Mailbag: Kendrick, Pirela, Pineda, Maris, All-Stars, Young

Got nine questions in the mailbag this week. You can send us questions via the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar at any time. There’s no confirmation page, I know, but your questions go through, trust me. It just looks like they don’t.

(Harry How/Getty)
Kendrick. (Harry How/Getty)

Owen asks: What do you think the Yankees chances are of singing Howie Kendrick to a deal in the upcoming off-season? He seems to fit the Yankees needs and current free agent policies fairly well; that is, he plays a position that the Yankees will need filled (I don’t believe in Rob Refsnyder‘s defense), and he’s the kind of guy who can be had for a somewhat large annual salary but without a long term commitment attached to it. What do you think a Kendrick deal would look like? Maybe 5 years 100M? I’d be on board.

Aside from the Robinson Cano outlier, the largest free agent contract given to a second baseman the last six years is the four-year, $30.25M deal the Royals gave Omar Infante last winter. Kendrick should clear that easily, I’m just not sure by how much. Five years and $100M seems like an awful lot for a guy on the wrong side of 30 who is consistently above-average but not truly great. That’s basically Jose Reyes money and Reyes was way more dynamic when he hit the market.

Johnny Peralta and Chase Headley signed nearly identical four-year contracts worth $52M-ish the last two offseasons and I think Kendrick’s in line for a bit more, but not a ton. Maybe he’s a $16M a year player rather than a $13M a year player like those two. Four years and $64M? I don’t think I would be comfortable offering more than that to a guy who turns 32 in July and is trending downward defensively.

Now, that said, yeah I think the Yankees would look into signing Kendrick and he would be a really great fit for the lineup if he continues to produce like he has the last few years. They could definitely use another high contact righty bat. Kendrick is off to a great start this year (136 wRC+) and I think he’ll finish the season close to his 2012-14 level (111 wRC+) when it’s all said and done. Second basemen usually don’t age all that well and Kendrick’s best years are almost certainly behind him. Maybe he will get five years and $100M after all. I’m not sure I’d want to be on the hook for that though.

Dan asks: Why should I give guys like A-Rod and Nelson Cruz the benefit of the doubt when it comes to PED use? Cruz is having a career year in a pitchers park, past his prime; A-Rod last hit this well when he was 32 years old (he’s 39 now). Am I just jaded?

You’re free to give whoever you want the benefit of the doubt. Those two guys cheated, they got caught, and they don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt as far as I’m concerned. That’s just me. You’re welcome to feel however you want about them. Heck, I’ve already seen articles saying A-Rod is probably on PEDs again and others saying he’s clean. I’d like to think the testing system works and everyone’s clean, but that’s not the case and it never will be the case. That’s just the way it is. It would be nice if players didn’t cheat, yet they do and they always will as long as the sport exists.

Pirela. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
Pirela. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Ethan asks: I know a lot can happen between now and when he’s healthy, but is it possible the team’s stronger with Jose Pirela instead of Brendan Ryan? It seems like his offensive floor is almost certainly higher, and we’ve already got two people who can play SS.

Yes, I definitely agree with that. Ryan can’t hit and his defense, while still solidly above-average, isn’t what it was a few years ago. Pirela might be able to hit, we don’t know that for sure yet, but most agree he’ll never be much of a defender. Ryan isn’t useless, the ability to play shortstop is a valuable skill. The Yankees already have what amounts to two defense first shortstops in Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew though, and they don’t need another. Pirela’s a better fit for the Yankees. That said, I think the difference between the two will be relatively small given sparse playing time.

Mark asks: As would be expected, the duo of Drew and Gregorius have considerably more range than Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts. Chase Headley also has much more range than anyone they had at 3rd base last year … what is the percentage of ground balls that are making it through this infield compared to last year?

I agree the infield range is much improved this year. It’s very obvious watching each night. I’m not sure ground balls are a great way to measure range though because, well, the Yankees kinda stink at shifting. Seems like they burned by it constantly. Here’s how the club has fared at preventing ground balls from turning into hits this year compared to the last few years:

NYY GB BABIP MLB GB BABIP
2015 .251 .239
2014 .252 .247
2013 .255 .240
2012 .250 .238
2011 .250 .237

Consistently worse than the league average, so yeah, they stink at shifts. (Despite the widespread use of the infield shift, more ground balls are not being turned into outs in 2015, both by the Yankees and by MLB in general. The shift is definitely hurting some specific hitters, but league-wide there has been no real change.) The Yankees are converting ground balls into outs at the same basic rate as the last few years, but again, I’m not sure that’s a good measure of range. Positioning plays a huge role.

