Talk about a wake up call, Dominic Smith may have gotten one. Smith, who was penciled in to start at first base in the opening spring game, was late for an 8:45 AM meeting Friday morning and was benched by Manager Mickey Callaway.
The 22-year old is trying to win a spot on the 25-man roster. Suffice it to say, being tardy is not the way to go about it. Smith’s transgression provided the new skipper with the perfect foil to get a message across to the entire team.
With a little prodding, Smith faced the reporters and said all the right things.
Smith said he “missed his alarm because he had stayed up late.” He alluded to being deep in thought about his attempt to make the team. If you’re so ‘deep in thought,’ why are you staying up late in the first place?
Come on Dom, you put all this work in during the off season. You lost weight, got yourself on a better diet and seemed ready to grab the first base job. Don’t blow it. Heed the words of Strother Martin as “the Captain” in “Cool Hand Luke,” when he said ‘get your mind right.’
Three years ago, Noah Syndergaard’s lunch provided a “get in line” moment and the Mets ended up that season in the World Series. I wonder if this little “get in line moment” will provide the same kind of impetus.
With baseball trending towards versatile players, look for pitchers to follow suit.
Last season, Chad Green proved to be a valuable commodity for the Yankees out of the bullpen as he provided length instead of just pitching to one or two hitters. Teams now carry 12 or 13 pitchers but what if a club had a number of arms in the pen that could do what Green did for the Yankees. For one thing, it would help speed up the game because there would be less pitching changes.
Zack Wheeler could serve that role for the Mets. Wheeler is “A.J. Burnett 2.0” in that he runs up his pitch count by failing to put hitters away when he gets ahead in the count. The right hander works hard against the better hitters but seems to have trouble with the lower part of the order. Maybe a role in the bullpen is where Wheeler could thrive.
The last time that the Yankees were linked in a three-way trade with Arizona involved, the return was shortstop Didi Gregorius. The Yankees are hoping for the same result with Brandon Drury.
The Yankees believe they have a player who could reach his potential by settling in at his best position which is third base. Gregorius’ development as an all around player was bonus. His defense was never in question but his offense was until he proved otherwise.
The Yankees’ front office believes there is untapped, power potential in Drury’s bat. VP of Baseball Operations, Tim Naehring has been high on Drury for some time. According to Naehring, Drury has “a swing that profiles well at our ballpark,” meaning the 25-year old could take advantage of the friendly dimensions in right field and the RF gap.
Aaron Judge used the dimensions to his advantage. It’s expected Giancarlo Stanton will do the same. Can Drury get on that “gravy train?” The metrics say so but let’s look at the resume’.
Through the early part of his career, Drury has shown he can handle “dead red” (fastballs) but he’s had some trouble with the off speed stuff. Expect a steady diet of breaking balls, especially since that seems to be the way the sport is trending. Drury will see some pitches off the place so if he is successful taking the ball to right field, opposing pitchers are then going to start pitching him inside where he will need to prove that he can handle that as well.
Being a left handed bat, and playing his home games at Yankee Stadium, gave Gregorius a real good chance to develop as a major league hitter. Even if Drury does not develop into the kind of player that Gregorius became, he is still valuable because he can play just about every infield position and he can also play the outfield. It would be very interesting to see how the opening day roster sets up if Miguel Andujar somehow beat out Drury for the starting job.
BTW: Drury’s first career home run to right field was hit off none other than Ruben Tejada who was a “mop up man” for the Cardinals during a game in 2016.