Tuesday Open Thread

Got some former Yankee news to pass along: Hiroki Kuroda is retiring! He made the announcement today. “The Japan Series will be the end. I’ve decided to hang it up,” he told Kyodo News. “I’ve been shown an excellent dream with an excellent team. And now I want to go out with a smile on my face, all of us celebrating a championship pouring beer on each other.”

Kuroda, now 41, had a 3.09 ERA in 24 starts and 151.2 innings for the Hiroshima Carp earlier this season. He won his 200th professional game a few weeks ago. The Carp, who hadn’t made the postseason since 1991, are playing Shohei Otani’s Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japan Series, which begins this weekend. Give ’em hell, Hiroki. He was a damn good Yankee.

Anyway, here is today’s open thread. I’m posting it a little earlier than usual because there are two postseason games today. Last day this season we’re guaranteed two games, you know. Here’s the schedule:

  • ALCS Game Four: Indians at Blue Jays (Kluber vs. Sanchez), 4pm ET on TBS (Indians up 3-0)
  • NLCS Game Three: Cubs at Dodgers (Arrieta vs. Hill), 8pm ET on FOX Sports (Series tied 1-1)

The Islanders and Devils are also playing tonight, if you’re looking for some non-baseball entertainment. Talk about those games, Kuroda’s retirement, or anything else right here.

The Yankees’ Only Impact Middle of the Order Veteran [2016 Season Review]


Last season was an interesting one for Carlos Beltran. Early in year two of his three-year contract, Beltran looked completely done. Like done done. He hit .162/.216/.265 (22 wRC+) last April and everyone wanted him to go away. Then Beltran rebounded to hit .295/.357/.505 (135 wRC+) the rest of the season. We all wanted him gone in April, then we couldn’t get enough of him from May through October.

The Yankees hoped Beltran could put together a complete season in 2016, with offensive excellence from start to finish. It would benefit everyone. Beltran would help the Yankees win and he’d also put himself in great position heading into free agency. You never really know with 39-year-old players though. We saw Alfonso Soriano lose it in the blink of the eye a few years ago. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez did the same this year. Beltran was the exception.

The All-Star First Half

Beltran’s post-May success last year did indeed carry over into 2016. Boy did it ever. His April was a bit slow again — he hit .253/.276/.434 (85 wRC+) in the season’s first month — but not as slow as last April, thankfully. And sadly, even with that slow first few weeks, Beltran was still arguably New York’s best hitter in April. The offense was not so good early on. Yeah.

From the start of May through the end of July, Beltran was a man possessed, hitting .319/.363/.580 (149 wRC+) with 18 home runs in 71 games and exactly 300 plate appearances. That’s after hitting 19 home runs in 133 games last year. Beltran hit his 19th home run in Game 71 this year. Crazy. At one point spanning May 24th to June 22nd, he hit ten homers in 25 games. That is pretty incredible.

The biggest of those home runs was a go-ahead three-run home run in the eighth inning against the Angels on June 6th. The Yankees had lost eight of their previous 12 games and they weren’t scoring many runs. They were waiting for that big blow, and Beltran provided it. The Yankees went on to win that game as well as their next four.

Beltran was so good with the Yankees this season that he was selected to the All-Star Game. That’s what happens when you hit .299/.338/.550 (135 wRC+) with 19 home runs in the first half. Beltran was tenth in the AL in homers and seventh in slugging percentage prior to the All-Star break. He was legitimately one of the best power hitters in the game in the first half. Who saw that coming?

Believe it or not, this was Beltran’s first All-Star Game selection as an AL player. He never once made it with the Royals. That’s pretty wild. Beltran played briefly in the All-Star Game — he played two innings in right field and flew out in his only at-bat — and that was a-okay with me. The Yankees needed Beltran to have any shot of getting back into the postseason. Let him rest during the All-Star break.

