The Yankees seem to have a penchant for latching onto a player who, despite ongoing deficiencies, they believe in. They have another one…
The Yankees, following two more errors by their shortstop Gleyber Torres during the Subway Series with the Mets, one of which led to three unearned runs, announced that Torres is now their second baseman.
Gallantly or not (it’s hard to tell), Torres acknowledged that “I’ve made too many errors at shortstop, and this is the best move for the team.”
According to Baseball-Reference, Gleyber Torres has yet to display adequacy in the field, but clearly, he is far more deficient when playing at shortstop.
As the table indicates, Torres gets below-average marks at both shortstop and second base in Defensive Runs Saved, but the best of the worse for the Yankees is to have Torres at second base.
The willingness by Aaron Boone or, if you are a cynic, Yankees brass forcing Boone to make the change, either way, is an indication that the Yankees believe they are a better team with Torres in their lineup.
This, despite the need to completely upheave the Yankee’s infield, forcing a move to third base by DJ LeMahieu, Tyler Wade, or Gio Urshela to shortstop, while still allowing for at-bats by Anthony Rizzo and Luke Voit at first base, though on a platoon basis.
Yankees: We’ve Seen This Before
As fans, we settle into the reality that the Yankees make the calls, and then we stand by to see the results.
Clearly, the pressure is off Gleyber Torres, and the hope is his bat will pick up to match his production offensively during the 2019 season. We’ll see.
But the theme breaking through is that the Yankees have found themselves another Favorite Son they are committed to – no matter what.
The Yankees poster boy for a favorite son has been and continues to be their catcher Gary Sanchez.
Yankees: Living With The Good And The Bad
As far back as October 2019, I’ve questioned the wisdom of the Yankees’ commitment to Gary Sanchez.
As time progressed, results similar to what we’ve seen over the past few days continue to cloud the picture.
Inexplicably, Gary Sanchez did not apply a tag to a Mets runner trying to score over the weekend, despite receiving a perfect throw with the runner only halfway toward the plate.
Aaron Boone, though not admitting it, gave Sanchez a seat on the bench the following day as a “bad boy” slap on the wrist.
Yesterday, the other shoe dropped, though, when Sanchez, a .210 hitter this year with 21 HR’s, 50 RBI, and a strikeout rate of 4:1, slapped a walk-off single to right field, leading the Yankees to a much-needed win over the Minnesota Twins.
For the Yankees, they (arguably) see this as a tradeoff advantageous to the team. Let’s leave that for now, returning to the focus of this article – Gleyber Torres.
Gleyber Torres: The Team’s Favorite Son Project
When the Yankees acquired Gleyber Torres from the Chicago Cubs, it was considered a “steal” by Brian Cashman, in return for Aroldis Chapman, the closer they saw as sealing what would become a World Championship.
Given Torres’ pedigree, the Yankees felt confident that Torres was their future fixture at shortstop; the team decided not to pursue fan-favorite Didi Gregorius, who signed as a free agent with the Phillies, where he remains as an integral part of their team.
Yankee fans will recall that Gleyber Torres produced a career “lift-off” in 2019 when he slammed 38 home runs, 89 RBI, and a prodigious .875 OPS. Seemingly, however, the Yankees intentionally overlooked his less than adequate performance in the field and twenty errors.
Since then, and much like the team’s trade-off with Gary Sanchez, the Yankees have hoped that Torres’s offense would outweigh his defense – but alas – that hasn’t happened.
Velazquez was called up last month to fill in for the injured Gleyber Torres and delivered strong play at shortstop while adding some timely hitting, despite only batting .234 with a .621 OPS in 26 games.
Yankees: Coincidence Or Not?
The Yankees rolled off a thirteen-game win streak with Velazquez in there almost every day.
Since Torres returned, the Yankees hank sunk precariously in the American League Wild Card Standings to a tie with the Red Sox for the final spot, while Toronto has zoomed into the top spot as play began tonight.
With less than 20 games remaining in the regular season, at a time when every game takes on a level of importance and heavy consequence, the Yankees decision to stay with Gleyber Torres, even if it means other players playing out of position is, at the very least, “interesting.”
Also, Torres has made his 19th error of the season tonight, mishandling a sure double-play ball as the Yankees begin a series against the Orioles in Baltimore.
As in the case with the defense of Sanchez, though, the missed play by Torres gets washed away by the Yankees’ offense, which (so far) has smashed five home runs (Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu, and Joey Gallo), while Torres has contributed one inconsequential hit in four tries. Note: Final Score New York 7 Baltimore 2.
Yankees: The Die Is Cast – We Can Only Watch
While I have several reservations about the Yankees commitment to Torres, the decision to move him to second base is not a rash one, with Manager Aaron Boone said both Monday and Tuesday he believed Torres’ lapses at short were weighing on him, which is why he decided to make the switch this late into the season.
Again, much like the Yankees’ take on Gary Sanchez, Boone’s suggestion that Torres’ lapses at short were weighing on him carries with it the inference that the issues with Torres are more mental than physical.
This is an area as a writer I must be careful with, though oddly, the same is true with the Yankees, who are more comfortable dealing with a slight tweak to a batter’s swing than trying to figure out what’s in a player’s “head.”
Nevertheless, seemingly this is the path the Yankees have chosen (again).
Yankees: A Prelude To The Offseason?
There’s another way, though, to view the Yankees’ move with Torres.
With the availability of several All-Star shortstops among the Class Of 2022 free-agents, the Yankees could be using Gleyber Torres as bait in a trade during the offseason, showcasing Torres at second base while displaying his versatility.
Eliminating Torres from the 2022 infield discussion clears things up considerably. LeMahieu returns to second, Urshela at third, and Luke Voit at first base – if Anthony Rizzo does not resign with the Yankees.
For the moment, though, and for this year, the Yankees have made Their Move, and at this point, there’s no going back – and it’s Gleyber Torres for the next two weeks – for better or worse.
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Christopher C. Rill He’s not working out. It’s a business. Let him go.
Paul Farese If the Yankees had a 24-year-old in the minors with his upside fans would be saying how excited they are and all he needed to do was improve his defense…
Ivan Bedford He is not a player who was bad from the beginning. Just the past two years because he was switched from an All-Star position to one that he hasn’t played since the minors. He is still only 24 years old and has room for improvement. So he is not like the others adopted sons.
Dan Minehan Cashman doesn’t admit his mistakes.
Freddy Maldonado This is a Cashman inflicted problem. We had a large enough sample size last year during the pandemic shortened season, to see how inept Torres was at shortstop. Clearly, Torres did nothing to improve on his defense and his emphasis on hitting home runs has badly diminished his offensive productivity. Torres went from a breakout season to a total bust. We could have acquired Didi as a free agent but opted for Torres. Now the concern should be can Torres recapture his productive bat once again?
Closing Published Comments And Final Thoughts
This will close published comments due to page space limitations.
The jury appears to be out, with the question becoming was 2019 a freak year, or still a sign of good things that can return?