Elite Sports NY's New York Yankees Fan Mailbag
Tommy Gilligan-USATSI

ESNY took questions from New York Yankees’ fans everywhere to answer any questions they may have regarding their favorite team. 

New York Yankees‘ fans asked, and they have received.

This week, Elite Sports NY reached out to Yankees’ fans and asked them to submit any questions they may have via Twitter, Facebook, or Email.

The responses were great, and we want to thank everyone for their participation. Now, without further adieu, here are your answers:

Robbie Garnsey, via Facebook:

“Who, if any, of the Yankees current prospects, would they be willing to part with to bring on an experienced starting pitcher? And with whom can they be packaged?”

Although I don’t predict any significant package involving top-notch prospects to be made, I do think the Yankees have lost interest in Rob Refsnyder. Just believe that he doesn’t give them anything they truly “need.” He’s terrific and there is a bright future for this kid, but I don’t think that future is in the Bronx.

Not that there’s anything wrong with these but: when Refsnyder was going to be platooned as the starting second baseman, Starlin Castro was acquired. When the youth movement was in full swing, Tyler Austin received most of the reps at first with Judge being the guy in the position Refsnyder played when drafted.

At this point, unfortunately, I don’t think the organization thinks any higher of him then they do Ronald Torreyes or Aaron Hicks.

With that said, I don’t presume he’s traded but won’t expect him on the roster. In fact, I don’t think any significant prospect gets dealt. He’s my pick if I had to name one. If anything, look for Brett Gardner to be shopped as Aaron Judge is here and Clint Frazier knocking on the door. He’s not ready yet, but Mason Williams and Aaron Hicks could fill the void in left until that’s the case.

Patrick Caracci (@pjjazzyjeff), via Twitter:

“I was wondering what your thoughts were on the declining attendance at Yankee games and baseball games in general as well as what you think the owners should do to increase attendance/viewership.”

For the Yankees, that decline happened thanks, in large part, to a mediocre product on the field.

With geezers who are all on the wrong side of 30 on the field, it seemed as though fans had a hard time rooting for anything except for their favorite players making it to first base without obliterating both of their hamstrings.

Since their last championship, Yankee Stadium has seen a 17.64% drop in attendance despite 2014’s — their latest spending spree — payroll being 22.72% larger than it was seven years ago.

With that said, I believe the minds of the big boys upstairs were a little disorganized in putting together a team that draws the average fan in. Throwing money at the problem without developing talent from the ground up is not only overrated but was the primary cause of ’93’s 30.67% attendance decline to ’94 despite an 8.01% increase in spending.

Yet, the organization righted the path with a core of young talent. You know… Those guys like Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and more.

With Greg Bird returning in 2017, Gary Sanchez coming into his sophomore season and even Aaron Judge potentially bringing his tremendous power to the Bronx, there is a young group of guys that fans can actually be excited about coming to the ballpark and watching on a daily basis.

Don’t forget, there are more guys on knocking on the door.

There are other reasons, too. Like the mortgage you have to take out in order to buy a beer, but the primary cause of the empty seats, in my view, has 90% to do with the product on the field.

Thomas Middaugh, via Facebook: 

“Given the [Andrew] McCutchen talk and your article on [Gerrit] Cole from the Pirates, What would a package look like for the both of them?”

A package for McCutchen would be astronomical.

Sure, he had a rough 2016 with a .256/.336/.430 slash line, an OPS of .766 (all career-lows), and even set a career high in strikeouts. On the flip side, he did keep up the power numbers with 24 home runs and 26 doubles.

A package would need to include two top-tier prospects on either side of the ball. Preferably for Pittsburgh, a top-10 starting pitcher, and an outfielder.

Acknowledging the fact that the Pirates have just one outfield prospect (Austin Meadows) in their team’s top-10 ranking, they’ll probably require the services of Clint Frazier, New York’s top prospect.

