Shuffling of uniform numbers begins for Yankees following trade
Moments after the Yankees and White Sox agreed to a blockbuster 7-player deal, the questions began in flux.
When in doubt, check Twitter. Because that’s exactly where panic set in mere minutes after the Yankees pulled the trigger on a trade that hopefully makes them stronger not only this season but especially next.
Queries that appeared on my timeline included, what position will Todd Frazier play? Should the Yanks have traded Blake Rutherford? And will Clint Frazier give David Robertson his customary No. 30?
All relatively important, we received a few answers on Wednesday afternoon, as the Yankees fell to the Twins 6-1.
For one, ‘The Todd Father’ didn’t start the game, most likely due to his late arrival from Chicago the night before. However, he did enter the game in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter.
Frazier struck out before taking over for Ronald Torreyes at third base in the bottom of the inning. He was then hit in the hand during his second at-bat in the ninth inning but should be fine to play on Thursday in Seattle.
Moving forward, manager Joe Girardi told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:
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"Chase Headley will get a crash course at first base. Todd Frazier will play third."
So there’s that.
As for Rutherford, MLB Pipeline’s 30th ranked prospect in all of baseball; it’s hard to project just how good he’ll be. At 20, the kid does a lot of things well — as evidenced by his .281 batting average, 30 RBIs, 20 doubles and 25 stolen bases at Low-A Charleston. A projected 5-tool player, Rutherford has yet to display much power, only hitting two home runs this season. What happens if he’s the next JD Drew?
Even after the trade, the Yankees still have a number of special outfield prospects including Dustin Fowler, Estevan Florial and Billy McKinney — all who are much closer to the big leagues than Rutherford is.
Finally, there’s the numbers game. Since being called up to the majors on July 1, Clint Frazier has been on a tear. Yet watching him wear a No. 30 jersey seemed odd. It’s Willie Randolph’s number — even though it’s never been retired. More on that topic in a second.
As New York media waited with bated breath to see if ‘Red Thunder’ would put up a stink and refuse to give Robertson his usual digits, Frazier pulled an audible. As he told ESPN.com:
"I’ve been here like five minutes."
Instead, the rookie outfielder who already has three homers and eight RBI in only 43 at-bats decided to go with good ol’ No. 77. Huh?
No, it’s not because Frazier thinks he’s twice as good as Mickey Mantle. Rather:
"I wanted a number with seven in it,” Frazier said. “There’s not many numbers available, and [Aaron] Judge wears 99, so maybe go with something like 77 and hope someone else picks 88 in the outfield."
After wearing No. 75 during Spring Training, Frazier said he liked the way No. 77 looked on fellow prospect Fowler.
In regards to the other Frazier, the new one, he was given No. 29 before the loss to Minnesota.
Postgame, Frazier who is a self-proclaimed Paul O’Neill fan after growing up in nearby Toms River, NJ, says that he’ll talk to O’Neill about potentially wearing his classic No. 21.
After all, Frazier has worn the number ever since entering the bigs back in 2011. For those who say fuggedaboutit, must I remind you that O’Neill retired 16 years ago? The club already gave him a plaque in Monument Park. If they were ever going to retire his number, it would have already happened.
Next: Is trading with Oakland a good idea?
I understand not letting Roger Clemens wear it, but it’s time to stop hoarding numbers and move on. I for one hope a fan favorite like O’Neill gives his blessing.