David asks: Who was the last pitcher to have more wins than walks over the course of a full season? I remember Curt Schilling accomplishing that at his peak. Think Pineda can do it this year?

More wins than walks has happened just four times in history among players who qualified for the ERA title. If we lower the innings minimum to 100 innings, it’s still only happened five times in history. If we drop the innings minimum all together, the list is 67 names long. Lots of guys came up, pitched in one game, got the win without walking anyone, then didn’t pitch again that season.

Here’s the list of guys who had more wins than walks while throwing at least 100 innings, via Baseball-Reference:

Rk Player Year W BB IP FIP ERA+
1 Bret Saberhagen 1994 14 13 177.1 2.76 153
2 Slim Sallee 1919 21 20 227.2 2.78 136
3 Christy Mathewson 1914 24 23 312.0 2.83 88
4 Christy Mathewson 1913 25 21 306.0 2.49 152
5 Deacon Phillippe 1910 14 9 121.2 2.55 138

Five times in history and just once in the last 96 (!) years. Crazy. Schilling is one of the greatest command pitchers in baseball history, but the closest he ever got was 2002, when he had 23 wins and 33 walks. Two pitchers are on pace to do the more wins than walks thing this year: Pineda (five wins, three walks) and ex-Yankee Bartolo Colon (six wins, one walk). My guess is neither gets there. It’s way too hard to go a full season walking that few hitters. At some point they’ll just have one of those days and walk four batters in a start, which will screw everything up.

Larry asks: Who was Roger Maris traded for when Yankees acquired him?

The Yankees acquired Maris from the Kansas City A’s in December 1959 in a seven-player trade. Maris, IF Joe DeMaestri, and 1B Kent Hadley came to the Yankees in exchange for RHP Don Larsen, OF Hank Bauer, 1B/OF Norm Siebern, and 1B/OF Marv Throneberry. Maris, Larsen, and Siebern were the principles. Bauer was a big name near the end of his career while the others were extra players.

Bauer had some great years in pinstripes, but he was 37 at the time of the trade and would only play 138 games with the A’s from 1960-61. Larsen threw his World Series perfect game at age 26 in 1956, but by 1959 he had a career 100 ERA+ in 1,049.2 innings. After the trade he had a 98 ERA+ in 498.1 innings from 1960-67. Siebern had some nice years in Kansas City, hitting .289/.381/.462 (126 OPS+) with 78 homers from 1960-63.

Maris was only 24 at the time, and was coming off a season in which he hit 16 homers and batted .273/.359/.464 (123 OPS+). He owned a career 107 OPS+ in three years at the time of the trade. Then, two years after the trade, he set the then-single-season home run record. Despite Siebern’s production and the name recognition of Bauer and Larsen, the Yankees won this deal easily. Maris hit .265/.356/.515 (139 OPS+) in seven seasons with New York.

P.J. asks: I know it’s early but who do you think on the Yankees stands the best chance to make the All-Star team, pitchers and position players?

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Five players jump to mind: Alex Rodriguez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Michael Pineda, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances. Brett Gardner‘s been awesome but the All-Star Game is a popularity contest and he’s not popular enough. It is what it is. Mark Teixeira‘s been great too but I don’t think he’ll get in over Miguel Cabrera, Eric Hosmer, or Jose Abreu, barring injury.

Ellsbury, Pineda, Miller, and Betances are pretty self explanatory. Just remember, it’s really hard for a non-closer reliever to get into the Midsummer Classic. Betances was the rare exception last year. A-Rod will be interesting, especially if the fans don’t vote him in as the starting DH. (Do that!) Will the players and coaches vote in someone not many people seem to like even if his production warrants it? A-Rod’s something of a pariah.

Adam asks: Is it too early to think that Chris Young might be a good qualifying offer candidate?

