NY Sports Day
Matt Mankiewich

Karpin’s Korner: Andujar on Trade Block? Why? Mets Still Need Another Catcher

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Why does it seem like the Yankees are treating Miguel Andujar like he’s an “odd man out,” when, at this moment in time, they don’t have another alternative on their roster, and you know who I’m referring to.

Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported Andujar “appears to be on the block, for the right price.” The AL ROY runner up’s name surfaced in trade talk leading up to and including the Winter Meetings.

Are the Yankees so convinced that Andujar is such a liability defensively, that he’ll never improve so it may be worth trading him now while his value is high. That narrative was floated before and intensified this week with Manny Machado’s visit to the Bronx.

The Yankees subjected themselves to some second guessing when they benched Andujar for game 4 of the ALDS vs. Boston. It’s true that Andujar was shaky defensively last season but he was, arguably, the team’s best hitter and to sit him down on the notion that he may blow a ball in the field was a miscalculation by team management, and that wasn’t a second guess by me.

With left hander C.C. Sabathia starting game 4 against the Red Sox, the Yankees were concerned that, with Boston’s right handed hitters, there would be a number of balls hit towards third, so they started Neil Walker over Andujar. Sabathia was not going to go past four innings at the most and then the Yankees would go to the bullpen anyway so playing Walker because Sabathia was starting makes it even more head scratching. (BTW: Walker did not get any chances while Sabathia was in the game)

The Yankees didn’t even use Andujar at all during the game. You go through a game where your season is on the line and your best hitter doesn’t even get one at-bat? It didn’t make any sense.

To his credit, Andujar has been proactive in working on his defense. According to Newsday’s Yankee beat reporter Erik Boland, Andujar has been working hard on his defense in the Dominican Republic and sending videos of his work to Yankee infield coach Carlos Mendoza who assesses them.

The soon to be 24-year old can get better. His problem has been his footwork, not his throwing motion. Adrian Beltre, who made 29 errors in his first season, “slings” the ball over to first and has been a perennial Gold Glover. The older crowd will remember Graig Nettles, who also used a sidearm motion in throwing to first and was a Gold Glove third-baseman.

According to Boland’s article, Mendoza has been working on Andujar’s pre-pitch positioning, which is a good thing. “It starts with his setup and his ready position,” Mendoza was quoted as saying. They also need to stress the positioning of his lower body when he releases the ball. That’s where it gets away from him. When his footwork is poor, his arm angle when releasing the ball is poor, leading to the poor throws.

Is Manny Machado a better player than Miguel Andujar. Sure. Can the Yankees win with Miguel Andujar as opposed to Manny Machado? Sure.

It appears the Yankees and Phillies are the front runners to land left hand reliever Zach Britton. The Yankees liked what they saw from Britton after he was acquired from the Orioles before the trade deadline. Britton was roughed up by Oakland in the Wild Card game but pitched pretty well overall against the Red Sox. Dellin Betances is a free agent after next season while Aroldis Chapman has an opt out after 2019, so the Yankees may be thinking of securing Britton for 2019 and beyond.

The Red Sox may make a late move on Britton but sources say they’re showing an interest in David Robertson, who is not likely to return to the Yankees. According to a recent report from NY Post Yankee beat reporter George King, “Robertson was seen as a leader in the meeting that limited shares [post-season] to support staff this year.” Apparently, that didn’t sit well with Yankee brass and to be honest, I’m a little surprised at that myself.

Now that Wilson Ramos is in the fold, the Mets are still short one catcher. Oh, you’re comfortable with Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki or even Tomas Nido, defensively, if they had to fill in for more than one or two games a week. We all know about Ramos’ injury history. Signing Ramos was a good move, but the Mets would be smart to take out some insurance just in case.

The Mets should go out and find a catcher (who would come cheap) who can provide a better defensive option, and whose strength is blocking balls in the dirt, than what there is now. Martin Maldonado makes sense behind Ramos and is not being overwhelmed with offers.

The Mets are focused on strengthening the bullpen, particularly on the left side, so what direction will they go in now that Andrew Miller was signed by the Cardinals.

Free agent wise, Jake Diekman, who has pitched in the NL East with the Phillies, is a possibility. 29-year old lefty Tim Collins could be intriguing. Collins, who has undergone two Tommy John surgeries on his left elbow, pitched for the Royals against the Mets in the 2015 World Series. When healthy, he is a hard thrower and may be worth a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Last season, Collins joined the Washington Nationals in May but was DFA’d in early July after posting a 2.77 ERA in 17 appearances. Collins cleared waivers and was brought back, where he finished the season strong for Washington.

Now that the Dodgers unloaded Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Alex Wood on Cincinnati and created payroll space, the prevailing thought is that they are the favorites to sign free agent Bryce Harper. If the Dodgers signed Harper, they would be ignoring the lack of balance in their line up and only adding to a strength. A.J. Pollock would not be out of the question for the Dodgers.

I’m wondering if the Phillies tried to sell Machado on the fact that he would be their shortstop, it would be “his team” and that he could have a better chance to get back to the World Series. Playing with Philadelphia, a team on the rise in the National League, he wouldn’t have to compete with the big boys in the American League like the Red Sox and Astros, if he signed with the Yankees.

HKLooking: The Rockies’ signing of Daniel Murphy is being widely viewed as a terrific move. In theory, Murphy should put up some big numbers at Coors Field but it won’t be as a second baseman. Murphy, who was not a good defender when he was younger and healthy, has absolutely no range and no lateral movement to play second base, even capably, anymore, so at least Colorado is doing the best thing and that’s play him at first. Those knees may just hamper his hitting abilities as well…..Mike Trout will be a free agent after the 2020 season and you have to wonder where he stands with the Angels once the 2019 season is over. Bringing in Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill doesn’t exactly excite the masses. It figures to be another season without a playoff appearance for Trout and the Halos, so how could the 27-year old superstar believe that things will get better in Anaheim in 2020. Don’t be surprised if Trout is on the block after next season and the Phillies will be lurking, especially if they don’t sign Machado or Harper…..Here’s wishing all the best for Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia, who underwent a heart procedure


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