Sunday, December 7, 2014


The New York Yankees have made a couple of moves that on the surface appear to be an indication the team is ready to improve upon the failed clubs of the past two seasons.   Unfortunately, as it seems with every move that GM Brian Cashman makes, each step forward in fact represents a step back.

First came the announcement that the Bombers acquired young (24-years-old) Diamondbacks’ shortstop Didi Gregorius, read THE YANKEES HAVE A NEW SHORTSTOP! GREENE TO DETROIT!
in case you live under a rock.  The deal was a three-team effort involving the Tigers who received up-and-coming star hurler Shane Greene from the Yankees.  At first glance, the deal addresses who will succeed Derek Jeter at short for the Yanks by allowing them to deal from what was a surprising strength last season – starting pitching.

I am genuinely excited by the fact that Cashman brought someone on board whose ceiling hadn’t already collapsed.  Rather than settle on putting light-hitting, injury prone, and uninspiring Stephen Drew at the position – as many in the media who have drunk from the Scott Boras Kool-aid have pined for – Cashman actually gave us a player with flash, and yet untapped talent who hopefully will be with the team for years to come.

Unfortunately, my excitement was tempered by none other than Cashman when he announced the newest Yankee would platoon at shortstop with Brendan Ryan at least to start the season.   The reason for this strategy was to allow Gregorius to improve himself against left-handed pitching.  The now-former D-Back hit just .137 against lefties last year.  The “genius” of Cashman’s announcement was lost upon me when I realized that Ryan hit just .120 against southpaws in 2014.

Ryan is 32-years-old and is an outstanding fielder (like Gregorius), but the shortstop has hit over .200 just once in the past three seasons.

Why the platoon? And by the way, this is nothing personal against Ryan. As a Yankee, he's filled the role wonderfully so far. But he also knows his numbers

In my mind, the last thing I would want to do is discourage a young player I just brought on board.  While it is true that he did not hit well against left-handed hurlers, the man you claim will platoon with him HIT WORSE statistically.   What good does it do Gregorius to ride the pine against southpaws and watch his counterpart perform worse than he would have?  The greatest teacher is experience, so wouldn’t it make sense to get the youngster more at-bats against lefties?  Why not give him a chance to convert his weakness into strength?

Have your hitting coach – when you hire one Brian – work with our new infielder day-in and day-out so he’s ready to step up against a left-handed starter on day one.

Hitters benefit most from playing every day. Repetition. Muscle memory. Baseball is a sport that is mastered through repetition – ACTIVE repetition.  Playing three to five times a week isn’t going to allow Gregorius the chance to get into a rhythm at the plate.  To conclude my point, I’ll ask our faithful readers to reply with a list of successful platoons.  My guess is that they are far and few between.

The second move, is the signing of left-handed reliever Andrew Miller to a four-year deal.  Again, on the surface this seems like a GREAT move to bolster our bullpen.  That is, until you realize what it likely means. 
Over the past few weeks the Bombers have hesitated in giving star closer David Robertson a contract.  In my opinion, the signing of Miller is a signal that Cashman has decided to move on.  He went so far as to say that the team would love to re-sign DRob, but it has other higher priorities at the moment.

That’s the kiss of death.
So, without Robertson who assumes the closer role?  In all likelihood it means that Miller and Dellin Betances will share it.

Are either ready to take over the ninth inning?  Only time will tell.  Both have had tremendous success in the seventh and eighth innings during previous seasons.  Hopefully both can carry their setup talents to the end of games.
I applaud Brian Cashman’s efforts to bring genuine promise back to the Bronx, but if I’m playing a game of charades with him, it’s pretty clear he’s used these maneuvers to describe his favorite movie – “Platoon”.

Unfortunately, the word only represents success in the movies, not in baseball.


--Steve Skinner, BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1

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