Oh no, he’s definitely not. Young has been awesome, but the qualifying offer is expected to be in the $16M range this offseason, and he’s not that kind of player. He’d accept the one-year, ~$16M offer in a heartbeat at this point of his career. Even if he kept up his current production all year. Young’s a part-time player these days. A good one, but still a part-time player. No way the Yankees risk giving him a qualifying offer.

Young, Garrett Jones, Stephen Drew, and Chris Capuano are the team’s notable free agents after the season, and none of them are qualifying offer candidates. Next year’s crop of free agents includes Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Ivan Nova, Brendan Ryan, and Esmil Rogers. Nova is the only one of those guys who could be worth a qualifying offer, and even then he’d have to bounce back from Tommy John surgery exceptionally well. Unless they hit it big with a one-year contract guy next season, the Yankees don’t have any extra draft picks coming their way anytime soon. Pineda’s the next no doubt qualifying offer guy on the roster and he’s three years from free agency.

Hank asks: Do you think A-Rod has a chance to get to 715 HR?

Yes I think he has a chance, albeit a small one. A-Rod is 52 homers away from passing Babe Ruth with his contract set to expire after the 2017 season. So he has two seasons and four and a half months to hit 52 homers. Keep in mind he hit only 41 homers from 2011-13 before getting suspended in 2014. Rodriguez has been mashing early this year, but will it last all summer? And into next year? And the year after that? For A-Rod to have a chance to pass Ruth and take over third place on the all-time list, he’s going to have to hit a ton of dingers this season and make up as much ground as possible. I have to think his power will continue to fade in his early-40s.

Yankees lose Whitley to injury, series finale 6-1 to Rays

Might be time to shave the mustaches, fellas. The Yankees dropped their third straight game on Thursday night, losing 6-1 to the Rays. They’ve lost three straight games for the first time since April 9-11 and only the second time this year.

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Down Goes Whitley
Losing a game is one thing, losing a starting pitcher to injury is another. Chase Whitley exited Thursday’s game with an elbow injury in the second inning, and while speaking to reporters after the game, Joe Girardi sure made it sound like they are expecting Friday’s tests to show a major injury. Yuck. Whitley admitted his elbow has been bugging him for a while, but he said he didn’t tell anyone and tried to pitch through it. No regrets, he said.

Before Whitley exited the game, he allowed a run on a two-out, two-strike single to James Loney, who makes a living off making the Yankees pay. Whitley got two quick outs in the second, but walked the next two batters, and none of the balls were particularly close to the plateither. In hindsight, that was a pretty clear indication something was up. Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue popped out of the dugout after the second walk and Whitley was done.

In came long man Esmil Rogers with runners on the corners — Asdrubal Cabrera stole second and advanced to third when Brian McCann threw the ball into center field earlier in the inning — and light-hitting catcher Rene Rivera swatted his first pitch out to dead center field for a three-run homer. I didn’t even think it was that bad of a pitch. It was a slider right at the knees, a borderline at best strike (via Brooks Baseball):

Esmil Rogers Rene Rivera

The homer effectively put the game out of reach given the offense’s recent struggles. Rogers did soak up 3.1 innings out of the bullpen before David Carpenter, Chasen Shreve, and Branden Pinder threw an inning each. Shreve allowed a run on three hits while Carpenter and Pinder had 1-2-3 innings. Hopefully this is the start of Carpenter getting on the right track. The Yankees could use him.

Losing Whitley is a real bummer. Losing pitching depth is never good, no matter where the guy sits on the depth chart. Girardi confirmed Chris Capuano, who threw six innings in his latest minor league rehab start earlier this week, will slot back into the rotation to replace Whitley, they just haven’t decided when yet. The Yankees have two off-days next week and don’t need a fifth starter until May 26th, 12 days from now.

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Almost Nothing
The Yankees were on the verge of being shut out when Alex Rodriguez hit an opposite field solo home run leading off the ninth inning. It was the team’s first extra-base hit since Mark Teixeira‘s homer in the ninth inning on Monday. The Yankees haven’t gone three straight games without an extra-base hit in nearly 15 years, and they avoided it by one inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a single and the Yankees didn’t pick up another hit until Brett Gardner singled in the sixth. They had five hits total: two by Ellsbury, one by Gardner, two by A-Rod. The top three hitters in the lineup went 5-for-11 (.455) and the other six hitters went 0-for-19. Eek. Teixeira and Chase Headley drew walks and that’s it. Seven base-runners all game. Bit of a funk for the offense.

