Yankees: 1 clear mistake and 1 smart pitching depth move NYY made

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We’re going to spread a little positivity on this beautiful Friday by being nice to the New York Yankees in the exact same column where we’re also mean to them.

It’s not something my therapist suggested, but it definitely sounds like it could be.

During the end of 2020 and the 2021 offseason, New York’s front office — which we’ve mocked in the past for picking the wrong pitcher over, and over, and over again — had a jumbled list of names at the edges of 40-man consideration.

They didn’t let that stop them from adding quality arms to fill out the upper minors by taking flyers on some former castoffs — or, at least, they likely thought they were bringing in Scranton fodder at the time.

Honorable mention here goes to somehow managing to stash reliever Addison Russ in the minors despite teams attacking the Yankees’ pitching depth the second the horn sounded on the Rule 5 Draft. Clearly, on that day, the Yanks were willing to surrender some folks and not others — and, in one instance, they’ve already chosen wrong. Hiding Russ from the world when he has a chance to contribute this summer was certainly unexpected, though.

We get that evaluating talent is difficult. We’re not going to come down hard and punish the Yankees here. It’s already…fairly clear after one month, though, that they mixed some success with one fatal error.

BOSTON, MA – APRIL 18: Garrett Whitlock #72 of the Boston Red Sox warms up in the bullpen during a game against the Chicago White Sox on April 18, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

One Clear Mistake: Choosing Brooks Kriske Over Garrett Whitlock

There’s…a lot to hate about losing Garrett Whitlock (and Trevor Stephan!) for absolutely nothing this offseason, but the one thing the Yankees have going for them here is that, unlike with the Adam Ottavino trade, they had no control over his destination and were probably just as annoyed as the rest of us that the Red Sox figured this one out.

Still, though, the 24-year-old Whitlock hasn’t allowed a single run this season, and his perfect location and changeup deployment has stumped batters mercilessly. Don’t think keeping him on the Boston roster all season long is going to be a problem.

Will he allow a number to appear in his ERA at some point? Sure. But not knowing that a man in your system had the ability to do this is a huge miscalculation, especially since his sterling 2018 season had vaulted him up Yankees prospect lists. Did they think Tommy John had sapped him of his stuff? They should’ve known better.

Why didn’t the Yankees protect Garrett Whitlock?

It doesn’t help that short reliever Brooks Kriske, someone whom they chose to protect instead, has made a single bleak appearance off the taxi squad so far this year, allowing a run in an inning of work. Glad we kept that around. Can’t be losing that.

Of course…let’s state the obvious: if Whitlock were still with the organization, he’d almost definitely be stuck at the Alternate Site in Scranton or Michael King-ing it up on the ever-embarrassing shuttle.

See you in 10 days, similarly elite young reliever!

Seriously, Whitlock’s gone 13.1 scoreless and gets ink spilled about him everyday. King’s gone 11 scoreless and he’s been sent down three times. Make it fair.

The brand-new Sox innings eater won’t be this great forever, but he’s already been this great, while the Yankees are out here trading their controllable fifth outfielder Mike Tauchman for extra ‘pen depth. Whitlock also might be a starter someday soon. All in all, an error in judgment was made here.