As for pitchers, they’ll possibly look into Justus Sheffield, Domingo Acevedo, and James Kaprielian, three guys in which New York is very high on.

The thing I have about the former MVP is, the Yankees’ organization has a history of taking risks on former stars by dismissing their contemporary struggles for that slim chance they could be that player again only to later discover that they certainly aren’t.

Throw that in with the fact that Cashman thinks it’s a dangerous approach to sell the farm for a superstar, not sure you’ll see McCutchen in pinstripes.

As for Cole, he and the Pirates have had squabbles over money, contract drama, and even some beef about injuries. Cashman and Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington (three trades in past three years) have a great relationship so add that in with a potential discount coupon thanks to some turmoil between player and organization, this could be an ideal move for New York.

He’ll have three years of team control at 26 years old and the Yankees have a history of taking a risk on a young, proven talent that, for whatever reason, has fallen out of favor with their team.

Coming off a relatively rough year, the price shouldn’t be steep for a guy that has the ability to bolster the rotation.

Larry Youngblood, via Email: 

“Should the Yankees keep Luis Severino in the bullpen or have him return to being a starter in 2017?”

I think they have to give him a genuine audition for a starting rotation spot when camp opens in February.

Instead of declaring him as a reliever at this moment in time, the source of why he is much better in relief must be found. The main issue is, as a starter, the kid grappled with his secondary pitches to no success, requiring him to rely heavily on his fastball.

While his slider is respectable, his changeup — which he has thrown only 10.01% this season, per Brooks Baseball — must be developed in order for the kid to meet his full potential.

So, it’s back to the rotation for Sevy with the main focus being to sharpen his changeup. He’s got a nice stretch of starting experience (2015) under his belt and now with some practice in high-leveraged situations out of the ‘pen on his resume, he should be able to carry over his relief abilities into the rotation yet again.

Unless that procedure fails, Severino is still the next great starter and not next converted starter. He’s only 22 so declaring him as a failed starter shouldn’t come until two-to-three years down the road.

Anthony Tony Pecora, via Facebook:

“I’d like to know the reason Dietrich Enns was never on our 40-man roster this past season. Facts speak for themselves, someone missed something.”

Enns was absolutely incredible a year ago. I’d agree that his 14-4 record, 1.73 ERA, and 124 strikeouts speak for itself but control is a significant issue for the 25-year old kid and his stuff is the kind that doesn’t translate to major league success.

His fastball sits at a mere 87-92 miles an hour and since his margin for error is so narrow, his career walk rate is 3.6 BB/9 but his support pitches (like his slow-hooking curve) are fantastic and there’s no arguing with results.

With that said, the Yankees got lucky that no team took him in last year’s Rule 5 Draft but they won’t get so fortunate this time around. They will have to add Enns to the 40-man roster or else he’ll be mowing them down for another organization.

Your question was “why,” though, and the reason I’d say is because of the pitch count. Enns was actually moved to the bullpen at the 2016 season because it was his first full season back from Tommy John surgery and, in correlation, the Yankees like to have guys on the 40-man that can take a ride on the Scranton Shuttle once in a while. My guess is that the organization felt it wasn’t the right time in his recovery to do so.

If I had to make a prediction, Enns will be moved to the 40-man prior to the deadline for the Rule 5 and he could possibly be in competition for a starting rotation job. Realistically, though, he’ll more than likely not make the team out of Tampa but be used to help the big league club throughout 2017.

Shelly Martin, via Facebook:

“What do you think Cashman’s concentration should be during the offseason? What do you think it actually will be?”

Thankfully, his concentration is similar to that of what I think it should be: look to improve without selling the farm.

This offseason could be a battle between the Angel (future) vs Devil (present). Any fan would love to see their Bombers win now with trades that would bring in McCutchen or Chris Sale, but the franchise is on an incredibly upward trend thanks to their reinforced farm system and a move like that won’t make the 2017 team a winning one.

