Quick Hit: About That Platoon Idea At Shortstop

Brian Cashman Aside from the behind-the-scenes details of how the 3-team trade for Didi Gregorius came together, and the activation of "acquisition mode", the most notable statement from Cash's conference call yesterday afternoon might have been this one about the plan for Gregorius:

“He’s a hitter who struggles against left-handed pitching, but we believe that he hits right-handed pitching and so, at the very least, we expect him to be utilized in probably a split platoon with Brendan Ryan until he separates himself."

"Until he separates himself", eh?  So that should be by what?  March 21st?  26th?  April 5th at the latest?  This is Cash doing his best to temper expectations for the 24-year-old who was just traded for to replace Derek Jeter, the most famous pro athlete in New York since Broadway Joe, but let's be real.  There isn't going to be a split platoon with Gregorius and Brendan Ryan.  Not a chance.

Gregorius may not hit left-handed pitching well, and in fairness he has been horrible against southpaws (.184/.257/.233 in 180 career MLB PA).  But the Yankees didn't make this trade to build a platoon with a guy who hit .167/.211/.202 last year and OPS'd .280 against lefties himself.  They made this trade to see if Gregorius is their shortstop of the future, and the only way to do that is to let him play every day.  The general sense is that the team thinks he can be a better hitter than he's shown.  To find out if that's reality and if his offensive ceiling can be raised, they need to let him hit against righties AND lefties.  Find out what he doesn't do well against lefties and work with him to try to improve them.  Don't limit his opportunity to play and get better by subbing in a worse hitter for him.  What sense is there in that?

So I appreciate Cash standing up and building a shield in front of his new acquisition, much in the same way he did last year when he said the team saw Tanaka as a solid #3 starter.  I just don't believe him for a second.  He gave Gregorius the easy chance to earn the job with the final portion of that statement, and I fully expect the Yankees to give Gregorius every chance to show he can be a better hitter against lefties as Ryan.  It shouldn't take much to do that and if he can, then it shouldn't take Gregorius long to establish himself as the guy.