Leftovers
Gardner had a tremendous defensive inning in the seventh and didn’t even record an out. Hits were blooping in all over the place and he cut off three of them to prevent them from becoming extra-base hits, including two with dives. No outs were recorded, but he likely shaved a few runs off Shreve’s ERA.

Following Ellsbury’s leadoff single in the first, Gardner was credited with a sac bunt when he laid the ball down in front of the plate, but I’m pretty sure he was trying to bunt for a hit. There was a bit of a jailbreak out of the box. Still don’t like it though. He’s swinging the bat too well to settle for a bunt. Swing the bat in the first inning! Do some damage maybe.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. We also have Bullpen Workload pages and Announcer Standings pages that are worth checking out. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This four-game series in Tampa is finally over. Didn’t it seem like it lasted forever? It did to me. Anyway, the Yankees are off to Kansas City for a three-game weekend series with the Royals. Big Mike Pineda will be on the mound in the series opener Friday night. It’ll be his first start since his 16-strikeout gem last weekend. Believe it or not, he won’t be the tallest starting pitcher in the game. The 6-foot-10 Chris Young will start for the Quarter Pounders.

DotF: Andujar goes deep again in Tampa’s win

Double-A Trenton manager Al Pedrique told Nick Peruffo there is no real concern for RHP Luis Severino, who was placed on the 7-day DL yesterday with a blister. He’s expected to miss one start, that’s it. 1B Greg Bird, on the other hand, will miss “a few weeks” with a shoulder strain. Bird is not with the team, he’s in Tampa rehabbing.

Triple-A Scranton (10-2 win over Durham)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 2-6, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 CS — had been in a little 5-for-24 (.208) slump
  • LF Ramon Flores: 0-3, 1 R, 3 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 E (throwing) — first error in several weeks after a rough defensive start to the year
  • C Austin Romine: 0-2, 1 RBI, 3 BB
  • RHP Jaron Long: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 7/6 GB/FB — 58 of 86 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 1 IP, zeroes, 3/0 GB/FB — nine of 14 pitches were strikes (64%)

[Read more…]

Update: Chase Whitley exits Thursday’s start with elbow injury

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

10:05pm: Following the game, Joe Girardi told reporters Whitley has been dealing with an elbow issue for a while now. He didn’t tell anyone and tried to pitch through it. Ugh. Hate that. No shame in speaking up if you’re hurt, especially if you’re a pitcher and it’s your arm. That’s the moneymaker, man.

8:48pm: Whitley left the game with a right elbow injury, the Yankees announced. He’s being looked at by a doctor and will go for tests in the morning. YES showed Whitley winching in pain after throwing several pitches in that second inning. Ominous, this is.

8:03pm: Right-hander Chase Whitley left tonight’s start against the Rays in the second inning with an unknown injury. There was nothing obvious — Whitley didn’t appear to be favoring anything from what I saw — before Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue came out to the mound. Whitley exited the game without even attempting a test pitch. Here’s the video.

Whitley walked his final batter on four pitches, none of which were particularly close. He made several other pitches that were well off the mark as well, including one that went to the backstop, which was the only indication something was wrong. The Yankees have not yet given any sort of update on the injury, so stayed tuned.

Injuries are never good, especially to pitchers, but the timing isn’t disastrous for the Yankees. Chris Capuano threw six innings in his third minor league rehab start earlier this week and will presumably be able to step right into Whitley’s rotation spot, if necessary. These things always work themselves out, don’t they?

Game 36: Maybe Score After The First Inning?

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Those losses the last two nights were pretty annoying. Annoyingly similar too. Early offense, nothing thereafter, and a quality pitching performance squandered. Blah. The Yankees lost back-to-back games for the first time in nearly a month, and hey, it was bound to happen sometime.

