Here’s a recap of some Yankees happenings you may have missed at the major and minor league levels.
Yankees Farm Teams: Where’s The Beef?
For all the hype about the Yankees farm system, their Triple-A team at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre sits behind three other teams with a sub-.500 record in the Northern Division of the International League. Only two seasons ago, the Railriders were the Triple-A National Champions.
Longtime Railriders manager, Al Pedrique, left the team during the offseason to join the Oakland A’s as their first base coach. He was replaced by Bobby Mitchell, who had a brief 5-year career in the majors, including one year with the Yankees, appearing in ten games.
The teams ahead of the Railriders are farm teams of the Red Sox, Phillies, and Toronto.
Are the Yankees showcasing Loaisiga?
Yesterday’s column featured a look at the Yankees decision to promote Jonathan Loaisiga for a start on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Several comments from Yankees Facebook Groups pointed out two factors that could have been part of the Yankees decision to pass by Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams, both of whom are pitching one notch up in the Yankees system at Triple-A.
Justus Sheffield is not on the Yankees 40-man roster, and therefore the Yankees would have needed to drop a player to accommodate the addition of Sheffield.
More intriguing, though, a couple of readers wondered if this might be a case of Yankees posturing to showcase Loaisiga for a couple of starts with the hope of packaging him in a deal for a frontline starter before the deadline?
Is this really Gardner’s last season with the Yankees?
Already, the drums are beating, and the question is being asked if the team will let Brett Gardner go after his contract expires at the end of the 2018 season.
Very quietly, Gardner has taken over both the left field and leadoff spots for the team. He’s raised his batting average to .262, which by the way is 19 points above the league average in the home run derby minded stats these days.
Ever patient at the plate, Gardner has a knack for fouling off pitches and extending his at-bats and the opposing pitcher’s pitch count.
Recently, Gardner told NJ.com he’d like to play for “another two to three years.” He will be 35 come August but has shown no sign of slowing down, and his contribution to the Yankees as a team leader is not measurable, especially given the young talent that takes the field with Gardner.
For me, this looks like another CC Sabathia one-year deal until he drops for Gardner, and the Yankees will be better off for it.
Who would you rather have as the Yankees shortstop?
This almost borders on heresy, but strictly from a baseball perspective, who would you rather have as the Yankees shortstop next season, Didi Gregorius or Manny Machado?
Recognizing he is on the cusp of becoming baseball’s first $400 million player when he hits the free agent market in November (no, it will not be Bryce Harper), Machado is having a season to behold. And whether or not the Orioles decide to get what they can for him at the trade deadline, that will have little or no bearing as to where Machado decides he wants to spend the next eight to ten years of his life.
The dichotomy between Didi Gregorius in April versus the player we’ve seen since then is also something to behold. Yes, Gregorius is on the way back, and even the power we saw earlier (two home runs against Nationals in a win) is returning.
But let’s be serious. How far will Gregorius need to go to catch up with Machado? Age-wise, there is a difference of two seasons, with Machado gaining the edge at 26. One of those old-time ten-year deals could very well be in order for Machado.
The team already has a glut of outfielders Aaron Boone struggles to manage with equal playing time, and there are more on the way. This should negate the Yankees making a run at Bryce Harper who, by the way, when you check his stats is not having an exemplary season for the still struggling Nationals.
A lot will depend on Brian Cashman landing a frontline starter this summer and having no need to go hog-wild in the pitching market during the offseason. Plus, they have the money, and they can “play” with the luxury tax in preparing for next season.
Goodbye, Didi? That’s gonna hurt a lot of Yankees fans including this one. But just think about it…an infield composed of Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Greg Bird, and Manny Machado for the next eight to ten years?….