It could sell some jerseys and some seats, but the Yankees are more than one right-handed hitter or starting pitcher away from being championship-caliber. A lot still needs to go their way, and more.

Whether fans want to admit it or not, this is still a rebuilding team and there’s absolutely no need to gamble it all away and potentially destroy the halfway completed infrastructure. Cashman needs to concentrate on bringing a top-tier reliever into his bullpen and make a low-risk, high reward deal for a starting pitcher that won’t steamroll their prized prospects.

The lineup should improve significantly with Bird’s return to tag along with Gary Sanchez, therefore there’s no real pressure nor necessity, in my opinion, to pick present over future to improve the offensive aspect.

Mike McGrath, via Facebook:

Michael Pineda clearly has the stuff to be a number one starting pitcher as evidenced by his over 200 strikeouts. Yet, Larry Rothschild hasn’t been able to transform him into a consistent winner. Are we going to bring someone in specifically to work with Pineda – whether that person is a sports psychiatrist or an assistant pitching coach?”

Interesting recommendation. Pineda is an unbelievable enigma that not only makes everyone scratch their head but it also something that has never been seen in baseball.

Big Mike is the only starting pitcher in major league history to give up 25+ homers while maintaining an era over 4.80, a K/9 rate of 10+, and also striking out 200 or more batters.

So, while Larry Rothschild hasn’t “fixed” this seemingly unfixable problem Pineda has, there is no mechanical issue Rothschild can alter for the better. It comes down to his confidence. Like you said, Mike, this guy has the stuff. It’s evident in his AL-leading 10.6 K/9 and career 1.174 WHIP.

Pineda has to be able to attack batters early and get ahead. When he’s ahead in the account, batters are hitting .184 with just four homers and an OPS of .487 but when he falls behind, those numbers jump to .344 with 10 homers and a 1.140 OPS.

While that’s a general trend across baseball, batters are also swinging at Pineda’s first pitch 43% of the time and are slashing .291/.300/.550 compared to .254/.331/.421 when they took the first pitch.

Again, that’s fixed by trust in your stuff and being able to pitch to your strengths. His wipeout slider is easily the greatest pitch in his arsenal while his fastball gets hit out of the park on almost a nightly basis.

No additional pitching coach is required but maybe a personal motivational speaker? You could try to make a pump-up playlist, too. He’s just got to understand he’s filthy and use that confidence to attack.

Dr. Spencer Schwartz (@Muzixndmd), via Twitter:

“Will the Yankees pursue Aroldis Chapman– and if so how hard will they go after him?”

Ever since he responded with “God willing, yes,” when asked if he’d consider a return to the Bronx, I thought the Yankees would absolutely bring him back, especially with Dellin Betances‘ late-season struggles.

While Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard haven’t been bad — in fact, they were pretty darn good— there’s definitely improvements that need to be made in the bullpen. The money willing to be thrown at Chapman is a speed bump here.

It would be silly to expect a discount and it’s even possible that Chapman smashes Jonathon Papelbon’s record contract (5-years, $61 million) but Cashman does have some room to work with.

New York will enter the 2017 offseason with an estimated $128 million payroll meaning they’ll have $60 million or less to work with, as they hope to remain under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. Following arbitration, in which they will likely spend $21 million, it leaves them with around $40 million of spending money.

Spotrac estimates that Chapman’s market value sits in the 4-year, $56 million range, which may go up, but that gives Cashman around $15 million to add to this season’s payroll.

Going off last season, in which the team did not ink a major leaguer to a contract, I suspect Chapman being the free agent the Yankees wheel in because it makes the most sense.

Again, his market value should increase given he is arguably the best reliever in the game, but the Yankees have the chance to bring him in while remaining underneath the $189 million mark.

Christian Kouroupakis covers the New York Yankees for ESNY. Interact with him and view his daily work by “liking” his facebook page and follow him on Twitter. All statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Don’t hesitate to shoot him an email with any questions, criticisms, or concerns.