You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Yankees.
With a number of starting pitchers up for free agency in 2021, do you see any starters in the farm system who can legitimately join the starting rotation next season? — Joel C. Moss
James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka will hit the open market following this season, and J.A. Happ could as well, depending if his vesting option kicks in. And with Luis Severino out at least through the beginning of next season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, the Yankees may need several new arms for their rotation.
This is one way the delay of the season has impacted — and likely hurt — the Yankees, since they aren’t getting a look at some of their young pitchers who could be options for larger roles next year.
With Severino out — along with Domingo German, who would have been serving the rest of his suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence protocol last year — the Yankees would have taken more of a look at Jonathan Loaisiga, as well as perhaps some newcomers such as Deivi Garcia, Michael King or Clarke Schmidt in the first half of the season. Those auditions are now on hold, but the Yankees will no doubt look to them either later this year or next.
How on earth can Carlton Fisk and Ted Simmons be in the Hall of Fame when Thurman Munson is not? — John Mackenzie
Derek Jeter was scheduled to go into Cooperstown alongside Simmons — as well as Larry Walker and the late Marvin Miller — before this year’s induction weekend was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the voting, there had been some hope that Munson would also be enshrined.
Munson’s first year on the ballot was in 1981, when the BBWAA waived the usual five-year waiting period after the catcher was killed in a 1979 plane crash. He received 15.5 percent of the vote. Munson ended up lasting the maximum 15 years on the ballot, but never again got to even 10 percent of the vote — let alone the 75 percent needed for induction.
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Due to his career being cut short, Munson lacks some of the customary numbers typically required for the Hall. According to FanGraphs, no position player from the post-1960 expansion era has been elected with fewer than 2,000 hits, and Munson finished with just 1,558. Munson also had just 5,905 plate appearances, and again according to FanGraphs, just 10 Hall of Famers have a lower number.
Simmons had 2,472 hits, while Fisk had 2,356, but both of them had careers that lasted over two decades.
Munson, unlike Fisk and Simmons, excelled in the postseason, with an OPS of .874 in 135 plate appearances. He also won an MVP and was the AL Rookie of the Year. Munson’s defense is another point in his favor.
Munson’s next chance will come when the Modern Era Committee reconvenes in 2022. The addition of Simmons may boost Munson’s cause and finally get him in.
How about converting Yankee Stadium into the first “Social Distancing” venue? Close off every other row. The first four seats of the remaining rows will be available. Then two seats roped off, followed by another four seats. The seating capacity would be about 23,000, but we would have baseball. — Paul Bickel
It’s hard to believe the Yankees would be the first venue to have social distancing, since the pandemic hit the city as hard as it did, but they are among the teams interested in not just playing this season, but doing so in front of fans.
Team president Randy Levine has been especially outspoken, saying he can see fans coming to the Stadium this year.
“I believe that we’re putting together all the protocols, but I think you ease in with fans,” Levine said this week. “You start with less fans. You have temperature-taking. You have health stations. You do a lot of testing. If people have a temperature or they aren’t feeling well, you take them to a health station. You wear masks and gloves. You only serve food that won’t impede that.’’
Mayor Bill de Blasio sounded less optimistic on the subject.
“I don’t think that’s coming soon,” de Blasio said. “I think those bigger gatherings and bigger events are going to be one of the last things as we restart.”
Who will be the outfielders in July, both starting and back up? Who will play first base? — Marty
It’s all about health — and whether there’s actually baseball in July. Giancarlo Stanton has recovered from the calf strain that sidelined him in the spring, but he is sure to be used more as a DH to help keep him on the field. Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman likely also will be regulars. But Aaron Judge (fractured rib) and Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery) are still rehabbing, and while there’s optimism both could be good for July, there’s no guarantee, which would open the door for Clint Frazier or even Miguel Andujar. And as long as Luke Voit is healthy, he should be the guy at first.
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