The Final Weeks in New York

The Yankees never did get back into the race in July. They went 8-8 in 16 July games after the All-Star break, so they continued to tread water. It wasn’t Beltran’s fault. He hit .328/.373/.525 (134 wRC+) with three home runs in those 16 games. Beltran continued to be the team’s best hitter, and it still wasn’t good enough to get them back into the race. They were 5.5 games back of a postseason spot at the All-Star break and 5.5 games back at the end of July.

Aroldis Chapman was traded away on July 25th, a full week before the deadline. That was a pretty good indication Beltran would be dealt as well. He was in his contract year like Chapman, and with the Yankees unable to gain any ground in the postseason race, trading Beltran for prospects was a better move than keeping him for some half-baked attempt of contention. Yeah, they could have made him the qualifying offer and gotten a draft pick after the season, but I didn’t love that idea.

As expected, pretty much every contender had some interest in Beltran prior to the trade deadline. He was the best middle of the order hitter available, there was no long-term commitment, and he’s a veteran guy who has thrived in big moments. Teams were willing to overlook the defensive issues to get the big switch-hitting bat. The Rangers, Astros, Indians, and even the Red Sox reportedly checked in on Beltran. I’m sure others made the phone call too.

The Yankees ultimately worked out a deal with the Rangers, and a few hours before the August 1st deadline, Beltran was sent to Texas for three pitching prospects, the most notable of which was right-hander Dillon Tate, the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft. The first place Rangers got their middle of the order bat and the Yankees got some lower level pitching depth, and were able to buy low on a kid with some high upside.

Now, the Yankees wound up making a bit of a run in the second half, at one point creeping to within one game of a postseason spot, and boy, it sure would have been nice having Beltran and Gary Sanchez hitting back-to-back those final few weeks. The Yankees made the right move though. They got more in return for Beltran than a dinky little supplemental first round pick, plus they cleared playing time for Aaron Judge. It was a smart, sensible trade.

Nine Weeks in Texas


After hitting .304/.344/.546 (135 wRC+) with 22 home runs in 99 games with the Yankees, Beltran went on to hit .280/.325/.451 (103 wRC+) with seven home runs in 52 games with the Rangers. He then went 2-for-11 (.182) with two singles and a walk in the team’s three-game loss to the Blue Jays in the ALDS. Beltran wasn’t bad with the Rangers — though average offense with his defense is a net negative — but he didn’t have huge impact either.

So far the Yankees have gotten nothing out of this trade other than an open roster spot, and that was to be expected. The three pitchers they acquired are all in Single-A. They’re in the process of trying to rebuild Tate, and the others, Nick Green and Erik Swanson, aren’t top prospects. You won’t see them on any top 30 Yankees prospects lists in the coming weeks because the system is deep, but they’re solid depth arms. The Yankees did what they had to do at the deadline, and that was sell high on a rental veteran with no real future with the team.

Outlook for 2017

While talking to reporters after the trade, Beltran said he wants to continue playing and he’d love to return to the Yankees. He’s wanted to play here for a long time and I’m sure he wishes his two and a half years in pinstripes could have gone better for the team overall. Of course, Beltran also told Rangers reporters after the season that he’d love to continue playing in Texas, so who knows. It might have just been lip service.

The Yankees do have an opening at DH with A-Rod gone, so re-signing Beltran wouldn’t be the worst move in the world. It would certainly be more affordable than spending big on someone like Edwin Encarnacion. At the same time, the Yankees have plenty of young players who can rotate through the DH spot, plus there’s Brian McCann as well. Beltran won’t cost a draft pick — the trade made him ineligible for the qualifying offer — which is a plus.

I’m sure we’ll hear the Yankees connected to Beltran at some point this offseason because we seem to hear about the Yankees being connected to every player throughout the winter. It does make some sense to bring him back. It really depends on what happens with McCann, and what the Yankees want to do with their young players. Are they so committed to playing them that they don’t even want to tie up DH at-bats with a veteran? It’s possible.

