Home » Sports Take » Q and A with BallNine’s Catherine Gierak

Q and A with BallNine’s Catherine Gierak

Q and A with BallNine’s Catherine Gierak

I recently chatted with Catherine Gierak from BallNine, an up and coming baseball platform with great content and writers. We talked Yankee baseball, how to fix the team, 2021 projections and covering the game from Australia! Follow Cate on Twitter @nyy_cate and visit the crew at www.ballnine.com.

ML: I hate the way the Yankees are constructed for the playoffs. I’ve written about this annually. What needs changing immediately, non-pitching, for 2021?

CG: In my opinion, the Yankees need to do the following:

1. Balance the lineup – The current lineup is stacked with righthanded hitters who hit for power – Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Luke Voit. They need a lefthanded hitter in there, preferably a contact hitter.

2. Find a fix to the shortstop problem. Gleyber Torres is a liability at shortstop. He was a shortstop in the minors, and did well, but it is evident from watching him this year that he is not one in the majors. Having already had two stints on the IL for a hip strain is also concerning for someone who is now an everyday shortstop. But what is the answer? Torres is better suited to 2B. But where does that leave DJ LeMahieu, assuming (hopefully) they bring him back? Gio Urshela is at 3B and Voit is at 1B. Do they trade one of these players, or a player like Miguel Andujar for a shortstop? In an ideal world, I would trade for Francisco Lindor who has outstanding defense and is also a switch-hitter (cue the outrage).

Gleyber Torres Yankees at Orioles 8/25/18

3. Find a fix to the Gary Sanchez problem. It’s become clear that Sanchez is not the best option for everyday catcher going forward. His production at the plate is inconsistent, he has poor plate discipline, has trouble stopping pitches behind the plate and yields too many passed balls. The Yankees have the option to exercise two more years of control over Sanchez via arbitration, or they could non-tender him and let him walk. JT Realmulto is available via free agency and would be the ideal replacement, but whether the Yankees would be willing to pay for him remains to be seen.

4. Reduce their reliance on analytics. The analytics nerds will disagree with me here, but the truth is, the Yankees rely on analytics too much during games, and it often leads to bad decisions being made. Like the pitching plan which resulted in Deivi Garcia being pulled early in Game 2 of the ALCS. Or Mike Ford, who hadn’t had a hit since August, pinch-hitting for Kyle Higoshioka in the bottom of the 8th in Game 5 of the ALDS. The analytics recommended that a lefthander face Diego Castillo. But it didn’t take into account that that lefthander’s bat was cold, and had been for awhile. Aaron Boone needed to manage with his gut there, and go with the hotter bat, either stay with Higoshioka (whose defense was also needed in a tie game at that point) or pinch-hit Clint Fraizer instead.

Giancarlo Stanton

5. Focus on strength and conditioning. This is something I have talked about for the past three seasons, and will continue to talk about. The Yankees have too many injuries each year. We need to ask the question why. Why do players get injured running bases? It shouldn’t be happening. I question whether the strength and conditioning programs are appropriate, and whether they are tailored to each player, which is crucial.

ML: How does the Yankee pitching staff look for 2021? Trevor Bauer chase?

CG: At the moment, with Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ all entering free agency, the Yankees are going to need to sign or trade for a SP this offseason. They currently have Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery and barring any unforeseen setbacks, Luis Severino will be back in the rotation in June/ July (Clarke Schmidt and possibly even Domingo German could fill this spot in the meantime). Garcia looks very promising and they will likely look to him to fill a spot as well. With respect to Bauer, I personally would love to see him in pinstripes, and have said this for a long time. His intense focus on perfecting his pitching is something I have always admired. And while it can be argued that he’s had an erratic career statistically, his 1.73 ERA this year and 2.21 ERA in 2018 shows what a great pitcher he can be.

ML: Are you a Brian Cashman fan?

CG: To be honest, while I am critical of Cashman, I admire him for his tenacity in a role that wouldn’t be easy. He’s survived 23 seasons as GM, through the transition from old Yankee Stadium to new Yankee Stadium and from George Steinbrenner to Hal Steinbrenner and with that came a difference in spending philosophy. Cashman has made some impressive moves over the years, including trading for A-Rod, Nick Swisher, Gleyber Torres and Voit, plus signing CC Sabathia, Mike Mussina and LeMahieu and keeping Judge and Severino. But he has also made some bad moves, including signing Kei Igawa and Jacoby Ellsbury and trading for Javy Vazquez, Brandon Drury and Sonny Gray. All that tells me is that he is human. And that he makes mistakes. Would another GM do a better job? I’m not entirely convinced there are very many that could. That said, I do wish he would lessen his over-reliance on analytics!

ML: How did you jump on with BallNine?

CG: I have been a contributor to BallNine from the beginning. I was asked by Chris Vitali, the founder and EIC, if I would like to write for the Card Vault, and I accepted. BallNine is unlike any other baseball website out there. The content is different and varied. It’s truly a unique website.

ML: You live in a land down under!? What’s that like watching MLB and being such a fan?

CG: Honestly, it’s become easier as time has gone by. I have MLB TV and access to every MLB game (without blackouts). I watch practically every Yankees game. The time difference means that I usually have to get up during the night, but it’s something I have grown accustomed to. I have also developed friendships with people who I met via Twitter, and I interact with them, and my Twitter followers, during games. I never feel alone watching them.

ML: Thanks for the time.

CG: You’re welcome. And thank you!

Mike Lindsley
Follow Mike Lindsley on Twitter @MikeLSports and download his podcast the “ML Sports Platter” on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify.