recognize if we are thinking about it now, Brian Cashman has thought about it and has moved on to other ideas.  The one thing we’ll never see in our lifetimes is Brian Cashman looking at Twitter and saying, “Oh geesh, I should have thought about that!”. 

Put me in the category of those who say do whatever it takes to make Luis Castillo a Yankee. I don’t think it will happen but, man, a front two of Gerrit Cole and Luis Castillo would be sweet.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

I haven’t formed my thoughts on the 2021 season yet, but I don’t think, today, the Yankees have the roster to make 2021 the first championship year since 2009. I think they have the team, with pending enhancements and modifications, to be the last team standing. But it is a matter of when (if?) the Yankees make the necessary moves to bring the championship back to the Bronx.  I do expect some movement in January but ultimately who knows. This is a weird year, unlike any we’ve ever experienced. I look forward to a day when the COVID-19 vaccines are readily available for all of us and we can return to some sense of normalcy. Bumping elbows at a baseball game has been missed. Pour your beer on me when we return to stadiums…it’s all good. I’ll take the bad with the good because baseball, and baseball live and in person, is better. I look forward to it.

It is Christmas and I wish a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours. We’ve suffered a great deal this year. Many of us have lost friends and loved ones and we’ll certainly never forget them. I am glad you are here and I want you…and your family…to be happy and safe. Setting the Yankees aside, the most important aspect of this blog is you, your health and the health of those around you. There are challenging times ahead before it gets better but together we are strong and together we’ll get through this. Much love to all of you...

Merry Christmas, my friends.

As always, Go Yankees!