One thing the Yankees can learn from each of the four remaining postseason teams

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

At the moment, four teams still have a chance to win the World Series. Someone will end a long title drought this year too. Among the four clubs still alive, the Blue Jays have the shortest title drought, and they last won in 1993. The Dodgers last won in 1988 and the Indians last won in 1948. The Cubs? There were only 46 states in the union the last time they won a championship. Seriously. Look it up.

Obviously the four teams still alive are all very good, and any time a team has success, there’s something that can be learned from them. Front offices around the league wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t look at these four clubs and try to figure out what they’re doing better than everyone. The Yankees, who have been thoroughly mediocre the last four years, are no different. Here’s one thing they can take from each of the four teams still playing.

Cubs: You can have a great defense without shifting

The Cubs had a historically great defense this season. Truly historic. In terms of simple defensive efficiency, which is the percentage of batted balls they turned into outs, the 2016 Cubs were the 75th best defensive team in history (out of over 2,000 team seasons). Baseball Prospectus rates them as the best defensive team ever in park adjusted defensive efficiency. Whether they’re first best or 75th best doesn’t really matter. The Cubs were a phenomenal fielding team in 2016. No doubt about it.

Now here’s the kicker: no team in baseball used fewer infield shifts than the Cubs this season. The shifts didn’t follow Joe Maddon from Tampa, apparently. Huh. Chicago used the shift for only 10.1% of the batters their pitchers faced in 2016. The next lowest rate belongs to the Royals at 10.6%. The Astros used by far the most shifts this summer (33.2%) and the Yankees used the seventh most (26.5%). They’re weren’t all that far away from being second (Rays, 29.3%).

How did the Cubs field such a great team without shifting? Well, it starts with having tremendously athletic players gifted with defensive tools. That’s kind of a prerequisite for a great team defense. The Yankees have a few of those players themselves. The Cubs also seem to emphasize their pitchers’ strengths rather than the hitter’s tendencies. They get the hitter to hit the ball where they want him to hit the ball, not where he wants to hit the ball. Make sense? It’s hard to explain, but they do it.

The Yankees allowed a .284 BABIP with normal defensive alignments this year and a .304 BABIP when using some kind of shift, which is, uh, backwards. You should be allowing a lower BABIP with the shift. This isn’t to say the Yankees should abandon the shift all together. That’s an overreaction. Perhaps scaling back on the shift would make sense though. I’m not really sure. Point is, the Cubs showed this year you don’t need to shift heavily to be a great defensive club.

Indians: Keep all your pitching depth. All of it.

It’s amazing the Indians are so close to the World Series considering they are without their No. 2 (Carlos Carrasco) and No. 3 (Danny Salazar) starters. Also, No. 4 starter Trevor Bauer cut his finger fixing his drone over the weekend and had to have his ALCS start pushed back from Game Two to Game Three. Injuries like that can cripple a team in the postseason. Could you imagine if the 2009 Yankees had lost A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte in September, and then Chad Gaudin cut his finger fixing his stupid drone in October? They’d be done.


And yet, the Indians have won every single game they’ve played this postseason despite those injuries because of their pitching depth. Josh Tomlin, Cleveland’s nominal fifth starter who at one point in September was demoted to the bullpen, has given the team two strong outings in the playoffs. Lefty Ryan Merritt, who has eleven big league innings to his credit, will get the ball in Game Five tomorrow, if necessary. Rookie Mike Clevinger is the backup plan.

The Yankees do have some rotation depth at the moment. I’m looking forward to seeing more Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell next year. Chad Green too. Then there are Chance Adams and Jordan Montgomery. Chances are the Yankees will need most of these guys at some point next year, if not all of them. That’s baseball. That isn’t to say the team should make their pitching depth off-limits, because there’s always a point when it makes sense to trade someone, but hanging on to all of these guys sure seems like a smart move.

