Our Blue Jays start a three-game series with the Yankees in Dunedin today. The Yankees are 3-5, in last place in the AL East at the moment.
I sent off some questions to Joshua Diemert of Pinstripe Alley, SB Nation’s fine Yankees’ blog and he sent back his answers in record time.
I gotta ask, you guys picked up one of my least favorite players, Roughned Odor. Why? Just to embarrass him by making him shave?
Odor is the best of a bad situation. The Yankees need better infield bench pieces, since Tyler Wade is truly terrible and the recently departed Thairo Estrada was worse. I’m not a huge fan of what Odor brings to the plate - the plate discipline especially is rough - but I think the team is hoping he can fill in at second, allow DJ to move to first (more on Jay Bruce in a second) and wait for Luke Voit to come back. Or they could just trade for Trevor Story like I keep saying.
Giancarlo Stanton has just been a DH so far this year, is that the plan for the season? What do you expect from him this year?
There was talk in spring about Stanton playing more outfield this year than in previous seasons, but then he played exactly 0 innings in the spring. When Judge missed a couple games with “side soreness” and Frazier was sat for games against the Rays, Stanton didn’t come in to play the field. He seems to be a full time DH. As for expectations...I’d like to say I expect him to be Pinstriped JD Martinez, but there’s always going to be worries about him staying on the field. He and Judge supposedly overhauled their fitness regimen to focus on flexibility and stamina more over the summer, so hopefully he avoids the hamstring problems that have plagued him the past couple years.
I was surprised to see Jay Bruce playing first. How did that happen? Is he there for the season, or is he short term?
Jay Bruce came in to spring as a NRI and one of those lefty veteran bats the team hopes catches something. He took over at first in the first week of the season and disappointed offensively and defensively. I’m sure he’s on the roster until Voit comes back, but I can’t imagine he’ll see much playing time. As said above, the plan right now seems to be Gio-Gleyber-Odor-DJ left to right on the infield.
Can you give me a quick scouting report of the starting pitchers we are likely to see?
Monday - Gerrit Cole is the best pitcher in the AL, and based on his start against the Orioles, wants to start throwing a plus change more. So, have fun with that.
Tuesday - Jameson Taillon was the offseason acquisition I was most excited about. He completely rebuilt his mechanics (link) and features a new, shorter arm delivery reminiscent of Lucas Giolito. Taillon drips potential, but the question is how much the Yankees trust him to actually throw - he went just 4.2 against Baltimore last week, I’m curious to see what the team lets him do against a better lineup in Toronto.
Wednesday - Corey Kluber. Everyone knows what Kluber was, but early in his redemption tour he has not impressed. The fastball velo is fine, sitting around 91, but the slider has been unimpressive and he’s had some terrible control issues in his first two starts. He’s a pretty notorious slow starter, so the team is kind of stuck between wondering if this is Normal Slow Start Kluber or Oh, He’s Old as All Hell Kluber.
What do Yankees’ fans think of Gary Sanchez? I wanted the Jays to stop pitching to him in that first series, but YES broadcasters seemed to have a rather personal dislike for the guy.
I personally love Sánchez, but I can’t think of a Yankee who receives the same kind of vitriol from a very noticeable minority of the fanbase. Some of it is racist, some of it is nonsensical reactionary stuff. There are valid concerns about Gary: he’s never been a good blocker, but his switch to the one-knee-down catching style has noticeably improved his framing. He’s also a very streaky hitter, but showed up to spring camp with a new leg kick that looks to have sharpened his timing early in the season. Doesn’t change the fact that certain fans (and columnists!) will call him lazy and disengaged for....using an interpreter in interviews.
Aaron Boone is into his fourth season as manager of the Yankees, what do you think of him. What’s his strengths and weaknesses?
Aaron Boone is, in my opinion, impossible to separate from the front office. I don’t know how much control he has over any decisions and I expressly dislike the way he talks about injuries, but I also can’t bring myself to care that much because it’s too difficult to determine what’s his call and what’s Brian Cashman’s. (Sounds familiar).
The Yankees are having a bit of a slow start, like my Jays. What’s been happening? Are fan concerned?
Guys no hit good. The pitching staff has mostly been ok, and the bullpen has been stellar, but the vaunted lineup has disappointed in the first ten days. For the most part I expect that to turn around - the Trop is enough to take a run or two off anyone’s offense - but I’m also not sure the rotation is all that solid. At the end of the day the team’s going to be carried as far as the offense and Cole will take them, so they better start producing at a better-than-13th-in-baseball clip.
Thank you Joshua.