The Yankees can earn a split of this seemingly never-ending four-game series with the Rays tonight. They’re 6-3 against Tampa Bay so far this season, including 4-2 in Tropicana Field despite these last two losses. They Yankees are playing well. This is just one of those inevitable blips. Right? Right. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Chris Young
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Jose Pirela
    RHP Chase Whitley

More rain in St. Petersburg tonight. Hooray for the dome and climate control. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm ET tonight and you’ll be able to watch live on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending on where you live. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Brendan Ryan (calf, hamstring) played in an Extended Spring Training game today but had to leave due to heat exhaustion. Seriously.

2015 Draft: Scott Kingery

Scott Kingery | 2B

Background
The 21-year-old Kingery went undrafted out of Phoenix high school three years ago but has done nothing but hit at Arizona. He put up a .319/.413/.426 line with 16 doubles, seven triples, one homer, 50 walks, and 47 strikeouts in 95 games his freshman and sophomore years, and is hitting .467/.500/.715 with 12 doubles, five triples, four homers, eight walks, and ten strikeouts in 31 games this spring. He’s been in the mix for the NCAA batting title all season.

Scouting Report
Kingery is a classic short, scrappy, middle infielder grinder. You know what I mean, right? He’s listed at 5-foot-11 and 175 lbs., and his offensive game is built on contact and using the entire field from the right side of the plate. Kingery has bat speed, top notch hand-eye coordination, and the innate ability to get the fat part of the bat on the ball. He knows the strike zone and still draws plenty of walks despite being able to put the ball in play seemingly at will. Kingery has little power but has the speed to be a threat on the bases (34 steals in 47 attempts in college) and the athleticism to play up the middle. He was a center fielder years ago but has settled in at second base, though his reflexes and arm strength have some thinking he could handle shortstop. (Kingery is playing second for the Wildcats in deference to shortstop Kevin Newman, a possible top ten pick.)

Miscellany
Keith Law (subs. req’d), MLB.com, and Baseball America ranked Kingery as the 25th, 36th, and 39th best prospect in the draft class in their latest rankings, respectively. My guess is he would be considered a slam dunk first rounder if he was two or three inches taller. Teams are still biased against short players. They show it every year. Kingery had success against top competition in the wood bat Cape Code League last summer (.312/.331/.416 in 33 games) and that’s something the Yankees have valued in the past. They pick 16th and 30th overall next month, and while Kingery would be a more appropriate pick at No. 30, he might come off the board much earlier as one of the top college hitters in a draft seemingly devoid of them.

The case for giving Jacob Lindgren more time in Triple-A

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

A little more than one month into the regular season, lefty relief prospect Jacob Lindgren has dominated with Triple-A Scranton, pitching to a 1.65 ERA (1.60 FIP) in 16.1 innings. He’s struck out 31.4% of batters faced and gotten a ground ball on 75.6% of balls in play. His numbers since being the Yankees’ top draft pick (second round) last year are mind-boggling: 40.2 K% and 78.3 GB%.

The 22-year-old Lindgren has dominated minor league hitters the same way he dominated college hitters with Mississippi State. The Yankees selected him with the 55th overall pick last year, and when you select a reliever that high, you’re taking him because you expect him to have an impact and soon. I’m not sure Lindgren is another Andrew Miller, that’s a lofty comparison, but he’s not far off either. He’s a lefty with a great slider who can get both lefties and righties out.

And yet, despite his pro ball dominance, Lindgren remains in Triple-A while the big league team cycles through guys like Chris Martin, Chasen Shreve, Esmil Rogers, and Branden Pinder. I thought Lindgren belonged on the Opening Day roster and last month I said the Yankees are going to have to call him up soon just to challenge him so he can continue his development. That is still true now, I’m not backtracking, but I am going to play devil’s advocate and make a case for leaving Lindgren in Triple-A a little longer.