Dodgers: Postseason narratives are meaningless

The Dodgers have won four games this postseason. Noted playoff choker Clayton Kershaw has pitched in all four of them. Sunday night, when everyone expected him to melt down in the seventh inning because he had a 20-something ERA in the seventh inning of postseason games, he tossed a scoreless frame. It’s almost like there is no such thing as a bad seventh inning pitcher.

Anyway, I have no doubt the Yankees (and pretty much every other team) have bought into some of this stuff over the years. You can’t convince me Carlos Beltran‘s postseason reputation didn’t factor into New York’s decision to sign him three years ago. (Beltran, by the way, has hit a less than stellar .250/.351/.393 in his last 25 postseason games.) These narratives are just that. Narratives. They’re fun stories to tell. They have no predictive value. Don’t get caught up in the hoopla. Just focus on getting the best talent possible and having it on the field more than everyone else.

Blue Jays: Don’t be whiny children

Does anyone actually like the Blue Jays? Outside Toronto, I mean. They’re the Rasheed Wallace of baseball. They complain about every call then bitch about it after the game. The other day Jose Bautista said “circumstances” were working against the Blue Jays in the first two games of the ALCS, and by “circumstances” he meant the home plate umpires. Late in the season the Blue Jays refused interviews with certain reporters — they literally hung media head shots in the clubhouses with giant red X’s across them — because they didn’t like some of the criticism.

Imagine scoring three runs total in three ALCS games and blaming it on the umpires. Imagine being so upset by something a reporter said or wrote that you boycott them entirely. Could they be any more thin-skinned? The Yankees are pretty good at avoiding this stuff, thankfully. Joe Girardi will occasionally say something about the umpires when there’s an egregious mistake, but I can’t remember the last player to openly complained like Bautista. So, the lesson to be taken from the Blue Jays is this: don’t be jerks. Give people a reason to like you. People around the country have enough reasons to dislike the Yankees as it is.

Monday Night Open Thread

This postseason has been incredible, hasn’t it? Last night’s game, a 1-0 win for the Dodgers, was thrilling. So many great games this year. Hopefully tonight’s game, Game Three of the ALCS between the Indians and Blue Jays (8pm ET on TBS), is another classic. The Indians lead the ALCS two games to none but now the series shifts to Rogers Centre in Toronto. Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman are tonight’s starters.

Here is tonight’s open thread. In addition to the ALCS game, there’s also Monday Night Football (Jets at Cardinals), plus the (hockey) Rangers are playing and there’s some preseason basketball on as well. You folks know how these things work by now, so have at it.

(Today is the anniversary of Game Two of the 2009 ALCS, hence the video choice.)

Andrew Miller has been brilliant this postseason, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees should regret the trade

(Maddie Meyer/Getty)
(Maddie Meyer/Getty)

Later tonight, the easy to love Indians will look to take a commanding three games to none lead in the ALCS. They held the Blue Jays to one run total in Games One and Two over the weekend. A big reason why: Andrew Miller. He’s struck out ten and allowed just one hit in 3.2 innings. So far this postseason he’s fanned 17 in 7.2 scoreless innings. Total domination.

The most impressive thing about Miller’s postseason is not necessarily his strikeout total, I don’t think, though it’s obviously fantastic. It’s the workload. He’s recorded at least five outs in each of his four appearances, plus Indians skipper Terry Francona has used Miller against the middle of the other team’s lineup. He’s not just dominating. He’s dominating the other team’s best hitters.

With Miller being basically the perfect relief pitcher this postseason, it’s only natural to wonder whether the Yankees made a mistake by trading him at the deadline. After all, he was under contract for another two seasons, so while he wouldn’t be doing this for New York this October, there was always next year and the year after. The Yankees traded not only an elite player, but pretty much the ideal team player, for prospects. Prospects!

The other night on the postgame show Pete Rose called the Miller trade a huge mistake, and, well, he’s Pete Rose, the all-time hit king, so clearly everything he says it correct. I don’t see it that way though. Sure, ultimately the Miller trade could turn out to be a massive mistake, but we are a very long way from knowing that for sure. The best way to judge this trade right now is using the information we had at the time, which is:

1. The Yankees were long shots. The Yankees did make a spirited run in August and early-September, but on the day of the Miller trade, they had just lost three straight and were 4.5 games back of the second wildcard spot with four teams ahead of them. There was no indication whatsoever the team would make a run to the postseason, and ultimately, they fell way short of a playoff spot. Miller wasn’t making up the five-game deficit by himself.

2. The bullpen market was nuts. One week prior to the Miller trade, the Yankees dealt Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for one great prospect (Gleyber Torres) and three other solid pieces. That’s a tremendous haul for a rental reliever, even one as good as Chapman. Two years ago the Red Sox got one good prospect for rental Miller. The Yankees traded Miller at a time when the demand for relievers was at an all-time high. It’s simple supply and demand. The demand was high and the Yankees had the only supply. They cashed in big time.

(Jason Miller/Getty)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

3. The return was widely praised. The Yankees received a top 25 prospect (Clint Frazier), a second top 100 prospect (Justus Sheffield), and two others (Ben Heller, J.P. Feyereisen) for Miller, and the consensus was they made a fantastic trade. Keith Law (subs. req’d) said the Yankees “have done extremely well.” One executive told Jayson Stark the team “did the right thing.” Buster Olney called it a “strong haul.” Try to find a negative reaction to the trade at the time it was made. I’ll wait. There wasn’t even the token “big mistake” quote from an anonymous scout.

4. The Yankees badly need young talent. The Yankees are old. They’re getting younger now, but generally speaking, they had a very veteran team this past season. The need for an infusion of young talent has been obvious for a while, and while guys like Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge were knocking on the door at midseason, the Yankees still needed more pieces. They weren’t a “one or two young players away from contention” team. The trade brought in the high-end talent the Yankees need to build the core of the next winning team.

In the short-term, the trade has done nothing for the Yankees other than boost their farm system ranking. Heller’s thrown a few innings in the big leagues, but nothing meaningful. For the Indians, this trade has had enormous impact in the short-term, which is what they expected. They traded for Miller because they want to win the World Series for the first time since 1948. This was an all-in move, the kind of all-in move small payroll teams rarely make.

This is a trade we won’t be able to evaluate for years from the Yankees’ perspective. And I might be a total dud when it’s all said and done. Who knows? Finding out is part of the fun. Miller’s immediate success — no one is surprised by this, right? he’s been awesome for a while now — doesn’t make the trade a mistake any more than immediate failure would have made the trade a steal. All the years of control involved make this a long-term evaluation.

“I want the teams that stepped up and made those trades to be rewarded for doing so. It would justify the action they took,” said Brian Cashman to John Harper. “I have absolutely no regrets about the deals we made — other than being in the position we were in. We did what we had to do, and hopefully everybody wins.”

The Erstwhile Catcher [2016 Season Review]


The Yankees are built around left-handed power and strong defense. That’s the plan, anyway. They want guys who can yank a ball into the short porch while adding value in the field. For the most part, no one fits that mold better than Brian McCann, the club’s starting catcher coming into 2016. He has that lefty pop and has long been a good defender.

After starting the season as the undisputed No. 1 catcher, McCann finished the 2016 season as the Yankees’ primary DH. And it wasn’t because he didn’t perform. The Yankees fell out of the race and focused on youth in the second half, which meant Gary Sanchez got priority at-bats behind the plate. McCann had his role reduced because, well, how else is Sanchez supposed to play?

The First Few Months as a Catcher

Prior to the trade deadline Carlos Beltran was the Yankees’ best hitter and Didi Gregorius was their best all-around player. McCann was probably their third best hitter and second best all around player. That’s as much an indictment of the rest of the lineup as it is praise for McCann.

In 324 plate appearances prior to the deadline, McCann hit .236/.336/.429 (107 wRC+) with 15 home runs. I know that doesn’t seem great, but keep in mind the league average catcher hit .242/.310/.391 (87 wRC+) in 2016. Catchers stink. They can’t hit, generally speaking. By catcher standards, McCann is still comfortably above-average at the plate.