From 2004-08 — a five-year sample close to the present but far enough away that we know how these guys turned out — a total of ten college relievers were taken in the first, supplemental first, or second round. Like Lindgren, they were all expected to be fast-moving back-end of the bullpen guys. Future closers and setup men with the future coming very soon after the draft. Here’s the list:

Drafted MiLB IP before MLB debut MLB IP and WAR
Bill Bray 1st 2004 (MTL) 78.2 197.1 and 2.4 (retired)
Huston Street supp. 1st 2004 (OAK) 26 606 and 14.0 (and counting)
Craig Hansen 1st 2005 (BOS) 12.2 93.2 and -1.9 (out of baseball)
Joey Devine 1st 2005 (ATL) 26 88.1 and 2.0 (out of baseball)
J.B. Cox 2nd 2005 (NYY) 219 N/A (out of baseball)
Chris Perez 1st 2006 (STL) 85 379.1 and 4.4 (and counting)
Casey Weathers 1st 2007 (COL) 191 (and counting) N/A
Eddie Kunz 1st 2007 (NYM) 68.1 2.2 and -0.2 (out of baseball)
Josh Fields 1st 2008 (SEA) 176.2 98.2 and 0.0 (and counting)
Daniel Schlereth 1st 2008 (ARI) 31 93 and 0.0 (and counting)

This list doesn’t include Brett Cecil, a 2007 first rounder who was a reliever in college the Blue Jays tried to convert into a starter.

Two of those ten reached their ceilings as legitimate late-inning MLB relievers: Street and Perez, and Perez is already pretty close to washed up, so his success didn’t last very long. Eight of the ten got to MLB but most of them had little to no impact — only five of the ten are still active! — and that’s the risk with relievers. If they fall short of their ceilings, they have very little value.

Not counting Cox (got hurt in the minors) and Weathers (hurt and control issues), the average is 63 innings in the minors before their MLB debut for those college relievers, and that is skewed a bit by Fields, who had control issues for a few years before figuring it out. Four made it to MLB in fewer than 41 innings, Lindgren’s career total, but only Street had staying power among those four.

The common thread here: most of those relievers were called up within a year of being drafted and thrust into intense late-inning roles. Both Hansen and Devine were up with the big league team weeks after being drafted, Street made the team out of Spring Training the following year, and Schlereth was up the following May. They’re the most extreme examples.

Hansen was a September call-up but the other three were asked to be late-inning guys right away. Heck, Devine was the Braves postseason roster in 2005, a few weeks after being drafted. Perhaps it was too much, too soon? Making the jump and adjusting to the MLB level is really hard. Making that jump with the pressure of being a high draft pick and then being asked to pitch high-leverage innings right away is an awful lot to take in at once.

Street is one of the very few who was able to have all that dumped on his plate and still thrive. Chad Cordero did the same thing way back in 2003 before blowing out his arm. They’re the exception, not the rule, yet that’s what the expectation seems to be for relievers taken high in the draft. Get to MLB and dominate right away. It hasn’t worked all that often, however, and I’m sure the Yankees have this in mind with Lindgren. This quote from scouting director Damon Oppenheimer last summer sticks out (emphasis mine):

“I kind of leave those decisions for other people. My job’s just to bring the talent into the system. But we just think as a group that he does have the capability of moving through the system hopefully quickly. Whether he’s good enough to go pitch in the big leagues right away, somebody else will make that decision. But he’s obviously advanced. He’s obviously gotten out really good hitters. There’s some history with guys doing this, but there’s also some history with guys getting to the big leagues as relievers too quick and it doesn’t last. We’d like to get impact and longevity from him, not just something that’s real quick.”

Do the Yankees want Lindgren in the big leagues dominating right now? Of course. But they also want Lindgren to have a long career and that’s the priority. They want him to be the next Huston Street, not the next Craig Hansen or Daniel Schlereth. And if that means leaving him in the minors longer than fans originally expected to make the transition as painless as possible, then they seem willing to do that. It might not work! But they’re trying.

Like many of those 2004-08 college relievers, Lindgren has the stuff to get big league hitters out right now, less than one full year after being drafted. Pitchers can survive on stuff alone if necessary, but there’s more to being a successful long-term big leaguer than stuff. Kids making the transition from college to pro ball have to learn how to deal with the day in, day out grind, how to prepare to pitch every day and not just on the weekends, and learn how to cope with failure as much as anything.

Personally, I think relievers — especially slider happy relievers like Lindgren — are so unpredictable and tend to have such short shelf lives that I’d like to see the Yankees get as much out of Lindgren as possible before things go south, whenever that is. If the team feels the best way to maximize Lindgren’s career is to take it slow and keep him in Triple-A longer than his performance warrants, that’s fine too. The track record of college relievers being rushed to MLB is pretty terrible and the Yankees are trying to avoid adding another name to that list.