McCann’s biggest hit of the season was also arguably the biggest hit of the season for the Yankees. On June 29th, he clubbed a game-tying three-run home run off Rangers closer Sam Dyson with one out in the ninth inning. The Yankees were down 7-3 to start the inning. They then went on to win 9-7 on Gregorius’ walk-off homer.

The Yankees had a really hard time scoring runs for the first four or so months of the season. The offense is the single biggest reason they missed the postseason. No doubt about it. McCann was not part of the problem. He performed as expected prior to the trade deadline. McCann had that 107 wRC+ in his first 324 plate appearances after having a 106 wRC+ last year. He held up his end of the bargain.

The Position Change

After trading Beltran and other veterans at the deadline, the Yankees turned things over to their young players, and that meant lots of playing time for Sanchez. The team wasn’t subtle about it either. Sanchez was called up on August 3rd, played two games at DH, then took over behind the plate. Starting August 5th, McCann started one of the next 16 games at catcher. He caught only eleven times in the final 54 games of 2016. That’s it.

Many veteran players would be upset about a young player taking their job at midseason, especially when playing well. Sanchez didn’t even take the job, really. The Yankees just gave it to him. It wasn’t until about a week after being installed as the starter that Sanchez’s home run barrage started. McCann had every reason and every right to be unhappy. If he was though, he never let it be known. He did nothing but praise Sanchez.

“He’s a stud. Know what I’m saying? This is the time where he’s going to play and he’s going to play a lot,” said McCann in early-August after it become clear Sanchez was the new No. 1 guy behind the plate. “I consider (Sanchez) one of the better — if not one of the best — young catchers I’ve seen since I’ve been in the big leagues.”

McCann’s numbers as a DH were actually better than his numbers as a catcher, though the shape of his production was different. He was a low batting average guy who hit for power as a catcher. As a DH, he hit for more average and less power, hence a .284/.373/.402 (114 wRC+) batting line. Only three of his 20 home runs came as the DH, but look at that batting average and on-base percentage!

In theory, McCann’s numbers should tick up as the DH because he’s free from the rigors of catching. At the same time, he had to make the adjustment to not playing as much. Sitting for 45 minutes or so between at-bats can be difficult when you’re used to playing defense. Especially for an ex-catcher who is used to being in on every pitch. McCann hit .174/.309/.261 (63 wRC+) in his first three weeks as the DH. It was .297/.356/.462 (121 wRC+) thereafter.

As well as McCann finished the season as the DH, we have to remember the bar has been raised. Catchers usually don’t hit. DHs only hit. As a catcher, McCann had a 103 wRC+ compared to the 87 wRC+ average. As a DH, McCann had a 114 wRC+ compared to the 115 wRC+ league average. He went from an above-average hitting catcher to an average hitting DH. That’s the downside of the move.

The Struggles Against Lefties

For the first time as a Yankee, McCann had a big platoon split this past season. He struggled against lefties while with the Braves, especially his final few years in Atlanta, but he figured them out a bit the last two years. This year … no luck. Here’s a quick graph of his left-right production:

Brian McCann splitsThe blue line, McCann’s wOBA against southpaws, made a nice jump from 2014-15. The 2016 season was much more in line with 2012-13, however. It’s entirely possible this is all sample size noise. McCann never batted more than 145 times against lefties in a single season from 2013-16, and that’s spread across 162 games. His batted ball profile didn’t change much either. The only big difference against lefties was a 19.2 HR/FB% from 2014-15 and a 12.0 HR/FB% in 2016.

McCann’s above-average production against southpaws during his first two years in pinstripes was a nice little surprise. He hadn’t hit lefties much in the years prior, then bam, he was suddenly doing real damage against them. That didn’t happen this year. Based on the rest of his career, 2014-15 are the outlier, not 2016. McCann figures to need a platoon partner going forward, and it just so happens the Yankees have a pretty good righty hitting catcher on their roster.

The Rebound on Defense

The Yankees moved McCann from catcher to DH to give Sanchez playing time. McCann didn’t force the move by playing poor defense. I actually thought his defense was better this year than last year, based on the eye test. Last season McCann let what seemed like a lot of blockable balls scoot by. That didn’t happen as much this past season. Here are some catcher defense numbers:

SB% Baseball Prospectus Framing StatCorner Framing FRAA
2013 24.2% +10.2 +9.9 +10.0
2014 37.2% +9.7 +11.4 +12.1
2015 35.9% -3.9 -2.5 -2.1
2016 23.0% +9.6 +5.7 +10.2

One of those years is not like the others. FRAA, which is Baseball Prospectus’ attempt at an all-encompassing catcher defense stat, has rated McCann’s glovework as excellent in three of the last four years. Last year was the outlier, which jibes with what I saw while watching the games. Players have down years in the field the same way they have down years at the plate. It’s entirely possible 2015 was a down defensive year for McCann and nothing more.

The caught stealing numbers are interesting and we might have an actual explanation for them: Gary Tuck. Tuck, a longtime catching guru, was New York’s bullpen coach from 2014-15 and McCann credited him with improving his throwing. “Gary Tuck. He’s changed the way I catch and throw,” said McCann two years ago. “We work on it every day together. I’m getting the ball out quick. No wasted movement … I’ve gotten better as the season’s gone on.”

The Yankees let Tuck go last offseason, reportedly because he was at odds with the front office over the way they use analytics, and replaced him with Mike Harkey. McCann worked with Tuck in 2014-15 and was awesome at throwing out runners. He did not have Tuck around prior to 2014 or in 2016 and his throwing suffered. Correlation does not equal causation, but when the player says “this coach fixed this,” you kinda have to believe him.

Overall, McCann had a fine season defensively. A bounceback season, really. His throwing wasn’t very good — the MLB average was a 28.3% caught stealing rate — but he was above-average at the other aspects of catching. The Yankees didn’t move McCann to DH because his defense was inadequate. They moved him because it’s time to build a new young core and Sanchez is the future behind the plate. It really is that simple.

Outlook for 2017


According to multiple reports, the Yankees listened to trade offers for McCann at the deadline, with the most serious interest coming from the Braves. Atlanta understandably did not want to take on much money or give up top prospects. The Yankees reportedly asked for Mike Foltynewicz and Ender Inciarte in return. No deal got done at the deadline but this definitely seems like something that will be revisited in the offseason.

McCann said he hopes to remain with the Yankees, for what it’s worth. And he does have complete control here. He has a full no-trade clause and if he wants to stay in New York, he will. Would he prefer to be a full-time catcher elsewhere or a part-time catcher and most-of-the-time DH with the Yankees? That’s a question we can’t answer and a question McCann probably can’t answer until he finds out where he might be going.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I think holding onto McCann next season would be a really good idea. Having two quality catchers* is a big plus, especially when they hit from opposite sides of the plate. At the same time, of course the Yankees should see what offers are out there. They’d be foolish not too. I just wouldn’t give McCann away though.

* Fun Fact: The 2016 Yankees were the third team in history with two catchers who each hit 20+ home runs. The 1961 Yankees (Elston Howard and Johnny Blanchard) and 1965 Milwaukee Braves (Joe Torre and Gene Oliver) also did it. Nice work, Gary and Brian.

Brian Cashman made it clear he values McCann highly at his end-of-season press conference, so if the Yankees do trade their erstwhile catcher this offseason, they’ll probably going to get a nice return. Quality catchers are so hard to find these days, and while Sanchez is clearly the catcher of the future, keeping McCann as a mentor and backup plan makes a world of sense to me.

Fan Confidence Poll: October 17th, 2016

2016 Season Record: 84-78 (680 RS, 702 RA, 79-83 pythag. record), 5.0 GB of postseason spot

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